Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Headphones better than Speakers? A system that GLOWS?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Headphones better than Speakers? A system that GLOWS? - Page 2

post #16 of 66
Thread Starter 

All interesting replies. This is what I was looking for. So most of you concur with my findings. I think that  Maxvla hit the nail on the head when he said:

 

  "Many headphones can do things that take a great deal of money to do in a speaker, but at the end of the day the pinnacle still rests with the speaker."

 

I myself have not yet heard a headphone system that can compete with a traditional high-end speaker setup. Granted, I've listened to quite a few audio systems from $200,000 - $500,000 and have listened only to a few higher end headphone setups. It's certainly not necessary to spend that kind of money for top end performance though, but at that amount of expense you do typically get a reference class system. What's great about headphones is that for under $1,000 you get performance that might run you $15,000 in a speaker system. I also think that headphones can give you a few things that speakers can't. I think since headphones eliminate the room, they can eliminate reflection and a room sound that can smear details making headphones more immediate and resolving at times. It would be an interesting thing to try one of the headphone processors that could simulate a speakers' soundstage, or even an amp with a "crossfeed" feature since recordings aren't really designed for headphone use, making headphones sound excessively panned left and right normally. 

 

Well, I'm still on my quest for the peak of headphone performance and I won't stop untill I find it. (or go broke tryin' lol)

 

Cheers, and keep the opinions comming!   

post #17 of 66

I have a feeling a $10K speaker/amp combo will sound better than a $10K HP/amp combo (in other words, I'm not sure that you need to spend so much more money to get a really, reallly great-sounding speaker setup).  With the source being the same.  I've always thought headphones were a "necessary evil" that people use to isolate the sound and have less gear taking up space.  My speakers are really big and they need a big room and it isn't always convenient to have them around.  Speakers can be a hassle, too, as I'm sure you know: moving them, positioning them, room treatments, etc. 

 

Sound-wise, I think speakers definitely sound better than headphones.  In my mind it is similar to the way live performance sounds better than speakers.  It is less removed from the real thing.  But of course, it depends on personal preference.  If you have only experienced great music reproductions on speakers, and that's the point of view from which you come, then it seems likely that headphones will not give you that level of satisfaction.  But it takes a lot more synergy to get speakers right, as I'm sure you also know. 

 

An Apex Pinnacle hooked up to HD800s will sound good no matter what room they are in, or where you are sitting or what the cables are. 


Edited by tjkurita - 10/14/10 at 6:40pm
post #18 of 66

for me it's generally not an issue of which is better or not, but what am i doing at that moment and how do i feed music into my ears, and the type of music i'm listening to.  i really enjoy having muffs on my head dumping music "directly" into my brain.  it's an intimate, personal musical presentation that i don't get from speakers.  but when i want to "rock" or clean the house, speakers win.

 

while the "hi-fi" headphone market is growing and maturing, it's obviously still much more of a niche market compared speaker-fi.  HP junkies can give some thanks in part to the iPod and Apple for this growth.  i'm willing to bet that now more people than ever listen to HPs, unfortunately they're mostly iBuds with low-rez downloads.  the market is there...

 

with a small niche market it becomes an issue of "economies of scale" for manufacturers.  dedicating a lot of R&D and $$ to circuit tuning an amp or introducing new orthodynamic isn't going to bring in a lot of cash, hence the choices out there to find your "glow" are reduced (or, you may never find it).  the flip side is that HPs are small and dirt cheap compared to speakers, making acquisition and auditioning much easier.  i think that music reproduction via HPs has definitely improved over the past few years with a greater selection of products though.  

 

      

post #19 of 66

Both serve different purposes, with budget why not having both, and period...IMO no, speakers reach some other aspects of sound that heapdhones will never do, and I do not beleive that a good speaker setup will break a bank, and i ahve heard a lot setups for far less of that sum mentioning above, that sounded very good, or even less believe that a good heapdhone setup is cheap, that is a myth, my heapdhone setups cost a few times what my speakers one, and I still preffer those to them, maybe I'm not a headphone guy, but speakers add more realism in my opinion, with less effort...

 

BTW not sure while did you get the numbers you mention, nor the relation you set between both worlds, in your last post, but certainly that has not been my experience...I have heard quite good headphone setups...not mine BTW...mine is decent but nothing to dream about...and with a humble speaker setups, wisely chosen, you can literaly blow out of the water any heapdhone setup I have heard...


Edited by Sovkiller - 10/14/10 at 8:03pm
post #20 of 66

If you want a system that really glows get a radioactive one.........

 

 

It will even glow with the power turned offf - a big PLUS feature.......


Edited by wink - 10/15/10 at 5:17am
post #21 of 66

Getting truly state of the art sound from headphones (O2 Mk1 and BHSE, IMO) costs less than $7000. This will outperform any speaker/amp combo you can get for $7,000, or $14,000, or $21,000. Any headphones I think can be beaten by speakers, but the cost is going to be enormous, and that's not even factoring in the cost of the room. Headphones have no room acoustics to deal with, and while the best may need adjustment just as speakers need to be placed and angled properly to sound the best, it's a heck of a lot easier to reposition the O2 on your head than it is to slide around a 500lb. Rockport or Tidal.

post #22 of 66

As much as I love my BH/O2, the Quad ESL 57's are still the crown jewel of my gear.  

