Which are better: top in-ear vs. top over-ear headphones?

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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#1
Generally speaking, are the top models of over-ear headphones better than top models of in-ear headphones?
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
#2
IME, over the top.

Tom
 

dalethorn

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#4
Thanks! I wonder if it's the size of the drivers...
In-ear, because they are closer to the ear receptors, with less air smear, reflections, time smear etc. Another factor is because the drivers are much smaller, there is far less excursion of the driver membranes making for less distortion and greater accuracy.
 

FrantzM

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Apr 20, 2010
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#5
In-ear, because they are closer to the ear receptors, with less air smear, reflections, time smear etc. Another factor is because the drivers are much smaller, there is far less excursion of the driver membranes making for less distortion and greater accuracy.
Perhaps you have a point on paper... :)

I haven't yet heard an IME to surpass my 2 favorites .. IME music comes from inside my head more with these than with planars on-ears such as my favorites the Hifiman He600 or the Stax 009. I prefer the HE600 but have to admit the delicacy and midrange of the 009 are nonpareil)
 

dalethorn

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#6
Perhaps you have a point on paper... :)I haven't yet heard an IME to surpass my 2 favorites .. IME music comes from inside my head more with these than with planars on-ears such as my favorites the Hifiman He600 or the Stax 009. I prefer the HE600 but have to admit the delicacy and midrange of the 009 are nonpareil)
'Better' of course is purely subjective. I was really sticking to objective principles. There's a rough analogy between the sonic smearing with speakers and the greater clarity of headphones, and then between headphones and in-ear earphones. In the latter case, the smearing from sonic reflections should be a very small factor, but then the smearing due to driver size is also going to be extremely small. I've owned quite a few IEMs, from the FI-BA-SS and Sennheiser IE800 to the IEB6 and Xiaomis, and while the differences between those and headphones seem obvious enough to me, to get "correct" or optimum sound from an IEM, you either have to be extremely lucky in getting a perfect fit with the right eartips, or get a custom-molded fit.
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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#7
In-ear, because they are closer to the ear receptors, with less air smear, reflections, time smear etc. Another factor is because the drivers are much smaller, there is far less excursion of the driver membranes making for less distortion and greater accuracy.
Dale, thanks for chiming in. Are you aware of any in-ear headphone that sounds like the Beyerdynamic T1?

I have heard Stax electrostatics, Audesseys, Abyss, and other planars, and although they are more transparent than the T1 in the midrange, they lack to get the bass punch right like the T1. I'm hoping to find something like the t1 that I can take with me on my trips. Thanks.
 

FrantzM

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Apr 20, 2010
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#8
Dale, thanks for chiming in. Are you aware of any in-ear headphone that sounds like the Beyerdynamic T1?

I have heard Stax electrostatics, Audesseys, Abyss, and other planars, and although they are more transparent than the T1 in the midrange, they lack to get the bass punch right like the T1. I'm hoping to find something like the t1 that I can take with me on my trips. Thanks.
You've heard trhe Hifiman He6 and the AUdeze LCD and though they lack bass punch? I have had the T1 and the aforementioned Headphones have better bass . Better is subjective but those headphones are IMHO superior to the T1.. You could be right for the Stax, they don't have the Hifiman or Audeze bass
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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#9
You've heard trhe Hifiman He6 and the AUdeze LCD and though they lack bass punch? I have had the T1 and the aforementioned Headphones have better bass . Better is subjective but those headphones are IMHO superior to the T1.. You could be right for the Stax, they don't have the Hifiman or Audeze bass
Thanks, Frantz. I have not heard the models you mention, as I had given up on planars and stats after hearing Stax and earlier Audezes. Will give them a try.
 

rblnr

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May 3, 2010
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#10
Very happy w/my JH Audio Angie custom-fit IEs. Plenty of very clean bass and you can up it up to 6db on the inline switch if you want. I find the presentation of IEs different enough from other over-the-ears I've heard to make it a tough comparison.
 

dalethorn

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#11
Dale, thanks for chiming in. Are you aware of any in-ear headphone that sounds like the Beyerdynamic T1? I have heard Stax electrostatics, Audesseys, Abyss, and other planars, and although they are more transparent than the T1 in the midrange, they lack to get the bass punch right like the T1. I'm hoping to find something like the t1 that I can take with me on my trips. Thanks.
In an IEM the bass is very unlike an open headphone, in that the IEM requires a perfect ear-canal seal to get proper bass. The very best solution for all issues is a CIEM, i.e. custom IEM. I really love the Sennheiser IE800 for an off-the-shelf earphone, and I found its stock eartips satisfactory for me. If those eartips happened to not be satisfactory for someone, it might be possible to use other eartips.
 

dalethorn

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#12
Very happy w/my JH Audio Angie custom-fit IEs. Plenty of very clean bass and you can up it up to 6db on the inline switch if you want. I find the presentation of IEs different enough from other over-the-ears I've heard to make it a tough comparison.
Thanks, Frantz. I have not heard the models you mention, as I had given up on planars and stats after hearing Stax and earlier Audezes. Will give them a try.
I had the LCD2 and its treble is as far from a Stax or T1 as Kansas is from China.
 

Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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#13
I think it is more an issue of "different" than "better".

I love my HE1000s, my Sennheiser 800s, AND my JH Audio and Ultimate Ears custom IEMs. All four are very different and very rewarding. Even Etymotic IEMs are nice (for the price).

IME tube can-amps up the fun quotient considerably.
 

dalethorn

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#14
I think it is more an issue of "different" than "better". I love my HE1000s, my Sennheiser 800s, AND my JH Audio and Ultimate Ears custom IEMs. All four are very different and very rewarding. Even Etymotic IEMs are nice (for the price). IME tube can-amps up the fun quotient considerably.
If I were selling pricy hi-fi gear, or doing professional consulting on same, where would I be telling my customers "It's all personal preference, nothing is really better, and you can buy a $50 headphone or this-here $4000 headphone and even though they sound different, there's no "right" or "better", just your preference"? They wouldn't need me then, they could buy their gear at Walmart.
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
#15
...and discover quickly that they get what they pay for.

Tom
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#16
...and discover quickly that they get what they pay for.

Tom
Or not! Audiophiles are a weird and very, very small niche of folks that like to listen to music. Most music listeners don't give a rip even if they hear the better product. I am still convinced that a large part of the fascination of this hobby and the thing that draws men (and very few women) is the physical product/the gadgetry of the hobby.

If not, then why is is that so very few women are in our ranks? In most cases, their hearing is better than ours.
 
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dalethorn

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#17
Or not! Audiophiles are a weird and very, very small niche of folks that like to listen to music. Most don't give a rip even if they hear the better product. I am still convinced that a large part of the fascination of this hobby and the thing that draws men (and very few women) is the physical product/the gadgetry of the hobby. If not, then why is is that so very few women are in our ranks?
That's my observation. My wife users her iPhone, 320k MP3s, and a B&O H6, which I EQ'd partly by my tests and partly by hers. She's OK with a pricy component, but it has to deliver on sound and be convenient to use. And while she won't go looking for new gear, if I weren't there she probably would go get some purchase advice on her own every few years.
 

dalethorn

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#19
According to me, it depends on the situations and the choice. Most of us like in-ear headphones because of the smartphones compatibility and the gaming provides good support on over-head headphones.
While ear-canal earphones provide potentially the best detail top to bottom, they are also the most problematic because of the need to seal into the ear canals. That's why so many people use Custom IEMs these days, so they get a molded fit to their inner ears.
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#20
I just cannot put anything in my ear for a sustained period of time.
 

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