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Best Headphones for Monitoring? Studio Headphones
Old 19th December 2002
  #31
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chessparov's Avatar
 

So far the MDR-V6's sound "bright" compared to the mellowness of the
AKG 240DF. Much easier to hear reverb tails and stuff like tape hiss.

Chris
Old 20th December 2002
  #32
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I just bought a pair of these 'Ultrasone' cans that Fletcher recommended. Pretty cool. I cut a vocal yesterday and the singer LOVED them. That's worth the price right there.
http://www.ultrasone.com/
Model HFI-200

QUOTE:"Conversely, I find the Sony 7506 to be piercingly bright....."

I couldn't agree more. But....I used to think they sounded great! Mmmm?

Benjy
Old 27th February 2008
  #33
any improvements on things scince 2002????
Old 27th February 2008
  #34
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Dunno... I'm looking for the "perfect" headphones myself. Been using Beyers all along (880, 990, and closed 831 etc. when recording live).

Recently tried Grados (325 all the way up to the GS1000) and found them terrible. Even the background ambience in a large hall or church sounded all wrong and colored... Nothing I would ever consider for mixing and even applying EQ.
AKG 701 is ok, but not great (straight out of the box, though). 601 seemed better. 271 was muffled and unpleasant. Never heard the 240 (DF).

Might try a new Denon (AH-D2000) later today. Also considering new Beyer 880s.
Stax seems beyond my reach financially, and I don't know where to try any.


Daniel
Old 27th February 2008
  #35
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I just yesterday picked up the ATH-M50, a low-priced phone that's quite surprising.

Don't have enough time to draw final conclusions, but it's definitely a bargain at $150. I listened to familiar tracks and it's revealing and faithful. No hype or character of its own. I plan to take them out for a few location captures this weekend to AB against my Ultrasones and Shure E5Cs.
Old 27th February 2008
  #36
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This isn't a comment about mixing, I don't have the background, but a comment about some of the headphone sounds. Since I own a reasonable number.

Many brands are quite euphoniously coloured. Grado's have a corporate sound that is a bit love or hate, but not neutral. Stax headphones can sound utterly fantastic and lush, and I have heard horror stories of them covering up real faults in tracking.

The Sennheisers are very neutral, but the HD600 and 650 have a known "dark" sound that is off putting unless they are driven with very good amp (when the darkness vanishes.) I have a pair of HD650 which when properly driven are the most revealing thing I have ever heard.

A left field item is the Etymotic ER-4S. These are very neutral, easily driven, and have the advantage of quite amazing noise isolation. But being an ear canal design are not for everyone. They get uncomfortable after a few hours, and some people can't stand them at all.

A really good headphone amp makes a bigger difference than you would imagine.
Old 27th February 2008
  #37
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Grado's have a corporate sound that is a bit love or hate, but not neutral.
Thanks for confirming that. So there's nothing significantly wrong with my ears. The owener of the shop where I tried the Grados looked at me in a somewhat condescending way when I said I didn't like them and preferred my old beyer 990..


Quote:
Stax headphones can sound utterly fantastic and lush, and I have heard horror stories of them covering up real faults in tracking.
Can you tell me more about that?

What kind of amp would the Sennheisers require (got a Lake People unit)?

D.
Old 27th February 2008
  #38
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amfortas2006's Avatar
 

I have Beyerdynamic DT770 80 Ohm, and Etymotic 4P-s. The etys I use only when I cant bring too much stuff with me.

The Beyers I like very much, these are great ( do classical) ! They can get a bit warm in the summer when worn for a longer time but definetly my first choice among these two. The etymotics scream for a break after a while of being worn.
Old 27th February 2008
  #39
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Quote:
Can you tell me more about that?
Really just annecdotal, in general the Stax can make anything sound good, so it isn't possible to do critical checking with them. Microphone placement can't be done listening though them, because it always sounds good.

Quote:
What kind of amp would the Sennheisers require (got a Lake People unit)?
That Lake People amp looks very interesting. (Assuming you mean the F399.) I suspect they had the Sennheiser's in mind when it was designed. It is a well put together amp, and has clearly had a lot of trouble taken with important aspects. I would think it would work well.
Old 27th February 2008
  #40
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I have about twelve pairs of cans...and use them for various tasks.

I use 7506's all the time, but they are more the daily mix workhorse, not what I want to actually MIX on. Definitely edgy top end.

In spite of using them often, the only thing I find Ultrasones good for is listening to a DVD for pleasure. Way too hyped for me.

