"Moore's Law" for headphones? Speed of technology?
May 30, 2017 at 11:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

Joseph Dillman

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Can anyone help me out with this question? I've looked all over for it and can't find anything.

Is there a "Moore's law" for headphones? Meaning, how quickly does headphone technology/quality improve each year? Are $100 headphones today on par with $200 headphones from 5 years ago? Everytime I google this I always get results about headphones burning in.

Displays, processors, wireless connection, batteries, cameras etc always improve over time. How does this price reduction and technology improvement exist in headphones?
Thanks!
 
May 30, 2017 at 12:08 PM Post #2 of 13

Dulalala

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Absolutely not! In fact Moore's law is getting less and less possible with today's standard anyways. When it comes to headphones, especially the hi end ones, you get a huge diminishing return.
 
May 30, 2017 at 12:31 PM Post #3 of 13

Joseph Dillman

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Absolutely not! In fact Moore's law is getting less and less possible with today's standard anyways. When it comes to headphones, especially the hi end ones, you get a huge diminishing return.
So that goes for price too? Headphones don't get cheaper over time where the quality stays the same? If that were the case why buy brand new headphones?
 
May 30, 2017 at 12:38 PM Post #4 of 13

Dulalala

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So that goes for price too? Headphones don't get cheaper over time where the quality stays the same? If that were the case why buy brand new headphones?

Of course they do get better over time, but I'm saying it'sa headphone from 10 years ago is not 10x worse than a headphone now. It's an exponential thing unlike Moore's law which is linear. In fact, even headphones some older headphones, like the HD650 which was released in 2003, are still highly recommended and used even today. What usually happens is the price goes down or some of the technology used in high end headphones trickle down into the mid-fi (or lower) stuff. Many people will use a certain headphone for a long time before upgrading.
 
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May 30, 2017 at 12:46 PM Post #5 of 13

Joseph Dillman

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Of course they do get better over time, but I'm saying it'sa headphone from 10 years ago is not 10x worse than a headphone now. It's an exponential thing unlike Moore's law which is linear. In fact, even headphones some older headphones, like the HD650 which was released in 2003, are still highly recommended and used even today. What usually happens is the price goes down or some of the technology used in high end headphones trickle down into the mid-fi (or lower) stuff. Many people will use a certain headphone for a long time before upgrading.
I see. I find it interesting how headphones behave differently than other kinds of technology over time. I'll look into that when looking for new headphones.
 
May 30, 2017 at 8:40 PM Post #7 of 13

buke9

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So that goes for price too? Headphones don't get cheaper over time where the quality stays the same? If that were the case why buy brand new headphones?
Even though there are some new technologies the basics are pretty much the same.
 
May 31, 2017 at 12:25 AM Post #9 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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Can anyone help me out with this question? I've looked all over for it and can't find anything.

Is there a "Moore's law" for headphones? Meaning, how quickly does headphone technology/quality improve each year? Are $100 headphones today on par with $200 headphones from 5 years ago? Everytime I google this I always get results about headphones burning in.

Displays, processors, wireless connection, batteries, cameras etc always improve over time. How does this price reduction and technology improvement exist in headphones?
Thanks!

Moore's law doesn't apply as much to audio and not even transducer technology because if it did, then all headphones (and speakers) would have a much flatter response over time so they'd be more high-fidelity. As it is it can go the other way around - just compare how much taller the bass hump and treble spike is on the AKG K712 vs the K702, and how the HD800 only has a slightly flatter bass hump vs the HD650 but then has a taller peak at the higher frequencies than the HD600.

If anything there are some surprises, like how within a few years, the HE400 came out and it's nearly absolutely flat from 1000hz down to 10hz, flatter than anything before it at that region, including more expensive planars. And yet the response above 1000hz is problematic compared to the smoother curve of the HD650, HD600, LCD-2, etc.

What has improved markedly over the years is sensitivity/efficiency - HD800, Elear, Utopia, LCD-x(x), etc all need a lot less absolute power, you just need a quality amp so it can produce however much power they need but with lower distortion and noise.
 
May 31, 2017 at 11:58 AM Post #10 of 13

HBen

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Considering my almost 20 years old HD580 which i bought new for 200$ at that time and the fact that I still cannot find any headphone that is significantly better at this price nowadays I would definitely say the technological progress in this area is pretty slow and primarily existing in the high end area (500+$ area).
 
May 31, 2017 at 10:34 PM Post #11 of 13

MindsMirror

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Headphones don't benefit from scaleability in the same way that semiconductor electronics do. We can always benefit from faster and more powerful processors. The more transistors you can pack into a chip, the more processing you can do. As long as you can keep shrinking the technology node, your chip's performance will grow exponentially. There is no opportunity for exponential growth in headphone technology. There is a hard ceiling, which is the theoretically perfect headphone with a flat response, no distortion, etc. With each new innovation in headphone technology that brings you closer to the ideal, there becomes less and less room for improvement.
 
Jun 1, 2017 at 9:16 PM Post #12 of 13

buke9

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Considering my almost 20 years old HD580 which i bought new for 200$ at that time and the fact that I still cannot find any headphone that is significantly better at this price nowadays I would definitely say the technological progress in this area is pretty slow and primarily existing in the high end area (500+$ area).
Considering inflation that 200 would probably equate to a higher price now so finding one at the same price is not equal.
 
Jun 2, 2017 at 10:30 AM Post #13 of 13

HBen

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Considering inflation that 200 would probably equate to a higher price now so finding one at the same price is not equal.

If I would live in Argentina, Venezuela or some other high inflation country your remark definitely has a point here.

Considering the inflation here in Switzerland where I live was less than about 1% per year in this time period my point is still valid, even for 300 at current prices there are barely any headphones around to compete :)
 

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