A Simple Guide to Sound Signatures

Every pair of headphones has a sound signature that supports many or fewer genres as well as activities from enjoying music to mixing and mastering audio. The signature describes the volume setting of the different frequencies from low to high.  The sound signatures can be divided into five categories: Flat, Balanced, Bright, V-Shaped, Extra Bass, and Warm/Smooth.

Flat

This signature is prevalent amongst music professionals and Hi-Fi fans. It is said to be the most representative/accurate audio reproduction, which is relevant for mixing and mastering audio. It is called ‘flat’ because all the frequencies are kept at the same value, which makes sure you hear the sound the way it was recorded. Headphones with this sound signature often have the word reference in their description.

Examples:

ATH-R70X
M-Series
ATH-ADX5000

 

Balanced

Similar to flat, there are no sharp peaks in any frequency. However, there are some slight differences to achieve more liveliness. A sound signature such as this is an allrounder and can accommodate almost any music genre.

Examples:

ATH-SR30BT
ATH-DSR9BT

 

Bright

The title is reflected in the sound this signature plays back. The emphasis is on the treble making the audio ring bright and sharp. Popular among audiophiles, spending a long time with headphones from this category can lead to the dreaded listener fatigue.

Examples:

Titanium Series
ATH-MSR7b
CKR Range

 

V-Shaped

The letter V stands for the shape the sound signature graph has in this category. The lows and highs are slightly elevated while the mids are reduced. Popular amongst rock fans, this signature enhances the high guitar and low drum sounds.

Example:

ANC series

 

Extra bass

A self-explanatory category which emphasises on lower frequencies. Hip hop and electronic genres profit from the extra oomph. The increased bass makes the audio sound louder and warmer, but when overpowering tends to lose clarity in other areas.

Example:

ATH-CKS5TW

 

Warm/Smooth

Jazz, soul, blues, and rock thrive with this signature, as it takes off the edge of the treble and makes the sound generally warmer. The focus lies on lows and mids, which is excellent for instruments such as saxophones, bass, particular vocals, and drums.

Example:

ATH-WP900

 

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