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Headphones for Recording

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Headphones for Recording

Postby anna-marie music » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:06 pm

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum :) I've just recently started recording my own music, and am in need of some really good, studio-quality headphones for recording.

I recently got a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and tried plugging them into my Focusrite interface (using with Ableton) to monitor... but the sound quality just isn't great. (Not to mention, I just found out yesterday that Bose headphones aren't recommended for recording in the first place :( )

What would you all recommend for studio-quality headphones? And is there anything specific I should be looking for?

Thanks so much!
Anna-Marie
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby nickle15 » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:52 pm

anna-marie music wrote:Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum :) I've just recently started recording my own music, and am in need of some really good, studio-quality headphones for recording.

I recently got a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and tried plugging them into my Focusrite interface (using with Ableton) to monitor... but the sound quality just isn't great. (Not to mention, I just found out yesterday that Bose headphones aren't recommended for recording in the first place :( )

What would you all recommend for studio-quality headphones? And is there anything specific I should be looking for?

Thanks so much!
Anna-Marie

I'm not a headphones expert but I do own a Focusrite interface. I would just mention that if you haven't already done it, it's worth going into the Focusrite software to check your headphones mix. I was having some really disappointing results from my headphones until I went in and made some adjustments in the software. You may be happy with those results.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby anna-marie music » Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:59 pm

nickle15 wrote:
anna-marie music wrote:Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum :) I've just recently started recording my own music, and am in need of some really good, studio-quality headphones for recording.

I recently got a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and tried plugging them into my Focusrite interface (using with Ableton) to monitor... but the sound quality just isn't great. (Not to mention, I just found out yesterday that Bose headphones aren't recommended for recording in the first place :( )

What would you all recommend for studio-quality headphones? And is there anything specific I should be looking for?

Thanks so much!
Anna-Marie

I'm not a headphones expert but I do own a Focusrite interface. I would just mention that if you haven't already done it, it's worth going into the Focusrite software to check your headphones mix. I was having some really disappointing results from my headphones until I went in and made some adjustments in the software. You may be happy with those results.

Thank you!!! I own the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which has very limited software settings. So where would I find the headphone mix option?
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby MOF » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:00 pm

Hi Anna-Marie, you need closed back headphones to prevent the backing track from spilling onto the microphone.
What is your budget and what don’t you like about the Bose headphones? The fact that they’re noise cancelling might be causing issues since there shouldn’t be any noise in your studio, is there a way of disabling that feature to potentially give a more natural frequency response?
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:10 pm

It's normal to use closed-back headphones when recording, as they keep the monitored sound in, rather than letting it leak to the microphones.

There are plenty of models to choose from, depending on your budget, but I'd suggest looking at models from AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Shure, Sony etc...

As for the software thing, most interfaces allow you to audition the microphone signals directly, within the interface itself, along with the replay of backing and previous tracks from the computer.

What you need to avoid, either in the interface software or, more likely, n the computer DAW settings, is having the live microphone signal(s) sent back from the computer as well, along with the backing tracks. This is because there's a short delay in the round trip and that will make the sound very coloured and confusing in the headphone mix.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby anna-marie music » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:29 pm

MOF wrote:Hi Anna-Marie, you need closed back headphones to prevent the backing track from spilling onto the microphone.
What is your budget and what don’t you like about the Bose headphones? The fact that they’re noise cancelling might be causing issues since there shouldn’t be any noise in your studio, is there a way of disabling that feature to potentially give a more natural frequency response?

Thank you! I have been doing some research, and found that the closed-back headphones are best for recording (for the reasons you mentioned) :)

The Bose headphones only allow the noise-cancelling feature through Bluetooth, though they also include a 2.5mm-3.5mm audio cable (which I have plugged into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface for monitoring). I love the Bose headphones for listening to music... but I was recently told by a few people that they aren't ideal for monitoring/recording.

Also I'm currently recording music in my bedroom, which seems to create a lot of unnecessary background hiss in my recordings. (I just started recording music a few months ago, so I don't have any sort of "acoustic-treatment" in my bedroom... yet ;) )
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby nickle15 » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:43 pm

anna-marie music wrote:
nickle15 wrote:
anna-marie music wrote:Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum :) I've just recently started recording my own music, and am in need of some really good, studio-quality headphones for recording.

