Some New Evidence that Generation Y May Prefer Accurate Sound Reproduction - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 81 Old 07-01-2010, 12:17 PM
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Nonsense, you can't hear the difference between earbuds and speakers. THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME!!!!!1111ELEVENTY!!!!

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post #32 of 81 Old 07-04-2010, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

It's important to remember that what "kids today" are used to isn't just low-bitrate MP3s, but low-bitrate MP3s played over mediocre earbuds. I suspect the earbuds are far more responsible for the tonal quality (or lack thereof) than the codec is. I wonder whether they'd still prefer CD to MP3 if they were listening over those earbuds, rather than a nice JBL system in an acoustically perfect room. My guess is it would be closer to 50-50. That wouldn't negate Sean's findings in any way, but it would put them in context. My hyopthesis would be that young listeners prefer CD to MP3 over a nice system, but have no such preference over the kinds of transducers they typically listen to. In which case, the market might decide (unfortunately) that it's not worth adopting better codecs.

That's a good point and something I hope to test: the effect of the fidelity of the playback system on preference for MP3 versus lossless.

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post #33 of 81 Old 07-04-2010, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jim Hef View Post

I see a major flaw in the study: what teenagers are going to have a better full range system accessible to them other than perhaps their parents'? My children, and their friends, really like listening to our main system, and experiencing the higher def recordings on SACD and DVD-A. However, as mentioned previously, the portability of large song lists in their players, and lightweight ear buds, precludes their listening to "better" recordings on a daily basis.

It's not a flaw in the study, but rather a variable that we haven't tested yet.

There has been research from Philips showing that audibility of lossy codec artifacts, especially time-based ones, are more audible on headphones than loudspeakers because there is less temporal masking from room reflections. So certain artifacts may be more audible over earbuds - even crappy ones. We'll see.

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post #34 of 81 Old 07-06-2010, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kyuu View Post

I think the media (and a lot of people in general) are confusing a preference for the convenience of digital formats stored and played back on digital media (a.k.a. MP3 players) to using physical storage media like CDs.

Also, of course, more and more youngsters have only been exposed to medium-quality MP3s (such as iTunes distributes) since digital distribution is become more popular.

I doubt that most people, whatever their age, actually prefer lower-quality media (disregarding nostalgia for vinyls, etc.). There are complicated factors involved, like price, convenience, whether it's just for playback in a car or as background music for parties (where fidelity is less of a concern) and whether they care enough to pay for more expensive equipment that would reveal the difference between low-quality and high-quality media (e.g. using something besides the headphones that came with their iPod or the cheap iPod dock stereo system).

go ahead and use me as a source study then because i'm 22 and i absolutely REFUSE to use content from itunes or whatever, anything under 320kbps is annoying to my ears. I generally buy CDs just to rip at lossless formats, and i will go out of my way to be able to do so. I mostly listen to trance (mostly european artists) so acquiring cd's can sometimes be difficult/expensive, but i would never waste money for "EASY" at the expense of sound quality.

this also brings me to another point that Genre of music can make a big difference. take a quick listen to music like this and you'll realize how much more higher quality is important when comparing different genres. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RspvQ...os=buLVFrMKVVY
now if i listened to something like 80's pop music, i probably would not be so adamant about only high quality audio.
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post #35 of 81 Old 07-07-2010, 06:10 AM
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[quote=00firebird;18872087]...now if i listened to something like 80's pop music....
Hey, we aren't judging your choices!!!
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post #36 of 81 Old 07-07-2010, 04:10 PM
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haha point taken, but certain music can take a hit to quality and still sound good compared to others.. was the point i was getting at.
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post #37 of 81 Old 07-08-2010, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

...So certain artifacts may be more audible over earbuds - even crappy ones. We'll see.

