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Headphone vs Speakers

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Greetings, after all the crawling through threads here for the past couple of weeks, I'm ready to ask my first question. First of all, I don't consider myself an audiophile, but just someone who understands some technical stuff and am looking for the ultimate sound setup. 


In the past I've owned these headphones: AD700, M50S, HD650, Brainwavz HM5 and my current favourites are the Beyerdynamic DT770Pro LE for movies and AKG K550 for music listening. I run the headphones through my Xonar ST in my computer, when I'm at work, I use the Aune T1 and when I'm in public, I use my FiiO E17. I like my Aune T1 the best, followed closely second by the ST.


I am building a dedicated home threatre room with a local builder, the room will be 4m by 6m, carpeted concrete slab, no windows, 15mm gyprock and sound absorption batts in the walls. Then I'm going to buy Paradigm Studio 60's plus a good quality sub, amp/receiver, middle and surround speakers. The total cost would be about $25k.


Currently In the living room I have a set of DB Dynamics Blue Diamonds (for those unfamiliar with these, they were made by an Australian company to compete directly with Paradigm Studio 100's). I do not want to transport these, they are very fragile and break easily.


My question would be, if I get a good headphone setup for ~$5k (for example HD800 + WA6SE + undecided DAC), would it sound better than the above $25k setup?


I would likely end up getting both, but if it means my speakers is just going to sit there and collect dust, I might as well not build the home threatre room (haven't signed contracts yet) and rely on cheapo speakers in the living room.


TL DR: Can a high-end headphone setup outperform a high-end 25k speaker setup?

post #2 of 6

To put it simply, no. Is that a biased response? Maybe. Most music is made with loudspeakers in mind. Loudspeakers provide better transparency, resolution, resonance, and presence; which is a key in music and which is where most headphones find it hard to truly reproduce. A reason why an audiophile may choose a headphone is due to the fact that they are portable (to an extent), intimate, and a good bang for the buck. There is a thread in the High-End section of these of forums that discusses loudspeakers vs headphones here:





Edited by Destroysall - 12/30/12 at 3:06am
post #3 of 6

in my opinion, i think the speakers will sound better, but that's just cause i LOVE surround sound. the hd800 have a very wide soundstage, but i don't think it can beat a good 7.1 set-up.

post #4 of 6

IMO it's just not comparable. While yes the technical specs on the headphone setup may be superior to your speakers, listening to headphones is in itself a different experience than listening with speakers.

What that means it is will be rather hard to ultimately say which is the superior experience, because from my point of view, it's the perfect audio-related version of comparing apples to oranges.


Personally, when I listen to speakers, the great imaging, the sound just floating in the air as it where, the physical bass delivery, and the pure openness of the sound grips me. These are qualities I notice first and foremost when using speakers. When with headphones, the things I notice primarily is how smooth the sound is, what the shape of the headstage is, and how well balanced and 'right' things and details sound.

My attention goes in different places and I think also, my appreciation. Listening to speakers, even my ancient Philips ones, is always a refreshing experience after having extensively listened to my hd650/little dot. I will say I am a headphone guy though :).

post #5 of 6

The headphones will do some things better,

the speakers will do other things better.


What's better overall?

I think it's a matter of personal preference

when dealing with high quality gear.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. I will continue with my original plan then :)


Have a Happy NYE!

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