Shopping for the best of anything requires you to do research and testing of your own to ensure you get the right device. When you're looking for headphones, you want clean, crisp sound; deep bass and a wide frequency range, so you can hear everything. You need to be sure you're able to determine high-quality recordings, though, so test yourself first with this quiz from radio giant NPR so you're on the right track.
You can find a variety of songs and audio to help you pinpoint headphones that deliver each song as clear as can be and as close to the original recording as possible. The best way to test headphones is to listen to songs you're familiar with, say the audio experts at Top Ten Reviews.
You know what the songs should sound like so you can determine whether the audio is coming through properly. And you'll know that you have excellent headphones when you pick up softer sounds, deeper bass and other details you may have missed while using subpar speakers or headphones. If you want more guidance with tracks to use for testing, bookmark this site and pull it up when you're shopping for audio equipment.
First, buying the right headphones depends on what you plan to use them for. If you're an audio engineer or singer and you want to use headphones to listen to vocals, choose acoustic songs that are close-miked so you can determine how clear the sound comes through.
Great headphones offer discernable sound, from the high treble to mid-range tones to the lowest bass. Pick a few songs that you know have deep, low bass and test the headphones at a few volume levels. The lower the volume is that lets you pick up the bass, the better.
Test Song for Bass: Big Grams – Drum Machine
One of the best ways to test headphones for overall quality is to play songs that have vocal harmonies or guitar panning. Bright guitar tones and layers of sound shine when played through good headphones. Jazz is an excellent test of treble and midrange because it's generally free of bass, but you have to know what to listen for.
Test Song for Midrange: Radiohead – Everything in Its Right Place
If your reason for buying good headphones is for surround sound for gaming or watching movies, you want to use tracks that offer sounds like bullets whizzing by or footsteps that gradually get louder from behind you. These types of test tracks let you know the headphones work as intended.
Test Track for 3D Sound: The Helicopter
The best way to test headphones, of course, is with songs you know; otherwise, you won't know what to listen for. If you can listen to songs like Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody with its vocal harmonies, tinkling piano, bright guitar and moments of deep bass and high treble all the way through, you have a set of headphones that can deliver everything you want.