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Viewing topic "Need “flat” and accurate open-back headphones!"

     
Posted on: May 03, 2021 @ 10:28 AM
muscarella
Total Posts:  525
Joined  11-01-2003
status: Guru

I am shopping for quality open-back headphones and hoping for some suggestions or recommendations. Feel free to jump to the end of this post. But the missive below will give some perspective on my specific needs.

Background:
I’m currently able to Mix my Song material in a large room with the same speakers, mixer, mic, and Volume settings I’d use on a “live” gig. 

I’m moving soon to a condo where it will be difficult to use the sound system and certainly not at the proper distance and volume levels.

I have Yamaha DBR12s and regardless of the hype, their character changes radically below a certain volume. So simply “turning the speakers down low” is NOT a solution. I would consider going with some smaller speakers, but I’m not sure studio monitor-type speakers (especially near-field type) will be any more accurate or comparable at low volume. 

A final note: I have LIMITED ability to test-drive headphones. I live in Central America so whatever I buy must be shipped down at some cost and not easily returned. But if I must, I’ll buy 2 or 3 sets and return the ones that please me the least. 

I’m not expecting to hear an aural “clone” of the Song that I can walk into a gig an hour later and hit play. But in terms of accuracy (or consistency at least) of bass levels, treble sections, definition in the mid-range, it would be nice to avoid big surprises when I’m able to set up the full system and finish the mix. 

I know it’s a tall order. And if you’ve read this far, I thank you! I have no brand loyalty. I’m prepared to spend up to $300 or so. But $200 is a popular price-point so I Googled Best Open Back Phones Under $200 and the following headphones were on the majority of the lists:

Sennheiser HD 599 SE Around Ear - Open Back Headphone
BeyerDynamic DT 990 PRO Studio Monitor Headphones
Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open-Air Headphone (50mm Drivers)

Got a set of headphones you think fit my needs? Got some other ideas to address my situation? I’m open and appreciative of any and all helpful input.

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Posted on: May 03, 2021 @ 11:26 AM
jtoubeaux
Total Posts:  13
Joined  04-30-2021
status: Regular

I use Audio Technica ATH-M20x, they were only $50 and are pretty flat. I would recommend maybe the ATH-M50x (which is what I wanted at $150 but they were sold out where I was purchasing).

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Posted on: May 03, 2021 @ 05:22 PM
lastmonk
Avatar
Total Posts:  302
Joined  12-17-2013
status: Enthusiast

I use the Sennheiser 600 HD Open back for mixing and mastering.  They cost me $299 at Sweetwater.

They are a legitimate pair of phones for mixing and mastering.  Yes there are some that are better, most are not.

Outside of a very good sound curve, they have a decent length cable.  Sometime other more expensive phones, or of equal quality have a short (3ft cable).  And cable extensions can be a problematic. The cables can be replaced and the soft ear pads can be replaced after lots of wear.  So the typical shorts that can develop with head phone cables, or the ear pads that wear out over time aren’t a issue.  The replaceable parts are a reasonable price.

Keep in mind that just like monitors, its all about understanding what you’re hearing and adjusting the mix accordingly (knowing what it will sound like in the target environment).  So in reality any decent pair of headphone should do, once you really understand the effect the headphones have on on the mix and you know how to adjust for the target environments.

If you’re into headphone plugins that help test what you’re headphone mix will sound like in different environments (e.g through earbuds, or car speakers, etc) you could check this out

https://www.sienna.studio/
https://www.soundonsound.com/news/acustica-launch-sienna

This is fairly new., I’m hearing good things about it.  IMO headphone mixing and mastering for home studios is going to become the defacto approach.

I use the Sennheiser 300 HD Pro ($199) closed back for tracking, and the 600 HD’s open back which don’t heat your ears up like closed back phones will, and have turned out to be very comfortable for extended mixing and mastering sessions. There have been times I forgot I had them on!!! LOL

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Posted on: May 03, 2021 @ 10:02 PM
Mighty Motif Max
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Total Posts:  314
Joined  04-30-2016
status: Enthusiast

I’m a fan of AKG headphones. I have big ears and it’s hard to find headphones that are comfortable. If you’re going to be using your headphones with a computer anyways, buy a copy of Sonarworks Reference 4 and use it with a pair of AKG K240 MKIIs, or on the cheaper end, K240 Studios (but you have a larger budget). Sonarworks has EQ curves customized for a bunch of different headphone models, and so it will flatten out the frequency response of any headphones that it lists as compatible. But I’d say AKG K240 MKIIs - comfortable, you’ll forget they’re on. I actually use the cheaper K240 Studio phones (as well as K275 closed-back phones). You wouldn’t want to do that without Sonarworks though, because none of these are totally flat (they have somewhat of an upper-midrange dip). For non-critical listening they’re fine obviously on their own.

What I really, really like for mixing is actually Sonarworks in combination with Waves Abbey Road Studio 3 (Abbey Road first, then Sonarworks on the master buss when mixing). I’ve used that combination for over a year and it is fantastic, once you get used to how it sounds. But Sonarworks alone is perfectly good too if you don’t have the funds.

EDIT: Actually, you could go further up the AKG line and still be within budget. Check what they have for open-back headphones: AKG Open-Back Headphones

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Posted on: May 04, 2021 @ 02:48 PM
muscarella
Total Posts:  525
Joined  11-01-2003
status: Guru

I do not use a computer, so I can’t avail myself of something like SonarWorks, though it sounds like just what I need.

And, LastMonk, you make a great point about the need to know the phones characteristics and adjust accordingly. I’m hoping to get as much accuracy and consistency across the spectrum and limit the amount of re-interpretation I have to do. Bass levels are VERY hard to get right when you’re pre-mixing the Songs and need the mix to work in most settings. So I’m often bringing down the bass out of fear I’ll get a surprise at the gig. So a bass-boosted set of phones is doubly confounding.  My other challenge is compensating for my own hearing, since I have pretty substantial Hi frequency loss. Unfortunately, I like crispness in the Hi end of the mix. I like a snappy snare drum, crisp hi hat. Which means that what I’m digging in the higher registers might in fact be excruciating to someone right next to me. If the Hi end sounds just how I like it—it’s likely too trebly for everybody else.

I’ve considered deliberately raising the Hi end on my mixer, so I might err in the “correct” direction when mixing. I usually run my headphones out of the mixer because the MOXF signal is very low.

Truth is, I’m someone who probably shouldn’t invest too much in a fine set of headphones. But here I am.

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