That will be interesting to see during your study. It would also be interesting to allow young folks to 'hear' the differences with the varying levels of headphones...be they "crappy" earbuds, or audiophile grade headsets. Doubtful this would ever lead to a movement toward lossless playback, but at least it would teach what is "missing" from the compressed audio.
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post #38 of 81 Old 07-10-2010, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 00firebird View Post

go ahead and use me as a source study then because i'm 22 and i absolutely REFUSE to use content from itunes or whatever, anything under 320kbps is annoying to my ears. I generally buy CDs just to rip at lossless formats, and i will go out of my way to be able to do so. I mostly listen to trance (mostly european artists) so acquiring cd's can sometimes be difficult/expensive, but i would never waste money for "EASY" at the expense of sound quality.

this also brings me to another point that Genre of music can make a big difference. take a quick listen to music like this and you'll realize how much more higher quality is important when comparing different genres. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RspvQ...os=buLVFrMKVVY
now if i listened to something like 80's pop music, i probably would not be so adamant about only high quality audio.

I mostly still buy CD's and rip them as well. I'm starting to buy high quality download as they become available.

I agree that the quality of the music and its temporal/spectra/dynamic characteristics will have significant effects on perception of MP3 lossy artifacts. That much is already well known.

So is that music link an example of well recorded music or poorly recorded music? Hard to tell on the speakers of my MBP. Is your point that this genre of music would be poor at revealing Mp3 artifacts?

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post #39 of 81 Old 07-11-2010, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post


I agree that the quality of the music and its temporal/spectra/dynamic characteristics will have significant effects on perception of MP3 lossy artifacts. That much is already well known.

I would further define 'quality of music' as it relates to the original recording, in other words how well the temporal/spectral/dynamic cues were captured in the recording.

In playing with converting to various sampling rates, we've found that what audiophiles would consider a very good recording, lots of low level detail, spacial cues, etc., tends to lend itself to a better quality of playback even as an MP3. It appears as with jpg's in photography, lossy conversions will show the quality of the original.

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post #40 of 81 Old 07-22-2010, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

I mostly still buy CD's and rip them as well. I'm starting to buy high quality download as they become available.

I agree that the quality of the music and its temporal/spectra/dynamic characteristics will have significant effects on perception of MP3 lossy artifacts. That much is already well known.

So is that music link an example of well recorded music or poorly recorded music? Hard to tell on the speakers of my MBP. Is your point that this genre of music would be poor at revealing Mp3 artifacts?

well i'd believe that example to be extremely noticible at lower qualities, It is just a youtube upload that i grabbed as an example, so i can't speak to its file specs or frequency rates. I would put it somewhere around 320kbps if i were to make an educated guess. I think the genre would be extremely picky, as i've noticed in my own listening. As such, i buy exclusively CD format only.
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post #41 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Some more evidence that kids prefer accurate sound reproduction, despite what the media has been telling us the past few years. In this study, I looked at the sound quality preferences of 58 high school/college students in Los Angeles to determine their preference choices for lossless versus lossy MP3 music files, as well as their loudspeaker preferences. I also looked at the same loudspeaker preferences for 149 native speaking Japanese college students to see if there are cultural differences in loudspeaker preferences.


I've written about the research in my blog here: and Geoffrey Morrison has written a nice commentary about the research over at S&V.

The results may be surprising if you think that sound quality is a matter of experience and personal taste.

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post #42 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

Some more evidence that kids prefer accurate sound reproduction, despite what the media has been telling us the past few years. In this study, I looked at the sound quality preferences of 58 high school/college students in Los Angeles to determine their preference choices for lossless versus lossy MP3 music files, as well as their loudspeaker preferences. I also looked at the same loudspeaker preferences for 149 native speaking Japanese college students to see if there are cultural differences in loudspeaker preferences.


I've written about the research in my blog here: and Geoffrey Morrison has written a nice commentary about the research over at S&V.

The results may be surprising if you think that sound quality is a matter of experience and personal taste.

