What is a Sound Signature?

Most Reviews of audio gear contain the word sound signature. For starters, it’s a bit puzzling. Sound signature is a device’s characteristics. Besides, Everyone has their own preferences. When you are buying audio gears, you hope it will match our preferences. Headphones, earphones, speakers nothing is outta this circle. Our pursuit of new gears is actually a search for what we like. You can visit Hifigo for new gear and experience.

However, most of us get confused about what we like. Do we like heavy bass? Do we crave for a bit more treble? Is clarity what we are after? These questions hunt us a lot. Moreover, sound preference varies from man to man. Even, it changes over time too. So, We don’t always know what we want. This point makes our search difficult. The perfect sound is what we prefer.

Likewise, I love HD600. You may think it’s the worst headphone you have heard. But it’s not the headphone. You didn’t like the sound characteristic. In other words, it didn’t match your preference. So, this preference is a highly subjective thing. It’s hard to undermine what you like and what you don’t. Though it’s not impossible, you need to give it time and thought.

We can test audio gears based on their accuracy, frequency response, SNR, distortion. But it’s not the benchmark. The liking factor will always end up with your preferences. A well built and tuned headphone can be or not up to your teste. That doesn’t make it a bad gear.

Sound Signature

Every audio gear has its unique sound properties. Some pack extended treble ranges. Some shake the bass hard. Others offer fairly balanced across the board. Mostly, the total sound profile is known as the sound signature.  If you get the basics and scheme the categories, you can find better suited audio gear for yourself. After that, you will be able to fine-tune it according to your taste. Matching synergy, upgrading cable, and music player.

Firstly, we need to know the basics of sound frequency. Human ears can listen to sound from 20khz down to 20hz. We hear the words Bass, mids, and Treble a lot. So, let’s know the basics.

The basics

  • Bass: It’s the lowest or the deepest part of the music spectrum. Usually, the 10hz-256hz sound is considered as bass. Bass instruments create a low-pitched sound range. Therefore, they create an ambiance presence in your music. It’s the lowest-pitched part of the harmony. Bass guitars, Drums, etc. create basslines for music.
  • Mids/vocal: It’s the middle part of the music. 250-2000hz is the range to be mids. Nonetheless, It’s the magical part of the music. Most musical instruments and vocals are in this range. So, It’s an important part of any audio device to sound natural.
  • Treble: It’s the peak of sound frequency. The range is 2000-20khz. However, It often considered being the detail or clarity of an audio device. In my opinion, detail resides in every frequency. However, musical instruments like soprano voices, flute tones, and piccolos create treble.

Please note these are the easiest basics. If you want to know more, give us a shout.

Finally, let’s talk about the terminology of Sound Signatures. Mainly they refer to high and low and sounds are emphasized or not. If emphasized, which one. So, we will talk about Bright, Analytical, Neutral, Warm, and Dark. V-shaped sound signatures today…

Various Sound Signatures

Analytical

Firstly, we are starting with ‘A’. Analytical sound offers a very neutral and balanced presentation. But there is a bit more presence in the higher treble range. You will hear a lot of microscopic details in the presentation. Therefore, you will hear a little bit clearer yet more complex music reproduction. Some people can’t really cope with this kinda presentation. So, they get fatigued after a prolonged listening session. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 pro is a great example of that. Qdc Anole VX is one of the top tire analytical iem.

Balanced (Neutral)

A balanced sound signature is kinda hot cake. Most manufacturers try to achieve this goal. There is a balance in all frequencies from low to high. Most of them are naturally reproduced. Neither of them is recessed nor flat. Though we can say it has coloration, it’s not overpowering. Its faithful, reliable and

Nonetheless, it’s in the middle ground between warm and bright signatures. These types of gears will deliver music accurately. Therefore, you will get a natural progression of sound with a perfect mixture of bass, mids, and low.

Check iBasso dx160, the most natural DAP in the 400 USD. However, if you plan for iem, Audiosense AQ3 will offer good natural timbre.

Bright

Secondly, Bright means it got more boost in the higher ranges. It’s higher than the usual mid-range frequencies. A lot of folks enjoy sharp trebles. But our ears are more sensitive in this sound range. It’s easy to get fatigued with bright audio gears. However,  there is a conception of bright = more detail. It’s not always true. I said earlier, Details reside in the whole spectrum. Nonetheless, this term is also known as forward-sounding or harsh treble. However. Bright gears reveal the imperfection in the recording if any. So, professionals often appreciate these kinda headphones.

Lz A6 with variable tuning nozzle can be a bright earphone with other sound tuning options.

Dark

A dark signature might be a subsection of Warm. This means a bigger boost to Bass Frequencies. Bass section is rich and dominating. However, highs suffer from rolling off. It might seem hidden. A lot of people like Dark signatures. Nonetheless, it can be extreme for a lot like the Bright signature.

Flat

The flat is one of the most popular signatures among audiophiles. Here you will find Mids, bass, and treble at the same level all the time. None of them got any boost or emphasis. If you draw a Frequency reproduction graph, it will be like a flat line. Therefore it’s Flat.

Often Flat is considered as natural or balanced. But there is a fine line between these. A lot of people treat a flat profile as a boring one. However, It’s near impossible to achieve a flat frequency response. Because a lot of factors are there which alters sound profile.

V-shaped

This is a popular Sound signature. Most consumer audio gears tend to have this kinda signature. However, audio enthusiasts are against it. V-shaped means the frequency response graph shows a “v” sign with its line. Thus, it’s called “V-shaped”. The bass and treble section gets a boost here. The mid-portion is a bit recessed (less prominent). So, you will feel thundering bass with sparkling high. You will feel the sound is louder and have a bit more energy to it. This is a great option for a Hip hop or pop listener. Nonetheless, vocals suffer here as the mids get muted. So, classical or vocal-oriented music might not be a good option.

It’s often called “Fun sound”. It’s very popular because it is pleasing to our brains. However, there is a subsection where you will find U shaped signatures. It’s similar to V-shape but mid-range recession is less present here.

Kbear Diamond has a fun v-shaped earphone with an affordable tag.

Warm

It might be on the opposite side of bright/analytical. Therefore, it has an emphasis on the lower frequencies. Not only in bass but also the mids get the treatment. Where brightness adds sharpness, warmth adds smoothness fluidity. Warm audio gears offer a relaxing sound. So, it’s ideal for a longer listening session. The bass guitars, cello, saxophone get a rich, articulate tone which sounds pleasing. However, overly warm audio gears introduce too much bass presence. This disrupts the ambiance.

TRI I3 hybrid earphone has a warm sound signature.

What do we want?

This is the subjective part. We complain about lacking bass, boominess, treble sharpness, and hollow vocals. Though, making gear with natural detail and sound reproduction solve it, it’s not possible. Because we choose differently.
There is no audio gear that packs all positiveness from sonic characteristics. Therefore nothing is perfect. The final sound is a result of a series of factors. From recording to material everything alters the final result. There is no jack of all trade audio gear. Thus, you will not get anything that excels in every genre of music.

Moreover, we can easily fool our brains. We can adjust it to different sound types. So, practicing your brain can be a part of the course. However, if you pay attention, you will know what signature you like. But you need to experience a lot. Explore the audio world. Give proper time to your gears. Have audition from friends, stores, and meetups. Thus, you will create your perception toward audio.

So, listen to music and stay safe.

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