Headphones & amp for mixing

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Enthusiasts, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Enthusiasts

    Enthusiasts Casual Listener

    Nov 28, 2011

    I'm looking to upgrade my home studio and would like to get suggestions about a headphone + amp combo. They would be used mainly for mixing, so I would need a fairly natural sound and good definition to hear all unwanted noises. I like to mix with headphones, but I also have a good quality near field monitoring system for the final check and tweaks. I need only one headphone input and no need to carry headphone amps around. My budget is about £600.

    The music I mix is mostly heavier rock somewhere in the neighborhood of Rammstein and KoRn to give a few well known examples. I currently have Sennheiser HD555 connected basically directly to my sound card with no amps in between. I'm looking to update my sound card as well to Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, which has some kind of a headphone amp. Here are the specs of the headphone output:

    Cross Talk: -87 dBu
    Impedance: 8... 600 Ohms (Load)
    Maximum Output Level: 9.3 dBu 4.26 V rms, 100 mW @ 100 Ohms
    THD + N: 0.012 %
    SNR: 95 dB (A-weighted)
    Frequency Response 10 - 40 kHz±0.5 dB

    I'm doubt that it would drive 600 ohm phones well.

    I went to my friend to test his Beyer DT880 and compared them to my HD555 and instantly heard the big roll off of high frequencies on my phones. I heard everything a lot more clearly with his phones. I've come to the understanding that pretty much every Sennheisers have cut off highs and that's not what I'm looking for since definition is so important when mixing. But maybe DT880's are boosting them, don't know. So I liked his Beyers a lot more than my Sennheisers, but that's pretty much all I know.

    Any recommendations? Thanks! :)
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

    Apr 28, 2010
    Hi Enthusiasts,

    I think your mate has made a great choice - The DT880 are one of my favourite headphones and are very commonly used to mix for Film, TV and Music productions. This is because they are accurate (your first assumption is correct - Sennheisers are not designed for this purpose and even the HD650 and 600 should not be used for mix. My background is in Studio Recording and I would be very happy to use the DT880 for mix, they give a really convincing stereo image which is flatter and wider than a lot of similar headphones, more convincingly like nearfield monitors. There would be nothing wrong with going for the 250ohm version as this is the one that is usually used in Studio or OB applications. Your soundcard (and any decent soundcard) should do a good job with these but a quite linear sounding amp may help if you suspected they were sounding a little underwhelming (lack of power normally manifests itself in a quite wishy washy image - a lack of solidity).

    Have a look at these -

    Beyerdynamic DT880 PRO Semi-Open Headphones 250Ω (DT 880)

    Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium Semi-Open Headphones 600Ω

    GermanMAESTRO GMP 400 Open Back Headphones (GMP400)
    £179.99 - Very similar to the Beyers - Very solid image, quite authoritative. Balanced like the Beyers but a bit more power from the bottom end - Just as detailed.

    Graham Slee Solo Intro Headphone Amplifier
    £369.24 - These are really nice amps - As with all gear that doesn't cost the earth it is not completely balanced but has a subtle EQ which feels natural and certainly would not get in the way of production. Will do a really good job of driving any of the above - use the best possible connections from the soundcard.

    Hope that helps:)

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