Headphones Introduction

Modelling headphones and their components using numerical methods such as FEM/ BEM reveals some interesting behaviour that isn't available using other modelling approaches.  Simulations using FEM/ BEM require an explicit geometry definition of the components, plus descriptions of material parameters, boundary conditions and loadings which means more about the physicality of the headphone needs to be known or assumed upfront.

Some excellent reading on the subject of headphone design can be found here:

POLDY, C A, ‘Headphones’, Loudspeaker and Headphone Handbook, Chapter 14, 3rd Edition, (2001)

AVIS, M R, KELLY, L J, 'Principles of Headphone Design - A Tutorial Review', AES 21st UK CONFERENCE (2006)

In this section on headphones, I would like to explore the behaviour of a closed-back headphone module and investigate how the frequency response can be manipulated, hopefully in the direction of a suitable target response that is known to be preferred by a broad population of end users.  Closed-back circumaural headphones present interesting design challenges as their passive behaviour often needs to account for additional functionality such as active noise cancellation (ANC), acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and effective passive noise suppression.

When I began this work, I did not have a specific driver/ headphone in mind and approached this from a theoretical standpoint.  I subsequently acquired some headphone parts and have endeavoured to include measurement to back up some of the results in the simulations.  It should be kept in mind throughout that the simulations do not describe exactly the same experimental system, but hopefully similarities emerge.  My intention is to build illustrative scenarios to highlight some interesting design features observed in closed-back headphones.

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