I recently started in an a sound design MFA, and I'm here to ask some advice about headphone options. I've been working with a pair of 40 dollars skullcandys [don't recall the specific name, and i couldn't find them on their website anymore regardless they're consumer quality] and I clearly need to get myself a good pair of all-purpose headphones. (For recording, for mixing, for everything.) I don't have the money to go around buying different pairs of headphones for different purposes at this point in my life. I also need something with a closed back, as I am going to be using them in classes and don't want to be rude leaking my sound everywhere while others are working. They're going to be traveling back and forth to class with me (and will most likely end up being dropped a couple times), so I also need them to be fairly durable.
Brief list of my headphone requirements:
- Under 250 dollars. (preferably under 200)
- Suitable for many uses across the sound design spectrum (I want a flat response)
- Closed back
- Durable for constant travel and clumsiness.
So far I've been looking a lot at the audio-technica M50s, and am thinking I'll probably go that way. They seem among the most highly praised for the price (~ 150). I've also been looking at the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro-80 or the Beyerdynamic DT 250-80, as the company was offhandedly recommended by one of the professors during our orientation when they told us we needed good studio headphones. Others I've strongly considered were the AKG K 272 HD.
I've got a pair of sennheiser headphones that I'm using for everything. Recording, editing mixing etc. I bought them for what would be equivalent to about 35 dollars. Don't recall the specific name, but take a look at their website, and shop around. They make brilliant headphones.
They're called Sennheiser HD 201, you can see them here http://www.sennheiserusa.com/hi-fi-headphones_dj-headphones_500155
I use th Sennheiser HD 280.very good and use it for recording and mixing. The outer world is gone when you have them on. (-30dB) price €110.
I can recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 250-80, they tick all your boxes (though I don't know about price). If something does go awry with them, all parts are replaceable.
I found them a bit tight when new but that was solved by parking them overnight on some nearly head spaced books, many closed back cans are tight when new to ensure outside noise reduction.
ATH-M50 from audio technica. A bit heavy if working for several hours, but good frequency response and detailed comfortable sound. Use in conjunction with near field monitors (like from KRK or similar+ price range) and pair of cheap "ordinary" headphones. Not everything can be done with headphones only, plus - you need some feedback/reference for working with monitors.
I am a sound designer, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD25s. I have never thought about changing these all-purpose headphones.
I use Sennheiser HD 25 1 II. What ever you do don't buy the HD 25 SP version... The bloody wires are useless, because it's going to each cup they just tangle all the time then after a while you end up having to spend £30 to replace the cables.
Great sounding headphones but seriously, get HD 25 1 II. Far more comfortable, better sound and none of that b.s cable issue You'll thank me later!
You should definately give the AKG271 MK II Closed Circum Aural a listen. I would not advice to do mixing on their HD range, they sound more hi fi like to me. Also the more expensive versions such as the K701. They sound fatter but harder to find a correct mixing balance.
Surprised nobody has mentioned Sony MDR-7506. Or for a bit more cash, the next one up in the family line.
I'm using M-50's as I write this, best headphones I've ever owned. I have my computer ran to my stereo then my headphones are ran out the 1/4 headphone jack of the stereo, the extra power and volume of the stereo makes these thing come to life (although they still sound amazing just from the computer), the bass is incredible, when I watch movies the deep low rumble is crazy, it's like sitting in an Imax movie theater.
bower and wilkins p5 and the mcintosh mcaire are the gears im tryna get my hands on this upcoming year.Both of them are a bit hefty but will add such crucial impact to my arsenal.
AKG K-240 Studio with a decent shielded custom cable. AKG's own cable is not shielded (by-the-by, most headphone cables aren't) and it drops high frequencies and has microdelays and dead harmonics all over the range. Been using mine since 2007 for anything, more specifically for sample editing, cleanup, and playing synths (they contrast notes and thus are easier to play in than other headphones). One drawback is, they're semi-open, meaning, you get sound spills to interfere with recording even if the spills are not in the microphone feed. In any case, AKG K-240 Studio is something anyone ought to have as they also work for mixing/editing when you don't have monitor speakers around, and they work wonders for sample cleanup and just playing synths.
