PNW AES Section
September Meeting Notice
The Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality: Do Listeners Agree on What Makes a Headphone Sound Good?
Dr. Sean E. Olive - Harman International & President of the AES
Thursday, September 18th, 2014. 7:30pm
Shoreline Community College, Music Building, Room 818
Directions to Shoreline CC
Annual headphone sales worldwide in 2014 will nearly reach $10 billion, as consumer's audio experiences are becoming increasingly mobile and personal.
Premium headphones ($100+) now account for 90% of the annual revenue growth, suggesting consumers want better sound quality.
Yet, the science behind what makes a headphone sound good and how to measure it is poorly understood.
This talk summarizes some recent Harman research into the subjective and objective measurement of headphone sound quality.
Using controlled, double blind listening test methods, Harman Research developed and tested a new headphone target response against current popular headphones,
as well as headphones calibrated to the recommended diffuse and free-field standards. More recently, the new headphone target response was
tested against three popular headphones using 238 listeners from four different countries. This allowed measuring the extent to which age,
listening experience and culture influences taste in headphone sound quality. The results show that when headphone brand, price, visual appearance,
and celebrity endorsement are removed from the test, most listeners agree on which headphones sound best, and this can be predicted based on their
Dr. Sean E. Olive
|| Sean Olive is Director of Acoustic Research for Harman International, a major manufacturer of audio products for consumer, professional and
automotive spaces. He directs the Northridge, Corporate Technology Acoustics group, and oversees the subjective evaluation of new audio products.
His research focuses on the perception, measurement and optimization of automotive audio, headphones, loudspeakers, and room acoustics. Prior to 1993,
he was a research scientist with Dr. Floyd Toole at the National Research Council of Canada where their research focused on the perception and measurement
of loudspeakers, listening rooms, and microphones.
| Sean received a Bachelors in Music from the University of Toronto, and his Masters and Ph.D.
degrees in Sound Recording from McGill University in Montreal. He has written over 38 research papers on the perception and measurement of audio
for which he was awarded the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Fellowship Award in 1996, and two AES Publication Awards (1990 and 1995). In 2012
Sean received the Harman Achievement Award, and in 2013, the ALMA Titanium Driver Award for scientific contributions to the loudspeaker and
headphone industry. Sean is the current President of the AES.
At our last election, we neglected to fill the seat on the Committee
held by Scott Mehrens, who resigned when he moved to the Bay Area for
a new job.
Nominations are now closed, and we will conduct the election at the meeting on the 18th. At that meeting, you may still nominate yourself
or someone else who you know who
is willing to serve. If you cannot attend the meeting, and both desire to vote and are eligible to vote, a mail-in ballot can be
Mailed ballots must be in-hand by noon on the 18th.
The following individuals have been nominated for the position:
The candidate's bio sketches can be found by clicking this
- Chris Deckard
- Stephen DeVore
- Tom Stiles