Why there are no full size circum-aural 2-way headphones

the answer is profit

such headphones would be so good they would put the entire industry out of business

kinda like Tesla Plaid has put out BMW M cars and Mercedes AMG out of business

in order to make money an industry must somehow maintain an illusion that achieving perfection is expensive … when 90% of the time it costs nothing.

audiophile gear is sold on the basis of looks and mystique. if you don’t have those - you can’t sell.

take Sennheiser Orpheus for example, which is a $50,000 headphone:

it is an electrostatic headphone with vacuum tube amp that is housed in a marble chassis and i think it may even be motorized so that the headphones and / or the tubes rise up when you power it on.

if you think a marble chassis makes an amplifier sound better you’re a fucking idiot and i never want to hear any of your opinions - instead, obviously it is simply there to make the product look more expensive.

this is Audiophile market in a nut shell - you either make the product look expensive or you create some kind of a mystique around it, and in case of Sennheiser Orpheus headphones they have done both and then some thus earing $50,000 price.

does that mean i couldn’t design a better performing headphone which could be made for $100 ? i could, but nobody would buy it.

a person doesn’t buy $50,000 headphone because it sounds like $50,000 but because it LOOKS like $50,000.

just like most people buying Ferraris never drive them most people buying this headphone will never listen to it - or anything at all. It simply makes for a really stylish accent piece in your room’s decor, that doubles as a conversation starter.

the reason the headphones are electrostatic and use vacuum tube amp is also for looks, plus the mystique. since Sennhesier is famous for their electrostatic microphones they can make a legitimate claim that of all electrostatic headphones ( such as STAX ) theirs are the best …

and of course vacuum tubes look cool and have this expensive / classy vibe to them …

overall Sennheiser Orpheus is brilliant from the perspective of marketing.

back on topic though - why no 2-way full size circum-aural headphones ? BECAUSE THEY WOULD BE TOO GOOD.

so actually IEMs ( In Ear Monitors ) use 2-way, 3-way even 5-way designs and they are able to fit those into chassis the size of an earplug - so why can’t full size headphones like Sennheiser HD800 fit a 2-way design ?

the answer is they can, but it would end the industry.

in case of IEMs they use balanced armature drivers which are very uneven in response - infinitely worse than anything used in the cheapest chinese ONE DOLLAR headphones - but these IEMs can cost over $1,000 - why ?

beause using an inherently uneven driver like balanced armature allows the designers to justify going to exotic designs such as 5-way … and it allows them to make many different models each with their own sound signature and then convince the customer that every time the price goes up so does sound quality …

because you think they are trying to solve an engineering problem when in reality they are solving a marketing problem. they need to create products at multiple price points, but IEMs are so small that they can’t really make a design statement like Sennheiser Orpheus by dominating your room - instead they need to invent some bullshit mystique.

using balanced armature drivers in IEMs allows designers to get creative in a product that looks basic on the outside …

but let’s go back to Full Size Circum-Aural headphones like Sennheiser HD800 …

these headphones are sold on size, style, build quality and to some extent sound …

but as with IEMs it is important to maintain continuity from cheap headphones to expensive while allowing yourself the room to still improve the design every year …

full-range transducers are used because they can be made to sound good but it’s not easy to do so, which means you’re fighting diminishing returns … AND DIMINISHING RETURNS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS

it’s the same as how Samsung on their TVs and Phones prices them based on bezel thickness … and every year the bezels get thinner but never disappear, because you still need to upgrade next year …

they could have just eliminated the bezels completely on the very first model, but then they would be bankrupt …

likewise if you build a 2-way headphone using 2.5" coaxial driver with 1/2" tweeter and some DSP you will be out of business within 5 years, because it will be perfect and nobody will ever upgrade.

not only that but even if it is perfect you won’t be able to charge any more money for it - in fact you will have to charge LESS. because if you spend even $50 on upgrading it to 2-way then that $50 is something you now can’t use on styling, fit and finish, marketing etc … in other words things that actually sell products to Audiophiles.

this is why i no longer consider myself an audiophile and am proud to be banned from most of their forums. because if you write things like this on them you will be banned in only a matter of time. those fuckers do not like it when you expose them for the scammers and signalers that they are.

the more you reveal the truth the more aggressive they become in their attacks but because you are alone and they are legion it seems like you are the problem not them, after all they were all perfectly happy before you came along. so you are the one who gets banned.

there is simply no value for me in discussing anything with people who are either unwilling or unable to understand the reality of the world we live in. the principles i outlined here are general principles of marketing and market segmentation - they equally apply to things like cars, kitchen appliances and so on.

