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My Hopefully Last Headphone Thread


(@cmaracz)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Yup, third one, and hopefully the last for a while.

My dad got me a pair of Sennheiser HD 500 headphones when I told him that him that the HD 433 that he bought me before wouldn't be good for what I plan to use it for (monitoring, just basic home studio stuff with my m-audio rig.) These are a lot better, and are comfortable and sound good for playback. However I am not sure how acurate these headphones would reproduce music for direct monitoring. They are classed under the hoem hifi series rather than the studio series of Sennheiser headphones.

My choices are quite limited, so I'd like to keep these. However, if they would be bad for monitoring I might as well get a pair of Audio Technica 30s or soemthing. The downside would be that I'd pay full for the Audio Techs while the Sennheisers would be cheaper than retail since the guy who's selling is a guy at my dad's work (they're brand new though.)

So, would Sennheiser HD 500s be that bad for monitoring? What about mixing?

Thanks a lot.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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You shouldn't mix with headphones in the first place, your sennheisers are good for monitoring and editing single tracks. Use monitors for the final mix.


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Backing up Arjen: mixing and mastering are not done on headphones. All that detail and definition you will hear on really good headphones will likely disappear on run-of-the-mill stereo speakers. Even true studio monitors (speakers) cause the same problem. You've got to mix and master on the target type of audio system. Pro studios and mastering outfits keep a selection of cheapo to better speakers around to test their work.

-=tension & release=-


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(@cmaracz)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 155
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You shouldn't mix with headphones in the first place, your sennheisers are good for monitoring and editing single tracks. Use monitors for the final mix.

Alrightee. Are you knowledgeable of the HD 500 in terms of mixing? There is no mention of monitoring applications on the packagin, and a review I read desribes the highs as simply missing. Although I'd love to keep them since they are pretty awsome in general.


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Don't let your choice be dictated by someone else's review. If you like the way they sound, then they are good for you. As far as the mixing on the HD 500 Q: Arjen's (and my) advice not to mix on headphones applies to all headphones, regardless of model. This is a well known rule of practice in the recording industry.

About Sennheiser's in particular: Sennheisers are a very hit or miss line of headphones. The less expensive models ($100 and less) might be worth the money, but do exhibit various obvious colorations -- not unusual among headphones. There are a couple of high-end models (e.g., the HD 600 and 650) that reach exceptional (okay "audiophile") standards. But these are especially not appropriate for mixing and mastering -- too much detail as compared to speakers and the most popular earbud units, plus they are open air structures.

The only reason I can think of to mix/master on headphones is if the target audience will use headphones exclusively. This is never the assumption because mixing for headphones often produces very disappointing results over speakers (esp the PC speakers so common today), whereas mixing for cheapo speaker produces a product likely to be acceptable over headphones.

But ..... You can use anything you like for monitoring during recording, as that's a far less critical function.

About marketing terms: Just because a manufacturer recommends a headphone for "studio work" doesn't mean headphones are a good way to go for mixing/mastering. Everything is relative, and the terms "studio" and "pro" usually indicate over-the-ear, closed-back (sound isolating) and flippable ear-piece features. All of these are DJ and monitoring conveniences that have nothing to with the actual sound reproduction.

I used to manage a program for evaluating audio codecs (e.g., MP3, AAC ...), and when trying to get real world assessments of quality, the expert listeners recommended using monitors such as the Tannoy Reveals. However, nearly all of these experts didn't like the obvious coloration in the (misnamed) Reveals. But the lack of high end and detail that they hated was the very reason they recommended them. They better represented the typical consumer speaker than incredibly detailed monitors such as Genelecs or the BBC-designed LS3/5a. Headphones were used only as diagnostic tools to listen or test for subtle differences between codecs.

-=tension & release=-


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(@demoetc)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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I've mixed with headphones for 20 years or so. One day I intend to get some monitors, but so far I get results I can live with. I've found that I can get used to a set of phones and, I dunno, mentally, subconsciously average out the sound. If I change the brand or type of phones, it takes me a little while to get used to them again, but to me at least, it's like replacing a speaker in a guitar amp; it sounds odd at first, but then you get used to it and go about your business.

The phones I use for tracking and mixing are the same - AKG K55s. I think spending hour upon hour of heading stuff only through phones, from level setting for basic tracking, laying bass parts and then guitar parts, lends a certain familiarity with the sound I'm hearing, so when it comes to doing the mixes, it basically sounds the same as when I originally put the parts on tape.

I do vary the playback volume quite a bit as a reference though, as some frequencies jump out or fade away at louder or softer levels.

