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Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

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Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat May 15, 2021 1:41 am

Recently I was tracking a wonderful drummer. He asked for more juice in the headphone. Then I maxed out the headphone amp and he asked for more. He wore his phones with one ear uncovered. And I noticed he played the best that way.

But that means I need to get his left ear up to the level of the kit.

I track up to 4 people at once, so I am looking for a headphone amp that will take 4 different cue mixes and send to 4 players, with LOTS of juice.

But I think I also need to squash that monitor mix?!? So room to include parallel compression to bring the quiet stuff up seems to be in order. I am thinking that I need an analog mixer just for my monitor mix. Something that can upward compress the monitor.

Man, I think monitoring is key for my music. Jazz musicians play better when they hear better!!

Anyone with me here?!?
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby Kwackman » Sat May 15, 2021 10:52 am

DC-Choppah wrote:But that means I need to get his left ear up to the level of the kit.
I don't suppose an earplug in his right (unprotected) ear would go down well? In a few years he might even thank you!

DC-Choppah wrote: Jazz musicians play better when they hear better!!
That sentence is still true without the word "Jazz". :D
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby shufflebeat » Sat May 15, 2021 11:32 am

Kwackman wrote:In a few years he might even thank you!

+1

Consider an ambient omni or single-point stereo and give him control of it's level in his mix.

I'm trying a little cheap Sony m/s stereo recording mic for this at the minute. Might work, might not.
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Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby James Perrett » Sat May 15, 2021 12:46 pm

Jazz drummers need to be able to hear the cymbals extremely well because much of their style revolves around how they hit the ride cymbal. It is really difficult to reproduce the sound electronically in the same way as the drummer hears things acoustically so the one ear off technique is needed.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby Wonks » Sat May 15, 2021 12:58 pm

What ohmage headphones was the drummer using? If they are high ohmage (200+), then maybe try some much lower ohmage headphones first before thinking about changing the headphone amp?

I'd be a bit wary about compressing a performer's own performance playback when they are playing, as the reduced dynamics are likely to affect the way they play and they'll try to compensate.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat May 15, 2021 1:32 pm

You're opening a can of worms here...

First, different headphone amp designs deliver their max power at different headphone load mpedances, so it's worth checking the manufacturers' specs (if they are provided at all). Generally, lower impedance phones will be louder than high-z models, but you may find the optimum power rating is with 40 Ohms, 70 Ohms or 100 Ohms or something.

There are, of course, some very powerful headphone amps around. I just reviewed the DACS Headlite 3+ which, as standard, has one high power and three standard power headphone amps, but it can be ordered with 2, 3, or 4 high power amps if required. The standard amps deliver 0.5W per channel while the high power amp delivers a whopping 1.5 watts per channel. (The high power amp is actually intended for driving multiple parallel phones, for orchestral section players, etc)

But here's the wormy bit... If you provide high level headphone feeds to your band mates you potentially risk getting sued when the musician goes deaf and decides it was all your fault because of the stupidly powerful headphone feed you gave him without care for his well being...

I've see it happen more than once... So my advice would be to ask the drummer to bring his own high power headphone amp/phones if he thinks yours isn't loud enough, and you just provide a suitable line level signal for it. That way it's entirely his responsibility rather than your liability.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby manwilde » Sat May 15, 2021 1:33 pm

At the project studio we use a Mackie HM-400 headphone amplifier (https://mackie.com/products/hm-series-headphone-amplifiers) along with assorted headphones for loud rock recordings and it gives us plenty of juice, way more than needed. We use no compression or limiting.
Best results for drummers are often achieved with the Extreme Isolation EX-29 headphones (https://www.extremeheadphones.com/product-page/ex29-plus). Oh, and they sound at least as good as any other tracking headphones that I´ve tried. Actually, better than most.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby Wonks » Sat May 15, 2021 2:56 pm

Would it be worth trying some open-backed headphones for the drummer, so they can get a lot of the sound from the room, with just some reinforcement from the cans? Hopefully the overheads and other mics will be far enough away so that any spill from them is insignificant.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby James Perrett » Sat May 15, 2021 3:11 pm

Wonks wrote:Would it be worth trying some open-backed headphones for the drummer, so they can get a lot of the sound from the room, with just some reinforcement from the cans? Hopefully the overheads and other mics will be far enough away so that any spill from them is insignificant.

