If you were to list the pluses and minuses of headphone listening
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Tom M

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what whould they be? I'm looking for the losses and benifits of sound with headphones vs speakers.
 
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aeberbach

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biggest strength and biggest weakness - revealing. Every nuance along with every crackle, hum and interference is audible.

Apart from that I don't like how sitting down with a drink, a favorite CD and my headphones guarantees that the phone will ring. It's not the same with speakers.
 
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squirt

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Headphone plusses:
You hear even the most subtle details in the recording which are frequently completely inaudible with speakers.

Your always in the sweet spot no matter where you move.

You can listen to music at loud volumes at any time of day/night without too much concern about disturbing others

You can listen to any genre of music with little concern of people laughing at your music tastes...sounds silly but i do take this seriously since my tastes are somewhat off mainstream...I like the "Bangles" nuff said...

A headphone set up is smaller thus takes up far less room than a typical speaker set up. Very important consideration for some.

Can be made to be fully portable without sacrificing excellent sound quality using Headroom Cosmic or Porta Corda or DYI amps.

Headphone minuses:

Musical image is "in-head" even with crossfeed amps.

Your movement may be pretty restricted being tethered to a cord unless you have a portable unit.

Sound stage is very constricted compared to speakers which can result in musical details being lost in the compressed sound stage...i often hear things on my speakers that i don't hear on headphones so while you may hear certain details better with headphones you can also lose some details in the sound stage...
An example is in Madonna's Immaculate Collection which sounds rather bland with my headphones but explodes to life with speakers with musical details coming out of thin air from all over the listening room...

You don't get overall musical image such as feeling drum beats or bass responses, ambiance and all things considered my prefer speakers over headphones by a wide margin as being just far more "real" sounding...IMHO
 
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kerelybonto

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aeberbach and squirt pretty much covered it. One additional weakness is the lack of visceral bass -- though this isn't much of a problem with a good pair of dynamic headphones with big chambers driven from an amp that gives them a lot of juice. Additionally, it's still possible to pair them with a sub if you really want to feel the bass in your chest.

But what headphones do well -- provide unrivalled detail -- they do well enough to make up for their shortcomings ... at least to those of us at Head-Fi. If you want to hear everything in your music, you'll own a good pair of headphones, even if you primarily use speakers.

kerely
 
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M Rael

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Just one added thought:
I had a pretty good floor system and yes, in terms of soundstage you could sometimes feel the acoustic of the recording space beyond the placement of the speakers. Most of the time the speakers themselves are acoustically invisible in fact. Its enjoyable to listen to a room full of music and not be able to trace any of it as coming from the speakers as the source. Great feeling.

On the other hand, binaural recording can do all of that and more, with headphones as the source. In practice though, binaural is mostly a curiosity, not a legitimate alternative. I'm just mentioning it because headphones themselves are not limited in terms of soundstage representation; its all to do with the way something is recorded.
 
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kelly

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I second that. I honestly believe headphones have greater potential but it takes convincing the world that we need excellent amplifiers, electrostatic headphones and well recorded minimally mic'd binaural SACDs.
 
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penvzila

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Quote:

Originally posted by squirt
Headphone plusses:
You hear even the most subtle details in the recording which are frequently completely inaudible with speakers.



Headphome Minuses:

You hear even the most subtle details in the recording which are frequently completely inaudible with speakers.

 
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CRESCENDOPOWER

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HEADPHONES OVER SPEAKERS
SPEED:
I read it all the time. The Sennheiser HD-600s paired with good amplification are the equal of electrostatics in speed. Who do you think wrote this? I’ll tell you, a speaker reviewer, that’s who. Why does he say this? I’ll tell you why, the room’s standing waves actually slow down those large electrostatic speakers, and put them on a similar plane with the HD-600s speed. Also, we are talking about drivers that are measured in millimeters not inches. But, in the headphone world we all know that the HD-600s are not the fastest boys on the block. In my opinion, speakers will never have the speed of good headphones, unless they don’t have any bass in the first place.

