Individual Headphone Calibration

Information on individual headphone calibration - calibration service, calibration profile, and pre-calibrated headphones available in the Sonarworks store.


In this article:


What is the difference between average and individual headphone calibration?

With the average headphone calibration profiles (AVG) readily available in SoundID Reference software, we are able to cover a vast amount of headphone models for a dramatic improvement in terms of a flat response. It's as simple as installing SoundID Reference and loading a profile from our 300+ (and growing) supported model database

However, each pair of headphones sounds different - even the same model will vary in frequency response pair to pair. Manufacturers build inconsistencies introduce anomalies across individual units of the same model. For that reason, AVG profiles have their performance limits. The AVG profiles in SoundID Reference are summaries of several different units of each model measured, tested, and averaged.

For the ultimate accuracy, Sonarworks individual calibration (IHC) is the way to go! It is the only service of its kind on the market as the calibration is tailored specifically for your pair of headphones. It comes in two different forms: individual calibration service and individually pre-calibrated headphones. Both options are available in our store, see more extensive details on IHC here.


What am I getting with individual headphone calibration?

  • Correction profile that is unique and tailor-made for your particular set of headphones.
  • Stereo correction - left and right channels are calibrated separately for even greater accuracy. Any stereo imbalance is eliminated (stereo imbalance is very common even in high-end models).
  • Guaranteed precision of ±0.9dB across the frequency spectrum. In contrast, the readily available AVG profiles in SoundID Reference are ±3dB accurate.
  • Multi-profile calibration (optional at a higher price), to cover multiple modes of the same unit (for example, noise-canceling mode ON/OFF, which alters the freq. response significantly).

Your unique calibration profile will be uploaded on our server to be used with Sonarworks software. Access to that profile will be available on any computer with SoundID Reference software installed on it, simply by entering the profile ID. See this article on how to apply an IHC profile in SoundID Reference. To give you a taste of what to expect, here is a comparison of AVG and IHC profiles on a random headphone model:




Keep in mind that the displayed differences are subject to each manufacturers' building and assembly techniques, as well as the component quality/consistency specifics for each model - these differences, will vary across the freq. spectrum for different brands/models.


For example, some models might have better-matched L and R channels while others will have better overall consistency between individual units. Unsurprisingly, some IHC profiles will have significant differences from the AVG profile (or on the contrary - not that big of a difference). Our calibration team has mastered the process and the ±0.9dB accuracy is guaranteed.


Individually Pre-calibrated Headphones

If you are already familiar with what SoundID Reference headphone calibration does and you are looking to buy a new pair of headphones, choosing this option will probably be the best investment you'll ever make in terms of serious music production work on headphones.

A wide variety of manufacturers and models is available in our store. Some rarer models can be obtained temporarily while others are constantly available, such as our bestsellers from Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, and Audio-Technica. If you are already convinced about Sonarworks SoundID Reference and looking for a complete product package, SoundID Reference Premium Bundle includes both headphone and speaker calibration (SoundID Reference measurement mic included) as well as individually calibrated Sennheiser HD 650's. 


Don't worry if you are unsure about which model is most appropriate for your use case and workflow -reach out and submit a support request - our specialists will provide essential tips. You can also post on our Community Page and ask for user opinion - people who are taking advantage of IHC on a daily basis will have invaluable feedback to share! We also have the characteristics of many different models covered in the Gear Reviews section of our Blog.


Individual Calibration Service

Having your current headphones calibrated is not a problem either - the individual calibration service will take care of that. We are able to calibrate pretty much all over-ear and on-ear types out there (submit a support ticket if you're not sure). A multi-profile option is also possible; you can have different modes of your headphones calibrated (for example, Noise Cancelling ON/OFF or enhanced/ambient modes, which will affect the freq. response significantly).


For the IHC service, you will need to purchase the service in our store and ship your headphones over to our headquarters in Europe. We will perform the calibration measurements on your unit and generate a custom calibration profile. Your headphones will be back on their way to you within 10 business days after we receive them. To read more on important shipping requirements, please, visit Individual Headphone Calibration shipping article.


Before you send your headphones...

When sending in headphones for individual calibration, it is important to make sure the ear pads are in mint condition; replacing them before sending is recommended. In our experience, it is not burn-in that causes a change in freq. response over time (as opposed to speakers, where burn-in is very important). Instead, worn ear pads are gradually affecting the sound. If your calibration is done on fresh ear pads, you will always be able to return to the original calibration performance simply by replacing them.


For rare and specific headphone types (electrostatic, vintage, dynamically adaptive environment tech, etc.), make sure to include all the necessary headphone amplifiers, custom cables, and anything else that is required for your specific model to work - we might not have those accessories in-house to work with.


IMPORTANT! Individual calibration service is NOT supported for earbuds and in-ear headphones! If you are unsure about the type of your headphones, please submit a support request before purchasing the service! Individual calibration requires Sonarworks software to run (sold separately, apart from the hardware-software bundles in our store).


Note: Sending from the US can be expensive. We recommend checking the costs, before purchasing our service. 


There are no physical modifications performed on the headphones as a part of the IHC process - the calibration is done digitally, with a software-based calibration profile.

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