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Headphones better than Speakers? A system that GLOWS? - Page 4

post #46 of 66

I honestly think that listening to speakers gets boring after a little while.  I don't know why but I don't find listening with speakers to be that much appetizing. 

post #47 of 66

True - but it is harder to achieve - especially when price is an issue. Also cans on ears  are physically more anti-social which by nature means you hear the music without distraction.

 

Having said all this - I love using my speakers more than my cans...

 

But I do acknowledge that both have their strengths..
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post


Same thing happens with the right speaker/room combo.

post #48 of 66

Heres in interesting tid bit from the 6moons review of the LCD-2s on just this topic,

 

"You are right. As far as tonal accuracy, precision of the signal et al are concerned, there's nothing that beats a transducer not colored by the room. As you said, technically and from a pure sound perspective, headphones are unbeatable. I do often use them to run checks and see if speakers I'm designing are missing anything. However, to get the feel of space, depth and dimension plus low bass one almost feels rather than hears to feel simply immersed in the sound field as one would at a live event (admittedly nowhere close but still) - that naturally is impossible for headphones. One can still enjoy the music of course. I did a lot of headphone listening when I was stationed in San Juan on a job and had no system. But given the choice and for sheer pleasure, I would always opt for a less 'accurate' speaker system that surrounded me with music than a more 'correct' headphone system that played music only inside my cranium."

post #49 of 66

Nice quote there. Agreed.

post #50 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by kboe View Post
"You are right. As far as tonal accuracy, precision of the signal et al are concerned, there's nothing that beats a transducer
not colored by the room. As you said, technically and from a pure sound perspective, headphones are unbeatable. I do often use them to run checks and see if speakers I'm designing are missing anything. However, to get the feel of space, depth and dimension plus low bass one almost feels rather than hears to feel simply immersed in the sound field as one would at a live event (admittedly nowhere close but still) - that naturally is impossible for headphones. One can still enjoy the music of course. I did a lot of headphone listening when I was stationed in San Juan on a job and had no system. But given the choice and for sheer pleasure, I would always opt for a less 'accurate' speaker system that surrounded me with music than a more 'correct' headphone system that played music only inside my cranium."

Well, FWIW, I think the absolute best headphone systems can certainly immerse you in the music, create that sense of space, depth, and dimension and give you as much of that "you are there" feeling as speakers. It's on a slightly different levels (speakers are, of course, much more diffuse), but I don't think the difference is perhaps as great as he's implying. His last sentence about headphones only creating the sound inside his cranium sounds to me like a system without great soundstaging.
 

post #51 of 66

True.  I've heard system that threw out a very limited soundstage, but was still immensely enjoyable, and others that threw a huge soundstage.  Some are downright impressive for a headphone system.   
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGhostWhoWalks View Post



Well, FWIW, I think the absolute best headphone systems can certainly immerse you in the music, create that sense of space, depth, and dimension and give you as much of that "you are there" feeling as speakers. It's on a slightly different levels (speakers are, of course, much more diffuse), but I don't think the difference is perhaps as great as he's implying. His last sentence about headphones only creating the sound inside his cranium sounds to me like a system without great soundstaging.
 

post #52 of 66

 

It has been suggested in one of the seeming hundreds of previous threads on headphones vs speakers that using a subwoofer with headphones would give the missing chest thump, for those missing it. It probably would.

 

