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.