Sean, was the preference and lossy vs. lossless blind test blind?

Also, enjoyed your posts over on Scott Wilkinson's blog site.....Fremer's not so much
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post #43 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim Hef View Post

However, as mentioned previously, the portability of large song lists in their players, and lightweight ear buds, precludes their listening to "better" recordings on a daily basis.

Given what's happening to flash memory costs, unless someone wants to go absolutely crazy with songs, lossless formats don't seem to be too much of a problem.

Why do you think that it is a given that the better earphones are so bad that they preclude listening to better recordings?
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post #44 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

I posted a new blog posting that summarizes some recent experimental evidence where I tested a group of teenagers' preferences in loudspeakers and MP3 versus CD music formats. This is just the beginning of a more thorough longer study, so the results are very preliminary. Still I thought it would be interesting to get some feedback.

I could find no evidence that these high school students preferred the "sizzling sounds of MP3" over higher quality lossless formats, as reported by Jonathan Berger. I also found they preferred the most accurate, neutral loudspeakers when given the opportunity to hear and compare them with something less accurate and neutral.

These results are not too surprising to me, but the media seems to have been reporting a different story over the past year.

If you download the slide show PDF mentioned in the Blog,

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16343460/New...uction.key.pdf

There' may be a second meaning to the study. Note that a relatively low priced but well-reviewed Inifinity speaker system is compared to 3 competitive systems, one costing almost $4K. If you put 2 and 2 together, guess which system the young listeners preferred?

The preferred system was referred to as being " Listeners preferred the loudspeaker with the widest, flattest and smoothest
frequency response curves based on anechoic measurement". It's response curve is shown, and correct me if you think its wrong, but it seems to bear a strong resemblence to:

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post #45 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post

Sean, was the preference and lossy vs. lossless blind test blind?

According to:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16343460/New...uction.key.pdf

The MP3 preference testing was double blind.
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post #46 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

I don't know if the average joe (regardless of age) even cares about lossless when music is usually just used to pass the time at work or travel listening to the latest Lady Gaga song. I doubt they're doing any critical listening that would benefit from lossless and an audiophile-quality system. They just want the storage to cram as much as possible into a device that goes everywhere they go.

I care about the quality of what I listen to - but in the tests I've done, I can't tell the difference between lossless and 320kbps mp3 - so I choose to rip to the latter for storage savings and ease of portability across devices.

As far as paying more for quality - I would gladly pay more for well done surround recordings (a la AIX), but the catalog is very thin, and doesn't tend to align with my musical interests very often.
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post #47 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post

Sean, was the preference and lossy vs. lossless blind test blind?

Also, enjoyed your posts over on Scott Wilkinson's blog site.....Fremer's not so much

Yes, the tests were conducted double-blind for both the loudspeakers and the MP3 vs CD experiments.

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post #48 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

The results may be surprising if you think that sound quality is a matter of experience and personal taste.

I'm not surprised. I'm a college professor, and in the last two years, I've noticed that many students have begun wearing full-sized headphones on campus instead of earbuds. And if you ask them (I've talked to a few out of curiosity), they'll flat out tell you that the sound quality is much better.

Moreover, over the years in talking about music with them before class, I've mentioned FLACs. Five years ago, may one or two people would know what FLAC is. Now, there's always quite a few in the class who do.

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post #49 of 81 Old 05-10-2012, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

If you download the slide show PDF mentioned in the Blog,

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16343460/New...uction.key.pdf

The preferred system was referred to as being " Listeners preferred the loudspeaker with the widest, flattest and smoothest
frequency response curves based on anechoic measurement". It's response curve is shown, and correct me if you think its wrong, but it seems to bear a strong resemblence to:


Looking at the measurements from the .pdf you note that the speaker in question is a 3-way (note the local directivity maxima around 350Hz and 3KHz) with a small midrange.

