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  • Headphone considerations.

    While realizing the drawbacks associated with recording and mixing with headphones, my living situation makes them a necessity.

    I am currently using Sennheiser HD280 Pros, which have served well for many years, and will continue to see use for open mic tracking purposes since they are closed-back.

    The ol' 280's are wearing thin and are beginning to show a little age when listened to with scrutiny, as in mixing. Most recommendations for mixing headphones are open-backed.

    After much research and budget consideration, the selection has narrowed down to 4 types:

    Sennheiser HD650
    Sennheiser HD600
    AKG K701
    AKG K702


    also considered were Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro and 880 Pro.

    As with many things audio related, these are similar enough to have a wide range of opinions as to which are best. A lot of my research as to people's experiences with these are 100's of pages of nastiness (Gearsluts does have a mostly informative thread that is several thousand replies long over almost 6 years), but figured to ask here as most AO members are rational and give informed opinions. Any of these would probably serve well, but was hoping for some feedback on some or all of them.


    Does anyone have experience with any of these models?
    Last edited by aoVI; 03-16-2015, 11:11 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by aoVI View Post


    Does anyone have experience with any of these models?
    AKG702s - love them. Very clear - good spatialisation and comfortable.

    I used to have Sennheiser HD??? can't remember. They were uncomfortable after about 30mins of use and too bass heavy. If anything the AKGs are slightly bass light - but very well defined about 100hz.
    Makrotulpa - SKON - Blog - Soundcloud

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    • #3
      I have HD 280 Pros but found them uncomfortable after a while. If you don't then have a look at the Audio Technica ATH-M50X. They get good write ups but I tried them and found them uncomfortable too lol Generally use my Sennheiser HD598s and love them. Very comfortable for me and great sound.
      https://soundcloud.com/maximum-movement-theatre
      https://maximummovementtheatre.bandcamp.com/

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      • #4
        how do you test headphones? do you have reference-tracks?
        ahornberg.bandcamp.com
        soundcloud.com/ahornberg

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        • #5
          Thank you all for taking the time to share your insights and experiences, and I encourage anyone else to add to this discussion with experiences of any of these or other cans they have used with good result.



          Originally posted by Makrotulpa View Post

          AKG702s - love them. Very clear - good spatialisation and comfortable.

          I used to have Sennheiser HD??? can't remember. They were uncomfortable after about 30mins of use and too bass heavy. If anything the AKGs are slightly bass light - but very well defined about 100hz.

          Originally posted by MaximumMovementTheatre View Post
          I have HD 280 Pros but found them uncomfortable after a while. ...


          I don't find the HD280 terribly uncomfortable, but I have had occasions where the edge of my ear ached after a few hours use. New pads would probably fix most of that. Price to performance, it is hard to beat with them, and I have certainly gotten more than my money's worth. I have bought 4 pair over the years (2 still here, 1 broke after 8-9 years of travelling about, and one my son has used for almost 10 years, only replacing the the pads--~$25 for a set). I can find them right now for ~$75. The bass-heaviness isn't bad for watching a movie or tracking (pretty decent isolation too), but yeah, mixing isn't their strong point--or with most closed back, from what I have read and experienced.

          One of my main motivations for the new set is getting a pair that will help develop and improve my mixing skills while being mostly unable to mix using monitors. The 702's are going to be my choice. Next up is an amp to properly drive them.



          Originally posted by MaximumMovementTheatre View Post
          .... If you don't then have a look at the Audio Technica ATH-M50X. They get good write ups but I tried them and found them uncomfortable too lol Generally use my Sennheiser HD598s and love them. Very comfortable for me and great sound.
          I heard really good things about both those models. The ATH series seems to be used by people quite a bit, but being closed back, were outside the parameters. I did look a while at the HD598. I hate to admit it but I let the look affect my decision to explore the 600 and 650 models, since all 3 were comparable quality. My work area is so black...I often ask myself "How much more black could it be?" The answer is none. None more black.




          Originally posted by Ahornberg View Post
          how do you test headphones? do you have reference-tracks?
          I do not necessarily test. Not scientific, but living in a rural area--8 miles (~12km) to the nearest gas station, 30 (~50km) or more to any store that might even carry typical consumer grade headphones, I have had to develop a good sense of weighing online reviews and going with my gut. The largest city near me is Mobile, AL - more than an hour away. Yesterday I spent many hours researching--perhaps I should have taken the drive...lol.

          It's an educated guess mostly, and i imagine for most people, that's all that is really going on anyhow. Being able to check them out side-by-side would be a great help, but in my case it's not an option without some serious travel.

          On a side note, whenever me or my friends installed new stereo equipment, one of our favorite reference tracks was Thomas Dolby's Dissidents. Great stereo effects, both tight and loose bass sounds. The CD mix was a little disappointing however.




          The 702's have it. I had more or less decided upon them last night, but just wanted to ask around in a community I knew fairly well, who give straight and intelligent answers without the drama. I was not disappointed. Now off to research an inexpensive headphone amp.

          Thanks for helping me with this decision and again, despite the choice being made, I encourage the discussion to continue to possibly help others with such considerations.
          Last edited by aoVI; 03-17-2015, 02:13 PM.

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          • #6
            I am forced to mix using headphones as well. I have been using Sennheiser HD380 Pro model. I bought them without any research, except that I had good experience with other Sennheiser products in the past-but not for mixing, just for general listening. I have found the HD380's to be comfortable and they seem to work OK for me. However, I am relatively new to mixing anyway.
            So here is my question what is the benefit of open back models in mixing?

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            • #7
              Disclaimer: the information is based on research, and not actual experience with open-backed headphones...sources were countless forum discussions and several online articles...in other words, hearsay!

