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Listener Preferences for Different Headphone Target Response Curves

There is little consensus among headphone manufacturers on the preferred headphone target frequency response required to produce optimal sound quality for reproduction of stereo recordings. To explore this topic further we conducted two double-blind listening tests in which trained listeners rated their preferences for eight different headphone target frequency responses reproduced using two different models of headphones. The target curves included the diffuse-field and free-field curves in ISO 11904-2, a modified diffuse-field target recommended by Lorho, the unequalized headphone, and a new target response based on acoustical measurements of a calibrated loudspeaker system in a listening room. For both headphones the new target based on an in-room loudspeaker response was the most preferred target response curve.

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