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Old July 7th, 2011, 10:14 AM   #1
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Damage from sweating in headphones?

I just got some Bose QC15 over-the-ear headphones to monitor audio while I'm filming weddings. Problem is, lots of my weddings are outdoors and I know my ears will be sweating! I guess my question is two parts. One, will the sweat do any damage to the electronics inside the headphones? They have a thick padding to them to keep my ear away from the speakers. Secondly, does anyone know of a product that would protect the headphones from sweat without standing out?

I saw that a company on bhphotovideo named Garfield made some covers called Softies, but wasn't sure if there was anything else out there.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #2
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

I'm using some 10 or 11 year old Sony 7506 cans and I have sweated enough to fill a bucket. Since I wear them all the time the covers look like hell, some of the covering is coming apart and they don't fit quite as tight as they used to but there has been no damage to the inards from my "water fountains". Every once in a while, when I'm really sweating like a piggy, I'll take them off and wipe the covers usually on my shirt, run my hand over my ears and slap the phones back on. It ain't elegant but it works and so do the headphones.
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it but then I don't worry about things like that anyway.

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Old July 7th, 2011, 04:39 PM   #3
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

I second that on the 7506, mine are about 10 yrs old as well...bought a second set to use "in-studio" as the outdoor ones are pretty gnarly!

Here's the concern I have for you Michael...Our Sony's are not powered and have no battery. The Bose you have are the noise canceling version. I would pay attention to where your sweat ends up and if it goes anywhere near the battery compartment, consider putting a cloth or chamois cover on the ear pieces to soak up the moisture. Those softies look like the ticket! Considering what you spent on the headphones, that's a pretty cheap countermeasure!
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Old July 7th, 2011, 05:15 PM   #4
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

Noise cancelling headphones are the worst possible choice for doing professional audio for video.

Anyway, these work for keeping your ears cool in summer and warm in winter, and they absorb moisture:
Garfield Headphone Softie - Earpad Covers - Black SGARHS1 B&H

Get the right size.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #5
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

Why are they a bad choice? Just curious. I can always return/exchange if there were a good reason.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 08:29 AM   #6
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

For monitoring you want to hear every nuance of what is being picked up by the recording mic with minimal colouration introduced by the 'cans themselves. By definition, active noise cancelling phones process the incoming signal. The idea is, lets say you're in an airplane and engine noise is leaking in around the earphone cups. To cancel that, a mic on the outside of the earphone picks up the noise, phase inverts it and injects it into the earcup. The inverted signal mixes with the leaking sound and cancels it. Well and good if you're listening to music while a passenger on a plane. But if you're RECORDING, that noise is still entering the recording mic and getting into the recording. But it too is cancelled out of what you hear by the noise cancelling system. There is sound in the environment that is screwing up the recording but you're not hearing it in your earphones to warn you that you need to do something to fix it and /or call for another take.

The signal processing is also designed to make the sound, sound better. Reading the ads they'll brag about "getting deep rich bass and brilliant highs." But you don't want that when you're monitoring for quality assurance purposes, unless that is what is really there. You don't want your monitoring chain to try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. You want it to hand the sound to you with all its rough edges intact. If something is screwed up, you want to hear the screw up so you can adjust the recording itself. Having earphones that process the signal gets in the way of that process.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:45 AM   #7
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

Steve,
That was the best description of not only how the noise cancelling phones work but the best description of why not to use them for monitoring audio work.
Thank you.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 11:25 AM   #8
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

FWIW, I use 7606 w.the Garfield Sofie covers. Cool in the summer warm in the winter. As a bonus they protect the original pads from excessive wear.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 01:02 PM   #9
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

Nice explanation on the pitfalls of noise canceling headphones Steve. Thanks.
After sweating through the 7506's over the years and having the black material slowly fall apart, I switched. I finally got sick of people telling me I had something black on my face (another damn piece of the decaying headphones!). I now use the Sennheiser HD25-1-II's. Love 'em. Especially because they come with a set of velour muffs included in the box.
If you plan on keeping the 7506's, definitely look at the Garfield softies Professional Sound Corporation - Garfield Products.

"Made from soft Rayon Chenille fabric these Headphone Softies™ easily slip over existing headphone earpieces and provide a new found comfort level. In winter they help eliminate the problem of cold earpieces and in summer the fabric wicks away perspiration for all day comfort."
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Old July 8th, 2011, 01:53 PM   #10
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

I have both the Sony 7506's and the Sennheiser HD25-1-II's. There is actually a Garfield softie for the HD25-1-II's. I do think the Sennheisers are better cans. What I'm not so sure of is if they keep extraneous sound out as well, or keep the sound you hear from bleeding. I'm using them for recording music too, and I have been getting bleed into my mic. That's not an issue when you are holding a boom mic 7' away from your head, but when singing or playing a guitar into a mic, I'm had to re-record things due to the bleed. Still, they sound better to me. That's not to say that the 7506's are any slouch. I still use them occasionally, and use them when recording to a click track, as they hold the sound in better IMO.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #11
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

The Garfield softies seem like a good solution. An alternative would be replacing the stock MDR-7506 earpads with Beyerdynamic (model number 942704) velour pads, which is what I did with both of my MDR-7506 headphones, and I really like these pads.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #12
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Re: Damage from sweating in headphones?

Thanks for the info on the softies. Here in Florida in the summer, my ears start sweating as I put the cans on. I just ordered mine from B&H.
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