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Headphones better than Speakers? A system that GLOWS? - Page 3

post #31 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post



 

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.



Nope.

You're painting with an awfully broad brush, aren't you? There are *lots* of great receivers out there on the cheap. I found a 1980s NAD for $40 not too long ago and gave it away. It didn't have any trouble driving my ribbons, which are not an easy load. If you bother to look around, you'll find plenty of used receivers of great quality for $100 or less. Many of them have better power supplies than some of the kilobuck bling audiophile stuff.

I think the pricetag made your jaw drop, not those $16k speakers. Anything costing that much is in the status symbol/man jewelry range. You don't have to remotely spend that much for great audio. You do have to spend that much to earn snob credentials, though.

Also, a damping factor of five isn't terrible. What's acceptable to you?
Edited by Uncle Erik - 10/15/10 at 8:43pm
post #32 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

I think the pricetag made your jaw drop, not those $16k speakers. Anything costing that much is in the status symbol/man jewelry range. You don't have to remotely spend that much for great audio. You do have to spend that much to earn snob credentials, though.

Also, a damping factor of five isn't terrible. What's acceptable to you?


Actually, I wasn't aware of what they cost when I listened to them. They were Dynaudio Confidence C4s. They didn't have much in the way of deep bass and seemed to run out of steam around 35Hz or so, but everything above that was stellar. The soundstaging was out of this world. Two speakers powered by Levinson amps and source equipment, and they threw an incredible sound stage that seemed to extend to every corner of the room. The dealer had a pair of Confidence C1 monitors on stands at the back of the room, and I had to check to make sure they were in fact disconnected because what I was hearing seemed like surround sound. Those would beat electrostatic phones yes, and I suppose the C2s might as well, although they must be severely bass limited.

 

I've heard some very expensive speakers from JM Lab and Avalon that I found to be dull and uninteresting, I've also heard some other speakers that produced similar jaw dropping, headphone killing performance, like the EW Andra. The Andra isn't cheap either, though. There are some very good affordable speakers and a few great ones, but IMO, but nothing that I would consider incredible.

 

Assuming we're talking about SS, a damping factor of 5 is pretty lousy. I don't need 2000 like some digital amps can provide, but I would say that any decent amp should be capable of at least 200.


Edited by DaveBSC - 10/15/10 at 11:50pm
post #33 of 66



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

 

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.

 

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



I absolutely agree with that, speakers setups are highly overrated most of the times, and spending money on them is not wisely if you lack the rest, that is the main reason I have not looked any further of my Axioms M80/Velodyne, they are more dependent on placement and room geometry than anything else, but you can get really good speakers for very low prices even if you go DIY you can go lower and lower...Top of the line drivers are around 200-300 tops each, Skan Speak, Vifa, Morel, Seas, Dynavox, etc, Parts Express has tons of them in stock...a decent three or even a two way system, is not that expensive...the main problem is that most of the times they need dedicated rooms and placement to sound their bests and we do not have that luxury...That is why you find nowadays in countries where the real state is not that expensive, and you can afford to have dedicated audio rooms, far better speaker setups than here in US...There is an audiophile club in Athens, that is insane in what they have there...

 

A really good speaker amp, a Sansui, or a Marantz, or a Pioneer, and so from the golden era, can be purchased in good shape in some second hand stores sometimes if you are lucky to find one in good shape, for under $200.00, today you can get very good amps for around 500.00...there is absolutely no headphone amp on that price range, not even DIY, that will beat one of these beasts...at least I have not heard any yet...

 

I usually avoid to compare the two worlds as both serve different purposes, and try to believe better that both complement each other, also you can find guys that love headphones, and guys that love speakers...and both are right, preference is all about...

 

Also with nowadays more and more common multichannel systems (not my cup of tea either), headphones are getting behind in that regard, they can not offer that kind of presentation unless you use multiple drivers in huge cups...  


Edited by Sovkiller - 10/16/10 at 10:05am
post #34 of 66

I believe that headphones offer, at their best, the most controlled and accurate listening environment. Even a magical room which had no resonance modes paired with a speaker that was 100% accurate off-axis (neither of which is possible) would still suffer from reflections introduced by the room and not in the recording. This may not be subjectively "bad" but it does represent a loss of fidelity.

 

That said: headphones are also incapable of interacting with parts of your body other than your head. You will not *feel* the impact that a proper speaker setup can offer.

 

If I wanted to watch a Michael Bay movie: I would use speakers.

If I wanted to evaluate a flutist in a recording: I would use headphones.

In general use I switch as my whims suit me.

post #35 of 66

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sovkiller View Post

Top of the line drivers are around 200-300 tops each, Skan Speak, Vifa, Morel, Seas, Dynavox, etc, Parts Express has tons of them in stock...a decent three or even a two way system, is not that expensive..

