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headphones for live mixing/monitoring (Sennheiser HD 280 Pro user)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

hey head-fiers,

 

i've been mixing for live events with the HD 280 Pros for a number of years, i've grown very accustomed to using them with all their faults and foibles, and i am now looking to own a better pair of headphones for the exact same purpose (the 280s i use belong to the venue i work at)

 

my main complaint with the 280s is the bass response - i can barely make out kick drum, and bass guitar is inaccurate as hell (when comparing to the stage monitors and house speakers).  sound quality improves when listening to tom-toms, but they're still noticeably weak.  what i like most about them is the frequency response in the high mids - it makes equalizing vocals, guitars, and strings a snap.  isolation and comfort are also respectable

 

for my next purchase, i'd obviously like to have improved accuracy in the bass region, but otherwise, just to maintain similar listening characteristics in general.  a little more detail wouldn't hurt, and breadth of soundstage is no concern to me

 

i've read a ton of threads on this site and elsewhere, and i've narrowed my shopping list down to the following (i'll take other suggestions in the $120-$250 price range, but i think i've got my heart set on one of the three below):

 

- Sennheiser HD 380 Pro

- Audio-Technica ATH-M50

- Shure SRH 840

 

any input on the headphones above would be appreciated in light of everything else i've written.  even if you can help me eliminate one pair of headphones from the list, i can probably buy two and return one, but buying all three to audition is a bit out of my budget.  i plan to purchase before the end of november (2013, if you're reading this in the far future), and i'll certainly review whatever i end up getting in early january 2014 (after i've used my new purchase for the month of december)

 

most headphone reviews are aimed at music listeners, rather than FOH engineers, so i've had trouble "translating" the myriad of reviews over to my needs.  i find the HD 280s extremely harsh and the bass weak when it comes to general music listening, but they've served me very well for live mixing

 

for general use i own a lovely pair of DT 880s - light, clear, and oh so detailed   =D

 

again, thanks for any help you guys can offer,

-ben

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by revkon View Post
 

hey head-fiers,

 

i've been mixing for live events with the HD 280 Pros for a number of years, i've grown very accustomed to using them with all their faults and foibles, and i am now looking to own a better pair of headphones for the exact same purpose (the 280s i use belong to the venue i work at)

 

my main complaint with the 280s is the bass response - i can barely make out kick drum, and bass guitar is inaccurate as hell (when comparing to the stage monitors and house speakers).  sound quality improves when listening to tom-toms, but they're still noticeably weak.  what i like most about them is the frequency response in the high mids - it makes equalizing vocals, guitars, and strings a snap.  isolation and comfort are also respectable

 

for my next purchase, i'd obviously like to have improved accuracy in the bass region, but otherwise, just to maintain similar listening characteristics in general.  a little more detail wouldn't hurt, and breadth of soundstage is no concern to me

 

i've read a ton of threads on this site and elsewhere, and i've narrowed my shopping list down to the following (i'll take other suggestions in the $120-$250 price range, but i think i've got my heart set on one of the three below):

 

- Sennheiser HD 380 Pro

- Audio-Technica ATH-M50

- Shure SRH 840

 

any input on the headphones above would be appreciated in light of everything else i've written.  even if you can help me eliminate one pair of headphones from the list, i can probably buy two and return one, but buying all three to audition is a bit out of my budget.  i plan to purchase before the end of november (2013, if you're reading this in the far future), and i'll certainly review whatever i end up getting in early january 2014 (after i've used my new purchase for the month of december)

 

most headphone reviews are aimed at music listeners, rather than FOH engineers, so i've had trouble "translating" the myriad of reviews over to my needs.  i find the HD 280s extremely harsh and the bass weak when it comes to general music listening, but they've served me very well for live mixing

 

for general use i own a lovely pair of DT 880s - light, clear, and oh so detailed   =D

 

again, thanks for any help you guys can offer,

-ben

Hey ben I'm glad you like your pair of DT880s. They're really hard to beat. I'd say grab yourself a pair of Sennheiser 25-1 ii's or Beyer Dt1350 if you plan on spinning in a nightclub. DT770s are great monitors for electronic music because of their V shape and isolation but I wouldn't take them to a club for mixing

post #3 of 9

Lot's of music engineer checking out low frequencies when they mix a song using the ATH-M50. It has a good bass reproduction all the way to the sub bass region.

post #4 of 9

Hello im FOH engineer and done my share of searching the perfect headphones for noisy enviroments.

So the main things you need is: Good and reliable sound and bass response that goes low. Exelent isolation, because you have to hear even little hums and noises on channel even rock band is playing front of you. And they have to deliver loads of soundpressure for you, when and if needed. And of course cans have to bee quite rugged.

 

I haven´t tried any of those you listed, so i just recomend you two of the best i have used.

