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Headphones for classical editing/location recording
Old 26th November 2020
  #1
Headphones for classical editing/location recording

Recommendations for headphones for classical editing/location recording?

I'm mainly recording myself (cello) or my own small ensembles (string duo/trio/quartet or cello and piano) so I won't have an engineer on location.

Ideally (due to budget) I want to use the same headphones for:
1. Listening back to takes on location to check the sound/positioning.
2. Editing/mixing/mastering at home. (With my very lowgrade laptop.) Editing is the most important for me so I guess I'm just looking for accurate representation.

Because I won't be listening to takes live (recording myself!) it seems I'm better going for open-backed for both purposes?

Ideally max. £150 would be great BUT I considerably upped my budget after asking on here before for mic/mixer advice and am very happy with the equipment I ended up with (Sound Devices Mix Pre-6 II and a pair of Line Audio CM4 - thank you Gearslutz for that advice!!), so I'd consider upping budget for these too a little if it's really worth it. Having said which, having put most of my funds into the mixer/mics, I'm hoping I don't need to break the bank to get basically accurate representation.

I found a lot of threads on here about headphones but not many specifically for classical/recent/with the same issues. If anyone can point me in the direction, please do.

Some examples I've found recommended here and elsewhere that I'm considering:

AKG 612 PRO
Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO
Sen­nhe­iser HD-650
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

(The last 2 obviously beyond my ideal price range.)

Any advice on the above or alternative options?

If relevant:
Mostly location recording will be in church or concert hall, but currently also at home (far from ideal I know but pandemic restrictions... no I don't have a home studio setup, just my living room).

Alternative option: getting monitors for editing etc and headphones only for when actually recording. I've seen a lot of advice here for sticking to monitors for editing and to be honest, I would prefer this as I'm not a fan of wearing even the most comfy headphones for a long time. (And I'm lucky enough not to have fairly good soundproofing so that's not usually an issue!)

My main deterrent with this option is budget, as it seems decent monitors are even more pricey than good cans. (Although I'd love to be shown wrong..) And there are occasions when I'll need to do editing etc while travelling, so I'd still need decent headphones for that.

Any recommendations or advice much appreciated!
Old 26th November 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
A side question: When you say "editing/mixing/mastering at home with my very low-grade laptop," what will you plug the headphones into? Please don't say the laptop. ;-) Since you have a MixPre 6 II, you could use that as an interface and listen through its headphone amplifier, but the MixPre 6 doesn't have a good way to go out to monitors (it does have a stereo out, but this unit is not going to work well as a monitor controller).

If your budget is limited you may need to confine yourself to using headphones instead of monitors until/unless you can get an affordable-but-good DAC (digital to analogue converter) that works as a monitor controller.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
for correct localisation of sources within the stereo soundfield, headphones aren't very useful unless you drive them via a headphone amp which has come kind of crossfeed matrix... - use whatever headphones you can afford: they will change the soundfield in any case...



[out of habit, i'm still using the horrible sounding sennheiser hd-25 if not the much smoother beyer dt-150 - but then, i almost never use headphones anyway: i just hate having 'speakers' this close to my ears!]
Old 26th November 2020
  #4
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
If your goal is best price-to-quality balance, I would suggest you buy a pair of HD6xx on Drop.com and either a Dragonfly Red or a Topping DX3, depending on your portability needs. It’s diminishing returns (but still real qualitative returns) beyond that.
Old 26th November 2020
  #5
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🎧 10 years
When you mention the location recording aspect, are you generally in the same room or space as the performers...or are you typically able to find a green room, recording booth, hallway or broom cupboard to site yourself and your recording gear in ?

The answer to this will determine whether you can afford the luxury (and generally better audio performance) of open backed headphones (eg Sennheiser HD600).... or whether you are forced to using a closed back pair, which is virtually the only way to get enough isolation in the cans if you're recording in the same hall/space/room as the musicians ?
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
When you mention the location recording aspect, are you generally in the same room or space as the performers...or are you typically able to find a green room, recording booth, hallway or broom cupboard to site yourself and your recording gear in ?
I think for this kind of ensemble recording where you're a member of the ensemble, you'd use the headphones only before the recording (to place mics, listen to the mix, etc.) and after (to review) but not during. At least that's how I do it when I'm recording myself playing with others in the same room. You do have to remember to unplug the headphones from the recorder (or turn down the amp volume to zero) while recording so the sound from them doesn't bleed into the recording. The only time I use headphones while recording acoustic instruments live in a room when I'm one of the musicians is for track layering/overdubbing or when I'm playing a virtual instrument into my computer...I don't think any of those will apply in this situation.
Old 26th November 2020
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
I have to throw my two cents in and recommend the Slate VSX. They are around the same price as the Beyer 1990, but, so far, they are the best I've ever used for mixing. And, unlike any of the four models you listed, they are closed back, which I'd think would make them better than the others for location work. They also, unlike the others you listed, don't need as high-powered of a headphone amplifier in order to reach decent listening volumes, as they are only 37 ohms. Those HD650s, on the other hand, need quite a bit of power. I realize that the VSX is slightly out of your stated budget, but I've been trying to find a combination of headphones and room simulation that could compete with mixing in a treated room on good monitors, for years, and this is, by far, the closest I've ever found. And, unlike the HD650s, these things are portable. Anyway, I'm pretty sure they have a 30 day money-back guarantee, so maybe it's worth a shot for you to give them a try? I's recommend at least reading more about them on the forum, here at Gearslutz.