I love my Sennheiser 280s. The bottom end is heavy and inaccurate--to me, sounds better in the cans than a mix does on speakers. But the mids & highs sound great, and I find them a good can to record & track on more than to mix on. A DVD sounds even better on these than the Ultrasones, because the sub information translates well to your ear.

My airplane Sennheisers- the little noise cancellig phones- are amazing. Once you get past the sense of phase shift in your skull these are really quiet, small, and do the job when travelling. I A/B's them against Bose noise cancelling cans in the Denver Airport, and the salesman agreed with me that my Senns were better.

AKG 240m...I own several pairs for the studio, but other than putting them on other people's ears, I don't like them at all. Big, bulky, inaccurate muddy lows, rolled off top end. Comfy to wear b/c big & plushy, but because they are large they can make your head hot.

I like the sound of Beyers but they are kinda low-fi-- always missing both top & bottom spectrum for me. Next, I don't like the way the phone sits on my head.

I still think the best can to mix on is a Grado RS-1 reference headphone. I would not have believed you have to "break in" a very expensive headphone, but the difference after playing them 24/7 for a week on a Grace pre, they smoothed out to a point where I can really pinpoint all parts of a mix more than any of my other cans. Makes me very curious as to how the low level Grados sound (as the very expensive RS-1s are not exactly the first thing I'd want to throw into a pelican for a location gig!)

Hope this helps!

JvB
Old 27th February 2008
  #41
I've done some awesome mixes in my ultrasone 650s while traveling. I actually was shocked how well the mixes translated (i'd never tried mixing exclusively in headphones before-just referenced). I actually wear these things with my ipod when commuting now. Sure i get odd looks in the subway with 300 dollar bright blue headphones on--but they rock so much.
Old 27th February 2008
  #42
Gear Nut
 

It's true about the love/hate thing with Grado's. It's also true that a few hundred hours of break in change the sound quite noticeably. The original Joseph Grado headphones from the early '90s, the HP1and HP2 were supposedly designed as engineer reference phones and are highly sought after, selling for thousands of dollars. I've never heard them, but they look similar to the metal cupped SR325 only with a much better build quality.

There's also the Grado PS1 which was a metal cupped headphone designed specifically for a German recording studio/radio station or something. It was sold in Europe and through a few U.S. retailers. And finally there is the Allesandro headphones which are rebranded and apparently revoiced Grado's designed for an American audio company.

The 3 biggest complaints about the Brooklyn NY manufactured Grado headphones are:
1. They can be very bright, coloured. Burn in helps this a lot but they're still pretty forward.

2. They have a very narrow and shallow soundstage. The popular expression is that Senn 580/600/650 puts the listener further back in the music hall, whereas the Grado's put you onstage.

3. The build quality is crude and cheap looking.

All that said I like my Grado 325i through a tube headphone amp for entertainment listening and to check for details like squeeks, rustling distortion etc...
I prefer Sennheiser 580 through a Duet for anything soundstage related and for nature/soundscape/binaural listening. The 2 headphones cover the spectrum for me.
Old 27th February 2008
  #43
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Quote:
I prefer Sennheiser 580 through a Duet
You really must try the Sennheisers on the Duet with a good amp. The Duet is not a happy drive for them without (it has a 32 Ohm build out resistor which does not help things at all. Plus the Duet only has +/- 7.5 volts rails.) The difference is well worth the effort. You may find it changes your mind about your preferred listening for pleasure setup.
Old 27th February 2008
  #44
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
You really must try the Sennheisers on the Duet with a good amp. The Duet is not a happy drive for them without (it has a 32 Ohm build out resistor which does not help things at all. Plus the Duet only has +/- 7.5 volts rails.) The difference is well worth the effort. You may find it changes your mind about your preferred listening for pleasure setup.
Thanks for the tip. I'll try my MAD EAR plus tube amp through the Duet.

Last edited by ambo; 27th February 2008 at 05:07 PM.. Reason: spelllllling
Old 27th February 2008
  #45
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elswhrco's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Really just annecdotal, in general the Stax can make anything sound good, so it isn't possible to do critical checking with them. Microphone placement can't be done listening though them, because it always sounds good.
I have a pair of Stax Omega II and I have a slightly different spin on this theory...

The "problem" with the Omega II is that they resolve *so* much detail. Why is this a problem? Well, what might sound rich and detailed on the Stax can sound dull and lifeless on a lesser playback system.

