Do You Prefer Headphones or Speakers for Music? - Page 3 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: Do you prefer headphones or speakers for music?
Headphones 58 10.98%
Speakers 407 77.08%
I prefer them equally 63 11.93%
Voters: 528. You may not vote on this poll

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post #61 of 117 Old 03-14-2018, 07:53 PM
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I never use headphones except on airplanes.
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post #62 of 117 Old 03-14-2018, 09:36 PM
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If I had to choose, I'd say headphones. A quality set of headphones has some very important advantages like binaural capability and very high resolving power.
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post #63 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 07:34 AM
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I chose speakers because I'm deaf in one ear.
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post #64 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4891ttt View Post
If I had to choose, I'd say headphones. A quality set of headphones has some very important advantages like binaural capability and very high resolving power.
But there are so very few binaural recordings.
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post #65 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howl1969 View Post
Bose Quiet comforts for at home working. Surround sound for movies or with other people for sure.
My listening is nearly exclusively through headphones; always has been since high school. Speaker environments are too distractive for me experiencing intimate jazz and chamber classical while reclining. I require a precise stereophonic image and headphones deliver that regardless of body position. I inherited some like-new QCs a few years ago. Would never pay $300 for headphones as my listening requires only a flat 20-20khz delivery as I've experienced with carefully selected priced-to-toss headphones in the past. As the QCs held together during several epoxy repairs through a year of use, I enjoyed them immensely finding the noise cancellation, dynamic range and frequency response sublime in an average listening environment. I loved the isolation characteristics, but finally the QCs became un-repairable; stupid, insultingly cheap build quality. I would pay $25 to replace them; $300 insults my intelligence. So, after trying about four cheap sets, (JVC; Skull Candy; Sony, etc.) I came upon a pair of $7 Panasonic over ear RP-HT21s. Sans noise cancellation, these give me the same level of listening satisfaction as the QCs. They've also given me a year without a hint of requiring repair or replacement. I'm tempted to buy a couple more for just in case these disappear from the market.
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post #66 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheapcheapskate View Post
My listening is nearly exclusively through headphones; always has been since high school. Speaker environments are too distractive for me experiencing intimate jazz and chamber classical while reclining. I require a precise stereophonic image and headphones deliver that regardless of body position. I inherited some like-new QCs a few years ago. Would never pay $300 for headphones as my listening requires only a flat 20-20khz delivery as I've experienced with carefully selected priced-to-toss headphones in the past. As the QCs held together during several epoxy repairs through a year of use, I enjoyed them immensely finding the noise cancellation, dynamic range and frequency response sublime in an average listening environment. I loved the isolation characteristics, but finally the QCs became un-repairable; stupid, insultingly cheap build quality. I would pay $25 to replace them; $300 insults my intelligence. So, after trying about four cheap sets, (JVC; Skull Candy; Sony, etc.) I came upon a pair of $7 Panasonic over ear RP-HT21s. Sans noise cancellation, these give me the same level of listening satisfaction as the QCs. They've also given me a year without a hint of requiring repair or replacement. I'm tempted to buy a couple more for just in case these disappear from the market.
Headphones cannot reproduce the "Stereo" ambient reflections intended to influence the sound, as intended by the producers of the music, that simulates a live performance.

https://www.cnet.com/news/headphones...hich-is-better

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post #67 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 11:33 AM
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I have to admit that headphones have never really felt comfortable on my head, and I've had half a dozen sets over my life. Yes, they're great for times when you have to avoid annoying other people, and when you need portability, but a decent speaker setup in a quiet room can be ecstasy.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralarcon View Post
Headphones cannot reproduce the "Stereo" ambient reflections intended to influence the sound, as intended by the producers of the music, that simulates a live performance.

https://www.cnet.com/news/headphones...hich-is-better

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post #69 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post
I never use headphones except on airplanes.
Well, except for that time when you reviewed the Smyth Realiser for your “In The Round Column”
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post #70 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 01:09 PM
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I never use airplanes except on headphones.