the easiest example to explain is how cheap cars are ugly but expensive cars are hot even though they are usually designed in the same studio by the same design team. my sadist architect father has challenged me to understand how exactly this happens and why and i have met that challenge ( though it took many years ). good designers know exactly what looks good and what looks bad and they deliberately make cheap cars look bad. they know all the design trends but reserve the latest trends only for the most expensive cars, even though it would cost nothing to use the same lines on a cheaper car.

because when you walk into the dealership you need to know right away which cars are cheap and which expensive. if you have to ask the salesmen that question that means the design team has failed. their job was literally to apply the latest trends to the expensive cars and apply deliberately ugly lines to the cheap ones.

idiot car reviewers call these “character lines” which is a marketing term for lines added to make a cheap car ugly. character line is a euphemism for a wrinkle of course and that’s literally what it is - an element added to make a car ugly. they then say it is “design” and idiot car reviewers gobble it up - of course Bentleys and Rolls Royces do not get such “design” only cheap cars do.

car reviewers like to say that design is subjective - it is not. design is objective. but most viewers are poor and drive cheap ugly cars and they would be offended to hear the truth - that their cars are OBJECTIVELY ugly and were DESGINED ON PURPOSE to be that way. reviewers don’t wan to offend the viewers.

reviewers also don’t want to offend the manufacturer who wines and dines them and flies them all over the world to review cars.

" hello! Toyota flew me here here to Monaco to review their new car and boy is it FUGLY ! " no let’s try it differently " Toyota designers have chosen to give this car a distinctive character line going down the side here as well as " … ah, much better !

as i said in the beginning achieving perfection is oftentimes CHEAPER than producing mediocre products. it would be cheaper to simply take a Bentley or Rolls Royce design and scale it down to a compact car than to draw an entirely new and ugly car from scratch - and in fact in China that’s pretty much how they design cars - but not in the West

in the West we are more sophisticated - western designers create product FAMILIES where it is obvious who the patriarch is and who is the family dog, rather than the dog simply looking like the smaller version of the head of the family. this is why cheap cars are ugly.

and the same type of dynamics are at work in the Audiophile world. it’s all about creating a FAMILY of products that segments the market into price points based on some perceived ( usually complete BS ) value.

full-size 2-way circum-aural headphones would ruin the beautiful business model where manufacturers sell more or less the same headphone for anything from $100 to $1,500 by just changing the styling and making some tweaks here and there. this is how money is made.

if you went 2-way your profits would vaporize as even the cheapest headphone would already be better than what anybody needs, which would be like having Toyota Yaris that looks like Lexus SC, which of course would be trivially simple to do - and will never happen for the same reason - because not many would pay $100,000 for the SC if a $15,000 Yaris looked the same.

yes Lexus SC is better quality than Yaris, trust me i am aware of this. it would cost some money to get Yaris to the same quality level as Lexus SC but it would cost very little to get it to look the same and there would be many people would love it - which is why it’s not going to happen.

the task of businesses is to PUNISH the customer for not spending more and to ABUSE THEM psychologically, gaslight them and so on. it is NOT to create good, affordable products.

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Cheap cars look cheap because they have to be easy to mass produce and because they are common. The latter is especially important. Where I live I see a lot of fancy cars like Porches and Teslas. They don’t look special to me because I see so many of them. Actually Porsches look kind of stupid to me because their design language is too aggressive and they are so common that there is nothing special about them when I see them. They are like the Chrysler 300 or Dodge Challenger, cheap cars designed to look like expensive cars that end up looking like cheap cars because you see them everywhere.

There are no two-way headphones like you describe because they don’t work like you think they would work. Sound waves from separate drivers don’t sum properly at that distance. There is more going with the acoustical behavior of sound waves at close distance than we think when we think about speakers producing sound.

If it were a good idea someone would have implemented it already. The fact that nobody has tried it means it mostly likely doesn’t work. It’s an obvious thing to try and I’m sure many have tried it.

Also, the best IEM’s are the ones that use dynamic drivers and maybe a couple BA drivers for the highs. The ones that use a bunch of BA drivers don’t sound that good.

that’s what they want you to think. BMW CEO admitted 5 series and 3 series cost the same to produce despite 5 series costing $20,000 more. he actually bragged about it in a shareholder meeting during 5 series launch in order to paint a positive outlook for profits. they just fuck the 5 series up a little and call it 3 series. the 3 series is basically a 5 series for younger and smaller people, such as women, which they create by shrinking the 5 series, raising the seats too high and deliberately using not enough padding in the seats as if extra 5 bucks of padding would break their $50,000 budget. their logic is women won’t mind high seats, young people don’t mind stiff seats and if you’re an older tall gentleman you really should be making enough for a 5 series. it’s all cynically calculated and they have it down to a science.

i wasn’t talking about difference between brands, but difference between cars from the same maker.

walk into any dealership - Mercedes, BMW, Audi - whatever. you will instantly know which cars are cheap and which are expensive.

it’s true sound works differently at that distance - hence for example “proximity effect” bass boost of microphones. that changes precisely nothing though. if they can make a 5-way IEM they can make a 2-Way circum-aural. with a DSP driven coaxial it would be a complete non-issue.

