Headphone Amp Or Audio Interface Or Both?

Hey guys, quick ?..Getting a proper set of headphones soon. The common knowledge seems to be that in order to take full advantage, one would need a decent amp. Does an audio interface perform this function…its not an amp from my awareness…??

However, as onboard soundcards are not the ideal quality, would an audio interface be neccesary to facilitate headphone monitoring as well? Or, are these too many devices in the listening chain?

Any thoughts from those who do serious headphone monitoring would be welcome(ie Keith 303)!

Or anyone who happens to be somewhat versed in the subject, thx!!

Some sound interfaces (more often than than cards) have built in headphone amplifiers/outputs. Some don’t.

I used to use the headphone socket on my mixing desk - but i bought a dedicated headphone amp (a behringer - very nice price) for when i’m working with my band mate - its quite cool - if we need to drop in some vocals, we just turn on the microphone. It also has A/B inputs which is very useful to me.

You can spend as much as you want on a headphone amplifier - some are called crossfeed amps - and they pass some of the left signal to the right ear and vis a vis so you get a more approximate stereo image.
I use a VST crossfeed plugin (a free one). Sometimes i don’t.

I expect you may be happy without needing to spends massive amounts of money on audiophile equipment.

I regularly refer to other tracks whilst mixing, and due to a reflective room, i make much better mixes on headphones.
Just make sure your headphone amp sockets will drive your headphones - i imagine some onboard soundcards would struggle to drive some of the larger headphones available.

I have a behringer headphone amp (cennected to audio interface) driving some HD 25 and a pair of sonys.
Im very pleased with it - but a good equipment store will let you try stuff out to check you like the sound.

i use a mackie onyx 400f interface which features two headphone outputs that are loud enough even to drive 16 ohm headphones, so i would suggest that it isn’t necessary to buy a headphone amp…

Please be carefull with headphones, 2 years ago I bought a descent open pair of Beyerdynamics so I could listen to loud music and my children could sleep. Now I have tinnitus, a constant beep in my ears. It’s not too bad, but pretty anoying from time to time.

The problem is I try to put the volume of my headphones as loud as I used to set my monitorspeakers, and that is way to loud.

Now I never use my headphones anymore, I turn on my monitorspeakers but not so loud anymore. No problem at all, it’s just what you get yourself used too.

So don’t set them too loud:

:walkman: :w00t:

Ahhh…you guys are the best, thx for info!

I also use a crossfeed plug in as well(free as well, maybe we use the same one@monograph)

Re: Loud listening, thx for warning…learning about the k-system at the mo…although I don’t have calibrated monitors etc, instinctly I have figured that maybe its not best to mix at a loud level , mixes should sound good with the volume turned way down actually. So thank god I stopped that addiction, used to blast my music all the time as well!

Regarding Safe monitoring levels -
A noisy office is generally the legal limit for safe hearing levels - and nearfield monitors should be reasonably close to your ears anyway - and not too loud. (conversation level-ish or your ears will tire).

Nearfields have a shit bass response. Turning them up loud to hear the bass end is pointless.
If you have nearfield monitors turned up loud, you’re pissing into the wind and deafening yourself.
The louder you go, the more your ears play tricks on you.

If you want to hear bass properly with nearfields you need a subwoofer. (unless your nearfields are very expensive and comparitavly large)

headphones really do have the potential to break your ears instantly - my HD25s go up to 120db spl.
Which is equivalent to a jet engine take off… i’m scared of them. As they isolate outside noise, its tricky to guess if they are too loud.

Recently without noticing - i had accidently knocked the panning knob on my amp - i thought my headphones or amp was broken/out of balance.
Had i knocked the volume knob up high (its next to the panning knob) i could have blown my eardrums.
Worth thinking about… i may fix some sort of physical limit to my amp knob.

Does your amp have an spl meter?

The k-system talks about monitoring at the same level all the time for consistent loudness judgments etc…I think 83db spl(for k-14) … calibrating with pink noise is also involved…anywayyyyyyyy thx in advance for your response!

Edit: If I am not being clear enough, I mean are you able to tell what db spl you are listening to with your amp?

The amp has Db meters - i know how to callibrate meters between devices so 0db is 0db.
But the spl hitting my ears would come down to the sensitivity and efficiency (and ear sealing) of the headphones…

However - if anyone has any ‘how to’ suggestions about safe headphone monitor levels i’m all ears :)

Ahhh yessss, calibration…I need to get into all of this.

@ Safe monitoring levels…this may not be a technical answer, however, maybe just not loud? Just loud enough so you feel some punch…this is however, subjective as some may be so desensitized that they need to turn it up loud to feel punch!!

O dearrrrrrr:)