Speaking of Sound...
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Thresh's comments in BLACK
Kenn's comments in BLUE
Anyone who stayed awake long enough to read through the second page of the SBLive vs. MX300 ShootOut knows (perhaps too much) about the importance sound plays in PC games. Ever since the days of Doom, stereo panning has been instrumental in helping gamers pinpoint their enemies' position, and alerting them to critical events such as weapon and item respawns. Whereas sounds are important, so are the devices needed to play them. Every gamer, hardcore or casual, has access to either a pair of speakers or earphones/headphones, many have both. It's pretty much accepted that at LAN parties or live competitions, headphones are the call of the day, and for broadcasting to large audiences, speakers are the only solution. However, volume concerns aside, which is actually better for gaming?
I've used both headphones and loudspeakers extensively, and I have to say that a good pair of speakers simply blow away headphones in terms of all-out experience. You dismiss volume, but it's certainly an important factor in selecting loudspeakers - blasting away at your favorite soundtrack on headphones, no matter how loud, lacks the depth and richness you get from a pair of solid speakers. There's a reason home theatre doesn't mean 42" screen, digital receiver, DSS, and a pair of headphones.
While I agree that speakers can be awesome, I think you're dismissing some of the nifty aspects that make headphones preferable to gamers. One teeny little novelty is called stereo-separation. Yes, you heard me you audiophile freak monkey. Just about ANY pair of decent headphones will blow away an expensive pair of speakers when it comes to determining the given position of a sound. Having the drivers closer to your ears magnifies the appearance of sounds coming from one direction or another. To get the same effect from a pair of speakers, you'd have to position them right next to each ear. Headphone placement also helps them to cut out the ambient sounds around the listener, making quiet sounds more audible, such as distant footsteps and respawns. The ability to recognize sounds most people miss is one of the things that make good players great. (Not that you'd know…)
True, there are many situations in which headphones are definitely advantageous to speakers, but when I say "better," it doesn't just mean for the serious, out-to-win-it-all competitive type (or no-life, monitor-paled mouse jockey, depending on how honest you are). Headphones have a few annoying traits that make them less-than-suitable for long-term listening. For one, there's comfort. No matter how comfortable your headphones are, after an hour or two you're going to have nasty, sweaty ears, and they're going to be sore from the constant pressure from the headrest.