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Stax headphone recommendations...

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Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:03 pm

My tinnitus has got worse this past year and I am finding that I can only hear the separation in my mixes on headphones. Even with my KH120as in a treated room I am getting low to mid mud, so need to think carefully about top quality headphone referencing.

I currently use my Audeze LCD-X but feel the Stax with a dedicated amp will be even better. Basically, I am trying to improve my reference monitoring and trying to create an environment that doesn't tire my ears so much.

Any recommendations as to which model of cans plus amp?
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:21 pm

Have you spoken to 0VU about it?

He's got some 'floating around' that might be worth having a go at, perhaps.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby MOF » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:52 pm

Just be careful not to monitor too loudly for too long, easy to do on headphones because you’re not feeling the bass frequencies through your body.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:05 pm

It's OK in this case. Eddie/Zukan has to monitor at quiet volumes because of his tinnitus. Anything too loud makes it even worse.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby MOF » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:46 pm

I find that headphones are good for eq decisions but speakers for vocal levels in particular and panning. I don’t have a properly treated room though. I’ve done my best but everything still sounds ‘upper middle’ harsh.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Brian M Rose » Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:45 pm

I am sure that Zukan is aware if how important it is to:
1) Take advice from a qualified audiologist
2) Control levels to hopefully prevent making things worse

When I made a programme about Tinnitus a while back, it became evident that musicians were particularly venerable to Tinnitus associated with high levels of sound. We tend to think pop concerts here, but it also includes classical musicians.
My understanding is that once it's there, it can't at present be cured. But there are ways of overcoming the symptoms. Many of my television camera colleagues suffer from this condition, possibly brought about by very high levels on sound in television studios; it is said that headphones were turned up, to overcome the already high levels on programmes such as TOTP.
So please - do be careful out there!
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:32 pm

MOF wrote:I find that headphones are good for eq decisions but speakers for vocal levels in particular and panning. I don’t have a properly treated room though. I’ve done my best but everything still sounds ‘upper middle’ harsh.

Lots of musicians are making perfectly acceptable mixes using headphones for most of their decisions, including vocal levels and panning. The trick with the latter is to avoid hard left/right pan positions that will definitely sound odd under headphones, and can even make some people feel nauseous.

Remember - LOADS of listeners nowadays will be primarily listening via earbuds/phones and the like, so your mixes have to work well with both headphones and loudspeakers to reach the widest audience.

Primarily it's about getting some headphones with a well balanced frequency response (or using utilities like Sonarworks Reference to modify particular headphones so they give a more balanced response).

However, if you''re finding it difficult to balance vocals (and low bass for that matter) under headphones, listening to a mono mix on a grot box is a great way to get a second opinion, as anything that isn't at a suitable level will tend to stick out like a sore thumb under these conditions.

Personally I love mixing under headphones with the occasional check through loudspeakers in a treated room, and wrote a feature on it for SOS some years ago:

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


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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:37 am

Aural Reject wrote:Have you spoken to 0VU about it?

He's got some 'floating around' that might be worth having a go at, perhaps.

Yeah. I asked him for a rec and he emailed me 4 pages of tech specs. This is why I never give coffee to that man.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:38 am

Martin Walker wrote:
MOF wrote:I find that headphones are good for eq decisions but speakers for vocal levels in particular and panning. I don’t have a properly treated room though. I’ve done my best but everything still sounds ‘upper middle’ harsh.

Lots of musicians are making perfectly acceptable mixes using headphones for most of their decisions, including vocal levels and panning. The trick with the latter is to avoid hard left/right pan positions that will definitely sound odd under headphones, and can even make some people feel nauseous.

Remember - LOADS of listeners nowadays will be primarily listening via earbuds/phones and the like, so your mixes have to work well with both headphones and loudspeakers to reach the widest audience.

Primarily it's about getting some headphones with a well balanced frequency response (or using utilities like Sonarworks Reference to modify particular headphones so they give a more balanced response).

