What headphones should I use for production? The never ending question that we are asked the most. The guys over at Sounds Easy give you a run down of the the different types available, and what’s best in the studio. They have also provided us with another discount code you can use on a pair of headphones!
OPEN BACKED HEADPHONES
Generally, the most expensive headphones are reserved for critical listing, and analysing mixes in the studio. These headphones are nearly always an open-back design, meaning the enclosing earpiece has been in part left open. This is achieved by choice of materials or ventilation inbuilt into the hard exterior enclosure. Open-back headphones will omit a lot of sound because of this, and may even sound like small speakers to anyone nearby!
The two main reasons you would choose an open-back design are:
1) They are significantly less fatiguing on your ears. This is critical if you are going to be spending long hours mixing in one sitting.
2) The cavities in the design create a more natural, spacious and transparent sonic response making them ideal as a professional reference when mixing.
Open-back designs, however are no good for performers when recording in the studio. Given they omit a lot of sound, this will create spill into the microphone. The other consideration when choosing a pair of expensive open-back headphones is their output impedance. Simply put, headphones with a higher output impedance will have a lower overall volume and will struggle when connected to a consumer headphone output, (like an ipod for example) and cheaper audio-interface headphone amps. If you need a headphone with a higher output look for an impedance of 80 ohms but if you have a good quality audio interface or a dedicated headphone out you may want to look for a headphone with an impedance of 250 ohms. This is why you may see one model of headphones with varying impedance’s. There are dedicated headphone amplifiers designed to optimise these headphones, such as the Apogee Groove or the new Rupert Neve headphone amp.
CLOSED BACK HEADPHONES
Closed-back headphones are ideal for recording sessions, as they will minimise the spill omitted from the headphones and significantly reduce any unwanted sound being captured by the microphone(s) situated in close proximity to the headphones. (like when recording a vocal for example). Not only do these headphones prevent sound being omitted they also keep any unwanted noise getting into the headphones when monitoring. On the down side closed backed headphones can have a tendency to make you feel a bit cut off to the outside world and give you the feeling of working in a vacuum when putting in an all nighter. Closed backed headphones will also have varying impedances – This is especially the case with the Beyer Dynamic DT770 range.
DJ Headphones are also closed-back design, and have been optimised for better low frequency response – a characteristic that is typically better in open-back designs. These headphones are often smaller in design and will work at high volumes needed when monitoring in a club. The cups on Dj headphones are mostly smaller – this is just an ergonomic design so that they don’t get in the way when dropping some sick beats, or so DJ’s can tilt their head in concentration when lining up that killer next track. Because DJ’s are often twisting their headphones, DJ headphones are typically more robust when compared to studio headphone designs.
NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Noise cancelling headphones are designed to enhance the listeners experience, by blocking out noise coming from the outside world. Closed-back headphones do this to some extent, however noise cancelling headphones have incorporated superior technology to achieve this isolation. Noise cancelling headphone technology combines an inbuilt microphone that first samples the outside environment. An out of phase waveform is generated, therefore cancelling out the exterior noise. They work especially well in situations such as flying – where you have a constant exterior sound-source. A lot of people buy noise cancelling headphones with the thought of cutting out water cooler gossip in an office situation – gossip is always an interesting part of the office routine so I don’t know why you would want to cancel that out, but technically speaking because chatter is not a constant sound, noise cancelling headphone will do little to eliminate this – best to use ear plugs in this instance.
Earbuds are ideal for personal use, and are great for portability too. They are much harder to permanently damage making them great to take on a run, cycle or to the Gym. Many also have head-set features making them much more versatile, and especially useful when used in conjunction with mobile devices. The other type of earbud style headphone are called in-ears. These are much different to conventional ear-buds, in that they have been designed to work as personal monitor systems for live performers. Musicians on stage can choose to have a separate mix sent to their in-ears, such as their own vocals to enhance their onstage performance. Or they may be used as the main send source for a musician or band’s monitor mix. In-ear headphones are used and sold in conjunction with wireless receivers.
Hopefully this article gives you a better understanding of what headphone with best suit your needs.
In conjunction with this blog we are giving you extra discount on our entire headphone range – Just use this coupon at the checkout to save even further on our already discounted prices – Coupon Code HEADBLOG
Coupon Code Valid till the end of July!