Grado_SR60i_headphonesI have previously published a post on “What qualities and parameters matter when searching for and buying the right home audio speakers?“. How about what qualities and parameters that matter when searching for and buying the right headphones? This should be be highly interesting for many buyers considering market indications that the audio industry has seen a tremendous growth of headphones sales over the past few years (most probably due to the less expensive way to achieve better sound experience for personal use and the march of portable electronics e.g. iPods and smartphones). I have modified (Sound quality unchanged) my equivalent list for speakers to answer this question: What qualities and parameters are important when searching for and buying the right headphones? Here is the list:

  • Sound quality (Acoustic characteristics)
    • Bass (deep, punchy, fast, accurate, extension, control)
      • Well control and extremely accurate lead to a perception of deeper bass than there might actually be)
    • Midrange (space and detail: e.g. vocal, piano sound)
    • Tweeter (High end, hights): crystal clear, detail, smooth, polished, off axis performance (e.g. where frequency response does not drop off nearly as rapidly as with other bookshelf models).
    • Imaging (precise), Spatial (spaciousness), holographic
    • Soundstaging (uncompressed, three dimensionality)
    • Timbral accuracy (good, bad, etc.) (e.g. piano sounding real)
    • Details
    • Clear & transparent
    • Disappear in the room
    • Dynamic: play loud without distortion, loosing
    • revealing of recording material quality/character
    • Tonal balance: (Neutral, not warm but also not cool, sounds like the frequency response from top to bottom is quite linear)
    • Tonal integration (mids and tops transition unnoticeable)
    • Minimum coloration: honest sound, realistic reproduction from the sonic & music point of view, boxy coloration
    • Engaging (long listening)
  • Environment sensitive/demanding (indoor / outdoor use)
  • System sensitive/demanding
  • Design and finish
  • Build quality
  • Features (e.g. Active Noise Control, ANC, etc.)
  • Improvement/tweaking possibility (e.g. replacing the ear cushions, etc.) 
  • Comfort (long listening without ears getting hurt)
  • Price (value for money)

Write a comment and say what you think about this list, does it lack any parameter / factor, should it be modified in any way, etc.