Let’s face the facts here. Headphones are always going to be the go-to audio source for more than most people. They’re convenient, portable and have a bit more privacy compared to a pair of speakers.
This remains true even for people in the studio. The people who are mixing and recording the music you listen to. A good pair of headphones are absolute key for producers to know how the music actually sounds. Audio quality is important, but so is durability and comfort.
There is also a lot of other stuff you need to watch out for as well. So If you’re getting into recording music or mixing and mastering audio, we’ll help you pick a pair of headphones for you.
First up, when we’re talking about different types of headphones, sound quality matters. Drivers are what set them apart in terms of audio performance for the most part. It’s not just about the size either, it’s about what technology they use.
Most headphones in the studio either have dynamic drivers or planar dynamic drivers. There are also electrostatic drivers, but you won’t see them in studio headphones. While dynamic drivers sound just as good, some people will like the more balanced and natural sound planar magnetic produces most of the time.
Open Back vs Closed Back
While comfort, design, and durability are definitely important in the studio, audio quality is still the highest priority. Both closed back and open back headphones have a different feel to them. So it’s important to decide which you prefer.
Closed-back headphones are what the average consumer is familiar with. When you put the headphones on, they are entirely sealed off to prevent sound leakage. They create nice noise isolation and provide better bass such as these headphones for bassheads. It even lets some people focus on the music more when they are working with it.
Open-back headphones, as the name suggests are quite the opposite. They generally have grills on the outside, meaning sound can leak outside. And outside noise leaks in just as easily. Despite that, they have a wider soundstage because of this design and might sound better to some people who prefer reference audio.
So basically it’s like pick your poison. It all comes down to preference.
Sure the sound quality is what really sets headphones apart from each other, as different people will like a different sound according to their ears. But that’s not the only thing you should be looking out for.
Obviously, comfort is pretty important for mixing music in the studio. It’s important to make sure the headband has some sort of padding so it sits easily on the head. Clamping force or pressure is also important, it shouldn’t be too much to weigh you down or too light to keep falling off.
Other than that it’s important to keep impedance in mind. Sure higher-end headphones with more impedance might sound better, but they also require a decent DAC and AMP combo to fully utilize their power.
Picking out a pair of headphones for the studio isn’t as easy as one might think. Obviously hi-fi sound quality is important. But you should know your brands as well. Different producers swear by some popular names in the industry. A good place to start is with Sennheiser, Shure or Audio Technica. The Sennheiser HD 650s are a great pair of open-back headphones that people swear by. Lastly, if you’re into audiophile headphone stuff make sure to check out Headphones Lab, they specialize in audio equipment and can provide a lot of knowledge to you when it comes to the audio realm.