Written by 8:16 am Headphone + Accessory Reviews

Dangerous Curves

Steven Stone looks at two headphone frequency response charts. Based on the charts alone which one would you choose?



AR-ears1.jpg

Recently I was looking at some headphone frequency response
curves, and I must say that never before have I felt the term “curve” to be
more appropriate. Both are attempts to make an earphone that sounds a
particular way. Neither were anywhere near neutral.

Let’s look at the first chart – Notice the two high frequency
peaks at 3300 and 4500 Hz – they are more than 25 dB above the “average
midrange output level. But what is the average midrange level? That figure
varies by almost 15 dB between 400 and 3000 Hz!

The second chart shows a surprisingly flat response up to 2000
Hz, at which point the high frequency response drops like a rock (except for a
15 dB boost at 5K to inject some sparkle).

AR-curve.jpg

More info – I haven’t heard either pair of earphones AND they
both are from the same manufacturer AND it is not a well-known audio
manufacturer but more of a lifestyle design firm. Until I saw their paid-for
link on Facebook I had never heard of the company before…

The big question is based on specs alone which one would you
rather hear?

Additional information for making your selection – the first
chart is from an in-ear and the second from a pair of on-ear earphones.

AR-curve2.jpg

My own preference would depend on my mood. The first pair or
earphones should have quite a bit more upper midrange and treble detail while
the second pair should be fairly euphonic with a darkish harmonic balance. If I
was listening for pleasure I’d choose earphone #2, but if I was listening to
monitor a recording or performance I’d choose the first pair of cans.

And you?

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