Studio Headphones for mixing

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Marshall, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Marshall

    Marshall New Member

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    Hi

    I have a small studio at home. I am seeking a pair of headphones for mixing on late at night when I can't use my Alesis monitors. Looking at Sound on Sound, the studio headphones they recommend for mixing are all way more than I want to spend. I have a pair of Beyerdynamic DT231s which must be 15 years old at least, can't have cost more than £40 new, and have served me well, but have finally broken.

    I think I want an open back design because I simply don't like the outside world being completely blotted out. I don't want anything that squashes hard against the head. I need something light that I can wear comfortably for extended periods, and I would like a decent bass response, as well as accurate mids and highs. I think lack of bass could be a problem with open back phones, but correct me if I'm wrong.

    Ideally don't want to spend any more than £80.

    What can you recommend?

    Thanks. Bill
     
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Hi Bill

    This might not be what you want to hear but this is my advice. Buy some proper studio headphones, anything else is false economy and will lead to inferior mixes from 'phones that will not last and cannot be repaired.

    You need to pick something that is flat, honest and accurate so your mixes are the best they can be. Trying to respect your budget and desire to get open back headphones the best suggestion I can make is -

    Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO Open Headphones 250Ω (DT 990)
    £129.95

    Hand made in Germany, these spec wise should really be twice the price. Hand wound voice coils and every part is replaceable, the DT range are used in most professional studios - music, film, TV and radio - the world over.

    To get monitors this accurate you will have to spend more than £1000 per channel and then you still will not be able to use them at night.

    The very least you should spend would be for these -


    Sennheiser HD25-SP II Monitor DJ Headphones (HD 25-SP II DJ)
    £98.95

    Same kind of deal as the Beyers but not as accurate and closed back and on ear but they are good studio 'phones and every part is replaceable.

    These kind of headphones will last 10 - 20 years if looked after and just that makes them better value. The real point is that mixing on headphones which are not accurate is like playing a guitar that cannot be tuned - the results will never match your expectation. Why spend hours on a mix which when you go down to CD sounds totally different and not at all what you were aiming for.

    Hope that helps:)
     
  3. Marshall

    Marshall New Member

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    Robin

    Thank you for your reply. About five years ago, I made the mistake of buying some DT100s, believing that they would be good for studio use and having been assured that they were the ultimate studio "standard". They may be good for tracking, because they leak no sound, but they are completely unusable for mixing - the response is way too flat. In fact I would say the sound is almost tinny. I did try quite had to mix on them but the results were dreadful. Far better results were obtained from going back to my old cheap h-fi DT231s. I fully appreciate the need for an even response, and I get this through the Alesis monitors.

    I guess what I want to know is whether the DT990s are in any way similar? The other things I loathe about my DT100s is the weight, the pressure on the head, I can't wear them for more than 5 minutes comfortably, and er, everything else really!! They are extremely well constructed to be fair.

    Can you assure me that the 990s are completely different?

    Cheers,

    Bill
     
  4. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    DT100's are intended for performance (tracking) designed for isolation - they are as you suspected totally different than DT880/DT990. They are an old design which would never be repeated now - I think that they have survived through being so sturdy that they stand years of abuse and therefore are economical for a commercial studio.

    If you take a driver intended for closed back headphones and put it in a open mount you will notice a drop in bass response. Open back headphones are however designed this way and therefore the bottom end will be as it should. The extended bass response of a lot of closed back headphones is inaccurate and the result of ineffective or inadequate dampening. If the bass response is due to the closed housing this inaccuracy will also have the effect of masking detail as what you are hearing is a slightly delayed reflection from the back of the cup and this causes a phase inversion destroying part of the original signal, this is why you don't mic both sides of a snare drum (or if you do you need to reverse the poles of one mic) and also the principle noise cancelling headphones use.

    Basically if you are only using the headphones for mixing go for some open backs and DT100's (not a flat response, DT100 have a massive midrange hump) are not a mix tool but DT880 and DT990 work very well for this task. Also it really is accurate bass response you are looking for - any deviation from a flat EQ will lead to the opposite deficiency in your mix.

    I'm boring myself now!:D

    All I'm saying is get the best thing for the job - the best compromise between comfort and accuracy - and you will benefit in the long run.
     
  5. patwoltenholme

    patwoltenholme New Member

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    los angeles
    I'm currently in the exact same position as you and I've done an ass-load of research on this. The best bet for accurate sound, open back and comfortable to wear for hours if need be are the Sennheiser HD595's. They are PERFECT. I'm currently using Sony MDRv700dj headphones and they hurt my ears after 20 minutes so it's really frustrating. I'm getting the HD595's myself.

    Hope it helps.
     
  6. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Hi patwoltenholme

    595's are not bad headphones at all, they are not as detailed or as flat on the EQ as a lot of similar spec studio headphones but the big problem is that they are now discontinued.

    DT880 over 595 (or even its replacement the excellent HD598) every time for mixing, I have some dealing with the Dolby live mix team and I will leave it up to you to guess how I know they use DT880 250ohm variant for live mix when they cannot build a stereo or 5.1 studio on site:)
     
  7. husssaid

    husssaid New Member

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    Location:
    Cairo, Egypt
    For Sound details i use DT990s

    I'm not an audiophile, but a quality seeker, build and sound , i recently bought the Beyerdynamic DT 990 pro headphones and i'm confirming that i never really listened to music before, for their details and response, their exceptional sound quality, i never heard any headphone before reproducing sound with this fidelity, The response can be seen on the graph on headphone.com site, and for a full review you can check

    http://best-amazon-headphone-reviews.com/beyerdynamic-dt-990-pro/
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  8. Shaun-HiFi

    Shaun-HiFi Administrator Staff Member

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    Studio mixing headphones

    I agree with Robin that the HD595 (or HD598) wouldn't be ideal for mixing. They are designed for relaxed listening at home and just don't have the clarity you would expect from a headphone designed for studio mixing.

    Another headphone to consider for studio mixing is the German Maestro GMP 400.

    Like the Beyers the German Maestro range is hand built in Germany and has a serious studio pedigree. Their sound signature is precise and accurate, but has a warmer response than the DT880. Definitely up to the job of mixing.

    As with all headphones it's a matter of taste, but in my opinion the German Meastro GMP 400 should be seriously considered. We have a big range of studio headphones, so feel free ask for comparisons (we've listened to most of them!).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2011
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