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I'm no audiophile, but I am an electrician, and do a bit of work with electronics.

I simply cannot understand how all these very high priced headphones can justify their price, or why they cost so much. I simply can't wrap my head around how a $50 pair can be drastically different than a $500+ pair

Speakers are such simple devices, basically just a coil of wire, a magnet and a diagram. They have been around for years, and can be made out of almost anything. Lets break down the parts.

1) The wire - Wire is cheap. I find it hard to believe expensive speakers have better quality wire, or wind their coils drastically different. Even if it is slightly better, with a little more attention to craftsmanship, I see no way they could spend 10X as much on wire. Its probably the same 30ga (or whatever gauge they use) wire, wound into the same coil.
2) The magnet - Strong magnets are also cheap nowadays. Even if the expensive ones source slightly higher quality magnets, theres no way they are using some exotic magnets that cost 10 times as much.
3) The diagram - I'm sure some would like to argue their diagram shape is better engineerd, but realistically, come on. Headphones have been around so long, if one shape is drastically better, everyone would know about it, patents would have been long expired, and in general, its not some super secret technology. I'm also pretty sure they aren't using any super exotic diagrams made out of rare unobtanium or something.

I could understand some being of slightly better build quality than others, but I simply cannot understand such a huge size discrepancy on such simple technology that has been around for years. Its also apparent with earbuds, I mean come on, how can some earbuds be so ridiculously expensive? There is no way they can possibly be drastically different than cheap ones. Is it all just people buying into marketing hype?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I'm no audiophile, but I am an electrician, and do a bit of work with electronics.

I simply cannot understand how all these very high priced headphones can justify their price, or why they cost so much. I simply can't wrap my head around how a $50 pair can be drastically different than a $500+ pair

Speakers are such simple devices, basically just a coil of wire, a magnet and a diagram. They have been around for years, and can be made out of almost anything. Lets break down the parts.

1) The wire - Wire is cheap. I find it hard to believe expensive speakers have better quality wire, or wind their coils drastically different. Even if it is slightly better, with a little more attention to craftsmanship, I see no way they could spend 10X as much on wire. Its probably the same 30ga (or whatever gauge they use) wire, wound into the same coil.
2) The magnet - Strong magnets are also cheap nowadays. Even if the expensive ones source slightly higher quality magnets, theres no way they are using some exotic magnets that cost 10 times as much.
3) The diagram - I'm sure some would like to argue their diagram shape is better engineerd, but realistically, come on. Headphones have been around so long, if one shape is drastically better, everyone would know about it, patents would have been long expired, and in general, its not some super secret technology. I'm also pretty sure they aren't using any super exotic diagrams made out of rare unobtanium or something.

I could understand some being of slightly better build quality than others, but I simply cannot understand such a huge size discrepancy on such simple technology that has been around for years. Its also apparent with earbuds, I mean come on, how can some earbuds be so ridiculously expensive? There is no way they can possibly be drastically different than cheap ones. Is it all just people buying into marketing hype?
oops, Number 3 is supposed to be diaphragm nod diagram. Stupid autocorrect.
 

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Dynamic drivers (like you describe) are relatively simple devices, but look at the measured performance. They are all imperfect. Some more than others. There are also more kinds of drivers, with different performance characteristics. Planar magnetic, balanced armature, electrostatic, etc.

I'm a big skeptic of fancy cables and lots of audiophile nonsense. However, much like normal in-room speakers, turning the electrical signals into sound is far from a solved problem. Speakers really do sound different. And so do headphones. As with most engineering challenges, increased performance (lower distortion, more SPL, wider bandwidth, more linear, flatter response, etc.) generally costs more money. There is surely a lot of creative marketing and snake oil out there, but there are also very capable, well-engineered products.

Go out and audition some headphones. Buy some "better" in-ear monitors and compare them to cheap earbuds. If you don't hear the difference, and don't think they sound better than the cheapies, return them. This does have the general risks of sighted comparisons (no control of biases), but the difference isn't subtle. Here are some vetted options at various price points to consider, starting at just $25:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame-ear-monitors

-Max
 

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Or stay cheap. I have a couple pairs of the famous Koss Porta-Pros which are under $50, and are excellent. So much so that people counterfeit them. Yes, counterfeiting a $50 pair of headphones.

