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The Influence of Program Material on Sound Quality Ratings of In-Ear Headphones

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A listening test was conducted to identify music programs that provide sensitive, discriminating, and reliable ratings for in-ear (IE) headphone evaluations. Ten trained listeners gave sound quality ratings for eight models of IE headphones using ten different music programs. A virtualized headphone method was used to provide double blind, controlled presentations in which headphone leakage effects were monitored and eliminated. The main effect on the sound quality ratings was due to headphones while the program produced no significant effects or interactions. However, certain programs produced more discriminating and reliable ratings than other programs, the key factor being the bandwidth of the program’s spectral content, and the subject’s familiarity with it. As expected, the amount of bass content in each program tended to influence the ratings of headphones that had too much or too little bass output in their measured frequency response.

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