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Irlwizard

Are all studio headphones for recording vocals & mixing supposed to sound like SHIT?

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Dear Audiophiles,

 

Is a good pair of headphones for vocal records and mixing supposed to sound like shit?

What I mean by that is, I am starting to assume that you actually want studio headsets for recording/mixing vocals to sound as flat and boring as possible so you can then make the correct adjustment and add the correct effects yourself (so if the audio then sounds good from TRASH cans, it should sound awesome when doing playback from anything else). Is this assumption correct?

 

Why am I even asking this question? Well, EVERYONE seems to swear by various Sennheiser models, Sony MDR-7506 and Beyerdynamic 770... For studio headphones under $300.

But when you listen to this audio sample from 1:20 comparing popular budget candidates

from popular brands.

 

You can CLEARLY hear that the Sennheiser HD280 is bland/tinny, the Sony MDR7506 is flat/boring. Neither have any reverb (which is natural in real life, especially concert halls), only the Audio-Techinca ATH-M40x is close to the original sign signature, but still not as good as the original sound signature.

 

If the Sony MDR7506 are as good as all reviews make them out to be. Then the irony of the sound sample is that the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x (which in this case CLEARLY sound the best for casual music listening) is actually the worst for recording/mixing out of the three, because the sound signature is already coloured, right? That would also mean that the ATH-40x are actually stereo or hi-fi headphones NOT studio or monitor headphones as advertised, correct?

 

 

As for why people who refer to a boring/flat sound (from e.g. Sony MDR7506) as an 'accurate' sound, I have NO IDEA because there is nothing natural about it.

 

Conclusion, is a bland headphone better for vocal recording and mixing of audio due to the reasons stated above or are 90% of people hearing impaired, including self proclaimed producers who seem to swear by the cheap Sony MDR7506.

 

 

If you can be bothered to listen to this sound sample at 1:20

You can hear that the more expensive Beyerdynamic and Audio-Technica ATH-M50x also sound worse than Audio-Technica ATM-M40x (as far as a natural sound goes), because they lack the clarity. The Beyer are muddy and M50x have an over exaggerated base.

 

Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong I'm not a Sony hater, infact I own a Sony phone, laptop and Bluetooth headset. They are all great products for the price, I just don't understand the positive reviews of the MDR7506 when comparing it to the Technica ATH-M40x for audio playback is like comparing night and day.

 

PS: Sorry if I sounded harsh but I felt it was necessary to be blunt to eliminate confusion.

Edited by Irlwizard

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Tend to hyperbolic conclusions on very limited data much?

 

I was skeptical of Sonic Sense's approach in these videos for monitor speakers. To my great surprise, they are much more accurate than I would ever have imagined having heard a few of those they have recorded.

 

Now on the headphones, I am not so impressed. It is much less clear with headphones what we want them to do response-wise than is the case with speakers. You have the dummy head vs your head problem. A different head shape puts the phones on a different part of the ear and effects sound. Then the dummy head ear shape isn't your ear shape and that probably is the biggest issue even with everything else done as well as possible.

 

In any case, in that video all the headphones sounded like garbage to me. Awful. I certainly have listened to phones that don't sound that poorly. So I think their recording approach isn't working in this area. So don't put too much weight on these samplings. You will have to go hear some for yourself.

 

I currently use some Sony MDR7510 phones intended to improve upon and replace 7506 phones. They apparently aren't going to as they aren't as sought after. These phones aren't perfect to me, but had an ease, naturalness, and inherent top to bottom balance I haven't gotten in phones before now. Which isn't to say they would be great for you. Our ear and head shape is different and a different response may be what you need. Given the chance try them.

 

As for some of your other wondering, well yes in theory pro monitor headphones are about accuracy and detail while other phones can be any number of things including exaggerated effects or response for enjoyment or enhancement.

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Audio engineers want accuracy. A ruler flat response is ideal. They don't want "enhanced" bass or a "sweetened" high end. If reverb isn't in the recording, they don't want it added by their headphones.

 

Dave Rat has done a series of blog posts and videos where he looks for the best headphones for live sound engineers. His focus is on live sound, but most of the principles apply in the studio setting too. The series is about five years old now, but the theory is still sound.

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Many studio monitors, even some of the expensive 'flagship' headphones, are very colored. The Beyer DT-770 pro are very colored. The $600 Beyer DT-1770 pro are better, but still pretty bland. In general (but not always), the more expensive headphones damp resonances better, so when EQ'ing for that last bit of perfection, you're better off with those that are smoother out of the box.