To give you an example - I recorded a singer/songwriter with a simple stereo pair. On the Stax it sounds *incredible* - I absolutely loved the recording and wouldn't change a thing. I suspect the recording would also sound incredible on a very high end hi-fi, but on an ordinary, run of the mill hi-fi, it is nothing special to listen to.

I have also extensively used Sennheiser HD600, Sennheiser HD25, Beyer DT150 and Beyer DT250. Of those, I find the HD25 the most useful for location work due to their great isolation and relatively predictable presentation.

But in all honestly, once you get used to the Stax Omegas, everything else sounds compressed, muffled and often boxy by comparison. But then they are over 10 times the price of the others...
Old 27th February 2008
  #46
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Sennys

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonic dogg View Post
the whole line of the sennheiser 'pro' series cans sound good....
After using AKG and Sony, I'm using:

Sennheiser HD280.

Yes, they're cheap, they're great anyway.
Yes, they're closed back-but they really image well!
Isolation is superb.
Effortless to "translate."
I bought 'em mostly because I needed something "super isolating" for live use (and they are!), and something that could be more easily driven (and they are!).

But I was not prepared for them to be great cans. They are.
Old 27th February 2008
  #47
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d_fu's Avatar
 

The Denon I mentioned above is ok, but it's not for me. Too dark and mid-rangey. The two MB Quart phones I also tried today are ridiculously coloured in the mid range - nothing I could ever work with...
Old 27th February 2008
  #48
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I still use sony mdr7506. I'm so used to it that I cannot change.
Tamas Dragon
Old 28th February 2008
  #49
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Another vote for the ATH-M50

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
The Denon I mentioned above is ok, but it's not for me. Too dark and mid-rangey. The two MB Quart phones I also tried today are ridiculously coloured in the mid range - nothing I could ever work with...
Daniel,

Michael Grace (of Grace Design) put me on to the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones at AES. Through the m902 and the Benchmark Dac1 they are so good that unless I am in a really quite environment, I don't mind using them all the time instead of the Senn 600s that I like and use.

The AT phones seem very neutral and beautiful to me at the same time and the base extension is both accurate and deep. And they are not very expensive.

Good luck,
Baithak
Old 28th February 2008
  #50
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak View Post
The AT phones seem very neutral and beautiful to me at the same time and the base extension is both accurate and deep. And they are not very expensive.
Interesting, and I've read about them before.
So they don't have that rather typical boxy midrange most closed headphones seem to have?

Wish you could post a sample... heh

Daniel
Old 29th February 2008
  #51
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Stefanizzi's Avatar
 

I have tried almost all models here mentioned.
In my opinion electrostatics are far better than conventional dynamics.
I find Stax SRS 4040 or Omegas are out and away the best.
Once you try it, you cannot return to listen to dynamics.
Stax are neither popular, nor cheap, they are big, inconvenient, and they need a dedicated amplifier. With the same amount of money you can buy 20 (or even 30!...) Sennheiser HD 25, AKG 240 etc... all they are excellent, but electrostatics are the most pure, neutral and revealing (ear)speaker money can buy.

Regards
Old 1st March 2008
  #52
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baithak View Post
The AT [ATH-M50] phones seem very neutral and beautiful to me at the same time and the base extension is both accurate and deep. And they are not very expensive.
I just mixed a live choral recording with a pair of these and took along Ultrasone HFI-700s. The ATs are smooth across the spectrum -- are very neutral sounding with good bass extension. I like em better than my other closed cans, Sony 7506 and Sennheiser HD25. In low frequencies the ATs beat both of these IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
So they don't have that rather typical boxy midrange most closed headphones seem to have?
For a closed can the ATH-M50s are surprisingly pure in this regard. They don't resolve as much detail or have the tight deep LF response of the Ultrasones, but they're very satisfying and frequency-neutral compared to other closed designs I've used.

Ultrasone's HFI-700 was discontinued last year when they revamped their product lines. It has the deepest and most accurate bass I've heard in a closed can. The whole frequency spectrum is detailed and very satisfying.

Rating my options: The Ultrasone 700 is by far my favorite for live mixing because it's flat, has the deepest bass and reveals more than any other closed can I've ever heard. Second is Shure E5C in-ear (discontinued) -- deep LF that's not as tight as Ultrasone, but with very good detail at frequencies above that. Third choice is a tie between the ATH-M50 for its neutrality across the spectrum with sufficient detail, or the in-ear Etymotic ER•4 MicroPro which doesn't have much LF, but smooth and more detailed response from low mids on up.

