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Headfier's, I Need your input: What attributes do you commonly use to critique sound quality?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Howdy Headfiers!

 

I'm going a little hypothetical here and was hoping to gain your input on a question I've been asking myself for a while. Now, this question of course will lean towards subjective answers, but I think it it would be great to get some consensus on this 'what if' question. Think of it as a class project ;)

 

So, the question is this.

 

You are assigned to review a pair of headphones. You are only allowed to use 5 key attributes to describe the sound quality of said headphones, ie..sibilance , bass, soundstage. What would those 5 attributes be? 

 

Again, this is a what if question which should be thought of as a classroom assignment. I'm not looking for replies such as "I don't review headphones using a class system" or "reviews of sound quality should never be limited to 5 attributes" or "why don't you just figure it out yourself?" or even "..you were probably a baby the last time I stepped into a classroom". This thread should be thought of as a fun way to share what the most important attributes are for you when describing sound quality. 

 

For me, I find it a little difficult to choose only 5, yet is the reason why I find the question interesting and challenging. But, if I had to use 5 attributes to describe the overall sound quality, it would perhaps be bass, mids, highs, soundstage and presence. What may also help to figure out what words/attributes are most important to you are is asking yourself, "If I were to find that a pair of headphones had an overall sound signature of being bright, what 5 attributes did I use to come to this conclusion?". 

 

I understand that some headfiers may be put off by this question, but as mentioned, think of it as a fun, challenging and creative way to collaborate your thoughts on something that can help the overall community. Not only would you be helping me, I think this would be a great way to provide other readers additional insight and ideas the next time they put on a pair of headphones. 

 

Here is the Head-Fi 'Describing a Sound Glossary": http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary

 

I've used it plenty of times to go back and relearn words.

 

So, grab a beer, give some thought to it and post what 5 attributes are most important to you! Thanks for reading!! -Dave


Edited by mangamonster - 2/17/14 at 9:11pm
post #2 of 12
For me, and me alone - I make no claims of any application for anyone else...

- Response - this covers all the basic aspects of "bassy", "bright", "V-shaped", "neutral", etc.
- Detail/Resolution - this does NOT mean just treble - it means that small differences can be heard, like the difference between a drummer hitting a 12x9 tom and a 13x10 tom.
- Dynamic Range - being able to discern the lowest levels of volume in the music while also being able to hear the crashing crescendos.
- Soundstage/Localization - appropriate separation between instruments and a realistic sense of distance from the music source to the listener.
- Tone - this covers a variety of aspects relating to the overall character of the sound - "warm", "rich", "smooth", "mellow", "laid-back", "aggressive", "harsh", etc.


smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Man, Billy! Now you've made me rethink my selection! Response and tone are hard to beat, now that I think about it more. I'm going to give it that some thought while I drink this rum and coke over some tunes. 

 

Thanks for sharing and providing the detailed input!!

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

For me, and me alone - I make no claims of any application for anyone else...

- Response - this covers all the basic aspects of "bassy", "bright", "V-shaped", "neutral", etc.
- Detail/Resolution - this does NOT mean just treble - it means that small differences can be heard, like the difference between a drummer hitting a 12x9 tom and a 13x10 tom.
- Dynamic Range - being able to discern the lowest levels of volume in the music while also being able to hear the crashing crescendos.
- Soundstage/Localization - appropriate separation between instruments and a realistic sense of distance from the music source to the listener.
- Tone - this covers a variety of aspects relating to the overall character of the sound - "warm", "rich", "smooth", "mellow", "laid-back", "aggressive", "harsh", etc.


smily_headphones1.gif


Cheers!
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mangamonster View Post
 

You are assigned to review a pair of headphones. You are only allowed to use 5 key attributes to describe the sound quality of said headphones, ie..sibilance , bass, soundstage. What would those 5 attributes be? 

 

1. Frequency response : how far into the bass and treble does it go? any range that is audibly emphasized, psychoacoustic bias for midrange frequencies considered?

 

2. Detail : can it distinguish each note naturally? ie each piano key should sound different, but too different if on the same scale can mean it has a bias for some frequencies;

 

3. Dynamic range : how different are loud and soft sounds?

4. Soundstage+Imaging : how wide and deep is the soundstage? are the instruments located where they should be relative to each other? are they even easy to localize within the soundstage?

 

5. PRAT : do notes attack and decay naturally, with nothing too strong as to sound unnatural or linger too long  which in bass guitars and drums result in lack of detail? does it sound like music and makes teh beat where applicable engaging and enjoyable, ie easily makes me tap my feet or some other way of enjoying it as such?

post #6 of 12

Draws me into the music so that I forget any attributes of the sound and therefore can't answer your question. Seriously, the only question is: does it draw me into the music? I can analyze the various hi-fi aspects of the sound, but anymore, I just don't care.

post #7 of 12

In order of personal importance:

 

- tone
- integration of the frequency ranges
- immediacy (being there)

- dimensionality (how full-bodied)
- resolution

post #8 of 12
When body parts start moving, they pass.
post #9 of 12
1 Musicality

2 Authority

3 Dynamic Range

4 PRaT

5 Presentation, Head-Stage
post #10 of 12
1. Frequency response
2. Clarity
3. Tone
4. Sound stage
5. Accuracy
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Ya'll guys are awesome! Thanks for sharing and keep'em coming!

post #12 of 12
Atmosphere: Similar to sound-staging but with a focus on atmospheric recordings just sounding 'correct.'
Timbre: Do instruments come through realistically? Do they blend together or each take up their own space? Brass has bite? Bass just a tone or multiple vibrations?
Coherency: If the different frequency ranges each have their own signature, anything that plays across the range is going to sound bad.
Weight: Do instruments/voices sound like they are coming out of thin air or from an instrument/guitar amp/person?
Refinement: Smooth and velvety with an unforced presentation? A+
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