Headstage: Why I really don't give a crap about it (or don't understand the fuss)

Discussion in 'Tales from the Bully Pulpit' started by purr1n, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I've been talking to a few folks about this for years now and just talked about this last night with a friend. I've wanted to post this for a long time, but had forgotten somewhere along the way. To make one point clear, this is purely a my perspective, and I am not trying to say that I am right. I would like people to really think about this though.

    While acknowledging that there is such a thing as soundstage and imaging, i.e. "headstage" with headphones; when it comes down to it, discussion of the differences are nonsensical in the overall scheme of things. I know many long time friends and readers know that I was "headstage" retarded years ago and only gradually started to pick this aspect of headphones. I actually think there might have been a process, because I came from speakers, where I had to slowly learn how to hear "headstage".

    Still, headstage is one of those things I am not too greatly concerned about. The illustration below should explain why.
    soundstage.png

    Headstage is really not the same thing as soundstage. There is a huge huge aspect of stereo sound reproduction which headphones cannot reproduce. This limitation will make certain qualities of amps and especially source more difficult to appreciate or discern with headphones.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
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  2. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    However we want to put it, sound reproduction is/was/will always a trade-off. HPs are better at details, and speakers are better at integration/soundstage. Now I'm not a speaker aficionado, so I may be talking outta my rear end.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I really don't want to turn this solely into an argument of speakers vs. headphones, but I will say this:
    1. The crappiest speakers will image better then the best headphones.
    2. Only a handful of headphones resolve better than decent speakers.
     
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  4. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

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    Do you even binaural, bro?
     
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  5. 3X0

    3X0 Friend

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    I'm happy for this thread.

    When I want soundstage and imaging, I'll always choose speakers (if I had a subwoofer viscerality might apply as well). Maybe transparency too?

    I find I reach for the headphones when resolution and detail are priorities.

    TBH I probably haven't experienced "great" speakers yet though (currently stuck with Anthony Gallo Reference Stradas). To their credit they helped me not care much for HD 800 staging.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  6. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

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    Speakers inherently have crossfeed.

    Headphones don't (unless you are listen to a binaural recording or artificially adding in crossfeed).

    Crossfeed is a huge part of what we hear when we think soundstage.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    How many binuaral recordings you got? I got two:
    1. Can - Flow Motion
    2. Zenph "Re-performance" of Gould Bach 1955 Goldberg Variations (yuck, I hate this - Gould's playing style needs his tweaked piano, not a modern Steinway).
     
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  8. Smitty

    Smitty Too good for bad vodka - Friend

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    The modern Steinway is not generally suited for Bach on a good day, let alone when trying to recreate Gould's style. #HarpsichordOrRiot
     
  9. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Turning our heads when listening to sounds helps with localization. With headphones, even when using binaural recordings, turning our heads will not help much with localization because sound will follow the head movement.
     
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  10. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    What's the point drilling into it? I still prefer HD800 headstage a hundred times over Grado, personally I'm pretty concerned about the magnitude of that. Add Realiser and you can image pretty darn speakerlike, there's no rules against using DSP. Other pros and cons of headphones vs speakers have been beaten to death. Maybe next chapter could be subbass for example, should I care about it or not. :D
     
  11. SSL

    SSL Friend

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    I find the shape and depth of headphone "soundstage" to be more significant than simple width/distance. Most headphones have an in-head presentation for me, but nonetheless there is still a 3D spatial characteristic that some headphones simply do better than others. The difference isn't subtle when going back to a headphone with poor soundstage.

    If you're expecting or wanting a headphone to have speaker-like soundstage, you're listening to the wrong thing, or at least listening differently than I do.
     
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  12. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

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    They are gimmicky, but the Chesky binaural albums are pretty cool to listen to.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's more why I'm a loss to explain headstage differences with headphones and associated gear. Kind of like someone asking me: "So which car is faster, the Lexus CT200, the Toyota Prius, or the Honda Insight?" And I'm like "Umm, let me think about that and get back to you."

    P.S. Added crossfeed and Darin Fong's DSP
     
  14. Kunlun

    Kunlun cat-alyzes cat-aclysmic cat-erwauling - Friend

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    In terms of headstage, at least for earphones, one earphone maker talked to me about the Haas effect being a key factor in his thinking. He said adjusting the FR, decay, etc., to take advantage of this effect was part of what gave the best headspace, in his experience.

    Certainly, it's very possible to have a "forced" larger soundstage with iems, JH and the older earsonics (haven't heard the newer ones) have that. What they are doing to get that fake-ish larger space effect, I can't say, but there are tricks manufacturers use.
     
  15. meloman

    meloman Acquaintance

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    Headphones are a major compromise for music reproduction due to a severe handicap in imaging. Most music was created to be heard on speakers. I'm using headphones primarily due to environmental constraints. Personally, I don't mind losing a bit of resolution to get huge gains in imaging. I realize this every time I switch from my HD800S to el cheapo Emotiva nearfields.
     
  16. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    Even Darin Fong's Out Of Your Head still requires compatible ears etc to sound ok, so it's not the last word on DSP stuff. I hope it's just a matter of time that Sonarworks sources some good cheap in-ear mics for sale and recreates the Realiser functions in pure software. The tweaking options, headphone EQ defects, HDMI hassles etc still leave a lot to be desired on the already aging Realiser hardware. Sonarworks already has a great software base and measurement knowhow and a good existing studio client base. Should be easy to leverage that to sell "hearing your studio on the go" as Realiser does. Doing PRIR measurements with simple laptop / in-ear mic combo would be a killer.

    @Hrodulf are you listening :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  17. MLegend

    MLegend Friend

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    MA900 on the same level as the HD800.......whoa. I didn't expect to see that.
     
  18. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    Wouldn't have said it better. That said, I understand why people's longing for speakers' imaging on HPs
     
  19. shaizada

    shaizada Friend

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    Nice thread!

    Headphones have their place and provide a unique perpective into the sound. Nice to be able to hear without room issues etc, but still a very limited perspective. Speakers, just lay out the sound in front of us much more naturally. The music is typically mixed and mastered for this "normal" perspective.
     
  20. cardigan

    cardigan Almost "Made"

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    That's not really one of my favorite Can albums but I guess I'll have to break it out again and give it a listen.
     

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