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Does "Reference" actually mean anything?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have a pair of AKG Q-701 that I've had for a year or two, not the greatest things on the market but I like to think they're better than average. Certainly the best I've ever had, anyway.


I noticed today that on the sides in little bold black print near the Made In Austria bit, it says "Reference headphones Q701". I don't remember the packaging mentioning anything about them being "reference" headphones, and I did a few minutes of research on the term before coming here, but I'm not totally clear on what it means, if anything. Is it just a marketing thing? That seems unlikely to me because you wouldn't see it til you already had the things opened and set up. But I'm also a little hesitant to believe that these could be reference cans on any professional level (they're good, but a pro would certainly have better).


So what does it mean, if anything?

post #2 of 4

IMO "Reference" meant it was a piece of gear that produced sound very close to what you'd experience listening to a live performance. Now it's just a marketing buzz word. You're right about the Q701, they're OK, but far from reference.

post #3 of 4

Wouldn't reference usually be referring to the flat sound signature of an uncolored studio monitor used for mixing and engineering music. In this case the headphones being referred to as reference is trying to state that it is neutral and flat ~ ie with the intention of not coloring the music if used in the studio. If you did color part of the sound then you would over compensate there and under compensate in other areas. At least that is how I've seen reference used at times.

post #4 of 4

I've always understood the term 'reference' to mean the same thing as 'monitor' but with the implication that the headphone is of very high quality (ie. a high-end monitor). 

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