Is it a bad idea to compare speakers to headphones?

My headphones (DT 990 Pro) are the only piece of audio gear i own and the only perspective i have on how music should sound. When i went to a store today to try some speakers (KEF LS50 and Dali Opticon 2) i was kind of disappointed because i couldn’t hear all the details that i can hear with my headphones.

Is this comparison even fair? Are speakers generally just less detailed than headphones or did i just try the wrong speakers?

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Speakers by their nature of being open are more dependant on external factors
quality of speaker
Environmental noise
Room shape
etc etc


I mean it’s apples to oranges comparison wise, but what you are experiencing is the more intimate presentation headphones can give

Was going to say what @PABastien said but he’s already got that down


They both have different strengths too.
For example, the strength of a good stereo setup is the soundstage (and the replication of a real-life venue), the room-filling sound, and the pure visceral feeling of the sound hitting you.

You cannot duplicate that with headphones.

If you find a setup that can match or close to match the level of detail from a headphone, it’s hard to go back.

On the other hand, headphones are the king of intimacy, privacy of sound, and detail retrieval


To an extent for the detail and technicalities aspect, once you get into the land of very high end speakers can get way more resolving than headphones can


yeah I was going to mention this… detail wise headphones kill speakers in terms of bang for the buck


No it’s not a bad idea at all; I enjoy each equally for different reasons. I listen 60/40 to my headphones and on the 40 I listen to probably 85+ vinyl and 15 digital. I can’t stand vinyl on headphones but on my speakers it’s great.

You could try… something like Adam T5Vs.
DT990 pros probably mean most of the detail you like is in the treble.
T5Vs got AMT tweeters. Apparently this is detailed AF.
T5Vs are studio speakers, so they need to have detail.
But Zeos even recommended em for TV, because they apparently do good soundstage and depth, too, which is… rare, or even, unheard of, for studio speakers, especially for this price?

Correct me if I’m wrong.
One day I’ll have my T5Vs and hope Zeos was right. Lol.


Oh, Wharfedales are also blurring the line between studio monitors (prioritizing detail) and hi-fi speakers (prioritizing… width, depth, fun?) for a fair price.

In the end comes to what you personally like. :slight_smile:
I selected the 305P over T5V. To me the U-ART tweeters where not so “natural” and relaxed. Even for just TV use and of course there are plenty of differences in studio monitors as well.
Going from the low end to the high end, even inside a “same series” small vs big, even thought the “sound is same” but differences, yes.
Once you have all the detail from speakers, plenty of power, room modes etc are good, there is no competition.

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I mean for mastering you are actually better off just using straight HiFi speakers imo lol, also wharfedale is hit or miss imo

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I’m really digging the T5V. The detail is tremendous. Having these details painted in a soundstage spread across 5 feet on my desk just can’t be replicated by a pair of headphones putting up a soundstage spread across 5 inches between my ears.

I’ve heard some really great, really expensive audio systems over the years. They do the same thing as the T5V, but at a bigger scale and across a bigger frequency range. What these speakers do at this price is pretty remarkable.

In general, I think headphones vs speakers can reveal detail in different ways. It’s like studying a painting. Headphones can reveal details about the texture of the canvas and the brush strokes. Speakers can reveal details about the composition and the scale.


It’s definitely a very different experience imo. When I first got my speakers it took me a little bit to get used to the difference in presentation because headphones generally put everything right near you. Make it easy to find detail, in addition they are more intimate. Speakers are a little bit harder to find all the detail if you aren’t expirienced. Not to mention differences that the room make, the angle, distance from speakers and the sound signature (brighter gear tends to sound more detailed than warm and dark stuff). Nowadays I enjoy both, the speakers are something you also feel more and again are less personal. While I enjoy my headphones for how personal they can be.

Long story short, I think both are incredibly enjoyable for very different reasons, and technically I would say it’s not a fair comparison

The feeling created by massive woofers in a properly treated room is impossible for a set of cans to match. But the detail and transparency in Cans you would have to spend 30X on a proper hifisetup to match it.

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Yup. I just find it funny when people on youtube comment and say “don’t do mixing/mastering on headphones”. Yeah, right. Mix and master everything in your bedroom with your 200$ speakers. Then send it to the artist with 200$ headphones and he will think you’re deaf because you did not even hear the cat vomiting in the background at 2:14 and the chair squeaking at 3:00. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Just took a hit of 100db of Wiz Khalifa - on my level from the big G’s.
There is No way in this World… ANY headphones can gives this type of feet and body shaking and eargasms that i just had. All of my body hair pointing up with the song when blasting.

So freaking good! Next song and happy holidays.

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It really is a different sound. Yesterday I was trying to pitch in and I did some ironing. Not really a headphone thing so I fed my DAP into my receiver.
I own Axiom M60’s from about 15 years ago. They just do TV work now.

What a DIFFERENT sound! My wife enjoyed me not closing her out with my headphones and she was even singing along to a few songs. :grin:

It has been a few years since music was a communal thing at home.

But the sound was so different. So open. Cool as a change from the regular.

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the t5v are great they are the only speaker i have herd with depth. its a bit different to say rb42s but i ran the t5vs for months as my day to day speakers on my desk. for music tho every thing NEEDS a sub for that club sound

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