Headphones vs. Earbuds

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Which do you prefer-- Over the ear headphones or earbuds?

Headphones
124
61%
Earbuds
49
24%
Neither (speakers?)
14
7%
Doesn't matter
7
3%
Otter
9
4%
 
Total votes: 203

WaterToFire
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Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby WaterToFire » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:28 am UTC

Pretty self-explanatory. I have a friend who considers himself quite knowledgeable in things musical, and he swears by his giant noise-canceling headphones. I generally agree, but I've since met many people who can't tell the difference or even like their earbuds better. What does the forum think?

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby jendral_hxr » Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:11 am UTC

This reminds me of other religious war "Headphone vs Speakers"
http://fora.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=56958

For personal listening, I prefer earbuds, as it won't look bulky when you plug it on your laptop. But sound expert surely will go for headphones which give more clarity, fidelity, range, and power for sure.
I wish I weren't so stupid

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby hotaru » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:10 am UTC

earbuds, but only really good in-ear ones. not those crappy ones that come with ipods.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Odd_nonposter » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

I picked headphones because they make my music sound so much better. A high-quality set of headphones is the most valuable investment any audiophile can make.

That being said, I keep a pair of sucky iPod earbuds plugged into my computer for things like old videogames and YouTube videos. I only have so much desk space, and half of what I need sound for isn't so important that it needs a full-blown set of headphones to listen to.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

Headphones. Unless you get $400 earbuds, you can get better sound from headphones simply due to their size being more accommodating of a larger driver.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby hotaru » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:01 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:Headphones. Unless you get $400 earbuds, you can get better sound from headphones simply due to their size being more accommodating of a larger driver.

my $40 earbuds are better than any headphones i've seen for less than $120. a larger driver can get better sound quality, but that doesn't mean that larger is always better. you have to pay a lot more to get the same sound quality.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby psykx » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:28 pm UTC

in ear ear buds, both because they sound better (better seal allows for better base replication) and because they fit under my full face MTB helmet
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Welsh Mullet » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

headphones vs headphones? that's all those apple things are.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby meatyochre » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:23 pm UTC

Ear buds hurt my ears (I believe I have small earholes), and headphones hurt my ears cause they are always too tight. Never found a pair of either that I could tolerate for long. So I voted for speakers!
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby phider2 » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:48 am UTC

I prefer headphones over earbuds in general, but if they're really nice earbuds I can live with it. Currently the headphones I usually use are vintage Sennheiser HD 420's from the late 1970s. They still sound great. I got them at a yard sale along with a pair of (also vintage/late 1970s) New Advent Loudspeakers and some other random audio crap for $20 (amazing deal :D). They were in the bottom of a box and I didn't even know I bought them until I was sorting through it later. The only real problem with them is that they have very high impedance, so if I use them with a portable device such as an mp3 player or my PSP they don't get very loud. I'm thinking of buying some nice earbuds for portability.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby sje46 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:39 am UTC

hotaru wrote:earbuds, but only really good in-ear ones. not those crappy ones that come with ipods.

I thought those were the expensive ones.

Story: I lost my headphones, and couldn't find them anywhere (I recently paid 15 bucks for them). My dad went out and came back, throwing three sets of headbuds/phones at me, telling me all three are mine. They cost one buck each. To me, they sound the same as every other headphone I've used.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Amnesiasoft » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:49 am UTC

It really depends. At my computer? Headphones. Out and about doing stuff? Well, headphones don't fit in my pocket. That's all I have to say on the matter.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby flying sheep » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:08 am UTC

well, you missed clip-on headphones
Image
and in-ear phones
Image,
my favourite kinds of headphones

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Aiwendil42 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:24 pm UTC

Earbuds never stay in my ears. No matter how I try to finagle them in there, they fall out at the slightest motion of my head. I'm in awe of the way normal people can even use them while they're running.

I use ordinary headphones frequently, but if I use them for any extended period of time, they hurt my ears. If I listen to album with headphones, my ears will be a bit sore by the end. If I watch a two-hour movie with headphones, I'll be distracted by the pain in my ears throughout the second hour. There must be headphones out there that are more comfortable, but I haven't found them.

