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post #136 of 175

I realize this may be a little controversial, but as much as I love my LCD3, I struggle with the headphone experience.  The sound is absolutely glorious, but the phones had gone largely unused in favor of speakers.  I find myself listening to my Synchrony Ones.

post #137 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpittsc View Post

I realize this may be a little controversial, but as much as I love my LCD3, I struggle with the headphone experience.  The sound is absolutely glorious, but the phones had gone largely unused in favor of speakers.  I find myself listening to my Synchrony Ones.

 

I for one don't find any controversy there.  Technical excellence of headphones that I talk about makes them a fabulous tool for me in my product development, but that technical excellence does not mean the musical experience will will exceed that of speakers - even if the speakers are not as seamless or as forthcoming with low level detail.  

 

For some reason I enjoy the headphone experience very much, often as much as my favorite speakers.  But that is an individual thing. Like the Magnepan user, if you like your speakers better then congratulations, you found an answer that is giving  you musical pleasure.  High end audio has lost sight of this to a large degree: it is about the music!   I find this forum much more enjoyable (it is the only forum I participate in despite 3 decades as an audio designer) as the concepts of enjoying and preferring are much more prominent than the squabbling and one-upsmanship of most audio forums.  

 

Enjoy the music on those speakers!

post #138 of 175

When directly comparing my CIEMs (Heir Audio 8.A) to my speaker setup (B&W CM7, Bi amped) I must say that both have their advantages and slight disadvantages. Couldn't say that one is better than the other, as many stated before, they're just different.

 

It's like comparing a car (speakers) to a motorcycle (headphones).

 

What I like more about my CIEMs:

- you really can concentrate on the music without any distraction. The noise isolation is excellent. Also very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

- I hear very very faint details in the music, which I can barely make out on the speakers - or only if I held me ear directly to the speaker - but not at normal listening distance and volume.

- Drums sound more realistic/faster. Hard to describe. Of course the membranes are tiny compared to bass speakers, so the response is much faster.

- The flexibility of listening to music on the go at a very high sound quality.

 

What I like more about my speakers:

- The 3D imaging with music coming from the front. It's like the singer is sitting in front of you with some recordings.

- Feeling the bass

- Compared to the CIEMs the sound is clearer, more transparent, filling the entire room, surrounding the listener.

- Listening at high volume without the fear of damaging your hearing.;)

post #139 of 175

Agree on most, save for not knowing your headphones.  

 

But I will caution you, high volumes from any source can damage hearing! 

post #140 of 175
The "problem" with good speakers/amps is that they tend to not distort at high volumes. It just gets louder and louder while staying relatively easy on the earth. wink.gif
I measured my system at somewhat higher listening volume, getting around 90dB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Operakid View Post

 
But I will caution you, high volumes from any source can damage hearing! 
post #141 of 175
The "problem" with good speakers/amps is that they tend to not distort at high volumes. It just gets louder and louder while staying relatively easy on the ear. wink.gif
I measured my system at somewhat higher listening volume, getting around 90dB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Operakid View Post

 
But I will caution you, high volumes from any source can damage hearing! 
post #142 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by pOOB73 View Post

The "problem" with good speakers/amps is that they tend to not distort at high volumes. It just gets louder and louder while staying relatively easy on the ear. wink.gif
I measured my system at somewhat higher listening volume, getting around 90dB.

 

Real good preamps and speaker amps do the same thing into good headphones.  My headphones surprise me just as often as my speakers.  When I check my headphones, meter right up to the liner inside the earcup, I find the same db range as with speakers.  And my ears start barking at very close to the same SPL levels.  

 

But when I was using headphone amps I could not play nearly as loud.  

post #143 of 175

I experience listening fatigue much more readily on headphone vs. speakers, at similar SPL levels. With speakers I can listen louder more comfortably than with headphones even at significantly lower levels. Hearing risk might linked to levels of "fatigue" in addition to SPL.

post #144 of 175

Probably because of the pressure of the soundwaves directed straight into your ears instead of diffused around the room. Only time I have ever experienced listening fatigue or ear pain from external speakers is standing right next to a massive speaker at a club. I get it all the time with headphones though.


Edited by nicholars - 3/30/13 at 3:25pm
post #145 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Probably because of the pressure of the soundwaves directed straight into your ears instead of diffused around the room. Only time I have ever experienced listening fatigue or ear pain from external speakers is standing right next to a massive speaker at a club. I get it all the time with headphones though.

