“Sculpted” usually means that the sound signature has been tweaked or modified away from a “neutral/natural” sound profile in some way. Often, this means that the bass and the highs will be made more aggressive, because that’s a quick way to make a headphone sound impressive to listeners. Those frequencies stand out more, and it’s often fun when things have a thumpy bass tone even if the original music wasn’t so aggressive when recorded.

Neutral or natural means that the headphone presents the sound exactly the way it was recorded or produced, or that the music feels a lot like it would in real life or coming out of a really nice set of speakers. Headphones interact with our ears differently than speakers or live audio do, so they can’t just play every sound frequency back at the same volume and sound natural. They have to follow what’s known as a compensation curve, and there are many different schools of thought as to which one is the best.

An audio purist is someone that wants to hear the original audio exactly the way it was recorded or produced. They would want a pair of headphones that closely mimicked their compensation curve of choice, providing a “flat/neutral” response.

Flat responses aren’t always the most fun to listen to, and a lot of this stuff is down to personal taste.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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