Apple Provides Details on Using High-Impedance Headphones With New MacBook Pros

Apple has published a new support document detailing the use of high-impedance headphones with the new MacBook Pro models.

headphone jack macbook pro article
As Apple mentioned when it unveiled the latest MacBook Pros, the 3.5mm headphone jack offers support for high-impedance headphones, which is good news for professionals who want to use the MacBook Pro with studio quality headphones.

As noted in the support document, the new MacBook Pros come with DC load detection, adaptive voltage output, and a built-in digital-to-analog converter. For some use cases, they may also remove the need for an external headphone amplifier.

The 3.5 mm headphone jack on the MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021) or MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021) features DC load detection and adaptive voltage output. Your Mac can detect the impedance of the connected device and will adapt its output for low- and high-impedance headphones, as well as for line-level audio devices.

When you connect headphones with an impedance of less than 150 ohms, the headphone jack provides up to 1.25 volts RMS. For headphones with an impedance of 150 to 1k ohms, the headphone jack delivers 3 volts RMS. This may remove the need for an external headphone amplifier.

With impedance detection, adaptive voltage output, and a built-in digital-to-analog converter that supports sample rates of up to 96 kHz, you can enjoy high-fidelity, full-resolution audio directly from the headphone jack on your MacBook Pro.

Apple's new MacBook Pro models are equipped with the "best audio system in a notebook," according to Apple, thanks to upgrades to both the headphone jack and the speaker system.

Related Roundup: 14 & 16" MacBook Pro
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

Serban55 Avatar
5 weeks ago
impressive in a world that Apple itself started the remove the headphone jack trend
Thank you Apple
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hyperreal Avatar
5 weeks ago

High impedance =/= better sound. The two aren't necessarily related.

I mean, why is this even the default assumption?
Because the hifi audio market is full of snake oil peddlers.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chancha Avatar
5 weeks ago
I have had a bayerdynamic DT1990PRO for on the road monitoring purpose. In the past with any Mac I either need a AudioQuest DragonFly for amplifying, if not through an external audio interface and its jack there. Just tried plugging it directly to my base 14" and can report the volume is decent. Frequency response sounds flat (which is good, unlike the AirPods). Audio MIDI reports both the jack and internal speakers cap at 96kHz / 32bit float.

This makes life much easier, for semi-professional monitoring on the pinch.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ? Avatar
5 weeks ago
That is brilliant! I'm also glad the speaker of the new Macbook is on another level.

MacBook Pro does have the "best audio system in a notebook", Apple!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haruhiko Avatar
5 weeks ago
Is the AirPods Max “high impedance headphones”?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alexe Avatar
5 weeks ago

This is all pretty odd. It's hard to imagine a real audio professional plugging headphones into the laptop's headphone jack instead of using a USB DAC. But apparently Apple thought there would be some marketing value in adding this feature to the MacBook Pros. Meanwhile, they give us an outdated HDMI 2.0 port and a slow SD card slot.
Why is that hard to imagine? I'm a real audio professional and I'm definitely going to try it out. If that MacBook Pro DAC can drive my headphones sufficiently well and I can rely on the sound, then that saves me one piece of equipment to carry around with me in many situations.

I don't consider this a gimmick, on the contrary. I wish professional-grade DAC and amplifiers for headphones were more of a focus on pro laptops.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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