That's one reason why I love listening to speakers. I believe the only loudspeakers I have ever experienced ear fatigue with are Polk Audio branded. I understand their appeal to others, but no matter which speaker I listen to, I always find them sibilant. Even their high-end series just won't fly with me.

post #146 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by Operakid View Post

My only "non-subjective" claim is that none of these real-world priced speakers can equal the combination of low distortion and extension both ends and cohesiveness and low level detail.  I'll say that even compared to $100k speakers that I own, so there is no "my most expensive hear is best" going on here.  Just objectivity over how fantastic a $2k or under set

of headphones can be.

 

Definitely agree with this, at comparable prices, headphones simply give so much more detail and accuracy across the board. I think this also has to do with room dynamics, headphones exist in almost a vacuum so to say.

post #147 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpittsc View Post

I realize this may be a little controversial, but as much as I love my LCD3, I struggle with the headphone experience.  The sound is absolutely glorious, but the phones had gone largely unused in favor of speakers.  I find myself listening to my Synchrony Ones.

 

I "converted" to headphone use most of the time in the 90s. The first reason for this was I moved to London and I was living in a tiny flat with many neighbours. If I used my speakers then my neighbours would be listening as well. There were other reasons, I changed to listening to classical music primarily at the same time. This I find to be generally much easier to listen to on headphones than anything from the rock/pop genres. Before I moved to London I had a house in a much cheaper part of the UK and I had a room which I had converted into an acoustically treated listening room. That room was a great pleasure to listen to music in. I find listening to music in untreated listening rooms to be often not very satisfactory.

 

I have become a user of crossfeed with my headphones and I now use the crossfeed almost all the time when I am using them. I use the crossfeed on my Meier-Audio StageDAC. I think that this does benefit the headphone listening experience very much.

 

Even though I now live in a house again which is detached I find that I nearly always listen to music on headphones when I am attentively listening.

 

As an aside, there are many technically great things about headphone usage for sound quality, if the headphone listening is suitable for the listener. One of them is that there is no crossover. With the vast majority of dynamic loudspeakers there are crossovers for different drivers and I think this is the biggest weakness in their designs.

 

However if the headphone listening experience is not conducive to you, then speakers will be the way to go :)

 

I do find listening to music with friends to be a bit weird when using headphones. I have done this, I have two headphone amps in my study and we both sit listening on separate headphones. It totally shuts down conversation during the listening, which I like, but is a bit odd nevertheless.

 

 

post #148 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Probably because of the pressure of the soundwaves directed straight into your ears instead of diffused around the room. Only time I have ever experienced listening fatigue or ear pain from external speakers is standing right next to a massive speaker at a club. I get it all the time with headphones though.

After years of measuring and listening I think what we really have going on is the voicing of many headphones.  Yes, pointing the sound right into the ear is an issue.  The lack of distance between transducer and ear is another, highs falling off faster than lower frequencies relative to speakers.  These are the reasons why heradphones are voiced differently than speakers; i.e. headphones having more of a rolloff of highs.  

 

Perhaps the fact that you experience more fatigue with headphones indicates that for you the rolloff of most headphones is not enough to compensate for the direct into the ear effect.  Perhaps this is why many folks love Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, that they have a rolloff that sounds more like speakers (and real music) to them.  And perhaps others who find Audeze too soft up top simply find this due to direct comparisons to other headphones.  Maybe if they compared them to many high end speakers they would not find the highs too soft.

 

My experience causes me to speculate that it is not a distortion issue that is behind most headphones seeming to have a lot of highs, but rather the proximity to the ear and directionality.   

post #149 of 175

Most headphones hurt my ears after a whole... The only pair that didn't ever cause any fatigue were the HD650.... Mainly it is treble that causes it but also bass pressure on closed headphones.

post #150 of 175
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Most headphones hurt my ears after a whole... The only pair that didn't ever cause any fatigue were the HD650.... Mainly it is treble that causes it but also bass pressure on closed headphones.

Most speakers hurt my ears, mainly in the treble, but not extreme highs.  Comparisons with real music and distortion as well as hearing tests have convinced me that most speakers and headphones are just too high in distortion, and many to heavy in the highs for me.  So I sympathize with you.  Glad you have a solution with the 650.  I find the Stax Sigma real easy on my ears but enough detail to enjoy also.    

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