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Soundstage in headphones is over-rated

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
Being a veteran speaker person I was pushed into headphones when I got married. For years I bought one headphone after the other that was toughted as having "soundstage" "airiness" thinking this would most replicate speakers.


What I have found is that headphones with good "soundstage" actually set most of the instuments a few hundred yards back, leaving zero imaging. On a whim I bought a set of MS1's since I had just built a tube amp with a low output impedance. I immediately fell in love with the close sound, it actually had imaging like speakers. I actually caught myself thinking I had my speakers on sitting in the "sweet spot".

Anyone else think soundstage in headphones is over-rated, or maybe impossible for some individuals (psychoacoustically)?
post #2 of 76
I guess it would depend on the persons taste, I don't mind have a larger soundstage or a small one. Whatever helps me sleep at night, literally.
post #3 of 76
Headphones are inherently poor at sound stage so any noticeable improvement toward speaker type sound stage is worth touting.

It all of course depends on what you are listening to. Sound stage is easy to come by with symphonic works, but not so easy with rap/rock/electronic in most cases.
post #4 of 76
Thread Starter 
Headphones like K501s just remind me of buying the cheap seats a mile from the stage when I was a kid. I think it is part psychological and part ear physiology. I have small close to the head ears and I wonder if that is part of it. I'm not putting down any headphones just stating my preference and wonder how many others feel the same way.

I am just so enthused by this MS1 sound, just like being on the front row. It is such a mystery how everyone has different tastes, its a good time for the headphone enthusiast with more choices than ever.

.
post #5 of 76
I forget the exact phrasing, but it's something like:

Grado. I must be in the front row!
post #6 of 76
Yeah headphones will never rival speakers in anything other than price. For that, I'll take whatever sound stage I can get! I do partly agree with your statement about sound stage being overrated as there are several genres of music where you don't care. DnB. Please explain how sound stage is going to make it better.
post #7 of 76
Thread Starter 
But for me what is called sound stage ends up sounding like the musician is 300 yards away with maybe one instrument 10 yards away, not speaker like at all.

I'm no Grado expert but these MS1's are more speakerlike than anything else I've tried K501, HD650s, AKG Sextetts, K701s, HD595s, KSC75's.
post #8 of 76
With the exception of the last 2 you list I see an array of headphones that require significant amplification to get to their optimum performance. My HD600 completely transformed from good to amazing when I got my balanced tube amplifier putting out 5W @120ohm. Most mainstream low to mid range headphone amps are in the 300-600mW range.
post #9 of 76
Interesting about the MS1s, will have to get a pair then.

[It's been on my list since forever.]
post #10 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post
With the exception of the last 2 you list I see an array of headphones that require significant amplification to get to their optimum performance. My HD600 completely transformed from good to amazing when I got my balanced tube amplifier putting out 5W @120ohm. Most mainstream low to mid range headphone amps are in the 300-600mW range.
I find it hard to imagine that the Bijou is underpowered for HD650's. How many dB's do you listen at ? I keep it under 80 dB's to save my hearing.
post #11 of 76
I'm completely soundstage deaf.
post #12 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by regal View Post
I find it hard to imagine that the Bijou is underpowered for HD650's. How many dB's do you listen at ? I keep it under 80 dB's to save my hearing.
You mistake power for volume. Power is used to control the driver more precisely. This leads to being able to play cleanly at high volumes, but doesn't mean you have to play at high volumes to appreciate the difference.

I honestly don't know how loud I listen at, but my dial on my MKVI with HD600 headphones never goes past 20 (out of 100) unless I'm listening to classical and even then not past 30. Right now I'm listening to some Rage Against the Machine and I have it at 16. Louder than background, but not loud enough for focused listening. 18-20 is perfect for pure listening.

Interestingly I've heard my headphones on a Bijou built by pabbi1 and while it was connected to a far superior source (Cambridge 840C) than my MKVI was, the sound was pretty similar.
post #13 of 76
I dont see any issue here, really. If you want natural soundstage image go and buy K1000, but than again, they arent headphones, but ear speakers. Other than that, try some Qualia, Stax or other stats...
post #14 of 76
Regal bear in mind that alessandros and grados (except gs/ps1000) have zero soundstage. You should hear at least a DT880, K701 or a HD650, HD800 and K1000 have biggest soundstage in a dynamic headphone.
post #15 of 76
I have been using HD650 for a year and did try to accept the sound stage of a headphone already, that it is in no way comparable to a good pair of speakers. I thought that "sound stage for headphones" has its own definition. And I have to live with that.

I brought 2 of Meier-Audio amps which present the cross-feed which should help sound stage by pushing all the music forward rather than all in your head. It does help but still it is a headphone I am hearing.

However, I've got HD800 for a month already and even since I change my attitude toward sound stage of a headphone. It is better than anything I have heard in term of sound stage. I find myself enjoying a lot hearing concert because it is just convincing that I am hearing a real one.

For a good recorded DVD like - "A New Day from Celine Dion" I just feel like I was sitting in the concert hall around 10 meters away from the stage. Even the sound of the audiences looks realistic to me, as if they were around me. The "image" of sound stage from this HD800 is really good.

I also notice that cross-feed doesn't change the sound stage of HD800 much, but for HD650 which has a horizontal oval sound stage it is a significant improvement yet not better than HD800 without cross-feed activated.

Short comment on sound stage of some of my rigs:

HD800 : Open and surround, almost realistic
HD650 : Open but horizontal oval, like the band members line up and play the music
SE530 : Not that open just like being in a good seal record room
ER4P : Tons of details, up close and personal to the musicians ... as if I am on stage with them
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