However, if you''re finding it difficult to balance vocals (and low bass for that matter) under headphones, listening to a mono mix on a grot box is a great way to get a second opinion, as anything that isn't at a suitable level will tend to stick out like a sore thumb under these conditions.

Personally I love mixing under headphones with the occasional check through loudspeakers in a treated room, and wrote a feature on it for SOS some years ago:

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


Martin

Yep, that wonderful article has become tenet.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:39 am

Brian M Rose wrote:I am sure that Zukan is aware if how important it is to:
1) Take advice from a qualified audiologist
2) Control levels to hopefully prevent making things worse

When I made a programme about Tinnitus a while back, it became evident that musicians were particularly venerable to Tinnitus associated with high levels of sound. We tend to think pop concerts here, but it also includes classical musicians.
My understanding is that once it's there, it can't at present be cured. But there are ways of overcoming the symptoms. Many of my television camera colleagues suffer from this condition, possibly brought about by very high levels on sound in television studios; it is said that headphones were turned up, to overcome the already high levels on programmes such as TOTP.
So please - do be careful out there!

Thanks Brian. Yes, I am fully versed on the condition and have found that rest is the only thing that affords me a modicum of comfort.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:40 am

Someone has suggested the Subpac route but I have no experience of this tech. Anyone attacked it?
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Hrodulf » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:47 am

Hey guys, I'm back!

We've measured some Stax cans and they have extremely low THD. Due to the super light moving mass they dissipate energy really fast, hence impulse response is very clean.

The main problem with them is bass. Even with large 'stat diaphragms they run out of excursion really fast. Anything below 007, will have limited stator-to-stator distance and if you push them too much the diaphragm can go too close to the stators and arcing might occur. Above 007 bass is no problem, but you need a rather beefy amp to drive them properly.

As for the sound, they're the closest thing to hooking up a DAC to your brain. It might actually make your process harder as you can end up obsessing over stuff generally inaudible to most normal people.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Mixedup » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:57 pm

Zukan wrote:Someone has suggested the Subpac route but I have no experience of this tech. Anyone attacked it?


I found it interesting and useful, though not necessarily in the way intended...

The main benefit to me was that, presumably because I could feel the low end, I didn't feel the urge to turn the headphones up so high as normal. In other words, I could listen at lower levels than normal.

Auditioning it with different already-mastered material, though, I found that I wanted the sub at different levels (though always relatively low levels) for different tracks and genres... And that makes me question its use as part of a critical-listening system — you shouldn't need to change the sub level for different material! So I think I'd always find myself wondering if my monitoring was screwing with my perception. YMMV.

I preferred the chair-mounted version to the body-worn one.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Zukan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:34 pm

Thanks Mixedup.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby MOF » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:33 pm

Personally I love mixing under headphones with the occasional check through loudspeakers in a treated room
I prefer headphones too but I check vocal levels, in particular, with speakers. Bass on headphones is not an issue for me.
My current headphones 'Sennheiser HD 540 reference' have got a bit of distortion on one side with really low bass notes and I can't get a replacement driver. They seem to be the most neutral cans around, I've tried the HD650 and they seem hyped in the lower mids to me. The HD700/800 are supposed to have a flatter response but are a bit too pricey for me and tend not to get stocked because of their price here in Nottingham.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby Hrodulf » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:09 am

I have the subpac sitting on a desk near-by. The experience surely feels exciting, but it reminds me of Beethoven putting a horn in his mouth to "listen" when he went deaf. With that said - I can see people learning to actually mix on them.
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Re: Stax headphone recommendations...

Postby garrettendi » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:35 am

Sorry to hear about your tinnitus Eddie. I have tinnitus on top of hearing loss, but I won't give you any advice on that because you know it all already.

Can't give you an recommendations, I only have cheap and cheerful headphones which combined with my Cochlear Implant give me decent enough sound. Only so far you can go with an implant...

Just wanted to encourage you, so yeah!
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