The last speaker is the Martin-Logan. Directivity is constant due to dipole cancellation starting at 300Hz until the panel becomes acoustically large. You can see the dipole nulls on-axis, panel resonances that show up as similar bumps in all the curves, and some lobing.

The third one should be the Klipsch with the wave guide providing fairly constant directivity from 1Khz on up.

The second should be the Polk where it looks like there's a cross-over at 200-300Hz and a second around 2-3KHz. The large midrange beams more than the smaller unit on the Infinity.
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post #50 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 03:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

Looking at the measurements from the .pdf you note that the speaker in question is a 3-way (note the local directivity maxima around 350Hz and 3KHz) with a small midrange.

The last speaker is the Martin-Logan. Directivity is constant due to dipole cancellation starting at 300Hz until the panel becomes acoustically large. You can see the dipole nulls on-axis, panel resonances that show up as similar bumps in all the curves, and some lobing.

The third one should be the Klipsch with the wave guide providing fairly constant directivity from 1Khz on up.

The second should be the Polk where it looks like there's a cross-over at 200-300Hz and a second around 2-3KHz. The large midrange beams more than the smaller unit on the Infinity.

Nice work!
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post #51 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 05:29 AM
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Good stuff Sean.

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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I'm not surprised. I'm a college professor, and in the last two years, I've noticed that many students have begun wearing full-sized headphones on campus instead of earbuds. And if you ask them (I've talked to a few out of curiosity), they'll flat out tell you that the sound quality is much better.

Moreover, over the years in talking about music with them before class, I've mentioned FLACs. Five years ago, may one or two people would know what FLAC is. Now, there's always quite a few in the class who do.

I've noticed this headphone trend as well, however at the High School level and merely as a parent.

I always considered the driving force was the prevalence of pro athletes and full sized headphones. Over a decade of game-day field duty in the NFL, I began seeing pros wearing full size headphones circa mid 2000's,...and I simply thought this trickled down into the teen realm. Subsequently, I believe the Dre/Iovine Beats campaign has pushed it along too.

Interestingly, and on point with this thread, Iovine stated "You're only as good as your weakest link in the ecosystem of sound, of audio. In the music industry, we have lost an entire generation to bad soundWe want PC makers to have better audio, because these things are used as home stereos by a lot of people and that makes it suck. We are purely on a mission to fix audio for every record company for every artist around the world. We have to turn this thing around and we're starting to, I'm happy that everyone else is now jumping in on culture and audio. If anything should be said about this, it's that. The impact that we have had on moving audio forward is that we're taking it out of a downward spiral."

Here's that story.

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post #52 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by FOH View Post

I always considered the driving force was the prevalence of pro athletes and full sized headphones. Over a decade of game-day field duty in the NFL, I began seeing pros wearing full size headphones circa mid 2000's,...and I simply thought this trickled down into the teen realm. Subsequently, I believe the Dre/Iovine Beats campaign has pushed it along too.

I'm sure that's been some of a factor. I would imagine video game playing has influenced this, too. If students share an apartment or dorm room, they may end up getting high quality headphones for playing games late at night. PC gamers are generally conscious of quality when it comes to their setups.

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post #53 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

PC gamers are generally conscious of quality when it comes to their setups.

Yes, we are.

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post #54 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I'm not surprised. I'm a college professor, and in the last two years, I've noticed that many students have begun wearing full-sized headphones on campus instead of earbuds. And if you ask them (I've talked to a few out of curiosity), they'll flat out tell you that the sound quality is much better.

Moreover, over the years in talking about music with them before class, I've mentioned FLACs. Five years ago, may one or two people would know what FLAC is. Now, there's always quite a few in the class who do.

That is encouraging to hear. There are good sounding earbuds but the ones that fit deep into the canal, and bass depends on how good the seal is.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

Looking at the measurements from the .pdf you note that the speaker in question is a 3-way (note the local directivity maxima around 350Hz and 3KHz) with a small midrange.