Save your money.
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post #71 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post
Well, except for that time when you reviewed the Smyth Realiser for your “In The Round Column”
Yes but it was a necessity for the review.

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post #72 of 117 Old 03-15-2018, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post
But there are so very few binaural recordings.
Recordings labeled as binaural are rare, but even in stereo recordings, there are sometimes binaural moments.
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post #73 of 117 Old 03-16-2018, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by frank xbe View Post
I have Sennshieser HD 250 and ATH M50X phones and a Schitt Audio headphone amp but I prefer my ELAC B6 speakers with or without the sub.
That headphone amp is really a piece of Schitt (sorry, I couldn't help myself)

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post #74 of 117 Old 03-16-2018, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4891ttt View Post
Recordings labeled as binaural are rare, but even in stereo recordings, there are sometimes binaural moments.
We all have "moments."
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post #76 of 117 Old 03-16-2018, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4891ttt View Post
Recordings labeled as binaural are rare, but even in stereo recordings, there are sometimes binaural moments.
In other words, binaural content is everywhere, waiting to be noticed.
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post #77 of 117 Old 03-18-2018, 12:36 AM
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I voted headphones. I used to really like speakers, but all that changed when I got married and had a kid. Now I listen to my music mostly with open-back headphones. I have gone through several headphones, but find that I like the Sennheiser HD 650s the most. I also use QC25 when I travel, or have to be at the office, not because they sound spectacular, but the noise cancelling works best for me.
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post #78 of 117 Old 03-18-2018, 07:55 AM
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Well lets see.. I learned how to designed and build speakers.. very high end designs fr to $$$$ to ever buy or even for me to retail realistically...

Yep Speakers it is hands down
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post #79 of 117 Old 03-18-2018, 11:40 AM
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I prefer my Beats Headphones... That way i can enjoy music 24/7 and with a latop, i find it to much of an effect to connect speakers.
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post #80 of 117 Old 03-18-2018, 11:51 AM
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Headphones.

Headphones are much cheaper than speakers. In my case, I was able to get a pair of Sennheiser HD600 headphones for $350 about 8 years ago. Music instantly sounded better and it was cheaper than upgrading my A/V receiver and speakers.

Also, I can listen and not bother others. I can listen at my computer, where I play most of my music. I can listen and always have a good listening position for stereo sound. With headphones, I can listen more analytically and hear things I hadn't heard before.
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post #81 of 117 Old 03-18-2018, 03:07 PM
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Speakers. By a mile.

I get the appeal of headphones though. My dad was in to high end audio - we had KEF 105.2 speakers, Carver amps, Technique turntable. But we also had Sennheiser headphones.
I spent many nights (when I couldn't play the stereo due to parents being in bed) zoning out to music, whole Rush albums etc, on excellent headphones. It was wonderfully immersive.

And obviously headphones make it so much easier to listen to high fidelity sound - no room induced coloration hassles to contend with.

But like many I find a well set up set of speakers - 2 channel or surround, though I favor 2 channel - to "give everything." In the closer-to-nearfield listening I use, I get a head-phone like level of immersion and stereo, super high quality sound, and the more convincing sense of reality and connection to the sound.
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post #82 of 117 Old 03-23-2018, 08:35 PM
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Speakers only please...

i have never been to a show / concert where all the audience was wearing headphones, it would not sound like a live performance, headphones are for quiet self listening and cant come close to speakers in a room...
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post #83 of 117 Old 03-24-2018, 12:14 PM
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Speakers. There's just this extra sense of exhilaration you get with music traveling out into open space, particularly when being played at "spirited" levels.