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Dear Audiophiles,

 

Is a good pair of headphones for vocal records and mixing supposed to sound like shit?

What I mean by that is, I am starting to assume that you actually want studio headsets for recording/mixing vocals to sound as flat and boring as possible so you can then make the correct adjustment and add the correct effects yourself (so if the audio then sounds good from TRASH cans, it should sound awesome when doing playback from anything else). Is this assumption correct?

 

Why am I even asking this question? Well, EVERYONE seems to swear by various Sennheiser models, Sony MDR-7506 and Beyerdynamic 770... For studio headphones under $300.

But when you listen to this audio sample from 1:20 comparing popular budget candidates

from popular brands.

 

You can CLEARLY hear that the Sennheiser HD280 is bland/tinny, ...

 

PS: Sorry if I sounded harsh but I felt it was necessary to be blunt to eliminate confusion.

 

To be blunt in return: you sound confused.

 

One would never expect a headphone to have 'reverb' ... well unless your head is filled with air that is.

 

At the most reasonable end of what I would consider outstanding headphones are both the Sennhauser HD600 and AKG 712.

 

If are willing to shell out $300 for a good pair of headphones, you don't need to be a critic, understand that less expensive phones may have some limitations and don't use ones that sound 'tinny'. I mean if you are saying that the Senn 280s sound tinny compared to the HD 600s then so be it, get the HD 600s ... and if you are saying that you prefer the akg 712 to the Senns, then get those.

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if you are in despair get a calibrated microphone and a pair of sony mdr xb500's

i used an ovaltine bottle, canister, whatever you want to call it.

i cut out a hole on one side for the big portion of the mic, and on the lid i cut out a smaller hole for the mic tip to slip through.

then put the earpad on the lid to record the frequency response with calibration software.

 

after i did that and spoke into the microphone, if it wasn't for me feeling the ear pads on my head i wouldn't of known whether i was wearing headphones or simply listening to myself talk.

 

but be warned..

my headphones broke (perhaps i dropped them too many times)

while the vocal accuracy was transparent, the soundfield is very narrow (they aren't open sounding).

i really didn't use reverb with vocals, therefore i don't know how well the reverb will play back.

i know the headphones could do slight effects with ease, but as far as going all the way up to approaching an echo - i'm not sure if there is exaggeration anywhere in between.

but if you had good speakers in your living room, you'd already own the calibration software to setup the speakers and could test for how much exaggeration there is.

 

if none of that suits your fancy, i can tend to agree, headphones labeled studio quality should sound like an improvement.

but the problem with that is money.

all of those headphones would first be thought as costing more.

but if money ruled the world then aliens could watch our planet to learn who all the rich people are and kill all the rich people sending our state of evolution into turmoil.

 

with money out of the way, then there's all these other headphones that don't say studio quality.

if they put studio quality on the package of the headphones, then everybody would ignore the other headphones that don't say studio quality.

they want you to buy things and try them out for yourself, because the moment you buy those things - the manufacturer already sold the headphones to the store and they got their money .. now the store has your money and to them the chain of events is complete.

they know you'll sell the headphones for less because nobody will buy them opened for a new price, and that means somebody else will buy the headphones to try 'em out because they got 'em cheaper than what they cost at the store.

that keeps their brand name in the homes as if it is insurance people will continue to buy their products.

(perhaps not realizing if enough people need to sell them as opened and lose money, those customers will simply stop buying their brand name, but that isn't a guarantee and they know it .. because as people get fed up they will inevitably come out with something that is worthy to keep which kinda resets the process and fools you into thinking there was no harm & no foul.)

 

and don't believe these people talking about different ear shapes and sizes amount to a different frequency response from the headphones.

people are willing to cut their ear off to make a microphone calibration standard.

that is why as well as how industry standard calibrations exist.

it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize if everybody has a different ear shape and size then there will never-ever be a calibration everybody can use.

it makes cutting an ear off worth it real quick, because once it gets done there will never really be a need for it to happen again and everybody can use the same calibration universally without any differences between individuals.

 

now if you refuse to use a microphone to calibrate the frequency response of your headphones, then yeah your ears are going to get in the way.

 

i doubt there's a lot of people calibrating their headphones though.

there might be a bunch of headphones out there that can sound a lot better than they already do if they were calibrated.

expect to pay a high premium price for headphones that come with a flat frequency response right out of the box.

you can't get the best performance from a lot of things right out of the box, not that every single thing should be that way - but a lot of it could and does make sense.