 

Btw Dave, if you haven't seen yet, there's gonna be a meet in Venice tomorrow from 10-4.  Check out the "UCLA meet" thread. smily_headphones1.gif

post #23 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishski13 View Post

for me it's generally not an issue of which is better or not, but what am i doing at that moment and how do i feed music into my ears, and the type of music i'm listening to.  i really enjoy having muffs on my head dumping music "directly" into my brain.  it's an intimate, personal musical presentation that i don't get from speakers.  but when i want to "rock" or clean the house, speakers win.

 

      



 

Hear, hear.

1: Even the humble ER4 does things no ridiculous-fi speaker can do, and when that is just what you want, it can't be beat.

Vice versa, of course, a good speaker setup can do stuff that no headphone even dare to hope achieving, and when that is what you want it can't be beat.

 

It's apples and oranges, really.

Or apples and kitchen cutlery, even. The comparison is moot.

 

2: Thunderpants 

post #24 of 66



 

 

1). No. Stop reading what people are saying and go with what you think is better. No one else on earth has your ears. You shouldn't be seeking THE pinnacle of audio, you ought to be searching for YOUR pinnacle.

 

2). Honestly, headphones are too isolating for me. Realism is my goal, and I find headphones too much of a distraction (i.e. weight on your head, heat build up from the pads, etc.) While I do feel that headphones give you the most value in terms of sound quality/ ideal sound signature, I haven't personally heard a system that "glowed" yet. On the flip side, I haven't heard many hi-end systems intimately (just a lot @ Can Jam, which is not an ideal listening situation)

post #25 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

Getting truly state of the art sound from headphones (O2 Mk1 and BHSE, IMO) costs less than $7000. This will outperform any speaker/amp combo you can get for $7,000, or $14,000, or $21,000. Any headphones I think can be beaten by speakers, but the cost is going to be enormous, and that's not even factoring in the cost of the room. Headphones have no room acoustics to deal with, and while the best may need adjustment just as speakers need to be placed and angled properly to sound the best, it's a heck of a lot easier to reposition the O2 on your head than it is to slide around a 500lb. Rockport or Tidal.


I strongly disagree: 

 

$4500 (retail, they can be had for half as much on the used market) Klipschorns

 

klipschornfloorstandingloudspeaker.jpg

 

and a $3,000 Sun Audio SV2A3

SunAUdioSV-2A3.jpg

 

..will sound better than ANY headphone system.  UNLESS you are only interested in headphone systems (but if you will only be satisfied by a headphone system then no speaker system of any monetary value will be good).  But in all of the "objective" ways that good audio is understood: resolution, dynamic range and speed, tone, realism, soundstage, detail, pure reproduction of a live performance experience, etc. the Sun/Klipschorn combo will beat anything that cans can do.  The speakers can be placed in corners.  It's inconvenient, but cheaper than an SOTA headphone system and will sound better.  I don't deny the convenience of headphones, but I do deny the cost-effectiveness. 

 

post #26 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

Getting truly state of the art sound from headphones (O2 Mk1 and BHSE, IMO) costs less than $7000. This will outperform any speaker/amp combo you can get for $7,000, or $14,000, or $21,000. Any headphones I think can be beaten by speakers, but the cost is going to be enormous, and that's not even factoring in the cost of the room. Headphones have no room acoustics to deal with, and while the best may need adjustment just as speakers need to be placed and angled properly to sound the best, it's a heck of a lot easier to reposition the O2 on your head than it is to slide around a 500lb. Rockport or Tidal.

 

I don't agree.  My favorite speakers (so far, I haven't finished the Orions) are the Quad ESL-63s.  Those plus my power amp (tubed) cost less than the HD-800 did alone.  And they sound better.

 

I am very much looking forward to getting the Linkwitz Orions together.  The drivers are $1,800, another $500 for the innards, $300 for the plans/PCBs, and I dropped $500 for two Adcom GFA-2535 amps to power them.  I need to spend about $1,000 more for the cabinets and drop 30-40 hours into sweat equity.  So maybe about $4,000 in, including the power amps.  Not too bad, and I'll happily take them over a R10 or HE90, which cost more.

 

I'm keeping most of the headphones because there's a time and place for them, but speakers rule.  Most of the room treatment stuff is overrated, anyway.  You can find excellent speakers in the $1,000-$3,000 rage (preferably used) driven off a $50 receiver found on Craigslist, that will demolish even the most expensive headphones.

 

One pair of speakers that consistently wows me is the ESS AMT-1.  Got them for $300 and my parents ended up with them since they needed new speakers.  Had to drop in new woofers (about $100 for a decent upgrade) and added new fill ($5), and they run them off a 20 year old Kenwood receiver.  Maybe $20 at the Goodwill.

 

The AMTs kick sirloin and hang with some megabuck systems.

 

You absolutely do not have to throw big money at speakers.


