How to do Headphones Quality Test and Assess Sound
When you are about to purchase a new pair of headphones, it is a very important process to listen to headphones and test the sound quality. We are going to educate you on some things that you can do in testing your headphones to make sure that you are absolutely getting the best fit for yourself.
Headphones Quality & their Sound Quality Test
Don’t be in hurry to find new Headphones
First of all, you must give yourself an ample amount of time to test your headphones to make sure that you are selecting very comfortable and right-fit headphones. This is absolutely paramount and you should give them some time to wear them to check their size so they don’t get uncomfortable.
You may think that size is the right fit for you but when you wear them for about 20-30 minutes, you notice that they start pinching your head which ultimately can give you a headache from headphones or hair loss. Your ears must be able to hear different sound signatures as it might be difficult for your brain to reset the settings and hear something new and know the difference in detail in sound signature and overall sound quality. So basically, you should give some time to check everything properly.
|Precaution & Recommendation: How Long Should You Wear Headphones a Day|
Musical characteristics of Headphones
You must get yourself aware of different musical characteristics which make the sound louder or delay in sound, which makes the pitch deeper or more apparent. So, different sounds are the collection of these characteristics.
Frequencies in the range of 0Hz-256Hz are the very low notes that make your head vibrate and your room shake (commonly referred to as “the Wub Wub”). Bass is very enjoyable and usually what makes a “fun” headphone for popular music. Unfortunately, companies tend to overdo it and other very important frequency regions suffer because they become “muddied by bass“. | By Reddit
This is where the magic happens. Mids are frequencies between roughly 250Hz and 2000Hz and are very important for a natural presentation of sound. Especially voices and vocals fall within this part and headphones with an unnatural midrange may sound “off” or vocals sound “distant”. If the mids are too emphasized, the headphone sounds honky, hollow and telephone-like. | By Reddit
This region refers to the highest tones in the frequency range and starts at 2.048Hz and ends at the hearing limit of the human ear at 20.000Hz (most adults can’t hear beyond 16 kHz though). Treble is what gives a headphone detail and clarity, this means using headphones with a very good treble resolution is like using a microscope for your ears. They will bring out every little detail in your music and make flawed recordings and bad mastering very audible. Listening to treble-heavy headphones can be exhausting and fatiguing, because music with predominantly high tones may sound ear-piercing and shrill. | By Reddit
Test Sound Quality before you purchase
Listen to the sound the way you are going to be listening. What do I mean by it?
Well! It is certainly tempting to grab a pair of headphones off the rack and want to put them through their paces by playing them through high-powered amps and playing very high-resolution audio files. This is a good way to test their overall performance and features.
But, it may not be the best fit to test if they are going to be a good fit for you if you are not going to use the headphones that way. If you are looking for an active set of earbuds then don’t be afraid to jump up and jump down and do some jumping jacks. There is nothing worse than falling in love with high-end pair of headphones and then forgetting that you have to use them with a super-powered amplifier with them.
The gold standard for the sound quality of headphones is the perfect loudspeaker setup in the perfect room by any perfect means.
You can try different approaches to better evaluate your headphones’ sound quality. There are following two tests that will test the sound quality of your headphones.
- Soundstage Test
- Imaging Test
i) Soundstage Test:
Soundstage is basically related to the source of the sound. In this test, you can actually guess the instrument’s presence. So, basically, high-quality headphones are capable to give you a good soundstage. Before spending your precious money, you must get yourself aware of which headphones are good for you. You can just perform these tests to check the sound quality.
Just test your headphones with the following song in the video below for a soundstage test.
ii) Imaging Test
It meant how a headphone sort of visually “draws” and outlines an image of an object in a 3d space (the soundstage). It means how accurately it can make you perceive the direction from where the sounds are coming.
It is mostly objective but the sound is slightly selective. Imagine a stage in your head while listening to music. You can hear instruments on the right and the vocals on the left.
Imaging establishes how wide, how far, and where each object must be in the stereo image. In this case, the best headphones imaging controls the stereo balance, transparency, and location of objects as envisioned by the sound source.
|Interesting Information: How Loud Are Open Back Headphones|
In this test, we will be evaluating the High-Frequency quality of your earbuds/headphones. Just keep an eye on the frequency currently being played below. Good earbuds/headphones go up to the frequency of 20KHz which is the upper limit of the human ear. However, not many people can actually hear up to 20KHz.
