HEDD Type 20 by sleeveheads
If you are in the market for high-end nearfield monitors, I recommend you take the time to evaluate the HEDD Type 20s: I won’t list the 11 well-regarded speakers from 7 different brands that the HEDDs beat in my evaluation because speakers, rooms, ears and preferences are all different and I think that would be irresponsible of me to do that. However, I will say (with absolute conviction) that, for me, in my space, the HEDDs saw off serious competition from serious brands … and they did it with ease. Few of those monitors were less money – most were more (if not significantly more money). Some are Award-winning. Some are well-reviewed high-end speakers that have lots of advocates on these pages.
For context, my space is a 2.5m x 3.5m LEDE set-up with custom-made bass traps and absorption panels. The speakers are (less than ideally) positioned close to the boundary on the shortest wall. I listen <80cm from the monitors at a typical SPL of 85dB or below. My DAC is a Dangerous Source. Sonarworks provide some assistance to smooth out the room challenges that still prevail.
In terms of my evaluation method, competing pairs of monitors were decoupled from the desk and tweeters raised to equal height (ear level). I also created speaker-specific, level-matched Sonarworks profiles in my DAW to provide as much objectivity as possible when A/Bing reference material and my own mixes. I swapped the speaker positions and repeated the process to be as fair as possible and to assess what impact positioning might have over results in the room.
I do not make purchase decisions based on listening to pre-recorded music or reference tracks – I find that of limited value. Monitors are tools for mixing so what works for me is to do some actual mixing and mix some low track-count projects twice – once on one set of monitors, once on another. I reflect on the experience (how easy / engaging the process was) and then check the results on various playback systems.
My ‘wish list’ for my monitors was:
- Usable frequency response from 30Hz up
- Integrate well in an imperfect 2.5m x 3.5m room with a listening distance of <1m*
- Provide detail AND tell me what to do with it
- Natural and intuitive to level across the frequency range
- Supports mixing with vibe and feel (e.g. am I feeling the music/tapping my foot?)
- Resolve finer detail in EQ and compression
- Provide solid stereo and back-to-front imaging*at short distance
- Able to reveal timing issues*and transient detail
- Analytical but still musical
- Ultimately: Do I trust them?
- Ultimately: Do they translate? *
The Type 20s outperformed all the other monitors on test against these criteria: I trust them more than any other monitor I have used in the last 25 years of making music - What I hear is what I get. Some test mixes from other monitors translated just fine but the difference with the HEDDs was night and day: when I played back test HEDD mixes, they were truly exciting and the mix absolutely popped.
I also find the Type 20s musical and so I can both produce and mix music on them. The level of detail is immediately usable – which wasn’t the case with so many other monitors on test because, incredibly, some offered me little insight into what to do – despite the 'detail' on offer. (I found this most with internal DSP designs which I experienced as frustratingly veiled in spite of elements being audible). In contrast, the detail of the Type 20 (and Type 30) tell me immediately and instinctively what EQ, transient or saturation changes I’d like to dial in.
It was Andy Hong’s informative review of the Type 30s that prompted me to contact HEDD to try out both the 30s and 20s. I found HEDD to be really helpful and responsive. (The 30s are an identical experience – just with even more SPL). I’ve tried to avoid superlatives in this review but I have to say I was blown away with the Type 20s and had zero anxiety replacing my (much more expensive) nearfields with them. I hope you feel the same connection with whichever speakers win your own evaluation.