Headphones for Mixing and Listening?
Sep 13, 2009 at 4:33 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 29

Skye

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Hey, all. I'll try to make this brief because I like to talk peoples ears off about this stuff.

I haven't owned a stereo in years and years that I simply enjoyed just listening to. On the other hand, I am studying to become a recording engineer, and I have too poor of a system for quality mixing. I'm a student too busy to work much, making minimum wage only a few hours a week, so we can't think of anything too grandiose. I am considering headphones because I believe the sound quality to be greater than I could get with book shelf speakers or studio monitors at the same price point.

What I want to buy: a pair of headphones neutral enough for listening (rock, jazz, classical) and accurate enough for mixing.

My budget is slightly flexible. I have $200 right now for headphones (cash from a returned birthday present). I can get more, but it takes time. Maybe I could buy some headphones around that price range or a little above, and a couple months down the road I could purchase a decent headphone amp and dac. My computer and recording interface will be my sources.

I found it easier to mix on my dad's Grado SR80 headphones than any book shelf speakers I have, and the SR80 is only $100. I have been thinking about middle of the road Grados, Sennheisers, or AKG, maybe even the Grado 325is or the Sennheiser HD650.

It would be convenient if they were a closed design so I could record with them too, but since I wouldn't want all my musicians wearing my listening cans, I should probably buy some $40 closed muffs down the road at some point anyway.

What have you got for me?
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 7:24 AM Post #5 of 29

Menisk

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HD600s are very neutral and accurate but still musical, I love them and I'd recommend them for mixing.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 1:44 AM Post #6 of 29

Skye

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I ordered the AKG k702 headphones with the intention of eventually buying the Heed Canamp.

I know headphones aren't the most translatable for mixing, but for $250, they are a lot better than a pair of equivalently priced studio monitors.

Thanks to everyone who provided input, and best wishes.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 4:32 AM Post #7 of 29

lejaz

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Expensive monitors in an untreated room would probably be a lot less accurate than a set of good $150 headphones.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 5:46 AM Post #8 of 29

Acix

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lejaz, looks like now it's your turn for some K701/2..
k701smile.gif
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 11:44 PM Post #11 of 29

lejaz

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I hope it will be early and not late...depends upon the budget, but I will stick to the akg sound sig for my next upgrade, since I really like both of my k240's, especially the DF.
beerchug.gif
Skoal!
 
Sep 17, 2009 at 5:59 PM Post #12 of 29

Skye

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The AKG k702 came. Wow, they really are huge.

Initial impressions. Imaging and soundstage do not seem quite as incredible as hoped for. Also, the sibilance is tearing.

"LightSSS will guide CHyou home ... and ignite CHyour boneSSS ... and I will TTTry ... to fixSSS you ..."

Male vocals, female vocals, high hats ... it is pretty brutal.

The bass response is a little less than what I would hope for. Yet it is tight. It is my opinion that Coldplay's album A Rush of Blood To The Head (2002) did not use a subkick in addition to the kick mic, but their album X&Y (2005) did use a subkick in addition to the kick mic. A subkick is a low frequency driver facing the front head of the kick drum and wired to a direct box. It is useful for capturing only around 20-30 Hz, giving extra rumble to the kick channel. Most famously, the low frequency driver of the NS-10 is used, but now Yamaha makes a "Subkick" mic. And it is my opinion, only from listening to these headphones, that one album did not use a subkick and one did. The bass response is tight, just a little low.

I am hoping that these issues will resolve over time. Hopefully the sibilance will be reduced and the imaging improved after some burn in, and the imaging will be further clarified and the bass volume increased by coupling this with an amp.

Otherwise, these will just be harsh headphones ... maybe my expectations are unrealistic. But they are more pleasant than the book shelf speakers I have, and more detailed. I've never previously noticed what sounds like a rain stick in Zero 7's In The Waiting Line. Now it sounds like it is there, and being run through a plate reverb. Haha.
 
Sep 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM Post #13 of 29

Adda

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They will settle down over time, K701/702's take a long time to burn-in, to speed thing up just have them play music all the time, even when you are not using them.
 
Sep 22, 2009 at 2:09 AM Post #15 of 29

Skye

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I wanted to wait until I had more initial impressions before beginning burn-in.

Of course, that treble range is still bothering me. It is very noticeable on sibilance and hi-hats, but also on some synth or guitar sounds, certain string squeaks on acoustic guitars, etc. It is very obtrusive.

The headphones do provide clarity for dealing with appropriate amounts of DSP effects, the balance of multiple sounds for ambient effects or a single instrument, and other detailed things. This is especially true with stereo effects or slight/subtle hard panned sounds that add depth or ambiance. However, I do not believe they should be considered "reference" for your mixes, or to be used as the final mixing monitors unless you have no other options.

The imaging is very absolute. But the sound can be rich too. Cellos sound so much more real in the headphones than with the book shelf speakers I have. Also, compared to the book shelf speakers, there is a lot less middle-range gunk that makes it hard to hear stuff within the noise present.

It gives the impression of feeling low end with the present but quiet bass response, since it is so deep. Of course I feel the (mid-)bass more with the book shelf speakers, but the headphones give a better impression of the deeper bass, which I find impressive.

And yes, the bumps they put on the headband are pretty uncomfortable. And the ear cups don't exactly feel like pillows, but no headphone feels perfect. Ultimately I care more about the sound than the feel.

I think there is some low-mid to high-bass gunk, just lower frequency and less than I hear on the bookshelf speakers.

Currently, I am using Foobar2000 with no DSP, EMU 0404 PCI soundcard analog out to an aged Sansui stereo audio-only receiver. The receiver either powers the Mission 707 book shelf speakers or my headphones, the AKG k702.

I think I'm ready to begin burn-in. Coldplay, I choose you! (Pokemon style.)
 

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