Steven Slate VSX Headphone: Mix in Pro Studios, Mastering Rooms, Cars, Clubs, Boomboxes, & More

Hope that helps!
-TKB
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheKosherButcher View Post
I have to throw my two cents in and recommend the Slate VSX. They are around the same price as the Beyer 1990, but, so far, they are the best I've ever used for mixing.
Do they work as conventional headphones without the software? The OP is recording into a Sound Devices MixPre 6 II, no computer involved...the only time the computer will be used is later at home for editing and mixing, and it sounds like the OP wants one set of headphones that can work in both situations.
Old 26th November 2020
  #9
Thanks for all the advice!

@ bradh laptop (sorry) and mix pre were indeed my 2 thoughts... I figured the Mix Pre would be a better option! I can't upgrade everything right now (although my very old laptop will need updating in the imminent future for video editing but that's another story!). It does indeed sound like monitor+DAC+headphones will be beyond my budget to get a decent result.

@ studer58 as bradh writes I won't be recording at the same time as playing so open back is fine I think? (I have tried multi-layering in the past, and hopefully will again at some point, but it isn't my main aim, so I'm leaving that aside for the present.)

@ king2070lplaya thanks for the rec, I'll check them out. I should probably have mentioned I am in the UK, which changes some price/buying options. I'm not sure if the HD6xx are available here...

@ TheKosherButcher wondering if since I don't need closed back (see above) you would still recommend the Slate VSX? I will check them out, thanks for the rec!
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 View Post
It does indeed sound like monitor+DAC+headphones will be beyond my budget to get a decent result.
Well, the MixPre has both sets of converters built in (analog to digital and digital to analog) so it should work for headphone monitoring when you're editing and mixing on your computer; you'll need to set it up as a USB interface and the only tricky thing about that is power because it uses the USB-C port to connect to your computer and that's also the port that you'd use to power the MixPre. So you'll need some big batteries (I use the Anker model recommended by Sound Devices, which will run the MixPre all day). I only meant that you won't easily be able to run and control monitors from the MixPre 6. It's a bit easier with the MixPre 10, which has two TA-3 (mini-XLR) outputs.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
Well, the MixPre has both sets of converters built in (analog to digital and digital to analog) so it should work for headphone monitoring when you're editing and mixing on your computer; you'll need to set it up as a USB interface and the only tricky thing about that is power because it uses the USB-C port to connect to your computer and that's also the port that you'd use to power the MixPre. So you'll need some big batteries (I use the Anker model recommended by Sound Devices, which will run the MixPre all day). I only meant that you won't easily be able to run and control monitors from the MixPre 6. It's a bit easier with the MixPre 10, which has two TA-3 (mini-XLR) outputs.
Ah I hadn't thought about the powering option either. I have a couple of sets of the standard Energizer rechargeable so hopefully I can alternate them.. Thanks for pointing this out! I may be a little out of my depth, but am I right there's no way to connect monitors direct to laptop (without ruining the sound)?
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 View Post
am I right there's no way to connect monitors direct to laptop (without ruining the sound)?
The sound cards in laptops are consumer-grade and not something you'd want to connect to proper reference studio monitors. For editing I suppose you could connect some cheap but reasonably good computer monitors like those from Audioengine, but they color the sound (they're for hi-fi style sound) and you wouldn't want to use them for mixing and certainly not for mastering. (I hate to say this, but you'll encounter the same issues when you start working on video: you can't judge colors and contrast properly on a regular computer monitor; professional video editors and colorists use calibrated reference monitors that bypass the computer's graphics).

There are some good DAC/monitor controllers on the market, including some that aren't too expensive. You could also think about ultimately getting a mid-range interface like the RME Babyface Pro FS or the Sound Devices USB Pre-2, both of which can be used as monitor controllers and have both ADC and DAC (analog to digital and digital to analog converters). The MixPre could maybe be used to run monitors through the stereo-out jack but I can't vouch for the sound quality and it could be a frustrating experience unless your DAW has a monitor section (and some DAWs do) so you can control volume etc.

