Do you own good headphones? Are you thinking about getting some but you’re not sure which ones you need? What about closed vs. semi-open vs. open?

There’s a lot to consider. Headphones are a crucial part of any home studio. You’ll be spending a LOT of hours wearing them, so you want to make the right choice.

This video should help. Enjoy! (Also, leave a comment below and tell us what headphones YOU use.)

  • Harvey

    Thanks Joe, now I have a little better understanding of
    studio headphones, but I was wondering
    what your thoughts on the in ear monitors like the Shure E2? I assume they are
    closed phones, so might they be a little less bass and high response, like the closed
    headphones? I plan on using them in a “live” recording venue, like at
    church or concerts were I don’t have access to a recording booth. I also plan
    on using a pair of hearing protection type headphones (31dbs cut) on top of
    these E2 to help cut out the live sound to help hear only the recording sound.
    I found someone who is selling theirs (he paid about $299.00 for them, but
    selling then at a price I can’t pass up. What would your opinion be for this
    us, also your opinion on using them in the studio for just mixing? Thanks

    • You can probably get used to anything and use them well. The Shure buds are great. Probably not super accurate, especially in the bass, but they’re certainly not bad.

  • Doh, I should have seen this video before I bought Shure SRH440 headphones. These are closed headphones, but the quality is great. I’m intending to use them both for recording and for mixing. I’m not going to mix a complete song, only the drums.

  • thanx for this video, it was very helpful!

  • I’ve been using the Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones for a few years now. In general I like them, but the bass response is a bit lacking. However, I didn’t know it was because they are closed, as you said – I thought is was a defect of some sort. At any rate, I actually find the low bass response helpful because since I also use the HD280 for mixing, I tend to be very conscious of the bass in making EQ adjustments; I know if I hear too much, it will probably be overpowering in the mix.

  • Hey Joe, we did a shoot out with the following:
    Sony 7509 HD
    Beyerdynamic DT100
    Audio Technica ATH-M50
    AKG K271 MKII
    SHURE SRH840

    Long story short I was really suprised that the Shures came out on top. I did a video on it here http://thedspproject.com/the-great-2010-studio-headphone-shoot-out but I have to apologize in advanced the audio is crappy in this episode.

  • Marc Lapointe

    I use the HD280 for mixing; just got them and are perfect for my needs (hobbyist). Also use a Sony Cheapo pair for the Artist’s use when recording vocals, instruments, etc. I would love to have the HD650’s but not in the foreseable budget!

  • Edu

    I am using audio Technica’s ATH-M50 for tracking, editing and mixing. They are comfortable and have a nice, detailed sound.

  • Freek

    Hello joe,
    Great video, very usefull.
    I have a question; I own a focusrite saffire pro 24 dsp and this audio interface features VRM, of virtual reality monitoring. It should make the sound that comes out of your headphones sound like it comes out of your studio monitors. I haven’t used it yet, but i hear very nice stories about it. would you recommend open or closed headphones while using this feature?

    thanks,
    Freek

    • The two really aren’t related. What headphones you use doesn’t really matter in regard to the virtual reality monitoring. But, like I said in the video, open headphones are generally more accurate and better for mixing.

  • Julian West

    I have the HD280 headphones for tracking & Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro for detailed listening/mixing. I really wanted the HD650s but had a discount on the DT-880s and they sound VERY similar, in sound, to my ears. They are semi-open and get the job one. I’ve been using Canz3D for basic cross feed/separation if extended listening, though what I have read about that Headroom amp w/ crossfeed is interesting. I use Klipsch S4 earbuds @ work and would love to have one of those for cross feed during those long-listening code-crunching spells.

  • Rich

    I use the Sennheiser HD280 Pro as well. I also have a few “lessor” headphones around here that I will let people use for tracking or to give me fresh ears on a mix if I need it. I think they are comfortable headphones, and I love how they block out the sound. I have used them to mix on, but for me, the mixes always come out with high frequencies piercing. I am planning to demo the open headphones you mentioned.

  • Bernard

    I use multiple pairs which all have their own sound. AKG701 with balanced Cardas cable, Sennheiser Hd600 with equinox cable, HD590 with equinox cable and HD424 with the cable from the HD600s. I use a Headroom balanced headphone amp which can run either the AKGs or two normal headphones. This amp has a cross feed circuit which helps avoid that heavy separation you get with headphones. I am in the market for some closed headphones soon, as using open headphones in recording scenarios is difficult.

  • Al

    I have AKG K-240-Studio for 4 years now, and I’m very happy with it.
    I usually use it for detailed mixing.
    But yeah, I will need a completely closed one for recording the vocals.
    Thanks Joe.

  • I use the Beyer Dynamic DT-770 Pro. A lovely pair of headphones, very comfortable, very detailed, although maybe a little heavy in the bass. They are completely enclosed.