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Headphones vs Speakers


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On 03/04/2020 at 19:09, Carrington said:

I'm new to the headphone experience having been forced down this route due to neighbours and my OH not going out to work at present. It was either no music at all or headphones so I bought Sennheiser HD650. My system is a modest aged Linn system bar the turntable. My initial thoughts on the headphones was a little disappointment but having turned them up a little more I'm quite impressed. However for me it's speakers all the way. MartinC summed it up perfectly, the soundstage in your head, it just doesn't feel natural. I do notice more detail from the headphones but I haven't been able to relax and truly enjoy the music in the same way as my speakers. Perhaps I'll get used to them and feel different given time? With the way things seem to be going in the world right now, I suspect I'll be given ample opportunity to find out unfortunately...

I have also recently got back in to headphones after many years, partly due to more people in the house / neighbours etc and I just purchased a headphone amp on trial or return. As mentioned in my other posts I was left a little disappointed but did make some improvements with some tweaking as I was lucky enough to have purchased an amp with some adjustable EQ settings. Without this tweaking I would have sent the amp back but I think the main issue was the headphones DT990 that seem to accentuate the bass and treble with a dip in the midrange, which is the opposite to my main system where I use a Linn Klimax Renew and small bookshelf speakers that have stunning midrange.

Although I am now starting to enjoy the headphone listening I much prefer listening to my speakers, possibly because it is much higher quality equipment and has a lushness, body and warmth that I can't replicate on the phones, not the ones I have anyway. I will continue to explore this avenue for now as it has proved quite interesting so far...

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I prefer the intimacy of headphones which also remove the room interactions inherent with 2 channel.

I used headphones a lot 30 years ago, mainly for monitoring my own recordings. I lived in a ground floor flat, Mrs Noisy and her kids lived upstairs, they were allowed to make any kind of noise they l

Most of my listening used to be with speakers and I love big bass, used to have a three way active Linn system but nowadays most my listening is through headphones. Initially this started due to

I used headphones a lot 30 years ago, mainly for monitoring my own recordings. I lived in a ground floor flat, Mrs Noisy and her kids lived upstairs, they were allowed to make any kind of noise they liked but if I got a guitar out the police would be round before I had it tuned up, you get the picture. Hence I used headphones, for most of the weekends, and most of the evenings until the small hours. I'd turn the volume up to "exciting" levels but never (so I thought) loud enough to deafen myself. After about 3 years of this, I found myself at Dr Quack's, telling him I couldn't hear what people said in a noisy room (eg the pub), that I had permanent white noise in both ears, and that when I went out to gig on guitar there were people who said my sound was "way too trebbly" (although it sounded mellow enough to me). Dr Quack got me an appointment at the Audiology Dept in the hospital and their summary was "Yes, your ears are knackered but there's nothing anyone can do about it". Despite the damage (which does spoil my enjoyment of music), I can still tell the difference between good HiFi/guitar amplifiers and bad ones. However, my message to anyone who MUST use headphones is BE CAREFUL WITH THE VOL POT, and to anyone who has the choice - DON'T.

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I already have a lot of trouble with crowded rooms so I shall have to be careful. not getting any younger!

for the original topic: speakers are hard to drive to the levels of fidelity and quick response that good headphones can provide. I used to try and make my hifi as good as my headphones - now I have kind of given up or settled (headphones are still better to my ears) but I appreciate all my sources in different ways.

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I have found that it's easier to maintain concentration while working using headphones than with speakers. I've no idea why.

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In comparison of  headphones and speakers of same class and price, headphones are more accurate, but speakers are less exhausting for ears and are more interesting in lower frequency range, especially sub. Headphones just can't fill your room with bass, you know. But to use bassy speakers or dedicated sub you should have proper treatment or at least be lucky enough so that your room naturally has proper acoustics.

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Sennheiser have announced they intend to focus on its professional business in future.

https://en-uk.sennheiser.com/newsroom/sennheiser-to-reposition-its-business-units-independently-of-each-other-1tmuqg

lets hope standards don't fall with new investment.

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How on earth did I end up in this remote corner of the Wam ?

Anyway, I have tried really hard, multiple times, to get on with headphones, using some fairly decent quality cans and headamps along the way but, to me, they always sound false.

Soundstage and imaging are particularly important to me, so I guess headphones will always be second best to speakers, with those requirements in mind.

As always, horses for courses.

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On 03/04/2020 at 15:24, AntA said:

I was wondering if headphones + headphone amp actually represent better value for money and sound quality over speakers and amplifier. Do people who use headphones primarily do so because they think they are better than speakers or is it because they don't want to annoy the neighbours? 

I have Sennheiser HD660 which I use with a Marantz PM8005 and they sound pretty comparable to Tannoy 6.2 Precision or the AVI DM10s. If this is true then headphones do represent better value for money. The only thing is you can't feel the deep bass physically with headphones I suppose.

I must admit I am intrigued by high end electrostatic headphones surely that is as good as it gets?

It's been discussed many times this, havn't read all the thread yet but great points made made by OP here. I think they are just different ways of listening myself. Value for money can fall either way. Good headphone set-ups can cost more than good speaker setups, it's not always more for you money. As for sound again pro's and cons to both. Ultimately though good headphones can give you a level of immersion that speakers can't and extract levels of detail that even the best speakers and amps can gloss over, the sound is produced right next to your ears after all. So in that sense they could be king. But speakers and how they interact with the room can also give amazing results of 3D images and for more than one to enjoy and talk amongst themselves. Headphones are probably a more cost effective solution though if you compare them with big systems. Plus as you say don't disturb neighbours and can pretty much be used anywhere in comparison to speaker systems. 

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