Headphones

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by g.wizz, May 14, 2015.

  1. Mixstar

    Mixstar Just too tired . . .

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    150
    During my years DJing I, and many more, recommended Sony and I stick with that, they are the mutts. Later in my short career, I swapped to Sennheiser, I can't remember the full reason for that but I think it was because my Sony discount stopped. Since then I've had several different models of Sennheiser and I use a wireless set in my playroom. So what I would say is have a try with both as they both have their pro's and con's.
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    22,313
    Likes Received:
    14,128
    The problem I had with my Sonys (I had a couple of sets in my studio, they were free swag if you bought Sony pro video equipment in the early 90s) was that I found them very fatiguing to listen to for more than a few minutes. The frequency balance is generally good, but there is very little three-dimensionality to the sound, the sonic presentation is very "in your face."

    Headphone design has come a long way in the quarter of a century since the basic design for these came out. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few models from companies like Grado, most of these advances have come with a higher price tag. Still, there are sets of cans by companies like Ultrasone, whose fairly moderately priced entires ($250-300) have far more three dimensionality and throw a soundstage a lot like speakers in a room. The new Blue headphones, while a touch bassy, at least on my head, also have far more detail and mix accuracy. I use them on a daily basis these days because they present so much detail. The Sonys can't come halfway down that road, but honestly, very few inexpensive headphones can.

    Even $350 isn't that much for a good pair of headphones you can really count on for years. I've paid triple that in the past for Stax electrostatic cans and some of the more exotic designs.

    But I make my living at this stuff. I can see why others wouldn't.

    One thing must be stressed, headphones are to a very great degree dependent on how they interface with your anatomy - so for some folks they might not sound like they sound for me.
     
    #22 LSchefman, Sep 17, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  3. ESPImperium

    ESPImperium New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2012
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    49
    Shure SE215s for in ears. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros for recording listening, and Sennhiser PX100 IIs for general purpose when i just need a pair for something to listen to something in a hurry.

    Thats my pretty list.
     
  4. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenführer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,491
    Likes Received:
    2,176
    I'm not going to argue with you -- I have the same problem with the ubiquitous white coned Yamaha NS10 monitors, and I find them very similar. Yet for some reason I can "take" the Sony headphones, but not the Yamaha speakers.

    Quite honestly, I don't think studio headphones should be pleasant -- and by that I mean the least bit euphonious. Which I consider both the Stax and the Sennheiser HD580/600/650 (which I've seen advertised as the reference standard at Abbey Road). They should be monitoring headphones, and if the music is fatiguing, then that fatiguing-ness should convey. I have found that if I mix my music to right on the cusp of being strident and/or fatiguing on the Sonys, then it'll sound pretty dang good on most hi-fi audio systems.

    Another common alternative is the ubiquitous AKG (usually the K271 but sometimes the K240), which I have recommended when someone found the Sony headphones too fatiguing, and were well accepted. They have a whole line, and it's pretty much just "pick your price point".

    And just ugh at Ultrasone. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree there.
     
  5. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    18,067
    Likes Received:
    21,337
    Don't spend too much on headphones, people break them for you.
     
  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    22,313
    Likes Received:
    14,128
    I hated the NS-10s the first time I tried to mix with them in the late 80s, and would never use them. I don't care who does. But it's interesting you brought this up, as to me, the Sony cans are the NS10s of headphones. You see them everywhere. But opinions on whether they're useful will vary.

    Nonsense!! Mythology! (meant in good humor).

    Euphonious? The word means "pleasing to the ear." It doesn't mean inaccurate. Accurate transducers are what is pleasing, inaccurate ones are not.

    But I think what you meant is that studio monitors and cans shouldn't have "pretty coloration" or inaccuracy designed in to make the music sound better than it is. And with that I agree.

    Studio monitors and headphones should be accurate. However, accurate doesn't mean unpleasant, unless the music is unpleasant. A headphone with no depth of field is not accurate, if in fact the headphone can't reproduce the depth of field you've created.