I recently got a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and tried plugging them into my Focusrite interface (using with Ableton) to monitor... but the sound quality just isn't great. (Not to mention, I just found out yesterday that Bose headphones aren't recommended for recording in the first place :( )

What would you all recommend for studio-quality headphones? And is there anything specific I should be looking for?

Thanks so much!
Anna-Marie

I'm not a headphones expert but I do own a Focusrite interface. I would just mention that if you haven't already done it, it's worth going into the Focusrite software to check your headphones mix. I was having some really disappointing results from my headphones until I went in and made some adjustments in the software. You may be happy with those results.

Thank you!!! I own the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which has very limited software settings. So where would I find the headphone mix option?

You can install the Focusrite Control software and that's what I used to adjust my mix.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby RichardT » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:23 pm

Hi Anna-Marie,

I have a pair of Bose QC35 noise cancelling headphones, and the sound quality on them isn't too bad, it's a bit bass heavy but the midrange is quite clear.

I would have thought they are perfectly good enough to use for recording, particularly if you're disabling the noise cancellation by using the cable.

I would definitely check your signal routing as Hugh suggested.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby MOF » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:15 pm

Also I'm currently recording music in my bedroom, which seems to create a lot of unnecessary background hiss in my recordings. (I just started recording music a few months ago, so I don't have any sort of "acoustic-treatment" in my bedroom... yet ;) )
Hiss is a different matter and nothing to do with acoustics, what microphone are you using, does it have a pad switched in (usually marked 10 or 20 dB of attenuation) if so then switch it out and set levels again?
Are you setting levels correctly?
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby CS70 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:08 am

anna-marie music wrote:The Bose headphones only allow the noise-cancelling feature through Bluetooth, though they also include a 2.5mm-3.5mm audio cable (which I have plugged into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface for monitoring). I love the Bose headphones for listening to music... but I was recently told by a few people that they aren't ideal for monitoring/recording.

No stress, we've all been there when learning stuff.

For recording, almost any cabled headphone which doesn't leak sound will do, at least at start: all you're interested in is listening to any guide base and have an idea of the tone you are recording. So your Bose should be just fine for recording.

The noise canceling feature is not really necessary, since when recording hopefully there'll be no noise around anyways! :) It's actually better to turn it off, as most of these kind of feature alter the sound you monitor quite a bit, and there's no need for that.

For mixing, on the other side, you want to have headphones that give you the most truthful representation possible.. these tend to be a bit "specialized" headphones, for example without any of the bass hype of consumer stuff like Dr. Dre's etc.

Most often these "truthful" cans are open-backed, and they leak sound.. so in general you will use two different headphones for tracking and listening/mixing.

Also I'm currently recording music in my bedroom, which seems to create a lot of unnecessary background hiss in my recordings. (I just started recording music a few months ago, so I don't have any sort of "acoustic-treatment" in my bedroom... yet ;) )

The most common mistake for beginners is to jack up the microphone gain too much.
Most preamps get a little bit more noisy towards the top of their gain range, and excessive gain will amplify the ambient noise you have in your room. It can also amplify even electronic noise from the mic - even if modern mics are usually pretty quiet, so that's usually not an issue.

The combination of all this will be a "hiss" - a noisy signal.

The trick is simple: get the gain down so that when you record the signal (on the DAW) shows up on the DAW meters at about -18 dBFS (yes, very much lower than the top!) and peaks around -12 dBFS.

If the signal seems too faint (it's not!) increase the playback volume on the interface or the monitors (or the on-board headphones amplifier).

Check out my post at https://www.theaudioblog.org/post/pump- ... t-the-gain for some more info on the subject.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:34 am

MOF wrote:
Also I'm currently recording music in my bedroom, which seems to create a lot of unnecessary background hiss in my recordings....
Hiss is a different matter and nothing to do with acoustics...

In my experience you have to be a bit careful with sweeping statements like this.