PAINFUL levels of cringe bro.

it’s almost like saying if the Jews really controlled the media it would be all over the news.

it took me decades to understand but basically the top players all collude to stifle innovation while the smaller players lack brand recognition to break into the market.

to get it to work right would require the same kind of expertise that is required to get any other headphone to work right. only established players have that expertise. and they have nothing to gain from this. it has come out in court for example that Apple and Google collude to keep down worker pay, so why wouldn’t Sennhesier, AKG and Beyerdynamic collude to keep down headphone performance ?

conspiracies like this are real. they aren’t idiots - they don’t want a race to the bottom for the thinnest margins.

they could probably just use a single dynamic driver with good DSP to EQ the heights, but then they couldn’t charge $1,500 for it.

it’s all gaslighting and marketing and “mystique”

But it’s not just the big players that haven’t done it. Nobody has done it. It’s not hard to make headphones. There are hundreds of boutique headphone makers who put some full range drivers in ear cups and add padding and all of that and have headphones. Headphones are pretty simple to make. What I’m saying is that if it were a good idea someone would have come onto the scene and tried coaxial headphones with a sales pitch about how they are superior and all of that. But we have yet to see it.

Just like in the audiophile speaker world you see just about every speaker design you can imagine, with most of them being completely retarded.

A speaker with 15 tweeters?

You got it! Name any other speaker design and I’m sure somebody has produced a piece of shit speaker that conforms to that design.

But nobody has done the multi driver headphone thing. I’m sure plenty have tried it, but they have all gotten the same result, namely that it doesn’t work.

this is easy to explain - for marketing purposes more is better - the average person can’t understand that 15 tweeters will produce comb filtering …

the difference is with headphones nobody can see the drivers …

so the “innovation” lately was actually to make the driver more visible …

if you think about it what really separates the more premium Sennheiser headphones from the cheaper ones is how visible the driver is …

it’s all about aesthetics in Audiophile land …

if i showed you the design of Genelec SAM one day before it was announced you would tell me that it will never work or somebody would have done it already …

fact is you can’t name a single physical reason why it wouldn’t work nor link to a single page on the internet that shows that it has been tried and failed …

because you think they are trying to solve an engineering problem when in reality they are solving a marketing problem. they need to create products at multiple price points

Is there any common product of which this isn’t true?
I remember some years ago I was reading Nextbigfuture and a poster claimed Intel re-purposed failed top of the line chips into their cheaper line-up. A failed pedigree dog gets dressed up as the family dog so to speak.

What I am really asking is, “Is this inevitable?” This product family differentiation – really customer differentiation and snob appeal.

Trying to think of exceptions - wife has a Kitchen Aid mixer that is 40 years old, handed down from her mother and it is just now in need of repairs - probably the $10 worm gear gone bad.

if they are smart they will always try to do it this way.

for example when i was installing a central steam humidifier the HVAC guy came, looked at everything, and then called his boss to work out a quote … then i heard him say “builder’s grade” …

builder’s grade refers to home level being basic in terms of not having any fancy ornaments on the walls, hollow white interior doors instead of solid wood mahogany ones and so on. for any given location and square footage a “builder’s grade” home will be cheaper than higher grades.

but why would his boss need to know this to install a humidifier in the basement ? to set the price of course. the more expensive the home - the more he has to charge - because rich people can afford and are used to paying more.

i then asked him if he would install an exterior temperature sensor and he said no it wasn’t necessary and made up BS excuse. needless to say, i let him go fuck himself and used somebody else to do the job properly and with the sensor installation.

basically his boss figured if the home is builder’s grade the guy needs a good deal, not fancy features. so we are going to skip the exterior temperature sensor “feature” and give him a better deal.

unfortunately without that sensor the entire house will be destroyed by mold …

a 240 Volt steam humidifier without that exterior temperature sensor is like a Bugatti Chiron without brakes. within hours the house will be like a Russian steam room and Mold will grow inside the walls … you will have saved about $100 on installation and lost about $100,000 when reselling the home, if you can sell it at all.

