How do You Evaluate Bass Measurements?

Some will, no doubt, say "MOAR IS BETTA!", but let's not go there. Please select which best describes what you see and are looking for in bass response measurements.

Feel free to elaborate on how useful bass headphone measurements are to you in the comments.

After submitting your vote, click here for the next poll, and here if you missed for the introductory post.

How do You Evaluate Bass Measurements?
I'd like to see a nice flat line, and I know what it looks like.
30% (41 votes)
I get the plots, and I like the +3dB boost of the Harman target response.
49% (68 votes)
I get 'em. I really don't mind a gently rolling-off bass; lots of cans have it.
8% (11 votes)
To tell the truth, the bass often seems somewhat different than the plots.
11% (15 votes)
MOAR BASS!!! (Editor's Note: Hey, I said knock it off!)
2% (3 votes)
Total votes: 138

tony's picture

I'm Equalizing, so as long as a transducer system is capable of deep bass I can correct it to my needs.

My Sennheisers go so deep that I can hear stuff the Vinyl systems never had a chance of revealing.

I haven't yet discovered any reasonable quality headphone that didn't have plenty of deeeep Beelzebub Bass capabilities.

Bass and deep Bass capability significantly enhances my musical playback experiences, can't live without it!

Tony in Michigan

Priidik's picture

I have had a few thoughts and questions about that for a while, and wanted some clarity on that matter.

A worthy example: HD800 vs ATH-MSR7. With most tracks the MSR7 is a lot bassier than HD800, but it does not come out from measurements. Distortion, SQW response are very similar, FR graph if anything says that HD800 is the bassier can. (Amp is low-z output and really freakin' top notch, so no it's not the chain)
Could it be that the MSR7 being closed (or any closed) enclosure adds echo in bass that does not come out in frequency sweep measurements, but adds noticeable perceivable energy to bass? I don't actually know how you measure though, do you even use sweep?
Anyways sweep-record with mic is sort of ''narrow window'' in time, while human ear detects continuously over time.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It could be that the MSR7 has some bass harmonic distortion (Similer to the HD 800 S) that makes the bass sound fuller. Unfortunately, you can't tell that with my measurements.
wink's picture

Moar is compulsory, as long at moar means tight, controlled and teeth rattling bass when it's needed.
The last thing we need is that soft wooly gunk so ably demonstrated by the early Beats.
I vote for BANG BANG not doof doof.

Mauro's picture

I am led to think that bass amount is very dependent on the listener.
Reading several reviews of the NAD HP50 it seems that the quantity of desired bass varies a lot.
I still don't understand if it is a matter of coupling with ears or ear sensitivity...or something else!
In this case measurements can be very dependent on your GRAS head shape or its bass preferences! ;)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The head itself....aye, that's a rub.
Mauro's picture

On wirecutter Lauren Dragan says "Also, pressing the earcups flush to my face didn’t change the fact that around 127 Hz (think subwoofer territory) the HP50s start to roll off, and by 90 Hz, they’re pretty much silent.".

Wouldn't we expect to hear more bass pressing earcups to the face, if air leaking is the real problem?

castleofargh's picture

I care only for the general shape of the frequency response, and reserve my judgement if I see the distortions go way up.
and I look at the IR but I have to say I would prefer some waterfall graph to go with the distortions, because IR just like the square waves, have so many components of the sound in them that it's not a simple matter to interpret IMO.

I also have kind of a slightly different favorite response for open vs close vs IEM. like I "need" a bass boost on IEMs, but I really don't on open fullsize headphones, and I'll often EQ to roll off a little on sealed stuff to pretend like the bass is tighter/cleaner/whatever.

but ultimately, once comfort is resolved, the seal will be what it will on my head. I'll never hurt myself for a better sound! so if comfort and seal aren't at the same position, well too bad seal, you'll be missed ^_^. so with different pads and headbands, the sub can really come and go for me and I accept that as one of the imperfections of headphones(like idiotic left/right panning).
having the various positions on the RAW measurements is very informative about that IMO.

else I care about the general shape of the FR down to about 50hz. lower could be whatever it wants on headphones and I care even less on IEMs.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

I'm a eletronic dance music lover, mostly hardstyle. My personal preference in bass curve is roughly a 8~9dB peak around 80Hz that rolls off a bit after 40Hz and in the upper-end about 150Hz so that's roughly what I keep looking for. The hill-shape bass curve with a roll-off down deep usually helps to make the bass output tighter and punchier. I'm all about impact, punchiness and tightness when it comes to bass, the more impact felt for the less amount bass heard, the better to me as I tend to do wanna hear everything else as clearly as possible but I really enjoy feeling the initial bass impact.

