Headphones for Mixing

CNKCNK
edited July 2016 in Filmmaking

I'm looking for a new pair of headphones that I can use for mixing. I would prefer wireless, I know BT4 and AptX exist, which is how I know that Bluetooth headphones can sound just as good as wired, but the problem is always the price, though have not found any yet.

Criteria:

Velour pads
Open back (for mixing, not recording)
A2DP AptX 

It's so difficult to find any, I suppose this website isn't the best place to ask, but I'm not in a hurry..

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Comments

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hmmm. If you can live with a wire, I would actually recommend Sony MDR-7506 or 7509 headphones. Those are among the most-used headsets on the planet for mixing. For myself, one day while headphone shopping I tested out near 50 pairs of headphones. I went with the 7506 and that's been my headphones of choice ever since. 

  • CNKCNK
    edited July 2016

    Edit: Yep, before purchasing my current headphones called Skullcandy Crushers, my critera was 'feel like you're in a movie theater'. These really delivered, I tried out at least 50 headphones at the store, and not even the 4x-5x priced headphones came close to the bass of these. Not surprising considering they need a battery even when wired, because they have a driver specifically to shake the ear cups, it's great. :)

    After using pleather for so long, I really want velour, unless there's something I don't know about? There's so little information about the pads compared to the headphones out there..

    I'm seriously considering buying a pair of headphones which has got a removable cable, so that I can make them Bluetooth myself.

    There's no information about the specifics for my own needs out there, they just review the headphones and move on. :(

    Here are the headphones that I'm limited to in Sweden: http://www.prisjakt.nu/kategori.php?b=s278054457&o=produkt_pris_inkmoms

    Problem is, I know there are a heck of a lot more headphones out there, and there must be one that meets my criteria.. As soon as I add "open-back" to the list, the engine finds no match. I'm really stuck here, same goes for "removable cable".

    Searching for words just as tags on Amazon, finds basically nothing, I'm not looking for velour slippers. :P

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    Well the rule is never use wireless headphones for mixing or even recording because of latency issues. Even the best wireless headphones in the world are still going to have some latency and it can cause you a lot of problems trying to use a set for mixing. 

    For closed back Triem23 already hit the Sony offerings so I'll add Sennheiser HD 280's and if you have more money than sense, Shure SRH 1540's. They're great just too expensive in my opinion. 

    For open back AKG K701's are great and would be my recommendation if Sennheiser didn't exist but they do so my first choice would be HD 650's followed by HD 600's and if price weren't a problem HD 800's.

    For somebody that wants a good pair for both recording and mixing, go for AKG K240's and save a lot of cash. 

     

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Aladdin4d I'm owned some Seinie's, and a couple of the models you've mentioned would be my recommendations right behind the Sonys. Personally, I perceive the Sonys as being a tad brighter than the Seinheisers. Both companies have some great cans.

    Kevin one thing to think about is what the headphones are for. Skullcrushers are pretty sweet from all I've heard, but looking at the frequency response curvesthey are made to be bass heavy. There's a massive spike around 80Hz and they start rolling off high-end frequencies at 11khz (Ideally you want as flat a curve as you can get from 18Hz to 20 or 22khz). I'd be nervous about mixing on those.

    For mixing and mastering the goal is to get headphones with a flat frequency response. You want to get your audio sounding good without any kind of coloration going on. Things like Skullcrushers or (god help those dumb enough to buy them) Beats Audio are absolutely wrong for mixing. These headphones are designed to perceptually sound good by boosting bass (and treble for beats), but that's basically applying an EQ right at your ear making it hard to accurately judge your mix.

    Sony and Seinheisers are both solid, but you're looking for headphones labeled as Studio Monitors. These should be designed for the flat (ACCURATE) response needed for mixing, instead of the colored sound aimed at consumers.

  • CNKCNK
    edited July 2016

    Yeah I know they're awful for this task. Skullcrushers are different than Crushers though.

    I'm curious why you guys seem to have no problem with the type of ear pads? 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Vinyl has never bothered me. Besides, one can also buy some third-party earcups for many brands (Usually about $10-$20), so I wouldn't make the earcup material a primary concern. But you could check online for third party velour replacements.

    I actually have some replacement fabric cups on on of my sets of headphones. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=886945&gclid=CPyYnpGD_M0CFYVqfgodvPgFCw&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876,92051677562,&Q=&A=details

    That said, I don't really find a major comfort difference. I mean, yeah, the velour are a bit softer, but, I guess when I'm "in the groove," I just don't notice what I'm wearing? Also, I'm old. I've probably used Sony MDR 7506s longer than you've been alive, so I'm just used to it by now. It still come down to every time I try other headphones I go back to my Sonys.

  • edited July 2016

    I kid you not... I use Turtle Beaches with the bass boost turned off and they are the best headphones I've used for audio hahaha. 

    http://shop.turtlebeach.com/us/headsets/x12

    I don't think they are open back sadly...

