If your headphones seem to have lost some of their volume, or if you’ve noticed a loss of high end treble response resulting in a muddy sound, check out the following article to learn strategies to restore volume and clarity to your old headphones.
Options for Making Your Headphones Louder
Option 1: Clean Your Headphones
Option 1: Clean Your Headphones
Over time, especially in earbuds and in ear monitor headphones, dust, wax, and dirt build up and block the tiny mesh holes that allow sound to exit from the drivers. Such materials tend to block high frequencies more than low frequencies, so dirty headphones often have a loss of treble response, a muddy sounding tonality, and a drop in overall volume. Fortunately, cleaning your headphones is safe and easy.
Use removable adhesive putty, also known as mounting putty, such as those from Scotch, Blu-Tack, or Museum Putty, to clean debris from your headphones. Just take a bit of putty, stick it on the headphone mesh, then remove. This method is not only easy, but is safe as well and does not damage your headphones the way cleaning chemicals and other methods can.
Option 2: Get More Power
It’s possible that the problem isn’t your headphones as much as a lack of power. Some devices, especially the tiny ones we use today, simply don’t have the power on hand to drive certain types of headphones. This is especially true of higher impedance headphones. This results in less than adequate volume and weak overall sound. If you find yourself turning the volume up all the way or close to all the way, you might need a headphone amplifier.
A headphone amplifier takes sound from your source and amplifies it to an appropriate degree for headphones. It is important to make sure that you get a dedicated headphone amplifier, however, not a power amplifier designed for speakers.
Just as there are varying qualities of headphones, there are varying qualities of headphone amplifiers, with models ranging from inexpensive to expensive. Base your decision on the quality of sound you are looking for, as well as on the quality of the headphones you want to boost. Buying a high end headphone amplifier will not make cheap headphones sound like audiophile headphones. At the same time, a cheap headphone amplifier will likely diminish the quality of an audiophile headphone.
I recommend buying an amplifier that is in the same range as your headphones. For example, if you have a mid-level headphone, a mid-level headphone amplifier will work great. If you have an audiophile headphone, you might want to step up to a nicer headphone amplifier.
Keep in mind that we have a tendency to equate louder with better sounding, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Headphone amplifier manufactures often talk about how their products dramatically increase sound quality. In most cases, however, the actual tonal difference is minimal, as they sound better to our ears simply because they are louder. I’m not saying a headphone amplifier can’t give you a better sound—it can; but it will be subtle. If you are unhappy with the overall sound quality you are getting from your headphones, I wouldn’t recommend trying to remedy the problem with a headphone amplifier. Instead, you should look at a new set of headphones.
Option 3: Get Some New Headphones
If you decide that it’s best to buy a new pair of headphones in order to increase volume, especially if you typically use a small device such as a smartphone or iPod, look for a pair with low impedance. Low impedance headphones tend to sound louder when powered by small devices because they require much less power to operate. Higher impedance headphones, on the other hand, have the advantage of working with lots of different equipment but take much more power to operate. A headphone with low impedance—most are in the 25 ohms range—will work great with a smaller device but be careful when using them with powerful output sources such as DJ mixers and headphone amplifiers. If you send too much power into a low impedance headphone, they will definitely blow.
Also consider buying a pair of headphones with good passive noise isolation. If you are often in noisy environments, you may be turning your headphone up to compensate for outside noise. Using a headphone which does a good job of blocking outside noise will allow you to listen to music at a more appropriate level, protect your hearing, and prevent ear fatigue.
Option 4: Check Your Device
So many devices today have built in volume limiting, a setting which prevents the volume from going beyond a certain point. If you’re not getting enough volume, turn this setting off so that you can properly boost your headphones.
Finally, Make Headphones Louder
I hope you enjoyed this article and discovered a few possible ideas on how to make your headphones louder. As always, use common sense and protect your hearing. After all, you only get two ears.