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Posts Tagged ‘etymotic’

Choosing Headphones: A Guide for the Budding Audiophile

Posted by Eric March on February 6, 2008

It’s all in your headLook, if you love music and listen to your iPod virtually everywhere you go, you probably want to get the best quality sound you can while you’re on the go — within your budget, anyway, right? So which ones should you buy? Cans, buds or IEMs? Active noise cancellation or passive noise isolation? Shure or Etymotic? Sennheiser or Grado? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss. I’m not going to tell you what to buy, but I will arm you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which ones are best for you. None if this is absolutely guaranteed to snag you a top notch pair of cans, but it gets you a lot closer than you would be going in blind. First though, we need to talk about the technology and what it means to your listening experience.

The Terminology
Before we talk about hardware, we need to understand what all of the terms mean so that we can understand what it is we’re looking at when we look at the specs on a set of headphones.

Dynamic Range
This one’s easy. Dynamic range is the range of audio signal that the phones are capable of reproducing. They are typically represented by two numbers, expressed in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz). A set that lists its dynamic range as 20Hz-20,000Hz means that it is capable of producing low sounds down to 20KHz, and highs up to 20,000Hz, or 20kHz. This is pretty typical for most name-brand phones. Generally speaking, the lower the first number and the higher the second number, the better; we’re looking for the widest dynamic range, and I personally consider 20Hz-20kHz to be my minimum standard. If a pair can exceed that, so much the better.

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