    Also http://www.techbargains.com/category/376/electronics/audio-components is the main site I go to when I am looking for a deal on something. The link will take you straight to the Audio Components page :)

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @Triem23  If you hadn't mentioned the Sony's I would have. Full disclosure - I have HD 280's and 650's and worked for a Sennheiser dealer for 12 years so I'm probably biased........

    @KevinTheFilmmaker ;

    I'm curious why you guys seem to have no problem with the type of ear pads?  

    Personally I prefer the pleather type because when you get wrapped up in a really long session and your ears sweat (trust me they will) velour pads will soak it up. Come back after a lunch break and put them on, velour pads just feel ....well......disgusting. Pleather pads can be more or less wiped clean. 

    Replacement pads are cheap and when it comes to good cans the sizes aren't radically different between brands so you can usually get by with pads from a different brand. Some places like scansound.com even make generic replacement pads, Another option is just get a second set of pads and recover them yourself.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited July 2016

    @TriflixFilms One thing here, with headphones for mixing we're ideally looking for "Flat" not "sounds good." A bit counter-intuitve, I know, but...

    I've not used the Turtle Beaches, but checking specs and response curves online those things have a very high distortion ratio and a frequency response curve that's all over the place. They're not "flat" at all, but have a lot of "color." They might be great sounding headphones, but I'd still be wary about mixing on them.

    @Aladdin4d We're all biased in out own way. ;-) Seinie's are some great damn headphones. I prefer the Sonys.

    Since I keep talking Frequency Curves, it should be noted that nothing is actually "flat" all the way across. The aformentioned Sony 7506's have a swell around 10khz the Seinie's don't have. This makes the 7506's bright, and it's great in a live mix situation for isolating channel hiss and having vocals cut through ambient noise, but it's not quite as accurate as the Seinnie's. Of course I've used 7506's so long and mixed on them so much my ears and brain already know how to adjust for what sounds perfect on the 7506's to what's "accurate."

    The best advice I have is to really hit up any local music stores around and try to listen to anything they have.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator

    @TriFlixFilms Of the headphones listed on that link the Samson SR950's are an outstanding bang for the buck option! 

    I didn't mention them before but Beyerdynamic makes great cans too and $130 for the the DT 990's is a really good deal. 

  • edited July 2016

    I just hope he can get them in his country :) but yeah, I love Tech Bargains!

  • I waited for a long time and I just placed an order on the Sennheiser HD 558. I got them for half price (150 euro to 75 euro)so that sealed the deal. They should arrive on Monday.

     

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Good set of cans--you'll be very happy. Sony MDR-750x series are my favorite studio monitoring headphones, but the Sennheiser HD 5xx series are my second favorite. The Sennheisers are about the most comfortable I've ever worn. 

  • CNKCNK
    edited August 2016

    @Triem23 I tried the Sony MDR 750 at the store, looks exactly like them. Didn't fit that well, I don't like when my ears touch the inside it's very uncomfortable. I'll give you my first impression when I get them. :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    MDR 7506 or 7509. Not the 750! Too small an earcup! 

    Kevin, I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with the purchase. They're accurate headphones with a nice wide stereo image, and comfortable earcup. The only limitation is they bleed outside noise and are quiet. These aren't field headphones! 

  • Just a small comment.  I hope you are aware that mixing with headphones is generally avoided.  Headphones can be great for finding critical spectral info but are deceiving in spatial dimension.  There are VST plugins that can be used to compensate but it is just easier to mix with monitors.  Monitors also give you a boring flat profile and steady bass rolloff so that folks that are mixing get approximately the same freqency response despite brands.  (this is only true in a general sense).  All this talk about bass boost is exactly what you want to avoid while mixing.

  • CNKCNK
    edited August 2016

    The HD 558 have like 1% of the bass my current headphones has, which have the strongest bass on the market, so is gonna be very different for sure.

    100% confident in saying that people make this a too big of a deal, just by reading comments from different forums, they're actually insane and need help.

    All I see are rude comments basically if you dont get the perfect headphones everything you create will sound like garbage, that's my impression of the audio community.

  • Everything I've read about mixing music, which is quite a bit, is in line with what @dancerchris mentions. Headphones are good as a tool for occasionally checking your mix, but actual mixing should be done using monitors. Good headphones are still an important tool to have, though.

    Are you planning to use them for mixing music, or soundtrack?

  • CNKCNK
    edited August 2016

    Hi @AxelWilkinson Yes but remember that there's a difference between what a beginner can even achieve even if he's got the best tools for the job.

    I'm going to be mixing sound effects for videos I make, I don't think people assumed it was for music but isn't it basically the same? I have never mixed music before, just sound effects.

    By the way I don't want anyone to be upset, I may come off as rude, and it's definitely not my intention.

  • @KevinTheFilmmaker I'm with Triem23 and think you'll be very pleased. As far as mixing music goes the real prejudice against mixing with headphones is focused on closed cans, Good open back cans like yours can actually be very good for mixing and most of the guys I know use both open back cans and monitors to finish a mix. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Reality is also sometimes one doesn't HAVE the option of "proper monitoring." A student, hobbyist, no-budget indy might not have a room to properly deaden with foam and space to properly space out speakers. If you can't control your mixing room properly, then, yeah, you're better off with good headphone monitors (good, like the Sennheisers you got, not those bass heavy gamer headsets). 

