Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

A Comprehensive List of Common Audio Terms

Airline adapter

An airline adapter is a lightweight and inexpensive tool. It allows you to use your headphones with the in-flight entertainment system. It connects the jack of most headphones (unless they are Bluetooth) to two 1/8″ mini plugs found on airplanes.


Armatures are small, high-quality drivers. They are used for in-ear earbuds or hearing aids. The armature consists of a moving magnet connected to the diaphragm. This magnet produces sound when an electrical current is applied and may also help to increase sensitivity by up to 400%.

Asymmetrical cord

An asymmetrical cord allows both earcups of headphones to be close together and off-center from the neck. Moreover, they also keep your ears free of any loose or dangling cables. The innovative asymmetrical cable design ensures that you are always able to have one hand available for a sudden need (e.g., grabbing a drink).


Bass is one of the four elements that make up sound. It originates with a fundamental frequency and then has higher frequencies above it called overtones or harmonics. We typically hear Bass at around 50-200 Hz. Bass frequencies make people feel different emotions ranging from nervous and angry to happy or relaxed, depending on how much bass there is in a song.


Behind-the-neck headphones, also known as neckband headphones, are a popular style of headphones that wraps around the back of your head like an armband. The band is comfortable to wear, and you can wear it when running, cycling, or doing other activities where you need both hands free.

Binaural recording

A Binaural recording is where sound is recorded with two microphones placed inside a dummy head. This technique captures the sounds that will be heard by the listener’s ears naturally, creating an immersive 3D audio experience.


Bluetooth technology is a wireless protocol that allows the exchange of data over short distances. The range varies, but on average ranges from about 10 meters to 100 meters. Bluetooth enables easy and fast connections between devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic items with Bluetooth capability without cables. However, it can be extended using repeaters or signal boosters which are designed for this purpose.


Circumaural headphones, also known as over-ear headphones, fit around the ear or over the ear. This type of headphones is generally at the top of the line regarding audio quality and comfort. They surround your ears and cut out sound so they can provide a higher level of comfort than open or supra-aural headphones (on-ear). The negativities of circumaural headphones are their bulky size and limited portability due to this design feature.

Decibel (dB)

Decibel is a measure of the loudness of a sound. It’s measured on an arbitrary scale of 0-120dBA, each 10dB increment representing twice or half the amplitude (the volume). One dBA is defined as the smallest difference that a person with good ears can hear. So, it measures how loud sounds are relative to one another using a logarithmic scale from 0 all 120dBA, which equals two times louder than 100 dBA; four times louder than 80 dBAs, etcetera until you reach 140 DBs where at this point hearing damage starts occurring if exposed long enough.


The driver of a headphone is an essential component, which converts electrical signals into sound. A headphone’s drivers are like tiny speakers that you put inside your ear and listen to sounds through them. The three components that make up a basic driver unit work together to generate different frequencies of audio waves – low bass tones on one side, middle-range vocals or string instruments on another, high percussion instrument notes coming out more from the center part.

Ear clips

Ear clips are great for holding your earbuds in place – especially if you’re a runner who likes to have music on during their workout. They fit securely around the back of your ears. Some even use flexible material that can conform to the shape of one’s outer ear lobe or helix so they don’t fall out when running or lifting weights.


Earbuds are tiny speakers that stick into your ears, providing you with portable music and entertainment. They are meant to be held in place by the concha ridge at the center of your outer ear. You can connect them to a device using an audio jack or Bluetooth connection. Earbuds are great for listening to music on the go because they do not have wires that can get tangled.


Headphone earcups work like cones in reverse. Instead of collecting sound waves inside their hollow space, headphone earcups serve as barriers on either side of your head, so exterior sounds cannot get through unless amplified enough from an external source. Earcups are made of many different materials, such as rubber, foam, or synthetic fabrics. The more padding, the better it is at blocking out sound and heavier they tend to get.


Headphone efficiency is a measure of how much sound the headphones can deliver to your ears. We have conducted some experiments and found that different types of headphone efficiencies vary. However, the general rule in buying new headphones is this: if you’re going to use them mainly at home, get high-efficiency models, while low-efficiency pairs are best suited for outdoor activities where earbuds don’t block external noise too well anyway (e.g., running). Still, it’s generally safer to purchase higher quality ones because they provide better clarity for TV shows or music listening sessions on airplanes.

Frequency response

Frequency response is the range of frequencies that a system or device can produce. In this case, it’s how well sound can be reproduced in audio equipment such as speakers and headphones. For example, suppose you are listening to music on your phone with an earbud attached. In that case, there might not be enough power going into the speaker for powerful bass notes because they usually require more energy than other sounds coming out of headphone drivers, which may make them seem tinny or flat when played loudly through those tiny little openings from where they emit their output waves (this also explains why some people need tweaking by adjusting equalizer settings).

The human ear can only hear sounds in a range of 20 to 25,000 Hz. However, higher-quality headphones may even cover greater ranges such as 16-25KHz due to their larger enclosures and better materials used for the speaker membranes, allowing sound waves from much lower frequencies than would be possible with traditional headphones.

Harmonic distortion

Harmonic distortion is a phenomenon that occurs when the audio equipment does not operate at 100% accuracy. This can happen due to overdriving an amplifier or because of other types of improper signal processing. Harmonic distortion occurs when Audio Equipment doesn’t work correctly, and typically, this could be caused by excessive distorting on the amp side, which causes you to have more power than desired for your type of headphones.(1)


Imaging refers to how well you can hear the location of instruments and performers in a song through your headphones. It can be thought of as an audio system turned off or an empty room with sound devices in it. Imaging is judged by how well you can locate instruments, performers, etc. If a pair of headphones have good imaging abilities, they will make sounds easier to identify in space. But, if not, they will make sounds harder to identify, which may lead one into believing there are fewer details.


