Headphones – a necessary item, giving a chance to do business or relax without interfering with others quietly. “Ears” are needed to listen to audiobooks and music, watch movies, and live communication via messengers or over the phone. The extensive scope of application has led to the release of models with different performance indicators. Therefore, when choosing, it is important to study the specifications of headphones carefully. However, the parameters specified by the manufacturer do not fully reflect the quality that is important to users.
Key features of headphones
To choose a suitable model, you need to pay attention to the purpose and design and the characteristics that affect the quality of the sound. The latter include:
- The range of reproducible frequencies
- impedance (resistance);
But to start, the choice is worth it with the general parameters: destination and design. Two large groups are singled out for the purpose:
The first is equipment for professionals and true music lovers; studio models provide the complete detail of the sound necessary for professional work with audio recordings. Such headphones often choose music lovers, connoisseurs of sound with accurate reproduction of all nuances. Household models often distort the sound pattern with the “protrusion” of lower or upper spectrum frequencies.
Given the way you pair with the source, highlight:
- Wired, supplemented with cable and connector to join the technology – computer, phone, etc.;
- TWS, when using such models, the source of the audio signal is associated with the gadget via Bluetooth.
When buying wired headphones, you should consider the length of the cable and check for the presence of the jack 2.5 – 3.5 mm adapter.
The type of design is the defining parameter of choice. These models are available:
- Intra-channel, devices are inserted into the auditory channel;
- In the form of earbuds placed in the ear;
- overhead, are flat linings on the ears
- full-size, covering the ear.
Headphone design type
Full-size models are released closed and open. First, do not miss the sounds from the outside. The second is equipped with holes that miss the noise of the world.
Once you’ve identified the model’s design features, we should go to the study of technical indicators. Let’s see what the characteristics of good headphones should be and how they affect the quality.
This indicator determines the output acoustic pressure or, to put it simply, the maximum undistorted volume of sound transmission. The unit of measurement is the decibel (dB).
Several parameters define sensitivity. The magnetic core dimensions are affected. The larger the part, the louder the sound. As well as the core material, if neodim magnets are used, the high sensitivity will be even at compact sizes.
The standard sensitivity of headphones within 90-120 dB. The indicators depend on the type of gadget. Thus, for intra-channel models, the sensitivity does not exceed 110 dB. In invoices, this parameter reaches 120 dB, and in full-size – up to 140 dB.
At a high level of sensitivity, models play loudly when displaying the volume level at the source at around 50-60%. But if the sensitivity is low, you need to connect the gadget to the initially powerful devices for playback.
However, the sensitivity value that the manufacturer indicates on the box is often formal. The option can be misleading because manufacturers use different testing methods. The data depends on:
- Bench settings, testing;
- Some manufacturers point out the value of testing only the speakers, not the headphones in the collection.
If you take models with the same sensitivity values but with different types of verification, the results will not be the same when tested.
The additional effect on sensitivity is resistance. To get the same level of unsorted volume, high-volume models require more output than low-volume ones. Therefore, when choosing, you need to consider the parameters of the beep on the headphones, served from the source:
- Smartphones and tablets provide an output voltage of 150-300 mV;
- Standard players – 300 mV;
- Computer and laptop – 300 mV (with a dedicated sound map, the voltage can be greater);
- TVs – 600-800 mV.
Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the sensitivity to voltage ratio. This indicator is measured in dB/B. When specifying the parameter for output, take a constant value – 1 B. Thus, if the characteristics indicate the value of 130 dB/B, then when resistance 32 Om working value will be 105 dB.
It would help if you chose sensitivity based on the environment of use. The use of the house will be suitable and “quiet” models, but to listen to songs on the street and in public transport, you need to choose an option with volume indicators that drown out the street noise.
This is an indicator of the limits of the frequencies reproduced by the equipment. It should be understood that not always a wide run between the lower and upper limit – is an indicator of sound quality.
Human hearing organs perceive sound at a vibration rate of between 20 and 20,000 Hz, but this interval is different for each person. So, as he gets older, people stop hearing the upper tones. It affects the ability to perceive sounds and where you live. Residents of cities accustomed to noise do not perceive sounds above 15,000 -17 000 Hz.
The frequency of headphones is a formal setting that cannot describe the sound quality. What matters is not the playable range itself but the volume of the sound. No brand has yet been able to ensure that the entire range of sounds is broadcast at the same volume level. But the wider the gap between the borders, the fewer fluctuations in amplitude-frequency characteristics at the bottom of the spectrum.
To understand how high-quality the sound will be, you need to study the graphics of ACH. When you’re charting:
- on the axis of abscess mark the frequency of sound in Hz;
- on the axis of the residency – the volume of sound in the dB.
ACH headphones chart
The graph shows what the tonal balance of sound will be. They produce models with a focus on lower frequencies or upper sounds. At the range, the figures will drop sharply to zero.
Thus, if the range of 5 – 25,000 Hz is specified, the “sagging” of the sound will occur outside of audibility. That is, sounds audible by the human ear should be reproduced with the stated level of power.
When studying characteristics, it is important to look at the frequency range and the distortion factor in the speakers. This is expressed as a percentage. The lower the figure, the cleaner the sound will be.
Impedance is the complete resistance received at the entrance of headphones. This value consists of the active and reactive resistance, the unit of measurement – Om. The feature affects the volume of the sound and depends on the output of the device. More information can be found here.
If the headphones will be used with a player, smartphone, or compact laptop, it is not rational to look for a model with a resistance of 50 Om. But to work with professional equipment requires a model with high impedance.
Impedance does not affect the speed of battery discharge. The volume level determines the autonomy of the device, or rather, the power required to maintain a set volume level.