But headphones can provide a unique sense of intimacy, particularly at night or in the dark with music that lends itself better to that environment.
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post #84 of 117 Old 03-24-2018, 08:45 PM
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Post What is "True Fidelity" and what is a recording's goal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I think most of us on AVS Forum are going to be biased towards speakers, I mean we are all about sound, no? Granted there are some very good headphones out there, and there is even some music that works particularly well with headphones but most of the people reading this most likely have a pretty good sound setup. I believe if this question were asked to the more general public it might be closer to the middle or even slanting towards headphones, because that is what you see in public... at the gym, on the bus, even just walking down the street, headphones. Many people probably don't even know what a good set of speakers can sound like so they don't know what they are missing.... I'm just saying... you are asking a biased crowd, but maybe that is what you are looking for. What do people who consider themselves audiophiles prefer.

This is absolutely true. I wonder, for example, what the same poll outcome would be on HeadFi? But most people don't have full stereo rigs - many don't have space, many can't afford it, many have kids who would utterly destroy it and, sadly, many don't care enough about music to care about sound quality. Most people are casual listeners, as you say, on the street, at the gym, etc. etc...

BUT, by saying the above, we are also saying, indirectly, that better sound quality is achieved via a dedicated speaker setup, not through headphones. Is that an accurate assumption?

Headphones are ubiquitous, dedicated stereos are not. So do the leanings of this poll favor a bunch of guys and gals who are fervent audio enthusiasts? Or can you support unequivocally the claim that stereo and surround sound speakers sound better than headphones?

Adam Gopnik, in The New Yorker ("Heaven's Gait", Sept. 1, 2014), described the surreal experience, in the 80's, of wandering the streets with all external sounds drowned out by the soundtrack playing in his head thanks to the newly invented "Walkman". It is an experience that closely mirrors my own, also in the 80's, of almost imagining the scenes unfolding before me to be from a movie - and not from real life. It is hard to describe, but those of you who remember this feeling will nod with acknowledgement. The contrast between the streets and neighborhoods that I knew like the back of my hand, and seeing them with the sounds removed and replaced, say, by Pink Floyd's "Meddle" made everything familiar seem strange and different. At that time I was using a Walkman knock-off and a very good pair of headphones that I think were made by Pioneer, though I can't be sure.

These headphones were extremely efficient and therefore played incredibly loud, but they sounded fantastic, especially to a teen. I was aware of possible hearing loss, but well beyond caring (een angst influenced more than my musical tastes). Those are experiences that I treasure and were only possible because of headphones. I wonder if youth today have the same kind of non-reality experience when they wear headphones on their journeys? Or do they have headphones far earlier in their lives so everything seems entirely normal?

I also recall reaching for a pair of headphones when trying to decipher the electronic, ominous voice on "One of These Days" from the same Floyd Album - upon close inspection it was universally decided that the sinister warning was, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." Just dark enough for a cynical teen like myself.

So headphones give access to experiences with music that are not accessible with a dedicated stereo. And, by putting the sound right next to your ears, you can discern difficult-to-hear passages. And for many, they provide access to music that would otherwise not be available to them due to economics, both literally and often due to the economy of physical space. In those ways, headphones provide a tremendous service. Especially since I am a person who believes that everyone should know and participate in the wonderful gift of music.

However, from the perspective of true fidelity, headphones suffer from a fatal flaw. If we accept that musical reproduction is meant to imitate a genuine musical performance, that is, it is a representation of how we experience music in a live setting, with musicians occupying a dedicated space in front of us while we listen, standing or seated, facing them, then headphones fail at this interpretation somewhat spectacularly. And that is due to simple physics.

Speakers, in a traditional stereo arrangement, sit, as musicians might, in front of us, with one speaker to the left and another to the right. The slight differences in the recording for the left channel and the right channel allow the speakers to create a 3D aural image of the musicians - where they are seated, either to the left, right, or center, and how near or how far back. Of course, some speakers and various other components of a stereo system do this better than others, but that is the goal of a stereo recording.

