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Cans vs Speakers pound for pound. - Page 3

post #31 of 41

At least you can change a room and move speakers around to find the sweet spot. Not so much the shape, size and neural response of the ear which is the "room" for headphones.

post #32 of 41

They're different experiences, yes, but when I think about simple musical enjoyment, I have found that super expensive headphone options can't deliver what I get from similarly priced (or even less expensive) speakers these days.

 

Some personal examples.

 

My main desktop speaker system is a set of QUAD 12L active speakers. absolutely excellent detail retrieval, good imaging, rich midrange and a tight, punchy bass. I got them used for $650 and I get more enjoyment from them - and hear music more naturally - than any headphone system I've owned. Including stuff I've really loved like the Stax 007, the TH900, the Senn HD800, Grado HP1000, etc.

 

Even at their old MSRP of around $1400, I think the QUAD 12L would be worth it. No amp needed - just get a good source and you're set. At the used price of way under $1K, it makes a lot of high end headphones seem like a terrible value to me.

 

But I still want to have a good headphone to have around when it's too late to listen to these speakers at moderate volumes. Still a use for great headphones at my place.

 

Moving to a more expensive example, my main living rom speakers are Salk Song Towers. These need a decent amp with a bit of oomph at 4 to 6 ohms. So we're looking at a setup of $2000 for the speakers (new) and around $1000 for the integrated amp. This setup is incredible with deep, tight bass down to 20 Hz, huge soundstage and excellent details that are clearly audible in a nice 3D soundstage.

 

$3000 isn't cheap but when I compare it to headphone setups I've owned that cost more than that (stax and HD800 setups, mainly) the comparison is even more lopsided than with the QUADs. The songtowers are incredibly natural, clear, extended and powerful. There are no obvious compromises to the sound as there are with the TOTL headphones I've used that have cost more.

 

As I've moved slightly away from headphones to speakers, I am having a harder and harder time recommending anything over $500 for headphones. The TOTL ones can sound really good but even the best I've heard have compromises that good quality speakers of similar cost don't need to make. Getting an HD650, midrange Grado, Beyer, AKG or MrSpeakers Mad Dogs and a solid amp for $250 or so is the sweet spot, IMO.


Edited by LCfiner - 4/13/13 at 1:06pm
post #33 of 41

I have the HS80M as well as Genelecs and Adams... All those studio monitors sound like crap for audiophile listenning. Very nice for producing a good sounding mix but very bad at sounding musical and audiophile!

I used my HS80M for a year or so with a Adam subwoofer as my music system and I was listenning less and less music. My previous pair of audiophile bi active speaker just broke and I thought that those speaker HS80M would be perfect subsitute! Boy I was wrong. Sure at the begining the dynamic sound was there but the musicality was not. After one year, I happen to not like any of my old time favorite FLACS, I was hearing so much flaws in records, it made the listenning sessions like brain torture after more than an hour...


So I decided to sell those and all my studio monitors, and I took the plunge and sank a large bit of my saving in a Meridian Digital speaker setup from source to speakers...

 

Man I was in love with music again!

 

If you think that your Yamaha is the end of game, listen to some Meridians!

 

Oh and headphones sound very nice for the money! You can get first class amplification and with the single driver nature of headphone, you got yourself some very clean and musical sounding transducers!

 

After that you can be nit picky about your sound signature preference, but the single driver nature of headphones, makes them very distorsion free transducers to begin with, and with the right source and amp , you have such a beautiful sound for not so much bux.


Of course with headphone you got ZERO soundstage, as all happens between your ears, but this drawback is compensated by the intimate and convenient nature of headphones.

post #34 of 41

Binaural recordings does help a bit with the headphone sound stage after all. Actually, I think it is a bit unfair to compare headphones and speakers using recordings, that are made for speakers. Just saying

post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Binaural recordings does help a bit with the headphone sound stage after all. Actually, I think it is a bit unfair to compare headphones and speakers using recordings, that are made for speakers. Just saying

 

I don't think it's unfair to compare them from a customer's point of view. These are the options we have to spend our money on for musical enjoyment. It's not like binaural recordings are common. regular stereo recordings are almost all we have to judge the equipment we get.

post #36 of 41

^Yup, you are right. I'm just trying to point out that technically headphones might be capable of bringing more musical enjoyment than what many experience. In a perfect world it would be unfair to compare headphones and speakers with a regular stereo recording.

post #37 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telecaster View Post

I have the HS80M as well as Genelecs and Adams... All those studio monitors sound like crap for audiophile listenning. Very nice for producing a good sounding mix but very bad at sounding musical and audiophile!

I used my HS80M for a year or so with a Adam subwoofer as my music system and I was listenning less and less music. My previous pair of audiophile bi active speaker just broke and I thought that those speaker HS80M would be perfect subsitute! Boy I was wrong. Sure at the begining the dynamic sound was there but the musicality was not. After one year, I happen to not like any of my old time favorite FLACS, I was hearing so much flaws in records, it made the listenning sessions like brain torture after more than an hour...


So I decided to sell those and all my studio monitors, and I took the plunge and sank a large bit of my saving in a Meridian Digital speaker setup from source to speakers...