Now about K-271 Studio and any derivatives, they tend to have a melancholic/sad/cold tint about them, never liked them for playing or even editing. It's weird how a design technically similar to the K-240 (the two models share drivers) isn't like the warm K-240 at all. That treble sparkle and the way the high midrange is skewed and does not really combine right with the treble also put one off. Their only plus is the isolation (they're fully closed).
Yamaha RH5MA - excellent headphones that with luck you can get for $50. They're supra-aural though, not full-size. Still, great clean sound, they show everything.
Denon AH-D310 - not professional headphones as such, but very good, even frequency response and warm sound, quick dynamics, and they're closed. And efficient. And comfy. Also quite cheap, possibly under $50 if lucky. The closest to $200 pro monitor headphones you can get for under $100. Used them successfully for tracking and sample cleanup, mine are heavily modified though.
There's a way more expensive model, AH-D310R, which includes a microphone and remote for the IPhone.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 have angled drivers. They have a little midrange bleed because of that, and the stereo image is a tad skewed, otherwise they're mostly fine, though they're not 100% straight really. Better get the ATH-M40, these are more neutral/truthful. Goodie isolation on either model, and the ATH-M40 are usually somewhat cheaper.
Senn HD280 are a bit of a specific thing, the isolation's right, but as a friend put it, they sound like "bathroom around one's ears". They work for vocalists in front of an LDC, sure enough, and the isolation is great, but they're not what could be called "general-purpose" headphones.
My piece of advice is: get the Denon AH-D310 as good all-purpose headphones (they're fine for tracking, and you can always improve isolation with some plied cotton and/or dense plastic fibre or felt). The cups just unscrew open, and the insides are hollow. That should be cheap, and they actually work better for purposes like tracking, once they've got extra stuff inside cups. Then also get the K-240 Studio and a good cable for them, shout if you need one for not-as-much (a goodie silver-plated teflon-coated copper shielded cable in Techflex jacket). The K-240 are essential for editing/playing, for any work with music really, and also for cleaning up recorded takes.
Alternately you could get the ATH-M40, the cheaper straight-response sibling to ATH-M50. You need stuff for work, not for excitement, the -M50 are a tad on the exaggerated side.
Other goodie headphones that weren't mentioned are Roland headphones, RH-5 and RH-50 are useful for monitoring/work, not-so-sure about music playback though (they tend to be lightweight in the low midrange, making distorted guitars sound too weak). Any higher-end closed model (RH-200, etc.) should do the trick.
Audio Technica ATH-M50 definitely. I bought five pair of them for the studio.
My name is George, i am new to the website. Just a quick question about headphones. What is the difference between 250ohm or 55ohm headphones for example? Does the impedance have anything to do with the quality of the sound?
A friend of mine has told me that actually a 250ohm Headphone set like the DT770's would be better for bigger distances like for example for classical orchestras..
Any help much appreciated.
"hearing at a distance?"
I don't think there is ANY correlation between hearing at a distance and any specification.
Here's a document from Rane that you might find instructive.
Higher impedance=higher voltage. Which is why most of the modern pocket players and devices are only suitable for low-impedance headphones. Manufacturers are cheap and don't want to spend on more capable batteries/circuitry.
There're some effects of higher impedance, higher-impedance headphones draw more volts, and hence amps can be more stable driving higher-impedance headphones. This does give a more precise, solid sound. 600-ohm K-240 Monitor, as an example, have a nicer, more accurate image drawing than the newer K-240 Studio (55-ohm). High-impedance headphones are a lot better recabled, too. Especially with shielded cables. This is because higher current is also more susceptible to interference and metal quality (silver or silver-plated high-quality copper is the best choice, low-quality copper tends to break harmonics and consistency).
There ought to be a more technical explanation to all of it, but basically, higher-impedance headphones suffer more from low-quality wiring and give a more solid, "serious" sound. Low-impedance headphones tend to be swung more by an amp's power (mA) rather than current (V) and usually have a more energetic, but less precise sound. This might be what your friend referred to by recommending higher-impedance headphones for orchestra records, they do play better with more ambiental and distant records.
To get an idea, try different impedance versions of the same headphones, like DT-880 (DT-770 have a bit of a bass monster reputation) or DT-990. Swapping different cables is also quite a show (try something like AKG K-240 Studio with AKG's stock cable and a custom shielded cable).
Thank you both for your replys!! It makes sense now