Most accurate headphones for tracking and/or mixing

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by aphid, Dec 22, 2005.

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  1. aphid

    aphid Guest

    hi all,

    well its seems i won't have the money to spend buying nearfields and treating my room so i was wondering if anybody knew a good set of headphones for tracking primarily. it looks like i'll be mixing with them too. i just need something as flat and accurate as possible.

    i know there are no subsitutes for good monitors but i'm gonna need some more reference style headphones while i'm micing drums anyways.

    i currently have a set of the Sony MDR-V900 headphones, and they are pretty nice, but i'm wondering if they are too hyped. some of my tracks, and hence my mixes, are a little off. could be my ears though :)
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Aren't those the ones for DJing? If so, they ARE hyped, especially the bass end (maybe the top,too). Are your mixes coming out thin? That'll do it every time: trick you into thinking that you have enough bottom in the mix. Then, when you hear it on "real" speakers, WTH/F?!?! Doesn't sound right...right? And if they're hyped in the top end,too, same problem at that end: no "air". The answer is: DON'T USE PHONES TO MIX!!!
    But to track, there are several decent phones. Sennheiser HD280Pros are a popular set around here, and I have these leather-covered jobs by a guy named Joe Grado that my ex gave me many years ago. They have a REAL good reputation, and they are wonderful, but pricey. Sony's are good for live sound (MDR7506), but "edgey" sounding. AKG and Beyer have their devotees who'll have to weigh in....
  3. aphid

    aphid Guest

    i'm not sure if they bill them as dj'ing heapdhones. the Sony MDR-V700DJ are primarily what i see being touted for dj'ing. but yeah, you're are correct about the mixes. that's why i'm tring to find the most completely flat headphones in the world now for tracking before i even get to mixing :)
  4. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    Moonbaby is right on. I second the HD280s. The Sony MDR7506s have a little more "smiley face" to them but are very good also.

    But seriously, mix on an old stereo or something rather than with headphones. You'll get way better results.

  5. aphid

    aphid Guest

    well, mixing isn't really my number one concern. i really need good accurate phones for tracking anyways cause i'm usually in the room with drummers while i'm positioning mics while they play to get the best drum sound. i just want some uber flat heaphones that aren't gonna lie to me :)

    i'll have to check out those sennheisers... unless somebody has a better suggestion.
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    It is more of whatever work that one being best over another. I've been using AKG 240's for many years and been quite happy. Got a couple pairs of HD280's a little over a year ago and really like them for tracking. The 7506 gets used at times and some clients prefer using them as they are used to them and they help them be confortable in performing for recording.
  7. mugtastic

    mugtastic Active Member

    Dec 9, 2005
    hd280pros changed my life. i was using metrophones drummers isolating headphones to track drums. uncomfortable and superharsh. the sennheisers sound great but not hyped, are very comfortable and isolate better than anything i have used. my mixes are better now than from using my nearfields (i need better nearfields) and they are pretty cheap.
    they'll make you throw away the sonys (or give them to the jerk in the session)
  8. i have the hd280 and the akg k240s. iof you wnat accurate i would go with the akg's if you wnat something closer to what anormal person would listen to on i would say the senns. i use the 280's in my tracking room and the akg are back up or for my own use
  9. Pre Amp

    Pre Amp Guest

    I own a pair of Sony MDR headphones. They are really, really nice. And the sound is bright & full. They are certainly the best pair of headphones I've ever owned. I think they were like $199
    Great for mixing with!
    Well worth the $$$$
  10. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    sennheiser 265 linear

    and don't ever mix on headphones!!

    they can be useful as a tool in mixing.... but only second to monitors
  11. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

    Apr 21, 2005
    I'm not sure there are ANY headphones that aren't going to lie to you. Its kind of what they're built to do.
  12. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004

    of course they're not built to decieve you....

    most headphones can actually be more revealing than speakers ten times the price.....


    the nature of headphones and human hearing makes them impossible to mix on.... but to reveal small differences is another matter...
  13. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    No Headphones.

    The dynamic integrety (lack of) will not translate to speakers. If you are mixing for headphone only playback, get the Stax Lambda pros.

    headphones are a monitoring tool for the the studio..or a tool so you can cut in the control room. They are only useful whenever you have "nothing else" to use.
  14. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Apparently everyone is saying "no" to headphones because none of them "sound right" for most anything?

