Could somebody explain the square wave graphs?
Feb 20, 2009 at 1:49 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13


500+ Head-Fier
Apr 1, 2008
I've been looking at the graphs for different headphones on the Headroom website. What do the square wave graphs represent?

I know what a square wave is. I assume Headroom is playing a square wave through headphones and recording the output.

What are the graphs supposed to tell me?

Feb 20, 2009 at 3:37 AM Post #2 of 13
You basically want to see something resembling the the original input square wave. Having recognizable straight sides rather than skewed looking sides (compared to the the square waveform) indicates good transient response which means the headphone sounds "quick" (can react to changes of sound frequency and amplitude faster). It's a bit academic though, I'm not sure if anybody has ever correlated specific sound quality attributes to measurements like this....but sometimes you can see a headphone or speaker really mess up the shape, which might help you back up listening impressions that a headphone just "sounds wrong" or "incoherent"
Feb 20, 2009 at 10:27 AM Post #3 of 13
The best square wave response I've seen of any of the headphones/earphones are these:

Feb 20, 2009 at 1:46 PM Post #4 of 13
Another thing you can see in the 50Hz SW is how linear the bass response is.

The more the top of the square wave is a straight line the flatter the bass is.

The height of the trailing corner of the square wave is representative of the bass extension.

On this graph you can see that the 5000s have a flatter bass response, but the 800 has better extension.


Feb 20, 2009 at 4:00 PM Post #5 of 13
It makes sense now!

But what's going on with the Denon D7000? The bass is not as flat as the D5000 and there seems to be less bass extension. This seems to contradict what everybody is saying about the D7000 having better bass response and extension when compared to the D5000.

Am I reading the graph correctly? The trailing corner for the D7000 seems to be much lower than the D5000. I've compared it to many other headphones (DT880, K701, SR80, and others) and the trailing corner is lower than all of those as well.

Aug 4, 2009 at 3:40 PM Post #7 of 13
A square wave is made up of all frequencies. The input to the headphones will not be a perfect square wave because, despite Tyll's magical abilities, all function generators have a finite bandwidth. However, it is reasonable to assume that the highest and lowest frequencies reproduce by the source extends far beyond that of the headphones under test (which really only operate over a very small bandwidth). So the reproduction of the square wave will be indicative of the linearity and extension of the headphone's frequency response. Still, I am not sure how reliable we would choose the linearity since headphones are not designed to have a flat frequency response since they are near field sources. How you measure the headphones and how you normalize the measurements would affect the frequency response.
Mar 19, 2012 at 12:15 PM Post #8 of 13
I couldn't find any more threads on this topic, so I am bumping this one. Can the experts among you explain what =863&graphID[1]=3471&graphID[2]=&graphID[3]=&graphType=4&buttonSelection=Compare+Headphones]this and =863&graphID[1]=3471&graphID[2]=&graphID[3]=&graphType=3&buttonSelection=Compare+Headphones]this means? Surely UE600 is nowhere near HD800 in sound quality? Thus, I assume that the square wave response graphs don't really mean much. However, you look through many of these graphs for headphones, you will notice that square wave response like that of the UE600 is very rare (there are a handful of others that look nice like that of Shure SE530/535 and Sleek Audio SA6). Most headphones seem to produce square waves that look far less pretty than that. So what am I missing here? How much does the square wave response really tell us about sound quality? Oh BTW, I consider UE600 one of the very best IEMs I tried. However, I did buy them based on the graphs I saw. lol So it may as well be placebo. But then Shure SE530 also sounded more realistic to me than most headphones and I didn't see its great looking square wave response graphs until after I sold it already, so... I really need some good explanation of these measurements.
Mar 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM Post #10 of 13
Oh come on. No one? I think it's extremely important to be able to understand measurements properly considering that they are the only objective evidence we have about sound quality.
Aug 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM Post #12 of 13
Okie dokie, your wish is my command:

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