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European Tour: Headphone & Headset Measurements

The challenges of testing today’s devices

Presented by:

listen_gras_logos2

 

 

headphonesLearn about the latest in headphone test systems and methods from design to EOL Test. Industry experts Steve Temme (Listen, Inc.) and Peter Wulf-Andersen (G.R.A.S.), as well as guest speaker Chris Struck will discuss test equipment (ear couplers, test fixtures, test software and hardware) and demonstrate practical test setups for both R&D and QC headphone testing. It will cover in-ear monitors, Bluetooth, lightning/USB, noise-cancelling and high resolution headphones, in addition to conventional analog headphones. You can even measure your own headphone using our equipment in the hands-on session. Please see the full agenda below.

There is no charge for this one-day seminar and lunch will be provided. Space is limited, so please RSVP today.

Locations and Dates:

UK: Monday May 15th, Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedford, England

Denmark: Thursday May 18th, G.R.A.S. Headquarters, Holte (near Copenhagen), Denmark

Germany: Friday May 19th, Maritim Airport Hotel, Hannover, Germany

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See what people are saying about this event (we recently presented it in the US)

Agenda (9am-4pm)

  • Introduction
  • Overview of Headphone Test Systems and tools
    • Traditional tools vs. modern consumer demands
      • Introduction to head and ear related terminology and definitions.
      • Historical perspective and background for the tools and standards used today.
      • Limitations vs. Possibilities in term of the measurement capabilities. How does that relate to the modern challenges with Bluetooth and ANC related testing tasks?
    • Tools for Next Generation Headphone Testing
      • Solutions to some the challenges addressed above.
      • Examples based on products and measurements.
    • What about frequencies above 20kHz? Science or marketing? Measurement Consistency – Development vs. Production
      • Progress in measurements from Head and Torso Simulator (KEMAR) to Production Test Fixture (45CC – flat plate). How the different components affect the measurements:
    • Software and hardware for headphone testing including typical headphone measurements and test setups
  • Practical examples of headphone measurements on.
    • Analog Headphones
    • Bluetooth Headsets
    • ANC Headphones
    • Lightning/USB Connected Headphones (using triggered recordings)
    • Hi-Res Headphones
    • In-ear monitors
  • Measurements including:
    • Frequency Response relative to a target response
    • Left/Right tracking
    • Impedance
    • Noise attenuation
    • Distortion including Non-Coherent Distortion
    • Standards including Max SPL EN-50332 & IEC-60268-7
  • Headphone Design (Guest Speaker Chris Struck, CJS Labs)
    • Desired headphone response
    • Headphone measurement standards
  • Hands-on testing: Bring your own device and test it using one of our measurement setups

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Headphone Testing with SoundCheck ONE

This SoundCheck ONE template sequence contains all the essential steps for basic headphone measurements using SoundCheck ONE and AudioConnectTM. The sequence can be easily customized and saved for specific products by turning individual measurements on and off, and by adjusting settings within each sequence step such as stimulus range and level, tolerance limits, graphical displays, and data saving.
Please note that sequences in SoundCheck ONE cannot have steps added/removed or the layout modified – the full version of SoundCheck is required for this capability.

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The Correlation Between Distortion Audibility and Listener Preference in Headphones

It is well-known that the frequency response of loudspeakers and headphones has a dramatic impact on sound quality and listener preference, but what role does distortion have on perceived sound quality? To answer this question, five popular headphones with varying degrees of distortion were selected and equalized to the same frequency response. Trained listeners compared them subjectively using music as the test signal, and the distortion of each headphone was measured objectively using a well-known commercial audio test system. The correlation between subjective listener preference and objective distortion measurement is discussed.

Authors: Steve Temme, Sean E. Olive*, Steve Tatarunis, Todd Welti*, and Elisabeth McMullin*            *Harman International
Presented at the 137th AES Conference, Los Angeles 2014

Full Paper

A visit to Reviewed.com

Headphone Test using SoundCheckAbout Reviewed.com

Reviewed.com, part of the USA Today network, carries out quantitative reviews on a wide range of products including appliances, headphones, cameras, televisions and more. Since the beginning, their reviews have been built on the principle of using standardized scientific testing procedures to examine the performance of products, and a proprietary scoring method to ensure a level playing field amongst all manufacturers. Recently, I met with senior scientist Julia MacDougall, and received a tour of the facility and some insight into their headphone test methods, as well as a demonstration of their recently upgraded SoundCheck system.

The large brick building in Central Square, Cambridge, is in a part of town renowned for its young start up culture and unconventional work environments, so it’s no surprise to see a ping pong table next to the large, glass-walled conference room. However, once you get beyond the main lobby it is a labyrinth of test labs, each designed for testing a specific product. A room dedicated to camera testing features various test pictures on the walls, as well as 3d models with many moving and rotating parts to evaluate the camera’s capture of movement. Another lab was filled with massive flat screen televisions that were being tested for display performance, color measurement, luminance, contrast and more. Perhaps the most impressive was the appliance lab, where staff get to do their laundry while they work (in the interests of testing the washers), as well as working their way through many loads of white towels and stain strips that are marked with red wine, chocolate, sweat and more to scientifically evaluate the performance of the washing machines. Dishwashers, dryers, microwaves and ovens are also tested here, and a dedicated temperature and humidity controlled room contains many refrigerators filled with ‘dummy food’, the temperature of which is continuously monitored. The floor above the test labs is where their testers retreat to write up product reviews for their website, away from the whirr of tumble driers, swishing of dishwashers and stepped sine waves from the audio test lab.

