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Old March 26th, 2013, 09:34 AM   #1
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Headphones for Monitoring Audio

I know it's not ideal to edit audio using headphones, but any recommendations on a neutral pair of headphones less than $300? I'd use them to monitor/adjust audio for my news features. While editors in the broadcast center will give the stories a quick listen, I'd like to get the audio as close as possible (including a little EQ work on the voiceover to richen).

Thanks!
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Old March 26th, 2013, 10:12 AM   #2
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Given that good monitor speakers are preferred for mixing and EQ, if you must use headphones then my favorite "reasonably priced" neutral cans are the Sennheiser HD280 Pro.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Ditto on Greg's recc - HD280 are a great neutral set.

Be aware that the ever-popular Sony MDR-7506, about the same price, are not neutral. By design, they have a mid / upper mid boost that makes them valuable for field monitoring; you can really hear what's going on with voices. But not so good for post work.

Mixing on phones is a bad deal. There will be frequent errors mixing dialog vs. music or sfx/background.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 12:04 PM   #4
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mercer View Post
I know it's not ideal to edit audio using headphones, but any recommendations on a neutral pair of headphones less than $300? I'd use them to monitor/adjust audio for my news features. While editors in the broadcast center will give the stories a quick listen, I'd like to get the audio as close as possible (including a little EQ work on the voiceover to richen).

Thanks!
Dave
I use the Sony 7506's when I want the mid-high boost. For natural sounding phones I listened to Sennheiser 280's, Shure, Audio Technica, AKG, and Beyer. Beyer and AKG sounded the most natural and I ended up with the AKG K240's. The other brands lacked bass and sounded very tinny to my ears, even the Sennheiser 280's (a surprise since Sennheiser has always been my favorite). If I had to do it again I would have spent the extra $100 on the Beyer phones, which have a bit more bass and cloth ear pads.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:00 PM   #5
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Thanks all. Looks like the Senns get the go ahead!

Be well.

Dave
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:03 PM   #6
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

I concur with the posts above: The Sony 7506 have a mid boost that is perfect in the field and terrible for studio editing. The HD280s are reasonably neutral, but lack deep bass. Personally, I found the AKG K240 cans to sound a bit thinner than the HD280 Pros. It's certain that Guy and I demo'd different material. That, limited demo time, and personal perception likely explain why we came to different conclusions.

I've demo'd Beyer headphones, but they sounded a bit scooped to me. They definitely have stronger bass, but they might have a bit too much for studio mixing.

I use HD280 Pros for editing in the office. Before I complete the final mix, I listen on studio monitors, a surround stereo, and a TV with no bass below 200 Hz. When it works on all of those systems, I know I have a good mix.

But it's not just about EQ; it's also (if not mainly) about dynamic range. Let's say you have music and environmental sounds and the character throws some dice. On headphones, the dice are right there by your ears with no outside sounds or reflections. You mix it just right. Next you listen on the TV and wonder why you can't hear the dice at all. Between reflections, lack of dynamic range, poor EQ, and your dishwasher and HVAC running, the dice sounds are lost in the mud. Go back, boost the dice sounds 6dB, Give them some more crispness at 1-2 kHz and you'll hear it from the TV without it being ridiculous from headphones. With experience, you learn to pump up subtle sounds when mixing with phones, but it's still good to double check your work on other systems.

You'll also want to use monitors or other speakers to check your stereo sound field. Headphones don't do stereo like speakers do.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 05:19 PM   #7
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Veering this thread a wee bit off topic, if using monitor speakers while using an NLE, what do about computer fan noise? I know places like The Video Guys specialise in 'Quite' computer systems, but my big tower is full of drives and produces a noticeable background hum.

BTW I am also using the HD280, and love them. I'd read reports about them being tight on big heads, but I have an XL head and they are perfectly comfortable. The computer fan noise mentioned above is completely inaudible while wearing them.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 06:19 PM   #8
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

Take a listen to the Sennheiser HD-25-1-II - they're more popular abroad, whereas most in US prefer the Sony 7506. Once I tried the Sennheisers 5 years ago, I never went back to the Sonys. Love 'em. Especially with the included velour cups on. Although the Garfield covers from PSC make the 7506 quite comfy too.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 06:21 PM   #9
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

This is an appropriate tangent. Computer fan noise can be a problem, even with headphones. All headphone cases have some resonant points, and if the fan hits those frequencies, headphones can actually amplify those noises. I used to have some terrible, old closed headphones that resonated in the area of human speech. While they didn't help me listen in on conversations, the conversations were louder and more annoying with the cans on than off!

Anyway, for years I've built desktops using parts recommended here:
silentpcreview.com | Everything about Silent / Quiet Computers

Those PCs have been quiet, but certainly not silent. I never went so far as to install water cooling. And I needed larger drives, so I couldn't go 100% SSD. I looked into cable extenders for KVMs (keyboard, video, mouse), but the solutions were expensive and I would have needed to add some sound isolating doors to fully move the PC out of the room. There are also "silent" boxes that can hold your PC cases - I even built one from plywood, but it was impractical.

These days, laptops are quite powerful and SSDs are improving, so that could be the next generation solution. Desktop sales are declining so PC companies are investing in improving laptops and tablets, rather than big case machines. Maybe one cable extender - or good old Ethernet - is still needed for attaching remote hard drives for backups and archives.

Sometimes we use headphones to shut out outside activity. Sometimes we choose them to avoid annoying others. Regardless, it's still nice to have a quiet space.
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Old March 27th, 2013, 03:28 AM   #10
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Re: Headphones for Monitoring Audio

What a great recourse Silent PC Review is. And so much information to read - it'd keep a person busy for days. One of the problems is that with Premiere Pro, at least, you really need a decent graphics card, and they have big fans, and I don't know if there are options. Perhaps Silent PC Review will have answers to that.

I use MSI Afterburner of course, and having just checked it again, the graphics card sound fans do not appear to be main source of noise in my system. I'm using a GTX570. I also have a closed system water cooled CPU.

Hmmm... I can see a little project coming on :-)

[EDIT] It's amazing what you can find when you actually look. Ten minutes investigation showed me that most of the background noise in my computer room is coming from my wife's system, one desk over. At idle, by big tower is really not intrusive, and throwing a blanket over the front of it, killed what sound there is. The blanket was by way of an experiment. My wife's box has a resonant feel to the sound it is making, and I have a feeling that the cheap computer desk it is slotted into, is acting as a sound box. My wife is off to the UK for a few weeks tomorrow, so I'll try and fix the problem while she is away.
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