Put your headphones on!
If you’re reading this, and not local to Salt Lake City, you probably assumed that I was dead, or lost somewhere in our beautiful Wasatch Mountains (they’re 10 minutes from the office). Truth is, we were hosting our 3rdAnnual Vendor Fair, and I forgot to tell you all about picking the right headphones for your home podcasting or music studio. Thanks for not rioting in my absence. So let’s talk headphones!
TL;DR—What’s the best studio headphone?
People seem to be stuck on the notion that a certain pair of headphones endorsed by a legendary hip-hop producer who is definitely NOT an MD are the way, the truth, and the light. Maybe you love the way the bass masks the rest of the audible frequency range through these particular headphones, but in the studio these don’t cut it. So what’s the best headphone for your studio? Well . . . first off, how much are you willing to spend? What are you using them for? If they’re just for hearing yourself and your backing tracks in the booth, your main concern is going to be isolation in order to prevent sound bleeding back into the microphone. If you’re after a set of headphones for referencing mixes, then you’re going to be looking for something with a flatter frequency response to ensure accuracy.
Bang for the Buck
Ask any radio broadcaster what their go to is, and I’d nearly guarantee they’ll tell you the Sony MDR-7506. These have been a broadcaster favorite for over 20 years because they’re reasonably priced, sound decent, and are comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. While I wouldn’t call these a reference class headphone, they’re a great choice for booth monitoring.
Class it Up
If you’re after a premium headphone that will give you a more accurate representation of your sound, look toward the Neumann NDH 20or the Focal Listen Pro. While I’d strongly recommend mixing on studio monitors (we’ll discuss this next week), this isn’t always possible. In that case you want a set of headphones that feel comfortable, isolate well, and offer an as-accurate-as-possible sound. Reference class headphones often take some getting used to, because they are tuned to be accurate instead of bass heavy like some of your more *cough* popular brands. After years of using reference class headphones, these are actually what I prefer to listen to music with now.
We’ll see you next week for our 6thand final installment in our “What’s Next?” series: Studio Monitors.