Headphone Glossary

What Are On-Ear Headphones?

Other wise known as ear-pad, or the technical name which is supra-aural, these headphones sit on top of your ear vs over it or actually in it. Due to varying sizes of these ear-pads, its important to find the right fit as a mismatched fit can cause the headphones to become uncomfortable after a while.

What Are In-Ear Headphones?

This category covers In-ear headphones, earbuds that sit just out side the ear, as well as inner-canal. In-ear refers to anything that goes literally into your ear where as earbuds sit just outside.

What Are Over-Ear Headphones?

Other wise known as circumaural these headphones encompass your entire  ear. Generally headphones that are closed back provide a good deal of passive noise cancellation where as open-back circumaural headphones are designed to let some sound in as to better the sound staging.

What Does Headphone Accuracy Mean?

This term refers to how accurately the headphones represent the music being played. Accurate headphones will not demonstrate any exaggerations in the EQ spectrum. They will tend to be "flat" meaning that the Eq is evenly distributed. Headphones that are accurate are great for musicians, video production and editing, and studio engineers.

What Does Bass Mean?

This term refers to s frequencies generally occurring below 100 hz down to 30hz.  This is the thumping sound most people are looking for when listening to either dance music or hip hop.

What is Headphone Clarity?

How well defined each element of sound is. For example, a pair of headphones with outstanding clarity will allow you to hear parts of the mix-down that you can't really even hear with other headphones because they are so subtle. Clarity is a key element to professional studio headphones.

What is Connection Plating?

This is the type of connection plating metal on the connector plug. Precious metals like gold or silver are better conducive material and provide less signal loss than other metals. Nickel is pretty standard, silver has the best conduction but gold will not oxidize and tarnish.

What are Noise Isolation Headphones?

Noise Isolation is a term used to describe headphones that block out sound very well by virtue of their design. There is no battery or power needed for noise isolation headphones. It is generally the fit or way that they cover your ears that provides the isolation from outside sounds.

What are Noise Cancellation Headphones?

Noise Cancellation refers to active powered headphones, that cancel outside noises in one of two ways. The most popular is reverse transient cancellation. The headphones basically have little microphones on them that take in the surrounding sound and create a revers transient sound wave of the ambient sounds. Then when that sound is played back into your headphones, it has the effect of canceling out the surrounding sounds. Some headphones in the lower price range simply use a white noise signal that is pumped into the headphones. This extra sound helps to block sounds out.

What Are Studio Headphones?

Generally, if a headphone is marketed or labeled as a "Studio Monitor" it means that the headphones are relatively "flat" in their sound. All of the frequency ranges are equally represented in a balanced way such that what you hear truly represents what you are listening to and the EQ that was created by the people who produced it. In the case of headphones labeled as both "DJ/Studio or DJ/PRO" you can assume that the flat EQ is also the case, or at very least they are not SUPER heavy in any one frequency range.

What does Balanced Headphones Vs. Biased Headphones Mean?

In general when we say "balanced" we are referring to the sound of the headphones, not the actual wiring which is what is traditionally referenced when using the word "balanced".

Balanced Headphones: Evenly represented frequency ranges. No really overwhelming presence in any of the lows, mids, or highs.

Biased Headphones or Non-balanced: Tend to preform better, or have higher levels in certain frequency ranges, usually this is either in the low end or high end, as boosting these frequency's can make certain types of music sound "better" to the average listener. Best example of this is Beats By Dre. Beats have a SUPER extradited low end which makes hip hop and dance music, the genre if their namesake sound really amazing. Thing is its not best for ALL types of music. If you listen to a wider range of music, you definitely want balanced headphones!

This term refers to any part of a speaker that compresses and refines air to create sound waves. In the majority of cases headphones utilize what is called "dynamic" drivers, which are a made of essentially all the same materials, a magnet (often ferrite or neodymium), a voice coil, and a conical diaphragm, much like any other speaker you may find in your home.

"Static" drivers, alternatively, are made of  a light membrane strung between two electrodes.  You're more likely to find them in high-end audiophile  headphones. These types of headphones usually require a headphone amplifier due to the needed voltage to run them.

What Are Neodymium Magnets?

Neodymium is a rare metal used in the production of quality drivers. While it is a commonly used material, it is also one of the best to create drivers that are accurate and long lasting.

What does Decibel (db) Mean?

The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of a physical quantity (usually power or intensity) relative to a specified or implied reference level. A ratio in decibels is ten times the logarithm to base 10 of the ratio of two power quantities. A decibel is one tenth of a bel, a seldom-used unit named in honor of Alexander Graham Bell. In audio decibel is the relative amplitude, or how loud something is. One db is the most quite a person can generally hear, and a gunshot is about 140bd along with fireworks.


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