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Odd questions about headphone use in the studio

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

This probably isn't even really deserving of it's own thread but it is a bit of an interesting topic to me


Are on-ears/IEMs ok for studio use?


How come only over-ears are used in studios? Over-ears are never comfy to me, only on-ears and in-ears, so I'm just curious as to how these would turn out in a studio booth. Would this mess with your pitching? I notice when I record with IEMs my tone and sense of volume are thrown off completely and it's just a mess compared to when I can manage to keep over-ears on for more than 10 minutes.


I'm just afraid to invest all my money in some comfy AiAiAi/Klipsch and find out they're no good for studio usage.

post #2 of 11

For monitoring purposes, most headphones with balanced FR are good to use.


Regarding comfort, it's the other way around here. I prefer over/on-ears to in-ears in terms of comfort.

post #3 of 11
I have never EVER worked in a studio where headphones were used for anything other than talkback or isolation in the booth. The only thing I've ever seen used for that is cheap closed cans. Headphones in a studio environment get abused. The talent often knocks them off the music stand, tweaks them by bending them in weird ways around their head, or tosses them on the floor between takes. Headphones are replaced often, so they don't spend a lot on them.

All serious listening in the studio is done on calibrated speakers.
Edited by bigshot - 12/31/12 at 1:57pm
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Coulda sworn I'd replied to this before last night. 


My concern is how the headphones being on-ear instead of over-ear would effect my sense of pitch.


I've actually seen someone use $20 on-ear Sony's but they were rapping, not singing. 


These are just for me. I'd like to buy an open/closed set that I could both use for recording and when casually listening. I prefer on-ear when casually listening, though. Just not sure whether it's ok for me to use them in a booth because they're on-ear instead of over.

post #5 of 11



"Studio use" can mean many different things. For some years I worked in radio for the BBC in the UK. So my experience is with BBC radio studios.


I am pretty sure most commonly used headphones in studios are the Beyerdynamic DT100s. These are closed circum-aural headphones. You have used the term "over ears" for this type of headphone. Over ear headphones with closed backs provide excellent isolation and that is why the are so valuable in studios. What you wish to avoid is sound coming out of the headphones and being recorded by the studio microphone.

post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by p a t r i c k View Post
What you wish to avoid is sound coming out of the headphones and being recorded by the studio microphone.

Yes, exactly.

post #7 of 11

I've worked and been in many studio's in Nashville, and they do not use cheap headphones. Although they do not use audiophile headphones either. Popular choices are:


Sony MDR-7506

AKG K240 (some K280)

Sennheiser HD280

Fostex T50RP (I saw these even on an episode of "Nashville" and they are quite popular around here)


Also, newer additions you might see Shure SRH440.


Some musicians might bring in some isolation heaphones, or their own pair of Beyers or even Ultrasone's. Most of the time, unless the musician/artist really cares, they use what the studio provides.


Most of the time singers will use one ear one, one ear off to hear. Singers are also in an isolation room/booth or in the studio singing back to a track. Some acoustic musicians too (fiddle, mandolin, chello, etc.). Drummers, bass players, guitar players, mostly wear the cans at full of nearly full blast. One studio in town even uses Crown DC-75's as headphone amps for the loudest possible cans.


I would say that IEM's are used, if someone brings them in. Many already have fitted custom ones for going out on the road for monitoring. Drummers I would think would be most likely to use them for fear of loud cans and bleed-over from the drum mics. (I am a drummer, and yes it happens to me). The worst is when the click is so loud in the drummers headphones it can be heard in the drum overheads. 


I would think the biggest problem with using IEM, especially custom molded IEM's in the studio is the constant in and out that you do. It is not like they are in there for hours going through takes. Those guys take breaks in between takes all the time. Headphones totally win in this category. You would not want to shove something in your ear and then yank it out all day long. 


I know this is an over-explanation of the subject, but there ya go.


PS - there might be more headphones that are used in the studio that you may have seen or know of, but the ones I listed are the most popular that you will find. This can also be confirmed by going to sweetwater.com to the headphone section and ranking by "Most Popular." The only ones intersected in are the cheap Beringers. And of course, they don't sell Fostex.

post #8 of 11

At my local radio studios, the most popular headphones seem to be Shure SRH440 and Audio-Technica ATH-M50. Beyerdynamics DT-100 and DT-770 seems more popular in European studios like BBC.


But then you have to define "studio use". A personal recording studio, a professional mastering studio and a community radio studio aren't the same things, and don't have the same needs. If you want to use a CIEM or an on-ear in your personal studio, nobody's gonna stop you.



Many radio hosts have their own headphones. You can use whatever you wish, but you can't really expect a studio to own IEMs. Headphones in studios get passed around and lent to visitors. Doing so with IEMs is simply gross.


Personally, the only headphones I can tolerate for a long time are full sized over ears. Anything inside my ears hurt my canals after an hour or so. On-ears tend to press my ear lobes down and prevent them to breath, which becomes uncomfortable after a while.


My point is everybody is different, and you can use whatever you wish. Just don't expect to find your preferred type of headphones wherever you go.

post #9 of 11

The radio station I used to work for had 7506's and everybody loved them. Some got their own, some got the more comfy 7509's. One guy in the newsroom had a jerry curl, and the station gave him his own pair because nobody wanted to use them after he had. 


Every situation is different. I can only go by my experience at what mostly I see in Nashville recording studio's.

post #10 of 11







I saw the pic here :)

post #11 of 11
I know a guy in sony studio here in Germany that says he listens to his final mixdowns on apple earbuds and then cries for a bit and adds gobs of compression to his nice mix.
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