Do Headphone Extensions Reduce Quality?

A common question that comes up whenever people look into headphones extensions is whether or not they will reduce the overall sound quality of their headphones. Usually, people who want to buy headphones extensions ask this question. If you are in the market and looking for one this article will provide some clarification for you.

If you have cheap audio extensions then it will have an impact on the quality of the sound produced by your headphones. However, this difference can be minute, and will not be discernable within day-to-day usage, unless utilized for professional reasons.

We’ll be diving deeper into this subject through this article. And giving you all the information that you need to make an informed decision regarding the purchase of your next headphone extensions.

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What Does a Headphone Extension Do?

A lot of people understand what Audio Extensions are necessary for, but some people end up just getting them because they think it makes their headphones look a lot cooler. However, lets break down the facts regarding these cords, and understand precisely which case scenario are they needed within.

The answer to what an Audio extension does is simple but requires us to know the primary role of the cord itself which is to be a pathway for signals to pass through. Audio extensions thus are an additional pathway that is provided to artificially increase the range between your headphones and the signal source.

There isn’t a restriction on how many input devices are connected, but rather a multitude of devices that range from various phones and televisions can be utilized when using an audio extension.

However, there seems to be a common misconception that having a lengthier cable wire will somehow reduce the overall quality of the sound or audio produced. This is not the case in all instances, and has more to do with other factors that can drastically impact sound quality such as impedance.

Do Headphone Extensions Reduce Sound Quality?

There are quite a few factors that go into making good audio cables. And this too generates a few different types of wires for us to make use of, such as shielded or unshielded, etc. You can have a different audio output result depending on which time of wire you select for your headphone setup.

This is the reason why this question is far more complicated than you first expect it to be. Because the physical construction of the wire itself, and its different facets, improve or decrease its overall performance. Which in turn causes the fluctuation of sound quality in the device.

Overall, however, poorly designed headphone extensions can be detrimental to your headphone’s audio quality and sound performance. You will find many cables that have problematic facets associated with them that will create increasing problems for your audio output system.

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How High Impedance Affects Sound Quality

One of the fundamental features of headphones is their very high impedance or electrical resistance. This is exceptional even when you compare regular headphones to most other audio devices like speakers and microphones.

This exceptional aspect of headphones, however, makes it so that connecting additional wires to them is not, particularly an easy task, but rather makes the process of listening to music far more difficult as a result.

Due to the high impedance values of most headphones, the flow of electricity that moves through them is also considerably lower. This means that it requires a significant amount of power to push through the electrical impedance of headphones, allowing them to work properly.

There are, however, limits to the amount of power that can be produced from either your phone or your computer. So you cannot expect yourself to increase the size of the cable that leads to your headphones and not face some sort of drop-off in the amount of power received.

Since there is more cable that the audio signal now needs to push through, and a limited amount of power to do so, it is likely that some of the audio signals will be lost while transmitting the signal. This is what causes the poor quality that many headphones face when they attach cheap headphone extensions.

How Low Conductivity Affects Sound Quality?

From the previous section, it might be quite obvious how we’re going to evaluate the importance of conductivity within extension wires. We’ve understood that if it is harder for the audio signal to receive power or if it is harder to move through the wire then that reduces sound quality.

A similar instance occurs when you consider low conductivity in some headphone extensions. A good headphone extension has low resistance and high conductivity. However, most cheaper extensions are made using very poor conductor wires, which increase the loss of power over the course of the cable.

What this means is that more power is lost through the cable, and this often cuts into the already limited amount that is afforded to headphones. This ultimately culminates in the overall signal of the audio device not being able to generate the requisite power to keep the headphone engaged.

This is why poor headphone extension wires lose a lot of their sound quality because they are very good resistors and very poor conductors to the electrical signals that they must transmit.

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How Does Poor Durability Affect Sound Quality?

Another aspect that is often not discussed is the physical makeup of the extension wire itself. It is important to realize that physical damage can cause severe hindrances in the performance of an extension wire.

This means that a good durable extension wire that is both flexible and able to shield its components is important if you want the best sound quality possible. Otherwise, interferences from external sources, such as electric fields, can be detrimental to the overall performance of your headphones.

Without proper insulation or shielding your headphone extensions are going to do you more harm than they will do good. And it’s often necessary to make sure that as you purchase your headphone extension, you pay close attention to its durability, flexibility and ability to insulate and shield its components from external sources.

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Do Expensive Headphone Extensions Improve Sound Quality?

Indeed, many of the features of a good headphone extension that we mentioned above are available in more high-end, expensive, headphone extensions. However, whether or not even these improved headphone extensions are worth the price is something that audiophiles have researched for some time now.

The consensus that has been achieved after scouring through the host of expensive headphone extensions is that they are unfortunately not worth the asking price.

These extensions while great at adding a little more distance from you and your console, aren’t able to provide a significant audio quality benefit. And are usually considered a net loss in that regard. The issue lies in the fact that most expensive headphone cables are still made with copper as their primary material for wiring.

Copper is a great conductor, and it is exceptional at transmitting audio signals through it for the headphones to receive. But this material drastically reduces the durability and flexibility of the wire itself. The extension cord becomes stiff and heavy. And most people complain of it often breaking or leaking.

This issue is then accentuated when extension wires become frayed or damaged. Usually in more humid climates, or areas where there is an excess of moisture, the issue worsens. The damage accumulates and it can potentially be harmful to your headphones. Especially if they are of the high-end variety.

Simply put, it’s just not worth the risk.

And there’s the answer to your question folks. Headphone extensions do reduce the quality of the sound of your headphones. We explain in detail how the process of transferring audio signals to the headphones itself makes it difficult for extension wires to not lose some audio strength and power.

This in addition to how cheap headphone extensions are built can directly cause the loss of necessary power and audio signals that can make you lose out on the performance you perhaps expected from your high-end headphones.

Regardless of that, however, there are some small advantages to be had from this system. And for most people, the absolute dip in quality from expensive headphone extensions can be negligible in terms of the benefit of an elongated wire that better suits their overall setup. The choice ultimately is yours.

Audiophile Haven

AudiophileHaven is a site dedicated to Hi-Fi audio, and helping others learn more about premium quality sound equipment.

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