Knowles unveils the formula for the best music listening experience on headphones

ITASCA, Illinois–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Knowles Corporation (NYSE: KN), a market leader and global provider of advanced micro-acoustic microphones and speakers, audio solutions, high-performance capacitors and RF products, today releases research demonstrating a new earphone preferred listening response curve design, reflecting the results to ensure the best and most satisfying music listening experience for consumers.

Sound quality continues to top the list for consumer audio demand, but many True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earphone manufacturers have been slow to take advantage of the developing Hi-Res Audio ecosystem. With the proliferation of lossless music streaming subscription services like Tidal, Amazon Music HD and Apple Lossless, as well as the availability of high data rate Bluetooth codecs, the industry is able to deliver high resolution audio wirelessly. with the right equipment and the right setting. Knowles’ latest research provides valuable insight into how to satisfy consumer demand for the best sound in wired or wireless headphones.

Knowles analyzed more than 200 recordings, chosen from the past 20 years on the Billboard Hot 100 to represent much of the music headphone wearers are likely to stream. This revealed significant high-frequency content above 10kHz in popular music that many headphones fail to reproduce properly. From there, the team conducted blind controlled tests on a wide variety of listeners – with a range of demographics and hearing abilities – to determine what gives the best sound quality, depending on the preferences of the listeners. listeners.

Optimal high frequency response is essential when designing high resolution headphones. Using newly available technology, Knowles was able, for the first time, to extend understanding of user preferences beyond 10 kHz to create Knowles’ new preferred listening response curve. By focusing on high-frequency response, the new curve is uniquely suited to give manufacturers the information needed to deliver the best high-resolution listening experience.

Key findings from the Knowles research show that headphones tuned to earlier concepts of what sounds good significantly underestimate the amount of high-frequency energy that listeners prefer. According to Knowles’ preferred listening response curve, listeners have always preferred between 12 and 21 decibels (dB) of amplification at frequencies above 10 kHz, depending on age and hearing ability. Designing and tuning an earphone that matches the high-frequency amplification identified using Knowles’ Preferred Listening Response Curve should consistently provide a very satisfying user experience and receive high marks from the from consumers.

The Knowles curve is a particularly powerful tool when used with auditory personalization algorithms. Knowles included subjects with different levels of reduced high-frequency auditory response and determined their preferred level of amplification. Using this data, designers of TWS earphones with hearing customization can configure their algorithm to produce the optimal sound quality across the range of hearing abilities commonly encountered by consumers.

“Consumers want high-resolution, premium sound through their TWS headphones. This has been a challenge for OEMs who didn’t have clear guidelines on what consumers prefer across the spectrum. Now we know exactly how to design and tune a TWS earphone to create the best sound available,” said Shehab Albahri, Senior Director of R&D, Knowles Hearing Health Technologies. “Brands that design with high-resolution compatible hardware and tune their headphones to the curve of Knowles will unlock the true potential of lossless audio streaming.”

A Knowles Preferred Listening Response Curve white paper with hardware suggestions for meeting the new curve can be downloaded from This research was first presented at the Chicago AES Chapter meeting on May 17, 2022. Knowles will also release a new TWS reference design tailored to the Knowles curve, available in Q3 2022.

About Knowles

Knowles Corporation (NYSE: KN) is a market leader and global supplier of advanced micro-acoustic microphones and loudspeakers, audio solutions, high-performance capacitors and RF products, serving the consumer electronics, communications, medical technologies, defence, electric vehicles and industrial markets. Knowles uses its leadership position in SiSonic™ MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) microphones and strong capabilities in audio processing technologies to optimize audio systems and improve user experience in consumer applications. Knowles is also a leader in hearing health acoustics, high performance capacitors and RF solutions for a diverse set of markets. Knowles’ customer focus, combined with unique technology, proprietary manufacturing techniques and global operational expertise, enables it to deliver innovative solutions at scale in multiple applications. Founded in 1946 and headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Knowles is a global organization with employees in more than a dozen countries. For more information, visit