As for soundstage/imaging, I can tell you that from a historical perspective (listening for over fifty years personally and coming from a family that has been in the loop a lot longer), the current mania for "accurate" spatial reproduction is just plain weird. It is not going to be even close to the real thing with any current technology, and how important it is to a pleasurable listening experience is completely subjective. A fad, basically. Remember, musical, indeed all sound reproduction is an illusion and should not be confused with the first hand listening experience. There are fundamental reasons why the current high fidelity revival is two channel based. Anything beyond stereo is not reality either, just a different illusion. The other elements, like tonal and timbre accuracy, microdynamics - detail if you will - are fundamental to the experience. If the basic reproduction is not enough to fool you, you start seeing the speaker as something with sound coming out of it, like a PA, and the illusion is gone. Each of us at any given time has a place where this threshold exists for us. It works exactly like the willing suspension of disbelief with movies. Spatial clues are nice, but not fundamental. Anyone who has heard live music, indeed live sound, has the ability to fill in the blanks with their brain. Unless, of course, they are consciously hung up on spatial imaging and keep thinking about what they are missing. Anyone from the hifi mono days could tell you how it works and how satisfying the experience is. And how complete the headphone experience of modern high end cans can be.

 

If you doubt all of this, go hear a string bass live in a good hall. The sensation of the sound coming from different places and utterly washing over you, the reality, is nothing like what any reproduction of it currently available will yield. Not even in the same ballpark.

 

Put another way, it is all in your head. Unless you tell yourself that it is not, then it won't be! If you were to apply this thinking to seeing, binocular vision and the framed play of motion pictures and television would seem a hopeless and inadequate illusion.

 

If anyone else wants to start another thread on headphones vs speakers, please do a search first and spare us all another go around of the same ideas and input. This amounts paraphrasing. On a related front, when was the last time new thinking appeared re: dynamic vs electrostatic? Hey, we could start another thread on tube vs solid state! There is an original concept! The kind and practical thing to do is to add any new input to the existing discussions. Just bump the thread.


Edited by Clarkmc2 - 11/20/10 at 10:41am
post #53 of 66

I totally agree that there is nothing that comes close to live sound. This is where the joy of music began for me and it will always be my prime way to enjoy it. Making music myself or going to hear others play it.

post #54 of 66

The whole spatial thing is why the K1000 is the one and only headphone for me. But when I'm doing some seriously listening (so not background music), I will sit down, and put on my K1000's. During movies, background music, and listening with others, I will use speakers.

post #55 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGhostWhoWalks View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by kboe View Post
"You are right. As far as tonal accuracy, precision of the signal et al are concerned, there's nothing that beats a transducer
not colored by the room. As you said, technically and from a pure sound perspective, headphones are unbeatable. I do often use them to run checks and see if speakers I'm designing are missing anything. However, to get the feel of space, depth and dimension plus low bass one almost feels rather than hears to feel simply immersed in the sound field as one would at a live event (admittedly nowhere close but still) - that naturally is impossible for headphones. One can still enjoy the music of course. I did a lot of headphone listening when I was stationed in San Juan on a job and had no system. But given the choice and for sheer pleasure, I would always opt for a less 'accurate' speaker system that surrounded me with music than a more 'correct' headphone system that played music only inside my cranium."

Well, FWIW, I think the absolute best headphone systems can certainly immerse you in the music, create that sense of space, depth, and dimension and give you as much of that "you are there" feeling as speakers. It's on a slightly different levels (speakers are, of course, much more diffuse), but I don't think the difference is perhaps as great as he's implying. His last sentence about headphones only creating the sound inside his cranium sounds to me like a system without great soundstaging.
 


Speakers more diffuse?  My experience says otherwise.  Speakers far, far more precise.  Then again, I can't compare on equal levels.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarkmc2 View Post

 

It has been suggested in one of the seeming hundreds of previous threads on headphones vs speakers that using a subwoofer with headphones would give the missing chest thump, for those missing it. It probably would.

