You’ve looked at the designs, features, and various other aspects of buying a pair of headphones for yourself. Having navigated through most, you’ve taken the final step in choosing your favourite headphone, and knowing the headphone’s sound signature is critical. Just like a person’s signature, every headphone has its unique sound - a sonic signature, if you will.
Some headphones tend to amplify our focus on specific frequencies for a unique listening experience. When choosing a headphone, this feature is critical because a sound signature needs to match the kind of music you listen. This makes sure that you experience an enjoyable listening experience. Mess that match up, and it’s something similar to using chopsticks to eat a sandwich! They just don’t fit.
The sound signature of headphones is grouped into six basic types - Flat, Balanced, Bright, V-Shaped, Warm and Smooth and Bass-Heavy. Fret not! As we are going to take you through each one, step by step. By the time you finish reading this blog, you can call yourself an expert. Let’s get the ball rolling:
The word ‘flat’ might sound boring, but that’s not the case. The signature has many takers in the audiophile community. A Flat sound signature offers an accurate presentation of sounds without adding colour to your music. Simply put, this sound signature presents audio without boosting any frequencies. As a result, it’s the most natural-sounding signature and provides the closest reproduction of how a track was recorded and produced. Due to their accurate sound reproduction, flat sound signature headphones are preferred by Music professionals, Sound Engineers and used in professional studios for mixing and mastering music tracks and are also loved by audiophiles for immersive listening sessions. Popular with professionals and folks that prefer this signature, genres like jazz, blues, classical, folk, rock and possibly every genre in music. Brands like Audeze, AKG, Shure, Audio-Technica, and Beyerdynamic have long been known to provide some of the most natural-sounding, flat sound signatures.
Essentially, this is a flat signature with minor tweaks to make it sound more fun. Headphones with a Balanced sound signature present a precise sound and an enriching listening experience, where sounds are naturally presented without extreme emphasis on any region. With a pair of headphones with this sound signature, you can hear audio with clarity and detail. The sound is vivid and revealing, a perfect mixture of instruments and vocals, lows, mids, and highs. This sound signature is multi-genre friendly and can handle anything from rock to classical with aplomb. Audio-Technica, Klipsch, Sennheiser, Meze Audio, and Beyerdynamic offer balanced sounding headphones and speakers.
Headphones with a Bright sound signature present a highly revealing sound, allowing you to hear every detail in the music. This sound signature gives your music a sense of clarity and shine and is suited for almost every genre of music like Classical, Rock and Jazz. This signature is suitable for people who are seeking micro details in audio tracks like Music professionals, Sound Engineers, Audiophiles, and general music enthusiasts who enjoy picking elements of music tracks apart. They’re suitable for both music and professional work. Genres like jazz, classical, rock and folk can seem interestingly perceptive on bright headphones. Brands like Grado and Beyerdynamic are known for delivering some legendary performers with this tuning.
V-ShapedWith an output that has emphasized bass and treble frequencies, rock songs get that live, ‘in-your-face’ feel with screeching guitar solos, soaring vocals, and grooving drums. Headphones with a V-Shaped sound signature present an exciting and energetic listening experience with punchy bass and a sparkling shine. Listening to music on headphones with a V-shaped sound signature is stimulating as the audio seems brighter and pleasing to our ears. This happens because the booming bass and sparkling highs are the great formulae for breathing a new life into your music. This sound signature is preferred by music listeners favouring an exhilarating sound. This sound signature has a universal appeal. It makes the audio sound crisp and loud and is quite popular with most listeners. Rock, Hip-Hop, Pop and most Bollywood songs sound good on headphones with this signature. You could try brands like V-MODA and Sony to experience this sound signature.
What’s in a name? Everything! As the name suggests, these headphones love bass. It is the most audible frequency in the output. Bass-heavy headphones love songs that need that extra thump, that punchy low end that gets parties started and folks moving! Headphones with this sound signature present a punchy and exciting listening experience. The bass is louder than the other sounds, making the music sound energetic. This sound signature is enjoyed by bassheads who like their music with a lot of depth and oomph. The sounds that focus the most on the bass are an inseparable part of modern music. If you love EDM, techno, electronica, Hip-Hop, R&B and other genres that are defined by their “thump” factor, this is the sound signature for you. Brands like V-MODA, Sony and Sennheiser usually dominate this segment.
Warm and Smooth
This sound signature is the opposite of a bright signature. Here the bass is slightly emphasised, and the high treble is rolled off to remove the harsh bite of the audio. Headphones with a Warm & Smooth sound signature deliver a relaxed sound that does not overwhelm. This sound signature typically reproduces a sound that gives your music a distinctly warm and soothing quality. Vocals and instruments like the saxophone, cello, and piano sound particularly good with this sound signature and is pleasant to listen to music for extended periods. Genres like rock, EDM, and jazz are at home here. This is a popular sound signature, and brands like Beyerdynamic and AKG hold their forte comfortably in this field.
So there you have it, dear discerning headphone buyer - a complete roundup of the various sound signatures. It must be interesting to know how tuning a particular frequency or frequency changes the overall output of a headphone. A fun way to get an idea of how boosting different frequencies changes the audio is to try these apps (for Android and iOS) yourself. So, take your time and figure out what sound signature suits you most. Everyone has their preferences and it’s best to spend some time figuring it out and testing headphones out. Happy Testing! Happy Listening!