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Our Imaging Score and Tests
Heaphones

What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.

Imaging describes the accurate reproduction of location, stereo balance, and transparency of instruments, as intended by the audio source.

The slight differences in time and amplitude between the two channels of stereo audio are responsible for creating the stereo image. Headphones with good imaging reproduce these time and level differences accurately, and without altering the audio. They also typically have a flatter phase response, which affects the transparency of sound reproduction. Some aspects of imaging are very hard to notice for the average listener and therefore, imaging may not be as important for everyone.

Our imaging test evaluates Phase Error, Driver Mismatch (Amplitude), Driver Mismatch (Frequency), and Driver Mismatch (Phase), for the tested headphones below.

Group Delay

What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1

(Coming soon)

Weighted Amplitude Mismatch

What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1

(Coming soon)

Weighted Frequency Mismatch

What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1

(Coming soon)

Weighted Phase Mismatch

What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <90°
Noticeable difference: 30°

(Coming soon)

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Questions & Answers

2 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
0
What software do you guys use to come up with the sound graphs in your Real vs Fake comparison?
We use Google Charts for our audio graphs on the website.
0
How do you guys get get the "DATA" for your Real vs Fake audio graph comparison. I want to test the new headphones I got to make sure they are not fake.
We use Room EQ Wizard as our test software, along with a HeadAcoustics HMS dummy head which is quite expensive. But you can also perform some of those fake vs. real tests, with reasonable accuracy, using miniDSP EARS which is pretty affordable.
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