The impedance of headphones is the resistance that impedes electric current when it passes through. Impedance is measured in Ohms, a unit of measurement for electrical devices. Frequencies are also often displayed on headphone packaging to indicate what kind and range of music they’ll reproduce best. Suppose you’re looking for headphones with low impedance and high sensitivity. In that case, this will be best for listening in noisy environments like traffic-heavy streets and subways. On the other hand, Higher Impedance means lower power output is needed when driving your headphones because they require more current than the low Impedances do. Still, it also means that it’ll significantly impact sound quality if there’s any noise interference on the line.(2)

Infrared (IR) transmission

Infrared (IR) transmission is a method of sending data wirelessly by using light waves. For example, a device may receive IR signals from long distances through walls, floors, and ceilings without any obstructions.


Intra-aural or in-ear headphones go directly into the ear canal. This means they’re great for those who want to listen to music while jogging or doing work without having to worry about getting tangled in wires. However, intra-aural headphones can be considerably less comfortable than their counterparts because they sit inside the ears.


The mids in the frequency spectrum are most important for understanding human voices. They account for how we perceive the loudness of a sound. However, you should be careful while boosting them. Those extra frequencies can hurt your ears if you’re not careful.

Neodymium magnets

Neodymium magnets are a type of rare-earth magnet that is the most robust permanent magnetic material in existence. In headphones, they are used as a component of the drivers.

Noise attenuation

Noise attenuation is the reduction of unwanted sound and interference. Noise-canceling headphones are the best way to shut out unwanted noise. They use a microphone to pick up outside sound and create an opposing signal, effectively reducing that auditory input by at least 50%. With these types of headphones, you can still hear ambient sounds such as traffic or other people’s conversations but at a reduced volume. As a result, they don’t interfere too much with what you’re listening to while on public transportation.(3)


Noise-canceling headphones are an innovative invention that uses microphones to pick up the noise in your surroundings and then play a signal out of phase with it. This cancels most outside noises, so you can enjoy listening to whatever is on without any distractions. However, these headphones generally cost more than other headphone models because they rely solely on batteries for their power supply instead of being corded, making them convenient while also making them pricier.


Noise-isolating headphones are designed to allow for safer listening habits and lower sound volumes. They usually come with dense materials around the ear or in the ear, which do an excellent job blocking out external noise while also keeping sounds from escaping your ears during use.


Ohm is a measure of Impedance. It measures the electric resistivity in an electronic circuit, determines how much current can flow through that device before it becomes overloaded and shuts down.

Portable headphones

Portable headphones are a pair of earphones that you can carry around with you. They’re especially great for people on the go, like joggers and busy professionals.


Punch is an audio system’s ability to deliver significant pressure changes while remaining musically coherent. An overly punchy system will often lack the finesse to provide depth of imaging and produce more distortion at higher volume levels, affecting sound quality.

Radiofrequency (RF) transmission

Radiofrequency (RF) transmission is the most common way to send audio information from a transmitter to wireless headphones. It gives wireless headphones a greater range than infrared transmission. However, other devices, such as cordless phones and wireless routers, may operate with the same radio frequency, which can cause some possible interference.

Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

Sound pressure level, or SPL for short, measures how sensitive an individual’s ear will hear. The higher the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) per milliwatt (mW), the more likely it is that you’ll experience discomfort from loud sounds. Most headphones are within the range of 85-120 dB SPL/mW.(4)


Soundstage refers to how well an audio system can reproduce the position and sense of space in which we place instruments and other sound sources. It helps you “see” with your ears where a player is standing on stage. Good imaging can give you an idea of what that instrument sounds like by imagining where they’re standing when they play this piece, including distance away and their size compared with others around them; likewise for singers’ placement relative over those who accompany them during the performance.


Supra-aural or on-ear headphones sit on top of or around the ear, providing excellent sound quality without being too cumbersome. They also allow users to hear ambient noise while listening to their favorite tunes – making them perfect for commuting or working out.

Swivel earcups

Swivel earcups are an excellent option for people who want to listen to music without having the headphones cover their ears. They provide an ergonomic fit that can better conform to the shape of your head. Swivels are also helpful for vocalists and musicians. They allow them to hear what is happening in their environment while still listening through one side of the headphones.


Transistors are small pieces of electronic circuitry that can be used to amplify electrical signals. Transistors work by controlling the flow of electrons from one place in a circuit to another. Transistor circuits form the heart of all modern electronics. Without transistors, you would not have radios, televisions, computers, or cell phones. Transistors work on two main principles: bipolar and field-effect modes.


Treble is the high end of the frequency spectrum. The Treble frequencies have a powerful effect on the sound. You may hear the higher-pitched sounds more easily than lower-pitched ones; this means trebles can make something seem louder or give an instrument its distinctive voice.

Virtual surround sound

Virtual surround sound headphones fool your ears into thinking that sound comes from multiple locations around you instead of just two. They come in handy when you want a more private home theater experience or don’t want your movie or music to disturb others.


Wireless headphones replace a cord with radio frequency, infrared light, or Bluetooth to send audio signals. They are a more efficient, convenient alternative to wired headphones. Instead of being connected by wires and tethering you down with a cord, wireless headphones provide the same quality sound without any restrictions on movement or range of motion. Wireless systems typically use 900MHz radio frequency transmissions that can be either analog modulation or digital modulation.

Additional Audio Resources:

1. If you want to avoid hearing loss from headphones, read our detailed guideline about How to Prevent Hearing Loss From Headphones

2. Facing buzzing sound in your headphones? See our 5-minute solution to solve it.


1. Harmonic Distortion from

2. What is impedance? from

3. Noise Attenuation – an overview from

4. Sound Pressure Level – an overview from