Looking for headphones that meet my criteria. Also what EXACTLY makes closed-back headphones better for audio monitoring?

  1. EnsisTheSlayer
    I want to get a pair of headphones that are both good for music/gaming and audio monitoring. Then I hear people say that closed-back headphones are better for audio monitoring while open-back headphones are better for music and such. I don't give a crap if any audio leaks, I just want a pair of headphones that sound out of this world while still sounding as realistic and life-like as possible. Is there a pair of headphones that meet this criteria that you would recommend? I don't want to spend too much more than $500. If there isn't anything that exactly meets my criteria, could someone explain what makes closed-back headphones "better" for audio monitoring?
  2. Greggo
    I would look at Sony MDR-7520, Audio-Technica ATH-M70x, Focal Spirit Pro and Sennheiser HD600. There are probably another 4 or 5 worth looking at as well, just depends on personal taste and preferences.
    Not to split hairs, but probably worth pointing out that there is a difference between audio monitoring and studio mixing. Easy to do the former with headphones, very hard to do the latter with headphones though some claim decent success with Sennheiser HD800. The reason is that mix balance and instrument placement and stereo imaging is hard to get right with headphones. For straight up audio monitoring, the priorities are clear timbre and dynamics so one can track the tone and pace accurately and perform in sync with other parts. The reason for wanting isolation is not so much for sound leaking out, though that can bleed into microphones intended to capture just a live signal in room and not a monitoring feed, but mostly to keep room noise from bleeding into your headphone mix and thus causing distraction.
    I recommend the HD600 for a quiet room where you really are not that concerned with isolation since it is an open back headphone, but it is also very neutral and still musical, enjoyable, and mostly non-fatiguing for most folks. Along with general balance and technicalities, open or closed and degree of isolation, be sure to also consider fit and comfort as well as amplification needs.
  3. EnsisTheSlayer
    I'm looking at HD650s as well, do you think they're still balanced compared to the HD600s (with an obvious improvement in audio)? For a DAC/amp. I'm thinking of getting the Microstreamer. People are saying a lot of good things about it.
  4. serman005
    I would add HE400i and HE400S to your list (both open).
  5. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    That depends on which side of the booth you're in. If you're mastering and using the headphone to back up the studio monitors, no problem with headphones in general, much less open back headphones. If you're the one playing or singing, open backs can be a problem - you will let in a lot more noise (that gets in the way of what you are monitoring as how you sound like through the mic as it's sent back to your headphones), and in some cases the output of the headphone can be picked up by the mic when you sing, which is only made worse given you have to compensate for the noise with louder output on the headphone.
    As long as you're far away from a mic then it's not a problem. When you switch between the headphone and studio monitors, you just turn down the volume on the headphone to not hear it (something you'll still probably do even with a closed back headphone).
    HD600. Or look at the HE-350 on Massdrop right now, but get the Focus pads from Head-Direct to help with imaging.
  6. Greggo
    I have heard both but personally lean towards the HD600 as a personal preference, most lean towards the HD650 but you need to think about their goals and context. Many also point out that there is so little distinction between the two that it doesn't really matter all that much if at all. If one also takes into account the subtle tweaks between different years in production and potential unit to unit variance... it starts to sound more like a religious debate than anything else.
    I think in the end, if you can afford the up-charge for the HD650 and you like the looks/feel/sound then why not. For me, I liked the slightly leaner bass and slightly cleaner top end I heard on the HD600 because in my personal collection I wanted a baseline of truth and that is why I love the HD600.
    The HE400 recommendations above are good ones, especially the HE400S as many reviewers or listeners providing general feedback feel that they give the HD600 a good run for the money and are perhaps superior in some respects.
  7. TsukiNick
    Closed-backs are better for tracking, not monitoring. Usually when a musician or vocalist is being recorded they will be singing or play along to what they heard in their headphones, or atleast a click track. If they were open they would be picked up through the mics. Open will almost always sound better at the same price.

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