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Headphones for mixing and tracking?

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Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Freelance Subversive » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:40 pm

Hello,

Apologies for yet another headphone thread…

I'm returning to recording after a long hiatus; despite reading myriad SOS articles and forum posts on the matter, am terribly lost (bordering on inertia) as to which cans to purchase.

My only references are Beyer DT100 and Sennheiser HD5xx/6xxx, which were predominantly what the studios supplied. For tracking, I have been looking at Beyer DT770 250Ω or Audio Technica ATH M40/50x and for mixing DT990/880 250Ω, AKG K701/2 or K712. Auditioning in a shop is problematic as many nearby seem either to not stock, have a test pair or too pleased about opening a box.

The above is by no means a definitive short list — I have concerns re all, hence difficulty deciding — as such am very much receptive to any other suggestions. My maximum budget is around £200-250 for both.

I'll be recording and mixing various styles, from gentle acoustic guitar, solo strings or wind to fairly-heavy rock, so will perhaps require mixing cans to suit a reasonably broad appeal. Unless hugely successful, pro tem headphones will be driven solely by a Thunderbolt Clarett 4pre.

Thank you!
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:21 pm

There's a lot of great choices out there, it's true!

One thing to watch for is that you might struggle to get things loud enough with 250Ω phones driven from the audio interface on the Clarett.

I've tested quite a lot of headphones now, and although I have several other pairs, I find the ones I use most both for tracking and mixing are the Oppo PM-3s. They're comfortable, they have good isolation, they are collapsible and come with a good carry case, they go reasonably loud from low-power sources, and they sound really good. They are a touch bloated in the low mids but the Sonarworks software will sort that out for you. Having said that, I've heard that Oppo have now stopped making headphones, which is a shame if true!

I haven't used many of the Beyer phones. The A-T M40x are comfortable and decent workhorses for tracking; personally I don't think the M50x are significantly better. The Yamaha HPH-MT8s are a good alternative.

As to open-back phones, the AKG models have a family sound which isn't quite my cup of tea (I find them a bit recessed in the mid-range) but they are certainly excellent headphones and superb value for money at the moment. From a sound point of view I prefer the Shure SRH1840, but they are quite a bit more expensive, as are the A-T R70x. If you prefer a less hyped sound than you get from the AKGs then the Sennheiser HD650s are still well worth a go.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:55 pm

I have some DT770s for tracking and 990s for mixing and I'm pretty happy with them from a sound perspective and how durable they've been. The isolation from the 770s (for my shaped head) is very good and I can use them for hours. I also use the sonarworks correction software for mixing, but without that I do find the 990s a little tiring for longer mixing sessions.
I did wonder if I should have bought some AKGs instead of the 990s for mixing so that I wasn't basing all my judgement on the same family-style of sound, but a) the sonarworks stuff takes a lot of that out of the equation, and b) by the time I've listened to a mix in the car, via my phone, and via a grot-box, the difference between two decent quality sets of headphones is going to be small beer.
Given what current discounts seem to be available, if I was buying again now, I'd go for a set of Beyer 770s and a pair of AKG k702s.
And then start saving for the sonarworks software. I know I've mentioned it three times, but I don't work for them or have any affiliation with them, I just really like it! :)
YMMV.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:58 am

DT770s for tracking here and then HD650s for mixing (well checking mixes really).

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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Dan LB » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:13 pm

DT770s and DT880s here. Very happy with both over the last 10 - 12 years I’ve had them.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby AlasdairEaston » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:01 pm

For what it's worth, I got myself some AKG712 Pros recently and love them. For mixing, I've gone from resisting headphones to actually preferring them.

I find the sound detailed, revealing, and somehow kinda luxurious (after listening in my less-then-ideal room). They're comfortable too, so in all senses they're a treat to use.

I do have to turn my headphone output pretty high sometimes (75%-ish) on my interface though (Zoom UAC-8). They seem to take a lot of driving but it's never been a problem so far. I'd be more concerned about this if I was planning to use them as general headphones from, say, a phone output.

Cheers,
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:16 pm

Hi Freelance Subversive, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

Still using my AKG K712 Pro's and Sennheiser HD650's here, both of which I enjoy for different reasons (712's through Sonarworks for ultimate bass end, and 650's are already fairly flat tonally, and very detailed).

If you're interested in mixing through headphones, you may also find this feature I wrote for SOS January 2007 useful:

http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/ ... headphones


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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:12 pm

Most of the choices you and others mention are pretty good, in the sense that they can give you the information you need to make mixing decisions (bad phones don’t.. and for tracking, who cares, all you need is isolation). I’m also sure there’s plenty more.