The last speaker is the Martin-Logan. Directivity is constant due to dipole cancellation starting at 300Hz until the panel becomes acoustically large. You can see the dipole nulls on-axis, panel resonances that show up as similar bumps in all the curves, and some lobing.

The third one should be the Klipsch with the wave guide providing fairly constant directivity from 1Khz on up.

The second should be the Polk where it looks like there's a cross-over at 200-300Hz and a second around 2-3KHz. The large midrange beams more than the smaller unit on the Infinity.

Aren't you a clever lad!

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post #56 of 81 Old 05-11-2012, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

That is encouraging to hear. There are good sounding earbuds but the ones that fit deep into the canal, and bass depends on how good the seal is.

I don't know about that. I'll take my Sony MDR-V6s over my Etymotic ER-4P earbuds any day, even though the ER-4Ps cost 3 times as much. The ER-4Ps may be a little more accurate through most of the frequency range, but they just don't have the bass. I think that's what some of the college students have figured out.

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post #57 of 81 Old 05-12-2012, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I don't know about that. I'll take my Sony MDR-V6s over my Etymotic ER-4P earbuds any day, even though the ER-4Ps cost 3 times as much. The ER-4Ps may be a little more accurate through most of the frequency range, but they just don't have the bass. I think that's what some of the college students have figured out.

Amazing how experience with exactly one set of earphones, of the 100's on the market, makes someone an expert on the whole marketplace. Well of course "all earphones sound the same", right? Do you really believe all that?

I would like to humbly suggest that you don't judge all earphones by your experiences with just one pair, no matter how many people talk favorably about them.

Not only do earphones like speakers sound consderably different from each other, they also have strong measurable differences that are in the range that are not only clearly audible, but so strong that it is easy to understand how some people prefer different earphones even though their taste in timbre and tone may be similar with loudspeakers.

IOW earphones that you like, I might hate and its not all about differences in preferences. A given set of earphones works differently in different people's ears. The *room* (ear canal and eardrum) that the earphone works with changes its acoustic frequency response, just like happens with loudspeakers in different listening rooms.

Earphones are technically very similar to hearing aids. A good practitioner of the art of fitting hearing aids has a large toolbox of adjustments, both acoustical and electrical at his disposal. This is not only due to the fact that different people have different hearing losses, but also because different people's ears make hearing aids work differently. Same thing applies to earphones. Same thing applies to headphones but probably to a lesser degree. Same thing applies to speakers and rooms.
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post #58 of 81 Old 05-12-2012, 02:57 PM
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Amazing how experience with exactly one set of earphones, of the 100's on the market, makes someone an expert on the whole marketplace. Well of course "all earphones sound the same", right? Do you really believe all that?

I would like to humbly suggest that you don't judge all earphones by your experiences with just one pair, no matter how many people talk favorably about them.

Don't claim to be "humbly" suggesting something when your post starts off with a pick-a-fight attitude. Of course I'm not as stupid as your condescending attitude sometimes seems to indicate you believe other people to be. And of course I've heard different earbuds and headphones.

Meanwhile, earbud/headphone design principle is all well and good, but what's actually available on the market for a consumer's spending budget is a more important consideration. I think you'd be hard pressed to find even one earbud that most people feel would generally equal the SQ of the top 5 or 10 full headphones at a given price point, while also providing equal or more bass. Particularly within the price range of what most college students have to spend. Even if that one earbud does exist for a price point, then you might consider how consumers shop and realize that it will be much easier for them to find a good headphone set with good bass in their price range.

So no. I don't think there's anything wrong with my point about the marketplace and earbuds vs. headphones. It is a generalization, and as such, will certainly have some exceptions. But it's probably representative of real world buying habits.

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post #59 of 81 Old 05-12-2012, 03:01 PM
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Damn guys....it's just audio

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #60 of 81 Old 05-12-2012, 03:09 PM
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Damn guys....it's just audio

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