    Fine(Not that I believe everything they're saying...). All this really means is that almost any reasonable quality headphones will likely serve you in as good sted as any other. If there are "monitor" quality headphones they are w-a-y out of your budget so they can be ignored.

    Things to think of:

    How much patience would it take for you to saveup for a pair of speakers? What are we talking here, 3 or 400 bucks for a usable pair? Work on the "patience thing". "The wait" is the hardest part of being young(It'll pass).

    For tracking, with "sound" in the room with you, to prevent feedback you will want "closed" phones

    For mixing, a pair of "open" or "semi-open" phones might be better? Audiophiles, who at least like to think that they want to hear the product "as made" are as good a source of reference to "phones" as anyone else. They often use this type as they say the, for all intents and purposes, "bass-build-up" has somewhere to go..? Maybe check out some headphone reviews from the audiophile side?

    Brand? I try hard to always buy brands I am familiar with, maybe through other products they make of which I have favorable experience(Beyer Dynamic/Sennheiser/AKG are just a few) or which I see others use(Others who seem to know what they are doing, as witnessed by their product - What they actually put out!). They are not always "right", but they have a better chance than some - in my opinion... Someone who makes "ONLY" phones or is offering something "new", may be great! I'd have to hear/see them first. With the "big names" I might "risk" my bucks, sound unheard, going on specs and reviews alone......

    Comfort. Really the number 1 priority for a pair of headphones you need to have on for long periods -- you'll really have to, somehow, try the darned things on yourself(Wearing a set in the store for more than 3 or 4 hours may get you some nasty comments from the clerks?) - or trust to others...

    Price. Nah, not so much. If you could afford a pair of 500 dollar phones, you could also afford a pair of 500 dollar speakers, of which many, of either, would be fine, at least for now... So, assuming a budget of a whole lot less than that, say, what, 50 bucks? 75? 100? Don't really matter which phones you buy they will be no one's idea of "the best". Read the specs, read the reviews, ask on the forum then go get some... Better? Stick with what you've got until you save up 4 to 500 bucks and get a pair of "starter" speakers(I know, I said that already.).

    Their "sound". No... no. The very reason there are so many speakers and so many phones is that - by their nature - they CANNOT BE JUDGED! No test machine can tell us how things "sound". No reviewer can tell us - critically - how one of anything "sounds" against any other thing. Not really. Certainly no one can say which reputable-branded 100 dollar headphones are "best"(Maybe some can say how durable or pretty they are, but, that is not "sound" and is, too often, relative.). Sound is just not definable you to me, me to you. Part of the game.

    Whatever you have/buy, the best anyone can tell you is to "get used to them". Listen to things on them and then listen to those same things in the car, on the home stereo, on the boom box - wherever. You WILL be able to "equate the mix" to some degree to what you hear in your phones(Yes, you will..! Take that headphone non-believers!).

    Be v-e-r-y careful of the advice of those who say things like(I promise I'm not looking over any previous posts, here!)((I don't have to!)) "can't!" and "don't!" or "must have"... Most(All?) of these people have absolutely no real-world experience, certainly no real-world success. Successful people do what they have to do to be successful inspite of current budgetary restrictions or the ever-present naysayers - and the truly successful aren't giving you advice - they're busy - and out of your budget anyway...

    Buy the best of everything you can, soon as you can(Great for the ego! Not a thing wrong with that.). Meantime, make do with what you can come up with. It's YOU not the equipment. If you do your research and make a mistake you'll "upgrade" as you can and learn more with each experience - we all do.

  15. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
  16. I-Quality

    I-Quality Guest

    i've used the akg k240s but really you can't trust them.....they are so hyped in the bass....everything sounds nice and fat through them
    the senn are far more "realistic" and crunchy, exactly what you need to track, to hear the freq problems
    for mixing well nothing came out well, so now i'm just using them to check reverbs and things like that
  17. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005

    I don't know how to "answer" like that(Filling in) - how do you do that???

    Handy at times...

    For speakers substitute phones and their brand names, anywhere you like...

    Is there a point? Of course not. This is all just fun stuff. If it weren't for the fact that sound reproducing devices can't be judged, what would we argue about???

