Headphone Testing

Headphone Testing

Joshua Rhymer

Two Cents Editor, Thats Rad Editor, Online Designer

Today, many headphones sell by their brands.  Whether its the premium V-Moda, under-the-radar AKG, or the hate-it-or-love-it Beats, people know their brand.  Today, we decided to put this theory up to the test, and give the listeners a chance to choose their preference in style of headphone according to their favorite genre.

For the experiment, we used Beats Executives, V MODA, and AKG K240. Before we start, you must understand the difference in closed back, semi-open, and open back headphones, as well as the difference between noise isolation and noise cancellation.

The first three deal with how the enclosement of the drivers is configured.  Closed back, which is what most run-of-the-mill over or on-ear headphones are, means that the drivers are isolated from outside noise, and therefore prevents sound leakage.  Semi-open and open back is when the enclosement of the drivers has slits that leak sound out of the headphones (on purpose) to create a more natural sound.  This means that outside noises can also leak in.  This leads to a more natural sound that simulates a live sound by widening the soundstage. Noise cancellation means that white noise is emitted from the drivers of the headphones to eliminate outside noises, allowing for your music to be more prominent, while noise isolation creates a noise-resistant barrier using a closed-back design and a decent seal from the ear-cups.

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Beats Executives: Beats are not as bad as a lot of people may say, but they definitely work for a specific genre.  In our testing, they seemed, rap-listeners seemed to prefer the Beats.

“The Beats were definitely more direct.  I want my headphones to punch my ears with the music.  The Beats did just that,” Senior Vinny Jonaitis (heavy metal listener) said.

However, other listeners of alternative, rock and indie music described Beats as “boxed in” and “not clear.”

“The Beats are definitely trying, but they just fall short,” Senior Lisa Dreher (Hip hop and indie rock listener) said.

In conclusion, Beats are a good choice if you are like bass-heavy rap and are looking for a pair of headphones that completely cancels the sound.  If dropping $200 to $300 on a pair of headphones (new) is nothing to you, then you should be pretty happy with a pair of Beats Executives (you can definitely find them for cheaper online).

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V-MODA Crossfade LP: The V-MODA’s seemed to be the best all-around choice of headphones in our testing. They are not as prominent, but those who know of them only have praise for them.  No matter the style of music, the V-MODAs consistently ranked 1st or 2nd in our testing.

“The bass is much clearer in the V-MODAs.  The balance between the bass, mids, and highs is great.  The vocals were very prominent,” Senior Taylor Martin (indie pop/alt rock listener) said.

While they had an overall decent tone, a few people tended to dislike the highly prominent bass.  They sound great when listening to rock, techno, and alternative music but the bass becomes overpowering for acoustic music.  This is due to the nature of the recording process in acoustic versions of songs.

“The Beats just sound bad,” CTE teacher Ryan Haines (acoustic music listener) said.

In conclusion, the V-MODAs are really good headphones in terms of range, sound quality, and build quality.  The particular pair used in testing was 4 years old, and they are still functioning fine.  They, like the Beats, did very well at sound cancellation, which let the music take center stage (pun intended), and they were overall a great pair of headphones for most genres.  The Crossfade LP’s can cost anywhere between $130-$170 on Amazon, depending on the seller or the color/design.

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AKG K240 Studios: Depending on your preference in sound, you will either love or hate the AKG K240’s.  They got widely varying responses at first, which is due to the preconceived ideas of what makes good headphones exceptional.  Many people disliked the AKGs because they were lacking in volume and bass, while others praised them for their well balanced EQ and their semi-open back design.  People see the fact that the sound bleeds as a negative, when in reality, it provides a more accurate representation of the sound. But that isn’t for everyone.

“The AKG’s had a better representation of the sound than the others that were bass heavy. The bass, the mids, and the highs were well balanced, and the music sounded like it was in the room with me, which is what I look for in a good pair of headphones,” Mr.  Haines said.

The AKG’s provide a more accurate sound representation because the equalizer is flat, not emphasizing any section of the mix more than the others.  This does not mean that the bass is not present, it is just not emphasized.  The idea is that the sound you get is what the artists had initially intended.

These headphones work well for rock, alternative, and even hip-hop (to an extent), but they work excellently with indie and acoustic music.  They fall flat when listening to rap and heavy metal due to the lack of bass-emphasis and the lower volume (caused by the semi-open back design).  In terms of build quality, they are extremely lightweight when compared to the V MODAs or the Beats, and the headphones are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but they aren’t the prettiest.  The real winner for these headphones is the bang for your buck.  They only cost $60-$70.

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In the end, more people prefered the V-MODAs over the Beats in terms of bass response and volume quality.  While neither distorted at higher volumes, the V-MODAs handled its larger frequency better than the Beats did.