The headphones are usually divided into two types – low- and high-meter. But full-size and compact models do not have the same performance. In small headphones to low-low include options with impedance up to 32 Om, at large – up to 100 Om. Models with impedance above these indicators are classified as high-rise models.
If the impedance of the headphones seriously exceeds the recommended value, the amplifier will function with increased load. This will distort the sound quality or even cause a breakdown or amplifier on the sound source or the headphones themselves.
Impedance impacts the volume and the quality of the sound, but not directly but in connection with other device parameters.
This indicator characterizes the upper level of power that is fed on the headphones without the risk of damaging the device. This parameter is measured in MW.
The input power is associated with another parameter: sensitivity. The higher the sensitivity, the lower the power will be required to reproduce a set volume level.
What characteristics affect the volume of headphones
Experienced users have repeatedly encountered a situation when some “ears” sound much louder than others, although the level on the player has not changed. It is widely believed that this is due to the model’s power, but it is not quite so. Yes, the more power, the stronger the sound, but the greater the volume is sensitivity.
It is irrational to look for models with high power indicators if the headphones are planned to be used as a sound source smartphone or player. Using excessively powerful headphones can lead to poor sound quality, as the built-in source amplifier will not handle the loads.
A measure that affects volume is sensitivity. The higher the sensitivity, the lower the load on the sound source. However, it is not necessary to focus only on the manufacturer’s information. Because users have one feature: real sensitivity rarely coincides with the one on the box. Moreover, the lower the model’s price, the more likely it is that this discrepancy will be detected.
The problem is that no testing standards have been developed. Each manufacturer tests according to its own rules, so the working values of models with the same sensitivity may differ.
What the settings of headphones characterize the sound quality
All parameters influence the sound quality to some extent. But the most obvious is the frequency of the range. The wider the interval of the playable frequencies, the richer the palette of sounds. Most manufacturers point to the box’s standard range, within the ability of the human ear to perceive sounds, i.e., 20 to 20,000 Hz. However, this characteristic does not adequately characterize the quality of the sound.
In addition to the standard figures, Rare manufacturers show a chart of ACH, reflecting the working picture. So, the lower tones can be distinguishable. But at such a level of volume that is heard only in the surdotamer (acoustic room). You can’t hear basses on the street. Therefore, the frequency range indicated on the box is a convention.
Examples of the specifications of popular headphones
When choosing headphones, you need to carefully study the information on the box and in the technical passport. It is important not only to read a brief description but also to get acquainted with the main characteristics that affect the sound.
Xiaomi Redmi AirDots
A popular model of BlueTooth headset with reliable waterproofs. It matches Android and iPhone-based devices. The connection is made via Bluetooth 5.0. The range is up to 10 meters.
To determine the quality of the sound will help the characteristics:
- Sensitivity – 98 dB;
- Impedance – 32 Om;
- 20-20000 Hz.
The ACH graph shows that the slope is made in the direction of the average bass in the lower range, but the HF does not dominate. The quality of the HF is typical of the headphones of the budget price segment, so to enjoy the smallest nuances of sound is unlikely, but with the use of compact wireless models, it is unlikely.
Judging by the reviews, the volume is enough even when operating on the street. Plus, the model is the lacks signal delay, which is common in other low-cost wireless headphones.
Apple’s popular wireless headphones model. The outlines of the earbuds are anatomically adjusted. Even when wearing during the day, there is no discomfort.
- чувствительность – 109 дБ;
- The interval of reproducible frequencies is 20-20000 Hz;
- Impedance – 23 Om.
The model with an acoustic design of the open type, earbuds are not equipped with noise insulation. This model is suitable for the house and streets with traffic because when listening to compositions, external sounds are not suppressed, which will allow time to notice the danger. But in public transport, headphones without noise cancellation are uncomfortable because external noise will have to increase the volume, which is harmful to the hearing.
According to the passport, the sensitivity of the EarPod is 104.27 dB relative to power and 118.02 dB relative to a voltage. This model’s recommended source voltage level is at least 8.02 dB at 42 Om for listening in a quiet room and 3.98 dB on load 42.21 Om for use on the street.
The bass and the bottom of the middle are in full order, but the top of the middle frequencies and the upper register notes after 10kHz are pumped up. This may improve audibility when talking because the Apple EarPod is primarily a headset, not a headphone for music fans.
JBL Tune 120 TWS
JBL Tune 120 TWS is a wireless model that meets the brand’s strict standards. The description indicates that the diameter of the emitter of the model is 5.8 mm, and the JBL Pure Bass technology is used in the creation. The type of acoustic design is closed.
- Frequency range – 20-20000 Hz;
- чувствительность – 96 дБ;
- Resistance 14 Om.
The model’s frequency characteristics emphasize the upper (above 10 kHz) and lower (70-12o Hz) frequencies. Tones below 70 Hz are heard worse, and after 40Hz, follows a complete failure. Slightly inundated and mid-frequency, which negatively affects the quality of sound.
In a model with an increased level of sound insulation, external noises are muted; you can use earbuds in noisy environments without the need to increase the volume. Even in public transport enough 60-70% of the maximum volume level to comfortably listen to compositions without being distracted by external sounds.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the study of characteristics is essential but not the determining point when choosing a model. Headphones of different brands with the same specifications differ in volume and quality of the sound played.
When listening, the impression is formed not only by these characteristics but also by other indicators. No instruments have yet been created that could perceive music as a human being. The subjective perception factor should be taken into account. This is easy to see by studying customer feedback when the same model is rated the opposite. Some users sound appropriate, while others think that sound is no good.
Therefore, by selecting models that are compatible with the sound sources used, they conduct tests, assessing the sound in person. There is no other way to find a sound quality acceptable to a particular user.