    I'll try to go back and forth to make some more comments...

    Not BS! Not at all! Speakers can't be judged! Headphones can't be judged! Lot's of things can't be judged. They may be able to be compared, more or less arbitrarily, they may be able to be measured, by those with the equipment/skill, but there is no definitive way to tell how one set of speakers is "better" than another. Even the folks WITH the equipment argue over which reference(Speaker testing) mic is "better".

    How about this:

    I have a 10 dollar transistor radio(Remember those?). It has a 2" speaker of low physical quality. You have a 10" speaker(Any brand) of obviously high quality. Which is the better speaker? For what? The radio? I'm going to haul around a 10" speaker in it's cabinet in my pocket to listen to the ball games? The 2 inch is better! Technically, at voice frequencies, it probably IS better! The 2" does the voice freq's "best", along with the more "hyper" "ball game" freq's, like the screaming crowd - no constant CSI/Star Trek bass rumble needed.

    I have two 10" speakers, different brands, same physical quality, same published specs, same price, same wording in the reviews. Which is better? How does one determine? You may be able to measure response, you may be able to measure distortion, you may be able to just listen - indeed you may be able to determine to at least your satisfaction. IF you have the gear to test with, if you have the skill, if you have "the other", the competition, at hand(Ear). ALL most of us have are reviews and most of the reviewers simply "judge" speakers relevent to what else they happen to have sitting around. How good is this? Julian Hirsch, used to attempt to review speakers using a "suite" of test gear, a "controlled"(To at least some degree) listening environment and alot of experience. He's gone now, or at least Stereo Review is gone. Now what? That said, even he had trouble making "buy this not that" statements, for political reasons if nothing else, as well as the sure-fact that most speakers "of a type/range, etc", were often so close that any differences were completely moot("The Cherry finish is nice!"). Oh, yeah, the actually "bad" ones were easy - "...has a big hole between 7 & 8 hundred hz...". Fine. But, this just does not apply very often, nor can the average ear hear the "big dfference" that may equate to -.4db, which is all the reviewer could find to complain about. And, as you know, even speakers of similar specs may sound ALOT different! Good different? Bad different? Sometimes hard to say...... Even Hirsch used to say things like "compared to the other 500 dollar speakers I happened to have at the time, in the lab, these 5000 dollar speakers sounded much better." Yeah... Thankx......

    Here's a suggestion made often(One I've used myself). "Take along a couple of recordings you are familiar with.". Yeah? So? You've been listening to these things with your Walkman or your home stereo your "other" monitors for years and you "know" them. Now you listen to them on a few modern "super systems", in a room completely different than yours. They ALL sound "better"! So? CRAP.

    "...give me a bunch and..." Yeah, exactly, sure! Few to none of us can seriusly A/B this stuff! At least two of the speakers I would like to audition are plain old hard to find AND, more importantly, even if I do take the voyage to hear them, what will I hear them "up against"? In what type of room? Are they really better than the Alesis, the Mackie, the Events I can find "locally" and which, due to their "nature" the "ritzy" dealer wouldn't dream of offering, so I can't hear them "together"? And when I get them home, to my space? Good luck......

    "...more experienced listeners." I'm sure there are. That is why I DO "listen" to the reviewers(At least some of them) - as It's ALL I HAVE! Does not make them "right" - just more right than anything else I can think of. I look at reviews in Mix Magazine, Electronic Musician, Sound On Sound, here on this forum, on other forums, to people who USE this stuff alot at recording studios. The only real determination I've ever been able to get out of them is that "similar things are similar", "non-similar things are not". Pick a price, pick a pair, enjoy.

    No, you won't tell me "which headphones are best". You don't know yourself(Except maybe for your ears, in your situation, in "your mood" at the time.)! You have no way to properly test headphones, your hair may be shorter than mine allowing for a different "fit", you may listen to "other" music than I do, in some completely different way. I don't know that even the big phone makers have a definitive machine to test phones with. Talk about BS!

