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Speakers...Headphones... (1 Viewer)

David Watt

May 1, 2003
Hi there!

Recently, i have a discussion with a friend. He argued that generally, music from surround-speakers will NOT sound as good as that from a decent pair of headphone.
This, he reasons, is because all the sound from a pair of headphone reaches the ears while in the case of speakers, some of the music will inadvertably be "lost" or distorted in the room, through the window, imperfect rooms, reflections ...

In short, the level of detail and clarity of the sound from the headphone can never be reproduced in a room that is not acoustically-treated. Is that true?

Does anyone have an opinion on that?

Rob Rodier

Supporting Actor
Jul 11, 2002
I am not sure about sounds getting lost. However, my dealer/friend estimates that around 10x more needs to be spent on speakers to equal the performance of a set of headphones. So a $50 pair of headphones is comporable to a $500 pair of speakers etc. Obviously this is an estimate. YMMV

A properly set up pair of good speakers still tends to float my boat. You can achieve a better sense of space and soundstage depth IMO. This is product of those "reflections" The downside is that it can be difficult to properly set-up a pair of speakers.



Stunt Coordinator
Sep 25, 2002
I think headphones can produce the best experience with source material designed for them. The reason for this is that headphones place the drivers in a known location with respect to one's ears and eliminate the unknown variables of room interactions, poor speaker placement, etc. However, most content is created with the intent to be listened to on a pair of speakers where both ears receive sound from both speakers. Using a crossfeed can help compensate for this fact with headphones.

Very little content is created specifically for headphones, but one easy way to hear how good it can be is with computer gaming using a soundcard and driver that has a setting for headphones. I think it sounds better than 4.1/5.1 computer speaker setups.

Of course Rob's point about relative cost is also true, although I don't know that the multiplier is as high as 10x.

Edit: Qualifier - this isn't to say that speaker setups can't produce as good or better experience than headphones when setup properly.

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