(operating systems are one situation where it doesn't make sense, because unlike calibrating something and knowing what you are doing - people get other programmers to do it and that is a breach of trust as well as safety causing people to swim in a black market of potential criminals.)

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using a microphone that doesn't have a flat frequency response in combination with headphones that also don't have a flat frequency response, only to come here and complain - that would be embarrassing.

however, the original poster linked to a video showing the differences of the headphones.

that video was spoken about further in another post.

 

i just took the time to watch those videos and i'm surprised at how good those audio technica headphones sounded.

there were good enough to make the thought pop in my head 'is that real or fake?'

but then i got a little curious as to how my headphones would do.

 

i gotta say, the sony and sennheiser headphones sounded like junk.

but at the same time, i question why the m40x's sound as good as they did.

is that right out of the box? because if yes, then i question what (if any) compromises were made to make that happen.

 

speaker masters will tell you though,

not only can you calibrate the frequency response with a microphone - you can also use electrical circuits to clamp a tiny electrical signal and hold it onto the voice coil.

it's like filling all the bad gaps to bring the maximum potential out of the speaker.

but not only is such a thing uncommon, i think it's rare - and if neither of those hold true (military or underground mob use), i know the consumer market doesn't know anything about it.

basically you are using shapes that takes a confused speaker and maximizes the intelligence within the new limits of the voice coil and magnet relationship causing the sound quality to increase (and chances are those increases are a lot more than double).

it's a way of hiding things in plain sight for 'special' people to use while the rest of 'em are dumbfounded by the industry.

but that old trick dates back a long long time ago when it was necessary for somebody to hide the quality of audio equipment because the world around them was at an infancy.

nowadays you hear something that good and some people will shrug their shoulders and assume the equipment is out of their price range but it was nice to know that amount of quality exists.

 

eh, they might of had 1080p video quality back in the old days when the only television you could buy was black & white - but hiding the quality on the television could be had by a simple recessed knob under the television out of visible sight.

 

i guess that is more spy tactics coming to a close for these two particular groups.

can't even get a small room with some 18 inch woofers lifting up a nerf ball and holding it in the air anymore, because they've moved on to enough pressure to form solid objects in the room - but that itself is old too and quickly coming to it's close.

people know there's 18 inch woofers out there that can handle loads of power, and they also know the strength of the magnet will improve the chances of the speaker building up enough pressure to form a solid (using anything light such as dust).

we know sonic booms are when something travels faster than the speed of sound.

they say those are about 200dB yet the loudest sound possible is 194dB.

some people know the consumer market reached 180dB in the car audio competitions 11 years ago.

doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize if the consumer market can do it, then mad scientists did it much longer ago.

and i don't think you need that much pressure to hold up some dust.

 

hmm.. i'm intrigued to get out my broken headphones and see what kind of results i get doing a test like the youtube video.

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You have to decide what the cans are to be used for. Your listening rig? A workhorse when, for some reason, you cannot use monitors? Can you imagine mixing with the bass heavy cans? Your mix will sound so thin! Not that you should use cans for that in the first place. This is one of those purchases where you have to listen for yourself on your own head. Nothing else matters due to head/ear shape, tolerance of weight and pressure and audio preference.

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aww man, i plugged in the microphone and realized i don't know where the ovaltine thing is at or if i even have it still.

when your apartment is 300 sq. ft. and you don't remember where something is, is that misery or laziness?

(i've got a headache too which isn't helping my motivation)

 

i stand by my transparency claim, and perhaps you are right - what if the audio sounds thin causing you to over emphasize all your audio effects?

could be a bad thing, could be a good thing - though being mislead isn't the point i'm trying to make.

if you are gonna try 'em i think you better get the ball rolling because they stopped selling 'em in the stores about a year ago or more and i imagine the stockpile is going to dry up.

oh wow, looks like the word is out because i'm seeing used prices anywhere from $90 - $100 and new prices are at $300

i paid less for them new, and from a brick and mortar store might i add.

i was thinking you might find a pair for $50 and AT LEAST be able to check your mic recordings for proper fidelity before inserting them into the sequencer.

but for what it is worth, i was up close to the microphone when i did what i did and if your mic is going to be far less away then i don't guarantee you'll be as satisfied as i intended.

seems to be a mute point now looking at the prices.

unless you contact sony about repairs before buying a used set, and if you do let me know what they say because i haven't asked them yet.

but they've got new replacement pads on ebay for cheap so sanitation isn't really a concern.

 

and for gods sakes, don't try to use my recommendation without using a calibrated microphone to flatten out their frequency response first, the difference is night & day.

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