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-   -   Need isolation headphones (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/48070-need-isolation-headphones.html)

Dave Largent July 21st, 2005 04:58 AM

Need isolation headphones
I shoot video sometimes around live bands. The
last one I shot I was in front of the stage with
my Sony 7506s and couldn't hear a single thing
of what was being recorded, even when I pushed the
headphones tight to my ears, which has helped in
the past.
I don't care much about accuracy, but I am looking for something over-the-ear, closed back. (I am not interested in the kind you insert into the ear canal.) Also looking for comfort, as I couldn't wear something that is clamping down like a vice on the head.

So these are the ones I've heard to consider for my purpose,
and would appreciate any comments on them, or any other
phones I should consider:

Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs

Beyerdynamic DT770M

Beyer also has this DT770 Pro

Senn HD280 Pro

David Ennis July 21st, 2005 05:41 AM

Dave, you aren't going to get 34-36 dB reduction from standard non-ear canal phones. Maybe they're out there somewhere, but not at any price that can be paid by us mortals. If such phones existed we would certainly have heard about them here.

But how about active noise cancelling phones? There are several makers now besides Bose. They don't take out the whole frequency range, but they do work in the range where most of the sound energy is.

John Travis July 21st, 2005 11:37 AM

I've heard these are good:


And B&H even reccomends them for your purposes in their write-up:

"The result of the HN-7506 design is not only a vastly improved monitoring and mixing perspective, but also diminished listening fatigue and long term ear damage. These headphones are also recommended for live music recording and mixing, for eventual broadcast or commercial CD distribution."

However, they're $285 which might make them too exspensive. But for what you want them for, I think you might have to pay that much or even more.

Brian Wells July 21st, 2005 11:44 AM

Have you seen ExtremeHeadphones.com?
With 29db attenuation for $139 they are a pretty reasonable bit of kit. . .

Jeremy Davidson July 21st, 2005 11:51 AM

I have the Sennheiser HD-280's (I don't remember if mine were labeled "Pro" or not, but the price is roughly what I remember paying), and they don't seem to isolate much better than the Sony MDR-7506's. Personally I like the 7506's slightly better as they are a little bit lighter and more comfortable. I can do a more thorough A/B comparison if that would help you out, but I think you'll find them very similar to what you already have.

I'm not familiar with any of the other ones you listed.

Dave Largent July 21st, 2005 01:54 PM

Yes, Jeremy, i would like to know it the 280s are
no more isolating than the 7506s.

Dave Largent July 23rd, 2005 07:38 AM


Originally Posted by Brian A. Wells
Have you seen ExtremeHeadphones.com?
With 29db attenuation for $139 they are a pretty reasonable bit of kit. . .

Those look interesting, with only a very low 32
ohms of impedance, so that just about anything you
plug them into would give plenty of volume.
Had some good reviews, too.

Dave Largent July 23rd, 2005 07:41 AM

But, Fred, do you think something like active
noise cancelling phones would really work with
a band, where the sound frequency is all over the spectrum?
I thought the actives are more for when it's just
one steady background sound you are trying to
isolate from.

Dave Largent July 23rd, 2005 07:44 AM

One thing I noticed about the HN-7506s is that they weigh about 5X what most headphones weigh.

Douglas Spotted Eagle July 23rd, 2005 07:47 AM


Originally Posted by Dave Largent
But, Fred, do you think something like active
noise cancelling phones would really work with
a band, where the sound frequency is all over the spectrum?
I thought the actives are more for when it's just
one steady background sound you are trying to
isolate from.

This would be correct, the sound would have a "pumping" or "breathing" attribute. I've never tried noise canceling in a live concert environment, but I have tried them working around monsterous waterfalls with a full complement of shifting frequencies. It was enough to drive you mad.

Dave Largent July 23rd, 2005 08:00 AM

I was able to take a quick listen in the studio
last night to the the 280 Pros and the 770Ms up
against the 7506s. This was mostly to get an
idea of how isolating they were, and the volume levels
they can be driven to with a camcorder (Sony PD).
I didn't bother auditioning the ATs because they really are not
advertised as being "isolating", that I saw.
Last week I shot around a live band with the
AT3032 using 20dB of attenuation. I used the
7506s and couldn't anything I was recording, even
with when I pushed the phones up against my ears.
The result was I ended up with some distortion in
parts. In hindsight I think I should have used 30dB
of attenuation.
Anyways, tonight I shoot around an 8- or 10-piece band,
that mostly does classic rock. I'll try out one of the
phones and see how it goes for prolonged comfort.
I would imagine it's one thing to put phones on for 5 minutes
in the studio and another to wear them for 2 hours straight.
I'll post a review of these phones soon.

