I have been pondering this question for a while now and wanted to put down some thoughts to share. I love listening to music but 99% of my music listening is done through a pair of headphones. I only really use speakers when I have visitors in the house and want to be social with my listening. All other listening sessions are done through headphones and I never really thought about why….until now.
Firstly, headphones remove the room from the equation and when you are listening on speakers the room matters. Speaker placement matters, whether you have hard floors or carpet matters, what hangs on the walls matters, room size matters; I think you get the picture. When I listen on headphones I don’t have to worry about any of that; just connect the headphones, turn on the music, sit back and enjoy.
That leads me on to the next reason, I’m cheap. Buying a good set of speakers and setting up the room just so can be costly in monetary and time terms. Why bother when I can get a great pair of headphones and a quality DAC for a relatively small outlay compared with speakers which have a higher entry cost for comparable levels of sound quality. Plus, since I do not live alone and aesthetics matter a lot; ugly equipment gets vetoed no matter how it sounds.
I really like the intimacy that comes from listening to music on my headphones. Blocking out the world and being one with the music is quite the transformative experience. I can close my eyes and let the music transport me to another world. You can’t get that from speakers because the real world is always intruding be it car sounds, children playing outside etc.
Privacy is another important factor. I live with my partner in a semi detached house in a large housing development so being able to turn up the music with minimal distraction for my partner (I use open backed headphones so some leakage will happen) and without bothering my neighbours at all is something I need to keep in mind. I have to be considerate to others around me.
So those are my reasons. Go now and grab your headphones, put on some music, sit back and enjoy.