but normies don’t think like that. they think a basic customer should get a basic product. a fancy customer should get a fancy product. in some cases the two products may function identically and differ only in color. in other cases it may be the difference between life and death. but normies don’t analyze things - they just feel and do things the way they have always done them whether it has ever worked before or not …

Tesla is a good example - on cheaper models Elon has removed features that literally can be the difference between life and death - such as Radar. I called it out as outrageous when he did it and he has now back peddled and the Radar is back.

and if we talk about Kitchenaid in case of Mixers they really seem to be the classic, whereas a Kitchenaid Refrigerator is just a Whirlpool refrigerator with different door handles and costing $1,000 more.

So it can go both ways.

i’m going to take a shower, may add a few points later …

the main two factors as i see it are:

1 - real improvement often comes in large steps leaving lots of room for meaningless “improvements”

2 - development costs are shared by all products in the family.

so regarding point 1 for example it’s a huge step from a Bicycle to a car, and again a huge step from a car to a private Jet. yet what happens if you have enough money to buy 10 cars but not enough to operate a private Jet ? you will get a car that costs 10 times more and has to justify that cost somehow in meaningless “improvements” like having ashtrays made out of silver and minimizing plastic use in the interior, not because plastic is bad but simply because you need some excuse to jack up the price so you use “expensive” materials, even though they don’t work any better than plastic.

Elon Musk actually saw an opportunity there and built a car out of plastic and instead sold it on the basis of the mystique of it being electric and “self driving” …

regarding point 2: whether you’re developing a computer chip or a car engine you’re going to have a core / cylinder and then you’re going to scale them. so the cost of development of that core or cylinder will be shared by cheap models ( low core / cylinder count ) and expensive models. but the optimum number may have a fairly tight range, for example optimum number of cylinders may be 4 to 6 and yet cars have to cover a price range of about $15,000 to at least $150,000 … WAT DO ?

well you’re going to charge exponentially more for those extra cylinders as if it actually costs something to put them there. to go from a V8 S63 to V12 S65 adds so much to the price you’re basically paying a Honda Civic for each additional cylinder.

and yet it’s not actually a rip off because some of the profits of selling that S65 are going to go towards developing safety technology that will eventually be found in the entry level C300.

so the mistake people make is they look at a product in isolation rather than looking at the company as a whole. whether a product makes or loses money is really irrelevant. the real question is whether the company makes or loses money. instead of thinking of the cost of building that V12 engine you have to think of the cost of developing that one cylinder that will be used in everything from a A220 to S65 and then you have to realize that Mercedes has to offer something at every possible price point which means that although all cylinders are the same they won’t all cost the same to you, and in fact you probably don’t even need them at all but you’re going to pay anyway because you have the money.

when you come to a store in America the salesperson asks “how much do you want to spend?”

this is so fucking dumb. i never answered that question in my life. i don’t want to spend anything you fucking idiot ! i have a problem and i want it solved ! i am not here to spend money but to solve problems.

but Americans can’t think this way because normies don’t think - they respond to their programmed conditioning. they are brainwashed into believing their value comes from their status which in term comes from spending money.

so instead of asking " what is the problem that you are trying to solve " the salesperson asks " what is your status that you’re trying to signal " …

it is insulting to the intelligence. when they ask me this i just tell me to show me different options and what are the major benefits and disadvantages of them and i NEVER answer their question of how much i want to spend.

reality is for anything smaller than a house or maybe a car the budget is fairly flexible. instead it’s a question of what do i get for the money ? for example i thought it was worth the extra money to get a 8K TV over an OLED TV because this would future proof it. on other hand it would NOT be worth it for me to spend more for a TV simply because it has thinner bezels.

yet Samsung had two identical TVs differing only in bezel width with about $1,500 in price difference and if you answered how much you want to spend you would have gotten one or the other based on your answer when they are really the same TV just at different price points. or in the old days if you named a higher budget they would have sold you a curved TV for example, which, like the bezels, has zero benefit except to signal status.

but it isn’t always that way - for example a plug in Hybrid car isn’t just a more expensive version of regular gas car - it has legitimately different user experience as well as markedly better economy.

this goes back to the point i made before - technological improvement comes in distinct steps but product prices form a continuum to cover every price point. when you’re paying to move to the next level of technology ( upgrade from bicycle to car ) it may sometimes be worth it even if you can’t quite afford it. on other hand when you’re paying for just a different color or finish or bezels or handles - it is rarely worth it even if money is not an issue.

unfortunately to make that distinction would require thinking which is something people simply do not do.

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