If you are looking for professional headphones, then there are a lot of models available at similar pricing with matching specifications! It can be tricky to pick up the right model for you, but worry not! We are here to guide you!
Start with Your Application
What do you need the headphones for? What will be its application? The need varies from tracking in the studio to monitoring and tweaking a live headphone mix, recording drums to recording singing, and so on.
Now to stop confusing you more, the following sections provide some important considerations for you before buying the headphone.
Things to Consider While Buying Studio Headphones
When serving in a certain location or sector, certain form factors and standards are crucial for headphones. Here are some of the features of studio headphones that you should think about before making a purchase.
1. Closed-back vs. Open-back design
The majority of studio newcomers find this to be the most challenging concept. However, this is the aspect that matters the most when purchasing a good set of studio headphones. I’ll go over each one with you one by one.
Closed-back headphones have earcups closed on the backside removing external noise while protecting the sound you are hearing from leaking outside. The sad part, the sound is less natural with low sound staging.
Quality closed-back studio headphones are ideal for recording since they do not leak sound when you are recording on a mic at the same time. Sound isolation is the basic requirement for sound recording and these headphones are perfect in such conditions.
On the other hand, closed-back headphones have the open back of their earcups. In the case of open-back headphones, there is no separation between the driver and its surroundings. The noise you are hearing will be audible to those around you, and you will also be able to hear what the person in front of you is saying. These headphones are not recommended for recording purposes since they leak sound that your mic will pick up while recording.
There are three alternatives to think about when it comes to studio headphone design: closed-back on-ear, open-back on-ear, and in-ear. The finest headphones for recording are closed-back models since they completely cover the ears and have cushioning around them to prevent spill, which is when undesirable traces of the background track escape and end up on your recording. In addition, the padding adds another layer of comfort.
If your performer monitors with volume while recording, this headphone is the best option.
Open-back cans are less prevalent but tend to be lighter and slightly more comfortable to wear for extended periods. They have a higher potential for audio spillage and are therefore better suited for programming and mixing duties than for recording. There are undoubtedly trade-offs here because they don’t effectively shut out outside noise as closed-back options do.
2. Replaceable parts
Purchasing high-quality studio headphones is usually a one-time deal. Verify the headphone’s durability, adaptability, and availability of replaceable parts. Earpads, headbands, and wires are typically interchangeable on high-end studio headphones. It is necessary to take this into account.
3. Flat frequency response
The frequency response of the majority of studio headphones goes well beyond the human ear’s 20–20,000Hz range.
The headphones’ ability to reproduce various frequencies of sound is described by their frequency response. Flat frequency response is the correct representation of sound over a wide frequency range. The audio input should not have any enhancements. For studio headphones, especially while mixing and recording, this function is crucial. This part is commonly overlooked.
When buying headphones, comfort is the most important consideration. Concerning studio headphones, the same is true. You spend a lot of time in the studio and frequently get engaged in the recording and mixing process.
There are two types of headphones: Circumaural and Supra-aural.
The Circumaural earcups of closed-back headphones completely cover your ears, offering you the highest level of comfort and sound isolation.
The Supra-aural headphones have earcups that rest on your ears. They are less comfy and offer less sound isolation. They are specifically designed to be lightweight and portable.
I hope that what I said about things to consider when selecting high-quality studio headphones was helpful. It’s time for me to examine some of the greatest studio headphones now available for purchase. For closed-back and open-back headphones, I’m going to separate this subject into two pieces.
5. Recording in the Studio
One of the most important features to look for in tracking headphones is isolation. It costs money to provide your studio with an adequate number of pro-quality headphones, but not everyone needs pricey models. You could decide to diversify your purchases by application rather than making numerous identical model purchases.
Drums: Acoustic isolation is the most crucial factor while tracking drums. This isolation is necessary to stop the click and reference mix from leaking into the microphones as well as to drown out the sound of the drums so that the drummer can hear the mix. A minimum sound isolation level of 25 to 29 dB is recommended for tracking drums. After isolation, low-frequency reproduction comes next. Fortunately, the type of tightly closed-back headphones you require also have a slightly disproportionate low end.