And there's always Grado whose low end is still pretty good. Avoid the iGrado as the SR-60 is only $20 more, or go with the high end of the low, the SR-80 and you'll be forking over a whopping $120 for it. (The SR-60 is $100 ish). Hand made in New York...
 

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Or stay cheap. I have a couple pairs of the famous Koss Porta-Pros which are under $50, and are excellent. So much so that people counterfeit them. Yes, counterfeiting a $50 pair of headphones.

And there's always Grado whose low end is still pretty good. Avoid the iGrado as the SR-60 is only $20 more, or go with the high end of the low, the SR-80 and you'll be forking over a whopping $120 for it. (The SR-60 is $100 ish). Hand made in New York...

The Porta Pro is good, but I like the cheaper Koss KSC75 even more. A whopping $15.
 

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How's the audio on that? The Porta Pros I know have a rather stunning reputation for sound quality and price... Which is why they're counterfeited to hell and back.
 

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How's the audio on that? The Porta Pros I know have a rather stunning reputation for sound quality and price... Which is why they're counterfeited to hell and back.

Audio is very good. That's what I'm talking about. I use the KSC75 on a cheap headband from Parts Express. The drivers pop right off of the ear clips, and pop right on the headband.


If you Google "KSC75 headband mod" you will see what I'm talking about.
 

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I'm no audiophile, but I am an electrician, and do a bit of work with electronics.

I simply cannot understand how all these very high priced headphones can justify their price, or why they cost so much. I simply can't wrap my head around how a $50 pair can be drastically different than a $500+ pair

Speakers are such simple devices, basically just a coil of wire, a magnet and a diagram. They have been around for years, and can be made out of almost anything. Lets break down the parts.

1) The wire - Wire is cheap. I find it hard to believe expensive speakers have better quality wire, or wind their coils drastically different. Even if it is slightly better, with a little more attention to craftsmanship, I see no way they could spend 10X as much on wire. Its probably the same 30ga (or whatever gauge they use) wire, wound into the same coil.
2) The magnet - Strong magnets are also cheap nowadays. Even if the expensive ones source slightly higher quality magnets, theres no way they are using some exotic magnets that cost 10 times as much.
3) The diagram - I'm sure some would like to argue their diagram shape is better engineerd, but realistically, come on. Headphones have been around so long, if one shape is drastically better, everyone would know about it, patents would have been long expired, and in general, its not some super secret technology. I'm also pretty sure they aren't using any super exotic diagrams made out of rare unobtanium or something.

I could understand some being of slightly better build quality than others, but I simply cannot understand such a huge size discrepancy on such simple technology that has been around for years. Its also apparent with earbuds, I mean come on, how can some earbuds be so ridiculously expensive? There is no way they can possibly be drastically different than cheap ones. Is it all just people buying into marketing hype?
I'd be curious to know why you went through the trouble to set up accounts on multiple sites just to post this same thread?

As I said on another site, "It seems the OP has no clue as to business costs is my observation. It's not as simple as cost of materials, not by a long shot. Not by a long long long shot.

I can tell you, for example, if you buy a sneaker from a major brand, the cost of the shoe itself can be less than $10 but it may need to sell for over $100 at retail to enjoy a standard margin at both wholesale and retail."
 
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It is possible I simply don't understand how business works. But still, I don't see expensive ones being made of platinum, carbon fiber, and diamonds. Headphones have been around for 50+ years, and they are simple devices with just magnet, coil and diafragm. I don't see much R&D to be done, that hasn't been done years ago. I don't see why someone can't just copy what's been discovered over the past 50+ years to be the optimum shape, and go ahead and just make it the same way.

