You might want to think twice before buying those expensive headphones.

By Seriously Science | June 20, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/flattop341

Photo: flickr/flattop341

A pair of expensive headphones can easily clock in at hundreds of dollars. But is that price actually buying you a better listening experience? According to this study, the answer is no: the price of headphones does not correlate with frequency response, which is a major factor that affects perceived audio quality. But at least if you pay extra for wireless headphones, you don’t have to deal with those pesky tangles!

No correlation between headphone frequency response and retail price

“This study quantifies variability of measured headphone response patterns and aims to uncover any correlations between headphone type, retail price, and frequency response. For this purpose, the mean, variance, and covariance of the frequency magnitude responses were analyzed and correlated with headphone type and retail value. The results indicate that neither the measured response nor an attempt to objectively quantify perceived quality is related to price. On average, in-ear headphones have a slightly higher measured bass response than circumaural and supra-aural headphones. Furthermore, in-ear and circumaural headphones have a slightly lower deviation from an assumed target curve than supra-ear models. Ninety percent of the variance across all headphone measurements can be described by a set of six basis functions. The first basis function is similar to published target responses, while the second basis function represents a spectral tilt.”

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  • OWilson

    Society has been dumbed down by celeb worship and designer gear.

    Every young man in the 70s knew how to buy speakers and fully understood the frequency response range parameter between (20Hz to 20kHz) that guaranteed good sound from their hi-fi stero.

    Today they’ll buy anything that looks shiny, has a recognizable label, and looks expensive :)

    • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

      I bought speakers back in the 70 when I knew how to buy speakers, and fully understood the frequency response
      range parameter between (20Hz to 20kHz) that guaranteed good sound from
      their hi-fi stero. Then, unrelated, I started loosing my hearing. I give away lot of fine equipment. Pardon me, I must log out and go weep.

      • OWilson

        Me too.

        I’m in Radio Shack.

        I say to the pretty young thing, will these earphones at $300 faithfully reproduce my CD’s.

        She say’s better than the CD itself!

        Poor thing!

        • justice edwards

          Who want’s to reproduce CD sound?

    • Lord

      You don’t represent the majority who know what they require and need. Silly summarization.

    • Andy Briggs

      The “20hz to 20khz” is simply the range of average human hearing. So you are saying that young men knew not to buy speakers that priduced sounds they couldn’t hear. What geniuses they were.

      • Peter Colley

        At least they could spell.

    • Micro Shaquer

      I bet to disagree with you boss. I owned a Noise Cancelling headphones the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0. Try it and you’ll love it. The loud bass and crystal clear sound is just awesome.

  • Lord

    I wonder if there is an effect of which extraneous sounds are suppressed, though I doubt it.

  • Aaron Collins

    I just stick to Sony. Not too cheap; not too expensive. Love it.

  • Namklak

    Well, freq response is just one factor, so this greatly over-simplified the subject of speaker buying. But, most young people are listening to low bit rate mp3s and music that was dynamically obliterated with compression in the mastering process, so the recommendation to save money is still valid.


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