PRICE TO PERFORMANCE RATIO:
One thing is for sure; I would really hate to see how much I would have to pay for a speaker/amp setup that equals the $750.00 headphone amp/quality headphone setup. Now, that’s scary!

CLARITY:
The room dimensions, speaker baffles, and shape, crossover networks, and sound staging in itself limits speakers ability to match the clarity of headphones. Example: no speakers can do what a pair of Etys can do, and I don’t care what any of you speaker lovers say about that.

SPEAKERS OVER HEADPHONES
SOUNDSTAGING:
In my opinion, this is the one, and only real advantage of speakers over headphones. Although, to really enjoy, or benefit from this disappearing act, I believe you must have very good recordings running through that expensive source of yours, and giving those floor-standers enough room to breath wouldn’t hurt either
 
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redshifter

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speakers are much more comfortable than headphones. with any headphone there is pressure on your ears, in your ear canal, on your jaw (especially if you have jaw problems like tmj), ear sweat, fatigue, etc.

also, headphone are by nature antisocial. unless of course you have 2 headphone jacks. sometime when i am travelling with my sweetie i will let her plug into the second headphones jack on my r70 md. how romantic (cue sappy music). otherwise it is just you enjoying perfect sound while the rest of the world wallows in sonic mediocrity.

with headphones you are limited by the cord length. unless your source is a killer pcdp like the d777 and the cha47 amp, then you can go anywhere and look like a geek, but enjoy sweet sweet tunes.

the "in head imaging" issue with headphones is a problem, unless you have cans like the sony cd1700 which depending on the recording can sound like the music is coming from far outside the earcups.

on the plus side, a good pair of cans = a good pair of speakers costing 10x as much. also, you can crank your tunes without bothering anybody.
 
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SumB

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For headphones:

Neutrality
Unparalleled fidelity
Value
Room acouctics don't factor in
Compact
Discretion
Privacy
Flexibility (try swapping speakers for each genre)

Against:

Imaging
Soundstage
Hearing loss if irresponsible
No whole body bass
 
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Tom M

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judging from the responces I've received, would it be safe to say that the advantanges of headphone listening out weigh the disadvantages?
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by Tom M
judging from the responces I've received, would it be safe to say that the advantanges of headphone listening out weigh the disadvantages?


No. I've got a couple of very good headphone systems. I've also got a decent speaker system. If I really want to just listen to music, I haven't heard a headphone system that can match a good speaker setup. It's worth noting that this is my personal preference. It would be perfectly valid for someone else to think the opposite. It really depends on which of the advantages or disadvantages are important to each person.

For me, the sense of space and location created by speakers is critical. One of the key factors that attracts me to a headphone is its ability to imitate speakers in this way. Live music occurs from an outside source. A speaker system can create an imitation of that source in the room with you, making feel as though you were almost there. With headphones, there can be great detail, and an apparent soundstage...in the middle of the head. Since I've never heard a live band actually set up in my cerebellum, that displacement of the source of the music continues to bother me.
 
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Flasken

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My opinion:

I would take a 4000$ speaker system over a 4000$ headphone system anytime. In my opinnion, headphones have one very restricting factor speakers don't. And once the speakers reach a quality where detail and frequency response are satisfacting, they can outdo any headphone. (not that i've listened to all of them)

But a 600-1000 $ speaker system doesn't stand a change against a equally priced headphone system.
 
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kelly

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How many $4000 headphone systems have you heard?

I disagree, for whatever that's worth - but these kind of blanket arguments don't really go anywhere anyway.

Hirsch nailed it when he said it was a matter of personal priority.
 
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Calanctus

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I've occasionally been absolutely AWED by the sense of scale and power from a really excellent, well-set-up speaker system. I've never had that experience with headphones. Speakers can deliver a 'big sound' that headphones cannot match.
 
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