Is there anything in the world that isn't categorized? It actually does make understanding the category better. Why not the same with headphones?
Other than their physical form factors, headphones are classified with respect to how they sound. Every headphone has its own sound that appeals to that kind of a listener. This particular way of the headphone in which it responds to the frequency played, is categorized in the audiophile world into various ways. Let us simplify that for you with these Six basic Signatures that can encompass all kinds of headphones. Through this short and sweet process, also get to know your Sound Signature.
The name says it all. For that extra punch in life, that loud thump in your music, that makes you jump on every beat. These type of headphones focus more on the lower frequencies being loud. In short, boosting your Bass. It will make your music sound louder and warmer than it is. Such a tuning in lower frequency may make the bass sound loud but causes a loss in other frequencies. A.K.A. loss in detail. Not the case always. If you just love EDM and other such music, this is your type. Your best choices would be brands like V-Moda, Sony, Sennheiser and Beats.
Add a little V in life. With emphasized bass and treble, your music sounds a little unnatural but keeps the major sounds in your music upgraded. Like if you're listening to Adele, a V-shaped sound would take the reverb off the piano and make her vocals less naturally warm. You'll notice the gain in power with this signature but make it sound a little crisp and loud. When you reduce the mid range in the audio, the ambient noise reduces by an extent. Rock and Soft rock sound stronger in a V-shaped equalization in most cases.
Not as flat as you imagined the earth to be centuries ago. This is the Sound signature most professional audio artists and studio engineers use. Flat in this sense actually means no emphasis is given to any frequency. Mahatma Gandhi's principle of equality is evident with all frequencies in this sound signature. It stands flat so that the audio can be heard as naturally as possible. Want to hear your music as naturally as it was recorded, go for a flat sounding headphone. There is ideally no headphone driver that can be exactly flat. But most professional brands try hard and yield natural sound. Brands such as Audeze, AKG, Shure, Audio-Technica and Beyerdynamic make some of the best flat reference cans.
How can audio be bright? Just like with light? Yes. Bright audio has a boosted high and higher mid range. Your treble will sharp but won't hurt. When you boost the higher frequencies, the audio tends to be clearer and less warm i.e. Bright. It has very less warmth. You want to find mistakes in recordings, this is the perfect signature headphone. Listening to such audio might disturb and you won't be able to listen to it for long. The ear is more sensitive to higher frequenies, thus many less people use such headphones. Grado and Beyerdynamic are known for making some bright sounding headphones.
Exactly the opposite of bright. When you boost the Low and lower mid range of your audio, warm and smooth is born. You feel like if covered with a velvet jacket. There is some treble present to but nothing compared to the lows. Such headphones don't actually cause a loss in detail as they tend to neutralize all frequencies but emphasize the musical bass and lower ambiance. Like listening to a saxophone and Cello in a Jazz club. To get a Warm & Smooth experience, the best options would be headphones from Ultrasone, Beyerdynamic, AKG and Jabra.
The bonus to your music. It's when your complete audio experience is slightly enhanced and yet not too flat. Balance is what most headphones are tuned to. It's the perfect segue between bass heavy and bright headphones. From the vocals to the bass line to the guitar riffs, everything sounds balanced and lively. It may be difficult to balance sauces in your sub sandwich, but these headphones balance your music perfectly. Listen to every part of your music. The best balanced headphones are branded by Audio Technica, Klipsch, RHA, Sennheiser, Meze and Beyerdynamic.