My personal fetish is admittedly less about dynamics and more about a transparent, hopefully "holographic" stereo image, with musicians' placement so precise and independent of other musicians that I feel like I can reach out and touch them. A person can easily spend as much as the cost of a very large and lovely home in pursuit of this goal. If, however, I have the money for a very large and lovely home, I'm going to buy a large and lovely home.

Headphones cannot place the musicians in front of you because the small speakers that make up a pair of headphones are placed directly over your ears, and NOT in front of them. This is their fatal flaw. Over the years I have many times imagined a pair of headphones that are designed with the speaker drivers IN FRONT of your ears and not on top of them. In my imagining, that really shouldn't be too hard. Perhaps they'd be a little boxier? Since a driver doesn't have to be round, you should conceivably be able to make a pair of "in-front-of-the-ear" headphones that are no bulkier than, say, a pair of AKG 240s. But since they don't exist, this is a non-sequitur.

So, the sacrifice made by placing the drivers on top of your ears is that the image of the musician(s) isn't in front of you, it's literally IN YOUR HEAD. That's what's meant by other comments talking about music being "in the middle of your head". If I'm listening to Kate Bush's pristine vocals, her voice doesn't sound as though it is in front of me, where she would be if I were at her concert, her voice sounds as if it's in the middle of my skull. For those of us for whom music is of major importance and who have refined our appreciation of musical genres and sound quality, this fact is totally not cool.

So no matter how rich, how detailed, how dynamic our headphones might be, the failure in this regard will always place them squarely in the seat behind our speakers in terms of true fidelity. I remember, several lifetimes ago, when I sold mid and high-end stereos in an upscale suburb, and when customers wanted a system but didn't have all the funds necessary to "do it right", we advised that the customer buy a good quality receiver, a decent turntable or, once they existed, a CD player and a pair of headphones, with the idea that they would come back once they'd saved up some more funds and buy a decent pair of speakers. But it was always the understanding that the headphones were a compromise that was endured along the path of better things to come.

For some, the path will end with the pair of headphones, and that's okay. As I said, I believe everyone should have the pleasure of discovering and enjoying music. Today, thanks to mobile technology, virtually everyone can do that. Back in the 70's, only the cool kids had a kick-ass "boombox". And you had to have some pretty good biceps to haul that thing around. But man, were they cool. Nowadays people are collecting those old battle-axes and driving the price up on the ones that didn't get thrown away.

At the same time, when on the subway it's hard to find someone who isn't wearing earbuds or headphones. I wear earbuds or headphones on the subway too. But when I get home there is nothing quite as satisfying as the click of my amplifier turning on and the deep "thud" of the power briefly surging through the woofers of my mains. And, aside from an actual live performance, there's nothing quite as intoxicating as closing my eyes and listening to the musicians who have magically appeared in my living room.

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post #85 of 117 Old 03-25-2018, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterHiFi View Post

My personal fetish is admittedly less about dynamics and more about a transparent, hopefully "holographic" stereo image, with musicians' placement so precise and independent of other musicians that I feel like I can reach out and touch them. A person can easily spend as much as the cost of a very large and lovely home in pursuit of this goal. If, however, I have the money for a very large and lovely home, I'm going to buy a large and lovely home.
My own "fetish" starts with demanding a system produce beautiful tone and timbre, but imaging and soundstaging have always been a requirement as well, as that is one of the central "magic" features of great stereo systems, one that helped get me into the hobby. So my loudspeakers have always been ones that image and soundstage exceptionally well.

The issue I ran into over time is that the mere quality of producing 3D sonic "images" wasn't enough for me. My original Quad ESL 63s, for instance, could conjure super clear, convincing images of artists and instruments in space right in front of me. But after a while I found it wasn't connecting with me because the images felt like I was peering into another room at musicians, not sharing the same space with them. I couldn't "feel" the air moving. That was true to some degree with a number of box speakers that, while definitely better in producing a more palpable presence, still left me wanting somewhat.

