Sonarworks technology delivers studio sound experience on consumer headphones. Find out how it works!
Any audio playback device has many parameters that contribute to the final sound they produce. For headphones, the most noticeable characteristics from the user’s perspective are the type of headphone design (over-ear, one-ear, earbud, IEM or in-ear-monitor) employed, and the level and type of environmental noise isolation implemented. However in terms of sound reproduction performance, there is no aspect more important than frequency response.
The human auditory system is capable of interpreting frequencies in the range of 20Hz to 20kHz - this is the reason any musical digital audio signal is tailored to hold audio information within said frequency range. The frequency response between different headphone models differs drastically, as it is affected by their physical characteristics.
In essence, the frequency response curve of a transducer conveys which set of frequencies are attenuated or boosted by the playback device, making different headphones sound harsher, brighter or boomier than others even though the original input audio signal remains the same. When listening back to the same track through different headphones, the consumer gets differing sound quality and experience due to the audio dynamics being affected by the frequency response of the headphone model. This results in a distinct, audible artifact, as the link between the conscious decisions in frequency balancing and dynamics made by the producer in the studio, and what consumer hears in the end, can be lost.
Our goal is to ensure that the exact content the producer generated in the studio is not only digitally, but also physically delivered to the end consumer’s eardrum by ‘fixing’ any unwanted signal processing and nonlinearities imposed upon the audio signal by the chosen playback device, allowing full ‘translation’ of an audio signal between all headphones.
The core of sonarworks is convolution-based equalizer with an equalization curve unique to each headphone type and model. The purpose of equalizing the input audio signal is to compensate for deficiencies introduced by the playback medium, allowing the end consumer to hear the sound exactly as the sound creator intended without any added coloration.
With True-Fi, the final output frequency response of the transducer can be made flat, meaning that the frequency content exiting the headphone driver is neither boosted or attenuated - all frequency bands remain in the same relative ratio as they were when the final mix was rendered in the production studio. In other words - calibrated headphones are tonally indistinguishable from calibrated studio speakers.
Headphone measurement is done with measurement tools developed in-house, which make sure the measured data conform with what's actually heard. For measurement reliability, multiple units of the same headphone model are tested and frequency responses captured, generating the true average response of the particular headphone model. As a final step, the full-frequency-range calibration curve is proofed to the in-house headphone reference target by a team of in-house engineers before deployment to the market.