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Headphone amp needed to drive open-back cans?


boynigel
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In an effort to (hopefully) quell ear fatigue when using headphones w/my LT for long periods of time, I’m considering a pair of open, or semi-open headphones but it’s my understanding that many of them come w/the recommendation of a using a headphone amp.

 

I don’t want to deal with that so I’m wondering if anyone can comment on the Helix, particularly the LT, as to how good its ability is to drive a pair of open back headphones without the help of a headphone amp.

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Helix's headphone amp neither knows nor cares if you're using open back or closed back cans. There's either enough power to drive the headphones you've chosen, or there isn't...and that is a function of the can's impedance rating, relative to the headphone amp's output. The physical design of the headphones isn't part of the equation. If you try to use a pair of super high impedance cans, you may find that the volume would be insufficient without a more powerful headphone amp...but that will be the case whether they're open, closed, or anywhere in between.

 

FWIW, I've been using a pair of 62 ohm, open-back cans for years with Helix without a separate headphone amp, and have had no issues.

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21 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

Helix's headphone amp neither knows nor cares if you're using open back or closed back cans. There's either enough power to drive the headphones you've chosen, or there isn't...and that is a function of the can's impedance rating, relative to the headphone amp's output. The physical design of the headphones isn't part of the equation. If you try to use a pair of super high impedance cans, you may find that the volume would be insufficient without a more powerful headphone amp...but that will be the case whether they're open, closed, or anywhere in between.

 

FWIW, I've been using a pair of 56 ohm, open-back cans for years with Helix without a separate headphone amp, and have had no issues.

Probably Sweetwater trying to drum up headphone amp sales then, as they particularly state that "generally" open-back cans run at impedances that may require a headphone amp more so than their close-backed counterparts.

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2 hours ago, boynigel said:

Probably Sweetwater trying to drum up headphone amp sales then, as they particularly state that "generally" open-back cans run at impedances that may require a headphone amp more so than their close-backed counterparts.

 

Lol... well it may or may not be true that most open back cans tend to have higher impedance ratings, I honestly have no idea. The pair I have (AKG K701) clearly do not support that generalization, but even if it's true as a rule, it's not particularly helpful information because it just causes unnecessary confusion/ assumptions. They could just as easily have said "Impedance matters. Make sure that you match your device's power output accordingly", and they wouldn't waste anybody's time... oh well, lol.

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Although I do not know where the LT's Headphone output level is, neither my Helix Floor nor Helix Stomp have any deficiency in driving my 300Ω Sennheiser HD-600 to SPLs far louder than I ever care to use. The Floor's headphone output is higher than the HX Stomp.

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8 hours ago, boynigel said:

I’m wondering if anyone can comment on the Helix, particularly the LT, as to how good its ability is to drive a pair of open back headphones without the help of a headphone amp.


Oh, here we go again - let’s put this puppy to bed!

 

This is a link to a very old post (2016), over on TGP from Digital Igloo (Eric Klein - Chief Product Design Architect | Yamaha Guitar Group | Line 6 | Ampeg)

 

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/line6-helix.1586637/page-1184#post-22007938

 

Here’s a copy -  short cut! The important bit is this:


Helix's headphone amp is LOUD; it's designed to drive high-impedance studio headphones to stage volumes. Low impedance headphones distort way faster, fatigue your ears, and at a high enough volume, can damage your hearing.”


 

Bass in Zurich said: 
Also interesting is that my flat response Audio Technica headphones (these) sound really, really, bad. The budget Sony (these) headphones sound a whole heap better.
Those ATs are 38 Ω? That could explain it. Low impedance headphones are designed to provide ample volume when listening to devices with relatively wimpy headphone amps, like mobile phones and iPods. Another user elsewhere expressed concern with his Beyer DT990s (which come in three variants—32 Ω, 250 Ω, and 600 Ω) and I'm willing to bet his are 32 Ω.

I'm actually surprised your Sonys sound any better, as they're even lower, at 24 Ω.

Helix's headphone amp is LOUD; it's designed to drive high-impedance studio headphones to stage volumes. Low impedance headphones distort way faster, fatigue your ears, and at a high enough volume, can damage your hearing. With Helix you could conceivably split the headphone output to two pairs of 200-300 Ω cans/IEMs and drive both over the sound of a drummer (and adjust respective levels via MIDI CC control of path output blocks). My band does this now.

Personally, I use Sennheiser HD600s (300 Ω), and before those, the HD580s (same). Also have a bunch of Sony 7506s around, but they're 63 Ω and harsh-sounding already, even with an iPod. I also keep a pair of Sennheiser HD280 Pros (64 Ω) at work and they're pretty boxy sounding, but if I can get a mix to sound good on them, it'll sound good anywhere. I treat them like wearable Yamaha NS10s, if those NS10s were powered by an Alesis RA100 instead of a Bryston. Wouldn't want to construct tones with them.
 

Eric Klein, Chief Product Design Architect, Yamaha Guitar Group / Line 6 / Ampeg


Hope this helps/makes sense.

 

Edited by datacommando
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Currently Sony 7506...They sound like my v900s did and I cut my teeth v600s and still use my coveted cdr3000s I use for post production....I need new pads and a head band again, but I know how Sony sounds and translates so it works for me....I think it's more about finding what works and learning the translation. All cans have a color.

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