My current set up finally has me satisfied in this regard. Tone/timbre is gorgeous. But it is truly remarkable for the *density* and palpability of the sounds emanating from the sonic images. A voice, or sax, or synthesizer just "appears" in a corporeal way in the room, not just as an aural picture, but as an air-moving, air-rippling presence. I'm continually dumbfounded by the effect and it never gets old. (FWIW, I'm using Thiel 2.7 speakers and Conrad Johnson tube amplification. I don't know if it's the time/phase coherence attributed to the Thiel design that helps this illusion, but in any case I haven't achieved this level of palpability with any previous speakers. I'm sure many other designs can do it as well).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterHiFi View Post
This is absolutely true. I wonder, for example, what the same poll outcome would be on HeadFi? But most people don't have full stereo rigs - many don't have space, many can't afford it, many have kids who would utterly destroy it and, sadly, many don't care enough about music to care about sound quality. Most people are casual listeners, as you say, on the street, at the gym, etc. etc...

BUT, by saying the above, we are also saying, indirectly, that better sound quality is achieved via a dedicated speaker setup, not through headphones. Is that an accurate assumption?

Headphones are ubiquitous, dedicated stereos are not. So do the leanings of this poll favor a bunch of guys and gals who are fervent audio enthusiasts? Or can you support unequivocally the claim that stereo and surround sound speakers sound better than headphones?

Adam Gopnik, in The New Yorker ("Heaven's Gait", Sept. 1, 2014), described the surreal experience, in the 80's, of wandering the streets with all external sounds drowned out by the soundtrack playing in his head thanks to the newly invented "Walkman". It is an experience that closely mirrors my own, also in the 80's, of almost imagining the scenes unfolding before me to be from a movie - and not from real life. It is hard to describe, but those of you who remember this feeling will nod with acknowledgement. The contrast between the streets and neighborhoods that I knew like the back of my hand, and seeing them with the sounds removed and replaced, say, by Pink Floyd's "Meddle" made everything familiar seem strange and different. At that time I was using a Walkman knock-off and a very good pair of headphones that I think were made by Pioneer, though I can't be sure.

These headphones were extremely efficient and therefore played incredibly loud, but they sounded fantastic, especially to a teen. I was aware of possible hearing loss, but well beyond caring (een angst influenced more than my musical tastes). Those are experiences that I treasure and were only possible because of headphones. I wonder if youth today have the same kind of non-reality experience when they wear headphones on their journeys? Or do they have headphones far earlier in their lives so everything seems entirely normal?

I also recall reaching for a pair of headphones when trying to decipher the electronic, ominous voice on "One of These Days" from the same Floyd Album - upon close inspection it was universally decided that the sinister warning was, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." Just dark enough for a cynical teen like myself.

So headphones give access to experiences with music that are not accessible with a dedicated stereo. And, by putting the sound right next to your ears, you can discern difficult-to-hear passages. And for many, they provide access to music that would otherwise not be available to them due to economics, both literally and often due to the economy of physical space. In those ways, headphones provide a tremendous service. Especially since I am a person who believes that everyone should know and participate in the wonderful gift of music.

However, from the perspective of true fidelity, headphones suffer from a fatal flaw. If we accept that musical reproduction is meant to imitate a genuine musical performance, that is, it is a representation of how we experience music in a live setting, with musicians occupying a dedicated space in front of us while we listen, standing or seated, facing them, then headphones fail at this interpretation somewhat spectacularly. And that is due to simple physics.

Speakers, in a traditional stereo arrangement, sit, as musicians might, in front of us, with one speaker to the left and another to the right. The slight differences in the recording for the left channel and the right channel allow the speakers to create a 3D aural image of the musicians - where they are seated, either to the left, right, or center, and how near or how far back. Of course, some speakers and various other components of a stereo system do this better than others, but that is the goal of a stereo recording.

