What Is Headphone Crossfeed, And Why Use it?

What Is Headphone Crossfeed, And Why Use it?

March 28, 2018 by Mixcder


Have you ever thought of this question--why the music sound you hear on headphones is different from the amplifier? The design makes it so.

 

Specifically, if you wear a headphone listening to music, the sound you perceive get  absorbed by your head. Besides, your right ear would only hear the right channel, while your left ear would only get the left channel. That is to say, if the sound is only streamed in right channel, you would not hear it from your left ear. Thus you may feel uncomfortable if you listen to music using headphones for a long long.

 

However, you hear the sound from loudspeaker in a distinct way. A sound wave is able to bend around any obstacle. This ability is called diffraction, which is a physical principle. If you sit in front of a pair of loudspeakers, the sound from the left speaker would not only reach to your left ear, but also your right ear by bending around your head and face, and vise versa. The sound need to travel a longer distance to get to the opposite ear. Therefore there would be a slight delay when the opposite ear receive the sound. That is why music from loudspeakers sounds more natural and comfortable.

 

In order to reduce uncomfortable feeling and fatigue, some headphones use crossfeed aiming to simulate three effects: diffraction, head absorption and time delay. In another word, crossfeed makes headphone listening more similar to loudspeaker listening. For example, the left ear could be fed with the left channel as well as the right channel with a small delay. That simulates the surround sound over headphones. 

 

References:

What is Headphone Crossfeed?

How to Make Headphones Stereo-Compatible