 

Man I was in love with music again!

 

If you think that your Yamaha is the end of game, listen to some Meridians!

 

Oh and headphones sound very nice for the money! You can get first class amplification and with the single driver nature of headphone, you got yourself some very clean and musical sounding transducers!

 

After that you can be nit picky about your sound signature preference, but the single driver nature of headphones, makes them very distorsion free transducers to begin with, and with the right source and amp , you have such a beautiful sound for not so much bux.


Of course with headphone you got ZERO soundstage, as all happens between your ears, but this drawback is compensated by the intimate and convenient nature of headphones.

I haven't heard Meridian actives, but I can imagine they sound superb.  As a musician, something sounding 'musical' is directly related to it sounding accurate too.  The musicians themselves give you the musicality, it's up to the system to reproduce their performance in an open and transparent way, so that the 'musicality' comes across unadulterated.  I agree that the HS80Ms are analytical in their presentation.  You could also say that means they have an accurate and open treble response.  Flaws in records are part and parcel of the recording for me and I dont mind that any more than crackles from a vinyl LP.

 

I was reading/watching a review yesterday about the Stax 009 headphones.  These are regarded by many to be the best headphones available and one of the aspects that they spoke about was how much detail was presented through them.  They retrieved everything from the record.  Does that make them unmusical?

 

I have 'Hi-Fi' floorstanders too that are very nice (not in the same league as your Meridians though) and they get a lot of listening, but the sheer dynamic weight and textures, plus the air and space around everything that I hear from my HS80Ms present live orchestral recordings in such a vibrant, present and dramatic way that it's the closest to 'being there' that I can get from any of my sources.  Surely that's analytical and musical?  They go hand in hand for me.


Edited by amigomatt - 4/14/13 at 12:38pm
post #38 of 41

Believe me, I really wanted to love the HS80M! On the paper and at first when I got used to their signature they were sounding very nice! More accurate than many expensive setup out there for sure. I am a strong believer that passive filter in speakers are a big part of their non transparency.

It is just that I used to have an old pair of Meridian M2 growing up. It was the first pair of good speakers I bought. I grew to love that sound presentation which is relaxed profound and so very lifelike!

I don't know what Meridian does to their speaker to sound how they sound, but they have a special presentation that just works for me, I'm really immerse in the music, and each recording sound so true (I mean they have all their own personnality soundwise).

 

It is just that the Yamaha while being analytical are ear fatiguing to me. Maybe you are not so sensible as my brain, but I was really getting really strained by their sound.

 

One thing that you surely know, is that studio monitor are voiced negatively respectively to the mix they are intended to produce.

 

A grossly simplified example, the Genelecs are slightly bass shy and treble shy, so when you mix on them you unconsciously tend to had slightly more subbass and treble to the mix, which result in a mix that sound very lively with warm bass and extended trebles. That is the way studio monitor works, they are not judge so much on how they sound like, they are ultimately judge on how good a mix will sound produced working on them.

 

And of course a trademark of any good studio monitors is that it is going to reveal every flaw in the recording, in order for you, the sound master, to correct the flaw. Like sibiliants and such. This is the everyday job of the Professional sound studio everywhere on the globe.

 

If you add that flaws retrieval ability, and the negative sound signature, it doesn't add up as a very musical sounding speaker system!

 

If you think of it that way, a studio monitor which is sounding already very good, it the worst tool for the Professional, because it will sound so good, that the pro won't correct the flaws and will believe the mix is correct sounding while it is not on other conventional speaker system.

 

YMMV, but it has been the findings of me, and some other audio pro friends who are long time audio professionals working with more than 20 brands of studio monitors.


Edited by telecaster - 4/14/13 at 2:28pm
post #39 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telecaster View Post

Believe me, I really wanted to love the HS80M! On the paper and at first when I got used to their signature they were sounding very nice! More accurate than many expensive setup out there for sure. I am a strong believer that passive filter in speakers are a big part of their non transparency.

It is just that I used to have an old pair of Meridian M2 growing up. It was the first pair of good speakers I bought. I grew to love that sound presentation which is relaxed profound and so very lifelike!

I don't know what Meridian does to their speaker to sound how they sound, but they have a special presentation that just works for me, I'm really immerse in the music, and each recording sound so true (I mean they have all their own personnality soundwise).

 

It is just that the Yamaha while being analytical are ear fatiguing to me. Maybe you are not so sensible as my brain, but I was really getting really strained by their sound.

 

One thing that you surely know, is that studio monitor are voiced negatively respectively to the mix they are intended to produce.

 

A grossly simplified example, the Genelecs are slightly bass shy and treble shy, so when you mix on them you unconsciously tend to had slightly more subbass and treble to the mix, which result in a mix that sound very lively with warm bass and extended trebles. That is the way studio monitor works, they are not judge so much on how they sound like, they are ultimately judge on how good a mix will sound produced working on them.

 

And of course a trademark of any good studio monitors is that it is going to reveal every flaw in the recording, in order for you, the sound master, to correct the flaw. Like sibiliants and such. This is the everyday job of the Professional sound studio everywhere on the globe.

