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Headphones Power Requirements

Headphone manufacturers specify a sensitivity rating for their products that is very similar to loudspeaker sensitivity ratings.   For loudspeakers, the standard is to apply one (1) watt and then measure the sound pressure level (SPL) at a distance of 1 meter.

For headphones, the standard is to apply one (1 ) milliwatt and then measure the sound pressure level at the earpiece (using a dummy head with built-in microphones).  Sensitivity is then stated as the number of dB of actual sound level (SPL) produced by the headphones with 1 mW of input; headphone specifications commonly refer to this by the misleading term dB/mW.  What they really mean is dB SPL for 1 mW input.

Think about these sensitivity definitions a moment: headphone sensitivity is rated using 1/1000 of a watt; loudspeaker sensitivity is rated using 1 watt.  So a quick rule-of-thumb is that you are going to need about 1/1000 as much power to drive your headphones as to drive your loudspeakers since both of their sensitivity ratings are similar (around 90-110 dB-SPL).

If your hi-fi amp is rated at 65 watts, then you would need only 65 mW to drive comparable headphones. (Actually you need less than 65 mW since most people donít listen to their loudspeakers at 1 meter.)  And this is exactly what you find in hi-fi receivers. Their headphone jacks typically provide only 10-20 mW of output power.

"Understanding Headphone Power Requirements", Dennis Bohn, Rane Corporation
© 1983, Rane Corporation, From Rane Corporation Site. (Republished with permission.)


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HEADPHONES
Product ID Product Information
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Closed Headphones
AuSEN-HD250 Sennheiser HD 250 II Linear
Closed, circumaural, 300 ohms, 10-25, 000 Hz, mounting for head position sensor
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AuSEN-PXC250 Sennheiser PXC 250 with NoiseGuard
Open, circumaural, 300 ohms, 12-21,000 Hz
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Open Headphones
AuSEN-HD580 Sennheiser HD 580 Precision
Open, circumaural, 300 ohm, 12-38,000 Hz
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AuSEN-HD598 Sennheiser HD 598 Prestige
Open, circumaural, 120 ohm, 12-38,500 Hz
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AuSEN-HD600 Sennheiser HD 600 Avantgarde
Open, circumaural, 300 ohms, 12-39,000 Hz
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AuSEN-HD650 Sennheiser HD 650 Audophile
Open, circumaural, 300 ohm, 12-39,500 Hz
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Wireless Headphones
AuSEN-RS170 Sennheiser RS 170
Closed, circumaural, 2.4GHz Digital, 20-20,000 Hz
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AuHDRS85 Sennheiser RS 85
Open, circumaural, 863MHz, 20-20,000 Hz, HiDyn plustm noise reduction
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Headsets
AuHMDC25 AuSIM HMDC25
Closed, dynamic, supra-aural, 600 Ohms, 20-16,000 Hz,dynamic microphone, NoiseGard noise compensation
AuHMEC25 AuSIM HMEC25
Closed, circumaural, 200 Ohms, 16-22,000 Hz, electret microphone, NoiseGard noise compensation
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AuHMEC300 AuSIM HMEC300
Closed, circumaural, 150/300/600 Ohms, 10-15,000 Hz, electret microphone, NoiseGard noise compensation, mounting for head position sensor
AuHS101 AuSIM HS-101
Open, circumaural, 150 Ohms, 10-25,000 Hz, dynamic or electret microphone, mounting for head position sensor
AuHS102 AuSIM HS-102
Open, circumaural, 300 Ohms, 10-30,000 Hz, dynamic or electret microphone, mounting for head position sensor
AuHS201 AuSIM HS-201
Closed, circumaural, 300 Ohms, 10-25,000 Hz, dynamic or electret microphone, mounting for head position sensor
AuHS301 AuSIM HS-301
Convertible (Open/closed), circumaural, 150 (open) and 300 (closed) ohms, 10-25,000 Hz, dynamic or electret microphone, mounting for head position sensor
AuHS302 AuSIM HS-302
Convert able (Open/closed), circumaural, 300 ohms, 10-30,000 Hz, dynamic or electret microphone, mounting for head position sensor
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