T Nation

'Studio' Headphones Experience

Audiophiles, musicians, gamers, and geeks–

Discuss headphones.

I just bought a couple new pairs of headphones for work and play.

For gym/mp3 player, just got these Sony earbuds (19.99):

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&_dynSessConf=-7132462661164812691&id=pcat17071&type=page&st=+MDREX56LP%2FB&sc=Global&cp=1&nrp=15&sp=&qp=&list=n&iht=y&usc=All+Categories&ks=960

I was instantly impressed with these having had another pair of Sony Bass buds that always fell out of my ears. The new ones plugged up my ears like ear plugs and the bass response was as good or better (given the noise reduction) and the tunes crystal clear.

The other pair I got for work and studio (I do a bit of studio mixing/production but not ready to dump $300 into a pro set) are these Skullcandy HESH headphones (49.99):

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Skullcandy+-+Hesh+Stereo+DJ+Headphones+-+Black/8483697.p?id=1186003259156&skuId=8483697&st=HESH&cp=1&lp=1

They don’t have the absolute frequency response I’d want for mastering pieces that I’d release for sound system, but good enough for iPod/MP3 players and compressed formats (which is what they’re marketed for). I have to EQ the hell out of them to get some of the frequencies I want. I have a songs from several genres/time-periods I use to calibrate.

These clip pretty easily, but again, they’re not designed for production work.

Still not a bad set of phones for 50-ish bucks.

Whatcha got or want?

I’ve had a set of Sennheiser HD450 II’s for about 16 years. They were about a hundred some bucks at the time, but well worth it.

They’re the real deal. Very good frequency response and detail. I use Denon and Carver source/pre-amp and amps, and even just flat with no eq. they sound wonderful.

Beats By Dre make some of the best studio headphones for the average consumer. The good ones run into the hundreds, but they are unbelievable in every aspect.

Grado makes a great entry-level studio headphone for 80 bucks (the SR60i) as well as some incredible models ranging from the mid hundreds up to well over a thousand bucks.

Definitely agree on Sennheiser and Beats by Dre as well.

I’ve also heard great things about Phiaton, but I haven’t had the chance to listen to a pair yet.

I’ve had a pair of Grado SR 80 and 325’s with a Musical Fidelity headphone amp. If you can get away with open cans, Grados are definitely the best bang for the buck at most price points. The level of clarity is amazing, though they tend to lean to the forward side.

If you’re looking for a relatively cheap set of closed monitors, I’ve been impressed with the Sony MDR-V6. They’re very well balanced. While they won’t wow you, they don’t disappoint in any areas either.

I thought the Beats by Dre had way too much bass in a bloated kind of way. Also, every pair I’ve ever seen available for listening at a Best Buy has been broken. There’s been a ton of shoddy reviews at HeadFi.org.

As for in ear phones, tough to beat Etymotics or Shures, but they usually start at almost $100. If you’re always on the run and listening while moving, sound quality isn’t exactly super important. I’m a big fan of the Sony Fontopias for all around use.

Earphone / “canal” phones: SoundMagic, a Chinese company that uses high quality drivers and delivers a superior product (for the price). Check out reviews of the PL50, which I may get because they come with ear clips (which I love). The resistance is a bit high so you might need an amp: I recommend looking for a CMoy amp (made from an Altoid or Penguin mint can) on eBay. They’re usually under $20 and high quality for a portable amp.

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD590s and they are the best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard. Ridiculously clear and you could wear them indefinitely I feel. Can’t go wrong with Senns or even Grados; I just think Sennheiser has the ergonomics down better than anyone else.

I’m laughing at Beats by Dre - seriously? Come on. We’re talking consumer vs. prosumer here.

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:
I’m laughing at Beats by Dre - seriously? Come on. We’re talking consumer vs. prosumer here.[/quote]

Laugh all you want, they are excellent head phones for the price. I have sampled both the BBD headphones and the Bose headphones, and at a much more competitive price the BBD ones are equal if not better.

[quote]WestCoast7 wrote:

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:
I’m laughing at Beats by Dre - seriously? Come on. We’re talking consumer vs. prosumer here.[/quote]

Laugh all you want, they are excellent head phones for the price. I have sampled both the BBD headphones and the Bose headphones, and at a much more competitive price the BBD ones are equal if not better.[/quote]

The high-end BbD headphones (studio) look like they’d be pretty nice although I couldn’t find a spec sheet quickly (I didn’t look very hard).

If I ever have my full digital studio that I’ve been trying to cobble together, and couple hundred extra bucks, I want the AKG K701’s or Audio-Technica ATH-AD900’s. The AT’s have a frequency response of 5-40k, which is phenominal (vs. typical low end 18-20k like my skull candys)

BTW, if you need some toilet reading material, B&H sends out an awesome a/v/pro-sound catalog.

www.bhphotovideo.com

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD590s and they are the best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard. Ridiculously clear and you could wear them indefinitely I feel. Can’t go wrong with Senns or even Grados; I just think Sennheiser has the ergonomics down better than anyone else.

[/quote]

You are obviously a person of great intelligence and superior tastes.

My condolences to those who use anything else.

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD590s and they are the best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard. Ridiculously clear and you could wear them indefinitely I feel. Can’t go wrong with Senns or even Grados; I just think Sennheiser has the ergonomics down better than anyone else.

[/quote]

You are obviously a person of great intelligence and superior tastes.

My condolences to those who use anything else.
[/quote]

But how much do they run?

Bose seems promising. but yeah, Senheisers are pretty much tops.

the in ear Skull Candys are the best ones I have ever tried for those types

[quote]WestCoast7 wrote:

[quote]SkyzykS wrote:

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD590s and they are the best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard. Ridiculously clear and you could wear them indefinitely I feel. Can’t go wrong with Senns or even Grados; I just think Sennheiser has the ergonomics down better than anyone else.

[/quote]

You are obviously a person of great intelligence and superior tastes.

My condolences to those who use anything else.
[/quote]

But how much do they run?[/quote]

I couldn’t give you an actual number on current prices. I bought them 16 years ago and they were about $120.00.

They still sound as good as the first day I got them though.

I would also suggest going to HeadRoom Audio (headphone.com). They sell only head phones, amps and DACs. They also have a value rating, specs and frequency response, which I find pretty useful.

Personally, I think all of the big headphone names (Grado, Sennheiser, AKG, Audio Technica, Shure, Etymotic) make great offerings at about $100. Past that it gets better, but it’s diminishing returns. Which brand you pick is whatever floats your boat. I don’t know if there’s necessarily that much quantitative difference.