    Going back to the NS-10s for a moment, one of the magazines did a very interesting test on them within the past few years, to see how accurate they are, given their reputation. Surprisingly, they measured very well in terms of frequency response and distortion at certain listening levels! But to me, they sound horrible. I think the problem is their inability to parse dynamic range, and to reveal low level detail and spatial dimension. So you have to crank them to hear that, and that's when some kind of distortion creeps in to make them sound nasty. In any case, I can't use them. Even the magazine's testers acknowledged how difficult long listening sessions are with them.

    I've been at this studio business recording my compositions and productions for my living for 27 years. My mixes have been on TV and radio on a daily basis for that entire time. That isn't to brag, it's to point out experience in the business, and fact is, my stuff wouldn't have gotten through audio post and client approval unless it was right, not just to my ears, but to other people's ears. People think enough of what I do that I guest lecture on music production at U of Michigan's music school and AES. So evidently, I'm not a complete lunatic. I'm only a partial lunatic.

    When I take mixes to post houses, they translate. And they translate regardless of whether the post house uses the same monitors I do. They sound like I mixed them, whether that's on TV, on radio, in the car, on earbuds, and even on laptop speakers. My monitors are accurate, and my headphones are also accurate.

    Actually, let me rephrase that - my monitors and cans are as accurate as any inherently compromised transducer is given current technology. Because as we all know, there are no truly 100% accurate speakers or headphones in the world right now. You can put music on a pair of $50,000 soffit mounted monitors, and no one is going to think it's an actual band playing live in the room, even if the recording was done live.

    However my monitors sound fantastic for what I need! I love listening to music on them, as well as working with them. So, no. Good sounding monitors are a good thing, as long as they're accurate given the limits of today's technology. And of course unfortunately the room they're in has a lot to do with how they sound and are evaluated.

    As to the Ultrasones, no other headphone localizes an instrument in space as well, and the frequency balances are right, at least on the set I use as a secondary reference. They're also extremely revealing of reverb tails, and other little details. I use them as a tool to check for the subtle details. their limitation comes in their ability to reproduce the lowest bass at high volume. They don't do a good job with low bass at high levels, but that's not what I use them to check. Same with the Blue headphones in other areas - they're a little bass heavy, but gosh, they reveal incredible low end detail at the same time. So they're not perfect. But they reveal other subtle details.

    Find me a perfect pair of headphones, please - I'll thank you. So far, I think we're fairly limited with what transducers can do.

    The best sounding, and most accurate, cans I've owned are the Grado 1000s. However, their impedance was too low to use with the Neve summing mixer I had, so I got rid of them. Probably that was a mistake, though I did sell them for more than I paid for them in the 90s...

    When I had the Stax cans in the late 70s and early 80s (I was doing music as a hobby back then), they were a revelation, compared to the Shure cans that were the standard back then. They had a very accurate frequency balance, and revealed a lot of detail. I disagree that they had pretty coloration, at least the set I was using. In fact, I still have them in my storage room somewhere. I should pull them out and take another listen just for grins.

    A great mix is not a bunch of instruments in your face at the same volume level. It's got three dimensionality and detail, and it's important for headphones used in the studio to be able to reproduce that three dimensionality and detail. If the cans can't do that, they fail, at least for me.

    Also, if I can't stand to sit in front of a pair of monitors all day, and if I can't stand to listen to a pair of headphones for long enough to be able to get from them what I need, they are useless. There are great sounding, fully professional, studio monitors out there. Same with headphones.

    I never agree to disagree. I like to convince people to give things another listen, and I will as well. We can all learn from each other. Closing one's mind and calling a discussion off is never a good thing in my world.