 

The Audio Test Lab

The area that interested me the most was the smallest test area – the audio lab. Headphones are small and the test equipment is also compact, so a large room is unnecessary. Reviewed.com has been using Listen’s SoundCheck software since they first started looking for an objective way to test audio products back in 2007. Back then SoundCheck was being used for measuring mobile phones – smartphones were in their infancy, the next ‘hot product’, and Reviewed.com was the first review website to measure sound quality of a wide range of phones.

Full Story

IEC-60268-7 Headphone Sequences

seq_IEC-60268-7_distortion_impedance_no borderIEC-60268-7: Sound System Equipment – Part 7: Headphones and Earphones is an international standard intended to characterize the performance of headphones and earphones. The standard itself is a lengthy document, 9 Sections and 3 Annexes covering 46 printed pages. These SoundCheck sequences focus on the electro-acoustic tests which are detailed in Section 8 “Characteristics to be specified and their method of measurement”.

Five separate sequences are provided, each designed to measure specific characteristics. This approach provides the user with the flexibility to measure all or some of the characteristics of their headphone.

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Advances in Impedance Measurement of Loudspeakers and Headphones

Impedance measurement is often the sole electrical measurement in a battery of QC tests on loudspeakers and headphones. Two test methods are commonly used, single channel and dual channel. Dual Channel measurement offers greater accuracy as both the voltage across the speaker (or headphone) and the reference resistor are measured to calculate the impedance. Single Channel measurement methods are more commonly used on the production line because they only require one channel of a stereo soundcard, which leaves the other free for simultaneous acoustic
tests. They are less accurate, however, due to the test methods making assumptions of constant voltage or constant current. In this paper we discuss a novel electrical circuit that offers similar impedance measurement accuracy compared to complex dual channel measurement methods but using just one channel. This is expected to become popular for high throughput production line measurements where only one channel is available as the second channel of the typical soundcard is being used for simultaneous acoustic tests.

Authors: Steve Temme and Tony Scott
Presented at the 135th AES Conference, New York 2013

Full Paper

Measurement of Harmonic Distortion Audibility Using A Simplified Psychoacoustic Model – Updated

A perceptual method is proposed for measuring harmonic distortion audibility. This method is similar to the CLEAR (Cepstral Loudness Enhanced Algorithm for Rub & buzz) algorithm previously proposed by the authors as a means of detecting audible Rub & Buzz which is an extreme type of distortion[1,2]. Both methods are based on the Perceptual Evaluation of Audio Quality (PEAQ) standard[3]. In the present work, in order to estimate the audibility of regular harmonic distortion, additional psychoacoustic variables are added to the CLEAR algorithm. These variables are then combined using an artificial neural network approach to derive a metric that is indicative of the overall audible harmonic distortion. Experimental results on headphones are presented to justify the accuracy of the model.

Authors: Steve Temme, Pascal Brunet and Parastoo Qarabaqi
Presented at the 51st AES Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 2013

Full Paper

Measurement of Harmonic Distortion Audibility Using A Simplified Psychoacoustic Model

A perceptual method is proposed for measuring harmonic distortion audibility. This method is similar to the CLEAR (Cepstral Loudness Enhanced Algorithm for Rub & buzz) algorithm previously proposed by the authors as a means of detecting audible Rub & Buzz which is an extreme type of distortion[1,2]. Both methods are based on the Perceptual Evaluation of Audio Quality (PEAQ) standard[3]. In the present work, in order to estimate the audibility of regular harmonic distortion, additional psychoacoustic variables are added to the CLEAR algorithm. These variables are then combined using an artificial neural network approach to derive a metric that is indicative of the overall audible harmonic distortion. Experimental results on headphones are presented to justify the accuracy of the model.

Authors: Steve Temme, Pascal Brunet and Parastoo Qarabaqi
Presented at the 131th AES Convention, San Francisco, 2012

Full Paper

Headphone Testing (part 2)

Author: Brian Fallon.  Reprinted from the April 2012 issue of Voice Coil.

In part 2 of this comprehensive feature on headphone testing, Brian Fallon explains how to test more complicated types of headphones including bluetooth headphones, usb headphones and noise cancelling headphones.
Full Article

Headphone Testing – a comprehensive overview

Author: Steve Temme and Brian Fallon

With the headphone market growing towards $10 billion worldwide, and products across the price spectrum from under a dollar up to thousands, there are many and diverse quality expectations and test requirements. Many audio engineers have moved across from the shrinking loudspeaker industry to the burgeoning headphone marketplace. Although many of the characteristics that make for a good in-room listening experience with a loudspeaker – good frequency response, low distortion, no Rub & Buzz or loose particles, etc. – also apply to headphones, and many of the same test principles apply, there are some significant differences and additional issues associated with headphone measurement that need to be taken into account. These include couplers and associated correction curves, acoustic seal, fixturing and additional tests such as L/R tracking. In this paper we outline the issues that are common to testing all types of headphones as well as those specific to particular types of headphones such as Bluetooth and USB headphone testing, noise-cancelling headphones, and Max SPL measurements to prevent hearing loss.

Full Article