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Old 19-Aug-2010, 06:31   #1
(((interference)))
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Default Earphones vs Headphones

Ok, so I have a pair of Audio Technica's excellent noise cancelling ANC7-B headphones and they sound fantastic.
http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/rev...ng-headphones/

But I've come across a pair or Ultimate Ears 700 dual driver earphones going for $120 USD and so I was wondering if I should get them as they are highly rated.
http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/rev...ing-earphones/

Now, I've always assumed that headphones have better sound quality than earphones as they have much bigger drivers and sit outside the ear, so will the UE 700 sound significantly better than my ANC7-Bs?
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 12:10   #2
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Id say no
imho a quality set of headphones will sound just as good as any other set of quality headphones
i buy them based on build quality and comfort
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 14:29   #3
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IEM is all about fit. If you can get it to fit correctly with your ears, they'll sound very good. If it doesn't fit well, they'll sound terrible. I went through several models before finding the one that fit properly. Headphones are easier fit, but can be hot in summer.

I've never heard the Ultimate Ears 700, but the TripleFi10 is great but only suitable for larger ears, AFAIK the UE700 is the smallest IEM in their range so if they sound the same, go for it.
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 17:01   #4
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I own intra-auricular earphones, cheap stuff but not the absolute cheapest (10 euros), they sit unused because I totally hate them - you have to stick them deep for it to work, the rubber cap thing pops out from one of my ears, the extremely short cable makes it useless (even on the Y part it's too short) - move a few centimeters and you feel weight from the playing device, tension on the cord, ear stuff falls out of the ear.

this drove me insane, almost down to the point of maniacal homicidal rampage
I had more luck with regular earphones I bought 3€ at a flea market a decade ago.

I second Davros's comment.
I was offered headphones that got crap reviews everywhere on the internet but had awesome comfort, and sounded great to me anyway.(sennheiser HD-500)
I miss them (I should have been an ass and not let anyone else ever use them)

high comfort + long cord with not even Y cabling + high stability = you using the headphone.
regardless of sound quality difference that's a huge win over not using them

Last edited by Blazkowicz; 19-Aug-2010 at 17:07.
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 18:27   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (((interference))) View Post
But I've come across a pair or Ultimate Ears 700 dual driver earphones going for $120 USD and so I was wondering if I should get them as they are highly rated.
You do realise that non blind non objective testing is worth exactly squat right? At least as far as sound quality is concerned, discomfort and pain are less easily ignored based on price tags and preconceptions (although given how much hi-fi reviewers are swayed by those I wouldn't be surprised if they could have blood streaming down the side of their face and call it the greatest thing ever if they liked the brand enough).
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 22:25   #6
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I swear by my Sennheiser PX 100. Not even the PX 100-II, which sound a little speechier and have a cable going in on one side only, but the good 'ole ones. I've recently replaced the foam pads, because they were all gross after a good four years of regular use.

Speaking of years, I'm starting to be impressed with how durable the cable attachment is. It has taken and shrugged off way more abuse than it has any right to. Within the same time I've gone through three headphone extension cables which were all annoyingly thick and stiff and heavy, and which all broke despite being taped into place under a desk with almost no movement left to absorb.
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 22:50   #7
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Originally Posted by Blazkowicz View Post
I own intra-auricular earphones, cheap stuff but not the absolute cheapest (10 euros), they sit unused because I totally hate them - you have to stick them deep for it to work, the rubber cap thing pops out from one of my ears, the extremely short cable makes it useless (even on the Y part it's too short) - move a few centimeters and you feel weight from the playing device, tension on the cord, ear stuff falls out of the ear.

this drove me insane, almost down to the point of maniacal homicidal rampage
I had more luck with regular earphones I bought 3€ at a flea market a decade ago.
This, IEM is all about fit and they are a bugger to get the right fit. Forget reviews, price point, etc. If you go this route, just pick one that fit you well and be done.

With proper fit, IEM is awsome. Your ears shouldn't feel any pain or any sort of discomfort what so ever and they should stay on your ear even if you're jogging. The easiest way to achieve this is to go custom.

