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Headphones vs Speakers.....Go!

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12 minutes ago, hdo said:

You need to take laws of physics into account: inertia and momentum of drivers. Speaker drivers are very heavy. They cannot move fast to produce accurate sound. This is well-known fact! That's why they adopt alternative technology such as magnetic planar and electro-static. Electro-static force is very weak force. So it cannot generate volume. Magnetic planar uses stronger magnetic force. Perfect for headphones. But it cannot extend to speaker level naturally. You need over-engineering like Magnepan speakers.

 

 

Yet quality speakers sound better and more natural than headphones could ever hope to sound. 

 

As far as I am concerned, headphones are for when you can't disturb others or for people that don't have the budget to buy a properly 2 channel setup.

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17 minutes ago, diecaster said:

 

Mainly for the two reason I listed above......

Just curious why you are so hell bent on trashing HPs? Do you work for some 2 channel consortium? We fully understand your position. You've expressed it here ad nauseam. Your position is not universal. Accept it please. And stop trashing others who happen to enjoy them. 


 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Nordkapp said:

Just curious why you are so hell bent on trashing HPs? Do you work for some 2 channel consortium? We fully understand your position. You've expressed it here ad nauseam. Your position is not universal. Accept it please. And stop trashing others who happen to enjoy them. 

 

This is not a zero sum game. I love headphones and I use them a lot! I just think that speakers sound way better and much prefer them to headphones.

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I think we can agree on this much:  speakers do some things better than headphones and vice versa.  

 

To make any claims about absolute superiority really isn't the point of this post (despite my stupidly antagonistic click-bait title).  

 

As a headphone and earphone enthusiast, I have to cede that good speakers in an acoustically treated room are more 'natural' sounding.  This is what our hearing system is used to.  We hear sounds from various distances and that sound wave is amplified at certain frequencies by our body as it approaches our ears.  It's no phenomenon, but a very well understood response called the 'head related transfer function'.  While many headphones compensate for this with their response curves, they can't model your specific response.  

 

Also, localization and placement of instruments in a field are generally mixed with 2 channel speakers being the delivery system in mind.  Not all, but most.  Despite using advanced cross-feed, my headphones still can't quite match the realness of speakers with this regard.  

 

I have pretty respectable headfi setups - home and mobile - both of which cost some decent coin.  I can defend my preference all day long, but I can't claim that headphones sound more natural.  That goes to the speakers.

 

I do think headphones sound more coherent, especially if only one transducer is doing the work per channel.  To me, they are more enjoyable because the sound is not only "in head" but comes to you at extreme angles.  This makes for a very engaging listening session.

 

I also think the bass is more accurate, though you miss out somewhat on the physical feel of the music.  But the highs don't hold a candle to speakers in terms of naturalness.  Not because they can't reproduce the frequencies, but because we're not used to hearing the effects of high frequency energy bouncing around a small cavity.  Even open back headphones and yes, even earphones have at least one node in their acoustic environment.  

 

Waveforms with long wavelengths (bass) are a problem for large acoustic environments (rooms).  

 

Waveforms with short wavelengths (treble) are a problem for small acoustic environments (ear cups, or ear canals).

 

Room nodes, standing wavs, comb filtering.  Unless you can plug a digital signal into your brain and have it to DA conversion, you're going to have to fight these with room correction software or EQ. 

 

If I could take the natural highs of speakers and mix that with the super linear lows of headphones, I'd be an advertiser on CA and not driving a 10 year old accord.

 

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I find that a proper speaker/room setup with the right amp kills headphones in bass reproduction. Multiple transducers are the way to go here as there is no way that one transducer can handle the entire audible range. And let's not forget that proper bass reproduction is as much about what you feel as what you hear. This, again, is where headphones lack realism. Headphones offend me the most though is how the soundstage is presented: completely unrealistic. Sure, it can be really cool sounding...but just not life like.

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1 hour ago, diecaster said:

I find that a proper speaker/room setup with the right amp kills headphones in bass reproduction.

You will never enjoy "high-resolution" sound with speakers as mandated by the laws of physics. High-resolution headphones' common frequency range is 10Hz ~ 50KHz that speakers never match. Headphone drivers are small. So it lacks bass volumes. But it can be easily corrected with bass boosting using equalizer of player software. Once you this setup, you will enjoy bass with headphones.

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12 hours ago, diecaster said:

 

That's funny coming from a guy that writes for Stereophile! Of course we are influenced by other people's preferences. But, that doesn't mean those preferences are the be all and end all. We all need to listen for ourselves.....

Got it.  I was referring, in specific, to the thread topic. I cannot tolerate headphone listening (except when I must if I am on a long flight).  Headphone and speaker listening are different paradigms and it is unlikely that any argument would have any impact on my opinion. 


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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18 hours ago, hdo said:

You need to take laws of physics into account: inertia and momentum of drivers. Speaker drivers are very heavy. They cannot move fast to produce accurate sound. This is well-known fact! That's why they adopt alternative technology such as magnetic planar and electro-static. Electro-static force is very weak force. So it cannot generate volume. Magnetic planar uses stronger magnetic force. Perfect for headphones.