The highest frequency which you can hear decreases as we grow older. Don’t worry when you can’t hear up to 20KHz. It might not be the problem with the earbuds/headphones.
This track tests your headphones’ bass extension. You need to playback your track until you start hearing a low-pitched tone as it increases in frequency. You can see which frequency your headphones have reached.
Good headphones should reproduce frequencies as low as 20 Hz which is the lowest limit of human hearing.
The audio file will start at 100Hz and will end at 20Hz. Keep an eye on the video meter below which you can run to check and see what frequency is currently played.
It is very important for earbuds/headphones to be properly wired. Sound and music get so much more intense when played in stereo, meaning there is a separate channel for your right and left ear. This sound will switch between the left and right ear channels.
You can play the video below in order to test the left and right ear channels properly. There are many songs that you might have listened to surrounding your head and moving from left to right ear.
Spectral Flatness Test
You want your headphones to reproduce all the frequencies consistently between the lower and upper limits without a dip or peak in a particular frequency range. Your hearing for the below sound may not be perfect. So the best headphones are those which compensate for the hearing curve. In other words, it doesn’t matter if your headphones are not flat as long as they sound flat through your ears.
This test only works at hearing threshold levels. Turn your level down so that the test tone plays as quietly as possible. If the sweep keeps playing at your hearing threshold, that’s good. It means that your headphones are matched to your hearing. If your hearing is perfect, this means that your headphones offer a flat frequency response.
If the test tone somehow disappears or gets too low, you should believe that there is a problem either in your headphones or in your hearing. You can also try this with your earbuds but it will depend upon, how much you insert them into your ears and their frequency response will also change accordingly.
Your headphones may pass the left and right ear tests and still have an issue with their internal wiring. When presented with the same input signal, both left and right drivers should move in the same direction, not opposite to each other.
When the polarity is reserved, the first test signal will play from a well-defined spot between your ears. The twisted recording should be harder to locate in space, sounding like it is being twisted inside your brain. If it feels like the opposite, suspect the wrong cabling in one of your earcups.
Listen to your familiar Tracks
I really recommend you to listen to the tracks which are more familiar and your favorite ones. If you have an internalized image of what a recording sounds like and you’ve memorized every detail then you will be much better suited to compare different headphones and analyze the differences between them. You can also use different types of styles and genres.
What part is emphasized, what parts sound louder and what part sounds lighter, or what details that you may be overlooked before are now super present? What frequencies jump out at you?
These are the small kinds of details that can eventually make a huge difference when it comes to which pair of headphones you actually want to buy. The best part about this tip is that most of the work is probably already done.
Take your favorite songs that you know backward and forward that you have memorized and compiled them in a playlist together and maximize your listening. This is the best thing to interface with different audio files.
You can check your headphone’s latency through Larsen Test.
It requires recording audio from the microphone and playing it back over the speakers. You can perform this test multiple times for taking an average to better calculate the value.
Best tracks to test your headphones
- Bohemian Rhapsody Remastered (2011) by Queen
- Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
- Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala
- Heroes (2017 Remaster) by David Bowie
- No Time for Caution by Hans Zimmer
- Diamonds From Sierra Leone by Kanye West
- Now We Are Free by Hans Zimmer
- Paper Trails by DARKSIDE
- Rainbow In The Dark by Dio
- Shine On You Crazy Diamond (All Parts) by Pink Floyd
So, at the end of the article, you must be well known of the fact that the only way to test your headphones is to listen to as many headphones as you can and try to find your taste which ultimately helps you to pick the best audio devices. You should give yourself ample time to test headphones before you purchase them. You must get this idea out of your mind which is ‘High price headphones are always the best, rather you should find your taste and what type of headphones sound you like.
I hope that we have mentioned everything and every test to enable you to pick the best headphones for yourself.
About This Article
Hi, This is Azam and founder of Headphonebeast.com. I have a special interest in Audio products and I have used multiple Audio and sound-related products with almost every version of the headphones and Airpods. Now, I write detailed information on every issue and every feature of headphones, AirPods, or earbuds and also review them according to my personal utility experience.
Email: [email protected]