    Let me say one more thing in this context: the problems come when one says, "this sounds accurate, and that does not." Because given today's imperfect technology when it comes to transducers, what's the reference standard? There isn't one! If there was, all pro level monitoring equipment would sound pretty much the same, it would all be designed to meet it. The BBC tried creating a reference standard with their old BBC monitoring systems made by KEF, Harbeth and Rogers back in the 60s and 70s. Well, I used those speakers back then, and they weren't more than standard bookshelf monitor accurate, even by the standards of that day. And they're still on that concept - only now, they have Dynaudio Airs as their radio and recording reference.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Dynaudio speakers, and along with my Genelecs, and own a pair of each; they're currently living at my son's studio in LA. In any case, it's interesting that the BBC is still trying to create a "standard." My partner and I had standardized on Genelecs for a long time, because all of the post houses in our area use them. But I was seduced by a pair of Event Opals that I brought home to try out, and I think they're more accurate. But accurate based on what reference? It's purely subjective. For me, they sound like what I hear from an instrument in the room. Once you mic something, you've colored it. So a mic can't be a reference, and in fact, you have to have monitors to hear the mic. It gets to be a vicious circle.

    Blah blah blah. I go on and on. It's part of being old.
     
    #26 LSchefman, Sep 18, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  7. Blues Trucker

    Blues Trucker New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2014
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    53
  8. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenführer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,491
    Likes Received:
    2,176
    Les -- no promises, but I will revisit the Ultrasone if given the opportunity. Right now I have no need of headphones so it won't be through purchase, but if given the opportunity at a future headphone meet, I will give them a fair listen. Which model, exactly? I will not subject my ears to anything less than the exact model you are referring to.

    I do know what you are talking about with soundfield, but I think a lot of it is psychological, since it is rare that I've heard that "out of your head" experience except with binaural recordings. I didn't even know this could be accomplished with speakers until someone had me listen in the exact sweetspot while listening to a famous vocal recording -- The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall. But move a foot in any direction and the out-of-the-room-ness of the soundfield is lost. I suspect it is just so with certain very important frequency ranges on headphones.

    And yes, you are correct that I meant "adding euphony" as opposed to just being transparent to euphonious music. But as you said, all headphones and speakers add coloration, so I use the term "euphonious" to mean "deviating from accurate to be more pleasant". I would be interested if after you revisit your Stax whether or not you still feel that they don't add euphony. I do feel for extremely accurate headphones, they do still add euphony. They have to, they're so easy to listen to.

    And I do agree about transducers and crossovers and headphone enclosures -- no-one has yet introduced the perfect headphone, that's why my recommendation is find something that does not err egregiously in any one area, and learn them and their idiosyncracies.

    And I didn't say this before, but I agree with you about headphones and anatomy -- they're even more personal than speakers or active speaker monitors. Though they are also less personal, because you don't have to worry about room treatments. But I think your point about headphone/head anatomy interaction trumps the lack of necessity of room treatments.
     
  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    22,313
    Likes Received:
    14,128
    I will re-listen. Very possible that what I thought was accurate in the 70s and 80s was not! Then too, my pair of Stax are now about 35 - 40 years old...so...it may be that they don't work as well or work at all. I guess we shall see! If they do work and if by some miracle they sound accurate, I will send you the pair so you can judge for yourself. Incidentally, these aren't the rectangular ones you see these days. Mine are round.

    See, we agree!
     
    #29 LSchefman, Sep 18, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  10. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk alberngruppenführer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,491
    Likes Received:
    2,176
    Oh, we definitely agree on a lot ( we might even agree on the Ultrasone, I will admit it's been a while since I've heard one ) -- if I sound like I'm arguing with everything, well, that's just me, I come across that way sometimes. Not my intention. I definitely agree with a lot of what you had to say even before I posted. I just ... I call it a 'disease' ... I have the same disease that everyone else has -- I think I can phrase things just so, to convey what no-one else has been able to.

    I have a lot of (online, headphone) friends that are into Stax, both contemporary and vintage -- their favourite for soundstage is the huge boxy ones so that they could angle the drivers like speakers in front of you. (I forget which one that is.)
     
    #30 Dusty Chalk, Sep 18, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2015
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    22,313
    Likes Received:
    14,128
    Well, as you know, I'm guilty of blathering on and on, it's part and parcel of being an old man in my case.

    I do remember seeing the cans that you could angle like speakers. I don't remember who made them, though. Seems like quite a while back?
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice