Can You Use Line Out For Headphones? No. You Can’t

Do you want to try your headphone on line out? Can you use line out for headphones at all? Read this article before you try it.

Using line for headphones in the line out jack of an audio player is among the biggest questions that confuse music lovers. People have many different opinions on this topic; hence it’s pretty confusing, and you might not get the right answer by a simple search.

But don’t worry, I will explain everything you need to know about line out and answer if you can use them for headphones in this article.

What Is A Line Out?

Line out is also called audio out or sound out, and it provides line-level outputs. The line-level is a particular amount of audio signal strength that enables transmitting analog sound from one audio component to another, for instance, DVD and CD players, audio amplifiers, television sets, and mixing consoles.

The strength of the signal does not only mean the output voltage, but it’s also about the output impedance and output power.

A lower impedance level generally means the audio signal is more powerful. Impedance is among the most prominent reasons for the question: can you use a line out for headphones?

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Can You Use Line Out For Headphones?

The line-level audio signal comes between the other audio signals. There are both weaker signals than the line signal and also stronger than the line signal.

Some weaker signals are those from instrument pickups (instrument level) and microphones (mic level or microphone level). At the same time, the examples of stronger signals are those used to drive loudspeakers or headphones (speaker level). 

For instance, the impedance of line-level signal output of a CD player will usually be between 500 to 1000 ohms, while the impedance output of headphones is lower. There’s also a difference in the power output as line-level signals have higher output power.

Due to these reasons, it is not considered a good idea to use the line out for headphones, but what are the issues you can expect to face if you do?

Issues With Using Line Out For Headphones

The primary reason behind line out not being appropriate for headphones is the difference in output impedance and output power. 

The chance of damaging your headphones or audio device is almost non-existent while connecting headphones through the line out. The main thing that would happen is distortion in the sound, and you can also experience a decrease in the volume.

The headphones and the line out works in the best way when they are paired with specific impedance inputs/outputs. The line out is also an unpowered audio signal. 

The line output is expected to be connected with a line-in that has a high input impedance. With a line-in, it provides optimum outputting according to such a load. Headphones generally don’t have that level of impedance that a line out needs.

Some combinations of audio devices and headphones may have slightly less difference in impedance, resulting in better audio quality. Still, it’s always better to connect headphones to the headphone preamp. 

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How To Use Headphones With Line Out 

A headphone amplifier is the only way to use a line out for headphones without distortion in audio quality. 

As discussed, there is a difference in the strength of signals between the line out and the headphones. 

Using a headphone amplifier will do the job.

Answers to More Questions About Headphones and Line Out Ports

Can you use the headphone out as a line out?

You can use a headphone out as a line out in most cases. Headphone amps are generally more prone to distortion in sound than line amps, but most of the time, they are good enough to get the job done without degrading the audio quality.

Can line in be used for speakers?

A line-in jack is designed to capture audio. You are supposed to connect an audio device through the line-in to the computer, which will send the sound signal, not the other way around. You need to plug the speaker into the headphone/speaker jack or the line out to receive audio signals.

Can you connect speakers to the headphone jack?

There is no issue connecting speakers with the headphone jack as long as the speakers are connected to another power source. 

Is the headphone jack the same as the line out?

No, the headphone jack and line are not the same. The line out has a line-level output, which is usually lower than the output of the headphone jack.

No, You Can’t Use Line Out For Headphones. You Will End Up Hearing Distorted Sounds

We learned in the article that using line out for headphones can distort the audio signal and also decrease the overall sound because of the difference in impedance and audio power. But we also observed that it wouldn’t really damage your headphone or audio device.

I hope you liked this article and cleared your doubts on the matter.