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Tracking Headphones

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by BobRogers, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I know that headphones have been discussed a lot, but I thought I'd ask again with a bit of a specific focus. I want to focus on cans used for tracking, so accurate sound is not a big issue. The sound has to be clean and clear, but if it is hyped or cut in some area that helps a player improve performance so much the better. To me the big issues during tracking are bleed and ergonomics/comfort. One problem is these tend to be at odds with each other. You get better isolation with heavy, tight cans that can be a pain to wear for hours.

    Anyway, I currently have two kinds of cans: cheap and cheaper. The cheap cans are in the $100 a set range: The Sony MDR-7506 and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. These both do a pretty good job on containing bleed. The Sonys are lighter and I find them more comfortable to wear. But I find that their hyped high end is tiring to listen to for a long time (and I don't need it playing bass). The Senns have a more pleasant sound to me, but are heavier and tighter. (I've always assumed they will isolate better with a loud headphone mix, so I've always given them to drummers that didn't have another preference. But I've never done any careful testing on this.) There are a bunch of candidates in this price range that I've never tried, so I'd appreciate people chiming in on these.

    I have several Sennheiser and AKG cans in the sub-$50 range that work fine. Some people like them because they are so light, but the real motivation for this post is that I was stuck with one with a flimsy cord that kept getting tangled last night as I switched from mixing to playing, so I'm going to get a couple more pairs of "better" cans. So I'm set with bargain cans, but if you want to post on that topic here I'm sure there will be interest.

    Also, if someone wants to make the case for more expensive models ($200-$500) as being a big benefit during tracking I'm willing to listen. But I've never tried any that were substantially more comfortable, and while the ones I've tried certainly sound better than the $100 models I don't see that quality helping me pick up a cue or establish a groove.
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    DaveDog turned me on to Shure 940's. They feel more comfortable than the Sennheiser 280's (which are like clamps!) and they isolate very well. For comfort, I love my Grado's , but they don't isolate well.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    So Bob, you are playing electric bass and you need tight isolation headphones to prevent bleed into microphones? You're not taking a direct and your bass isn't loud enough to deal with open-air headphones? You want headphones for tracking your bass? There is something here that I am fundamentally misreading, obviously? You mean so your headphones don't bleed into the guy across the room's microphone? You're not making sense and I expect better from you... just kidding. Are you talking about for/four other people in your studio? Personal? Yeah, those Sennheiser's will certainly help you squeeze out those high notes better they're so tight. But I thought you guys liked it like that?

    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have a lot of headphones. Here's my two cents

    For me, The most comfortable with the least long term fatigue are MB Quart. However, they are not the best for accuracy (coloured) but I enjoy them. They are very comfortable and fairly isolated, but not clamps. I bought them years ago and they were well priced. I use them when I am composing during late hours.

    AKG 270 are also awesome but a bit bright and more articulate. I never give those to musicians but love them too.

    The new Senns are like clamps, I don't much like them for long period.

    Even though the new musician/producer can be the DJ, I'd avoid anything that says DJ on them. You are paying for a case and the ability to flip or twist one phone. Waste of money IMO and they are usually head clamps for good reason.

    I have others but I always reach for the Quart's for relaxed monitoring/tracking. Some say they are too bassy. You get used to what you use and I'd rather get the job done over ears that are killing me from both sweat and fatigue.

    Looking around for MB Quart for you, I found these which are priced pretty well. I have know idea how these compare to mine but they may be a contender.
    Here are those MB Quartz for $99 MB Quart QP 400 Studio Pro Audiophile On-Ear Headphones (QP400)

    CharterOak has the ones I have but they appear to be made for them. CharterOak Acoustic Devices Model NEW M900 Small Condenser Microphone

    I've been eyeing the Shure 940 too .
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Yes Remy, It's sad but true. With this band I'm into tracking the whole band all at once, and we're so hard up that sometimes we stick a microphone in front of my mouth. It's not a pretty sight ...er .. sound in the best of circumstances, but it's even worse if you can hear a bunch of squeaking rodents escaping my headphones. Mostly kidding. In fact I don't sing that much, and I usually just make do with whatever headphones are left over. But I got pissed off at the lousy, flimsy cord last night and decided that what was left over would be better than what we have now. I'm sure that some nice, comfortable open headphones would be fine for me (when I'm not singing) and the guitarist. But I figure I'm better off upgrading the most critical cans and giving the old "good" ones to us.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    This is sort of off topic, but I just thought I'd describe last night's session since Remy felt I wasn't clear. We had a drummer (Royer SF-12 on overheads, EV RE20 on kick and snare top (SM57) and bottom (Rode NT55) - toms are miced (Senn 421) but those tracks are rarely used since the overheads pick up so much), acoustic guitarist/ main vocalist (separated from the drums with gobos, Mojave M-200 on vocal, Beyer 160 on the guitar) electric guitar with the speaker cabinet in the other room miced with an AEA R84, I'm playing bass direct through a Bass POD XT Pro and singing to a 414. We did mostly loud country last night so there is lots of drum in the vocal and acoustic guitar mics. Headphone bleed was the least of our worries last night, but that's no reason to get cans that can't be used in other situations.

    Basically, since I'm running some fairly new equipment (yes the Fireface UFX and PT9 have been around for a while, but I'm still not over the hump) I really need to have control of the silly side issues so I can push all the right damned buttons and still play bass and sing.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I'd love to learn more on ULTRASONE. They make a variety at affordable pricing.
    Our products

    Anyone try them?

    This say for Bass players and drummers. http://www.ultrasone.com/index.php/en/products/pro-550.html

  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Shure 840's and 940's. Really.
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    What's the difference between the two? It looks like I'd like the 940's ear pads better, but not sure that's worth $100.
  10. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Im looking for a few sets for the same exact situation... Anyone try the Audio Technica ATH-M--- series?. They look to be comfortable and lightweight. Audio quality, ?
  11. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I have had a few A-T headphones, and as much as I LOVE my A-T 40-series mics... I HATE the A-T 'phones because they are so cheaply made. Everyone of them had cheesey cables and plugs that gave me problems, and the earpads on some didn't hold up worth a hoot. Can't remember the models, just learned to avoid them.
  12. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Shotty build quality wont fly when trying to track, running back and forth with the guitar and headphones on to the console. Hmm, the MB Quart QP 400 look like a good fit, ill give those a go...
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Oooooo. My Shure 940s came today. Very comfortable. Great sound. Very even across the spectrum. Nice set of reference cans. Cost too much to get too many sets of them. I'll get a pair of 440s to see how people like them for tracking.
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    After as many years in the studio business as I have spent, you learn that only cheap headphones you wire up like a tank is the only viable option for musicians in your studio. When it comes to your own personal set of cans, you need a nice pair of open air & close backed pairs for yourself. And you don't want to be sharing your premium headphones with anyone else as I can assure you, they will get trashed rather quickly. Cheap headphones are generally built with shoddy cabling even if the tiny speaker can handle more than 1 W of power. And it's for that basic reason, everybody rewires their headphones with zip cord with at least 18gauge wires. And if you spend more than $30 each for musician headsets for tracking purposes, you are not making intelligent purchases. So get out your soldering iron and get to work. As long as the drivers are not blown out, we just keep recycling the wiring. Because you know the musicians headphones will all get busted up in a short period of time. That's part of the studio business and why we don't supply musicians with $100 + headphones, each.

    Practically outrageous
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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