I think the AT is really good at ensuring everything stands out -- has a place in the mix. Also good to translate mixes to other playback systems, and good on the head of tracking artists. Their neutrality should make them useful for dialing-in the sound of individual tracks/sources, though no headphone can really replace speakers for this purpose. For tuning individual sources inside a mix more resolution is needed to reveal those details. Its drivers just aren't fast enough to be that transparent.

Although the price difference makes it unfair to compare them, my only knock on the ATH-M50 is that detail don't reveal like the Ultrasones. They're well built, neutral, and they sound great. If AT makes them long enough they could eventually become a respected workhorse in many studios.
Old 1st March 2008
  #53
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ColMustard's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEGG View Post
After using AKG and Sony, I'm using:

Sennheiser HD280.

Yes, they're cheap, they're great anyway.
Yes, they're closed back-but they really image well!
Isolation is superb.
Effortless to "translate."
I bought 'em mostly because I needed something "super isolating" for live use (and they are!), and something that could be more easily driven (and they are!).

But I was not prepared for them to be great cans. They are.
I concur 100%. For the amount of isolation these cans give, you'd think they'd be rough sonicly. Not a chance. Sennheiser really did it right with 'em. Perfect for an on-the-road set of headphones.
Old 2nd March 2008
  #54
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The TapeOp review, by Andy Hong, mentioned that the AT-M50s "make you sweat the muddy stuff". That's what I'm looking for in the bottom end.

Can anyone corroborate this notion?

Thanks.
Old 2nd March 2008
  #55
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peeder's Avatar
 

ATH-M50 is a bit muddy and tubby and not terribly detailed, very comfortable initially but they get sweaty. I would say they sound about their price point (better than Senn HD280, not as good as Senn HD600). I prefer Beyer Dt770 for a closed can during tracking...the ATH-M50 does push the mud region forward and does make you focus on that but your results may end up thin and bright.
Old 2nd March 2008
  #56
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It's time for a new pair! I need an everyday, closed, flat, accurate pair for location classical. I have the Beyer DT770pro - 80 ohm version. Has anyone listened and compared this to the 250 ohm? The 80 ohm sounds a little covered in the highs compared to my HD600. Any opinions on the HD280?
Old 2nd March 2008
  #57
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Seems the AT is not for me after all... For live tracking, I've got a few closed Beyers (801, 831), which are quite good. No need for another closed pair.

Looking for a pair for mixing, to go along with my speakers. Grados are nowhere near neutral, Stax is out of my reach, guess I will try a current Beyer 880, maybe.

Daniel
Old 2nd March 2008
  #58
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I have the original Stax Lambda (the predecessor to the 4040) with a SRM1-mk2 amplifier. That is getting pretty old. Well over 20 years now. When I got it it was the best thing I had ever heard. Sadly I simply can't stretch to the latest Stax stuff now (mortgage and all the stuff that comes with responsibilities in life.)

However, my experience with the HD650 is that they are astoundingly good (they are noticeably better than the Lambdas) so long as they are driven with a very good amp. Driven by an indifferent source they struggle to give their best. For instance, driven from the internal amp in the Duet they are not happy at all. But driven by my PPA v2 from the Duet's line level output they are transformed and are astoundingly detailed. Yet the Duet's internal amp isn't junk. Driving a pair of ER-4S the difference between the Duet's amp and the PPA is not nearly so great.

Mind you, if the funds allowed it, I would cheerfully spring for a pair of Omega-IIs.
Old 3rd March 2008
  #59
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Actually, on reflection I'm going to change my mind about the Duet's headphone amplifier. It isn't all that great. I've had occasion to use another amp (a Headroom Total Airhead) with the Duet, plus ER-4S. Really there is a substantial difference. Sometime I may do some more critical listening, but right now I'm getting the feeling that the Duet's amp really isn't up to the quality of the rest of the unit.

It is a simple discrete PP bipolar output stage on the end of an op-amp - so it should be reasonable. It is limited to +/- 7.5 volt rails. (What class it is runs in is hard to tell, it may be AB, and it suffers from the use of a build-out resistor). But then again the Airhead is limited to +/- 3 volts so that isn't the whole answer. Of course the Airhead costs 1/5th the price of the entire Duet, and only drives headphones, so you would hope it has something special going for it.

Later I'll get back to comparing with my PPA.
Old 3rd March 2008
  #60
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I like my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros

Maybe part of the reason for this is that I've had them for awhile now.

I think the main thing is to know thy self and know thy headphones and monitors.

After years of listening you start to hear it with you mind and know how they'll translate...
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