Thus, it's usually speakers for me.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Vyn » Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:07 pm UTC

Speakers, headphones, earbuds, anything really. Course, whenever I'm at home I'm pretty much always wearing a headset, been doing it long enough to where my formally ears-that-stick-out-from-my-head no longer stick out because they've been pressed against my head by said headset so much. Though, even while using that headset, I also still have my speakers running lol
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby broken_escalator » Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:26 pm UTC

Speakers if I'm not being obnoxious to other people, otherwise whatever is most comfortable. I've had really comfy earbuds and really comfy headphones, but speakers are the most comfortable :D

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby _wtw_ » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

broken_escalator wrote:Speakers if I'm not being obnoxious to other people, otherwise whatever is most comfortable. I've had really comfy earbuds and really comfy headphones, but speakers are the most comfortable :D


Seconded!
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby fooliam » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:00 am UTC

Both? I like earbuds when I'm walking around, because I feel goofy wearing big ol cans on my head. However, when I'm just hanging out at my house and are more interested in the quality of audio and not so concerned about lookin like a goof, headphones are preferred due to the superior quality produced.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Minchandre » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:23 am UTC

I like the in-ear guys. They typically fit in such a way that the speaker is pointed right at your ear drum, and block outside noise amazingly effectively. The only problem with them is that they're incredibly uncomfortable for extended use (how extended? Depends - usually more than 2-4 hours for me), as your ears get all sweaty and stuff. Good headphones aren't much better, though, as a good seal prevents "breathing" in the same way. In-ear phones also solve the typical earbud problem because they have a rubber thing in multiple sizes, so they don't always fall out of your ear like the 'buds (I also have fairly small ear canals - I always use the "small" sized pad).

Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby fooliam » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:20 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


so long as you're converting an analog format to a digital format, there is going to be some loss. If the analog frequency of a note is say.....440.0091938348737203948 hz, a digital format is going to have some rounding error of that note to say...440.01 hz. Its a small difference, and I'm not sure its even perceivable, but it's undeniably there.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby phider2 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:29 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


Not necessarily. There's more than one type of audiophile.

Wikipedia wrote:An audiophile, from Latin audio[1] "I hear" and Greek philos[2] "loving," is a hobbyist who seeks high-quality audio reproduction via the use of non-mass-produced high-end audio electronics.[3][4]

Some audiophiles try to listen to music at a quality level that is as close to the original performance as possible using high-fidelity components. Others try to recreate a particular sound belonging to a piece of equipment that is old or no longer current, such as the sound created by tube amplifiers.[5][6]

[...]

Audiophiles can purchase special recordings made with extra attention to sound quality, such as re-issued recordings, for this purpose, as well as recordings in the high-resolution formats such as Super Audio CD or DVD-Audio. Many modern audiophiles also take advantage of lossless file formats such as WAV, FLAC and Apple Lossless.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby hotaru » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:49 pm UTC

phider2 wrote:
Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


Not necessarily. There's more than one type of audiophile.

at no point did anyone say there isn't more than one type of pretentious douchebag.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Minchandre » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:13 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:
phider2 wrote:
Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


Not necessarily. There's more than one type of audiophile.

at no point did anyone say there isn't more than one type of pretentious douchebag.


Very true...though I feel less strongly about the type who use lossless formats than the variety which use old, crappy analog formats vacuum tubes, and expensive-ass cables. But I digress.

fooliam wrote:
Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


so long as you're converting an analog format to a digital format, there is going to be some loss. If the analog frequency of a note is say.....440.0091938348737203948 hz, a digital format is going to have some rounding error of that note to say...440.01 hz. Its a small difference, and I'm not sure its even perceivable, but it's undeniably there.


Right, but as long as I sample at twice the highest frequency you can hear (WAV assumes this is 22.1 kHz, DVD quality sound assume 24 kHz), you can't hear the difference. Math says so.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby fooliam » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:50 pm UTC

Minchandre wrote:
hotaru wrote:
phider2 wrote:
Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


Not necessarily. There's more than one type of audiophile.

at no point did anyone say there isn't more than one type of pretentious douchebag.


