Should You Plug Your Headphones Into an Audio Interface?

Headphones are a ubiquitous accessory in today’s world, whether it’s for enjoying music, watching movies, or engaging in virtual meetings. However, when it comes to professional audio work or music production, the question arises: should you plug your headphones into an audio interface? In this article, we will explore the advantages and factors to consider when using headphones with an audio interface, helping you make an informed decision.


Audio interfaces play a crucial role in capturing and reproducing high-quality sound in professional audio settings. They act as a bridge between your computer or recording device and the outside world, allowing you to connect microphones, instruments, and speakers. While they primarily serve as a means to connect studio monitors or speakers, audio interfaces can also be used with headphones for monitoring purposes.

Understanding audio interfaces

Before diving into the specifics of using headphones with an audio interface, let’s briefly understand what an audio interface is and its benefits. An audio interface is an external hardware device that provides superior sound quality and additional functionalities compared to the built-in audio interfaces found in computers or mobile devices. They typically offer high-resolution audio conversion, multiple inputs and outputs, and advanced connectivity options.

Benefits of using an audio interface

Using an audio interface offers several advantages over relying solely on the built-in audio capabilities of your computer or mobile device.

Improved audio quality

Audio interfaces are designed to deliver pristine audio quality, thanks to their high-quality analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters. This results in cleaner recordings and more accurate playback, ensuring you can hear every detail in your audio content.

Low latency monitoring

Audio interfaces provide low-latency monitoring, which is crucial for real-time audio applications like recording and live performances. Latency refers to the delay between inputting a sound and hearing it through your headphones or speakers. By minimizing latency, audio interfaces allow you to monitor your recordings without distracting delays.

Versatility and connectivity options

Audio interfaces offer a wide range of connectivity options, including XLR and TRS inputs for microphones and instruments, line inputs for external devices, and headphone outputs for monitoring. This versatility allows you to connect various audio sources and control their levels independently.

Using headphones with an audio interface

When it comes to using headphones with an audio interface, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Direct headphone connection

Most audio interfaces come equipped with a dedicated headphone output, allowing you to connect your headphones directly. This method is convenient and straightforward, as you can easily control the headphone volume directly from the audio interface.

Using a headphone amplifier

In some cases, the built-in headphone output of an audio interface may not provide sufficient power to drive high-impedance or demanding headphones. In such situations, using an external headphone amplifier can enhance the audio signal and provide adequate power to drive your headphones effectively.

Balanced vs. unbalanced connections

Audio interfaces may offer both balanced and unbalanced outputs for connecting headphones. Balanced connections help reduce interference and noise, particularly over long cable runs. If your headphones support balanced connections, utilizing the balanced outputs on the audio interface can result in cleaner audio signals.

Factors to consider when plugging headphones into an audio interface

Before plugging your headphones into an audio interface, consider the following factors:

Impedance matching

Matching the impedance of your headphones with the headphone output impedance of the audio interface is essential for optimal audio performance. Impedance mismatch can lead to a loss of audio quality, distorted sound, or insufficient volume levels. Consult the specifications of your headphones and audio interface to ensure compatibility.

Headphone output power

Some headphones, especially high-impedance models, require more power to deliver their full potential. Check the output power specifications of your audio interface to ensure it can adequately drive your headphones. Insufficient power may result in weak audio, lack of dynamics, or an imbalanced frequency response.

Compatibility with different headphone types

Different headphones have varying impedance levels and sound signatures. Some headphones are designed for studio use, while others are optimized for consumer listening. Consider the type of headphones you have and how they will match your intended use with the audio interface.

Advantages of using headphones with an audio interface

Now that we have explored the factors to consider, let’s highlight some advantages of using headphones with an audio interface.

Accurate monitoring

Headphones provide detailed and accurate monitoring, allowing you to hear subtle nuances and mix your audio with precision. They can reveal imperfections and flaws that might go unnoticed with speakers or consumer-grade headphones.

Noise isolation

When working in a noisy environment or recording studio, headphones offer excellent noise isolation. They create a controlled listening environment, free from external distractions, enabling you to focus on your audio work.

Portability and convenience

Headphones are portable and convenient, making them ideal for mobile recording setups or situations where you need to work on audio projects in different locations. With an audio interface and a pair of headphones, you can have a complete recording and monitoring solution that fits in your backpack.

If you’re looking to enhance your streaming setup with a high-quality audio interface, you might want to check out our comprehensive guide on the best audio interfaces for streaming. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned streamer, having the right audio interface can significantly improve the sound quality of your broadcasts. From top-rated brands like Focusrite and PreSonus to versatile options that offer low-latency monitoring and advanced connectivity, our guide will help you choose the perfect audio interface that meets your streaming needs. So, dive into our article on the best audio interfaces for streaming and take your streaming game to the next level.


In conclusion, plugging your headphones into an audio interface can be highly beneficial for professional audio work and music production. They offer improved audio quality, low latency monitoring, and versatile connectivity options. By considering factors such as impedance matching, headphone output power, and headphone types, you can ensure optimal performance and an enjoyable listening experience.


Can I use any headphones with an audio interface?

Yes, you can use most headphones with an audio interface. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as impedance, power requirements, and compatibility for the best audio performance.

Do I need a headphone amplifier for all headphones?

Not necessarily. While some high-impedance headphones may benefit from a dedicated headphone amplifier, many headphones can be driven effectively by the built-in headphone output of an audio interface.

Are balanced connections necessary for headphones?

Balanced connections can help reduce noise and interference, but they are not always necessary for headphones. It depends on the specific headphones and the audio interface you are using.

How do I match the impedance of my headphones with the audio interface?

Check the specifications of both your headphones and audio interface. Ensure that the output impedance of the audio interface is within an acceptable range for your headphones.

Can I use an audio interface with my mobile device?

Yes, many audio interfaces are compatible with mobile devices. However, you may need additional adapters or cables to connect them properly.

Can you use any headphones with Focusrite?

While Focusrite audio interfaces are compatible with most headphones, it’s essential to consider certain factors for optimal performance. Factors such as impedance, power requirements, and headphone type should be taken into account to ensure the best audio experience. It’s recommended to check the specifications of both your headphones and the Focusrite audio interface to ensure compatibility.

Do you have to use headphones with Focusrite?

Using headphones with a Focusrite audio interface is not mandatory but highly beneficial, especially in professional audio work and music production. Headphones provide accurate monitoring, noise isolation, and portability advantages. They allow you to hear subtle nuances, work in noisy environments, and provide convenience for mobile recording setups. Whether you choose to use headphones or not depends on your specific needs and preferences.