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zircon

What headphones or monitors (speakers) should I buy?

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This is a discussion thread for headphones and monitors. Here is some basic info to get us started, feel free to post if you have anything to add.

HEADPHONES

---------

* Avoid "listener", consumer-grade headphones. The goal of headphones as a musician is to hear the most accurate sound as possible. Some consumer headphones have features that try to 'improve' the sound somehow. You don't want that.

* Ideally, you want closed headphones that cancel out noise. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. :)

* Expect to spend about $50. If you don't have $50, don't bother buying anything, and save your money. Your listening setup is one of the most important parts of your workstation.

Good brands::

- Sennheiser

- Sony

- AKG

Recommended models:

- Sennheiser EH2200 ($50-$75)

- Sony MDR7506 ($100)

- AKG K171 ($160)

- AKG K240 ($100)

MONITORS

--------

Monitors are essentially like speakers. Typically you get two at a time, though a surround setup or a subwoofer is possible also. There are two kinds of monitors, "active" and "passive".

"Passive" monitors require some sort of amplification system. This means you will need additional gear besides the monitors themselves. You will have to do a little more setup and spend some money on the amplification, but generally this will cost less.

"Active" monitors have amplification built in, so you just plug them in and go. These are usually a little more expensive.

* Most monitors below $200 have a marked decrease in quality. These "low end" monitors are consistently ranked poorly by professionals and trade publications, so ideally you want to get something in the midrange for truly accurate results.

* Try to ensure that your room is a good environment for listening. In other words, you typically want a small room with little sound leakage, and some sort of materials to dampen reflections. This process is known as acoustic treatment. Even the best monitors are useless if you're in a terrible listening space. (more info would be helpful here too)

* Make sure your monitors are positioned properly. (I know someone here has more info on this)

Good brands:

- Tapco

- Event

- Samson

- Mackie

- Tannoy

- Alesis

- Behringer (low end)

- M-Audio (low end)

Recommended models;

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This is a discussion thread for headphones and monitors. Here is some basic info to get us started, feel free to post if you have anything to add.

HEADPHONES

---------

* Avoid "listener", consumer-grade headphones. The goal of headphones as a musician is to hear the most accurate sound as possible. Some consumer headphones have features that try to 'improve' the sound somehow. You don't want that.

* Ideally, you want closed headphones that cancel out noise. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. :)

* Expect to spend about $50. If you don't have $50, don't bother buying anything, and save your money. Your listening setup is one of the most important parts of your workstation.

Good brands::

- Sennheiser

- Sony

- AKG

Recommended models:

- Sennheiser EH2200 ($50-$75)

- Sony MDR7506 ($100)

I'd like to add to this list the Beyerdynamic DT250's, which I currently own and strongly recommend. I got my pair on Amazon for $140 dollars, $40 dollars off everyone else's price ;)

and

Good brands::

- Sennheiser

- Beyerdynamic

- AKG

Not good brands::

- Sony

The MDR-V6/7506 (actually the same headphone) are the only decent monitoring headphone put out by Sony. The rest aren't worth it.

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I am in favor of both headphones and monitors.

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Monitors > Headphones

Monitor price < Headphone price

Ideally everyone could afford a pair of Mackie HR824's, with a virtually flat frequency response, but anyone lacking the $1,200 bones to purchase them turn to headphones.

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I would not say that, [scene]. It's ultimately up to the ear of the mixer and how familiar they are with their setup. I've personally been using a pair of $50 speakers from Staples and $50 Sennheiser headphones, and I do just fine.

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Well actually there're more kind of "speakers":

- Active and Passive (which declares how they're amplified)

- Nearfield, Midrange, Longrange

Nearfield Monitors are for mixing. If you sit in front of them 2-3m away, they sound best.

Midrange speakers are made for "consuming". In other words those speakers are used in a studio to checkup how the stuff will sound in a room where the speakers and the listener are far apart (starting with 4-5m). Usually you setup speakers in the corners of a room. These are for good "general checks", but can also be used for production and mastering of course (some even recommend those over Nearfield)

Widerange aren't uninteresting for us. They're made for on stage purposes. You know... those big speakers in front of the stage, at the sides of it, etc. In other words... Live performance.

The prices differ here too. Nearfields are 1/3rd to 1/2 as much cheaper than midfields. It depends on your the purpose you need it for. But generally you can say, if you work in a "small studio" (which most of us do), you don't really need midfields - nearfields are blend in with midfields nowadays anyway. There's no big difference anymore as in 10 years ago.

Another important thing is... no branch is generally "bad" or "lowend" cause they're cheap. If you know how to handle the speakers, and you can live with the sound of it (and balance it out compared to other speakers), then you can do everything with it.

Setting them up.

You usually set them up at the height of your ears. Around 2m away from you, but not "straight pointing at you", but more like with a 30° angle towards your ears (like a piramid). The point where the acoustic preasure overlaps with each other is the so called "hotspot". THis is where you should sit.

There a lot of other things involved to get the "right sound". Just look at goodle for "studio speaker setup" (also at sound on sound) and you'll find tons of information about that.

PS:

zircon, the AKG K141 are halfopen ones, and cheaper than the K171 closed ones. The K240 is at 79USD atm (regulary 160USD, at least that was it once) and the K141 are at 74,50USD (both straight from the US AKG page). However... the K240 and K141 differ drastically in terms of sound. Both are mixing headphones, but the K141 has a bit more boosted bassrange.

