Can Amps Damage Your Headphones? Important Facts

Having an amplifier that you use with your headphones can really make the sound stand out. This is the perfect device if you want the best performance, with the highest quality of sound available. But if you have looked around for ideas on how to use amplifiers, you may have come across stories of them damaging headphones. Is this actually true?

In most cases, your amplifiers are unlikely to damage your headphones, unless you don’t consider the requirements of both devices. The most common way for this to happen is by turning up to a volume to a level that the headphones can’t handle, or pushing too much power through the headphones. This can cause an overload and subsequent damage. 

Choosing an amplifier to work with your headphone means looking for compatibility. To learn how to do that, you need to understand what circumstances lead to damage on headphones. So, if you are interested in minimizing this risk, we recommend that you read this article! We will explore the common causes of damage using amplifiers, and how to prevent it. 

Why Using Amps Can Damage Your Headphones

We’ve all heard that using an amplifier can be a game changer when you are on headphones. However, if you are using pricey headphones that are important to you, you also might want to know if there is a risk for damage. While there is little chance of this happening, the best way to avoid it is by being mindful of compatibility issues.

The most common thing you will encounter when it comes to headphone damage from amplifiers is that there may be too much power coming into the device. If the amplifier is supplying far more power than the headphones can manage, they will get damaged, because of the sensitive wiring inside the headphones that can easily overload. 

So how can you tell when a headphone is good to go with an amplifier? This can be done through checking the impedance value of the headphones. If you’re wondering what impedance is, it is how much the wiring in the headphones resists the current that goes through the wires. The unit for measuring this is ohms, which is also depicted by Omega. 

You can understand how an amplifier can damage the headphones if the impedance value is considered. This is because this value helps you understand how much power you will need to play sound through your headphones. The smaller your headphones are, the more likely that they will have a lower impedance. For example, earbuds will have lower impedance. 

This means that earbuds will need less power to help you listen to the audio you are interested in. It also helps to explain why earbuds are not likely to need a headphone amp to play music at higher quality. Therefore, using an amplifier with these devices can be less beneficial and may just be an added cost that will yield very few results.

Some of the bigger headphone sets you see will have low impedance, but in most cases, their values are much higher. These will need an amplifier that can push the right amount of power through the headphones. However, if they are paired with something that provides too much power, that can damage the headphones, sometimes in an irreversible way. 

Related: 7 Differences Between a Headphone Amp and a DAC

The Connection Between Volume And Power

There are plenty of types of headphones out there, and there are also many kinds of amps, each of which can offer different things. The general idea of an amp is that it helps to push more power through the headphones, which helps to improve the quality and volume of the sound you are listening to. Some also allow you to edit sound settings and more. 

One of the ways that damage can happen is when you look for an amplifier to increase the volume, without considering how much power it will push through the headphones. The overpowered amplifier is especially dangerous. The higher the volume, the more power it punishes through, as this can exceed the maximum limit. As a result, you may see damage.

Think about it. We often consider volume something related to loudness, but the reality is a lot more complicated than that. You get a higher volume when your device can take up a lot more power than what it is usually going through. If you overload it, you can end up damaging the wiring inside the headphones. So always keep volume in mind.

Accidentally Overwhelming Headphones With Power

There is another mistake that people can make when it comes to damaging their headphones. Sometimes, you may accidentally plug the headphones into the wrong place on the amplifier, or even on a power amp. Why does this matter? Because there is a risk that you can plug your beloved headphones into the output area on the headphone amp.

You are likely to make this mistake if you are new to using amplifiers and are not familiar with the parts. Or, you may think that the use of a power amplifier will help lead to even better results than the usual headphone amp. While this may be true when it is done by someone who knows the systems in and out, it can be disastrous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Unlike other devices that need power amps, your headphones do not need a boost. Typically, a headphone uses far less power than most other audio devices. For example, think of a studio speaker or monitor. They will use a lot less power than these devices. They are smaller, are close to your ear, and don’t need to cover a lot of distance. 

With that amount of power, the inside of the headphones and all of their components will be completely fried up, and this can cause permanent damage to your headphones as well. So, before you try new things to improve the output of your headphones, do research into what works well with the components and their power requirements. 

Related: Do Headphone Amps Improve Sound Quality? 7 Ways

Checking For Headphone And Amp Compatibility

So, now that you know how a headphone can sustain damage with an amplifier, what can you do to prevent this? Luckily, there are a few things to look out for. The best way to start is to keep an eye out for the impedance level of the headphones. You will likely find this in Ohms listed in the user manual, or online. 

Another way to make sure you keep compatibility in mind is to look at the sensitivity rating for the headphones. You can sometimes see this listed out as the efficiency rating, in the manual for your device. Once you have these two, you can calculate the power needed to get the volume you are looking for. 

Now, you can look for compatible headphone amps by choosing one that delivers the power you need without any risk of overloading, or not providing sufficient power. 


No one wants to see their headphones get damaged through an amplifier. Hopefully with these tips, you can understand how to prevent such damage and get the best results from your headphone amps. 

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