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SanDisk Fanatic
Posts: 213
Registered: ‎02-12-2009

Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

Frequency range or something else?

 

 

Thanks,

SR

SanDisk Guru
Posts: 4,898
Registered: ‎11-17-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?


@SR-rox wrote:

Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

Frequency range or something else?

 

 

Thanks,

SR


I can't give you a definitive answer to this, but I can say that the frequency response listed by headphone manufacturers is not the be-all and end-all. I've had headphones that listed a very wide freq. response that clearly did not let me hear the whole range. 

 

My Sony MDR-V150 headphones promised "exceptionally clear sound for professional and high fidelity applications" .HA!!!  That did not prove to be the case....I had to boost the upper reaches with custom EQ considerably to acheive clarity, although they did not lack in the upper bass-lower mids. I had a cheap pair of Maxell headphones that said 20hz-20khz on the packaging.....they did sound slightly better than AM radio, but not by much.

 

Hopefully someone with more technical expertise has a litlte more knowledge here, I'd be curious about what they might say too.

iPod Touch 5G 32GB, Touch 4G 32GB, Clip Sport 8GB.
Rockbox-> Clip Zip 4GB, iPod Nano 2G 4GB, iPod 5.5G 80GB
2012 Nexus 7 32GB, Asus MeMoPad 8 16+64GB, LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 900, Nokia Lumia 520

SanDisk Guru
Posts: 1,581
Registered: ‎11-26-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?


@SR-rox wrote:

Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

Frequency range or something else?

 

 

Thanks,

SR


Basically, if they sound good to you.  There are so many ways to be a bit less than truthful with speaker and heaphone specs, I take any of them with a big grain of salt.  The only true way to determine if a headphone is right for you is by listening to them..

 

 

(My opinion only......) Smiley Happy

"Before I sink into the big sleep...I want to hear the scream of the Butterfly"
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Newbie
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎12-02-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

I think more expensive earphone will promising the better sound. (More price means better quality). I have 2 pair of Philips IEM (SHE-9700 and SHE-9800). I purchased SHE-9700 for $20 and SHE-9800 for $60. The frequency range of SHE-9700 (6Hz-23KHz) is wider than SHE-9800 (12Hz-22KHz), but for the overall sound quality, the SHE-9800 is far better than SHE-9700.
SanDisk Guru
Posts: 1,581
Registered: ‎11-26-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?


@Appletree wrote:
I think more expensive earphone will promising the better sound. (More price means better quality). I have 2 pair of Philips IEM (SHE-9700 and SHE-9800). I purchased SHE-9700 for $20 and SHE-9800 for $60. The frequency range of SHE-9700 (6Hz-23KHz) is wider than SHE-9800 (12Hz-22KHz), but for the overall sound quality, the SHE-9800 is far better than SHE-9700.

Although not always the case, I've generally found the more expensive brands tend to be a bit more honest (realistic?) in their spec claims.

"Before I sink into the big sleep...I want to hear the scream of the Butterfly"
SanDisk Guru
Posts: 4,898
Registered: ‎11-17-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

[ Edited ]

@fuze_owner-GB wrote:

@Appletree wrote:
I think more expensive earphone will promising the better sound. (More price means better quality). I have 2 pair of Philips IEM (SHE-9700 and SHE-9800). I purchased SHE-9700 for $20 and SHE-9800 for $60. The frequency range of SHE-9700 (6Hz-23KHz) is wider than SHE-9800 (12Hz-22KHz), but for the overall sound quality, the SHE-9800 is far better than SHE-9700.

Although not always the case, I've generally found the more expensive brands tend to be a bit more honest (realistic?) in their spec claims.


The ones I just ordered claim 20hz-20khz, IIRC. Smiley Happy

I wish they would get here already!

Message Edited by Marvin_Martian on 04-19-2009 01:26 PM
iPod Touch 5G 32GB, Touch 4G 32GB, Clip Sport 8GB.
Rockbox-> Clip Zip 4GB, iPod Nano 2G 4GB, iPod 5.5G 80GB
2012 Nexus 7 32GB, Asus MeMoPad 8 16+64GB, LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 900, Nokia Lumia 520

SanDisk Guru
Posts: 1,581
Registered: ‎11-26-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?


