Are you on the hunt for the perfect headphones? Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a gamer, or just looking to upgrade your listening experience, choosing the right headphones can be overwhelming. With so many options on the market, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where headphone testing benchmarks come in.
By understanding the most important testing benchmarks, you can evaluate the performance of headphones and make an informed decision about which pair is right for you. In this guide, we’ll explore the essential testing benchmarks for headphones, including frequency response, impedance, sensitivity, distortion, isolation, and comfort. Whether you’re a casual listener or an audiophile, this guide will help you choose the perfect headphones for your needs.
What are headphone testing benchmarks?
Headphone testing benchmarks are a set of metrics used to evaluate the performance of headphones. These benchmarks include frequency response, impedance, sensitivity, distortion, isolation, and comfort, and are essential for choosing the right pair of headphones for your needs.
Why are headphone testing benchmarks important?
Headphone testing benchmarks are important because they allow you to evaluate the performance of headphones and make an informed decision about which pair is right for you. By considering benchmarks such as frequency response, impedance, sensitivity, distortion, isolation, and comfort, you can choose headphones that provide the best sound quality and listening experience.
|Frequency Response||Measures how well headphones reproduce sound across the entire frequency range.||Headphones with a flat frequency response reproduce sound accurately and without distortion.|
|Impedance||Refers to the resistance of the headphones to the electrical current that drives them.||Lower-impedance headphones are easier to drive and can be used with portable devices, while higher-impedance headphones require more power and are better suited for use with a dedicated amplifier.|
|Sensitivity||Measures how efficiently the headphones convert electrical signals into sound.||Higher-sensitivity headphones require less power to achieve the same volume level as lower-sensitivity headphones.|
|Distortion||Refers to any unwanted noise or artifacts that may be introduced into the sound by the headphones themselves.||Low-distortion headphones reproduce sound accurately and with minimal interference.|
|Isolation||Measures how well the headphones block outside noise.||Headphones with good isolation are ideal for use in noisy environments, such as on a plane or in a busy office.|
|Comfort||Refers to how comfortable the headphones are to wear for extended periods of time.||Comfortable headphones allow you to enjoy your music without discomfort or fatigue.|
Testing Frequency Response
Evaluating the bass extension of your headphones can be done through frequency response testing. By playing a sweeping sound that gradually gets higher, you can hear a voiceover about the frequency as it rises. The lowest possible frequency that your headphones can produce is measured. A good pair of headphones should have at least 20 Hz, which is the lowest possible frequency that humans can hear.
There are two kinds of files for frequency testing: one for testing the bass and the other for testing the treble extension. The second test measures your headphones’ highest possible frequency by playing high-pitched sweeping tones. A good headphone should supply up to 20 KHz, which is the upper limit of human hearing. Any strange ups and downs in the sound may indicate a problem with your sound card.
Low-quality headphones tend to rattle whenever deep or loud bass comes. The Bass Shaker file can help shake the drivers, and this test should be carried out at the highest volume. You should hear the sweeping tone loud and clear at all frequencies. Any buzz or distortion indicates a deterioration in the quality of your headphones, which may be in just one earbud or both. This test is also useful for testing an old headset and seeing if it still performs as it did on day one.
The dynamic range is the ratio between the loudest and lightest signals that can be heard with your headphones. While it’s not always mentioned in headphone specifications, it’s a good benchmarking measure to know the isolation your headphones can provide in a noisy environment.
To test the dynamic range, a full-scale noise file is played, and you must adjust your headphones accordingly so that it does not get too loud. The voiceover will tell you the decibels of the sound being played, and the range ends at the level when the voice could barely be heard. In-ear headphones tend to have a higher dynamic range as they provide more isolation than other kinds of headsets.
A good headset should have matched drivers with fewer variations in their frequency response. Both the left and right drivers should respond similarly to each frequency in the audible spectrum. To test driver matching, this test plays different frequencies up to 10 KHz and diverts the same levels to both sides. The tone should have a central position, playing right in the middle of your head, with no deviations to either side. If you swap the earbuds and the deviation shifts to the opposite side, your hearing is fine, and your headphones’ drivers don’t match well.
Testing the Cables
The wiring of headphones is responsible for diverting the left channel to the left side and the right channel to the right side of the headset. The polarity of the drivers is maintained by the wire. The left and right channel test evaluates the wire’s channeling ability. The polarity can be tested using the Central and Twisted test audios. If you hear the sound in a prominent spot between your ears, the polarity is preserved. If the results are opposite, the polarity of your headphones’ wire is defective. This could be a result of an amateur fixing of the four drivers’ wires, which is common in counterfeit headphones.
Binaural testing is unique to headphones and is carried out by using microphones and placing them in your ears, recording the sound reaching the pinnae. This recording is then played back to see if it is the exact same sound as the original. The test plays a recording of someone knocking, and if it sounds very real, almost as if you are right next to a door, your headphones are good.
Headphones should produce all frequencies between the upper and lower bounds consistently without any dips or peaks. Most people’s hearing is not perfect, and the best headphones would be the ones that adopt your hearing curve. Spectral Flatness test measures frequency responses with special test equipment and sine sweeps. Humans cannot judge flatness for frequencies around 1-3 KHz, and for that, a special kind of sweep is needed. If you hear the sweeps clearly at your hearing thresholds, the headphones are perfectly matched with your ears, and if the sounds of the test file stop or turn too loud, it means you have a problem with your headphones or, in some cases, your hearing. This test can also be used to measure the impact of the depth of your earphone’s earbuds in your ears and determine how deep you should put in the earbuds to get the flattest frequency.
Testing Your Headphones
Testing your headphones is simple and free. Search online for these test files, which are available for all the tests or any one in particular. You can play them directly on the webpage or download them. Plug in your headphones and follow the directions to better understand the results.
Benefits of Testing Your Headphones
There are many benefits of testing your headphones:
- You can find good quality headphones that are adequate for your hearing.
- You can be sure that the headphones will not damage your hearing.
- If your old headphones start sounding anomalous and you are not sure where the problem is, you can use these tests to detect the issue and fix it.
- Some headphones are ridiculously expensive, and it can be beneficial to test them first to know if they are even worth the money.
- You can even detect if there is something wrong with your hearing.
Test Your Headphones with Music
Another great way to test your headphones is by playing your favorite music. Play songs that you have been hearing forever and recognize each and every beat and lyric by heart. This test is fun and will surprisingly help you discover the limitations in your headphones. Here are some of our picks to try with your headset:
- Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack: The thunderous intro of this song will test the bass of your headphones.
- Hotel California by Eagles: This song has some crisp guitar playing and a thumping bass to try your headsets bass frequency limits.
- Baba O’Riley by The Who: This track will test the smooth flow from left to right. It features a lot many instruments that you should be able to distinguish.
- Carribean Blue by Enya: This new age track is subtle and is the best test for the isolation ability of your headphones.
- Harlem Shake by Baauer: This is another great and catchy track to test the frequencies.
- I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston: This song with its powerful vocals can help determine the clarity the earphones can offer.
Testing your headphones is a good practice especially when you are cashing out a lot of money on them. These simple tests will help you understand the product better and ultimately make the right decision. You can even fix your old headsets with the help of these tests. These files are free to use and easily downloadable. Ultimately, you can try the headphones with a variety of music. If you like the sound and it is clear and well balanced, go ahead with the purchase.