The Smartech Guide to Understanding Earphone specification

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Buying Earphones in most people’s mind is a simple process. We choose based on the following:

  • How aesthetically pleasing are they.
  • The Brand
  • The Price

While these three factors are significant for most on deciding what to purchase, there are many other factors that we must take into consideration. Most consumers overlook the technical specifications marked on the packaging. It would do well for the manufacturers to educate us on the significance of these terms. Knowing what these aspects mean will make you a much more informed purchase. Don’t take this knowledge for granted either; most employees in music retailers themselves do not know what these specifications mean. Knowledge is power and it’s generally better when you’ve researched it yourself. Armed with the right knowledge, you are on a much better path toward buying what you really wanted and you will be able to accurately guess whether the pair you’re considering will deliver the kind of output you have come to respect and love.

  • Frequency: This information comes with every set of Earphones. You’ll see numbers like 16-21,500 Hz. But what does all of this mean? Well the sound is measured in hertz. The lower the hertz, the more bass the speaker will deliver; therefore, a speaker that promises you 15 Hz is going to have  much deeper bass than one that delivers at a starting range of say 60 Hz. The higher the hertz, the more treble. Usually, the kHz (kilohertz) doesn’t matter, because the specifications are thrown so far out of proportion, that there really isn’t any cause for argument. A human ear can only hear up to roughly 20 kHz, and even that number is enough to make someone deaf.  That said, we mustn’t just rate the quality of a pair of Earphones on its frequency alone.
  • Impedance: Your Earphones run on electricity, and they can certainly wear out over time if you don’t have a strong enough pair. That having been said, electricity itself carries a vibrational frequency. Vibrations emit sound. The type of sound electricity emits isn’t the most attractive; it lets out a hiss. In order to eliminate hiss, we need impedance. Impedance is measured in ohms, and my personal rule is: the higher the ohms, the lower the phones. In other words, high impedance means a much clearer sound definition. You want to buy a pair of headphones with the highest Impedance you can afford so that you hear pure sound.
  • Sensitivity:  Sensitivity is measured in decibels and sound pressure levels (dB Sound Pressure Level). Let’s not make this complicated. The lowest audible sound is at 0 decibels. This is as close to as silence as it can get while still giving us the ability to hear things. You don’t want to go higher than 85 decibels, because this can cause hearing loss. When buying a pair of Earphones, you’ll want something that can get loud, but you don’t need anything obnoxiously loud. That having been said, most people love their music loud, and the sounds may certainly exceed 85 decibels. Just make sure you keep exposure to such volumes at a minimum. The rule of thumb is that if somebody has to shout in order for you to hear him or her, your music is too loud. Loudness is fine, but retaining your hearing is even better
  • Nominal Power Handling Capacity: You need to know how much power your Earphones can take before they wear out. Wouldn’t it be nice if the packaging revealed such information? Well generally it does! Maximum power is simply the highest beating your Earphones can take before sounding like they have just exploded.  Operate your Earphones at lower power levels, and they will last much longer. In other words play your Earphones at a comfortable volume.
  • Drivers: Drivers are probably the BIGGEST reason why over-the-ear headphones sound significantly better than In Earphones that are sold for the exact same price. The fact is; over ear headphones are big enough for manufacturers to easily place the best drivers for the best possible sound. In order to get excellent sound in Earphones, we must place powerful drivers in them as well. The issue is,Earphones are so small that building appropriate drivers for them isn’t easy. Nonetheless, the stronger the driver, the better the overall sound. Drivers tend to really boost the bass, and they give an overall richer experience. They really thrust a lot of power into the Earphones. Over-the-ears normally have four drivers. Each driver is meant to target a different audio quality: bass, mid and treble. Some Earphones come with more than two drivers, making the Earphones larger. It also makes them more expensive when you add additional drivers. If you add power to these drivers, the Earphones will certainly go up in price. In hindsight, the £156 Beats headphones by say Dr re have a 40 mm driver set within them. The Ultimate Ear Pro 18’s, in direct comparison, can cost nearly £1350. The main reason they are priced to high is that each Earphones has six drivers.
  • Lows, Midrange, and Highs:Just to give you an example of how all of this information ties in together,

 

Extreme bottom below 32 Hz
Low bass, bottom octave 20 to 40 Hz
Mid bass 40 to 80 Hz
Upper bass 80 to 160 Hz
Lower midrange 160 to 320 Hz
Midrange 320 to 2,560 Hz
Upper midrange 2,560 to 5,120 Hz
Highs, lower highs 5,120 to 10,240 Hz
Extreme highs, top octave
10,240 to 20,000 Hz

 

As we mentioned earlier, 20 khz is way too high for our ears, so you do not have to really shop around for Earphones that indicate a high level of kilohertz. Ideally, you want a pair of Earphones that has a very low bass (Hz) and a very high treble (also in Hz; but towards the higher end of the spectrum you may see kilohertz instead). The greater the range, the more dynamic the Earphones will be. It is good to have all of the information as part of the bigger picture; however, your eyes should be focused more on the drivers themselves. If the drivers are excellent, then great Hz-kHz ratings will boost the end result. If the drivers are poor, then no amount of hertz or kilohertz will give you a good pair of Earphones

As we mentioned earlier 20khz is way too high for our ears, so you do not have to really shop around for Earphones that indicate a high level of kilohertz. Ideally, you want a pair of Earphones that has a very low bass (Hz) and a very high treble (also in Hz; but towards the higher end of the spectrum you may see kilohertz instead). The greater the range, the more dynamic the Earphones will be. It is good to have all of the information as part of the bigger picture; however, your eyes should be focused more on the drivers themselves. If the drivers are excellent, then great Hz-kHz ratings will boost the end result. If the drivers are poor, then no amount of hertz or kilohertz will give you a good pair of Earphones.

In conclusion, when shopping for Earphones, the most important thing to look for is the number of drivers a set has. After that, look at the decibel rating, because a high decibel rating guarantees greater sound levels. It is pleasing to look at the number of hertz, but realize that its only part of what makes a good sound. One of our low priced recommendations the Plex37M.

For the active sporty types who would prefer the wires were out of the way take a look at our Wire free offering here 

We at Smartechnologies  hope you found this guide useful. If you did please like our Facebook HERE

 

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