Anyone use headphones as a mic?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by b to g is yummy, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. I read about someone doing this to record a rehearsal, I believe. plugging a set of headphones into the mic input, draping the phones over a chair, and using them as a mic, it does work. I just tried it this morning with my akg k55's to mic music played through my speakers. It didn't sound to hot tho, but i wonder how it'd work in a live band session, as in if it'd give a good balance between highs and lows, not the super strong lows that sometimes happen with video cam mics, etc.

    I do have other real mics available to use too, just in case you're wondering.

    Sorry about the weird post :)
  2. FLWing


    Nov 16, 2005
    Central Florida
    Mics are for recording sounds - headphones are for listening to sounds. Yea, they would work but with terrible results. I bet whomever used it found they had neglected to bring a microphone and just wanted to salvage the session.

    A $20 mic would record better than a $200 headphone anyway.

    Unless it is absolutely necessary to have the sound recorded with the video, just run a feed off the PA to a recorder (or your computer sound card) and edit together - I use Pinnacle 10, but any video editing program will work. That way you can also equalize any unwanted frequencies along the way.
  3. Yeah, it works, but I've never heard anything compelling to suggest that there's any advantage to using headphones over even a basic mic. If you've got other options, skip the headphones. Then again, if you just want to try it I'd love to hear your results.

    I have heard of wiring an 8 inch (or so) driver as a mic to capture additional low-end from a bass cab, but that was in addition to a regular mic.
  4. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    No, sounds like something MacGyver would do in a pinch to record some incriminating evidence.

    Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.
  5. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    We did it at a rehersal once cuz we didnt have any mics. I would think its most compelling use as a mic would be like a boundry mic. They one time we did it just for practice it sounded aweful and it was a pain. The subkick thing really does work well as a kick and bass cab mic though.
  6. crazyguy832


    Dec 17, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    An 8 or 10" speaker wired in reverse works nicely for picking up lows, but, other than that, there's not much point.
  7. MHensleyJr

    MHensleyJr Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Redlands, CA
    Why on earth would you wanna do something as dumb as this?:rollno:
  8. jon118


    Apr 19, 2008
    It would work, due the the inherent similarities between how a mic works and how headphones work, but conveniently it's also a great way to ruin your headphones.
  9. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    Great thread reminds me of when I was young and I'd plug anything into anything just to see what would happen. I also tried this back then.

    An experiment that sticks with me...I remember plugging a 4" or 5.25" in car speaker into a home receiver and learning about the virtues of amplifier headroom. And that there is no such thing as too much power only too little.
  10. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    Without going and trying myself, I need to ask why. Because, this sounds like one of those funky experiments I may try one day strictly as an effects gag. Like singing through a megaphone, or a concrete tube, or putting nails in your piano hammers. Something fun. I remember the Pixies tune "Something Against You," which sounds like the lead vocal was recorded through a microphonic guitar pickup, feedback squeals and all.
  11. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    It can be a great technique for cool distorted, filtered-sounding vocals. Check out The Latin Playboys (with David Hidalgo, Tchad Blake, etc.) You'll hear it used. Consider it an effect to experiment with.
  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    SF Bay Area
    I heard about this trick from a guy years ago. He used to use it as a way of recording live performances at jazz clubs with his Walkman without getting busted. If people had seen him with a mic out on the tabletop, he would have been asked to stop. But with a set of headphones casually tossed out there, and the Walkman in his pocket? Apparently no one ever said a word.

    I'm not recommending this, but for those of you who asked why anyone would ever do that, that's one reason why someone would do that.
  13. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    There's a studio guy back in NYC who hand made these wierdo mics from speakers (no headphones, but same idea) and used them to mic the bass drum IIRC. Of course this was ICW plenty of other mics that one would expect to find mic'ing a drumset. I don't recall what he said they did, but the finished product was awesome!

    Edit: Just thinking about these...I think he used gaffers tape and taped them to the front bass drum I wish my memory was better.
  14. People have been doing that for a while, the woofer from the Yamaha NS-10 was a popular choice. Yamaha in fact now sell something just like this, they call it the subkick. I've just used regular bass cabinets for this, it works but you'll want a pad for the really, really hot signal you will be getting.

    As to the original topic: it is my understanding that the Beyer M380 had the same capsule as a pair of headphones they used to make.
  15. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    Cool! That was the first time I've ever seen it done.
  16. jd858us


    Dec 13, 2006
    I knew a cellist who liked to sit in with a piano player at a small club to do jazz standards in addition to his regular classical gig. Obviously he wasn't about to install a $200 pickup into an $8000 cello, so he took a pair of headphones and put them around the upper bout and got a decent enough sound with no feedback or ambient noise. Beyond an application like that, I can't see a reason to do it.