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Headphones vs Speakers Essay

A man was shot and killed for having his music too loud. This would not have been a problem had the teenager been listening to his audio with headphones rather than some ill-fated speakers. Speakers and headphones’ main use is to transmit sound produced by a certain source. They both have the same fundamental purpose but man’s erroneous actions lead us to believe one is better, or often more preferred, than the other. Headphones are better than speakers because they are cheaper, portable, undisruptive, and personal. For the same overall performance, headphones are much cheaper than speakers. One thing you can rarely battle against is a good product at a low price. When thinking in economic terms of the price-performance ratio (the performance value is divided by the price value), headphones come out with a higher ratio.

A good surround sound system will disperse the sound through a room to try and deliver it to the listener’s ears. The listener will be receiving the sound from multiple angles producing an effect that makes up for a good experience. Take for example; watching a war movie in surround sound will make one feel like he really is part of the action in the film. All the sound is traveling in form of waves and is being picked up by your pinna which is the outer part of the ear whose function is to collect sound and also to reveal the location the sound is coming from. All the speakers stay in the same place which can cause minor disruptions when moving your head. Headphones on the other hand will always stay on your head. One would think that headphones can’t possibly produce the same sound as the speaker set but after all you only have two ears. One thing that headphones have is 3D audio effects. These effects manipulate the pinna and give the human ear the impression that sound is not coming from two sources but is being received from all 360 degrees around a man.

When listening to the audio, the sound can be heard coming from the front as well as from the rear. So if headphones can easily be manipulated to have the same performance as speakers, then the quality of sound is not something that will influence the decision of which one, either headphone or speaker, to pick. The big difference and the thing that will make a person in today’s economy decide which one to purchase lies ultimately in the price of the product. A good and reasonable pair of headphones can go for around $100. A speaker system that will play at same quality will cost you about three or four times as much. The most expensive headphones cost around $2000 – $5000 dollars. The most expensive speakers go for up to fifty times that amount.

Over all it’s clearly seen that the price-performance ratio for headphones is higher. Headphones have the same performance as speakers and cost a lot less. So you love listening to Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major on your speakers but figure out that when travelling on a cross continental trip to Japan it is very difficult to bring your speaker system into the plane and more difficult to set it up once inside. Fearing you might end up being shot like the teenager from Florida you are immobilized because of the problem. The solution to this most troubling issue, having once found out that headphones can play at the same if not better quality than speakers, is to have a pair of headphones. One thing speakers cannot do is be portable. They are just not meant for travel. Headphones on the other end can easily and comfortably be placed on your head and carried to and fro Los Angeles and Japan.

Headphones are highly portable to the point where they even make them to be waterproof; resisting the craziest weather on any given rainy day. They are also very stylish so that you can buy a pair or two that fit your style and character. They can also be wireless for any people that might be offset by any cables You’re caught in an intensely long firefight in Halo 4 but your roommates were being so loud that you could not hear the footsteps of the enemy that crept up to assassinate you from behind; or you finished finals early and decided to play Halo 4 but with the crossfire, showering grenades, and speeding vehicles your roommates complained they could not concentrate for their study for the Electronic Music final. Sadly, due to signed dorm room policies you are left immobilized and find yourself in another problem. The solution would of course be headphones or in this case headphones with an attached microphone.

Speakers can sometimes be too loud and disruptive for other people that headphones are more reliable in these cases. With a pair of headphones there is no one that can tell you to lower your volume because you are too disruptive. Headphones also have the ability to cancel out ambient sounds that can negatively affect what should be a good sounding experience. Having to watch a movie or listen to music with an extra contribution of chatter and yelling from friends or neighbors is not pleasant. Neither is it pleasant to be disruptive to other people in the household by blasting your sound through the roof. These are problems that people which own speaker encounter. Speakers are disruptive, inconsiderate of others, and have a low ability to block outside noises a person does not want to hear.

When using headphones there is a personal feeling of intimacy one can feel. Speakers might be able to play sound from many places and into your ears but when you put headphones on it feels like the music is travelling within your skull. When speakers play their sound it takes time for the sound to travel to a person’s ears. During the time it takes to travel, some of the high frequencies of the sound waves have been absorbed into the air and not all the sound is perceived in your ears. When using headphones you can hear all the frequencies clearer because the strength of the sound is not reduced over time.

Headphones give you a greater and richer sound experience than what speaker can produce. When comparing headphones to speakers, speakers are surpassed in many aspects. For one headphones are cheaper which make it more accessible for people who have trouble coming up with income. Headphones are sleek, stylish and can be included in just about any activity you do. They are also very discreet and unobtrusive which is something speakers can never be; neither can speakers be as easily portable as headphones. Above all headphones give the listener the full spectrum sound and produce a listening experience unsurpassed by that of speakers.

Works Cited
“Best Headphones.” ! Recommendations Grouped by Price Range. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. Guttenberg, Steve. “Headphones vs. Speakers: Which Is Better?” CNET News. CBS Interactive, 10 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. “Head to Head – Headphones versus Speakers.” Head to Head – Headphones versus Speakers. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. “HeadWize – Article: Preventing Hearing Damage When Listening With Headphones (A HeadWize Headphone Guide).” HeadWize – Article: Preventing Hearing Damage When Listening With Headphones (A HeadWize Headphone Guide). N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. “Man Who Killed Florida Teen Over Loud Music Alters His Story to Fit Stand Your Ground.” PoliticusUSA. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. “The Soundry: The Outer Ear.” ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. ROBERT A. BUTLER and RICHARD A. HUMANSKI. Localization of sound in the vertical plane with and without high-frequency spectral cues. Perception & Psychophysics 1992,51(2), 182-186


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