 

As for soundstage/imaging, I can tell you that from a historical perspective (listening for over fifty years personally and coming from a family that has been in the loop a lot longer), the current mania for "accurate" spatial reproduction is just plain weird. It is not going to be even close to the real thing with any current technology, and how important it is to a pleasurable listening experience is completely subjective. A fad, basically. Remember, musical, indeed all sound reproduction is an illusion and should not be confused with the first hand listening experience. There are fundamental reasons why the current high fidelity revival is two channel based. Anything beyond stereo is not reality either, just a different illusion. The other elements, like tonal and timbre accuracy, microdynamics - detail if you will - are fundamental to the experience. If the basic reproduction is not enough to fool you, you start seeing the speaker as something with sound coming out of it, like a PA, and the illusion is gone. Each of us at any given time has a place where this threshold exists for us. It works exactly like the willing suspension of disbelief with movies. Spatial clues are nice, but not fundamental. Anyone who has heard live music, indeed live sound, has the ability to fill in the blanks with their brain. Unless, of course, they are consciously hung up on spatial imaging and keep thinking about what they are missing. Anyone from the hifi mono days could tell you how it works and how satisfying the experience is. And how complete the headphone experience of modern high end cans can be.

 

If you doubt all of this, go hear a string bass live in a good hall. The sensation of the sound coming from different places and utterly washing over you, the reality, is nothing like what any reproduction of it currently available will yield. Not even in the same ballpark.

 

Put another way, it is all in your head. Unless you tell yourself that it is not, then it won't be! If you were to apply this thinking to seeing, binocular vision and the framed play of motion pictures and television would seem a hopeless and inadequate illusion.

 

If anyone else wants to start another thread on headphones vs speakers, please do a search first and spare us all another go around of the same ideas and input. This amounts paraphrasing. On a related front, when was the last time new thinking appeared re: dynamic vs electrostatic? Hey, we could start another thread on tube vs solid state! There is an original concept! The kind and practical thing to do is to add any new input to the existing discussions. Just bump the thread.


Okay, I'm going to go out here and say that while live concerts usually are the best musical experience that one can have, I think that they more often than not fall short of listening to recorded music sonically.  I can't go back in time to see Hendrix or Miles Davis play live, and I'm unlikely to ever make the trip to Chicago again to see the CSO (heaven forbid going somewhere else with a good SO)...  But for most artists/performers, I've found the sonic experience to fall far short.  Loudspeaker placement is not always ideal (and with smaller, lower budget productions is sometimes just plain wrong), older artists are past their prime or others aren't so hot live (I saw Jethro Tull a few years ago - while Ian Anderson has become even more amazing at the flute since the 1970s, his voice sounds like it only comes in one pitch anymore), and often the sound reproduction is just plain of poor quality - plenty of times far too loud, details obscured, etc.  In other words, I do not think that the live experience is always the penultimate sonic experience in every case.  Maybe not even in most cases.

 

So I'll just go back to listening to my speakers.  Well, actually, since they're 3000 miles away I'll listen to my 'phones...  But when I move back home to Michigan, any head-fi'er is welcome to come to my place to hear what real speakers sound like.

post #56 of 66


I don't think diffusion equates with lack of precision, I simply means that when the sound leaves the speakers it has a lot more room to go and can be effected by a lot more in the room itself. You don't really have that with headphones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbeardBen View Post

Speakers more diffuse?  My experience says otherwise.  Speakers far, far more precise. 
 
post #57 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGhostWhoWalks View Post


I don't think diffusion equates with lack of precision, I simply means that when the sound leaves the speakers it has a lot more room to go and can be effected by a lot more in the room itself. You don't really have that with headphones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbeardBen View Post

Speakers more diffuse?  My experience says otherwise.  Speakers far, far more precise. 

 

Wait, is that a sly proper use of the verb "effect" (i.e. to cause or to bring about), or just a fortunate misuse of "effected" where "affected" (i.e. influenced by) was actually intended?  Well, I guess I assume the latter based on the improper conjugation of the verb "to mean", unless that too was done on purpose...

 

Anyway (after potentially making myself look like a d--che, and definitely looking like a Grammar Nazi)...
 

I get what you're saying now.  Yes, it's true.  Whether the room acoustics are a good thing or a bad thing is another issue entirely.   I think that in anything but the worst rooms, it's a good thing and planned for by the recording engineers.  Of course there is variation, but there is in concert halls, auditoriums, and (gasp) even gymnasiums.  Like someone said before, you don't go to a Pink Floyd concert and listen using headphones, do you?  Granted, recordings are mastered very much with headphone listening in mind too, these days at least.

