The use of headphones in the studio is appropriate under certain circumstances. Addressing the problem of defining and measuring the frequency response of high-quality studio headphones, it is argued that the current headphone standards are unsuitable for this purpose. A study of recent work on the properties of spatial hearing shows that the free-field equalization applied to headphones cannot produce good results. A more satisfactory equalization is obtained by reference to the diffuse field defined on the basis of the average value of the transfer functions of the outer ear in different directions. Further it is shown that measuring methods based on a comparison of loudness produce wrong results and that, instead, purely physical measurements should be taken as a basis. The diffuse-field response of several new studio headphones has been measured in accordance with an IRT proposal (auditory canal probe microphone technique). The diffuse-field frequency responses are compared with results obtained with a special dummy-head technique. Subjective assessment experiments carried out using commercially available headphones are reported.
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