Very true...though I feel less strongly about the type who use lossless formats than the variety which use old, crappy analog formats vacuum tubes, and expensive-ass cables. But I digress.

fooliam wrote:
Minchandre wrote:Also, anyone who calls themselves are audiophile is a pretentious douchebag (yeah, I'm sure your scratchy vinyl sounds better than my mathematically-proven-to-have-no-signal-degredation WAV file).


so long as you're converting an analog format to a digital format, there is going to be some loss. If the analog frequency of a note is say.....440.0091938348737203948 hz, a digital format is going to have some rounding error of that note to say...440.01 hz. Its a small difference, and I'm not sure its even perceivable, but it's undeniably there.


Right, but as long as I sample at twice the highest frequency you can hear (WAV assumes this is 22.1 kHz, DVD quality sound assume 24 kHz), you can't hear the difference. Math says so.


Nyquist sampling assumes a perfectly bandlimited single. In the real world, that doesn't happen so Nyquist sampling can only get really really really really really close. once again, it's probably not even perceivable, but the signal loss is there!
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Weeks » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

Headphones, because earbuds bother me, fall from my ears, are less durable or get dirty quickly. They are generally cheaper, but I usually the sound gets all muffed and scratchy in about three months, maybe less (I used to buy earbuds for less than $20). I have $40 headphones which still sound pretty fine after about half a year, and I don't mind the look of them.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Minchandre » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:59 am UTC

fooliam wrote:Nyquist sampling assumes a perfectly bandlimited single. In the real world, that doesn't happen so Nyquist sampling can only get really really really really really close. once again, it's probably not even perceivable, but the signal loss is there!


The physical set-up of your inner ear acts a band-pass filter. Everyone can a strict cut-off beyond which they can no longer hear higher (or lower) frequencies. In old people, this is often much more tapered due to the gradual death of the little hair cell dudes, but in small children, the cut-off is often surprisingly sharp (as in, a child can hear 21,915 Hz just fine, but can't hear anything at all at 22 kHz). Interestingly, the same is true of light - one of the coolest things I've ever watched in an adjustable laser sweeping across its full spectrum, noticing when I could suddenly see the violet where before there was nothing, and then seeing the red disappear. It was much, much more clear-cut than I expected.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby eternauta3k » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:54 am UTC

Speakers for music, headphones for FPS (more comfortable than earbuds, easier to tell location of gunshots than with speakers)
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:29 am UTC

eternauta3k wrote:Speakers for music, headphones for FPS (more comfortable than earbuds, easier to tell location of gunshots headcrabs than with speakers)

Fixed that for you.

I use speakers if I'm sharing music or listening to it as background and headphones if I want to listen to the details of the recording. Headphones for gaming (for obvious reasons)
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby sandywhite1964 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:03 pm UTC

I use earbuds when I watch movies or listen to music and podcasts. However, I use headphones (instead of using earbuds and microphone) whenever I talk to foreign friends.:)

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby ONI.084 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:26 am UTC

I chose "Otter". If it came down to it, I wouldn't care about what quality of sound I'm getting, if I could get a tame, live otter to relay my digital audio to me, I would choose the otter.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Obby » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:01 pm UTC

It depends on what I'm doing. For games where sound really isn't all that important (WoW and other RPG's) or instances where more than one person is listening to what I am, I use my speakers. For games where sound is important (Bad Company 2 and other FPS's) or applications where I want to hear the details in what I'm listening to, I use my headphones (movies, private listening, etc.). For portable listening, I almost always use my earbuds, though occasionally I'll grab the cans if I know I'll be in a situation where there's a lot of external noise and I'll need the noise canceling (like riding the subway to class).

