THD 99 Harman Headphone Target Curve Finds Preferred Sound for Most Listeners Using Blind Study

12 days ago

The Total Harmonic Discussion / the THD Podcast. A weekly discussion on audio and headphone technologies and the people who bring the technology to market.

In episode 99, Dr Sean Olive from Harman International joins to explain the background and the rationale behind the Harman Headphone Target Curve. Some fascinating discussions on the evolution and some of the test procedures using scientific controls to produce a statistically significant study. Ultimately, it produces a line of fit between the listening experience and the frequency response to give headphone developers a target curve that satisfies most users.

Notes from the question at 41:45 from Sean Olive:
"I thought a bit more about the question Simon asked whether the target curve should be different for IE vs OE/AE types and wanted to clarify in case I misunderstood the question. He (Simon) seemed to think they should be different but perhaps he was referring to differences between targets for Type 3,3 versus Type 4.3 -- not headphone types? The baseline targets for IE and OE/AE were the same for Type 3.3 before adjustments to bass and treble were made. The baseline was determined by measuring a flat in-room speaker system. We found the IE target had about 4 dB more bass than the AE/OE target and only slightly different in treble. The same baseline for IE/ AE/OE is determined by measuring the speakers in the same room with Type 4.3 HATS. But after adjustments, I believe the IE/OE/AE will be closer than the Type 3,3 particularly in the bass b/c of the larger volume and acoustic impedance of the Type 4.3 vs 3.3. Will the headphone targets for Type 4.3 versus 3,3 be different? Absolutely, because the response and acoustic impedances are different. The main differences will be below 200 Hz and above 3-4 kHz. Hopefully, that clarifies my response to this question, if I understood it correctly."

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Thanks to Barry Vogel and the ALTI Audio & Loudspeaker Technologies International for their support as well!

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