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Personally, I recommend a pair of Sennheiser HD 600s. I own a pair and have to say that they have the best sound i've heard. They do run a bit steep... (about $250). I have also heard that they're a bit bright, but I havent run into that.

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Right now, I'm looking to buy AKG K271 (around 279 bucks Canadian here) and either a pair of Samsons (600 bucks) or KNK's (1300 bucks). Don't know which of the two monitors I would buy yet. I have no clue what the monitors models are - I should ask LP again what models they are exactly.

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The AKG 271 are "closed cabinet" ones. So you'll be cutoff from outside, and the outside from what's going on in your speakers. Might not be comfortable to you. I'd consider halfopen ones (example: K240) as long as you don't record vocals or other stuff.

Also a bit easier for the ear.

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Well, for my purposes, I am quite used to closed cabinet headphones. I know why I am buying them. If I need to be wary of my surroundings, I'll use something other than the closed cabinets.

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Just adding bits here :).

Well actually there're more kind of "speakers":

- Active and Passive (which declares how they're amplified)

Passive can be divided in 2 types too - "powered", which means that there is a separate amplifier in the speaker, and "bi-amplified" which means that there is a separate amplifier for the tweeter and the mid.

Another important thing is... no brand is generally "bad" or "lowend" cause they're cheap.

This is not the case. When buying monitors ("for real"), don't go below the $1000 mark. Generally, from that amount and up the differences will be much less noticeable.

For passive monitors, use either the recommended amplifier or use a hi-fi component amplifier with all EQ settings to zero; you don't want it giving you a distorted image.

If you know how to handle the speakers, and you can live with the sound of it (and balance it out compared to other speakers), then you can do everything with it.

Yes, and no. Room acoustics have a lot to do with this too, but since it's territory most remixers can't change anything about, reference monitors is where it's at.

You usually set them up at the height of your ears. Around 2m away from you, but not "straight pointing at you", but more like with a 30° angle towards your ears (like a piramid).

Helpful diagram:

monitorplacement8ze.gif

The point where the acoustic preasure overlaps with each other is the so called "hotspot".

No, it's called the sweet spot :).

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Okay... then it's the "sweet spot". Whatever. Both words woth, but if we want to be correct on that, then it's "sweet spot".

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KVR has some interesting posts on monitors as well:

http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=105338

and

http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=113624

I'm thinking about getting monitors, but I'm not sure they'd mix well with my apartment lifestyle... ;) I was looking at the Behringer Truths that retail for $499 a pair... I haven't bought speakers in 8 years, so I figure I could afford to pick up some mid-range ones. It would be great if I lived in a big city and could listen to a bunch of different ones, but that would be a 12-hour drive minimum...

Thanks for the info - I'll check into those headphones.

Edit: After reading up on studio monitors on the 'net for about 30 hours or so, I know to stay away from the Behringers - the quality control is just too spotty. The other thing I learned is that... there is no perfect solution, unless you want to shell out upward of a grand... :/

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Can someone compare the Sony MDR7506 with the Sony MDRV700's (assuming they're priced the same)? It seems to me like the MDRV700's have a better frequency range than any other headphones available (but I'm sure there are more important things).

I want to use the headphones for monitoring/mixing (balanced mastering that will sound good on any setup). I also want to use the headphones for recording, so I need them to be as sound-tight as possible so no sound bleeds through.

If there are better headphones for recording what are they? I will probably get monitor speakers in place of headphones anyway, so the more comfortable, closed sound headphones are preferable to high sound quality.

Also, cheaper is better (but willing to pay extra if it's worth it).

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What do you all think of M-Audio's Studio Pro 4s as low budget reference monitors?

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What do you all think of M-Audio's Studio Pro 4s as low budget reference monitors?

I heard m-audio's monitors are crappy. As a rule of thumb don't spend less than $150-$200 per monitor (on speakers, although headphones are obviously a lot cheaper).

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Where did you hear that? I've looked all over the net, so far I've only seen good reviews about the sound (except for ones about malfunctioning and such)

So what kind of monitors you reccomend, that don't cost five hundred bucks?

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I heard that from bLiNd actually. I think some of the responses from certain frequencies are weak.

If you want some serious monitors for under $200 each check these out:

http://www.zzounds.com/item--YAMHS50M

These are made supposedly in the tradition of the NS10M's. The saying goes, if you can get your music to sound good on them, you can get it to sound good on anything. There is also a larger model available if you're on a higher budget, the YAMHS80M'S, for $350.00 each: http://www.zzounds.com/item--YAMHS80M

I wouldn't really see anything wrong with the cheaper ones, unless 70 watt speakers are too weak for you (if you're in a quiet room using near-field monitors they should be perfect though).

I don't use speaker monitors yet, so I would recommend doing more research or asking someone else (bLiNd is a great person to talk to on the subject though).

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If I wanted to buy either headphones or monitors, would people consider it acceptable to buy mail-order if I audition the real thing at a music store first? I would never buy a guitar online because of the vast differences in tone and playability in each individual guitar even of the same make and model, but I don't know what kind of manufacturing tolerances there are in headphone/monitor production. Thanks.

-steve

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Retailers have to get their stuff shipped from somewhere. I would think the quality in headphones/speakers would be the same as buying them from a store; and in any case, why would you buy a display product, if everyone who goes in the store uses it?

I see no problem at all with buying online. I bought my Sony MDR V600's from amazon. They were in the same package you'd find in a retail store anyway.

If you get into delicate or hand-made items like violins or guitars I could see why you'd want to try before buy, but well-built manufactured items like speakers it should make no difference.

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