For reference, I have:
Logitech Z-5500 speakers (They were a gift)
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones ($80 on ebay)
And whatever earbuds came with my girlfriend's Blackberry. They're not half bad, they have a surprising amount of sound clarity and are one of the few earbud-style headphones I can wear for long periods of time without getting discomfort. Considering they were free, I'd say they were a good deal.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby maxh » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:10 pm UTC

I can't stand jamming things in my ears. The only earbuds I've ever had that were even close to comfortable were the ones included with my Zune (yes, I bought a Zune; it had the best feature set at the price I was willing to pay), and they broke fairly quickly. I managed to get $95 dollars off on some Sennheiser HD 238s. They're great. Not big enough to look stupid, but big enough to have nice sound.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Mazuku » Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:51 pm UTC

For now, I will settle for the in-ear phones I have at the moment, but when I have the spare cash, I will get some decent headphones, ideally with a cord that won't break after a few months.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby sonickrahnic » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:44 am UTC

IMO, it really doesn't matter as they both have (once again, IMO) decent sound quality. I have a set of Sony earphones that blast my eardrums out of my head. Conversely, I have a set of earphones (that came with my Blackberry Curve 8530) that are absolutely horrid. The sound is OK, but they don't fit in my earholes very well and hurt after awhile. By the same token, I have used headsets that are excellent in sound quality and blast my eardrums. They were comfortable and ergonomic and I had no problem with them until I accidentally destroyed the cord when I swiveled my desk chair while listening to music at my computer. But I have used headphones that absolutely suck. The 'muff' kind from days of old were among these sucky headphones. They didn't stay on my head, they adjusted their own size and most of the sound was lost due to the shape and horrible muff covering. And if you took the muff off, it just scraped up the ears. Anyway, I feel that it really comes down to whatever an individual prefers. I have used both and multiple kinds of both and have found there to be an equilibrium between the advantages and disadvantages of either.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby Revus » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:48 am UTC

I have to go with headphones. I tend to find that they're of higher quality, plus earbuds irritate my ears and fall out too often.

Though I find that my headphones, after a few months, tend to stop playing out of one side.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby B.Good » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:57 pm UTC

I have to go with headphones on this. I find earbuds very uncomfortable and/or fall out too easily. I haven't really done an A/B test between earbuds and headphones so I can't make an educated decision about the sound quality.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby The Clinger » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:45 am UTC

Earbuds are the devil's spawn. (Yes, yes, personal opinion and all that.) If I ever need anything portable, I go with "athletic", ear clip, or just a smaller set (normal size) of normal headphones.

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby phillipsjk » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:56 pm UTC

fooliam wrote:Nyquist sampling assumes a perfectly bandlimited single. In the real world, that doesn't happen so Nyquist sampling can only get really really really really really close. once again, it's probably not even perceivable, but the signal loss is there!


Nyquist theorem still says you preserve the frequency. It is the amplitude you lose. Yes, changing the frequency introduces harmonics, but those can be sampled as well; if properly band-limited. Put another way, any signal can be broken down into pure sinusoidal components.

In theory, if you record a 440.0091938348737203948Hz tone for a long enough period of time (881x1021 samples or 2.0017 seconds at 44.1khz (8.7 billion years)) you should be able to recover the frequency with proper filtering of the harmonics; even with 1 bit samples. I suppose in that example, most of the error will be in the sample clock. Analog recorders are likely to have wow and flutter at least an order of magnitude worse.

With a higher sample resolution, you get to sample more than just the strongest signal. An 8bit sample may allow 256 distinct sounds, while 16 bit samples may be able to record about 65535 overlapping sounds. There may actually be over a billion overlapping sounds, but all of the analog portions of the recording equipment are probably the limiting thing there.

The advantage of "lossless" formats is not in the initial sampling: "lossless" formats allow you to convert from on format to another without loss. This may be useful for archival purposes. What has the RIAA scared is that even the "lossy" formats like mp3 and mpeg2 can be copied without loss. They can still suffer from bit-rot like their "lossless" counterparts. To avoid that, you need forward error correction.
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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby rachelbonilla » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:44 pm UTC

Headphones! Earbuds may be "cool" but they don't fit in my tiny ears and hurt!

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Re: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Postby canoemoose » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:01 pm UTC

Speakers, headphones, in-ear earphones, otter.

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD320s which are the best headphones I've ever heard. If I'm on the train I use Koss Portapros, which aren't much worse, or in-ear earphones, which are a lot worse but still bearable.

Also, +1 for a singing otter.
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