Line Out vs Headphone Out: Here is All You Need to Know

Affiliate disclosure: In full transparency – some of the links on this website are affiliate links, if you use them to make a purchase we will earn a commission at no additional cost for you (none whatsoever!). Will this be a problem? This is how we manage to create free content for you. Please know that your trust is so important for us. If we recommend anything, it is always because we believe it is worth exploring. And, buy me a coffee ☕️

Do you confuse line out and headphone out? There’s a slight difference between the two, and we’ll explain it in this article to clear any confusion and misconceptions.

Line out, and headphone out are both audio outputs on your computer. They are used for different purposes, but similar enough that people tend to get them confused. Let’s clear things up right away, so it’s easier to understand what each one is used for.

What is line out?

What is Line Out

Line out is designed to send audio signals via RCA (An electric connector used to connect audio and video signals.

This port sends line-level audio signals through several audio devices. It’s an old standard connection that was used on most hi-fi stereo systems. If you’re playing music at home, it’s recommended that you use the line out rather than headphones for better quality sound.

What is a headphone out?

On the other hand, the headphone out is a low-power audio output designed to send audio signals to your headphones. This headphone out is designed for low impedance connections, so it’s primarily used with smaller devices.

You can also use it as a line-out port, but the quality will vary depending on the source of the audio signal. The headphone out port works by delivering amplified line levels that work with headphones.

Difference between line out and headphone out

Difference between Line Out and Headphone Out

As much as the headphone out port serves the same purpose as a line out, they are both different in their own ways.

Here are a few ways they are different.

Amplification and volume regulation

Unlike the headphone out, which has amplification built-in, the line out does not have amplification.

This means that it is recommended to use headphones or amplifiers when using this type of output.

If you want a headphone out with a higher voltage (for better sound quality), you can get one that is designed to amplify more power voltage without any distortion.

The line out doesn’t work with headphones because it doesn’t contain an amplified signal. It also bypasses your device’s amplifier.

Input and output signal types

Input and Output Signal Types

The line out is designed to send audio signals through RCA, which uses a balanced mono-signal format. This means that it is recommended to send music (audio signals) from your computer or other devices, such as CD players or laptops.

Type of audio signal sent

Type of Audio Signal Sent

As mentioned earlier, line out is designed to send line-level audio signals. This means that the quality will generally be better than the headphone out port, which generally has a lower quality signal because it does not have amplification built in to increase the volume.

This is why it’s recommended for users not to use the line out for headphones.


Line out and headphones out are also different when it comes to impedance. The headphone out has an impedance of 32 ohms, which is the standard for most headphones.

On the other hand, line out can have an impedance that varies from one device to another. It can have an impedance between 4 Ohms and 600 Ohms, so it may be compatible with some types of speaker systems but not others.

Output signal purity

Line out is designed for professional audio devices, while the headphone-out port serves smaller personal devices. Another difference is that line out has higher power output than headphone out which is lower(typically 100mW).

FAQs on line out vs headphone out

Can I Use a headphone out as a line out?

Yes, you can. All you have to do is get a cable with a headphone out on one end and line out on the other side.

Can I Plug headphones into line out?

No, you cannot. Headphones are designed for low-power connections, but line out are designed to send high-power audio signals. It’s best not to plug headphones into the line-out port if you want to get better sound quality.

What Does headphone line out mean?

A headphone line out means that it is designed to send audio signals through the headphone port. There are benefits of using this over other types of ports, but there are also reasons why you may not want to use it.

Is the headphone jack the same as the audio out?

No, the headphone jack is also known as the headphone out port. It is used to send audio signals through headphones. On the other hand, audio out is used for sending music from your devices to external speakers or amplifiers.

What is the difference between line out and speaker out?

A speaker out is an audio port that sends music to speakers. On the other hand, line out sends music that has been converted into a balanced mono-signal format to external devices like amplifiers or sound processors.
Earphones are designed for personal use, whereas speakers are built to be used in the open to project sound further. Hence, many people can listen at a time.

Is line out the same as audio out?

Audio out is a type of output that sends music from your device to external speakers. Line out, on the other hand, sends line-level audio signals.

What is audio out used for?

Audio out is a type of output that sends music from your device to external speakers. Line in allows you to input an external sound into your computer or notebook.

Is line out a pre-out?

No, line out is not a pre-out. A pre-out sends audio signals to external amplifiers before the stage of amplification.


I hope you found this article helpful.

I hope you now know the difference between line out and headphone out.

In a nutshell, a line out is used for sending audio signals to external devices, while the headphone port sends audio signals to headphones.

A headphone jack is also known as the headphone out port. It’s used to send audio signals through headphones.

A speaker out is an audio port that sends music to speakers. Before buying a device, check what ports it comes with, whether it’s a line out or a headphone-out. Ensure it has the appropriate ports you need.

Jennifer Max


Hi, I’m Jennifer I’m a passionate singer and an audiophile from Detroit, MI. 

I’m on a mission to help music creators to create fine music that help them position uniquely in the saturated music space.

Follow my blog for regular content :-)

SoundMaximum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon LLC owned websites. 

Copyright © 2016 – 2023 SoundMaximum | Designed and Maintained by KreativeKraft Designs