Dave Largent August 1st, 2005 03:40 AM

Just wanted to get back with a few quick impressions.
I tried the 770s with the Sony PD and VX cams around a live band and found that the Sony cams couldn't drive them to a sufficient volume to overcome the volume of the
band so the 770s didn't really help me out. (I was located right in front of the stage.) I am now looking for a headphone amp to drive the 770Ms to a loulder level.
I was able to compare the three phones back at the studio
a bit more. The 280s give noticeably more isolation than
the 7506s. Senn claims the 280s give 32dB of attenuation,
and I've noticed in user comments that the "high attenuation" of these phones is often mentioned. In comparison, the 770Ms provide even more attenuation. Beyer claims
35dB attenuation. I will compare them like this.
When I put on the 7506s with traffic going by outside the studio, it was like putting on phones with not much attenuation of the ambient. With the 280s, it was like putting on phones that
attenuate a good amount of ambience. When I put on the
770s, it was like I walked into a another room -- a very quiet room. You could still hear the cars going by but it seemed the attenuation was at another level as compared to the
280s. (Hard to describe but it was vaguely disorienting when I put these phones on, that's why I say it was at a different level.) I would say the 280s seem to attenuate about 75% of what the 770Ms do. And the 7206s seem to attenuate about 33% of what the 280s do.
All three of these phones sound very different. I usually use the 7506s for dialog and I tried the Beyers out on this job
and they sounded so different that I thought at first there
might be a problem. Dialogue with the 7206s is right in your
face but with the Beyers it is much more subdued. The 7206s are just hyped so much for dialogue. I think the Beyers
are more neutral/flatter. When you're used to listening to
music with the 7206s you notice the flatness of the Beyers
as maybe being dark. Just for listening to music for enjoyment I'd stick with the 7206s. I really didn't care for the
sound of the 280s in comparison to the 7206s. The 280s had more life in them, more like the 7206s, as compared to the
very laid-back 770s, but there didn't seem to be as much
separation of the instruments nor as much spatial locationing
(stereo image) of the instruments as compared to the 7206s and 770s. Basically, it just sounded to me like the 7206s used higher-quality components in the headphone speakers.
I did read where someone with the 770s in their studio boasted that some people say they get the best results with
mixing with headphones using his 770s than the mixes they
get using any other headphones. For those times where you
have to use headphones to mix (maybe home studio late at night) this may be true seeing as they seem more flat. I've tried mixing with the 7506s and the
results were not good. I like the 7506s for detail work such as noise reduction. The 280s just didn't seem to offer the detail of the other two models.
As far as comfort, the 280s definately came out on the
bottom here. For me with a larger head, the seal around the ears didn't seem the best and I never could get them to feel
real comfortable around the ears. Also, there was always
pressure at the top from the band. A girl in the studio (with a small head) tried them on. Her comments were that the 280s are "tighter" than the 770s, and that the 770 went on easier and is more comfortable. For myself, one thing that
really stood out in this test is how comfortable the 770s were
right out of the box! By the way, they come with a really nice thick-foam padded case. The case is not small, but the
phones don't fold up like the 7206s do. I've read where people say the 770s are quite durable but that the 280s
can be fragile at the plastic swivel parts of the headband.
The 770 headband is all metal.
By the way, this is the new 770M model, which is listed on
the Beyer site as being for drummer and for front-of-house
sound engineers and it is listed as having much more
attenuation than their 770 Pro model.
The 7206s had the loudest volume, the 280s were in the
middle, and the 770s were lowest volume, but there wasn't
a lot of difference between them.
I really haven't spent much time with these phones yet but if anyone should have any questions about these three models of phones you are welcome to ask.
I'm no big audio expert or anything but these are just my impressions based upon using phones regularly in the
studio and in the field for video production.

Patrick King August 1st, 2005 05:07 AM


Very good information, but Chris is giving away periods and paragraphs here. Help us read you.

So the 7206 Sony headset seemed to be your favorite, correct?

Dave Largent August 1st, 2005 07:07 AM


Originally Posted by Patrick King
So the 7206 Sony headset seemed to be your favorite, correct?

Well, I didn't care for the way the Senn 280 sounded
or felt when I had it on -- and like I said, someone
with a small head tried it on and didn't care for it
either. Now, perhaps for the money it is an alright
value but I can't say because I've never tried any
other closed-back over-the-ear headphones other than
the 7206s, which are my usual phones.
I haven't spent much time with the Beyers to really say,
but I do need isolation phones for out in the field
and the 7206s do not cut it at all when working in
loud surroundings. One alternative to the Beyers is
the 7506HN phones but those things weigh 3 pounds
whereas the ones I've looked at here way about 1/2
pound. Three pounds is just too much for me and
no one else in the studio would wear them because
of the weight.
The ExtremeHeadphones (mentioned earlier) look
interesting. They claim 29dB of isolation, which is
less than what the 280s and the 770s claim so ...
Maybe once I work with the Beyers more I'll
have more to say about them. I did notice that they
seemed to have good spatial locationing of the
instruments, which is I think referred to as "sound

Jeremy Davidson August 1st, 2005 08:17 AM

I finally was able to try my own comparison of my Senn 280's and the Sony 7506's (the power was out over the weekend mentioned in my last post, so I had other things to take care of).

The Sennheisers did seem to isolate slightly better than the Sony's, but I'm attributing some of that to the fact that they seemed to press harder to my ears (stiffer headband I think). I did have some trouble with them when I first got them because they seemed uncomfortable after several minutes. I found that tilting the headband slightly farther forward than usual helped a lot, and now I just position them that way without thinking about it.

I also noticed that the Sony's seemed a little louder than the Sennheiser's. For the test I powered them off of a Soundcraft mixer, but when I use the Sennheiser's with my GL2 I do usually leave the output volume at max.

If isolation were not an issue I think I'd go for the 7506's, as they are still more comfortable. One of these days I may look into the in-ear monitors (as I'm also a musician), but I've got some other upgrades to make first.

'Hope this helps you out.

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