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38mm drivers and lots bassier?
somethings got to give...
You can tell me your 12” velodyne home theater subwoofer driver has more bass than my 18“ velodyne home theater subwoofer driver, but that’s only true if we don’t compare apples to apples or if we limit the volume to not exceed the smaller drivers limitations. I’m going to have a hard time getting excited about anything smaller than 50mm drivers in over-the-ears designs based on life experiences. Tell me why I’m wrong?
Very few headphones have 50mm. Most are 40mm.
It just depends on the tuning of the headphones and whether they're open or closed. My SHP9500 have a 50mm driver and are not bassy at all. My HD800S' have a 56mm driver and no more bassy than my HD6xx series headphones. My Porta Pros have probably a ~35mm driver and deliver some healthy bass (though not a lot of deep bass).
Campfire Audio Cascades... 40mm drivers that hit as hard, when driven off the right chain of gear, as Fostex 50mm biodyna drivers and are EXTREMELY clear sounding... just wish they weren't so expensive.
Throw AND surface area affect frequency responce capability in addition to damping and couple other factors, both in subwoofers and every other kind of driver in existence. You're precept is incomplete
That's like saying a sports car can't possibly be worth getting excited about unless it's got a V8. For a 38mm driver to necessarily suffer in comparison to a 50mm driver, you'd have to be running them loudly enough to deafen yourself. Home theater speakers have to throw a lot more sound out, so the size of the driver figures more prominently in sound quality. Same way home theaters benefit much more from having multiple specialized drivers* (i.e. tweeters, woofers, etc.) Headphone quality depends on different parameters and different metrics. Driver size is important, but not key; it's like saying lighter speakers are more responsive, therefore the best speakers are ionophones.
*IEMs are an exception. They use balanced armatures with very narrow frequency response, hence why they have multi-driver setups. For traditional headphones, the benefit is minimal.
Sticking with the car thing, you're essentially only looking at the bore. That alone does nothing. If you consider stroke, you can get some sort of idea, but it's still very little information. You also have valve timing, lift, geometry, flow, temperature, ignition timing, spark strength, spark length, combustion chamber shape, compression ratios...
A 2.64in bore in a 600cc sport bike makes 25 more horsepower at the wheel than my 3.55in bore in my 1200cc bike, but you have to run it at much higher rpms the entire time to do so. I have more power from bottom to top in my operating range, but I run out, and those smaller engines are just getting to where they're happy. They're made with wildly different intents.
Same deal with your headphones. You're judging overall quality based on one spec in a very complicated scenario. If you want a giant driver (not that 50mm is giant by any means), it's likely either going to be slow and have no top end, or fast, and only have high end. You have to compromise in a lot of decisions, and Sennheiser is pretty good at figuring out how to do so.