I actually started with speakers system. I had many speakers brands that I can’t remember exactly the names are. My dad also bought a few expensive gear decades ago. Since he’s getting older, it’s time for him to step back and enjoy life. My exposure to headphones has been very positive. I do not consider my financial losses as cons. There are more pros than cons. I learned to be a good buyer, I learned to pay attention to what I hear and what I expect. Headphones can be very cheap and also very expensive. Cheap if you consider superb sound quality in one small package and relatively inexpensive. And expensive when you have found similarly priced decent speakers are actually better than headphones or when you go over the top on headphones for marginal improvements. What I mean by decent speakers are speakers that offer superb sound quality for the money. Let me tell you that there are not many of them. So you really have to step up your game and search for true high performance.
HEADPHONES IS EXPENSIVE
Like many small things or miniaturized things, they tend to cost much more than their bigger counterparts. In my opinion, this is true with headphones. They do cost a lot of $$. For those who think headphones setups are smaller than speakers. Well, you have to look around. There are extremists who own headphones amps bigger than speakers amps. These extremists can be easily found and there are many of them by the way. It’s kinda funny to look at those monstrous headphone amps, considering the headphones themselves are much tinier than a set of speakers. They are often more expensive than speakers amps. I think people got off on the wrong foot when they consider the bigger the better (headphones amps), the more expensive the better (headphones and headphones amps). It just does not work that way. Yes, there are differences between more expensive headphones and cheaper headphones, but how much differences are we talking about? Subtle! Actually, you can find much cheaper headphones outperform the more expensive ones. But then again, there are bone-headed audiophools who think cheaper headphones suck, no matter how good it actually performs.
SPEAKERS NEED SPACE
In my opinion, headphones may save tons of space and tons of $$ only if you do not spend crazy money on big-honking headphones amps and DACs. Headphones are arguably able to reveal a bit more details (this is arguable, headphones drivers are practically centimeters away from your ears. if you stick your ears closer to the speakers drivers, you’ll hear more details than say, sitting 10-feett away from the speakers) than speakers but what about the other things like imaging, soundstage, resolution, and presense. Those areas are where headphones fall apart if compared with a good speaker system.
I’m not going to cover much about what smaller headphones amps are better bigger headphones amps or what cheaper headphones are superior than more expensive headphones. I’d say, earn your education, and experience them by yourselves. You will have much better understanding about various headphones and headphones amps that way.
Speakers use big drivers, woofers, and etc… There are many options that you can choose from to build your perfect speakers. Dome tweeter Vs. Ribbon tweeter for example… They are very different. I own an Audez’e LCD-2. In my opinion, it is the best headphones out there. It is beautiful, produces superb sound quality but poorly made. But it still cannot match my Selah Audio speakers which sports RAAL riboon tweeters, Accuton ceramic dome midranges, and Scan-Speak Illuminator woofers. The crossover that Rick Craig of Selah Audio designed is also superb. Add that to the marvelous mix of high performance tweeters, midranges and woofers, it will give you an audio nirvana.
The only three advantages of having a headphones system over a speaker system are:
- space saver; audiophile headphones itself is no bigger than mass-produced headphones and the amp itself is much smaller than a speaker amp. One doesn’t need a dedicated listening room which is almost a must for a speaker system. It demands acoustics perfection.
- $$ saver if one is looking for a superb sound quality for a lot less $$. With headphones, one doesn’t need to worry about the acoustics of the room. The cost to treat a room is very expensive. I spent over $3.5k to get the ‘proper’ room & speakers correction technology from DEQX.
- reveals more details; again, this is arguable, the drivers are very close to the ears.
I currently don’t have enough space for my speaker system, so what I used now is my headphones system. I’m very satisfied with it. Until I find a proper space, I’m going to use my Grado RS1i. But once I installed my speaker system, my headphones system will no longer be my main audio system.