Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Article on Headphone Sound Quality in 2014 LIS

The 2014 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook came out this week. In it, you can find an article I wrote called "Perceiving and Measuring Headphone Sound Quality: Do Listeners Agree on What Makes a Headphone Sound Good?"

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.


  1. When can we anticipate a new JBL headphone that delivers the preferred target response, Sean?

    1. There will be an AKG headphone this coming year that will meet the preferred target response

    2. Awesome! What is the target price bracket? I was about to buy some Q701s soon, but if these are their successor, I'm sold...

    3. Sean - any further news on when we can expect these models? Will they be identified as meeting that curve? I was hoping the new K553 PRO was one but it doesn't appear to be.
      As a long-time fan of AKG headphones, will there be any sort of solution for legacy headphones to get them to match, as closely as possible, the target curve? Similar to what you did in the testing?

  2. Hi Sean, than you for this article. Is there a new headphone in the works, that conforms with the preferences that your work has revealed?

  3. The better headphones do a great job of sealing out external environmental noise so you can listen at a lower (safer) volume and still hear all of that amazing detail.