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"studio" headphones vs "reference" headphones

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Greetings all, new to the forum, and already I have found it an incredibly valuable research tool for helping me choose headphones for producing music. My style is EBM/Industrial/Futurepop, very electronic and synthy...

right now i'm trying to settle on a set of headphones for basic mixing. I'm not expecting to master and produce studio quality mixes, but budget, equipment, and room constraints force me to mix this way, so I'd like to get the best possible sound for under or about $250

So after much research I had JUST about settled on the AKG 240s... but when I looked at the AKG website under the "Professional Headphones" section, I noticed that the 240s (along with several other cans) were labeled "Studio"

then there are the K702, these were labeled for "Monitoring, Mixing, Mastering" instead of studio...

So what exactly is the difference between "studio" headphones and these K702s? They're available on amazon for right near my budget, except it appears I also have to purchase a headphone amp...

Considering the limitations of my studio, would the benefits of the more expensive headphones be worth it? or would the AKGs be sufficient for mixing?

I'm not really interested in any other headphones at this time, so please don't suggest alternate headphones, I will continue to research other options, but at this point I just want to know the difference between these two types of headphones, specifically with these two models...

many thanks for your time!
post #2 of 24
The main differences between them in the studio are that the K-702s are not for recording vocals, since they leak sound when you're recording vocals in the studio. The K-240MKll are better for singing, as well as the K-271MKll, since they have a closed design. But if you don't need to record vocals, or if you have another cheap set of headphones to record vocals, then the 702 would be great for the mixing/mastering process. Just keep in mind that maybe you'll need a sound card or amp for them. Here is more info: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/k702-studio-393139/
post #3 of 24
IMO studio would be the 702/271/141 Pro 550/650.. Reference would be the DT48/240DF/CD900ST/some DBI and German Maestro models, which can fit into either category depending on the model.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acix View Post
The main differences between them in the studio are that the K-702s are not for recording vocals, since they leak sound when you're recording vocals in the studio. The K-240MKll are better for singing, as well as the K-271MKll, since they have a closed design. But if you don't need to record vocals, or if you have another cheap set of headphones to record vocals, then the 702 would be great for the mixing/mastering process. Just keep in mind that maybe you'll need a sound card or amp for them. Here is more info: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/k702-studio-393139/
thanks for your input, that makes a lot of sense. I do have a separate set of headphones that are closed which I could use for recording vocals, then switch back to the 702s.

I was actually reading through that thread before and as I wrote this, though it was difficult to get through all the a) engineering jargon and b) arguments. i did get that they are better headphones for mixing...

so if that's the case, why would someone ever buy "Studio" headphones. are studio headphones always closed, with reference cans being open, is that really the main difference?

finally my soundcard is a m-audio fast track pro, would that be sufficient to drive the headphones or would I still need an amp?

many thanks again for your input!
post #5 of 24
I've been meaning to ask this question as well! Very informative and valuable summary Acix!

My friend has been asking for a studio headphone recommendation, and before I read this... I linked him to some Grados lol.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofabit View Post
so if that's the case, why would someone ever buy "Studio" headphones. are studio headphones always closed, with reference cans being open, is that really the main difference?
Studio headphones are not always closed, the closed ones will be more important for tracking, Drummer, bass guitar, sound man in a noisy environment like concerts / live shows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofabit View Post
finally my soundcard is a m-audio fast track pro, would that be sufficient to drive the headphones or would I still need an amp?

many thanks again for your input!
I'm not sure about the m-audio fast track pro, but I can recommend the NI Kontrol 1, or even better, the Apogee Duet (only for Mac), or the Apogee Mini DAC ( PC & Mac). If you want to add an amp the cheapest one will be the corda headfive, for around $200.
post #7 of 24
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post #8 of 24
Ok, here is a recent review of studio headphones from SoundOnSound magazine: (even has the hd800)
Download studioheadphones.pdf from Sendspace.com - send big files the easy way
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acix View Post
If you want to add an amp the cheapest one will be the corda headfive, for around $200.
Not true. You could get a PA2V2 for about $70. Even cheaper are the Penguin mint tin amps.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IPodPJ View Post
Not true. You could get a PA2V2 for about $70. Even cheaper are the Penguin mint tin amps.
just how necessary is an amp?

my fast track pro has a volume control for the headphone output, when using my current headphones I have to leave it at about 25% I'm hoping that means it has enough drive to amp up the sound without needing another purchase!

but to reiterate my question, if sound-bleed was NOT a concern, why would someone choose studio headphones over reference headphones?
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofabit View Post
just how necessary is an amp?
For a 702? Absolutely necessary, and not a cheap entry level or portable either. A good quality desktop. The fast track is certainly feature packed, but not a headphone amp per se, won't have a quality head out stage, is USB powered, and unlikely to deliver anything like the power required.

Volume has nothing to do with adequate amplification. A cheap loud button like a $20 Fiio can get most phones loud. Headphones like the 702 need power; volume is a side effect and not the objective. Power is needed to activate the drivers properly and open up their range, and potential.

Plenty of people are running phones like this on ultra cheap amps, because
a) they gotta have an audiophile phone
b) they're told they need an amp, but they already maxed out on the phones, so any amp will do, won't it? And hey, it sounds great, goes really loud. So no comparison with the right gear is ever necessary.

As to open Vs closed, I'm not in professional audio, but studio use implies being able to hear only what's in the phones, and open phones leak. I think 'reference' used to be thought of as the same thing, but is probably now more often used to describe quality listening product.

I know you said don't suggest other products, but Beyers DT250 can do what you want, for less $$ and isn't dependent on an amp in the 80ohm version, but a little juice is good, so the fast track could fit the bill. And unlike some studio/monitoring phones, they actually sound great to listen to.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofabit View Post
my fast track pro has a volume control for the headphone output, when using my current headphones I have to leave it at about 25% I'm hoping that means it has enough drive to amp up the sound without needing another purchase!
Volume = gain
Volume =/= proper amplification - delivering the power that a headphone needs, especially the special, power hungry ones like a K701, while keeping the circuits free of noise and distortion etc...
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofabit
Considering the limitations of my studio, would the benefits of the more expensive headphones be worth it? or would the AKGs be sufficient for mixing?
i´d suggest you try the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 ... heared them when i was on shopping tour for my Sennheiser HD25 ... would´ve bought them instant if i wasn´t on the hunt for a "small" one. Definitly a great Bang-for-the-Buck Product and on top of my "to buy" list. Liked them better than my K240 and he doesn´t need expensive amplification to sing.

neopac
post #14 of 24
'Reference' is supposed to mean accurate/neutral for mastering/mixing...'studio' usually means good isolation plus at least some degree of accuracy for tracking(recording) without bleed. An older k240M (600ohm) might be a good option. They sound pretty good with less than stellar amplification, FWIR, and they sound better than the new 55ohm k240's. You can find a used one for sale on ebay practically every day of the week. Otherwise the k271 would do the trick.
post #15 of 24
To answer your original "studio" headphones vs "reference" headphones question, really, they are all pretty much marketing buzzwords.

"Studio" "Reference" "Signature" "Pro" and "Standard" are all just words designed to aggrandize the product.

You can also play "Mad Libs" and combine them for greater effect (such as "Reference Standard", "Pro Signature" "Studio Reference" etc.).

Kevin
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