Jul 4, 2016

Most Important Aspect of Headphones


When we talk about headphones, we talk about comfort, bass, sound leakage, and so on and so forth. What components do you think are the most important?
I want you to make a list from the most to the least valuable factors. I'll give you my list as an example, but you don't have to take into account the same factors that I did. Feel free to add or subtract whatever you please. (I think I missed a lot of stuff, anyways.)
  1. Comfort/Fit
  2. Mids [quality]
  3. Treble [quality]
  4. Treble [quantity]
  5. Bass [quality]
  6. Mids [quantity]
  7. Bass [quantity]
  8. Replaceable cable
  9. Imaging/Soundstage
  10. Aesthetics/Build
  11. Impedance
  12. Weight
  13. Portability
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Rather than get into listing the typical culprits, I want to touch on a couple things that people may overlook if they're stuck in the mindset of singular parameters.
a) Tonal balance: In general, the overall shape of the frequency response. A bit more specifically, transitioning from region to region (any area, not just the fuzzy concepts of bass/mids/treble). For most people, FR is the first (and easiest) thing to notice with headphones.
b) Distortion and phase error: harmonic and intermodular distortion, diaphragm breakup, and phase deviations are all aspects that move the reproduced sound away from the input signal in a manner that isn't (directly) related to the frequency response. Being able to decipher things in this category is more difficult than tonal changes.
c) Channel matching: mismatched sides, even by one or two dB, can create a very large change in sonic perception and is often mistaken as a poor FR or distortion.
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