Headphones vs speakers


#1

Some members here have noted that listening via headphones vs speakers affects their preferences for Pikes, Yale beta, or Yale final. I can well believe that this can happen.

Many, many years ago I tried a pair of headphones. I really disliked the effect of the music being in my head rather than in space out in the room and that put me off of headphones. Do more recent/more expensive headphones not sound this way? I’d be interested to know if there is reason to try again.


#2

If it’s any help: We recently got a pair of the Audeze LCD-3 headphones. I like the sound and have no particular preference headphones vs. speakers, but my wife hates the headphones because of the centered in her head phenomenon. I hear a clear soundstage (but sometimes in my head for heavily produced music and sometimes “somewhere else” for more natural recordings. (I know that some people use DSP to get some sort of 5.1 sound, but I don’t like the sound of DSP processing.) It’s certainly worth a visit to a local dealer for a listen.


#3

Headphones and speakers are very different experiences. Headphones do not have a soundstage perse and string the instruments along a clothesline stretched between your ears. But once you get used to it, you learn what this means. One also needs to accept that headphones have even more coloration than speakers, you buy the sound you like.

There are methods to mix some of one channel into the other, add feedback and otherwise manipulate the incoming signal to more replicate the speaker experience, but I find most of these offputting and more of an annoyance than a benefit. Headroom’s means for accomplishing this I find particularly dreadful. Michael Grace’s crossfeed is a good deal better.

Headphones are great for listening for minute details if you are into this sort of thing. I like them for editing.

I have a multip0le pairs of excellent headphones and almost as many excellent headphone amps. They are a hoot to play with. But they are yet one more step further removed from an actual performance.

As Ted mentions, it is well worth getting a demo of some truly good headphones and a dedicated headphone amp. It is another fun way to listen.


#4
Elk said Headphones do not have a soundstage perse and string the instruments along a clothesline stretched between your ears.
That depends on the recording - When there are enough depth of field clues you may hear things differently. What that means depends quite a bit on the listener. There are certainly plenty of recordings I perceive in a straight line between the two ears, but not always and it's hard to describe the depth, perhaps the string gets fatter for things that are further away... In any case some recordings have great depth and width. As I mentioned this doesn't happen for my wife at all.

#5

I did hear the LCD-3 recently and they are excellent. Elk, what your favorites for editing?


#6

Thanks, guys. I find it fascinating that people can experience headphones so differently. And it’s true that I didn’t give myself time to get used to headphones because I initially disliked the in-my-head effect. Maybe I’ll demo a good pair, although my audio racks have gotten so full with all the stuff I’ve added in the last few years (NAS, network switch, small headless computer [to record vinyl with my PSA phono converterlaugh], external power supplies, etc.) that I’m not sure where I’d put a headphone amp.


#7
Ted Smith said There are certainly plenty of recordings I perceive in a straight line between the two ears, but not always and it's hard to describe the depth, perhaps the string gets fatter for things that are further away...
Yes, there is variation. Some recordings are better than others. I also find that open headphones provide a more spacious soundfield than closed. (I know this sounds obvious, but it is strikingly different.)
wglenn said I did hear the LCD-3 recently and they are excellent. Elk, what your favorites for editing?
The LCD-3 cans are extremely nice, especially timbre.

Frankly, any headphone works great for editing. I am listening for awkward cross-fades, clicks, oddities I can filter out like subway or train rumble, etc. One think I like to address is the sound of the room. A live audience sounds different at different times, even when they are not actively noisy. Take out ten seconds and the edit can be obvious. It still surprises me. As long as the headphones are full range they will do the job. Headphones allow me to focus in on these little details.

I know there are those who can mix/master to headphones. I find this impossible, no matter how good the headphone. Speakers and headphones are fundamentally different. I find that if it sounds good on speakers it will sound good on cans. The reverse is not necessarily true and often is not.


#8

AL

Here’s a toy for you.

When did you say your birthday was??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7hdB32_miw


#9

When you listen to stereo speakers, you always hear both channels with your two ears. Headphones don’t have that problem; the left channel is only heard by the left ear, and the right channel only by the right ear. That’s why stereo sounds smaller over headphones.

[Spam content deleted. We have had a rash of new “members” recommending an essay writing service as did this post. I doubt we will hear from “William” again. Elk]


#10

Welcome to the forum!


#11

“Bascom King’s signature Headphone amplifier” ???

Thought this would a useful place to put a link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-king-headphone-amp-by-bascom-king-for-audeze#/

First 10 already sold. $2950 for a bit. Footage includes Bascom soldering.

Interesting development - very surprising.