I'm not trying to say counterfeit or anything, but theres only so many shapes to make the cone, make it the same shape as the $1000 ones, use the same magnet (which I'm sure is a quality magnet, but not like quality magnets are super expensive), and use the same shape of coil, copper wire is cheap. All the myths about certain copper wires being better than others have been busted. As long as the wire isn't garbage, and it has the same resistance (and the coil is wound the same, making the inductive reactance / impedence the same), that's all the electrons traveling through it care about.

So maybe I don't understand business. Thats possible. But if so, can anyone tell me what is so special about the $1000 headphones, that they can't be duplicated for $50?
 

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I suggest you try some Grado, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, etc and compare them with cheap brands. The difference is obvious. Quality construction and components coupled with overall build quality matter. Issues such as comfort matter a great deal with headphone usage. Driver size also effects sound quality. No way a pair of ear buds is going to sound as good as a quality 40-45 mm driver over-the-ear headphone.

I mostly use Audio-Technica M50X and a FiiO E11K headphone amp with my Samsung S5. Sound is good enough for me and much superior in terms of quality from cheaper products.

For cheaper headphones I've always liked Sony products. I used to DJ and always used their products when my funds were more limited.
 
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I suggest you try some Grado, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, etc and compare them with cheap brands. The difference is obvious. Quality construction and components coupled with overall build quality matter. Issues such as comfort matter a great deal with headphone usage. Driver size also effects sound quality. No way a pair of ear buds is going to sound as good as a quality 40-45 mm driver over-the-ear headphone.
From one headphone enthusiast to another try a pair of Bose IE2. They surprised me in a very positive way. I've owned quite a few different headsets and earbuds. The IE2 don't give up much to the best of those I've owned and heard. My most expensive pair I've heard were Sennheiser hd800. The most expensive pair I've owned is the Sennheiser hd600. I'm a big fan of open air design over closed ear.
 

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From one headphone enthusiast to another try a pair of Bose IE2.
Already own a pair. Great ear buds. I prefer bass heavy music and hence prefer 40-45 mm driver over-the-ear headphones. But they are great ear buds for working out, hiking and at work. Look goofy with the big fellas while in the lab.
 

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I suggest you try some Grado, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, etc and compare them with cheap brands. The difference is obvious. Quality construction and components coupled with overall build quality matter. Issues such as comfort matter a great deal with headphone usage. Driver size also effects sound quality. No way a pair of ear buds is going to sound as good as a quality 40-45 mm driver over-the-ear headphone.
Well, compared to an el cheaper sony earbuds my Grados are great. compared against the Porta pros, yeah, you can hear a difference. Then again, my Grados cost 3 times more than the Porta Pros - while still cheap compared to other premium headphones costing 2-4x even more, it's probably at the point where the difference between it and higher end ones will be minimal for me.

But for the price, well, the Porta Pros are stunningly good. Though, my Grados did fall apart some, so well, I can't really comment on the quality.

In a controlled environment, my Grados are better. in a less controlled environment, like an office, well, they're about equal. I did use my Grados in the office for a while.
 

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In the world of audio, the law of diminishing returns is always at play. I have headphones that range from a $12 pair of Amazon Basics (surprisingly good, actually) all the way up to the $1699 Audeze LCD-X. Can I honestly say that the Audezes give me an improvement in performance that equates to such a premium in terms of the price? Of course not. But there i absolutely no question they are the best headphones I have ever owned, and ever heard for that matter...whether or not that's worth it is an individual decision. For me, I'm pretty frugal in every other area of my life. Hell, in 2009 I bought a 1999 Mazda Protege with 89k miles on it for $3500. Guess what I'm still driving six years later? lol But for me, audio is the one area where I really treat myself...and given the enjoyment I get from music and movies, the premium is well worth it.

But YMMV, of course.
 

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We had a headphone meet and peoples taste were all over the board. I really do feel that when it comes to a transducer over your ear, we. All hear differently...more so than speakers. It amazes me how some love the Audeze LCD-X which I owned and the Senn Hd800 which I own. Totally different sounds to me. I also always note that what we own is usually the best until we own something else:)
 
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