 

[1] But it cannot extend to speaker level naturally. You need

 

[2] over-engineering like Magnepan speakers.

 

 

 

can you explain what you mean in 1 & 2?


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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11 hours ago, hdo said:

You will never enjoy "high-resolution" sound with speakers as mandated by the laws of physics. High-resolution headphones' common frequency range is 10Hz ~ 50KHz that speakers never match. Headphone drivers are small. So it lacks bass volumes. But it can be easily corrected with bass boosting using equalizer of player software. Once you this setup, you will enjoy bass with headphones.

Let us be real now.  There are speakers that reach past 20 khz (not that your hearing does).  There are speakers easily able to move well enough without violating the laws of physics.  And there is no way you can pump up below 50 hz bass to mimic at all the experience over speakers.  Headphones have plenty of advantages, but no need to tell un-truths about speakers to make that point. 

 

I'm one who always prefers speakers, even pretty poor speakers over headphones.  I use headphones when I must.  Headphones can be used like a magnifying glass to find details that might be missed over speakers.  


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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11 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

 

 

can you explain what you mean in 1 & 2?

No he can't because he is mistaken.  


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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2 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

can you explain what you mean in 1 & 2?

As you know, planars work on placing thin diaphragm between two magnetic plates. It cannot naturally produce high volume of air movement that is required for speakers. Look at Magnepan speaker sizes! They are humongous. Still volume level is not impressive.

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2 hours ago, esldude said:

Headphones can be used like a magnifying glass to find details that might be missed over speakers. 

That's exactly my point is. Fine details is a main advantage of headphones.

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21 hours ago, hdo said:

You need to take laws of physics into account: inertia and momentum of drivers. Speaker drivers are very heavy. They cannot move fast to produce accurate sound. This is well-known fact! That's why they adopt alternative technology such as magnetic planar and electro-static. Electro-static force is very weak force. So it cannot generate volume. Magnetic planar uses stronger magnetic force. Perfect for headphones. But it cannot extend to speaker level naturally. You need over-engineering like Magnepan speakers.

 

Yes speaker drivers are relatively heavy.  So they require more power to move fast enough to accurately reproduce sound.  But nothing has prevented that from being realized.  Speakers do produce accurate detailed sound.  So your fact is not factual. 

 

Good near field monitors listened to closer than 2 meters in a quiet studio can match headphones for detail.  

 

ESLs do sometimes have extended response.  Much of the reason they are used is to drive one panel with all frequencies so multiple drivers from multiple physical points don't have to blend with crossovers to produce the final sound.  They are inefficient, but can play around or above 100 db in room so not the loudest available, but loud enough.  

 

Maggies are not over-engineered, simply engineered to meet their goals.    

 

Again every approach involves some compromises and every approach has problem areas to be overcome to achieve good sound quality.  You don't have to tell un-truths about speakers to say you prefer headphones or even to say headphones have some very good qualities. 


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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52 minutes ago, esldude said:

Again every approach involves some compromises and every approach has problem areas to be overcome to achieve good sound quality.  You don't have to tell un-truths about speakers to say you prefer headphones or even to say headphones have some very good qualities. 

 

Yes! As I said before, this is not a zero sum game.

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On 3/28/2018 at 5:22 PM, hdo said:

You need to take laws of physics into account: inertia and momentum of drivers. Speaker drivers are very heavy. They cannot move fast to produce accurate sound. This is well-known fact! That's why they adopt alternative technology such as magnetic planar and electro-static. Electro-static force is very weak force. So it cannot generate volume. Magnetic planar uses stronger magnetic force. Perfect for headphones. But it cannot extend to speaker level naturally. You need over-engineering like Magnepan speakers.

 

This is nonsense.  Clearly you have an agenda or you have not actually heard any good systems with good speakers and proper set up.

I prefer speakers in every way, but do listen to headphones for travel, and testing new gear builds.  I do own planar magnetic 'phones, Audeze EL-8s and iSine 20s, both have good sound, but they certainly are not capable of retrieving more detail than my speaker set up.

While it is true that a headphone set up at the same price as a complete speaker set up can retrieve more detail, overall speakers are better in every way when you have a good system.


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, Iconoclast XLR, Nordost Frey speaker, cables, Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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18 hours ago, hdo said:

You will never enjoy "high-resolution" sound with speakers as mandated by the laws of physics. High-resolution headphones' common frequency range is 10Hz ~ 50KHz that speakers never match. Headphone drivers are small. So it lacks bass volumes. But it can be easily corrected with bass boosting using equalizer of player software. Once you this setup, you will enjoy bass with headphones.

Are you a bat?  I guess listening to live music is not "high-resolution" then...  More nonsense.

 

I have nothing against headphones, and use them myself sometimes.  But I will always prefer my speaker system, as it comes much closer to reproducing a real, live, musical event.

 

I am concerned why anyone would be so adamant arguing such a lost cause???


ROON: DSD 256-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, Cardas Clear AC, Iconoclast XLR, Nordost Frey speaker, cables, Synergistic Blue & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                                                                  SONORE computer audio

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