What Is Headphone Frequency Response

What Is Headphone Frequency Response? (A Detailed Guide)

Frequency Response, a word tech-geeks often throw while discussing the audio gears. So, what is a headphone frequency response? How does it affect the user’s listening experience? What is a good frequency range for a headphone? In this article, we would try to clear all these queries and confusion around the subject.

Sound is essentially a collection of waves within a particular range of frequencies. Humans have their own range of frequencies that are audible to them. And the headphones are designed to produce these frequencies by interpreting the electric signals coming from the input device. An ideal headphone should be able to produce all the frequencies within the audible range.

To understand what frequency response is in headphones, one must be familiar with the mechanics of the headphones. So, first thing first, let’s find out:

How Do Headphones Work? – Understanding The Headphone Frequency Response

Simply put, headphones are transducers that convert electrical signals into sound waves that we can hear. The headphones receive electrical signals that are a representation of the actual sound and interpret the mechanical waves’ energy. An audio signal is not a single wave but a collection of waves of different frequencies and amplitudes.

The audible range of the frequency ranges from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz for the human. It can be said that it is the response range of our hearing. So, we often describe the sound as frequencies that range between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

The mechanism by how the electrical signals are converted into mechanical waves may vary in different headphones. Some headphones accentuate while others deemphasize some frequencies which can alter the sound. And this is exactly how we define the frequency response headphones. It is essentially the ability of headphones to effectively reproduce the sound for us.

How Does Headphone Frequency Response Affect Listeners?

The frequency response of the headphones plays a key role in determining their performance. An ideal headphone should be able to reproduce all the frequencies at the right magnitude and at the right time. It tells how well a headphone can interpret the electric signals and produce mechanical energy.

Headphones that cannot reproduce the audio as per the electric signal are simply not a good product. Typically, the frequency response in headphones is mentioned in the specifications sheet of the product. Some manufacturers even provide a graph of the response at different frequencies. In case the company does not provide it, you can look to the third party for an illustration of the response.

In the graph, you would see certain hikes and drops at some frequencies. It tells us where the headphone is accentuating and where it deemphasis. At the points where it accentuates, you would find a rise in bass or the sound of that frequency. And at the point of deemphasizing, you would find that the headphone has downplayed that specific frequency.

This begs a question that:

What Is A Frequency Response Chart/ Graph?

To understand how headphones respond at different frequencies one has to look at the frequency chart. The X-axis of the graph represents frequencies while the y-axis represents the amplitude or volume.

One cannot simply understand the graph by merely looking for it. You have to have knowledge of different brands of the headphone frequency range which are as follow:

Frequency Range Name of Frequency Band
20 Hz – 40 Hz Low Bass
40 Hz – 80 Hz Mid Bass
80 Hz – 160 Hz High/Upper Bass
160 Hz – 320 Hz Lower Midrange
320 Hz – 640 Hz Middle Midrange
640 Hz- 1.20 kHz High/ Upper Midrange
1.20 kHz – 2. kHz Lower Treble
2.0 kHz – 5 kHz Middle Treble
5.0 kHz – 10 kHz High/ Upper Treble
10 kHz – 20 kHz Top octave

 

The ranges of the band are not fixed but are an average which may differ from person to person. You can use this chart to assess the performance of headphones in different areas. This table makes it easy to interpret the frequency chart or graph. You can see where the headphone accentuates and where it deemphasizes.

If you want something with a little higher bass you should look for the spike at the early bass part of the graph. But do not forget to keep the deviation of the headphones in the account. You can check out microphonesgeek for audio and music-related guides and reviews.

What Is A Good Frequency Response For Headphones?

As discussed earlier in “what is the frequency in headphones”, the audible range for the human is 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. And if we divide this range further, we can call the lower frequencies bass, the middle part as mid, and the later part as treble. Now anything that is below or above the given frequency range would not be heard but it can be felt.

Thus, you would often see headphones with specifications ranging from 5 Hz to 30,000 Hz. So, is it a good frequency response for headphones? Yes, it is a good frequency response of headphones but it is not the sole criterion to judge its performance. To effectively gauge the response, you have to look at the graphical representation of it. The ideal headphones would be consistently flat and wide.

Coming back to high and low frequencies, the headphones with lower than 20 Hz produce a lot of basses. It would be good for the people who like to listen to rock music or anything else that has bass. As of the higher than 20,000 Hz headphone frequency range, it really makes no difference. The human ear can only listen up to 20,000 Hz.

Another thing to look at in the specification of headphones is the degree of deviation. It would be given in dB with a plus and minus sign. It essentially tells whether a response is neutral or flat. The lower the deviation the better.

So, in a nutshell, the best frequency response for headphones is 20-20,000Hz as it makes a decent headphone for most people. What is a good frequency response for headphones for you? It varies from individual to individual. For those who want a rich experience of bass, headphones with lower than 20 Hz frequency would sound better.

What Is Flat Headphone Frequency Response?

In simple words, flat frequency response is where headphones produce output with equal sensitivity. The response does not have unwanted noise in it. However, no headphone is capable of producing a completely flat response at all frequencies. No matter how expensive or cheap it is, there will always be some frequencies where the headphones would either accentuate or deemphasize.

However, a flat response is not always needed. The music would not feel as good when you listen to it on headphones with a flat response. The headphone that emphasizes the bass would feel better compared to the flat response headphone. Similarly, if you need a pair of headphones solely for attending to phone calls or meetings you should get the one that accentuates the bass. The reduction in bass would make the sound clearer.

So, there is no single best frequency response for the headphones. It all comes down to your choices and what you want to do with a pair of headphones.

Frequency Response in Popular Headphones

Headphones Frequency Response
Apple EarPods 5 Hz – 21,000 Hz
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 8 Hz – 25,000 Hz
Audeze LCD-4

 

5 Hz – 50,000 Hz
STAX SR-007 6 Hz – 41,000 Hz
  • Apple’s AirPods low end drops off below at 100Hz. And there is also a slight peak at 2 kHz. It also has a roll-off that starts around 11 kHz and ends at 16 kHz.
  • Sennheiser HD also dips at 100 Hz and rolls off starting at 2 kHz, between the 20 Hz and 2 kHz the response is quite clear.
  • LCD-4s has the flattest response amongst the four mentioned headphones. Its roll-off starts at 1 kHz but it remains relatively above 4 kHz.
  • The low-end roll of the STAX starts at 20 Hz at -10 d, which means it would produce low end with some clarity. It has both high-roll and low-roll offs. And the result of such frequency response is it provides a transparent sound with a high degree of clarity.

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Final Words

What is frequency response in headphones? Simply put, it is the ability of the headphones to reproduce the sound with precision. There is a lot that goes into understanding “what is frequency response in headphones”. We have discussed the most important and most common queries in this article on “what is frequency response in headphones”. In case, you have any queries or want to add anything to the subject. Let us know in the given section. We would love to respond. Thank you!

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