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Speakers VS Headphones in silent room for enjoyment listening


if you were to choose between a $500 speaker setup of your choice and a $500 headphone setup of your choice in a silent room and you could only have one or the other which would you choose? As it currently sits I have a pait of DT 770's running off of a Fiio Olympus E10 and a really cheap cobbled together speaker system. I was thinking about getting a pair of JBL LSR 305's and a focusrite 2i2 for near field listening in my room but I'm worried that a heaphone setup of equal value would produce a superior listening experience. While I like the DT770's I wonder if an open back pair of headphones like the Hi-Fi Man HE400 run through a O2+ ODAC or a Schiit stack would sound way better or if it would only be a minor difference?

As a sidenote I listen to literally every type of music ever concieved by man... Classical, Hardcore Punk, Electronic, Classic Rock, Metal, Reggae, Industrial, Rap, Folk, Pop, Alternative, Soul, Funk, Blues, Trip-Hop, Ska, Jazz, Prog Rock, Noise, Stoner, Etc...



It kind of depends. Do you want exquisite detail? Then its the headphones. If you want a more natural sound which also allows your chest cavity to vibrate with the bass, then its the speakers. In a studio environment you use speakers a the general tool and headphones for precision surgery. I would not be able to live with either in their own since both comes with each their perks and flaws.

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I have to agree with @Growling_Behemoth here. It is a matter of preference for sure.

That being said, I am fortunate enough not to bother others when I am, so I can enjoy my speakers and prefer them any day to my headphones.



Personally I choose headphones. I'm to damn fidgety to get a proper listening experience on my monitors. That and the fact that other people live with me. Its nice to crank my headphones and not worry about disturbing other people late at night.



No offence but that is a common misconception.

Speakers are going to have more detail than headphones.

It is a myth that headphones have more detail and it stems from the fact that since the driver is so close to the ear, it does not need to push a lot of air for the very faint details in the music to come through.

However so long as you have a proper amp and dac and your speakers do not suck, then you should be able to push enough air with speakers to make that detail come through.

You can also have things like electrostatic speakers which will give you the same level of detail regardless.



No misconception. What good headphones doesn't have is the reverb of the room which is part of why monitors are less precise in the smaller details. These standing and moving waves will distort whatever comes out of the monitors no matter how good and expensive they are.



When you say "detail" are you meaning elements of individual tracks on a particular song so that one might hear something happening in low end for example that wouldn't be audible (or would at least be muddled) coming through a single driver? Because I could definitely see why something like a three way speaker which separates the audio signal out to three drivers made for that frequency range might bring out elements of a track that would otherwise be unclear on a single driver outputting the full range of frequencies. The reason I specifically mentioned the JBL LSR 305s and the HE 400s is because they are known for their clarity and they are within my price range. If one had an infinite budget one would assume headphones would have the edge because then the acoustic properties of the room would factor in rather significantly more. But I'm more interested in pure price to performance ratio at a price point I can afford. Specifically at the $500 range (+$100 if it’s really worth it), which I am aware is not much in the speaker or headphone world.



For 500$ I would go with the headphones. I have no used the ones you mention so I have no idea if they worth the money.
I do know what I would get if I had 1.500$+ burning in my pocket though...




Unless you live in a tin closet, you are talking about a very minute difference and the same small difference also exist with headphones and how the sound waves bounce around in your ear.

Look, sound engineer pseudo science aside, please go to any speaker store worth a damn, and go listen to any one of their setups.

You will figure it out quickly enough.



I am not telling you my opinion, I am telling you cold hard science.



If one had an infinite budget, and then hired nasa to make the best headphones in the world....then maybe.

But I have heard the sennheiser HE-90s before. Even they are not as good as a decent speaker setup.

HE-400s are just not going to sound a full, and smooth a good speakers. Just wont happen.

If you choose headphones, choose them for their simplicity.



That's fine. I am not telling you anything other than what I have learned from my years of actual experience.

Also on the topic of science, why don't you stop talking to the know nothing audio engineers and actually talk to a physicist. They will be more than happy to tell you how audio engineering is a complete joke because most of their models completely ignore phenomena that we have yet to fully understand.

Then after that you can go talk to an audiologist who will say the same thing.

And then you can go listen to all the audio equipment that was designed by audio engineers and then go listen to all the audio equipment that wasn't and then tell me which one sounds better.

Not with science, but with your own two ears.

Then after you figured out how fucking wrong audio engineers are you can join the conversation.



That is incredible. Have you told these guys and the other players in the industry? People are wasting fortunes on bass traps, acoustic panels, diffusers etc. Just to combat a phenomena you say they don't understand at all.

I run a benchmark Dac straight into a pair of Adam S2-A's in a treated room. I have heard my own music on plenty of extremely high end audiophile voodoo technology only to be aghast with the fact that they often colour the sound more than PA's, and that is saying something.

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I have a friend who is an audio engineer for my fathers band. He recommends getting a shitty pair of speakers, making the track sound good, and perfecting it with high end headphones as well as managing everything with a mixing board.



He wouldn't happen to be into a certain line of Yamaha speakers by any chance?



I'm no sure. He did however have a job helping out the RHCPs though.



Welcome to engineering. Just because models are based on assumptions, doesn't make them any less accurate (in the practical sense) for the types of simulations they are being applied to. The assumptions hold true within error bands that are acceptable.

I've no clue of audio engineering so I'm not commenting on that but engineering in general is all about assumptions and approximations. Physicist and mathematicians don't like that. That doesn't mean it is any less useful.



Yamaha HS5's really do make any mistakes in the mastering sound like nails on a chalkboard...



The NS10's. Those were really really notorious. They were the most horrible speaker I ever heard but a pretty brilliant monitor for the same reason. If your mix sounded good on the NS10's, it would sound like pure gold on anything else.

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Too bad their cheapest headphones are $800 because that really starts to break into the little things in my life like food and utilites for the next month... Even $500 is pushing it but the love stories about the planar magnetic sound and the tweeters on the the JBL LSR 305's are pulling on me like the gravity wells on two merging neutron stars.

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