If you have a pair of 80 ohm headphones or you are considering a pair, you may be wondering if you will need an amp.
This is a common question for those investing in headphones with this impedance level.
An amp is essential to most 80 Ohm headphones.
A desktop amp is key to making sure you get good performance out of these premium headphones.
With an amp, you will experience a more complete sound profile and be able to use the headphones at a louder volume.
Let’s go over why an amp is so important for 80 ohm headphones.
Should You Get An Amp For 80 Ohm Headphones?
If you want to know if you need an amp you will need to not only understand the impedance but also the sensitivity.
Impedance tells us how much power your headphones need. This is told through measurement of ohms so you know how much amplification the headphones need.
Sensitivity, on the other hand, tells you how loud a specific pair of headphones can get in decibels for a certain amount of power, usually millivolts. You want enough power to achieve 110dB.
Many headphones, even if they don’t require an amp, will benefit from one. The majority of 80 Ohm headphones need a headphone amp and any that don’t need one will show a noticeable benefit from an amp.
32 Ohm headphones generally need less power from an amp, either dedicated or built into the device, compared to 80 ohm headphones which will require more power.
Although the impedance of a pair of headphones may give a lot of information, it isn’t always the deciding factor if you should get an amp or not.
For example, the Abyss Diana V2s which are some of the most premium headphones have an impedance of 32 ohms. Even though the impedance is so low, they require an amp with a sensitivity of 91 dB per mW.
To answer the question directly, yes you should get an amp for 80 ohm headphones because there will be a big performance improvement.
What Kind Of Amp Do You Need?
There are two main kinds of amps. Desktop and portable.
You will want an amp that can provide a solid amount of power. Desktop amps will provide the power needed to drive a more premium pair of headphones.
Some portable amps may be able to provide a sufficient amount of power but going with a regular desktop amp is the best option for more power hungry headphones.
The amount of power of needed depends on headphones but our recommended option will work for the vast majority of headphones and almost all 80 Ohm headphones.
For around $100 to $120 Schiit provides two great value picks that provide plenty of energy for power-hungry headphones while still staying at a good price.
Their Magni 3+ and Magni Heresy are great amps to get the most out of your money and will be able to power the majority of headphones.
The two sound slightly different with the Magni 3+ having a slightly more impactful low end. Also, they process sound a little bit differently but deliver the same amount of power, have the same inputs, outputs, and overall shape.
Overall you won’t really notice a huge difference in the sound between both options. The primary difference that you will notice between the two is that the Magni 3+ has a silver casing and the Heresy has a black case with minor red accents.
Unless you are driving the most power-hungry headphones or you want more features, these both are fantastic, especially for the price.
Popular 80 Ohm Headphones On The Market
The 80 ohm impedance level is a key level when people start to consider if they need an amp. There are multiple headphones at this impedance level.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
Beyerdynamic’s DT770 Pro is a solid option for those who want a closed-back experience. They have multiple versions at different impedance levels but the DT 770 Pro 80 ohm version is one of the most popular closed-back headphones.
The DT770 Pro requires an amp to run it properly. If you still want the DT770 pro but can’t get an amp or travel a lot, the 32 ohm version may be better for you.
Although this version is 80 ohms, the sensitivity is 96dB per mW meaning that these are not very efficient in addition to them requiring a decent amount of power.
The sound quality is very strong and for closed-backs at the price, it is the best. The build quality is great quality with velour ear pads and a steel frame.
Although they are closed-back, they are not the best for travel as they are decently heavy and will require an amp with the 80 ohms version.
If you work with people around you or just don’t want to disturb anyone around you in general, the DT770 Pro is great in general with premium sound performance.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
As an open back version of their DT770, Beyerdynamic sells the DT990 Pro. Similar to the DT770, the 990 has two versions at two impedance levels to choose from, 80 ohms and 250 ohms.
Beyerdynamic’s 990 Pro needs an amp to drive these headphones properly. Unfortunately unlike the DT770 Pro, there is no version that runs without an amp but these deliver great performance.
Another important factor is the sensitivity which is 96dB per mW so that means this pair of headphones is not the most efficient. That means they need more power than can be given by something like a computer.
The sound quality at the price range heavily competes with other open-backs at the price and depending on your preference, you may like the DT990 Pros the most.
The DT990 has a similar build to the DT770 Pro but because they are open-back they are comfortable for longer listening sessions.
Massdrop x Focal Elex Headphones – needs an amp
Apart from Beyerdynamic, Massdrop, which is now Drop, also sells 80 ohm headphones with their Massdrop x Focal Elex open-back headphones. Drop’s Elex headphones appeal to a totally different price point at around $700.
An amp is necessary to drive this pair and with such a high-quality pair of headphones. With an amp, you will get the audio that the manufacturer envisioned for most plus more.
The Elexs are decently efficient but not efficient enough to run without an amp with a sensitivity of 104 dB per mW. You can’t run these on the computer very well but most people investing this much into a pair of headphones probably already have an amp and even DAC setup.
Massdrop and Focal deliver a great sounding pair of headphones with a lot of detail. The dynamics are fantastic, so the treble response is solid. They compete with the options a price category above the DT990 Pro from Beyerdynamic.
Overall the materials used are solid. Metal is used for the frame with memory foam earpads that make these comfortable for long periods of usage.
There are two cables depending on what kind of amp you may use these with and they both are braided.
Generally, you should get an amp for 80 ohm Headphones because all of them will benefit from an amp and the vast majority of them require an amp to properly drive them.
There are plenty of options of amps but a desktop amp will deliver more power than a portable option.
Also, if you want headphones at this impedance level there is a variety of choices to decide between at different price points that are either open or closed back.