The sound of the same pair of headphones is perceived differently by each listener, yet some headphone models are capable of delivering nearly the same sound to everyone. Through listening tests carried out by specifically trained listeners, we’ve narrowed down the top 10 headphone models out of 875 models Sonarworks has measured. These models deliver the most consistent sound regardless of the listener’s physical attributes, or, in other words, these are the headphones with the lowest “translation error”. The six curves above illustrate the amount of “translation error” in dB and the frequency range where these deviations occur. The bar chart ranks models by maximum deviation, lower is better. Why only six curves and bars if this is the top 10? The first place is shared by five related models from Sennheiser with nearly identical performance, the HD 600, HD 650, HD 660 S, HD 58X and HD 6XX (the latter two are collaborations with Drop).
The ultimate sound target for audio professionals is neutral sound and in order to achieve it on headphones, low “translation error” is a factor. However, for the time being, the only way to achieve it is by applying calibration through DSP. Thus, once calibrated, the headphone models highlighted above are the best at delivering neutral sound to different listeners.