Electric Guitar and Bass: You can use regular closed-back headphones, semi-open-back headphones, or perhaps no headphones at all, depending on how you track things. If the guitarist or bassist is tracking with the amp in the same room, you’ll likely need to turn up the monitor mix significantly so they can hear the mix. You might want to utilize closed-back headphones for their isolation even though it’s unlikely that semi-open-back headphones will audibly bleed into the mic.
Acoustic Guitar (and Other Instruments): It’s simple here: be cautious. It is better to use closed-back headphones with enough isolation than to discover too late that your recorded recordings have headphones bleed.
Vocals: To sing correctly, vocalists depend on both proper pitches and frequency balance. This makes the difference between a singer’s nice sensation and a murky one when they are singing. This can make the difference between a live performance and one that lacks both enthusiasm and pitch, according to an engineer. For tracking vocals, you should utilize premium open-back headphones. This is an investment you should make if you have the funds for one fantastic pair of headphones and multiple pairs of basic pro-quality sets, or if you’re a vocalist who wants to have a fantastic set of ‘phones for recording.
If you can’t afford a pair of costly headphones, consider using a less expensive semi-open-back kind. However, you still need to stop the microphone from picking up sound coming from the headphones. If you can’t find a headphone level quiet enough to prevent all but a very slight/acceptable amount of bleed, you’ll need to switch to closed-back headphones.
6. Mixing and Monitoring
A good pair of reference-caliber headphones for tracking, almost always high-end open-back headphones, can help you identify problems that you don’t want to deal with right away, like ground hum and the buzzing of faulty cables. Wearing headphones while mixing enables you to concentrate on particulars in the tracks you’ve recorded to spot typical problems.
Using headphones is a great method to hear your mix without being distracted by the noise in your room as well. The headphones you use in your control room or mixing studio should offer the most precise and transparent frequency response available (just like your studio monitors). We advise using open-back or partially open-back headphones for these applications.
One last note: Keep in mind that we live in the post-iPod era. When you mix, you should always have a pair of standard, single-driver earbuds on hand. These will enable you to hear how your finished mix will sound to most listeners.
7. Live Sound Applications
The most important quality of live headphones is their ability to cancel out the background noise so you can hear what is going on in your mix.
Onstage: The most popular kind of live headphones by far are in-ear monitors, also referred to as earbuds. Professional in-ear monitors have a very low profile and fit almost exactly like earplugs. Because they are nearly undetectable from a distance of more than a few feet and they block out sound so effectively, most bands who use them benefit from having a microphone or two hired to pick up some crowd noise for reference.
8. What to Look For…
I hope that this buying guide should have given you some insight into headphones and given you some ideas for what to look for.
Choose headphones based on your application(s)
What kind of headphones you should buy will depend on what you plan to use them for.
Types of headphones
Closed-back and open-back headphones are the two basic varieties. Closed-back headphones offer better isolation, however, this isolation usually comes with a slight bass amplification. The sound quality of open-back headphones is more realistic, but isolation is a disadvantage.
Headphones in the studio
You’ll likely need several sets of standard studio headphones for frequent tracking in addition to headphones made specifically for certain applications. Because they need to strike a balance between isolation and accuracy, vocalists present a special challenge. Using reference-quality headphones will help you identify problems with your tracks, such as hum and buzz.
Headphones in live sound
When monitoring your mixes at the monitor mixing desk or the FOH position, good isolation headphones are fantastic. In-ear monitors enable performers to see themselves and their fellow performers onstage.
What’s the difference between studio headphones and normal headphones?
Why is there a difference between conventional and studio headphones, you might wonder. Why can’t I just use any old pair of headphones to make music? Okay, technically that’s two questions, but the answer to both is the same: most headphones that are made for regular listening or gaming contain an intrinsic boost somewhere in the frequency range to improve the listening experience, usually by improving the bass and treble frequencies.
This is not a smart idea for studio headphones since you want your cans to appropriately represent the music you’re creating rather than making it sound better than it is. Because of this, most studio headphones have been specifically engineered to have a flatter frequency response than most normal headphones, resulting in music produced with them sounding better on a variety of devices.