    If you have to mix in the field, or even to monitor on-set good closed ear monitors are a must. Earbuds don't cut it--I worked a film once where production audio monitored on cheap earbuds. 100% of production audio was useless because of the 60hz line hum no one could here. Original audio editor quit after having to ADR and sync everything. This left me to swoop in and do ambience, foley, SFX and music... The fun stuff. (It really was a blast micing chairs and sitting, shifting my weight with the character, and micing a tabletop for moving, hands bottles, the gun, etc. I consider it my best audio mix ever because no one picked up that it was 100% post sound. It just sounded like really clean production audio.) 

  • From the looks of it, current mixing people or enthusiasts or wannabes all make sure that you can't get into mixing if you don't have a perfect pair of headphones. This is bad and yeah I can't have proper sounding speakers even if I bought them, but I'm going to get some good frequency with the new headphones so at least there's that. Mind boggling how rude people can be though.

  • Mixing for both music and film is best done with monitors in order to achieve correct spatial imaging, i.e. where the sound is in 3D space.  You cannot get that with headphones regardless of whether or not they are closed or open back.  You don't need perfect, you need correct spacing.  IMHO a cheap pair of monitors is FAR better than an expensive pair of headphones.  Even very expensive studio monitors are less than desirable for normal music listening.   If you insist on headphones you may want to invest in a "Virtual Room" software.  Waves NX is an example.  You would throw this on your master audio bus.  There are other cheaper ones out there but NX does 5.1.  

  • What about acoustic treatment? The reverb in my room is insane, and there's nothing I'll be able to do about that. 

    I understand that the ideal setup would be like 5 different speaker systems, car speaker, phone speaker, TV speaker, closed back headphones, open headphones would be ideal, but not in a position to even start thinking about it.

  • Actually acoustic treatment is pretty easily done with some cloth covered Dow Corning 703 or 705 (far better than much more expensive acoustic foam).  Seriously if you don't want to set up a mixing studio, get the VR room plugin.  There are some free ones out there for stereo, but you'll have to pay for the surround ones.  I think you can get NX for $80 on sale.

    c

  • @KevinTheFilmmaker

    I am suggesting these approaches because you said you wanted to do some mixing.  It isn't trivial setup to mix.  DJ's are looking for sound isolation so they use cans.  So do location sound recordists.  Do not confuse those jobs with mixing.  While you can check levels or cue up the next track using phones it will be less than dissapointing using just phones for mixing.  Really try something like TB-Isone or Waves NX along with your headphones, that is about the cheapest route to go.

    My $0.02

  • Can I at least start mixing first? Lol. :p

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited August 2016

    @KevinTheFilmmaker Yes you can certainly start mixing first and you don't have to immediately resort to extra plugins. Personally I would ignore them completely as a totally unnecessary expense because if you decide you want the functionality it's pretty easy to set up manually. 

    Using cans means there is going to be a spatial skew. Things panned to the middle played through loudspeakers sound in front while the same thing played through cans will seem to come from the middle of your head and instruments will sound further apart than they do over loudspeakers . As long as you're aware of the difference you can easily adapt to it. Another big argument against mixing with headphones is when listening to loudspeakers, your right ear receives sounds from the left channel as well as the right, but slightly later and at a slightly reduced level and it also receives reflections from walls, ceilings and floors while with headphones the right ear only hears the right channel blah blah blah. Open back cans with spatial reflectors like the ones you chose go a long way towards eliminating that argument with the difference between that type of headphone and monitors being far less than any purist would ever be willing to admit to. As I mentioned before most guys I know are using both cans and monitors to mix with a ratio of about 90% of the work being done with cans to 10% monitors. I even know a couple of guys using nothing but Sony 7509's which are closed back but I don't know of anybody using solely monitors anymore. The reason for that is more of their audience is using headphones/earbuds than ever before and many mixes done solely with monitors sound weird or outright terrible when played back on headphones so they moved on to making things that sound equally good on both.

     

     

     

     

  • Ok but let's be realistic, my audience are friends and family. I plan to make a trailer just for fun for H'ween so you're going to have to judge it then. I want to post it here for feedback later, as it will be the first thing effects wise for video that I make.

    The main reason I didn't go with "mixing headphones" is because I want the most comfortable headphones I could get my hands on. I could of easily ordered the Sony 7509 but I didn't like the ear cups.

    I think people are a bit too harsh when talking about mixing here because you have to remember that I'm a beginner, and even if I had the best tools available, it doesn't mean what you hear would sound great, or is it magically the oposite? Curious...

  • Steven Spielberg with and iPhone would shoot a better movie than you with a $300,000 Alexa... 

    It's not the tools, its the know-how.

    Actually agree with you pretty heavily here @KevinTheFilmmaker. Use what you have, master it. Move on when you have the budget :)

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