 

If you add that flaws retrieval ability, and the negative sound signature, it doesn't add up as a very musical sounding speaker system!

 

If you think of it that way, a studio monitor which is sounding already very good, it the worst tool for the Professional, because it will sound so good, that the pro won't correct the flaws and will believe the mix is correct sounding while it is not on other conventional speaker system.

 

YMMV, but it has been the findings of me, and some other audio pro friends who are long time audio professionals working with more than 20 brands of studio monitors.

Telecaster, thanks for your insightful input.  I wasn't aware of the negative voicing that you described, I just presumed the aim of monitors was to have the flattest response possible, but that's very interesting and  makes perfect sense.  I've not had the pleasure of owning any true 'high-end' gear myself yet, so my love of these Yamahas are in relation to what I've owned before.  Maybe I like them so much, because detail and accuracy in both tonal terms and sounstage presentation are attributes that particularly impress me in an audio system.

 

I listen to a lot of massive orchestral works, which in my opinion are the hardest things to both record and reproduce well.  Even with a great recording, most systems will struggle to reproduce the dynamic scale and finer inner voicings of the complex lines.  Unravelling that kind of a soundscape is quite a job, but a job that suits a good studio monitor well.

 

I do remember a few years ago, me and a good friend of mine had a big marathon session listening to Mahler symphonies on his Dad's hifi.  That was one awesome system, a combination of Musical Fidelity CD, a Meridian amp, with huge PMC floorstanders.  I remember being mightily impressed with the sound of recordings very familiar to me coming through this system.  I heard these records opened up and huge for the first time!  Again, it was the detail resolving and the dynamic range that impressed me most and I do believe that PMC are monitor style Hifi speakers too.  So, maybe that somewhat analytical presentation that you find fatiguing is exactly how I like it.

 

I understand that monitors shouldn't be falsely prettying up the sound, but conversely, they should also be able to reflect the inner beauty and subtlety of a recording too. I paid about £450 for a pair of these and I can without any doubt say that for the money, the music reproducing capabilities of these monitors far outweigh any hifi speakers or headphones for that price.  In fact, I think I'd have to spend 4 or 5 times as much at least on traditional 'Hi-Fi' gear to be more impressed!

 

I'm sure if I owned your Meridians, I might be saying the same sort of thing as you, telecaster, but for now and for me and my present budget, these blow me away!


Edited by amigomatt - 4/14/13 at 4:44pm
post #40 of 41

As people have said already, they're different experiences, and it's a bit one-sided to think that headphones have to have a more speaker-like presentation.

 

Soundstage and imaging is especially divisive; it doesn't help that most music is mixed with two stereo speakers in front of the listener, 30 degrees offset, in mind, and headphones don't provide the intended imaging as a result (though I strangely don't mind).

 

But there's another matter that most people don't consider when discussing how speakers are supposedly oh-so-much-better than headphones at soundstage and especially imaging: competitive gaming. Something where, in the old days of PC gaming, you used to have true 3D sound that could be mixed with an HRTF like a binaural recording, though nowadays we have to make do with virtualized 7.1 speaker setups worth of sound mixing.

 

I have yet to hear any kind of surround speaker system that can compete with the likes of Aureal A3D or CMSS-3D Headphone and a decent audiophile headphone for pinpoint "I can shoot a guy through a wall just listening to his footsteps while knowing exactly which floor everyone else is on" positioning, which actually contributes greatly to my sense of "being there". Could be a combination of binaural HRTF mixing with the intimacy of headphones making faint details more obvious.

 

Maybe it's just that the speaker systems in question sucked and I'd be more impressed if I found myself in some theater with a crazy 7.1 Quad/Acoustat/Beveridge/whatever setup, but even then, to have imaging that rivals a binaural recording over conventional stereo headphones, you'd have to literally surround the listener in speakers from every direction...or use fancy cross-talk cancellation techniques with stereo speakers ala QSound, Aureal A3D (again) or CMSS-3D Virtual, likely with some compromise to the overall imaging, that headphones don't have to worry about because of the general lack of natural crossfeed.

 

Of course, that's just one particular subject. Larger transducers that have to move air in an entire room, instead of next to your ear, can provide that tactile experience that some people just crave and simply cannot be substituted with headphones and a tactile transducer/"bass shaker"/etc. Some people just find headphones of all sorts uncomfortable to wear. Maybe they don't want to feel "tethered" to some piece of equipment and want to walk around a room freely, which is obviously much easier to do with speakers (unless you have wireless headphones, but that's hardly audiophile-grade).

post #41 of 41

I had saved up some pocket change and was getting ready to throw it at some HE-400's..

Instead I bought a Klipsch RW12D to compliment my BX8's and will save the money to get some floorstandings. (Maybe Infinity Reference RS1b's by next tax return)

There isn't even a comparison obviously once you get past $400-$500.. but even though we had a great speaker session last night for 4-5 hours. As I'm writing this.. my gf and son are 2 feet away sleeping.. and I'm rocking out to some electronic music on my UE6k's.. and enjoying the hell out of it.

Gotta have both!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They compliment each other.. speakers for many, headphones for one. /endshortrant

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