@Marvin_Martian wrote:

@fuze_owner-GB wrote:

@Appletree wrote:
I think more expensive earphone will promising the better sound. (More price means better quality). I have 2 pair of Philips IEM (SHE-9700 and SHE-9800). I purchased SHE-9700 for $20 and SHE-9800 for $60. The frequency range of SHE-9700 (6Hz-23KHz) is wider than SHE-9800 (12Hz-22KHz), but for the overall sound quality, the SHE-9800 is far better than SHE-9700.

Although not always the case, I've generally found the more expensive brands tend to be a bit more honest (realistic?) in their spec claims.


The ones I just ordered claim 20hz-20khz, IIRC. Smiley Happy

I wish they would get here already!

Message Edited by Marvin_Martian on 04-19-2009 01:26 PM

That makes 2 of us!!!!Smiley Very Happy

"Before I sink into the big sleep...I want to hear the scream of the Butterfly"
SanDisk Guru
Posts: 2,954
Registered: ‎09-06-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

Unfortunately, specs tell you very little.The most relevant one, unfortunately, is price--but even there, you can get value or a ripoff. But a $20 earbud is just never going to sound as good as phones that cost hundreds of dollars.

 

Sensitivity will tell you how loud the 'phones will be with a certain signal, but nearly all phones (except for super high-end ones that expect you to be using a headphone amplifier) are loud enough from most players. 

 

The specs on most people's ears are 20-20,000 Hz. So anything outside that range is bass that you would supposedly feel as a throbbing vibration (<20 Hz) or high whistling sounds that would delight your dog (>20,000 Hz).  No matter what the specs say, it is unlikely that a headphone is going to give you sub-bass frequencies like 6Hz--that's why science made subwoofers, which, if you have seen them, do not fit into or onto your ears. 

 

If a headphone only goes up to 10,000 Hz or 14,000 Hz, then it will sound muffled up high--but some phones, like portable headsets, are made that way to concentrate on the frequencies of speech, which are (very roughly) about 100-2000 Hz, and cut out hiss and static.

 

Even more important, what is happening within that 20-20,000 Hz frequency range? The ideal for fidelity is that every frequency in that range, from a bass drum to the highest overtones of a Chinese gong, is reproduced equally well: that the frequency response is "flat" across the spectrum, to sound just like the music as recorded.

 

But that never happens. Every headphone reproduces different parts of the range differently. The better ones are flatter, but not flat. The better ones also reproduce the contours of a sound much better--the rise and fall of individual notes--and make a stereo mix sound more three-dimensional. Hard to explain, but easy to hear. 

 

Cheaper ones might pump up the highs and lows to make you feel oomph and the illusion of clarity from the high frequencies, while everything in between is muddy. Or some earphone makers try to second-guess your musical choice, and put little peaks of response in the range of vocals and other melody instruments (Bose phones do this, and both highs and lows are muffled instead).

 

You really have to listen to a bunch, with the second choice being to seek out reviews you can trust. The real headphone maniacs are at Head-Fi, where they discuss every range of headphones--you need to plunge into it a little and see who looks reliable. Headroom is a store, so they are trying to sell you stuff, but they're pretty honest about their little reviews. 

 

After a lot of listening, I settled on Sennheiser PX-100 as my basic, under-$50, knockaround portable headphones. (The competitor is Koss Portapro, but I tried both and preferred the Sennheiser.)  My sit-at-home-with-the-stereo phones are Grado SR125, which are not particularly portable, but very clear. My splurge portable phones are Shure SCL4 (formerly E4) inner-ear monitors, earplug phones that block out noise--they list at $249, but you can find them for about $150 if you Google around or use eBay. Grado and Shure make much more expensive ones that I'd love to own, but sanity prevailed. 

 

I'm not saying those are the best as of 2009--many others have been introduced since I got them. But they sound good to me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Newbie
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎12-26-2008

Re: Under what specifications does the sound quality of a pair of earphones mostly depend?

simply put, you might have to purchase a few pair to find "the one" set for "you". just like specs on headphones, your ears has it's own specs. when buying a set of studio monitors for recording, you have to do the same thing, you listen to everything first. bad thing, i don't know of any place that allows you to do this with earbuds. over the ears, maybe. if your ears hear 1k-6k better, getting a set that puts emphasis on the area will sound harsh and you'll have to cut those frequencies. i went through 4 pair before i bought a set from CVS pharmacy made by Philips, they are the best yet. 
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8GB (no micro SDHC)
Firmware: V01.02.26A
Philips Ear Buds