Headphones vs Speakers -- an Inconvenient Truth
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Whazzzup

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I looked at my speakers and said, nope, those things are way to heavy for my head so
 
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Fuzziekiwi

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To me a lot of bookshelf speakers are hit or miss; most studio monitors are far better. My LSR305's are by far the best thing I have ever listened to for the price (99 ea. on sale, but even at $150 it's a steal) wonderful tonality and detail beating basically every piece of gear I have; while also providing soundstage depth width and height (I assume the waveguide has quite a bit to do with it!). KRK Rokit 5's don't seem to have the treble magic these have. They don't have to be cranked up loud to sound good either (Looking at you Elac B6's). But we all know speakers can't be used all the time if you live with other people. :triportsad:
 
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Blackwoof

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But the hard truth to face is -- speakers aren't nearly as resolving as high end headphones, and getting than the center image from loudspeakers takes an optimal room geometry that most people don't have. My speakers sound like veiled trash next to my HE-6, TH900 and Utopia.
Also size means nothing for detail/res & even bass. There are IEMs with <10mm that are very resolving, Not to mention there on your head & in your ears. The volume needed to pump sound is very very little than what a 4 way 2.1 stereo system has to do, Even then Speakers still have issues with THD. Where the avg is 2 ~ 12.5% vs <0.1 ~ 2% of headphones.

Not to mention with them being Single driver is huge pro since crossovers can cause artifacts. Yet a Single driver speaker can really struggle with doing both bass/treble which headphones have no problem with while using <40mm drivers.
 
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Comparing the two is kind of a waste. They are different experiences. If you want to try to reproduce what a live performance sounds like, speakers are the only thing that comes close. Headphones just don't produce the sense of a band arrayed in front of you or the body thump of a bass drum or guitar. If you want to hear the micro-detail of every snap, crackle, and pop no speaker will do what headphones can do simply because of the physical distance between your ears and the HF drivers. Mix engineers often use both. If you insist on comparing, you need to be comparing systems in the same fidelity range, not price range. Speakers are more expensive to make. Thousand dollar headphones are approaching the state of the art. Thousand dollar speakers are not. Other than the portability, the main reason for the popularity of headphones is the bang for the buck. You need to spend 5 to 10x the amount on speakers to get equivalent fidelity.
agree, work a lot with a sound engineer, that to switch around from cans to actual speakers. they said for detailed purposes they will be using cans instead. but for the actual sound coverage analysis, they will use speakers instead because its simply for refined sound when you hear from another source that not stick to your ear. I've tried $5000 cans it makes such a big difference from $500 cans. but when i compare the full specs speakers $4500 vs $2000 I simply cannot compare it. For me, it's just a reference thing to switch between these two.
 
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gregorio

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[1] If you want to hear the micro-detail of every snap, crackle, and pop no speaker will do what headphones can do simply because of the physical distance between your ears and the HF drivers.
[2] Mix engineers often use both.
[3] If you insist on comparing, you need to be comparing systems in the same fidelity range, not price range. Speakers are more expensive to make.
[3a] Thousand dollar headphones are approaching the state of the art. Thousand dollar speakers are not. Other than the portability, the main reason for the popularity of headphones is the bang for the buck. You need to spend 5 to 10x the amount on speakers to get equivalent fidelity.
1. Actually, speakers (monitors) can get close to reproducing the level of detail headphones are capable of. It's not so much the physical distance between your ears and the HF drivers as what's in that distance. (see #3).

2. Often but not always and in some cases the mixing is done exclusively on headphones, although the results of doing so are typically inferior.

3. I agree with your basic premise but the common mistake made by the audiophile world is to consider the cost/performance of speakers and the cost/performance of headphones. This is a mistake because while the performance of headphones relies entirely on the headphones themselves, the performance of speakers is only partly reliant on the speakers themselves, it's also heavily reliant on the room in which they're placed (the "distance" mentioned in #1). In other words, the actual equation to consider is the cost/performance of speakers + room. Therefore:
3a. To get close to an "equivalent fidelity" not only requires generally spending say 5x the amount on speakers but spending way more than that again on room acoustics. I've heard ~$20k audiophile speakers that sounded poor, not because of the speakers themselves but because of the room in which they were placed. As there's little or nothing the vast majority of audiophiles can do to their room, they tend to simply ignore/dismiss this vital part of the equation plus, exceedingly few audiophiles have ever experienced top quality monitors in a top quality listening environment. To achieve this combination typically costs hundreds of thousands or even millions but that's what commercial studios spend and why some mix engineers don't use both.

And continuing on:

[1] agree, work a lot with a sound engineer, that to switch around from cans to actual speakers. they said for detailed purposes they will be using cans instead. but for the actual sound coverage analysis, they will use speakers instead because its simply for refined sound when you hear from another source that not stick to your ear. I've tried $5000 cans it makes such a big difference from $500 cans.
[2] but when i compare the full specs speakers $4500 vs $2000 I simply cannot compare it.
1. There are various different reasons why sound engineers may use cans: A. For isolation when doing live sound or when tracking or B. To check/reference what the mix or master is going to sound like on headphones or C. HPs can sometimes be more practical when editing very low level (undesirable) details than using monitors at a high playback level. However, cans are rarely used for other "detailed purposes", for example positioning/soundstage details or frequency details, because the perception of these details is so affected by small anatomical differences between different people when using cans. In other words, if cans are used to work on these types of details there's a much higher probability that it won't "translate" for other people, even if they use exactly the same cans.

2. Because you're missing a large part of the equation. $2k speakers can easily outperform $4.5k speakers, depending on the room acoustics and speaker positioning within the room.

G
 
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