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Difference between IEMs and Headphones in sound quality?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm sure this question has been asked many times before, but I've been having trouble finding answers that go into specifics. Do headphones have better sound quality (considering equal value)? Do IEMs always isolate better? etc.

post #2 of 5

Generally speaking if you have headphone and IEM (equal values) the headphone will give you better SQ. This however isn`t always the case. Headphones will also give you better soundstage in terms of wide and depth.( although some IEMs actually come close) The downside of headphones is that you have very little isolation and  portability isn`t great compared to IEMs. In my opinion iems always isolate more. So it all comes down to what you need. I see no point walking in town and riding bus with a HD600 strapped in my head, but if you use them in home, now that`s a different story.  

post #3 of 5

I'm finding just the opposite as filleri in terms as SQ, but it depends on what one values in sound or means by 'quality'. After trying dozens of fairly pricey full sized phones, I'd say maybe 20% of the time I heard perfectly accurate reproduction of instruments true tone and quality whereas i've found $10 iem's that give me accurate sound 90% of the time. Referring to being able to hear accurate variation between certain guitars and amplifiers that I am familiar with 'in real life', strings sounding real, horns sounding real, cymbals sounding real etc. There is no doubt about this for me. So i'd say that is the main difference. The other is 'the experience'. They are two different ways to transmit sound to a human nervous system and there is a definite difference all though it's hard to pinpoint and discuss for me at this point.

post #4 of 5

One of the most accurate earphones in the world are IEM's but accuracy does not always equate to enjoyment. These earphone were meant more as a tool for pro use than for casual listening. Yes they are very accurate in live open ear versus with earphones inserted running off the live feed. That does not mean they are everyone's cup of tea. Poor recordings or recording that were made from masters meant for making LP's will in some cases be excruciating as these will definitely highlight that trait in a very uncomfortable way.

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post

One of the most accurate earphones in the world are IEM's but accuracy does not always equate to enjoyment. These earphone were meant more as a tool for pro use than for casual listening. Yes they are very accurate in live open ear versus with earphones inserted running off the live feed. That does not mean they are everyone's cup of tea. Poor recordings or recording that were made from masters meant for making LP's will in some cases be excruciating as these will definitely highlight that trait in a very uncomfortable way.

Couple of weeks ago i got the chance to demo my friend Etymotic ER4s. Now i know they have been considered for ages the King of accuracy. First of i noticed that they were very detailed and cold sounding, but since i prefer a fun sound in my music i would never consider buying them. I can however understand why someone would want this kind of sound. They are just perfect if you need to hear every single detail of your music tracks.

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