Whether you're in the market for some new cans or just curious about what makes headphones sound, well, good, knowing what to listen for is a pretty important way to pick out quality. You could play your favourite songs on different headphones and compare them, but some are specially tuned to enhance certain types of music, making some songs sound bass-heavy while other songs are muddy or flat. You can get an idea of what good headphones are supposed to sound like using whatever cans you have now thanks to a site dedicated to benchmarking audio equipment.
Image credit: Marco Verch/Flickr
Audiocheck is a sound testing site created by sound designer Dr Ir Stéphane Pigeon. The site contains various "test" files for audio benchmarking, a tone generator you can use to create .wav files, and a testing section to see how well-trained your ear is (or isn't). The tracks aren't music -- they're noises or sounds meant to measure the performance of your equipment.
Each benchmark test features anywhere from one to three streaming audio file along with an explanation of the test's purpose. The "Frequency Response" test, for example, tests your headphone's bass and treble levels, providing voiceover updates so you know how high or low your headphone can extend its frequency. The "Spectral Flatness and Earbud Insert" test, is especially useful for testing earbud performance, if that's your preferred listening method.
There are eight tests in total designed for headphones or earphones, but you can find tests to benchmark other components of your audio equipment, including subwoofers, loudspeakers, and even your human ears. If you want to take the files with you, any donation to Audiocheck will net you uncompressed .wav downloads, along with increased tone lengths when using the tone generator.
The Ultimate Headphones Test [Audiocheck]