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App support for headphones

What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

Active headphones are now packed with features like; adjustable noise canceling, equalizers, and different sound profiles that can be controlled by an app on your phone. 

App support gives the listeners, deeper customization options to suit their tastes. Depending on the audio, a good app can enhance your listening experience, by slightly changing the headphone's frequency response or room effects. This can give you a deeper bass or more presence in the vocals for spoken words or vocal-heavy tracks. Some apps even give you control over the noise canceling feature of your headphones, making them more versatile for different environments.

We evaluate a headphones' compatible app subjectively, based on the  OS it's available on, the features provided like; equalizers, room effects, ANC and playback control via an in-app player. We also evaluate any additional features that make the app more practical.

When it matters

A well-made app makes your headphones more versatile. With a decent parametric equalizer, you can compensate or enhance the bass, mid or treble, to cater to a wider variety of audio or to suit your listening preferences. Room effects can give the impression of a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones, and adjustable noise cancellation lets you monitor your environment while listening to your music. However, some apps are poorly designed or may not be as important for you, if the headphones are already well-balanced. It's also less significant if your headphones are not active as they most likely won't have a compatible app.

Our tests

This test evaluates how practical the features are, on the provided headphone app. We subjectively judge the quality of the app based its availability IOS or Android, whether it provides options like equalizers, room effects, ANC or playback controls. 

OS

Sound Blaster App
Android 
Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR
Sound Blaster App 

Most of the headphones' companion apps are released on either Android and or IOS. Typically the apps are very similar across the two different platforms, but slight features and interface variations are also considered in the subjective evaluation. A headphone app will get a lower score if it is not available for both platforms.

Equalizer

Sennheiser Cap Tune 
Parametric Equalizer
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless?
Parrot Zik
Graphic Equalizer
Parrot Zik 3.0

There are multiple forms of equalizers. The most practical being a fully parametric equalizer, as it gives the listener more sound customization options. A graphic equalizer is also good for tweaking the sound profile but not as precise as a parametric. Lastly, presets are sound profiles that attempt to cater to different audio genres, based on a predefined bass, mid, and treble balance. 

ANC Control

Parrot Zik
Adjustable ANC
Parrot Zik 3.0
Samsung Level
On/Off ANC
Samsung Level Over

ANC control allows you to reduce or increase the level of the headphones' noise cancellation. An adjustable or adaptive ANC will score higher than a simple on/off button. However, most headphones have a physical switch to enable noise cancellation, so not all apps include this feature.   

Room Effects

Parrot Zik
Room Effects
Sound Blaster 
Surround sound

Room Effects are additional audio enhancements that can be enabled to make your listening experience more immersive. The richer the effect's personalization options, the higher the app, will score.

Playback control

Bose Connect
In-App Player
Denon Travel

Playback control usually implies that the app has a dedicated media player that can be used to pause, play, skip or rewind tracks. However, this feature typically is not better implemented than the music app you have on your phone and therefore doesn't increase the quality of the compatible app by much. 

What is not included

A few elements that you could care about are not included in the score:

  • Windows and Mac Support  (Coming soon)

If you feel there is an item missing that should be included, please let us know in the Q&A section.

Conclusion

Our App Support test subjectively evaluates the usefulness of a headphones' mobile app. A good app can enhance your listening experience and gives you more control over the features of your headphones. Features like equalizers, or room effects let you personalize the sound of your headphones to suit your taste. We score the app support test based on the app's availability for IOS or Android, and whether the features it provides like equalizers, room effects, ANC or playback controls are well-integrated and practical. However, depending on your headphones and preferences a customizable app might not be as significant for you.

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