Whereas the term 'Hiss' implies electronic noise to you, and therefore potential gain structure issues, a typical novice is often unable to recognise and distinguish between electronic noise and acoustic ambient noise -- the latter often being dominant in bedroom recordings.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:09 am

anna-marie music wrote:.. So where would I find the headphone mix option?

This guy seems to have a reasonable take on things:


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FUlooITi3Eg

[Edit] sorry, just saw on the other thread you're probably already well conversant with the control software.

I bought some Shure srh440 'phones for my young fella and couldn't hear much of a difference for tracking between them and my srh840s. Highly recommended.
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby anna-marie music » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:47 pm

CS70 wrote:
anna-marie music wrote:The Bose headphones only allow the noise-cancelling feature through Bluetooth, though they also include a 2.5mm-3.5mm audio cable (which I have plugged into my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface for monitoring). I love the Bose headphones for listening to music... but I was recently told by a few people that they aren't ideal for monitoring/recording.

No stress, we've all been there when learning stuff.

For recording, almost any cabled headphone which doesn't leak sound will do, at least at start: all you're interested in is listening to any guide base and have an idea of the tone you are recording. So your Bose should be just fine for recording.

The noise canceling feature is not really necessary, since when recording hopefully there'll be no noise around anyways! :) It's actually better to turn it off, as most of these kind of feature alter the sound you monitor quite a bit, and there's no need for that.

For mixing, on the other side, you want to have headphones that give you the most truthful representation possible.. these tend to be a bit "specialized" headphones, for example without any of the bass hype of consumer stuff like Dr. Dre's etc.

Most often these "truthful" cans are open-backed, and they leak sound.. so in general you will use two different headphones for tracking and listening/mixing.

Thank you so much for the help!!! When I first started recording, I was using a pair of Headrush Bluetooth headphones (that also had an audio cable). The quality of them when plugged into the Focusrite was really good, until they broke a few weeks ago (so I had to get some new headphones, and based on my experiences trying out headphones in the stores I decided on Bose). So I have never used an expensive pair of recording headphones... I was thinking about getting a pair eventually, but your response gave me peace of mind that the headphones I currently have will work :)
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby anna-marie music » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:55 pm

CS70 wrote:
anna-marie music wrote:Also I'm currently recording music in my bedroom, which seems to create a lot of unnecessary background hiss in my recordings. (I just started recording music a few months ago, so I don't have any sort of "acoustic-treatment" in my bedroom... yet ;) )

The most common mistake for beginners is to jack up the microphone gain too much.
Most preamps get a little bit more noisy towards the top of their gain range, and excessive gain will amplify the ambient noise you have in your room. It can also amplify even electronic noise from the mic - even if modern mics are usually pretty quiet, so that's usually not an issue.

The combination of all this will be a "hiss" - a noisy signal.

The trick is simple: get the gain down so that when you record the signal (on the DAW) shows up on the DAW meters at about -18 dBFS (yes, very much lower than the top!) and peaks around -12 dBFS.

If the signal seems too faint (it's not!) increase the playback volume on the interface or the monitors (or the on-board headphones amplifier).

Check out my post at https://www.theaudioblog.org/post/pump- ... t-the-gain for some more info on the subject.

I'll check out your blog post for sure! Thank you!!

I started using Ableton Live 10 about 7 months ago, and I'm still not totally sure how to find the dBFS on the DAW meters. I can tell that the meters are present, but are there supposed to be numbers along with them so I can tell what the levels are? Or am I just supposed to guess?

I've never actually "jacked up" the mic gain too much while learning how everything works, but in my recent recordings I have been using the 48V "phantom power" feature on the interface. I was just experimenting with it one day and found that the 48V made the monitor quality a lot easier for me to hear. The mic I'm using is Aston Stealth... so I'm not even sure if I need to use the phantom power feature in the first place! Could this be part of the problem?
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Re: Headphones for Recording

Postby MOF » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:56 pm

In my experience you have to be a bit careful with sweeping statements like this.

Whereas the term 'Hiss' implies electronic noise to you, and therefore potential gain structure issues, a typical novice is often unable to recognise and distinguish between electronic noise and acoustic ambient noise -- the latter often being dominant in bedroom recordings.

You’re right Hugh, I associate ‘hiss’ with electronic noise.
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