Thing is, the trick with (good) headphones is that being used to them is way more important than how they sound. Get a pair, listen to well mixed music on them for a good amount of time, then make your mixes sound as good and you’ll be just fine.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Freelance Subversive » Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:56 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Hi Freelance Subversive, and welcome to the SOS Forums! 8-)

Thank you! — moreover, thank you all for your advice. Likewise, apologies for the delayed response. I managed to snaffle some new A-T ATH M50Xs for a few pennies more than M40s. I appreciate they may not perform significantly better, although under the circumstances, it made sense, so look forward to testing this evening.

Sam Inglis wrote:One thing to watch for is that you might struggle to get things loud enough with 250Ω phones driven from the audio interface on the Clarett.

Was that your experience when you reviewed the Clarett? Focusrite state all in the family "will be fine" with impedances of up to 600Ω (Here). Whether or not they mean they'll be of adequate volume, I'm not entirely sure.

As to open-back phones, the AKG models have a family sound which isn't quite my cup of tea (I find them a bit recessed in the mid-range) but they are certainly excellent headphones and superb value for money at the moment. From a sound point of view I prefer the Shure SRH1840, but they are quite a bit more expensive, as are the A-T R70x. If you prefer a less hyped sound than you get from the AKGs then the Sennheiser HD650s are still well worth a go.

Given my general acquaintance with the range and their reputation, HD650s were first choice until doing my accounts made it clear they are too expensive. I am looking for something analytical, but not too clinical, with clarity and a flat frequency response. I realise that is perhaps both impracticable and unrealistic on the budget I have.

For those who use or have auditioned AKG K702s and 712s, is there an appreciable enough difference in performance to warrant the cost? Seeing as minor cosmetic flaws don't bother me, I'm considering B-Stock/Refurbished.

Martin Walker wrote:If you're interested in mixing through headphones, you may also find this feature I wrote for SOS January 2007 useful:

http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/ ... headphones


Martin

Funnily enough, I found that edition last week, lurking in a box being unpacked.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:10 pm

Freelance Subversive wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:One thing to watch for is that you might struggle to get things loud enough with 250Ω phones driven from the audio interface on the Clarett.

Was that your experience when you reviewed the Clarett? Focusrite state all in the family "will be fine" with impedances of up to 600Ω (Here). Whether or not they mean they'll be of adequate volume, I'm not entirely sure.
I have a couple of pairs of Beyerdynamic 250Ω cans that work just fine from an old Scarlett 8i6. I think the only time I've had it past 12 o'clock is when I was recording some loud electric guitar in a small room. Most of the time it's about 9 o'clock for listening to commercial stuff and between 10 and 11 for mixing and recording, occasionally up to 12 if I'm listening intently to a single channel.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Humble Bee » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:55 pm

I have the AKG K-702 and didn't think the K-712 warranted the price Difference at the time.
Put money towards the Sonarworks app and give the headphones time to burn in on the average profile for a couple of hundred hours just to make sure they are stable before sending them to Sonrworks for a custom profile.
I am very happy to mix on my K-702 now in tandem with my single Avantone Mixcube.
So whatever headphones you get don't cheap out on the sonarworks app.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:40 pm

Humble Bee wrote:I have the AKG K-702 and didn't think the K-712 warranted the price Difference at the time.

Very good point - I bought the K712 Pro's because of their 'legendary bass extension', which I I certainly experience and is mighty useful for the music I create, but on a budget I'm sure the K702 have a largely similar family sound and Freelance Subversive wouldn't be disappointed (especially with Sonarworks in tandem)


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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:37 pm

Freelance Subversive wrote:Was that your experience when you reviewed the Clarett? Focusrite state all in the family "will be fine" with impedances of up to 600Ω

I think all my phones are low-impedance models so I haven't tested this for myself -- you may well be fine, but it is true in general that high-impedance phones tend to be quieter given the same source signal. Bear in mind that if you use the Sonarworks application it introduces quite a significant level drop.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Humble Bee » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:32 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
Humble Bee wrote:I have the AKG K-702 and didn't think the K-712 warranted the price Difference at the time.