I use the USBPre-2 to run my monitors and headphones; it's getting pretty old (but still excellent) and you might be able to find used ones for sale at reasonable prices. I'm actually upgrading to a dedicated and more up-to-date DAC but the USBPre-2 has served me just fine for many years.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #13
I see, thanks so much. I've had a look through those options but for now it looks like for best quality for my budget I'm stuck with headphones. (Although you're right ultimately I'll have to look into a monitor setup!)

Any suggestions on any of the headphones above? The Slate VSX which @ studer58 recommended look great but really too far above my budget... (And there's also your point on whether they fuction without the software.) HD6xx someone else recommended don't seem to be available in UK. So looks like I'm still looking...
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 View Post
HD6xx someone else recommended don't seem to be available in UK. So looks like I'm still looking...
HD6xx refers to the Sennheiser line of HD 6-series headphones; I have the HD600 myself and like it a lot. They're certainly available in the UK!

A cheaper but still good option is the Sony MDR 7506 (which is a closed-back headphone); this is standard issue for field recordists doing location sound for film and video. I have one of these as well; it's certainly not as good sounding as the Sennheiser but it's very portable. I do find it more fatiguing to use a closed-back headphone for long periods; the open-back models provide a better experience and better sound. But if you think you'd ever be wearing headphones while playing and recording music live into your MixPre, you'll want closed-back headphones otherwise the sound from the headphones can bleed into the recording.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #15
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
HD6xx are a Drop version of the 650, which are my favorite headphones to mix on. Drop does a Europe-only version, but it might not be active now. Buying from them gets you a really good deal on these cans, like half of what the 650 retail is, but the trade off is the wait and sometimes unavailability.

I also have HD600s which work about as well for mixing, though they are mellower and sometimes hard to judge presence and bass on. They can be found for 200-250 sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cello94 View Post
I see, thanks so
much. I've had a look through those options but for now it looks like for best quality for my budget I'm stuck with headphones. (Although you're right ultimately I'll have to look into a monitor setup!)

Any suggestions on any of the headphones above? The Slate VSX which @ studer58 recommended look great but really too far above my budget... (And there's also your point on whether they fuction without the software.) HD6xx someone else recommended don't seem to be available in UK. So looks like I'm still looking...
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
HD6xx are a Drop version of the 650.
Ah, I had no idea! https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-sennheiser-hd6xx
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #17
Looks great. Sadly I don't think there is a Europe/UK version at the moment - not that I can find. I'd love to wait a bit and see if it appears but realistically I need them soon.

I'd be prepared to shell out for the SD 650 if it's worth it.. Rather that than something cheaper that I want to upgrade a few months down the line!

Any opinions for comparison with either of the Beyerdynamic ones I mentioned? DT 880/DT 1990 were the 2 I've seen recommended most, although I have no experience with any...
Old 26th November 2020
  #18
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jnorman's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
While I have senn hd600s (very nice sounding, open back, cable’s a bit fragile), I tend to always use regular old sony 7506 for monitoring and checking mixes, because they are a studio standard everywhere and I know what to expect from them.
Old 26th November 2020
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Well, it seems that many have already suggested it, but I'll say it anyway.
Mass.com Sennheiser either 58x or 6xx.

https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-senn...lee-headphones

https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-sennheiser-hd6xx

I personally have the hd6xx and they are fantastic. You do need something powerful to drive them. I believe, most headphone outputs can drive them to regular levels, but a great amp certainly makes them shine.

Hope they are available to you in the UK. Best of luck.
Old 27th November 2020
  #20
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Are the Drop HD6xx "real" Sennheiser phones or a Chinese copy of Sennheiser phones? Not judging, just asking a question.

D.
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #21
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Are the Drop HD6xx "real" Sennheiser phones or a Chinese copy of Sennheiser phones? Not judging, just asking a question.

D.
They are the real deal, made by Sennheiser in Germany afaik.
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Are the Drop HD6xx "real" Sennheiser phones or a Chinese copy of Sennheiser phones? Not judging, just asking a question.

