How to calibrate headphones

Accurate calibration ensures that you are hearing the music as it was intended to be heard, whether you’re using your headphones for music production or just listening for enjoyment.

If you do not already know, learn how to calibrate headphones in this article. 

But first, let’s get to the basics. 

What is headphone calibration?

Headphone calibration refers to the process of adjusting the frequency response of headphones to ensure that they are producing accurate and balanced sound across the entire frequency range. 

This is important because headphones are designed to reproduce sound as accurately as possible, but there can be variations in sound quality and frequency response across different models and brands of headphones.

Accurate calibration allows you to hear more detail in the music, including subtle nuances and imperfections that may be missed with inaccurate calibration.

Now that you know the importance of accurate calibration, discover how to calibrate headphones. 

Choosing a reference track for calibration

Before you start, choosing a reference track is important in headphone calibration. It provides a benchmark for the sound that you are trying to achieve. Here are some tips for choosing a reference track:

Choose a high-quality recording: Choose a reference track recorded in high-quality audio formats, such as WAV or FLAC. This will ensure that you are hearing the music as it was intended to be heard without any compression or loss of quality.

Pick a track that you are familiar with: Pick a track that you are very familiar with and have listened to many times. This will help you identify any changes in the sound more efficiently.

Select a track with a wide frequency range: Selecting a track with a wide frequency will allow you to test the headphones across the entire frequency range and ensure that they are producing accurate and balanced sound.

Opt for a track that is well-mixed: Always choose a track that is well-mixed and has a good balance of instruments and vocals. This will help you identify any imbalances in the headphones more easily.

Select a track that suits your needs: Select a reference track that suits your needs, whether you are calibrating headphones for music production or casual listening. For music production, choose a track that is similar in style to the music you will be producing.

How to calibrate headphones?

Follow these steps to calibrate your headphones:

Step 1: Gather the necessary equipment

You’ll need a computer or audio source, an audio interface, an SPL meter, and calibration software (such as Sonarworks).

Step 2: Set up a suitable testing environment

You’ll want a quiet room with minimal ambient noise and reflections.

Step 3: Connect your headphones to the audio interface

Make sure your headphones are connected securely and that the audio interface is set to the correct input and output.

Step 4: Run the calibration software 

Open your calibration software and follow the instructions to set up the calibration process. You’ll likely be prompted to choose your headphones from a list of supported models.

Step 5: Measure the frequency response 

The software will play a test tone through your headphones and use the SPL meter to measure the response. The software will then create a calibration profile for your headphones.

Step 6: Check stereo imaging 

The calibration software may also include tests for stereo imaging. These tests will help you position your headphones correctly for optimal imaging.

Step 7: Test your headphones 

Listen to a variety of audio content to verify the calibration. Pay attention to the frequency response and stereo imaging. Make any necessary adjustments and retest. If you are unable to listen to the audio closely, ensure that your headphones are clean

Step 8: Save your calibration profile 

Once you’re satisfied with the calibration, save the calibration profile in your calibration software.

Step 9: Continue to experiment 

Calibration is not a one-time process. Continue to experiment with different settings and adjustments to find the optimal calibration for your individual preferences.

To discover more on how to calibrate headphones, watch this:

How to test and verify the accuracy?

After getting to know how to calibrate headphones, it’s important to test and verify the accuracy of the calibration. Here are some steps you can follow to test and verify your headphone calibration:

Listen to a variety of audio content: Play different types of music, podcasts, movies, and other audio content to evaluate the overall sound quality and accuracy of the calibration. Listen for any noticeable differences in the frequency response or stereo imaging.

Use test signals: Use specialized test signals to evaluate the frequency response and stereo imaging capabilities of your headphones. There are several test signals available online, including pink noise, white noise, and sine sweeps.

Use frequency response measurements: Use specialized software or hardware to measure the frequency response of your headphones. This can help you identify any discrepancies between the measured frequency response and the desired flat response.

Use stereo imaging measurements: Use specialized software or hardware to measure the stereo imaging capabilities of your headphones. This can help you identify any imbalances or inaccuracies in the stereo image.

Make adjustments if necessary: If you notice any discrepancies or inaccuracies during the testing and verification process, make adjustments to your calibration and retest. You may need to adjust the frequency response, stereo imaging, or volume levels to achieve the desired accuracy.

Retest: After making any adjustments, retest your headphones to ensure that the calibration is accurate.

By following these steps, you can test and verify the accuracy of your headphone calibration and make any necessary adjustments for optimal sound quality.

Which is the best calibration software?

After discovering how to calibrate headphones, choosing the right calibration software can come to you as a task. Here are some suggestions:

Sonarworks Reference

This software provides a flat frequency response calibration for headphones and studio monitors. It includes a large library of headphone profiles and can also generate custom calibration curves.

How to calibrate headphones

Room EQ Wizard 

If you are looking for free software, this open-source software can be used to measure and analyze the frequency response of your headphones. It includes tools for equalization and can also generate correction filters.

Equalizer APO

This is a free and open-source equalizer software for Windows that can be used to adjust the frequency response of your headphones. It comes with a parametric equalizer and can also load VST plugins.

Waves Nx

How is Waves Nx software different from others? This software uses head-tracking technology to simulate a virtual listening environment and provides a natural and immersive listening experience. It can also be used for calibration and equalization.

Dirac Live

Dirac Live includes room correction and speaker calibration features for headphones and home theater systems. It uses advanced algorithms to provide precise frequency and time domain corrections.


This article summarizes how to calibrate headphones. Calibrating headphones is essential to achieve optimal sound quality and accuracy. With the right software and methods, you can achieve a flat and even frequency response, accurate stereo imaging, and comfortable sound pressure levels. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I calibrate my headphones?

Headphones are designed with different frequency responses, which can significantly affect the way you hear music. By calibrating your headphones, you can achieve a flat frequency response, which means that each frequency is reproduced at the same volume level. This results in a more accurate and balanced sound.

How can I improve the sound quality of my headphones?

To improve the sound quality of your headphones:

  1. Use high-quality audio files
  2. Adjust the EQ settings
  3. Use a headphone amplifier
  4. Upgrade your headphones
  5. Use a digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
  6. Consider headphone calibration


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