Shop Talk: Headphones

There are two types of headphones in this world: closed back and open back. Closed back helps prevent sound from escaping, but seriously inhibits the accurate representation of the frequency range. I have a pair of Audio Technica M30x closed-backs that are great for when I’m recording vocals,  acoustic guitar, and percussion. Because of the closed back, the sound from the headphones doesn’t leak into the microphone. It’s best to have all the tracks as isolated as possible.

After recording is finished and it’s time to mix the tracks down, it’s better to use open back headphones. The huge picture way above the blog post features a new pair of Sennheiser HD600’s. I just bought some of these from Amazon and they’re arriving on Feb 1, the first day of the RPM Challenge. They give a better representation of the mix, enabling me to EQ the tracks better so the songs sound good across a wide variety of situations- from earbuds to car stereos to larger home hi-fi set ups.

I’ve had a pair of Sennheiser HD600’s since 2004, but they were in dire need of repair and it was not cost-effective to rehab them, so I just bought new ones. Here is my old pair which I used for many albums for over the course of a decade (yes, these are the same model as the very top picture):

You can see that the back of the ears are porous and open. To somebody standing in the room with me, they’re pretty loud compared to closed-backs. You can also see that the ear pads and foam covering are completely shot on these.

So hey- this Thursday I get brand new ones!


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