Choosing Headphones For Home Recording

Post date:

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 08:07


Naomi Bolton

Thanks to digital audio workstations the ability to record your own music at home is a lot simpler than it used to be. This is great for synth enthusiasts who enjoy sharing their work with other people online. While virtual instruments mean that you don't need a massive studio to fit everything, noise can still be a concern, especially if your neighbors are not fans of your music. This is where headphones are essential as they enable you to work on your music without the risk of the neighbors filing a noise complaint. However, not all headphones are the same and if you have spent a fortune on your synths and other instruments, it would be a shame to listen to them through something cheap that will distort the sound. If you are unsure which headphones would work best for home recording, take a look at our handy guide.

Things To Consider

Purchasing headphones for home studio use is a little more complicated than throwing cash at the most expensive pair you can find. There are actually a couple of things to take into consideration when making your selection. If possible, it is always best to try out the headphones yourself first before you part with your hard earned cash. This will allow you to not just hear how they sound, but also if they are a comfortable fit for your head.

Types of Headphones

In general, you will find that headphones are available in two different varieties, namely supra-aural and circum-aural. The former is basically headphones that are "on-ear" and make use of pads that rest against your ears. This makes them smaller and lighter, but they can also become uncomfortable after extended use because of the pressure on your ears. In addition, supra-aural headphones will also let in more external noise while you use them. Circum-aural headphones, on the other hand, tend to have larger cups that completely envelopes your ears. This is why they are also known as "over-ear" headphones as they can form a seal around your ears to block external noise and deliver better bass.

Headphones also tend to be available with either vented earcup designs or isolating earcups. The former is known as the "open back" design and generally results in less listening fatigue if used for prolonged periods. The isolating ear-cups, or "closed back" design tend to block out all external noise, but can cause listening fatigue when used for long periods. Some users prefer closed back headphones for their strong low end response while others opt for open back headphones because they tend to deliver sound quality of a more spacious nature.

Which Headphones To Choose

Now that you know what type of headphone designs are available, as well as their pros and cons, it is time to choose a pair that is suitable for your needs. In most instances the closed back headphones are the preferred choice of musicians who are focused on recording tracks, while open back headphones are favored by those who want to do the mixing. This means that ideally you would want one of each pair, but if this is not within your budget, you can also compromise by using a hybrid solution in the form of semi open back headphones.

Brands To Watch

New headphones are released all the time, which means any list of "recommended" ones will quickly become obsolete. However, there are a couple of brands in the industry that have a reputation for delivering quality studio headphones. Checking out the selections available from these brands will ensure that you are on the right track when choosing your new studio headphones.

Sennheiser: Sennheiser has been around since 1945 and they were the first to release open headphones back in 1968. They are a trusted brand when it comes to headphones and popular models for home studio use include the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro and Sennheiser HD6 Mix as well as the Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Studio Headphones and Sennheiser HD 800 Reference Studio Headphones.

Beyerdynamic is another German audio equipment manufacturer that has been around for years and they were the first to bring out dynamic headphones in the 1930s. Good choices for studio headphones include the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro and Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro.

Audio-Technica Corporation: Audio-Technica Corporation is a Japanese company that has been around since 1962 and they brought out their first headphones in 1974. One of their most popular offerings is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones.

Yamaha Corporation: Yamaha needs no introduction and it is a brand trusted by millions for the musical instruments, electronics and more. They are one of the few companies that has been around for more than 100 years as they were founded in 1887. One of their more popular offerings is the Yamaha HPH-MT7W Studio Headphones.

Other brands worth considering includes Sony, particularly the Sony MDR-7506, Shure, AKG, and Ultimate Ears.

Studio Monitors

Headphones are great for home recording, but if you are really serious about your hobby then some decent studio monitors are still essential. Unless your studio is soundproof or in a very isolated area you won't be able to use your monitors late into the night, which is where headphones come in handy. Just bear in mind that when mixing your tracks, they can sound very different when using headphones compared to monitors, which is why ideally you want to make use of both. Monitors can be played at higher volume and also interact with the room environment while headphones are great for checking the smaller details in your mix. Even if you don't have to worry about making a noise in your home studio, it is still beneficial to use headphones as this is the way that most people listen to music these days.

Let us know in the comments below or on the forum what your preferred headphones are for home recording and why.