Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Live sound reinforcement, running PA's and general amplifier/amplification questions and discussion.
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Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Post by rpmad » November 26th, 2008, 12:28 pm

I have a M-Audio Firewire Solo Audio Interface I use for my DJ setup.

The order the music travels is:
1 - Computer
2 - Firewire Cable
3 - M-Audio Interface
4 - 1/4" Out to my Amp
5 - Speakers (2 Yamaha SV115V Cabs, 2 Behringer B1800X Subs)

That's it, no mixers, sound boards, etc. Simple setup that sounds freakin awesome. Everything I need is in my DJ software (DiscoXT). My question is, the M-Audio Interface has CH1 and CH2 line out which works great and sounds great. But the headphone (stereo) out has WAY MORE volume.

Was just wondering why not use that to go to my amp and just use a Y-Cable to split left and right. Is there an advantage to using line out? Is the headphone out overdriven and sounds like crap? Why are line-outs so "quiet"? Does the M-Audio Interface clean up the sound before it outputs line out? I don't want more volume if it's distorted and will make the amp clip more because the wavelengths are too long.

By the way, everyone has been really helpful and you guys really know your crap.


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Wes Inman
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Re: Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Post by Wes Inman » November 26th, 2008, 2:41 pm

Well, you say you are getting a great sound now, why fix what isn't broken? Volume isn't everything.

You will probably get a distorted sound using the headphone jack, but try and see, who knows?

Not an electronics guy, but we have a few here who will be able to explain the difference between a Line Out and Headphone jack.
If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

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Re: Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Post by KR2 » November 26th, 2008, 6:55 pm

So, you are using your computer for playing music and your amp for the speakers?
Is that what your saying?
And you want to know if you can use the computer headphone to go into the amp?
I use my iPod that way sometimes.
I had to get a cable with the headphone (iPod) jack and left/right RCA inputs into the amp because my amp has that type of input available (and it doesn't tie up my guitar input). So I can play a song on my amp as I play the guitar.
But if you want to use the amp input, just buy a regular iPod/headphone jack (identical jacks) and buy an adapter for the amp input (a little 1 inch thing).
It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.

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Re: Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Post by kent_eh » November 27th, 2008, 11:25 pm

The headphone out is designed with enough power to drive a small speaker (your headphones) and drive 'em loud enough to be heard in a club environment. It's also designed to be driving a low impedance.

Line level is a much lower level, and is designed to drive another piece of electronics.
Line level isn't a firmly defined level.
Typically for home electronics using an RCA plug, line level is around -10dBm and is a high impedance.
Line level on pro equipment, using a 1/4 inch or XLR connector is often 0dBm, and may be a high impedance (usually the 1/4 inch) or 600 Ohm (usually XLR)

Odds are pretty good that your headphone out would overdrive the input to your amp, and sound nasty.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
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Re: Line Out, or Headphone Out?

Post by labiteena » December 3rd, 2009, 2:41 am

How to connect regular headphone jack to amp? I just bought a small amp in hopes of connecting a headphone to it to use on a Plasma tv. However, the headphone (regular small ipod headphones) don't work when I attack to wires from output. Please help?

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