Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2018/05/hooked-on-science-of-sound.html
|The predicted sound quality of 61 different models of in-ear headphones (blue curve) versus their retail price (green bars).|
So, if you think spending a lot of money on in-ear headphones guarantees you will get excellent sound, you may be sadly disappointed. One of the most expensive IE models ($3000) in the above graph, had a underwhelming predicted score of 20-25% depending what EQ setting you chose. The highest scoring headphone was a $100 model that we equalized to hit the Harman target response, which our research has shown to be preferred by the majority of listeners.
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2017/02/twirt-337-predicting-headphone-sound_17.html
|"The problem is that the current standard audio specifications for headphones and loudspeakers are almost useless in terms of indicating how good or bad they sound." —Sean Olive|
Read more at S&V Magazine
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2016/08/15-minutes-with-harmans-audio-guru-sean.html
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-virtual-headphone-listening-test.html
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2016/03/harman-gives-loudspeaker-course-to-u-of.html
But what about sound quality? To what extent does the consumer's age, gender, culture and prior listening experience influence their taste in headphone sound quality? Is there a scientific basis for headphone manufacturers to design headphones that have different amounts of bass and treble aimed to satisfy the tastes of a targeted demographic group?
To answer this question, we recently conducted a study on factors that influence listeners’ preferred bass and treble balance in headphone sound reproduction. Using a method of adjustment a total of 249 listeners adjusted the relative treble and bass levels of a headphone that was first equalized at the eardrum reference point (DRP) to match the in-room steady-state response of a reference loudspeaker in a reference listening room. Listeners repeated the adjustment five times using three stereo music programs. The listeners included males and females from different age groups, listening experiences, and nationalities (Canada, USA, Germany and China). The results provide evidence that the preferred bass and treble balances in headphones was influenced by several factors including program, and the listeners’ age, gender, and prior listening experience. The younger and less experienced listeners on average preferred more bass and treble in their headphones compared to the older, more experienced listeners. Female listeners on average preferred about 1 dB bass and 2 dB treble than their male counterparts. Listeners over 55 years preferred less bass and more treble than the younger listeners suggested that they were compensating for possible hearing loss that is associated with increased age.
We recently presented the results of this study at the 139th Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York City, October 29th-November 1, 2015. The paper is available for download in AES e-library. A PDF copy of the presentation can be found here. Or you can view an animated version of the presentation on Youtube.
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2015/11/factors-that-influence-listeners.html
The paper describes some double-blind headphone listening tests conducted in four different countries (Canada, USA, China and Germany) involving 238 listeners of different ages, gender and listening experiences. Listeners gave comparative preference ratings for three popular headphones and a new reference headphone that were virtually presented through a common replicator headphone equalized to match their measured frequency responses. In this way, biases related to headphone brand, price, visual appearance and comfort were removed from listeners’ judgment of sound quality. On average, listeners preferred the reference headphone that was based on the in-room frequency response of an accurate loudspeaker calibrated in a reference listening room. This was generally true regardless of the listener’s experience, age, gender and culture. This new evidence suggests a headphone standard based on this new target response would satisfy the tastes of most listeners.
The paper is available for download from the AES e-library. You can also find a PDF of our presentation here or view the presentation on YouTube.
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2014/10/at-recent-137th-convention-of-audio.html
The article is a summary of some recent published research we've conducted at Harman on the perception and measurement of headphone sound quality.
Together, these studies provide scientific evidence that when headphone brand, price, fashion, and celebrity endorsement are removed subjective evaluations, listeners generally agree on what makes a headphone sound good.
So far, this has been true regardless of users' listening training, age, or culture. The more preferred headphones tend to have a smooth, extended frequency response that approximates an accurate loudspeaker's in-room response. This new target frequency response could provide the basis for a new and improved headphone target response. You can find more details on the research here.
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-2014-loudspeaker-industry.html
Last October, I was in Toronto giving a presentation to the local AES section on the perception and measurement of headphones. After the talk, I sat down with Mike Raine from Professional Sound for an interview. Some of what we discussed is summarized in this article called Sound Advice.
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2014/01/interview-in-professional-sound-lack-of.html
The popularity of headphones has now exploded to produce annual worldwide sales of almost $10 billion. Premium headphones ($100+) now account for 90% of the annual revenue growth, as consumers’ audio experiences are becoming a primarily mobile one. Market research indicates sound quality is a driving factor in headphone purchases with brand and fashion also being important factors among younger consumers. Yet, ironically the science behind what makes a headphone sound good and how to measure it is poorly understood. This combined with the lack of perceptually meaningful headphone standards may explain why purchasing a headphone today is like playing Russian Roulette with your ears. The magic bullet to achieving more consistent headphone sound quality is science.
- Sean E. Olive and Todd Welti, "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality", presented at the 133rd Audio Eng. Soc. Convention, San Francisco, USA, (October 2012).
- Sean E. Olive, Todd Welti and Elisabeth McMullin, "Listener Preferences For Different Headphone Target Response Curves", presented at the 134th Audio Eng. Soc. Convention, Budapest, Hungary, (May 2013).
- Sean E. Olive, Todd Welti and Elisabeth McMullin, "A Virtual Headphone Listening Test Methodology", presented at the 51st Audio Eng. Soc. International Conference, Helsinki, Finland, (August 2013).
- Sean E. Olive, Todd Welti and Elisabeth McMullin, "Listener Preferences for In-Room Loudspeaker and Headphone Target Responses" presented at the 135th Audio Eng. Soc. Convention, New York, USA, (October 2013).
- Sean E. Olive, "Do college students prefer the same headphone sound quality as trained listeners?", presented at the 4th ISEAT, Shenzhen, China, (November 2013).
Original Resource is Audio Musings by Sean Olive http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-perception-and-measurement-of.html