    High Fidelity! CRAP! A friend of mine who listens to music a whole lot more than I do listens to speakers I wouldn't mix a voiceover on - very expensive speakers, too! He has fallen into the trap of advertising and I guarantee he has not seriously tested many brands. He just had the dollars in his pocket and bought into their hype. Geez! High Fidelity, indeed! "The more it sounds like the real world", c'mon! I have NEVER heard any speakers that sounded in the slightet like the "real world". OK maybe the 2" speaker in that transistor radio, which sound pretty much like the echoey, nasal PA systems at many ballparks. Doesn't mean there aren't "good" sytems, even "very good", even "great", but the best I've heard had alot more to do with their environment(And my mood) than the brand name on the speaker cabinets.

    We can agree that people who study, really study

    (My keyboard is going bad! 'Scuse me while I get some batteries)

    ---------------------------------------- hang on, they're downstairs ----------------------------------------------

    We're back:

    , generally NOT "sound pros", CAN offer insights into "sound" that "pros" will never "hear". Nature of the beast. It is said that many/most professional astronomers cannot stand outside with you of an evening and point out the wonders of the heavens(Constellations, stars, etc.). Astounding? No. Just not what they do. Think about it. Same for "pros" in any business. Someone who designs automobile engines by day, may or may not be able to help you get your lawnmower started(Probably take theirs to the shop! As "sound pros" often trust their entire systems to others - and they just get used to it and live with it.)... Amateurs are often better reference for basic things like "which speakers/phones". They r-e-a-l-l-y think about such stuff! They take vacations "around" audio stores they want to visit - that sort of thing. The average "pro" simply goes in the studio and uses what's there. The pro who must, reluctantly(As opposed to the over-joyed amateur) spend money on "new speakers" sometimes(Often?), I'll bet you, never gets past page 3 of Mix, before making a phone call and setting up what comes via UPS and forgetting about it - there is a reason those "early-on" adds cost so much! OF COURSE there are studio people who DO take the time, but even the vast majority of them NEED SPEAKERS NOW! And cannot afford to do more than try to recall what they've read recently, no matter how deep into Mix they ordinarilly go and they end up playing it safe anyway, by re-ordering the tried and true not the latest/greatest whose ad features the most "smiling faces" or cutest copy......

    "Truly great speakers take no getting used to." So, my new $80,000 McIntosh system in my doofy, tiny living room downstairs will be "wonderful", ey? BBSS!! Truly great ROOMS, including EVERYTHING in the SYSTEM may be "easy to get along with"(Though will always take some serious "getting used to"), but, DO NOT waste your hard-earned cash on truly great speakers all by themselves. Putting a big-n'-serious set of monitors in a bad room will give you no better(Possibly a far worse) picture of your work than any ol' boombox, or a half decent set of headphones.

    We waste so much time and effort discussing "things" anyway? Things we can just buy. When what we just buy is the least of our worries! What we do, not what we do it with, is the main thing to worry about. Deficiencies will soon point themselves out and be corrected - and we'll actually be able to afford them! - if we just pay attention. The Beatles started out in some garage somewhere, then to some basement, lousy accoustics club, then to some little recording studio with nothing, then, later(For most folk MUCH later!) they got into the state of the art, money no object facility. They did no start BIG, nor did they have to, there talents even show quite well(Maybe much better????????????????????????????????) through that 2" speaker on my transistor radio.

    INDEED! "with good monitoring you have to run back and forth less times"(But we STILL run back and forth alot, ey? The amount of shoe leather used is directly proportional to the importance of the project.)

    No I don't "see the difference", nor do I hear it. The amount of reference material(Speakers, rooms, phones, experience, friends) is also directly proportional to how well the project ends up. Build your mix on the best you can get. No question the best headphones cost a whole lot less than the best speakers and they only need your ears to work, no fancy room at all.

    Correct! I am no excepton. In the end you cannot, must not listen to me! Or the reviewers! Or the advertising! Only to yourself.

  18. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    I am not saying a "good mix" cannot be done with cans..and I have some of the most accurate ones measured..around here..but dynamics with a set of speakers 1 inch from your ears and dynamics with a good 2 to 5 meter air cushion between you and the transducers are completely different. Inverse square, frequency dissapation, driver dispersion, standing waves, side reflections, boundary effect, absoprbtion coeff., cavity reinforcement, rear wave reflections...all of this techno babble means one thing..and that is acoustics.