Trying your luck with universal fitting IEMs can drive you insane.
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Old 19-Aug-2010, 23:12   #8
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well when they do stick they are indeed a good experience, the bang-for-the-buck is here regarding sound quality/immersion (you have to watch out on volume and on your surroundings obviously)

that may explain the ridiculously strong frustration I had
yep I would love trying/having custom-molded ones but that's probably about the price of a speakers pair..

Last edited by Blazkowicz; 19-Aug-2010 at 23:18.
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 00:32   #9
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Thanks for the replies,

I am sure you will be able to hear the difference between quality IEMs and average ones, and fit shouldnt be a big issue seeing how many tips they usually come with.

So assuming that the 700s fit properly (they do come with foam tips after all) will they sound better than my ANC7b's?

I'm not too concerned about practicality as I have another cheaper pair for on the go listening, so I don't need the 700s, am only interested if they'd offer noticeably better sound quality than the ANC7bs.
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 03:00   #10
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I have marshmallows by jvc. They are really good for the $10 bucks they cost on amazon and they are like a memory foam so they actually fit well in my ear.

I don't think i'd every pay more than $50 bucks on a set of headphones
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 13:34   #11
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Well, if you have a good EQ and know how to use it, you can fix any well made headphone or speakers to sound the same ie, reference level or to sound how you like it to be.

If you're already happy with the ANC7b's comfort and general usage, why bother with the IEM ? Unless you're not happy with the sound cancelling and wants some isolation which IEMs generally offer.

The only time I buy new headphones, is when they break from usage. Generally how they sound is very low on my list, its all about comfort, usage and durability. You can make any headphones to sound the same with EQ. So I suggest don't waste your money on IEM, if you're just looking for sound quality improvement. Trust me there is none.

I have audiophile friends, they have heaps of expensive gears, I had done some blind testing with them, and trust me they can't tell the difference between the standard $4000 studio monitors and $50,000 fancy audiophile loudspeakers with god knows the cost of the amps that are attached to them. Not only they can't tell the difference but they prefered the studio monitors in the end anyway. .

High fidelity sound can be had for very cheap now days, why waste your money especially you already have something you're happy with.
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 14:00   #12
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But you should never skimp on speaker cables
like this bargain for only $21,000
http://www.noiseaddicts.com/2008/11/...st-audiophile/
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 17:58   #13
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Quote:
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$4000 studio monitors
Even 4K for a speaker means it has a ridiculously large markup from manufacturing cost.
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 18:20   #14
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Well, if you have a good EQ
Of course there are very few good EQs ... especially for portable audio.

Which is a shame, because it's not like it's hard ... let the user set some points on the bode diagram, compute a spline through them to get the rest, turn it into a high tap minimum phase filter (linear phase is tempting but a really bad idea) with FFT based filtering and bob's your uncle.
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Old 20-Aug-2010, 20:44   #15
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I have tried a wide range if IEMs now, from the Koss Plug for €10 up to €250 for the Ultimate Ears Double-Fi Pro (or whatever it's called. It's like the Triple-Fi, only with two drivers per ear instead of three). The IEMs with 2 drivers sounded a bit better than the half as expensive ones with just one, but I'd still take my 30€ Koss Porta Pro over all of them any day.
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 09:55   #16
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I think there definitely is a difference between $50 headphones and $200 ones, it's not like HDMI cables, you can actually see that the hardware you're getting is more complex and exotic.

Like IEMs with multiple drivers per ear, that will have to sound better than a $50 single driver one.

And EQ settings might make cheap headphones sound better but they skew a song's sound away from what the artist originally intended it to sound like
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 12:25   #17
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The above mentioned 21K audio cables are complex and exotic too ... it doesn't do anything for the sound, but it's complex and exotic.
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 15:24   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MfA View Post
Even 4K for a speaker means it has a ridiculously large markup from manufacturing cost.
monitors have strict requirements in terms of flat spectrum response, unqualifying builds are discarded.

