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Understanding Frequency Response for Headphones - A Novice Guide for Shoppers

frequency response headphone buying guide headphone design

You've seen it on packages, spec sheets, and websites when you're looking for a new pair of headphones, but you’re still not quite sure what it is...so...what is frequency response?

Frequency response is usually given as a range of numbers; for example, Tweedz's headphones measurements are 20Hz to 20kHz. You'll also often see it charted...often looking something like this:



The first number represents the bass response, or the low frequencies that are prominent in genres like Hip Hop and Rock. Generally, the lower the better. If a headphone cuts off at 80-100Hz, you’re not going to hear much bass at all. The effect might almost sound like you’re listening to music on a telephone because all of the bass frequencies aren’t present. That said, you don’t want to go too low because the human ear can’t hear all the way down to 0Hz, so music is generally the most pleasing when the bass starts to get rolled off around 20-40Hz. Bass guitar and the kick drum are often dominant in this frequency range.

The second number represents the treble response, or the high frequencies which are prominent in all forms of music but oftentimes most prominent in Pop music. Generally, the higher the better. That said, the human ear can’t hear above 20Khz (similar to how you can’t hear a dog whistle), but if cut off too low (say at 14-15kHz) a lot of the high frequency information will be muffled. Vocals, cymbals, brass instruments, and guitars have their main frequencies in the treble range. While often their main tones are in the 1kHz ti 5kHz range, overtones can extend much higher and really add to the real-ism of a recording. 

Understanding frequency response and how it relates to your favorite music is important because some headphones will boost bass so that the low end of the music is really accentuated. This is great for Hip Hop and in some cases Pop but could make other genres like Rock & Roll, Folk, Country or Classical sound “muddy” without enough definition for vocals and mid range instruments. On the flip side, some headphones boost the treble, which can have an initially flattering sound but can fatigue your ears if you listen for too long. Additionally, treble boosted headphones on music that’s already heavy of treble, like Pop, can make the music sound harsh.

At Tweedz, our goal is to provide a full, flat frequency response which allows you to listen to your favorite music as the artist and producer intended. No heavy boosting of bass or treble and a full spectrum range - 20Hz to 20kHz - so they sound great across a range of genres, from Rock, Hip Hop, Country, Classical, Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz…you name it. Check out more headphone buying tips.



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