There are many tools and methods to objectively measure the quality of the sound but every person has their own preference for what good sound quality is.
Music is one of the most universal ways of expression in human life. Music is present in the everyday lives of people of all ages and from all cultures around the world. Music represents an enjoyable activity in and of itself, but its influence goes beyond simple amusement.
Sound Quality in Headphones
Headphone sound quality is usually a measurement of accuracy and enjoyability. There is no absolute reference for sound quality. It’s entirely a matter of personal taste. The accuracy of sound quality can be measured by people or tools. But the most objective and accurate audio quality results always come from using tools. This is the most objective way of measuring it. Enjoyability, on the other hand, is totally subjective. Every person has their own preference for what good sound quality is.
Headphones sound quality guide
There are many different categories of audio quality that people like.
The 3 most common are:
1. Bass-heavy, strong emphasis on lower range to get strong, deep bass.
2. V-shaped, emphasis on bass and treble to give a more lively and dynamic sound.
3. Flat, balanced and neutral sounding with all frequencies being equal.
Is Music Format Important for Sound Quality?
Yes, the format your music is in is very important. If you’re lossy formats you’re losing sound quality. Try to use lossless audio format for the best experience.
1. MP3 – lossy compressed, the go-to format for “good enough” sound quality
2. AAC – lossy compressed, newer and more efficient than MP3
3. WMA – lossy compressed, competition to MP3, similar to AAC
4. WAV – usually uncompressed
5. FLAC – lossless compressed, the go-to format for all audiophile who like high sound quality
6. ALAC – lossless compressed, Apple alternative to FLAC, a bit less efficient but supported by Apple products
Is Frequency Range of Headphones Important for Audio Quality?
Since most headphones are made to roughly fit into the human hearing bandwidth of 20Hz to 20kHz (20,000Hz) checking the range is not very important.
Unless you can spot the difference which means you’re probably an audiophile yourself with many high-end headphones and great hearing. For an average user it’s not really important.
Most people can differentiate between groups of low frequency, middle frequency, and high frequency and not more than that.
Frequency response or how those ranges are represented is more important since this defines the sound signature.
What’s Good Impedance for Headphones?
If your headphones are too quiet even at max volume you probably need more power. It’s important to pick headphones with lower impedance (16Ω or 32Ω are most common) when you’ll be using them with your smartphone or laptop.
For higher impedance, represented by Ohm at 1kHz, you need more power. An amplifier is needed to drive higher impedance headphones properly.
Impedance alone doesn’t affect sound quality directly but it does affect loudness. Lower powered smartphones won’t make higher Ohm headphones loud enough which can be quite annoying.