My take, anyway :)


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Well, it is all relative in the end. In the 100% ideal situation you wouldn't use headphones for it but it's not like all your tracks will be instantly worthless if you don't get the absolute correct setup. Play around with what you've got and evaluate how it's going. Big chances that initially a lack of recording knowledge will screw your songs up far more then not having the ultimate in gear, in my experience atleast.

So don't worry. You'll need headphones anyway and you seem to like these. So the headphone part is succesfully finished. Whether you need more stuff is something you can always decide at a later date, unless ofcourse you were planning to make your breakthrough tomorrow. ;)


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Okay -- I'm pretty picky about level and balance in my mixes, and most newbies will not be. So as Arjen says, don't worry about it; you have to start somewhere. In case this was loss in my long post above: If you like the headphones, keep 'em. Don't let a reviewer dictate to your "tastes."

-=tension & release=-


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(@cmaracz)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

Okay -- I'm pretty picky about level and balance in my mixes, and most newbies will not be. So as Arjen says, don't worry about it; you have to start somewhere. In case this was loss in my long post above: If you like the headphones, keep 'em. Don't let a reviewer dictate to your "tastes."

Thanks for your detailed reply in your rpevious psot, as well as everyone else's.

Just a few things:

1) It's easier to say "go with what you like, it's your chocie" but in my siutation where a) I have minimal experience with headphones b) it's not as if you can test out headphones before you buy them, at least, very few placed do this around here. So going by my own accord is not very rpactical, and I am likely to get better results based on what others suggest to me.

2) When I asked about mixing I meant monitoring. I took the mixing suggestion in, but I was wondering is the Sennheiser HD 500s would give accurate reproduction or are they heavily coloured? Sorry about the confusion.


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(@cmaracz)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

AKA this my new corrected question. Thanks.
You shouldn't mix with headphones in the first place, your sennheisers are good for monitoring and editing single tracks. Use monitors for the final mix.

Alrightee. Are you knowledgeable of the HD 500 in terms of monitoring? There is no mention of monitoring applications on the packagin, and a review I read desribes the highs as simply missing. Although I'd love to keep them since they are pretty awsome in general.


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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It is not simply easy advice to say "go with what you like." It is absolutely the truth when is comes to entertainment devices, which is what most headphones happen to be. Somebody wrote that they are missing "highs" so you believe you might be missing something. The only way to know if you actually missing something is for you to audition a lot of headphones and see if you notice the differences, and if they really mean anything to you. Different people are more sensitive to different aspects of music and sound -- it's just the way we are. I have a fair amount of high frequency hearing loss compared to a 15-year-old, yet I test well enough to be classified as an expert listener for audio diagnostic purposes. But compare three different "expert" listeners, all found to be excellent judges of small differences in program material and one finds that they do not all perceive artifacts, frequency response, spatial imaging and even basic loudness in the same way. Same is true -- maybe even moreso -- for the typical listener.

You say the HD 500 headphones are "awesome." Then I say keep them and enjoy them, because not every headphone will sound awesome to you. Don't let some reviewer change your mind if you like them -- you may not be listening to same type of music that person uses to rate cans. You may not like his/her idea of good frequency balance. It really is subjective.

To your question: I don't know the SD 500. I am very familiar with several other Sennheiser models -- some are excellent, some are lackluster but that's my opinion, and shouldn't necessarily be yours. I can say this, and believe it does apply to you: Monitoring is not really critical audio application. You can head into many a studio of reasonable quality and find that they pass out pretty mediocre headphones for monitoring while playing -- because it just doesn't matter that much.

Play your guitar and enjoy your awesome headphones. (really!)

-=tension & release=-


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(@cmaracz)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

Thank you for the response, just a few details:

a) Again, it's not as if I can go into a store an try out several pairs of headphones. They don't really do that here. The closest thing a lot of stores have is a lenient return policy, I think.

b) I think that the HD 500s are awsome likely due to the fact that I've never had a pair this decent, not because I have comapred it to any other headphones in it's price range and found this one to be better.

c) Isn't choosing a monitoring rig a process with fairly objective goals? You want a pair that will reproduce the sound as close to what it actually is, rather than embellish it to make it more pleasant to listen to. While different people have different hearing traits, isn't it more likely that I'd get a pair that accomplished this if I consider other people's opinions than if I just go with the first heapdone set that sounds decent to me? I'm merely asking if the HD 500s have distortion that is relatively low or mroe than I can expect from a "monitor" headphone set in that pricerange. On one hand they are in the hifi audio rather than the studiocategory of Sennhesier, and even apaprently calim "for jazz and pop music," so I don't think they are very natural, and yet, a lot of low-end dedicated monitors stress the lows as well.


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