TYPES OF HEADPHONES EXPLAINED
This kind of headphone are designed to fit over the whole ear. They are also known as “full-size” or “over-ear” headphones.
Closed or closed-back headphones are designed to keep sound from getting in or out. These are great for situations when you’d like to keep your music to yourself, like when travelling on public transport. On the other hand, open-back headphones are designed to allow airflow into and out of the earcup. Music enthusiasts prefer this style of headphones for its natural ambient quality and “soundstage,”.
TECHNICAL DETAILS EXPLAINED
Frequency response describes the range of frequencies at which the headphones are capable of reproducing sound from the lowest tones to the highest. The greater the range, the more music our ears will be able to hear.
Applies only to the most finely tuned ears – THD is a measurement that identifies the amount of unwanted harmonic frequencies created when the original signal is converted by the headphones.
Total Harmonic Distortion of a signal is a measurement of the harmonic alteration present and is defined as the ratio of the sum of the powers of all harmonic components to the power of the fundamental frequency.
Harmonic distortion is the alteration that occurs at the harmonics of a signal when it passes through a set of headphones. Harmonic distortion occurs because the energy conversion system is non-linear. THD can occur in very different forms, and especially relevant is in the order and range of frequencies. Research has shown that first order distortion is much more “audible” than second order. Also distortion in frequencies away from those most sensitive to our ears (~1kHz) will be not nearly as evident to the listener. This means that 1% THD could “sound” much less distorted than 0.01% if the distortion occurred “favourably”. This is generally accepted as most evident in tube amps, where measured THD is usually >100 times greater than its solid state equivalent.
“Speaker sensitivity is a specification provided by all manufacturers of high-quality speakers. The sensitivity rating has no relation to sound quality, as some of the very best speakers have low ratings. Sensitivity ratings simply tell you how much sound a speaker will produce for a given power input.
Sensitivity ratings are given in decibels per watt at one meter, or db/Wm”
SLANG / AUDIOPHILE TERMS
Have you ever seen a person walking down the street wearing massive headphones, cabling flowing down their chest and hooked up to what looks like 3 or 4 iPod’s stacked together hanging out of their belt – that’s an Audiophile.
“Burning in” headphones refers to the process of listening to them at a relatively loud volume for 10 or more hours. After the burn-in phase, the true sound comes through. Some people swear by this technique, others dismiss it.
Soundstage refers to the ability of a pair of headphones to replicate the physical layout and spacing of instruments and vocalists. Very good headphones strive to accurately render this effect where as if you listen to a pair of headphones with a poor soundstage you might find it the sounds have mashed and blended together – a problem if working with audio production. If when listening you close your eyes and could imagine looking at a stage and seeing the performers positioned on it, you probably are hearing a well-rendered soundstage.
Headphones with more pronounced bass than treble are said to have a “warm”. Headphones featuring prominent treble are sometimes referred to as “bright.”