My personal fetish is admittedly less about dynamics and more about a transparent, hopefully "holographic" stereo image, with musicians' placement so precise and independent of other musicians that I feel like I can reach out and touch them. A person can easily spend as much as the cost of a very large and lovely home in pursuit of this goal. If, however, I have the money for a very large and lovely home, I'm going to buy a large and lovely home.

Headphones cannot place the musicians in front of you because the small speakers that make up a pair of headphones are placed directly over your ears, and NOT in front of them. This is their fatal flaw. Over the years I have many times imagined a pair of headphones that are designed with the speaker drivers IN FRONT of your ears and not on top of them. In my imagining, that really shouldn't be too hard. Perhaps they'd be a little boxier? Since a driver doesn't have to be round, you should conceivably be able to make a pair of "in-front-of-the-ear" headphones that are no bulkier than, say, a pair of AKG 240s. But since they don't exist, this is a non-sequitur.

So, the sacrifice made by placing the drivers on top of your ears is that the image of the musician(s) isn't in front of you, it's literally IN YOUR HEAD. That's what's meant by other comments talking about music being "in the middle of your head". If I'm listening to Kate Bush's pristine vocals, her voice doesn't sound as though it is in front of me, where she would be if I were at her concert, her voice sounds as if it's in the middle of my skull. For those of us for whom music is of major importance and who have refined our appreciation of musical genres and sound quality, this fact is totally not cool.

So no matter how rich, how detailed, how dynamic our headphones might be, the failure in this regard will always place them squarely in the seat behind our speakers in terms of true fidelity. I remember, several lifetimes ago, when I sold mid and high-end stereos in an upscale suburb, and when customers wanted a system but didn't have all the funds necessary to "do it right", we advised that the customer buy a good quality receiver, a decent turntable or, once they existed, a CD player and a pair of headphones, with the idea that they would come back once they'd saved up some more funds and buy a decent pair of speakers. But it was always the understanding that the headphones were a compromise that was endured along the path of better things to come.

For some, the path will end with the pair of headphones, and that's okay. As I said, I believe everyone should have the pleasure of discovering and enjoying music. Today, thanks to mobile technology, virtually everyone can do that. Back in the 70's, only the cool kids had a kick-ass "boombox". And you had to have some pretty good biceps to haul that thing around. But man, were they cool. Nowadays people are collecting those old battle-axes and driving the price up on the ones that didn't get thrown away.

At the same time, when on the subway it's hard to find someone who isn't wearing earbuds or headphones. I wear earbuds or headphones on the subway too. But when I get home there is nothing quite as satisfying as the click of my amplifier turning on and the deep "thud" of the power briefly surging through the woofers of my mains. And, aside from an actual live performance, there's nothing quite as intoxicating as closing my eyes and listening to the musicians who have magically appeared in my living room.

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post #87 of 117 Old 03-26-2018, 11:25 AM
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Speakers may eventually crumble, thanks to the Smyth Realizer. This has been around since my two-channel audiophile days before I got into home cinema, but they have recently their sights set on immersive audio, and have the past performance to do it.

http://vrzone.com/articles/smyth-rea...ew/123929.html



So my answer to this poll is " Speakers....for now.."
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post #88 of 117 Old 03-26-2018, 06:35 PM
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"Not only did I get an insane Dolby Atmos experience, it was so realistic that I was convinced there was a malfunction and the speakers were still on! The Realiser took it further by suspending audio in that same 3-dimensional space, so that when I turned my head, the sound seemed to stay in that same relative spot! I took them off and there was barely a difference with the actual speakers, so the Smyth Realiser got the audio’s phasing and distancing spot-on!"
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post #89 of 117 Old 03-26-2018, 06:45 PM
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Look what a headphone set can accomplish.
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post #90 of 117 Old 03-26-2018, 07:08 PM
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Look what a headphone set can accomplish.
If it is mimicking loudspeakers.

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