Edited by Uncle Erik - 10/15/10 at 3:25pm
post #27 of 66

Speakers offer better soundstage if placed properly, and the bass is a lot more convincing to me, bigger drivers of course, on the highs we get mixed opinions but in those two, there is no headphone that could offer the crosstalk we get from both channels yet, what makes the sound more like 3D, also you get reflexions from the wall what makes the audition more credible, and closer to a live experience...

post #28 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjkurita View Post




I strongly disagree: 

 

$4500 (retail, they can be had for half as much on the used market) Klipschorns and a $3,000 Sun Audio SV2A3..will sound better than ANY headphone system. 

 

I have to disagree. That might be able to outperform dynamic phones (except maybe the R10), but the O2 Mk1 just kills everything anywhere near its price level. In any case I'm not a fan of horns at all. I've heard some Quads and some Martin Logans, never been that impressed with either. The Quads don't have the dynamic range I'm looking for, and the Martin Logans can never blend the woofers with the panels. I'm a fan of mini-monitors for their imaging capabilities, but they are always missing that bottom octave. If I wanted a true full range with the imaging and detail of the O2, I'd be looking at Aerial, Dynaudio, Egglestonworks, Verity, Rockport, and Tidal, and I would have to drop $20K. A good pair of O2 Mk1s is less than $2000, and there just is no speaker that costs anywhere near that that can do what they do.

 

The BHSE and DIY T2 are as good as it gets on headphones. You can find any number of high performance speaker amps for $5,000, but that's not state of the art money, not even close. You're also going to be paying top dollar for a preamp, which both headphone amps have built in.

 

Obviously headphones and speakers have their own strengths. If you just want loud, room filling sound, a $1,000 pair of Totems can give you that, and will provide decent sonics. "Decent" doesn't match the O2 though.

 

 

 


 


Edited by DaveBSC - 10/15/10 at 8:16pm
post #29 of 66
Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

 

You can find excellent speakers in the $1,000-$3,000 rage (preferably used) driven off a $50 receiver found on Craigslist, that will demolish even the most expensive headphones.

 

I'm sorry, but that's just plain false. A crappy receiver with a damping factor of 5 and a two cent power supply that clips at the first sign of a real workout will get smashed by a real headphone rig. The least expensive speakers I've heard that really made my jaw drop cost $16K.


Edited by DaveBSC - 10/15/10 at 8:17pm
post #30 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post



 

I have to disagree. That might be able to outperform dynamic phones (except maybe the R10), but the O2 Mk1 just kills everything anywhere near its price level. In any case I'm not a fan of horns at all. I've heard some Quads and some Martin Logans, never been that impressed with either. The Quads don't have the dynamic range I'm looking for, and the Martin Logans can never blend the woofers with the panels. I'm a fan of mini-monitors for their imaging capabilities, but they are always missing that bottom octave. If I wanted a true full range with the imaging and detail of the O2, I'd be looking at Aerial, Dynaudio, Egglestonworks, Verity, Rockport, and Tidal, and I would have to drop $20K. A good pair of O2 Mk1s is less than $2000, and there just is no speaker that costs anywhere near that that can do what they do.

 

The BHSE and DIY T2 are as good as it gets on headphones. You can find any number of high performance speaker amps for $5,000, but that's not state of the art money, not even close. You're also going to be paying top dollar for a preamp as well, which both headphone amps have built in.

 

Obviously headphones and speakers have their own strengths. If you just want loud, room filling sound, a $1,000 pair of Totems can give you that, and will provide decent sonics. "Decent" doesn't match the O2 though.

 

 

 


 


I'm not sure how any headphone can image like speakers.  They are, after all, headphones.  This is a fascinating topic because, while I love headphones, I just can't understand why anyone would prefer them to speakers.  As far as detail is concerned, electrostatic headphones do offer a lot of detail.  But the transducer is right next to the ear.  I might go over the edge and say that it is unnatural detail...   But I might be exaggerating or clutching at straws.  I consider my headphone system to be near world-class.  I compared it to many systems at the first national meet and it held up really well.  Still, my speaker system beats it by a long shot and my speakers were only about $5.5K.  Same amp.  Just comparing the transducers.  Perhaps my headphones go deeper because there is less air volume to move and I use single-driver back-loaded horns.  But in all other aspects, especially realism and soundstage/imaging, the speakers beat the H/P.  If you look at my signature don't be fooled by the fact that I am using HD600s, the system synergy is out of this world.  I've listened to electrostatic rigs and dynamic rigs and horn and multiple driver behemoths and the speakers just win all the time (when they are good speakers set up well).  I'm not so much interested in loud as I am in quality of sound.  Also, I am not really talking about state of the art.  My point is that you don't need a state of the art speaker system to match or better a state of the art headphone system.  I must say that even $1000 Totems might best a really good pair of headphones (well, maybe I won't go THAT far!).  I am not denying that headphones can sound amazing.  Especially well driven electrostatic headphones.  But I am saying that you don't need a mega-$ speaker system to beat them. 


Edited by tjkurita - 10/15/10 at 8:39pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Headphones better than Speakers? A system that GLOWS?