              In a nutshell, open back tend to allow a better approximation of a natural listening environment, ie. loudspeakers. While more quiet than loudspeakers, some sound does travel.

              It also seems to me that the general consensus seems to be opens tend to have a more flat response as well. I may be wrong in that regard.
              Last edited by aoVI; 03-17-2015, 02:43 PM.

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              • #8
                Sennheiser HD650 - this. I've tried a lot and it's best for playing/mixing/listening if you can't hear sounds via monitors.
                Bayers, ATH (especiallty M50 - I have it too) are not even close.
                http://ovodmusic.com II https://www.facebook.com/ovodmusic

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                • #9
                  My vast experience of about 18 months has only highlighted what I don't know - and that list of don't knows grows daily. Anyway, I am another one who has to use headphones and although my AKGs' have had a bit of a bashing in that short time I must admit that I love them dearly. I need to get a new pair as my current set has an explosion of the pad on the right side. I am a little reluctant to attempt a home repair, and reluctant to go without to have them go into a head phone hospice. Which means I need a new set really soon. Because I love my AKGs' I was thinking of the 702s'. Seems like good value for money until I can afford a higher up the ladder model.
                  I have tried other brands in different shops, but I keep coming back the the AKGs'
                  I know nothing about mixing either, but the science of mixing is on top of my 'must study' list. This ambient stuff is full of challenges.
                  | Bandcamp | Hearthis | website |


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                  • #10
                    If you have previously mixed extensively using a "favourite" or "only" set of 'phones, be prepared for a (possibly long) period of adjustment/acclimatisation. Even after demoing them in a store and deciding that you are happy with the overall sound, 'phones may only begin to reveal specific sonic characteristics after many hours of use. As long as you buy a decent pair, this "problem" should eventually resolve itself, as you get used to them. This holds true for monitors, loudspeakers, amplifiers, CD players, any audio kit really.

                    I found my Sennheiser phones very uncomfortable/tight when new and had to progressively stretch the headband to relieve some of the tension. This would probably have sorted itself out with regular use, but I do most of my mixing with monitors/speakers and rarely use the 'phones.
                    Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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                    • #11
                      I've been using AKG headphones for about a decade now. Used to have K601s and bought the Q701s about 2 years ago. Q701s are essentially the same as K701s. Very comfortable and cushy with large ear pads. Very durable. Not fatiguing to wear for long sessions. The sound is neutral as proper references cans should be. Bass is not as powerful as the "fashion cans" but again, we're talking reference quality. Very good value for money as well. I know some users were concerned about AKG recently moving their production to China instead of Austria but nowadays I just don't think the country of origin has much affect in this price range. I've also owned Sennheiser cans, which were also nice - I just prefer the neutrality, comfort and build of the AKGs.
                      Massergy - Spotted Peccary Music

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by aoVI View Post
                        Yesterday I spent many hours researching--perhaps I should have taken the drive...lol.

                        It's an educated guess mostly, and i imagine for most people, that's all that is really going on anyhow. Being able to check them out side-by-side would be a great help, but in my case it's not an option without some serious travel.
                        Same here regarding the travel, even then I've noticed people on forums moaning of the lack of decent stores even in London...

                        I've spent way too long on forums etc researching headphones (don't go near head-fi.org if you value your freetime... ;)) then ultimately just bought blind (usually due to finding a good price on a pair on my list ) You adjust and I've never been unhappy with a pair (except one pair of AKGs I had to return because they were so uncomfortable.. 141s?)

                        Originally posted by Windspace View Post
                        I am forced to mix using headphones as well. I have been using Sennheiser HD380 Pro model. I bought them without any research, except that I had good experience with other Sennheiser products in the past-but not for mixing, just for general listening. I have found the HD380's to be comfortable and they seem to work OK for me. However, I am relatively new to mixing anyway.
                        So here is my question what is the benefit of open back models in mixing?
                        I think the general idea is that closed back phones can sound boomy as the lower frequencies can be bounced back to your ear from the back of the shell whereas open ones obviously just let them through. Not an issue if you're tracking or drumming and you're more interested in the performance. Though a bit of a generalization, some claim certain closed back models have this problem sorted. I have an old pair of audio technica mth40somethings (closed) and they certainly sound more 'boxy', almost claustrophobic compared to my open ones (a budget pair of superlux hb668B which I bought on a whim and absolutely love).
                        Latest release: never to be repeated

                        Hearthis | Soundcloud

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                        • #13
                          I've been very happy with my beyer DT250 (80 ohm). At times I have used them to do complete mixes - I don't think you really can mix on headphones without having some other sort of reference monitors until you get used to them though. But the 250's are really good and very comfortable for me. I mainly use my monitors now though (Adam A7s which I definitely recommend) and just use the headphones when I have to - normally when I really want to isolate something like a reverb tail or a mega detailed section.

                          Here are some fanatics extolling their virtues http://www.head-fi.org/t/598201/the-...ciation-thread
                          Last edited by GregH; 03-18-2015, 06:07 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I use the DT880 Pro (250 ohm) and think they are great. Very comfortable and semi-open.

                            http://www.head-fi.org/products/beye...dphone/reviews
                            Last edited by Codehead; 03-18-2015, 08:58 AM.

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                            • #15
                              I have used Beyerdynamic 880 Pro for about a year and I'm extremely happy with them. Very balanced and open sound due to their semi-open construction. Very comfortable too. But it wasn't until a couple of months ago, when I got a pair of Tannoy Reveal 802, that I really started to appreciate them: Mixes translate almost perfectly from monitors to headphones and back to the monitors again. Makes mixing and mastering so much faster and takes out a lot of the guesswork.
                              www.soundcloud.com/imifal | www.imifal.blogspot.se | www.imifal.bandcamp.com

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