Sebas's picture

In my very humble opinion, bass response is one of the things that I find decisive for me to like or not a headphone, and at the same time, fuzzy and less finished in headphone measurements. I'll try to ellaborate a little:

- I like a some emphasis on bass, like +3db, perhaps a little more. But, it should still be articulated and detailed, not bloated. These aspects around bass frequencies are the ones that mostly define if the character of a headphone is of my likes or not.

- The feel of low frequencies is strongly linked to other factors, like physical characteristics of the head, ear coupling, seal, fitting, characteristics of driver enclosure, driver angle, bone transduction, SPL, etc.

I can read the measurement on low freqs and grab an idea on how the driver responds to low frequencies. However, in my experience, that doesn't mean that it will indeed sound like that. Those low frequencies are prone to be affected by those factors mentioned on the second point: ear fitting, effective acquired seal (on sealed headphones of course), driver angle relative to the head, bone transduction, space between driver and eardrum, etc. The difference in propagation physics on low freq sound vs mid freq or high freq is astonishing for me.

The dependance on these other factors than strictly frequency response of the driver is what makes me feel that these measurements on low frequencies give only a rough and approximate idea, but it may sound very differently for me than what a masurement may show.

The story is different for mids and treble, where I find that graphs do show a more finished idea on how a headphone will sound.

My two, illiterated cents

Sorry for my english by the way, not my mother tongue and it's a little rusty.

ADU's picture


Sebas's picture

I'm really sorry I forgot to say thanks.

Cats_Paw's picture

I am unable to tell If the correlation of bass measurements and what I hear is there.

For example, I feel that the HD600 has moar bass than the HE-400, but the HE-400 has a cleaner bass. Does it seem like that form the measurements? I think so, but its still hard to call considering there is a significant roll off in the low bass area for the HD600.

Its probably just distortion anyway.

Puffy's picture

I'm what you would call a bass head, but I prefer it to be a flat line most times. Flat


the way down. I can eq the bass higher when I'm in that mood if the bass is there in the first place.

My greatest complaint about "audiophile" cans is that they roll off the bass more than you can eq out of them, particularly for sub bass. You can not fully represent an audio signal if you can't recreate frequencies that the ears feel more than they hear. I understand why this is the case, but it is a fail in my humble opinion. This is why I'm saving my pennies for Ether C...

Sal1950's picture

I voted for #2 but if buying a new can for myself I would look for a bit flatter response since my Emotiva DC-1 has a +2 @ 20hz boost built in.(defeatable). Amp sounds wonderful with my Senn HD650s.

Bob Katz's picture

...and the second one.

My personal results are something in between Tyll's top bullet point and the second one in the voting survey.

Bob Katz's picture

One of the posters is exactly correct about "bass versus deep bass." For headphones this is especially important. Please read my PM-3 review in Katz's blog for an approach.

criss969's picture

The most hi-fi headphones I have owned thus far are the Hifiman HE-400, Beyer T 70 and Logitech UE900s. From my subtle experience, my personal favorite sound is one that is mostly neutral with some minimal bass and high-mid emphasis. I guess then, I enjoy an analytical sound..?

So far measurements have been quite useful to me in choosing the headphones with the sound I desire, with the exception of the T 70. I find that the HE-400 and UE900s sound "similar" to the available measurements provided here on InnerFidelity. They at least seem to correlate with the sound I hear, be it just in the ballpark or not at all.

The Beyer T 70 is the odd one out in that the bass sounds nothing like what is represented in the measurements. I have a feeling this is because the sides of my head are not flat, not allowing me to get a proper seal. I have yet to try some pleather pads to see if they can give me the bass response present in the measurements(or somewhat closer to it, anyway).

All-in-all, what I am saying is that I do love the graphs. They are an integral part of the headphone-buying experience and I would be lost without them.