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Looking for reference headphones

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I work in a recording studio and we use loudspeakers exclusively to master music. I want a popular reference headphone to listen to my masters for observation purposes. I don't think it's really a good idea to exclusively mix on headphones; so these headphones are to compliment the speakers and possibly reveal any flaws that are difficult locating due to the nature of loudspeakers.

Anyway, I have some of the common studio type headphones at my disposal and please bear with me because I am critical of all:

Sony MDR-V6 (a bit bright, no sub bass)
Sony MDR-7506 (sounds exactly like the MDR-V6)
audio-technica ATH-M50 (Too much bass, mids/treble is good)
Fostex T50RP (lacks bass and treble extension, great transient response though)

I was dead set on the Denon D2000 but they are discontinued and I don't wish to purchase a discontinued headphone. I have ruled out the AKG K701/K702/Q701, as they are often described as bass-light. I have also ruled out the HD650 for their "warm" sound signature. Among the popular references that leaves the Sennheiser HD600 and Beyerdynamic DT880 (600 ohm). Although not a full sized headphone, I am also considering the Etymotic ER4S.

I may be opening a can of worms here, thoughts?

post #2 of 10

For reference headphones (or using headphones to master music), I would imagine that the flattest, most neutral sounding headphones would be the best.

 

Some of the headphones that you listed (ATH-M50, Denon D2000) are not exactly flat, and would be more apt to be described as V-shaped.
 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response!

The M50 is very bassy indeed. After researching the D2000, I realize that they have a bit of extra bass and the frequency response graph confirms this. Yet they have become popular among both mixers and mastering engineers, due to the closed back design. It's quite sad it has become discontinued.

Anyway, I see the DT880 is described as semi-open, does it block and leak less than the HD 600?
Where I work is a bit noisy at times.

I have considered the ER4S for the extreme isolation and documented accuracy. But the triple flanges look painful and I don't think I can use that for lengthy sessions, there is also the problem of me sharing the Etymotic's, they can't be tossed around like a headphone.

As of now, I am leaning on the DT880.

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by aMixer View Post

Thanks for your response!

The M50 is very bassy indeed. After researching the D2000, I realize that they have a bit of extra bass and the frequency response graph confirms this. Yet they have become popular among both mixers and mastering engineers, due to the closed back design. It's quite sad it has become discontinued.

Anyway, I see the DT880 is described as semi-open, does it block and leak less than the HD 600?
Where I work is a bit noisy at times.

I have considered the ER4S for the extreme isolation and documented accuracy. But the triple flanges look painful and I don't think I can use that for lengthy sessions, there is also the problem of me sharing the Etymotic's, they can't be tossed around like a headphone.

As of now, I am leaning on the DT880.

 

The DT 880 and HD 600 are both good choices, with the Beyer providing a bit less leakage and a bit more isolation.  If you need closed cans consider the Shure SRH 840 & 940, Sony MDR 7510 & V900HD and the KRK KNS 8400.

post #5 of 10

What about a pair of Sennhesier HD-280s? Sony MDR-7506/V6 with more sub bass and not as bright sounding as the Sony MDR-7506/V6.

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post

For reference headphones (or using headphones to master music), I would imagine that the flattest, most neutral sounding headphones would be the best.

 

Some of the headphones that you listed (ATH-M50, Denon D2000) are not exactly flat, and would be more apt to be described as V-shaped.
 


My understanding is that linear headphones have a  'straight-line' frequency spec. Hence music is subjected to highs mids and lows at a time.

 

Reference however, is the headphone that is the 'cleanest' sounding to the source. What you record will be whats played back into your ears. Hence, it's the most analytical you can get.

 

Using Sennheiser's HD 540's and loving them. All instruments in the tracks are presentable. Problem is I find it a bit laidback (maybe because of the width of the soundscape?).


Edited by paul02 - 7/18/12 at 7:17pm
post #7 of 10

I'm not sure if there ever will be a pair of mass-market headphones with a 'straight' frequency response given the fact that you won't find in the world anyone else with your particular configuration of ear and brain. The way to find a 'neutral' reference phone is to audition them until you come across a pair that sounds neutral to you.

post #8 of 10

My recent purchase of a pair of NAD VISO HP50 has completely superceded my present KRK KNS8400s for a closed back monitoring/mixing/mastering headphone.  I too use monitors, but these NADs are amazing.  I can hear everything.  Nothing is hyped and they are very neutral and realistic to my ears.

post #9 of 10

The Brainwavz HM5 should work for you, they're neutral. Nuff said

post #10 of 10

I've heard good things about the Takstar Pro 80 / Gemini DJ HSR-1000 for reference type work.  It definitely fits withing the price range of the ones you've listed.

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