 

That reminds me.  I went to a Ben Folds concert that was held in what is pretty much a big gym.  They called it a multipurpose room, but I can call my excrement prime rib, right? Worst sonic experience of my life.  If I had driven myself I would have left, it was such an assault on my ears.

post #58 of 66
post #59 of 66


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbeardBen View Post




Okay, I'm going to go out here and say that while live concerts usually are the best musical experience that one can have, I think that they more often than not fall short of listening to recorded music sonically.  I can't go back in time to see Hendrix or Miles Davis play live, and I'm unlikely to ever make the trip to Chicago again to see the CSO (heaven forbid going somewhere else with a good SO)...  But for most artists/performers, I've found the sonic experience to fall far short.  Loudspeaker placement is not always ideal (and with smaller, lower budget productions is sometimes just plain wrong), older artists are past their prime or others aren't so hot live (I saw Jethro Tull a few years ago - while Ian Anderson has become even more amazing at the flute since the 1970s, his voice sounds like it only comes in one pitch anymore), and often the sound reproduction is just plain of poor quality - plenty of times far too loud, details obscured, etc.  In other words, I do not think that the live experience is always the penultimate sonic experience in every case.  Maybe not even in most cases.

 

So I'll just go back to listening to my speakers.  Well, actually, since they're 3000 miles away I'll listen to my 'phones...  But when I move back home to Michigan, any head-fi'er is welcome to come to my place to hear what real speakers sound like.

I understand where you are coming from, but we are talking apples and oranges.

 

The live music experience is an acoustic, unamplified listen. Use mikes and a sound reinforcement equipment, and it is no longer the original sound. It has already been through reproduction. To preempt the usual response, an instrument originally amplified, like an electric guitar, is actually an electro-acoustic instrument. The source sound is what comes out of the amplifier speaker. Try and tell any player that the choice of amplification electronics, cabinet and speaker have no effect on his tone. It is all one instrument.

 

But put a bridge transducer on that acoustic bass I alluded to. Now you have a mike and PA again. Not the direct, original sound of the instrument. If you want to compare your reproduction at home of the original sound, live acoustic gigs are original sound. Listening to Jazz, Folk, Blues or rural country music in smaller venues will teach the spatial clues your brain can recall. A large gig with some BS line array PA will not supply such information. Imagine hearing the band at a private party in a small room. The singer would not usually even need a mike. They usually set one up anyway, because most modern singers only know how to sing using a mike. It is a different technique from singing directly and we can forgive them for not living in the Nineteenth Century.

 

I fully understand your post. I am a fan of studio recording and its "lifelike plus" quality. If the goal is to reproduce a gig with so-so to lousy sound reinforcement, that is a nostalgic goal, not a high fidelity quest. This is the High End forum and, silly me, I assumed it was all about high fidelity! I for one have no desire to hear a nearly perfect reproduction of a gig where I could not understand the vocals and the bass from the PA was terrible. It is no wonder that a recording studio used with skill can almost always sound better than most contemporary gigs. Despite the almost complete disappearance of quality recording. frown.gif

 

The ironic thing is that today live recording of acoustic gigs can be better than it ever was. The technology behind SACD recording is unbelievably precise. We are talking analogue master tape precision without the problems associated with tape.  I sometimes listen to the Cd layer of a Tierny Sutton remote recording just to hear how great the sound is. The Telarc crew mastered the Sony/Philips DSD system and its megahertz capture. More bad news, Telarc was sold and no longer does its own recording.


