If you are looking for a pair of headphones that can deliver a clear and balanced sound, you might want to pay attention to their mid frequency response accuracy. This is a measure of how well the headphones reproduce the mid-range frequencies, which are crucial for vocals, instruments, and harmonics.
In this article, we will explain what mid frequency response accuracy is, why it matters for headphones, and how we measure it. We will also show you how we score headphones based on their mid frequency response accuracy, using a scale from 1 to 10. Finally, we will describe how we test headphones for mid frequency response accuracy, including the steps we follow and the challenges we face.
What is Mid Frequency Response Accuracy?
Mid frequency response accuracy is the degree to which the headphones reproduce the mid-range frequencies without distortion or deviation from the original sound source. The mid-range frequencies are typically defined as the range from 250 Hz to 4 kHz, and they contain most of the information that makes up the sound quality of audio content. For example, human voices, guitars, pianos, and most other instruments have their fundamental frequencies and harmonics in the mid-range. Therefore, having accurate mid frequency reproduction is essential for clarity, comprehensibility, and naturalness of sound.
The mid frequency response accuracy of headphones can be measured by comparing their frequency response curve with a reference or target curve. A frequency response curve is a graph that shows how the headphones respond to different frequencies, from low to high. A reference or target curve is a graph that shows how an ideal pair of headphones should respond to different frequencies, based on a certain sound profile or preference. The closer the frequency response curve of the headphones is to the target curve, the more accurate their mid frequency response is.
Why is Mid Frequency Response Accuracy Important?
Mid frequency response accuracy is important because it affects the sound quality of different types of audio content, such as music, podcasts, audiobooks, movies, etc. Depending on your personal preference and listening habits, you may want to have more or less emphasis on certain mid-range frequencies. For example, if you listen to a lot of music genres that feature vocals and acoustic instruments, such as pop, rock, folk, jazz, etc., you may want to have a neutral or slightly boosted mid-range to bring out the details and nuances of these sounds. On the other hand, if you listen to a lot of podcasts or audiobooks that mainly consist of spoken words, you may want to have a slightly cut mid-range to reduce the nasal or muddy sound that some voices may have.
Having accurate mid frequency reproduction also helps you enjoy a more realistic and immersive sound experience. For example, if you watch movies or play video games with headphones, having accurate mid frequency reproduction can help you hear the dialogues clearly and locate the sound sources accurately in the virtual space. Moreover, having accurate mid frequency reproduction can also enhance your emotional connection with the audio content. For example, if you listen to music with headphones, having accurate mid frequency reproduction can help you feel the emotions and expressions of the singers and musicians more vividly.
How to Measure Mid Frequency Response Accuracy?
To measure the mid frequency response accuracy of headphones, we use a combination of tools and methods that allow us to capture and analyze the sound output of the headphones across different frequencies. Here are some of the tools and methods we use:
- Frequency response graphs: These are graphs that show how the headphones respond to different frequencies, from low to high. We use a software called REW (Room EQ Wizard) to generate these graphs based on the measurements we take with a microphone.
- Standard error: This is a statistical measure that quantifies how much the frequency response curve of the headphones deviates from the target curve. The lower the standard error value, the more accurate the mid frequency response is. We use an Excel formula to calculate this value based on the data points from the frequency response graphs.
- Target curves: These are graphs that show how an ideal pair of headphones should respond to different frequencies, based on a certain sound profile or preference. We use different target curves for different types of headphones and sound profiles. For example, we use the Harman target curve for over-ear and on-ear headphones with a neutral sound profile, and we use the Diffuse Field target curve for in-ear monitors with a bright sound profile.
How We Score Headphones for Mid Frequency Response Accuracy
Based on our measurements and analysis of the mid frequency response accuracy of headphones, we assign them a score from 1 to 10. The score reflects how well the headphones reproduce the mid-range frequencies without distortion or deviation from the original sound source. Here are some of the criteria we use to determine the score:
What are the Criteria for a Good Score?
A good score for mid frequency response accuracy means that the headphones have: