How we test

At, we take great care to ensure the accuracy of our tests.

Even though our authors receive the headphones only after we have run our lab tests, our judgements are first and foremost human-oriented.

We aim to rate and evaluate all types of headphones, whether in-ear, on-ear or over-ear, under the same benchmark testing conditions in order to achieve an optimal level of transparency which any headphone buyer needs and expects. While the audio quality is, of course, paramount, our test procedures also evaluate handling and a broad range of other user-oriented criteria. The results are then thoroughly checked and edited ready for publishing on our website.


All new headphones first go to our own photo studio where they are photographed from every angle by professional photographers. Each headset is captured in at least 32 images, using our standard perspectives and settings for each type of product. Any accessories, plugs and other important details are depicted similarly.

Frequency response

The measurement of frequency response is at the core of our data measurements which allow us to illustrate the predicted audio performance graphically. Our measuring system features a dummy head – the Neumann KU 100, a professional artificial head which has become THE industry standard – which we use in our lab and recording studio. We have modified the “ear” section of the KU 100 by adding foam rubber to ensure test headphones are always a close fit.

External damping

The extent to which external noise affects the listening experience is an important issue which informs a purchase decision. Each headset undergoes an analysis of external damping. This parameter is particularly relevant for closed systems, which are invariably purchased to eliminate external noise, and this enables us to present truly comparable values. Noise-cancelling headphones are, of course, measured with this feature switched on.

Contact pressure

Contact pressure is a key aspect of our wearer comfort criteria and is determined by measuring the earpiece tension for both a small and a large head. This gives two basic values between which any given head width can be interpolated. In our opinion, the total force is the decisive factor for long-term comfort, not the relative pressure (force per surface), because it is the deformation of the head which actually causes wearer discomfort. This test value is given in grammes and reflects the force with which the ear cup presses against the head.

Human factor

After passing through our test labs, the headphones are forwarded to our authors, who are all experts in their respective fields. Products are sent to musicians, sound engineers, hi-fi enthusiasts and athletes who constantly use headphones in everyday life, and also to people like you and me. Before anything is written, the headphones are put to rigorous practical use. Following this, the authors’ conclusions and our test data appear in a written text on

Collating test results

The final test results include star ratings and are a summative blend of judgements made by man and machine. Frequency measurements are compared with reference curves using a variety of algorithms. These reference curves are obtained via lab listening tests and then compared with the frequency characteristics of the headphones. The resultant data is evaluated in combination with the tester’s personal impressions of the audio response to arrive at a star rating for the sound. The other values such as handling, price/performance and features are awarded by our respective authors and editors. These values are then used to determine an overall rating.

How independent are our tests? is an independent online magazine which is financed by banner advertising and commissions from the online shops whose links appear on our site. Our partnerships with major online retailers such as, Amazon and Media Markt enable us to offer you this platform which remains free and entirely product-neutral.

Whenever you really like our content, you can do us a great favour by clicking on one of the links in our price comparison because we get a small payment if you choose to buy headphones from that source.

Our authors are all freelancers who receive payment for their evaluations and are in no way affiliated with dealers or manufacturers.

Neither we nor our partners or advertisers influence the authors or their test results.

If you ever doubt or disagree with any statements made by our team of authors or by us, please feel free to share your comments with us. This helps us to better understand what is important to you and highlights things we may be able to pay more attention to in the future. Additionally, your knowledge and opinion will help other users within our community.