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Headphones or speakers?

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Headphones or speakers?

Postby CHRIS 037 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:04 pm

Hi All,

I just had an interesting and illuminating experience concerning Concert Hall.

I had rigged up my 52" Hi-Def TV to run from an HDMI out on a computer. This was to take advantage of the increasing streaming video available. While I had things going, I went to the net and then to contrebombarde.com and opened one of my recent uploads.

I was somewhat unhappy with the sound I got through speakers. :o The speakers are good quality: Martin-Logan electrostatic models with an REL subwoofer. The sound was clear, but the reverb balance was way different than I get through headphones. The reverb level was, in fact, way more dominant than I hear through phones.

A few of the uploads I listened to, that had much less reverb, sounded rather better, I thought.

So, my note to all you folks that enjoy listening to the offerings on Concert Hall is, if you don't think what you hear sounds quite right, try changing from speakers to headphones, or visa versa. I generally put a lot of effort in getting the music I upload to sound as good as possible, as do all of us contributors, but I use only headphones (usually, Sennheiser HD 600's). Thus, to hear the sort of sound I intend, one should use good headphones.

I wonder if when we upload pieces we should specify whether we record and edit with phones or speakers?

Leo Chris.
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Re: Headphones or speakers?

Postby pat17 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:30 pm

CHRIS 037 wrote: The speakers are good quality: Martin-Logan electrostatic models with an REL subwoofer.


A Martin Logan owner? No doubt, Chris, you are a connoisseur! 8)

I have not made extensive comparisons myself between loudspeakers and Headphones, but I came to the conclusion the result was way ahead with the latter. :wink:

I have heard during years SACDs of organ music played on my full Martin Logan 5.1 setup, which gives a really nice audio picture especially for the wonderfully well recorded discs from PentaTone of Holland. But, when I wired my Mac to the Stax headphones (also electrostatic!), I entered into a new dimension. 8)

I had always been a multi-canal strong supporter, but the reproduction obtained by the Stax is so open, so live, so real, that I consider as useless to even try to hook my Hauptwerk system to the Martin Logans... :wink:
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Re: Headphones or speakers?

Postby CHRIS 037 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:01 pm

Hi Pat,

Headphones do give a fantastic "real" sound to these organs. I love that.

However, when I actually play my instrument, I still tend to prefer the multiple speaker set-up. There I can get the sensation of playing the real thing. . . sound, and especially low bass, just fills the room. There is that physical feeling of real power there. Getting the reverb right, particularly great cathedral sounds, if very difficult. After headphone listening, I have mostly given up on the long reverb stuff.

So, one day, if you have the space, you might want to try the multiple speaker approach, which HW can do so well. I refer to quite a few more speakers than a surround speaker grouping. But, don't expect organs to sound like they do in their own halls or cathedrals. Instead, think of it as designing your own instrument that you taylor to your particular environment.

Isn't HW wonderful??!!! :D

Leo Chris.
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Re: Headphones or speakers?

Postby pat17 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:55 am

Hi Leo,

You are absolutely right - room acoustic is a key factor to have loudspeakers being convincing.

My room is of a limited size (27 SQM which is equivalent to 209 Sq. Ft. if I am not mistaken). This is why I have decided to stay with a 5.1 system when it comes to Home Theater, and this is why I am not convinced multi-channel would be nice for Hauptwerk output. Besides, Organ is not really appreciated in this part of the world and I am living in an apartment!

The great advantage of headphones is you do not have to really bother about measuring wave lengths, absorbing / reflecting walls, equalisation among speakers, subwoofer positioning and other sweet spots issues... :wink:

But I guess for someone well equiped (in audio systems, in measuring devices, in technical knowledge and in available time), and enjoying a good room size in his/her house, it must be possible to reproduce a real cathedral environment and to give the performer a thrilling feeling! 8)
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