 

There's this awesome woofer from TC-Sounds: but it's north of $700. Parts Express does carry it.
 

post #36 of 66

1. A qualitative "no" (and I'm very surprised to hear so many people on HEAD-fi admitting to this). As has been said, speakers can do so many things headphones will never be able to do by the sheer fact that they're so much bigger and can move so much more air (sound needs air to move, afterall). That said, speakers also have a lot of downsides and are much harder to get right for that very reason. Things like room size and build effect speakers where they don't headphones. Plus, no matter how good a speaker system is I have never, ever, heard one that I prefer for small, intimate recordings like, say, for most female vocalists. The intimacy of headphones is something that can't be beat in this area. But I would dearly love to have a top-tier speaker system for, say, opera.

 

2. Yes. My system is one of those glowers. The SDS-XLR is (arguably) the greatest dynamic headphone amp ever made and it was tuned for my R10s, (arguably) the greatest dynamic headphones ever made. The Reimyo is easily in the top 3 of the best one-box players I've heard and the upgrade mod takes it to another level. All of the other bits (cables, rack, etc.) add that extra bit of stability, clarity, etc. to create an experience that I've yet to hear matched by another system. Of course, I rarely make it to meets anymore and listening at meets is hardly the same as listening for hours/days in one's own home.

post #37 of 66

As a musician - I would have to say performing live and having the full body of the piano sound out in front of me so that I can actually feel the vibrations of notes on my face - that is the realtime GLOW that is unparalleled. 

 

After that  - I have over the last few years spent an awful amount of money and time to put the perfect audio pieces together and I have come pretty close to the reproduced glow in recordings that you are talking about if not quite. Indeed, in the perfect isolated studio environment where you can absorb every nuance of sound through speakers and the pre-amp, amp etc...then I would always choose this. I have always dreamed of having the money to build the perfect listening room - with the space and sound isolation to do my set up justice.

 

However, that is so hard to have (especially if married like I am) so then headphones and headphone amps provide me with the space, and silence to hear each nuance of music. And I am totally addicted and love listening to my cans and amp when I am on the go...

 

A lot really depends on how your lifestyle is set up so you can enjoy music perfectly. I really think we can enjoy the best of both worlds - each has many wonderful ways of enjoying the music that glows - reproduced or live...

post #38 of 66

This is a very interesting topic. I will go with In Ear Monitors. I can hear detail that speakers just do not reveal. On a well recorded track, I can also get that soundstage that speakers have. Just my humble opinion.

post #39 of 66

I'm into headphones for a couple of reasons, neither of which being that they are the 'pinnacle'.

 

1. Bang for buck - say no more

 

2. Transportability - ever move house ? If not, then you probably wont relate to that particular criterion

 

3. Practicality - if you live on acreage, or just dont care, the prospect of cranking your music at 10pm probably doesnt faze you

 

The right set of speakers, in the right room, with the right electronics and the right music is a sensational combination. Back here in the real world, or at least my real world, headphones make sense.

 

(I might add that I am very wary of stuff like 'a 2K pair of headphones is equal to a 50K pair of speakers', although I will concede that even 'expensive' headphone amps start to look like bargains when you compare the amplification needed for some speakers. Apparently headphone amps have very modest requirements smily_headphones1.gif

post #40 of 66

post #41 of 66

I like my Stax setup but I bought a pair of Quad esl57 that have now turned into a project. I am going to take it slow and hope to have them close to spec.

One speaker was never opened and after cleaning the dust out and after listening it is what I hoped for. The other speaker was opened and one bass panel

had the dust cover replaced poorly it is now gone. This is where I almost gave up on them but I looked on Ebay and saw 2 pairs being parted out from England.

I have not got them yet but I bought 3 bass panels. Two that match and 1 extra. I had to change the treble dust cover also  I just used 3m window material. One

site says he uses it and cant tell the difference but some say it is to thick. Seems thin and does a nice job but might get the proper material. I just wanted to now

if the bass panels are picky or putting in a replacement from the same era will match decently? Does the bass panels or treble panels degrade very much over

the years if they were kept with dust covers intact? I see some pairs out there for sale that the dust covers are torn and have not been repaired and must be far

harder to get back to spec. I thought I would ask because it was an evolution from the Stax earspeakers the seeing all the good comments on Headfi about how

good the esl57 are that brought me to them.

post #42 of 66

I think that the word GLOW is a wonderful way to express what you mean - I think it starts with the right use of microphones for the right instruments - the right acoustic - the right performances - the right mixing - the right final mix - the right choice of CD resolution - the right reproduction into lossless - the right system/headphones etc.... the right moment to enjoy the music...

 

These are hard things to get right - but when they come together - there is nothing comparable...

post #43 of 66

the headphones somehow make me feel more connected with the music I am listening than speakers

post #44 of 66

I believe it is to do with sound isolation - it feels quite intimate. It's just the music and you

post #45 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syan25 View Post

I believe it is to do with sound isolation - it feels quite intimate. It's just the music and you


Same thing happens with the right speaker/room combo.

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