Open backed headphones still muffle the sound too much for my tastes - or at least the Sennheisers that we had in the studio did. However, I'm probably quite fussy about this and other drummers would be fine.

I've always found the humble Behringer HA400 to give plenty of volume for high impedance headphones although it doesn't have the routing needed here.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby Martin Walker » Sat May 15, 2021 5:42 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:So my advice would be to ask the drummer to bring his own high power headphone amp/phones if he thinks yours isn't loud enough, and you just provide a suitable line level signal for it. That way it's entirely his responsibility rather than your liability.

Wow - hadn't thought of that scenario, but it makes perfect sense.

Even the occasional orchestral player has sued for loss of hearing due to their placement in the orchestra close in front of the brass or percussion sections.


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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat May 15, 2021 6:22 pm

manwilde wrote:At the project studio we use a Mackie HM-400 headphone amplifier (https://mackie.com/products/hm-series-headphone-amplifiers) along with assorted headphones for loud rock recordings and it gives us plenty of juice, way more than needed. We use no compression or limiting.
Best results for drummers are often achieved with the Extreme Isolation EX-29 headphones (https://www.extremeheadphones.com/product-page/ex29-plus). Oh, and they sound at least as good as any other tracking headphones that I´ve tried. Actually, better than most.

Yes, we do have those extreme isolation headphones for the drummer to track with.
I use these: https://www.extremeheadphones.com/produ ... /ex25-plus

But once the drummer has the right ear headphone off, I now need to bring his left ear level way up to the level of the real kit in the room! The whole isolation thing is defeated. But he plays much better this way. He does very detailed ride work.

The mic that picks up his ride is above his head.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat May 15, 2021 6:26 pm

shufflebeat wrote:
Kwackman wrote:In a few years he might even thank you!

+1

Consider an ambient omni or single-point stereo and give him control of it's level in his mix.

I'm trying a little cheap Sony m/s stereo recording mic for this at the minute. Might work, might not.

OK, I think I am following. Set up a stereo mic just for capturing his kit and give him control of that level in his monitor mix.

Maybe if I do this he can get used to playing with both headphones on, which will allow me to keep the headphones at a safe level.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby manwilde » Sat May 15, 2021 6:29 pm

Don´t know if you´re already doing it, but since he is listening to just one earcup, you might get more volume in there by making the cue mix to be mono and panning it all to that side...
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat May 15, 2021 6:33 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:You're opening a can of worms here...

First, different headphone amp designs deliver their max power at different headphone load mpedances, so it's worth checking the manufacturers' specs (if they are provided at all). Generally, lower impedance phones will be louder than high-z models, but you may find the optimum power rating is with 40 Ohms, 70 Ohms or 100 Ohms or something.

There are, of course, some very powerful headphone amps around. I just reviewed the DACS Headlite 3+ which, as standard, has one high power and three standard power headphone amps, but it can be ordered with 2, 3, or 4 high power amps if required. The standard amps deliver 0.5W per channel while the high power amp delivers a whopping 1.5 watts per channel. (The high power amp is actually intended for driving multiple parallel phones, for orchestral section players, etc)

But here's the wormy bit... If you provide high level headphone feeds to your band mates you potentially risk getting sued when the musician goes deaf and decides it was all your fault because of the stupidly powerful headphone feed you gave him without care for his well being...

I've see it happen more than once... So my advice would be to ask the drummer to bring his own high power headphone amp/phones if he thinks yours isn't loud enough, and you just provide a suitable line level signal for it. That way it's entirely his responsibility rather than your liability.

Thank you kindly Hugh.

My drum tracking headphones say they are 32 Ohms. https://www.extremeheadphones.com/produ ... /ex25-plus

I don't think the problem is the headphones. Perhaps he has done so much tracking this way that he has reduced hearing?!? Can of worms indeed.
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Re: Need to upgrade my headphone monitor mix! Please help.

Postby manwilde » Sat May 15, 2021 6:34 pm

We are quite fond of the "crutch mic" tecnique at the studio, and for the softer hitters we´ve had good cue mixes sending the drummer just that one mic (usually an EV 635a).
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