Since there are thousands of different headphone models, it can be hard to decide which are good for the things you want to do. Especially if you're a music producer. Of course, all headphones do the same, they play back audio. But if you want to get a clear and real audio image for music production there are things you have to consider before buying. In this blog you'll learn what to look for.
Table of Contents:
1 - Types of headphones
Before we dive into the technical stuff, let us introduce you to the different types of headphones.
As the name says, On-Ear Headphones sit on top of the ear. They don't cover your whole ear. Their upside is their larger drivers in comparison to In-Ear headphones, which is super important for sound quality. Since they sit on your ear they are good for DJing because you can take them off easier. On the other hand, usually, some sound gets through because they don't cover your whole ear.
In-Ear Headphones can probably be found in any household since they come or at least came with phones for the past 10 years. They are easy to carry but their sound quality usually is not that great. That's because of their small speakers. For music production, you should avoid them. They can be a great reference though when you're checking your mix on different audio devices.
Let's talk about the last and most important category. Over ears cover the whole ear which is great for keeping unwanted noises out. They are your go-to type for music production. Over-ears usually come with the best drivers which are important to get a high-quality sound.
Over-ears come in two different forms: open back and closed back. Closed back headphones are the most common. Open back headphones allow air to pass through the rear of the speaker driver. Because of this, rumble and resonances that build up aren't there anymore, giving a more natural sound. Another thing is that your ears won't get too hot and it feels more comfortable. As they are open, the sound will pass through to the outside, which is why these headphones are not good for recording, and listening to music in public places. A plus is that you're able to understand what someone is saying to you while you have your headphones on with music.
2 - Frequency response
This section is about frequency response. Frequency response determines how accurate headphone drivers can evenly reproduce the actual frequency spectrum. Since headphones are often designed to create a good listening experience, they have something like an implanted EQ that "boosts" and "cuts" frequencies for a better listening experience. We are looking for something called a flat curve so you get a true audio image without making decisions that just work on your headphones. However, headphones always have a non flat curve as it is very hard to get an even response on headphones. But there are ways to fix this. Sonarworks has created an amazing plugin for this. All you need to do is select your headphone and the plugin will flatten out the curve for you. Now you can hear what your mix truly sounds like!
3 - Comfort
Besides all the technical aspects, comfort is such an important point as well. When you wear over-ear or on-ear headphones your ears sometimes might start hurting which is super annoying when you need to wear the headphones for a long time. Make sure you test out numerous headphones at a store or at a friend's studio to get a feel of which headphones are the most comfortable for you.
4 - Impedance
Most consumer grade headphones have a 32-ohm impedance, which is important for them to work with all devices. If the impedance is high, they require more power to run. That's why you sometimes need an audio interface to use certain headphones. But why do you want to go for a higher impedance? More impedance means higher quality like a better stereo image, dynamics, and a better definition of frequencies like bass. It also means you can get a much louder sound. You might have had that the sound was distorting when you put the volume too high. This is because the source is providing more power than the headphone can handle.
5 - Pricing
When talking about pricing we would recommend thinking about how important headphones are. If you can get a good pair of headphones, they are totally worth the price. More expensive headphones will last longer, have better sound quality and are a lot more comfortable. Often they even have replaceable parts, so if something breaks you can easily fix it yourself. Don't be fooled though, more expensive doesn't always mean they're better! However, you usually won't find great sounding headphones under $100.
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