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Are audiophile headphones worse than common headphones when you listen to MP3

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

My colleague told me that because audiophile headphones are capable of delivering very high and very low frequency, it is a must that you use them with lossless/FLAC audio. Listening through such headphones with mp3 as a source delivers a mediocre quality to common, cheap headphones.
 
Is this true?
 
Is it worthwhile still to listen to mp3 (portability) with audiophile headphones (such as DT 880s)?
post #2 of 17

Its more noticeable if you are using a low quality mp3( 128, 192, maybe 256), but a better headphone will sound better either way than a crappier headphone.  MP3 is not a bad format, and variable 320k( I think its called V0) and 320k sound fantastic( even 256 probably, but I haven't really tried comparing).  In my opinion, lossless/FLAC is not neccessary at all, only really for archiving your music( so you can make successive lower bitrate rips in different formats for whatever reason... be it switching from an iPod, Zune, phone, or something that is finicky about particular formats

post #3 of 17

This can only be true when feeding MP3 files to something ultra-high-end, like the Sennheiser HD800. With any mid-range or most high-end audiophile headphones, there can only be improvement. However, once you get into uncompromising technical cans like the HD800 and Stax SR009, it can make MP3 files sound even worse than on mid-fi headphones, if not the consumer crap.

post #4 of 17

Well bright headphones will sound bad with badly recorded music, but bad headphones just sound bad all around

post #5 of 17

I certainly don't consider it a requirement, but you are doing your listening rig a disservice by not using the best format available when listening to your music. The only time I really use any "lossy" format such as MP3 is when I'm traveling with a portable device. and using easy to drive, portable headphones.

 

To me, the DT880 is a headphone that really needs two things to shine: proper amplification and a solid source (much like all good headphones). Can I listen to music out of it from my DAP playing mp3? Certainly. Does it sound as good as if I was listening to the same music on my home rig in FLAC? Heck no, but I can still do it if I needed/wanted. Do I listen to MP3's on my home rig? Yes, because there is some music that is mastered so poorly/loudly that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway.

 

In the end, it really depends on what sounds good to you and if the music was mastered with fidelity in mind.

post #6 of 17

Yes and no. Personally, the source is the most important thing (as long as your bitrate is *decent*). If you're using fancy headphones with a crappy phone listening to pandora (for example), you'll still have the characteristics of the fancy headphones (a good soundstage, warm mids, bunchy bass for example), but you will also hear things you normally wouldn't hear with cheap headphones like compression artifacting, and issues relating to compression. Examples of this (excluding the artifacts) are things like flabby bass (or much flabbier than higher bitrate music), dull highs, and lots of detail loss; some parts of the music are simply gone after compression.

 

Honestly, a lot of music I listen to is on Spotify. However, the reason I do this is because my music tastes change very quickly (I listen to music far too much), and I simply cannot afford to by music at the rate I would need to. However, that doesn't mean that I don't absolutely LOVE music in FLAC, however. Music in FLAC feels much more alive and energetic in my experience. When you compare a properly ripped lossless (FLAC) song to a properly ripped lossy (MP3) song, the lossy song feels hollow and empty. This is a horrible analogy, but it feels as though the soul of the song is missing, the things that gave the song life and character are gone, or at least parts of it are missing (depending on the bitrate of the rip).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nylan8301 View Post

In the end, it really depends on what sounds good to you and if the music was mastered with fidelity in mind.


This, very much this.


Edited by Taowolf51 - 1/16/12 at 7:13pm
post #7 of 17

The short answer is no, not true. 

 

It could be possible with low bit rate lossy or using a crappy encoder though. . . 

post #8 of 17

If all you have is an Mp3 you will enjoy it better on good gear. Some better gear will allow you to hear the difference in a Mp3 in comparison to a 16 bit 44.1 wave file from a CD.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

So supposed all I have are MP3s then audiophile cans stills sound better than common cans, correct?

post #10 of 17

Yep!                      Enjoy!

post #11 of 17

It depends. Some headphones are revealing, some are euphonic. DT880 on 128 mp3 ... ehhhh. Grado SR60 on the same file, sure, why not, not the best but still doable. Also, 320 kbps can sound VERY good and I'm pretty sure 80% of people even here can't tell the difference in a blind test.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabzingeur View Post

My colleague told me that because audiophile headphones are capable of delivering very high and very low frequency, it is a must that you use them with lossless/FLAC audio. Listening through such headphones with mp3 as a source delivers a mediocre quality to common, cheap headphones.

(emphasis added)

 

 

There are a few more nuanced responses already given, so I won't repeat them.  I'd just like to point out that the reason given (in bold) doesn't really make much sense, so this colleague should be taken with a grain of salt on all future advice.  Low-end headphones can also deliver very high and very low frequencies, sometimes with higher magnitude than some audiophile headphones.

post #13 of 17

Generally speaking, higher end headphones are more "sensitive" to what might be considered "impurities" in lower bit rate mp3 tracks. This isn't always true, but due to their more dynamic range they generally pick up on things more than cheaper headphones which are not as sensitive and have a more narrow range.

post #14 of 17

Ok lets say someone downloads some mp3s illegally on a forum that shares this kind of stuff...How would this person know if it was from the original source or if the song was converted/edited?  Because if this person right click on "properties" then look at the birate it would be 320kbps but I heard that converting songs would damage a song's sound quality.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheChosen0ne View Post

Ok lets say someone downloads some mp3s illegally on a forum that shares this kind of stuff...How would this person know if it was from the original source or if the song was converted/edited?  Because if this person right click on "properties" then look at the birate it would be 320kbps but I heard that converting songs would damage a song's sound quality.



learn to read spectrals.

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