Whether you are a music producer, performer, video editor, into podcasting or you simply love listening to music – if you want to hear the sounds just the way they were intended and recorded – with all their finesses – good or bad, there is nothing that can help you do that better than studio headphones. Nevertheless, these professional headphones are above all designed especially for audio professionals, whether they have a home studio or they work in a big recording studio.
What Are Studio Headphones?
What makes headphones “studio headphones” is the fact that when you wear them, the sound is isolated, or in other words, it doesn’t leak out into the recording space – meaning that the studio microphone won’t pick up the additional sounds of the vocals or the instrument.
Furthermore, professional audio headphones provide the most accurate signal, meaning that they won’t affect the frequency response, and they won’t affect the audio output. This also means that they will “show” all the inadequacies in the production or the playback system, which is another reason why they are indispensable in a studio. But for a regular music listener, they may not be the best option, except if you like how they sound, in which case by all means get a pair.
Things to Consider
For home studios, these headphones are also great because they will help you contain the sounds and not disturb anyone in the house or in the neighbourhood. But, before you decide to buy new professional music headphones for your home studio, there are several things you need to keep in mind. This is because studio headphones differ not only in how cool they look, in prices and in quality, but also in the way they perform and their intended uses.
What Will You Use Them for?
Just like when you are choosing the studio microphone and the first thing you need to identify is what you are going to be using your new professional audio headphones for. Whether it’s mixing, monitoring during recording, mastering, singing or playing, DJ operations or for more purposes, can help you narrow down your options to choose the best type of earphones for your needs.
Types of Studio Headphones
Basically, there are three types of studio headphones to select from, open-back headphones, closed-back and semi-open headphones. As the names suggest, open-back headphones have a fully opened backside, while open-back headphones have a closed enclosure. The first ones are intended for mixing purposes, whereas the latter is best used for monitoring – especially vocal monitoring by the vocalist.
Closed-back headphones isolate your ears, and there is very little outside sound, which is why they are perfect for recording vocals because professional mics are very sensitive and will record any sounds coming from open-back headphones. However, they don’t provide accurate frequencies and can sound unnatural, meaning they aren’t the best option for listening to recordings.
With open-back headphones, you get more natural sounds, but they also spill noise, which can cause problems. On the other hand, semi-open headphones are good for both monitoring and mixing purposes, because they aren’t as noisy as open-back headphones, but they still release some of the extra sound pressure.
Accuracy, Isolation and Quality
However, these generalised assessments of the different types of studio music headphones definitely aren’t a strict rule, and you can’t decide which headphones are the best option for you, because ultimately, it’s all about preferences. This is also why they can be good for you even if you aren’t a professional audio engineer or a musician. Furthermore, you can’t identify quality based on these characteristics. There are many things that make good headphones.
Understandably, pro headphones are more expensive than other types of headphones. And even more so if you are looking for high-quality. If you are creating audio, to get the best results, as much as your skills are vital for the quality of the end product, your gear plays an equally important part. So, to create a perfect mix, you need to be able to hear very, very well, so one of the most important factors that determine the quality is the level of accuracy they provide.
Good quality headphones are isolated with foam that stops the outside sound from leaking inside, and the headphone sound from leaking outside. Isolation is as important for quality studio headphones as accuracy. Furthermore, quality studio headphones are durable, sturdy and comfortable, which is very important, because they are going to be used a lot. The earpads should be thick, and the headband should fit well, in order to guarantee good isolation and comfort.
Furthermore, just like when you are buying microphones you should look for sturdy entry points, good quality cables and connectors, as well as suitable wire length.
And, finally, after you’ve identified the studio headphones that will provide you with everything you need, in regards to the purpose they’ll serve you, you can consider the aesthetics, if that’s something that’s important to you.
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