Of course another pair is "industry standard"  Sennheiser 25:s

And what i use on my work and love: Sony MDR-7506


Edited by Jazmanaut - 11/11/13 at 3:02am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

hey again,

thanks for the replies and suggestions so far!  here's an update on what's been going on:

 

a few weeks ago i stopped in at a guitar center on a whim after work, and lo and behold, they carried the 3 models i was considering.  possibly even more surprising, the manager let me demo all three headphones.  unfortunately, i wasn't entirely prepared for all this and on a bit of a tight schedule, so i ended up listening to each for just a few minutes on their DJ setup.  (i really wish i had carried my ipod with me that day)

 

but for this session, my main goal was just to hear which headphones sounded similar to the HD 280, while showing improvement in areas i thought could use some (see my original post for details).  luckily they had a pair of the HD 280 there, so i was able to do a lot of A/B comparisons.   here's what i listened to, and my thoughts after a few minutes on each:

 

- Sennheiser HD 380: i don't think i've read a false statement about these anywhere.  pretty much the 'upgrade' to the HD 280.  similar sound signature, not as harsh, wider soundstage, clean but arguably weak bass, a hair more detailed

- Audio-Technica ATH-M50: with these, i really wished i had some familiar music because they sounded very close to the HD 380.  the signature sounded a bit flatter in the mids, but slightly more sibilant in the highs compared to the HD 380.  the headband was very big.  couldn't hear that bump in the bass that others frequently bring up, but that could have been due to the choice of/unfamiliarity with the music

- Shure SRH 840: extremely flat!  these struck me as very high quality, with detail rivaling the DT 880.  i don't think i've ever heard music so 'dead' before.  very different from the HD 280, so i eliminated these from the running

- Beyerdynamic DT 770: the manager suggested i try these out since they were his favorites.  unsurprisingly, sound signature is very close to the DT 880, though slightly more muffled and with less breadth of soundstage to my ears.  i eliminated these because i'd prefer not to own two pairs of similar-sounding headphones

 

afterwards, i was glad to have eliminated one option, and i also learned that ergonomics would play a larger part in my decision than i had anticipated (comfort, fit, use with one ear).  i did take a look at the Sennheiser HD-25-1 II in-store, but i thought the ear pads were too small.  the Beyerdynamic DT 1350 looks intriguing, but also looks to be out of my price range   =P

 

fast forward to today - i ordered the HD 380 just before thanksgiving, used them for one mixing session already, and i have the ATH-M50 on the way.  scored both for ~$100, and plan to return the one i like less

post #6 of 9

Many people consider the 380 pro better, so it's worth a look.

Of course HD25 is basically industry standard so you can't go wrong.

To be honest, I doubt you'll ever find headphones that match the kind of speakers you put in a large live venue.

post #7 of 9

Hey Ben,

 

Glad that you pick up those two, would like to hear which one suits you best in the near future. I used my M50 mostly for mix checking in my studio and sometimes used it to monitor a sequencer while playing guitar on stage. Haven't heard the HD 380 tho.


Edited by Tubagus - 12/10/13 at 8:38am
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

i spent a few more sessions mixing with both the HD 380 and the ATH-M50, and i ended up returning the audio-technicas!  for my purposes, both headphones could get the job done, so it came down to the which pair i preferred to work with
 

 

in terms of the hardware, the sennheisers had a number of points going for them, such as their lighter weight, and the fact that the earcups only swivel in one direction.  the 180 degree swiveling of the AT earcups was an issue when wearing the phones around my neck and i would lean my head over for a quick listen, only to have the earcup swivel away from my ear.  the other thing that won me over to the sennheisers was the carrying case.  it's very compact and professional looking, and it has these loops that allow you to store accessories and adaptors along with your headphones

 

 

sound-wise, the 380s are laid back and airy compared to the M50s, which are very forward.  in fact, i found the aggressiveness of the M50s to be completely unnecessary for mixing.  the airiness of the 380s definitely made it easier to pick things out in the mix

 

 

however, the clincher in my decision came to down to the accuracy of the headphones.  i was soloing acoustic guitar with the ATH-M50, and it sounded great, but then i realized it didn't sound true to the guitar.  i compared what i heard to the HD 380s, the house speakers, and the floor monitors, and i verified that the M50s were definitely colored (at least in that frequency range), but i knew that was completely unacceptable for my purposes and likings

 

 

i don't mean to rag too hard on the ATH-M50 headphones, but in light of their lower price point and sennheiser's history in pro audio, i have to say that the HD 380 pro was clearly developed as a superior product for live mixing and monitoring.  not to say that you can't mix with the M50, but my standards in a mixing phone call for something more than what it offers

 

 

a couple other items of note that didn't really influnce my decision, but may inform yours if you ever consider these phones: the ATH-M50s seem to be better suited to smaller heads, and the 380s are not sealed very well.  thanks everyone for the input, and i'm really glad to have these headphones!

post #9 of 9

Thanks for review. I have to check them out, when my Sonys wear out.

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