Quick Question regarding Speaker-fi.
Aug 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

Mdraluck23

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I have thought for a while about what the average crossover between price of Speakers/Headphones vs. their performance. At what price range of speakers do they compare to a certain price range of Headphones in SQ? I know it is difficult to compare but it's just something I've been wondering about. For example, to achieve a solid sound quality speaker setup versus a solid headphone setup what would the cost ratio likely be, 3:1, 10:1, 100:1? I currently use an iPod touch > RE0 setup (pretty weak, I know...) How much would i expect to spend in the speaker world on a similar sounding setup?
 
Also, at what point of cost would someone expect to start experiencing diminishing returns in price/performance? This goes for both headphones and speakers. What i mean is, where do we draw the line, Where do the $20,000.37 speakers not really sound much better than the $15,438 speakers? Don't get me wrong, if I was filthy rich I'd get the best I could possibly afford, but there must be some point, where its not worth it. HD800's don't really sound $300 better with a $300 recable, you know what I mean?
 
I was also wondering if anyone was aware of the best speaker discussion website, or the Head-Fi of the speaker world. Also what might be the best Car Speaker-Fi website?
 
Feel free to move this thread if it is in the wrong forum.

 
Aug 3, 2010 at 8:40 PM Post #2 of 13

3X0

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Personally I think you get 95% of the performance at $1,500-2,000 or less for speakers. I think the same occurs at around $1000 for headphones.
 
 
Speakers depend very much on the room. Not only room placement, but room acoustics and potential room treatments. $150,000 Wilson speakers in a terrible room (or even outdoors *shudder*) will pale in comparison to a pair of $200 Infinity Primus P152s in a well-treated and acoustically inert room.
 
As a matter of anecdote, I honestly consider my humble speaker setup to be on the same level as the JH13s. The JH13s are more neutral and have more detail, but the Ref-1s are very engaging and the bass the SB12+ delivers destroys the JH13s bass in quantity while being only infinitesimally edged out in articulation. The Reference 1 is also naturally much more spacious and open. Without the subwoofer I'd probably prefer the JH13s a bit. Nonetheless I enjoy them both very deeply. I prefer my Onix Reference-1s to my Grado HF-2s to a very great extent. I do not think there is a single thing my Grados do better than them, as good as the latter are for the price.
 
This is in a crappy small untreated room, smaller than most offices. When I get a bigger space and get serious I wouldn't be surprised if I enjoyed the Reference 1s even more.
 
My favorite part about speakers is that many great speakers generally don't have similarly great value retention. My Reference-1s retailed for $1200, and I got them for a smidge over $400 in the used market. Such deals are very rare in the headphone world. I've seen $4,000 speakers go for less than $1,000 in the used market. It's not that they're bad speakers or anything, there's just so many brands involved that inevitably the more "known" ones (e.g. B&W) will command much more of their original value during resale than the more obscure "hidden gem" brands.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 8:56 PM Post #3 of 13

Maxvla

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I consider my speaker rig and headphone rig to be of equal 'quality'. They sound very different, but that is almost entirely due to method of delivery than anything else. Tonally they are almost identical and both sound not quite effortless, but close. My speakers are very heavily amped and my headphones are as well, both speakers and headphones well beyond necessary specs.
 
My speaker setup retail would have cost about $4000 for the pair of speakers, subwoofer, and stereo receiver. I got the receiver free in a broken state (very minor fix needed inside to get it working again) and the speakers were on clearance, though I chose them over the current best in the same model line (these were the previous version).
 
My headphone setup cost me about $1300 for the HD600, balanced tube amp, interconnects and headphone cable upgrade. If I were to equate the cabling quality I should drop my headphone setup cost to about $900.
 
So in my case for just the speakers, headphones, and amplifiers my cost difference was $900 vs $4000, or roughly 1:4 headphones to speakers. A 25% mark seems reasonable when you think about a HE90/HEV90 costing $15,000 equating to speaker and amp setups of $60,000. On the low end you could see AD700 headphones for $80 comparing with $300 a pair active monitors.
 
Headphone rigs in my estimate should be about 20-25% of the cost of a similarly performing speaker rig. Keep in mind though, that the delivery is ALWAYS going to be different. Don't expect them to sound identical.
 
Good speaker forum is simply at Audiogon.com
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 9:27 PM Post #4 of 13

3X0

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Both my setups use the Nova as the DAC and amplifier (headphone setup as the headphone amplifier, speaker setup as the pre-amp and power amplifier). My headphone setup with the JH13s is about $2300 retail, and my speaker setup is about $3100 retail yet I consider both on the same level despite the ratio being so close.
 
So it's not only dependent on equipment, but also on the listener. Some listeners prefer headphones to speakers almost always, and some listeners just the opposite. It depends on how much you value the relative strengths of each, be it detail in headphones, spaciousness in speakers, or other elements.
 
Case in point, there are certain speakers that do headphone things really well. Dali Ikons and Epos speakers are really good with detail, but I prefer my JH13s to them. I prefer my Reference 1s to either of the other speakers because they do speaker things really well, and I appreciate that. I like that my JH13s are really good with detail, imaging, and clarity. I like that my Ref 1s + SB12 are engaging, spacious, and visceral.
 