D.
They are made by Sennheiser in collaboration with Mass Drop (now only going by Mass). Their business model is to go to a manufacturer and guarantee a group sale of a certain amount for a discounted price to their customers. What some manufacturers such as Sennheiser do is alter their product slightly so as not to compete entirely with their regular market. In the case of Sennheiser and their headphones, they change some of the materials and finishes of the headband and some of the branding, while leaving the headphone audio components identical. If the actual ear piece has slightly different plastic and maybe that affects the sound. If it does, it's probably something so miniscule that it is indiscernible to any human. But the audio driver and other parts actually creating the sound are exactly the same.
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by siniarch View Post
They are made by Sennheiser in collaboration with Mass Drop (now only going by Mass). Their business model is to go to a manufacturer and guarantee a group sale of a certain amount for a discounted price to their customers. What some manufacturers such as Sennheiser do is alter their product slightly so as not to compete entirely with their regular market. In the case of Sennheiser and their headphones, they change some of the materials and finishes of the headband and some of the branding, while leaving the headphone audio components identical. If the actual ear piece has slightly different plastic and maybe that affects the sound. If it does, it's probably something so miniscule that it is indiscernible to any human. But the audio driver and other parts actually creating the sound are exactly the same.
Since Sennheiser have already done ice-breaking with their headphones, it would be interesting to see what sort of mic collaboration they could come up with, partnering with Mass....ditto for Schoeps, Neumann ?
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Since Sennheiser have already done ice-breaking with their headphones, it would be interesting to see what sort of mic collaboration they could come up with, partnering with Mass....ditto for Schoeps, Neumann ?
I could be wrong, but I haven't seen any microphones on MASS. I don't think they would make collaboration with their microphones because with that product most of the time it is all about sound and not aesthetics or comfort. So if they make a Schoeps MK641 microphone in MASS (say a Schoeps MKXXX) and the audio capturing electronics are identical to the original, but the finish on the item is not their matted blue textured powder coating, and it's a cheaper anodize finish, I think people wouldn't care because the recording sound is exactly the same.

I guess the same can be said about their headphones, but I think the headphones having leather is more of a feature for users than a microphone having a certain finish. Just my opinion. Maybe they are working on it. I just doubt it. :(
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by siniarch View Post
I could be wrong, but I haven't seen any microphones on MASS. I don't think they would make collaboration with their microphones because with that product most of the time it is all about sound and not aesthetics or comfort. So if they make a Schoeps MK641 microphone in MASS (say a Schoeps MKXXX) and the audio capturing electronics are identical to the original, but the finish on the item is not their matted blue textured powder coating, and it's a cheaper anodize finish, I think people wouldn't care because the recording sound is exactly the same.

I guess the same can be said about their headphones, but I think the headphones having leather is more of a feature for users than a microphone having a certain finish. Just my opinion. Maybe they are working on it. I just doubt it. :(
I agree...it's all about primary and subsidiary markets. If the subsidiary item can sell alongside, without harming/diminishing, the primary's sales...the 2 products can coexist.

Probably the primary will always have greater resale value, be backed up by better after sales-service...all aspects the buyer of the subsidiary item is prepared to forego for a lower initial buy price.

If the buyer of the cheaper unit doesn't need to call on warranty work, and doesn't mind the different fit and finish...it's win-win all round ! I can't see the same business model working for high-end mics.
Old 27th November 2020
  #26
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Consider Beyerdynamic DT1770, a closed headphone.

With a closed phone, you can record in the same room as the player(s) and in this case, yourself.

Very even freq. response, accurate, and translates well to loudspeakers.

High recommend.
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
While I have senn hd600s (very nice sounding, open back, cable’s a bit fragile), I tend to always use regular old sony 7506 for monitoring and checking mixes, because they are a studio standard everywhere and I know what to expect from them.
@ jnorman good to see you on here! You recommended my Mix Pre/CM4s - couldn't be happier.

I'm guessing you do the mixing on monitors and Sony 7506 just for checking? They seem to be a very reasonable £88 but as my only pair would you still pick them above Sennheiser 600/650?
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by siniarch View Post
Well, it seems that many have already suggested it, but I'll say it anyway.
Mass.com Sennheiser either 58x or 6xx.

https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-senn...lee-headphones

https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-sennheiser-hd6xx

I personally have the hd6xx and they are fantastic. You do need something powerful to drive them. I believe, most headphone outputs can drive them to regular levels, but a great amp certainly makes them shine.

Hope they are available to you in the UK. Best of luck.
@ siniarch thank you! I so wish I could get them... It seems they are technically available to ship here but after postage/customs/VAT I'm not sure I will be saving anything sadly. Roll on a UK based branch...
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Consider Beyerdynamic DT1770, a closed headphone.

With a closed phone, you can record in the same room as the player(s) and in this case, yourself.

Very even freq. response, accurate, and translates well to loudspeakers.

High recommend.
Glad to hear a mention of the Beyerdynamic! You prefer 1770 over 1990, or only for the closed/open?
Listening at the same time as playing is really not something I envisage needing at all... So if that's the only reason to need closed I would count it off my list. But are they superior in other ways to 1990?

Can anyone compare the Beyer vs Senn or is that a matter of taste? Frustrating not to be able to try...
Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Note that Massdrop also has a much cheaper (but still likely above your price range) version of both of these Beyerdynamic headphones (open and closed).
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