Why Does a Good Pair of Headphones / Earphones Make It Feel Like the Sound Is Coming From Inside the Middle of Your Head?

When we listening to some musics we just feel like music is coming from the inside of our head, how does it happen.


To put it simply, whenever a sound comes out of both the left and right channels at an equal volume, your brain will often trick you into believing that the sound is coming from the midpoint between the two channels, creating what’s known as a Phantom Center. And since the left and right channels are on either sides of your head, your brain will have you believe that the sound is coming from the middle of your head. Here’s a link if you’re interested in a slightly more detailed explanation: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_center


A good pair of headphones doesn’t make it feel like the sound is coming from the middle of your head. A good pair of headphones makes it feel like the sound originates from well outside of your head, with a good soundstage. Assuming that the source is not mono.


It depends a lot on the recording technique, actually.

Your brain uses a number of queues to determine where sound comes from. The most obvious is that sound is louder in the ear closest to the sound source. It also arrives sooner to that ear.Less obviously, the external part of the ear changes the frequency spectrum of the sound, emphasizing high (treble) or low (bass) content depending on the angle the sound approaches from. For sounds produced externally from the ear, the brain is great at figuring out where they’re coming from.

What this means is even if sound isn’t recorded in a way that intentionally gives the impression of coming from one direction or another, you’ll still be able to tell the location of the speaker that’s playing it for example.

Only headphones (especially in-ear headphones) can bypass all these systems and deprive your brain of the info it needs to understand the source of a sound.

But for it to sound like it’s coming from inside your head the audio engineers need to have NOT done any tricks to make it sound like it’s coming from some other location… which can be as simple as an instrument being louder in one ear than the other. So lots of audio won’t sound perfectly centered. The microphone or a number of other items/effects may create frequency content differences that may give the impression of direction (or at least an external source) as well, even if it wasn’t intended by the audio engineer.

The virtual barber shop demonstrates holophonic audio. It uses microphones in the ears of a head to capture audio the way we hear it.


A poorly made pair of headphones or a bad source will have audio crossing over between channels so that you lose the stereo separation, essentially making it mono.There are other factors that contribute to poor sound stage beyond just electrical separation, though.

Some songs have the different instruments playing in one speaker , take the self titled queens of the stone age album, sometimes the guitar can only be heard through one earbud, or the drum beat in other songs on the album. Its abit annoying if one of your earbuds stops working and you have to listen though one and all you can hear is the drums. But at the same time it works very well if you have two good headphones working.


They don’t. GOOD headphones try to reproduce the neutral sound of flat speakers as best as possible, including making it sound like the audio is coming from around you rather than inside your head.


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