Very good point - I bought the K712 Pro's because of their 'legendary bass extension', which I I certainly experience and is mighty useful for the music I create, but on a budget I'm sure the K702 have a largely similar family sound and Freelance Subversive wouldn't be disappointed (especially with Sonarworks in tandem)


Martin

I think it was the ´legendary bass extension ' that made me go for the K702 anyways. I'm always weary when it comes to the low end. Anyone who uses sonarworks will hear very little difference between the two anyway I think and SW makes them a bit crisper and present in the midrange. I must say that I am totally happy now when it comes to openback headphones. But I think there are a lot of good headphones in the €100-300 range that would be perfectly good when used with Sonarworks. It's just a matter of taste.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Humble Bee » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:51 pm

Headphones for tracking should be of the closed back type of course. Especially vocals. And if you want a closeback pair of headphones for mixing it will probably be a bit more expensive. I track with a Shure srh 440 and they are good for that. Have been looking around for a closedback pair for mixing recently but have only really liked the new K872 but at more than €1000 it is way over my budget at the moment... so I stay with what I have even if it means to have two pairs of headphones and that any in-depth mixing requires a pretty silent environment.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby dickiefunk » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:54 am

I have the Beyer DT770 250 for tracking and Beyer DT880 Pro's for mixing. I've tried the AKG K702, Audio Technica ATH M50x, Shure SRH840 and Sennheiser HD380's.
The Beyer's were my favourite of the bunch with the Shure SRH840 being my second favourite.
I am using these with a DAC's Headlite II headphone amplifier and ToneBoosters Morphit headphone correction software. This combination is working out well.

I'm now quite tempted to try the Beyer DT1990 based on my experience with the DT770 and DT880 as these are regarded to be a noticeable improvement.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:48 am

You should check out these for tracking: https://www.extremeheadphones.com/produ ... /ex25-plus

We use them for drums, but I think having high isolation is really useful for tracking anything. Helps the performer's timing and you get less headphone bleed.

I have the audio-technica headphones for mixing and I remember comparing a bunch and deciding I liked them the best. I still like them which tells me that they don't have any of their own sound that colors the music. I usually get tired of listening to things that imprint their own signature on the sound.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Freelance Subversive » Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:24 pm

Than you all once again, you have been very generous with your patience. Apologies for not getting back sooner…life, wife, work etc.

blinddrew wrote:I have a couple of pairs of Beyerdynamic 250Ω cans that work just fine from an old Scarlett 8i6. I think the only time I've had it past 12 o'clock is when I was recording some loud electric guitar in a small room. Most of the time it's about 9 o'clock for listening to commercial stuff and between 10 and 11 for mixing and recording, occasionally up to 12 if I'm listening intently to a single channel.
Sam Inglis wrote:I think all my phones are low-impedance models so I haven't tested this for myself -- you may well be fine, but it is true in general that high-impedance phones tend to be quieter given the same source signal. Bear in mind that if you use the Sonarworks application it introduces quite a significant level drop.

Thanks Drew — illuminating! Allowing for some variation between hardware, with the low-impedance 'phones to hand, I don't get levels anything like those you describe, unless I assign the monitor control in 'Focusrite Control' to 'all' outputs and its main faders at 0dB. Assigning monitor control to '1 & 2' (primary monitor outputs) does not affect headphones, at which point output is weak at best; usable levels don't appear until the 'phones pot is around the 1-3 o'clock position. With the former 'all' output monitoring settings, the headphones begin distorting at 2-3 o'clock.

Sam, of course I would expect lower levels with high-impedance sets, I'm just not sure if they're acceptable with the low-impedance set I do have. Yes, I've discovered Sonarworks attenuates quite aggressively. That said, the system app has done wonders for casual listening.

I did a quick and nasty comparison using my Macbook Pro, my wife's laptop and her smartphone as controls against the Clarett. All three of the former were able to drive relatively cleanly, the M50Xs (Imp. 38Ω; Sens. 98dB) and my wife's office headphones — Sony MDR 10RC (40Ω; 100dB), I believe — to exceptionally uncomfortable levels. My last hearing test was normal. I don't know if it's a routing problem, the headphone outputs of my Clarett are underperforming or I am dense/expect too much; either way it probably warrants further investigation.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:38 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:[Bear in mind that if you use the Sonarworks application it introduces quite a significant level drop.
Weird, I don't find this. In fact for me it boosts the overall output level.
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Re: Headphones for mixing and tracking?

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:35 am

blinddrew wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:[Bear in mind that if you use the Sonarworks application it introduces quite a significant level drop.
Weird, I don't find this. In fact for me it boosts the overall output level.

I suspect it's all about making sure that any EQ boosts created by Sonarworks' profile don't result in clipping at the output.

For instance, if Sonarworks includes a 6dB peak in its chosen headphone profile, you'll probably have to reduce its output level fader by 6dB to avoid clipping if your audio files peak at near 0dBFS. This I believe is the level drop that Sam's referring to.

However, if your audio files are at more modest levels, you may find you can leave the Sonarworks output level fader set to 0dB, in which case the same 6dB profile peak would make it sound louder ;)


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