I've listened to Salk Songtowers that retail for around $2400 that sound better than almost every headphone I've heard. Conversely I feel the Stax O2 is better than almost every speaker I've heard. If you take the best of each from each price point, I feel that there is a lot of surprising competitiveness to be discovered.
 
 
Yes, the presentations are drastically different.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 9:38 PM Post #5 of 13

Uncle Erik

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I think price is the wrong way to look at this. MSRP is arbitrary and often inflated to meet "luxury" standards and impress people.

Instead, look at quality. You can get used or DIY speakers for very little money. Some of them are excellent. I paid $650 for a pair of Quad ESL-63s and they better any headphones I've heard. On the other hand, the $200 pair of HD-600s I had bettered a lot of pricey speakers.

If you want to get into speakers, look around for good quality at a low price. There's a lot to choose from. A lot of them cost less than the new, expensive headphones. You can get a pair of 1.6 Maggies used for about the same as a T1 or a HD-800. Then you can run them off a $50 receiver, unlike the headphones. In a lot of cases, the speakers are a better deal.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM Post #6 of 13

3X0

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Quote:
If you want to get into speakers, look around for good quality at a low price. There's a lot to choose from. A lot of them cost less than the new, expensive headphones. You can get a pair of 1.6 Maggies used for about the same as a T1 or a HD-800. Then you can run them off a $50 receiver, unlike the headphones. In a lot of cases, the speakers are a better deal.


ESL-63s for $650? You lucky
gs1000.gif
.
 
Yes, there are a ton of "giant killers" in speakers. Many manufacturers inflate their price to artificially inflate perceptions of quality, just as in wines. A pair of Triad InRoom Gold MiniMonitors for $4000 sound no better to me than a pair of $1800 ACI Sapphire XLs. This isn't surprising since they both use Scanspeak Revelator woofers with similar tweeters and crossovers of (presumably) similar high quality. You have to pick out what's the best for the money out of every bunch. Speakers also depend much more on personal auditioning than headphones do.
 
I frequently say that I prefer my JH13s to a $10,000 speaker setup I've heard, but in reality I also preferred the $2,400 Salk Songtowers to that same setup.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 10:59 PM Post #7 of 13

Mdraluck23

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I understand the comparisons are highly subjective, but It seems to me, that headphones are certainly much more cost effective. The only problem is that others can't listen in. It is sad that speakers are so horrendously expensive. What would be a price point where the returns of what you put in to cost start diminishing? I would like to have some kind of an estimate because I would ultimately like to save some money for a solid setup, probably just a 2.0 setup for the time being. If anyone could make suggestions in a price range under $400 that would be nice, I know that is very low end compared to whats out there, but I know some great deals are around. I don't know a LOT about speakers because my budget has only allowed me into the headphone world. I just got my first REAL job, (seeing as I'm only 17) and will be saving enough to finally make a nice purchase. However, I am still deciding on speakers versus headphones in that price range. Better overall SQ (I know, highly subjective, but humor me please) seems to be had for headphones. However when I eventually move out or want to have people over, it is quite annoying to listen to cheap PC speakers, or our god-awful-for-music $150 surround sound setup. I'm kinda just looking for opinions and suggestions about both. I like my RE0's, and it seems that similar speakers could be had for roughly 4x the price, am I right? So 350ish, and an amp/receiver? Any suggestions? Some powered speakers maybe?
 
This seems like it may be the wrong place for this discussion though...
 
Aug 4, 2010 at 12:48 AM Post #8 of 13

Maxvla

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I think you are on the right track. Powered monitors are great for cutting costs, maintaining quality audio, and reducing clutter (amps, cables, etc). The clutter reason alone is very nice for a young person who will probably move somewhat often with college coming up. Plus, monitors are usually tuned for near field so you can play them quietly on your desk and still get full bodied sound.
 
You asked for a $ figure for diminishing returns. I have to agree with the above and say $2k is the break point. You can certainly find great deals below that, but beyond 2k you start forking over the dough en masse. Just to clarify though, this is a total estimate and ymmv.
 
Also, don't think that big towers are always better, because they are not. A finely tuned 2.1 setup often can give you a better result and for less money. My mini-tower speakers and sub knock the socks off the higher end towers I looked at and were half the price.
 
Aug 4, 2010 at 1:07 AM Post #9 of 13

Mdraluck23

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I was looking at powered monitors, They seem like the way to go. I also looked in my area on Craigslist, there's a KLH stereo receiver/amp for 50$ I'm not really sure about it though, waiting on a reply from the seller. I also spotted some Polk speakers, the Pics were not very revealing, but the post said they retailed for 800$ a pair. They were going for 75. I asked both sellers if there was any way to try before I buy, or at least get model numbers. I think I may lower my price range to 200-300$... Any monitor suggestions?
 
Aug 4, 2010 at 4:12 PM Post #12 of 13

Jack C

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There are many good speakers in the $200-$300 range. Used ones would sell for less than that and can be found for about half off. $400-$500 speakers should sound very good, while $1000 speakers have no excuse for any serious flaws in their performance. Beyond that, I think you would be paying for additional qualities such as bass extension.
 
If you are budget minded, I would try to find some used speakers from companies that are known for their budget speakers, such as Energy or Athena. I would never buy Sony speakers, even used ones for cheap.
 
Jack
 

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