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What is an Honest Target Curve?

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

It seems these days that a target curve is a requirement if you are going to do an audio review. And to be honest, I don't put a lot of thought into them. But a target curve does serve a purpose so I have finally created a target curve for your viewing pleasure.

As an audiophile, I seek an accurate, reproduction of real life instruments and vocals. I enjoy critiquing each listening moment, dissecting the music through the gear, listening for naturalism and realism. My personal preference is in line with this target curve so you can say this is a two-for-one target curve. I created the Honest Target curve that reflects what I believe is how a neutral and natural sound in headphones and IEM's should look like on a graph.

Keep in mind, this is just a target so gear should reflect a similar curve but doesn't need to be spot-on to be considered neutral and natural. There are a lot of variables besides a target curve when it comes reproducing sound.

I am not a professional sound engineer, producer, musician, or vocalist, etc. I have not done any scientific research, measurements, or in-depth testing of any kind; just my own listening, comparing and internet reading/research. I have limited, real-life experience with recording, mixing and mastering gear. I have been involved since my teenage years with various churches as an amateur sound booth technician.

Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.

Let's take a closer look at the Honest Target Curve.

Bass Range - 20hz-300hz

lower bass 20hz-80hz

mid bass 80hz-150hz

upper bass 150hz-300hz

Mid Range - 300hz-8k

lower mids - 300hz-1k

main mids - 1k-5k

upper mids - 5k-8k (presence range)

Treble Range - 8k-20k

lower treble - 8k-10k

main treble - 10k-14k

upper treble - 14k-20k

The average human ear hears between 20hz and 20k. Human ears hear the mids (80hz-8k) the most so it is no surprise that the majority of instrument and vocal fundamental frequencies are in that range. The human ear is most sensitive between 2k-5k. There is degradation of hearing that occurs with age, exposure to damaging volumes and many other factors.

Natural - Realism; reproduced sound that matches every day, real life audio.

Neutral - Reproduced sound that is free of coloration that is not natural.

Air - Reproducing audio in a free, open and fresh manner around instruments and vocalists. Air is not restricted only to the upper treble frequencies but is audible in the entire frequency range.

Detail - Reproduced images of the original sound.

Definition/Resolution/Focus - Quality of a reproduced detail that is clearly defined with sharp, edged images. Enables the listener to distinguish between and/or follow the melodic lines of the individual voices and/or instruments.

Tone - The actual note of the music being played; is the reproduced note in key and in tune.

Tonal Quality - The quality of the reproduced note; sounds accurate and correct.

Timbre - Reproduction of recognizable characteristics of an instrument, allows the listener to determine or differentiate between instruments or to follow them throughout a musical piece.

I created the Honest Target Curve according to how I think that a neutral and natural sound would reflect on a graph if my ears were measured. I seek a neutral, natural reproduction of tone, timbre, air, details and resolution. I believe that gear that resembles similarities to this target curve will provide those sound qualities.

I want to thank Stephen (HobbyTalk) for helping create the target curve and for putting it on his target curve squig link.

Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.

Twitter: @TalkDbs

The Honest Audiophile research/review process:

Recommended Gear:

Rosson Audio Design RAD-0:

MrSpeakers Ether C (non flow version)

Aueze LCD 2 Closed: LCD-2 Closed Back (

Moondrop SSR:

Massdrop THX AAA 789:

Massdrop Grace Design SDAC-B:

Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality

Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage

Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone

Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone

Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement

Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre

Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre

Pain of Salvation “Stress” - bass and percussion balance

Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics

Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check

Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids

Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging

Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension

Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control

Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check

Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics

Hans Zimmer: “2049” - sub bass extension

Cher: “Believe” - sibilance

Stanley Clarke - “Passenger 57 main title” - percussion, bass, separation and placement

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - “The Pine of the Appian Way” - soundstage, imaging, separation, dynamic range

Houston Person - “You are my Sunshine” - tone and timbre

If you like the content of this channel and want to see more like this in the future, please

consider donating. All funds donated to the channel will be used to purchase headphones and audio gear for the channel.

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1,174 views1 comment

1 commentaire

14 mai

Your curve does not show ear gain. What the heck is ear gain?

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