    If you want your mix to sound good only on one specific brand/model of headphones, then this would be what you would get. If you want your mix to translate with everything from the muzak 8" celing speakers to dance halls, to hi fi systems to portable boom boxes AND headphones, you absolutely must put some air between you and the transducers.

    The best headphone mixes I have done..pale in comparison with what I can do with loudspeakers.. ..even with the auratones.

    Like I said earlier, dynamic integrety will be well as bandwidth coherency.
  19. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Sorry, double post..
  20. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    I guess I'm so hyper on this thread because everyone's comments have been so good! Thankx! This subject is ALOT more important than it first sounds - lots of room to scream at each other here(A very good thing!).

    No argument from me on using speakers to mix for speakers, as this is, after all, how we hear things normally - from a distance WITH "room effects" good or bad. Just that I can't, in good conscience, recommend particular speakers OR phones in other than a general way(I like them maybe you will, too?). It is STILL true that I see/hear NS10's, at places that do alot of great work(And who pay me money!) - who am I to argue, though alot of people do argue - meaninglessly.

    For true? If I had a hundred bucks to spend on monitoring and could spend no more, I'd go to the store and get a set of 80 dollar speakers and a set of 20 dollar phones or ALL 100 on the speakers and forget the phones(For now). Oh! Yeah! That's what I did a few years ago. Bought a set of Yamaha MS50's(Sadly, no longer available) for 100 smackers. They helped me make way more than enough to buy a set of 200 dollar(Sadly now 150, sigh...) Beyer DT770, phones later on - ha.

    I have never heard a set of phones that are very accurate(Including my Beyer's, though I'm sure the pricier ones are! I just don't have that kind of need - or coin.), though I've owned/used alot of different kinds I have no favorites as to brand - though the brand seen most often in studio, by me, are AKG, if that means anything..?

    All this(And the above post reply and SUPERINSANE repost reply) just to say that most minute differences between similar speakers/phones are just not worth worrying about. Read the reviews(They may at least point out actual "deal breakers"), check them out in person and compare them with other, similar types if at all possible. Do as much research as you can then spend 'til it hurts for almost anything you buy(You wouldn't believe how much the hundred bucks for the little Yammie's "hurt" at the time...) and you'll at least be able to feel that you've done the best you could.

    Lastly, don't get involved with the "best" argument, when it comes to equipment like similar speakers, headphones and microphones - they are not definable enough by any usable me/you/my place/your place definition. Picking something in your price range that suits your actual needs(And no more!) will almost always suffice, no matter the label, until you can go out and spend more...

    Personal examples?


    I have used the "best" Neuman's. I don't "sound good" on most of them.

    I have used the "best"(And worst) AKG's. I DO "sound good" on most of them???

    Still! If someone offered to trade even-up - my "lesser" AKG for a fine Neuman, you bet I would!

    I have used the EV RE20, the Sennheiser 421 and the Shure SM 5/7(?) - competing mics of similar type/price/user. They ALL sound "good", but my favorite(I don't know why? Prettiest?) is the RE20. I could not, in good conscience, recommend the RE20 OVER the others. Just can't. Yes, I've(Gladly) had Fords, Chevy's, Dodge's, even Volkwagen's - loved 'em all. Guess I just have no taste?

    Phones. They all sound "hollow" when I first put them on. I get used to it - then they all sound fine. I'm more worried about how they feel after an hours' wear..! Even then..? 30 years ago I bought a pair of Koss Pro4AA's. Over the years I bought several more pairs. NOT that they were "best", just that I was "used to them" and knew how they sounded compared to other phones and speakers. The Beyer's? I just bought them because I do NOT like the AKG's, I've used, nor the Sennheiser's, I do NOT like the Sony's and Beyer was about all that was left? I liked their specs, the way they loooked, their price AND that after I had picked them out I emailed the US Beyer rep for their recomendation and they said the DT 770's. I bought them. They sounded "hollow" at first. They are said to "hype the bass" - how do I know? They seem well-built and are said to have easily replaceable "wear parts". I don't have 10 pairs of others to compare them with... I don't care. They sound fine(I ain't makin' no Capitol Records here). After an hour or so I want to get them off me! I'm getting old. I generally use them for a couple of minutes at a time. I don't "mix" with them...... They're fine. All my stuff is fine --- until I get some more money... Ha!

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