(((interference))) has well explained why it's desireable, and studio monitors even are the original reference for knowing how the sound you've just made sounds like

obviously those $4000 are more justified for mutualized recording equipment than for private listening equipment.

someone I know got hold of studio monitors that had been rejected because of some tiny defect (which maybe developed with use), such as 1db too much above what it should be on a certain frequency. here is it, awesome set of speakers for cheap
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 15:26   #19
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Even 4K for a speaker means it has a ridiculously large markup from manufacturing cost.
That's a given, it's still low volume specialty products, you could DIY for less that's for sure. Distribution ain't cheap for this type of product. Though some of these manufacturers are starting to aim their technology at PC users or home studios, so you could get good monitors for a lot less now days.
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 16:06   #20
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amps are cheap on the other end. cheap electronics can do nothing to cheapen speakers, but the rest of the chain can go cheaper.
there are über cheap class D amplifiers on sale, basically built around an IC that contains most of the thing. (650kHz switching MOSFETs inside the chip do some digital switching based amplifying)

I own a lepai ta2020 which I paid 16€ on ebay (£13 + cheap shipping), it's tiny, 2x12W and has cheap ass knobs but has very high fidelity over the spectrum - it reflects everything there's in your source.

I'm confident modern tech will make great audio affordable, but leaving the bulk of the expense on the actual physical devices (speakers, phones, mics)

disclaimer : I don't know much at all about audio gear especially the classic, high end stuff.
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 16:09   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (((interference))) View Post
I think there definitely is a difference between $50 headphones and $200 ones, it's not like HDMI cables, you can actually see that the hardware you're getting is more complex and exotic.

Like IEMs with multiple drivers per ear, that will have to sound better than a $50 single driver one.
Well multiple drivers IEM can sound lounder with less distortion, but really our ears are not good enough to pick up on these minute distortions. Measuring equipment could, not our ears. The effects of EQ are easier to pick up by our ears than these minimal distortions. I had listen to a variety of IEMs throughout the years using different technology like Etymotics ER4, UE TF10, Shure SE530, Sens IE8 and Audio Technica CK10 and CK100. All you need is a good fit for consistency as well as comfort and EQ it to reference level or the sound you want. They all are very good, can't go wrong with any of them as long as they fit you. They all sound different but can be EQ to sound the same.

Quote:
And EQ settings might make cheap headphones sound better but they skew a song's sound away from what the artist originally intended it to sound like
Unless its a binaural recording, most records are for loundspeakers reproduction, just by using headphones or IEMs will make the sound not to the artist original intention.

EQ is used to correct sound reproduction so the sound is to the artist or the recording engineer intention. Loudspeakers, headphones, IEMs all need EQ. Loudspeakers might get away with room treatment (but still it's easier to use combination of EQ and room treatment), but headphones and IEM forget it. Those need EQ surely. That's why the best way is to get custom IEM, they'll tune the sound for your ears, so you don't have to do it.
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Old 21-Aug-2010, 20:32   #22
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Quote:
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someone I know got hold of studio monitors that had been rejected because of some tiny defect (which maybe developed with use), such as 1db too much above what it should be on a certain frequency. here is it, awesome set of speakers for cheap
Which is frankly ridiculous, turning your head a couple degrees would cause more deviation across the frequency range. To get 1 dB flat response in a measurement setup you can be 100% certain it's equalized BTW. That's not something you can manage with merely good design.
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Old 22-Aug-2010, 04:24   #23
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lol I shouldn't have given a number I made up sometimes I speak too much.
I thought 1dB was not so tiny of a difference.
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Old 22-Aug-2010, 14:01   #24
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Quote:
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lol I shouldn't have given a number I made up sometimes I speak too much.
I thought 1dB was not so tiny of a difference.
1dB is the approximate change in level that is barely large enough to be detected by an industry-standard human being, when not subject to masking. It is a relatively tiny change only in the crude terms of our hearing apparatus. In physical terms though, it's a pretty significant deviation (+12 per cent).
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Old 22-Aug-2010, 16:33   #25
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heres a question

why does my hifi when the volume is turned right down display -90db and when on full volume display 0db
you'd expect 0db to be silence
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