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Best headset for analyzing wildlife recordings?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi,
 
I'm an animal-behavior researcher. I study vocal behavior among African spotted hyenas, and I do a lot of field recording (I use a Marantz digital recorder).
 
Back in the lab, I need to be able to detect as much detail in my recordings as possible. Hyenas vocalize over a very wide dynamic range, and some calls are barely audible (or inaudible, but that's not relevant here). Since I'm recording in the wild there's always background noise. Even with the pretty-good noise canceling headphones I have now, there are times when I'm listening to a recording and I hear myself say, for example, "Okay, that was an alarm rumble at minute 4:15 of this recording," but no matter how hard I strain I can't hear it in the recording. Some of that is due to issues on the recording end, I know: there are some sounds that don't make it into the recording at all. But I want to maximize my chances of hearing every bit of data that does make it into my recordings.
 
For this i think I need both
 
(a) a set that plays back at high volume, since some of the sounds I'm listening for are very soft, and
 
(b) a set that reproduces sound in great detail, since I'm often trying to pick out a particular sound against a complex background of ambient noise.
 
I don't care about brand prestige or looks, I just want the best sound reproduction I can get for the money.
 
What's best? And what's best in the $200-and-under range?
 
Thanks!
post #2 of 5

Head to --www.wildlife-sound.org and look at the Nagra Ares-ML-SS recorder and others nice but pricey.The Niagra SD newer model is a bit cheaper but still well above what you want to pay . Like Headphones in most cases price counts. And what you are listening to  is not equivalent  to a normal hi-fi system . Take a CD  player it can have a sharp cut off around -20KHZ[ stone wall filter] or a bit higher but animals/birds etc can produce sounds well above audio range -While in extended audio digital equipment for hi-fi it might make the lower orders sound a bit brighter. You are looking for an indication of the different sounds produced no matter how high outside the audio range and that can  be indicated by a VU meter.built into the recorder.


Edited by duncan1 - 6/19/13 at 9:41am
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

hey duncan1, thanks for the reply. I'm not looking for a recorder, though. I have that covered. Just looking for the best pair of headphones I can get for listening to my recordings. 

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethologist View Post

Hi,
 
I'm an animal-behavior researcher. I study vocal behavior among African spotted hyenas, and I do a lot of field recording (I use a Marantz digital recorder).
 
Back in the lab, I need to be able to detect as much detail in my recordings as possible. Hyenas vocalize over a very wide dynamic range, and some calls are barely audible (or inaudible, but that's not relevant here). Since I'm recording in the wild there's always background noise. Even with the pretty-good noise canceling headphones I have now, there are times when I'm listening to a recording and I hear myself say, for example, "Okay, that was an alarm rumble at minute 4:15 of this recording," but no matter how hard I strain I can't hear it in the recording. Some of that is due to issues on the recording end, I know: there are some sounds that don't make it into the recording at all. But I want to maximize my chances of hearing every bit of data that does make it into my recordings.
 
For this i think I need both
 
(a) a set that plays back at high volume, since some of the sounds I'm listening for are very soft, and
 
(b) a set that reproduces sound in great detail, since I'm often trying to pick out a particular sound against a complex background of ambient noise.
 
I don't care about brand prestige or looks, I just want the best sound reproduction I can get for the money.
 
What's best? And what's best in the $200-and-under range?
 
Thanks!

Interesting project!  

 

There are two sides to your problem, though.  One is the recording side.  If you're using a shotgun or parabolic mic the ability to record low frequencies will be limited (you referenced an "alarm rumble"...sounds low). The necessity of a low frequency roll-off filter is dictated by recording outside in wind, even light wind, and that will limit LF response as well.  Anyway, there are ways around some of that, but in many cases the mic and recording side would be a very significant limitation.

 

Headphones, a standard of professionals for a couple of decades now has been the Sony MDR-7506.  I've used them for live sound monitoring, location sound recording, etc.  The don't provide tremendous isolation, and aren't the sweetest most musical headphones ever, but they are pretty brutally revealing.  Detail is a rather difficult quantity to define, but many people refer to slightly more emphasized high end as highly detailed sound, and these phones have that.  

 

You shouldn't need more volume from these, but if your equipment can't provide enough gain, a headphone amp could be added.

post #5 of 5

The Sony V6 or 7506 would imo be the best choice. These are basically the same headphone, although some claim the 7506 is a bit brighter due to its slightly stronger magnet. The 7506 has a gold plated plug and longer warranty. Sometimes the 7506 is just $10 or $12 more than the V6 but sometimes the price difference can be $30 or more. If you find the original earpads sweaty, then get the Beyerdynamic DT250 velour earpads that fit the V6 or 7506. I have them on my V6. The V6 and &506 are very neutral and natural sounding and extremely rugged. I just gave away a 25 year old Sony V6 that still worked fine, although it needed new earpads. I still have a V6 that is over 10 years old.

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