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Headphones or earphones give better sound quality? - Page 2

post #16 of 21

I think headphones sound better than iems. Although I can't compare I top tier headphone to a top tier custom IEM, since I never heard those. From my experience headphones sound better generally.

post #17 of 21

I am on the "they sound different" side of things. I do not at all think headphones are or should be inherently better. However, it is possible that most decent headphones of a given price range will beat most earphones of the same price range due to a couple of reasons: 1) Headphones have been around for longer, 2) The vast majority of music is recorded and mixed for speakers.

In my opinion, sounstage and "realistic" presentation generally goes like this: Speakers>Headphones>IEMs, in a given price range.

Detail goes the opposite: IEMs>Headphones>Speakers.

However! As I mentioned, most music is mixed for Speakers. If we turn to HRTF binaural recordings, high quality ones ones which are few and rare, things shift substantially. Then, imo IEMs>=Headphones>Speakers, in terms of soundstage, and all about equal in presentation because speakers have the advantages of providing full body bass, and Headphones are a bit more palpable in bass than IEMs are due to their size. In good binaural recordings, positioning is much more accurate with headphones and IEMs than with speakers. If recorded with something like the Neumann KU 100 dummy head, then IEMs seem to have even better positioning and realistic soundstage than headphones, because the microphones are in the ears of the dummy head.

So what I'm saying is that I don't think any medium is inherently substantially better than the other, but the way most music is made favors reproduction through speakers, which headphones are closer to so they tend to reproduce better. 

post #18 of 21

The typical difference revolves around the visceral sense.  A big earphone is more naturally capable of creating a visceral presence due to the amount of air being moved.  Smaller products can provide the same kind of frequency response, but it won't carry the same presence due to only presenting this to the inner ear.  It's similar to comparing headphones to floor standing speakers.  The visceral scale from the body interaction is different, regardless of if the frequency response and note presentation is the same.


Now this doesn't mean headphones are specifically better.  Frankly, they're simply different products.  Once you combine headphones and earphones together, your selection of options simply grow.  Better or worse isn't as absolute as you may think.  I will agree that it can be easier to create better sound quality in the larger formats.  Once you get down to in-ear products, the scale of things is so small, that it takes very tight manufacturing abilities just to create a consistent product and it still takes good engineering to create a good sound on top of that.  Larger formats just tend to be a little easier to make and achieve good results.  Price point to price point, you will likely get a slightly better product in a larger format, but once you step to pretty pricey stuff (say $150+), a lot of the products are quite good.  It stops being a matter of better and becomes a matter of different.  Then it's all personal preference.

post #19 of 21

very insightful guys! I guess i am just used to the sound of an IEM being so forward and close to the inner ear, which is why i have some reservations of headphones (in the same price range). The only real way to find out is to try and test to draw conclusions. 

post #20 of 21



i am thinking of buying a new thing, after some browsing came to a hard decision of whether to buy the new sony h3 or beyerdynamic 770pro


so i try to ask google "headphones or earbuds" but it just came out with something like "top quality models like Beats" ..

so here would be the most relevant, but the thread has been quite some time ago. can anyone please update this of the current status for this comparison?



post #21 of 21

From everything that I own, I find that IEMs sound better than headphones for a given price point, but my source is my laptop jack.  It could be that unamped, IEMs sound better.

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