Edited by Clarkmc2 - 11/21/10 at 9:33am
post #60 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarkmc2 View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackbeardBen View Post




Okay, I'm going to go out here and say that while live concerts usually are the best musical experience that one can have, I think that they more often than not fall short of listening to recorded music sonically.  I can't go back in time to see Hendrix or Miles Davis play live, and I'm unlikely to ever make the trip to Chicago again to see the CSO (heaven forbid going somewhere else with a good SO)...  But for most artists/performers, I've found the sonic experience to fall far short.  Loudspeaker placement is not always ideal (and with smaller, lower budget productions is sometimes just plain wrong), older artists are past their prime or others aren't so hot live (I saw Jethro Tull a few years ago - while Ian Anderson has become even more amazing at the flute since the 1970s, his voice sounds like it only comes in one pitch anymore), and often the sound reproduction is just plain of poor quality - plenty of times far too loud, details obscured, etc.  In other words, I do not think that the live experience is always the penultimate sonic experience in every case.  Maybe not even in most cases.

 

So I'll just go back to listening to my speakers.  Well, actually, since they're 3000 miles away I'll listen to my 'phones...  But when I move back home to Michigan, any head-fi'er is welcome to come to my place to hear what real speakers sound like.

I understand where you are coming from, but we are talking apples and oranges.

 

The live music experience is an acoustic, unamplified listen. Use mikes and a sound reinforcement equipment, and it is no longer the original sound. It has already been through reproduction. To preempt the usual response, an instrument originally amplified, like an electric guitar, is actually an electro-acoustic instrument. The source sound is what comes out of the amplifier speaker. Try and tell any player that the choice of amplification electronics, cabinet and speaker have no effect on his tone. It is all one instrument.

 

But put a bridge transducer on that acoustic bass I alluded to. Now you have a mike and PA again. Not the direct, original sound of the instrument. If you want to compare your reproduction at home of the original sound, live acoustic gigs are original sound. Listening to Jazz, Folk, Blues or rural country music in smaller venues will teach the spatial clues your brain can recall. A large gig with some BS line array PA will not supply such information. Imagine hearing the band at a private party in a small room. The singer would not usually even need a mike. They usually set one up anyway, because most modern singers only know how to sing using a mike. It is a different technique from singing directly and we can forgive them for not living in the Nineteenth Century.

 

I fully understand your post. I am a fan of studio recording and its "lifelike plus" quality. If the goal is to reproduce a gig with so-so to lousy sound reinforcement, that is a nostalgic goal, not a high fidelity quest. This is the High End forum and, silly me, I assumed it was all about high fidelity! I for one have no desire to hear a nearly perfect reproduction of a gig where I could not understand the vocals and the bass from the PA was terrible. It is no wonder that a recording studio used with skill can almost always sound better than most contemporary gigs. Despite the almost complete disappearance of quality recording. frown.gif

 

The ironic thing is that today live recording of acoustic gigs can be better than it ever was. The technology behind SACD recording is unbelievably precise. We are talking analogue master tape precision without the problems associated with tape.  I sometimes listen to the Cd layer of a Tierny Sutton remote recording just to hear how great the sound is. The Telarc crew mastered the Sony/Philips DSD system and its megahertz capture. More bad news, Telarc was sold and no longer does its own recording.


What in the world are you trying to say with your acoustic vs. sound reinforcement bit?  Maybe I should redirect you to my friends, Merriam and Webster, who would inform you that acoustic with reference to musical instruments means "without electronic modification" - the only instrument I know as "electro-acoustic" is an acoustic guitar with transducers for optionally "reinforcing" the sound.  Electric guitars, keyboards/synths, theremins, and all other manner of instruments whose primary method of sound creation is through an amplifier and speaker are decidedly not acoustic instruments by any sense of the word.  So you're making up your own definitions - and you seem to lack a coherent point since you seem to think that jazz, folk, blues and rural country music are the only significant genres and that they are only played in small venues and that they're the only type of music played in those small venues, too...

 

But yes, I agree with you on the "lifelike plus" aspect of studio recordings over many genres of music.  I also agree with you that a well performed, non sound-reinforced gig by a good artist in a good small venue (or properly reinforced in a good large venue) represent the ideal to strive for in most cases.


Edited by BlackbeardBen - 11/21/10 at 11:15am
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