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Good headphones for tracking and isolation...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by bobbykokinos, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. I know this is probably a dead horse but I'm looking for some headphones and need some suggestion but I have specific situation other than "I need headphones for recording bass".

    I've been working on recording some stuff at home. Levels are all set in ProTools and the interface but I'm still getting distortion out of the headphones on the lower notes. I use Sony's but I forget what model number they are right now. All I remember is they were about $100.

    I'm recording both electric and upright. But, mainly upright bass. I'm only doing overdubs that I send to someone else for mixing. I do not do any mixing on my end.

    Problem is I have the output fairly loud. When tracking the upright, I really want to hear the bass through the headphones rather than acoustically. To get the volume where I like it, it is loud enough that the microphone is picking up the click track. And the fact that it is that loud is probably contributing to the distortion.

    First question is, does this sound like a headphone problem to you guys?

    Second question is, are there any other methods of recording I should try (other than the obvious of turning the volume down)?

    Third, if it is a headphone problem, what do you guys suggest? I'd like to keep it around $150.
  2. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    You might find custom molded IEMs will do a better job at blocking the cab-generated bass. Earphones don't do this well - especially if you are playing loud.
  3. IEMs might work for you, if you can get a good seal in your ears. If you go headphones, be sure they fit rather snugly to your head. Firm, even. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but the tight fit helps keep sound from leaking out to the mic. You can take 'em off and rest between takes.
  4. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

  5. I didn't even think about IEMs. I might even try some ear buds that seal well before I go off spending more money. I have a few pairs of buds running around I might give a shot.
  6. yes, those Sony MDR's sound great, but for sound isolation, they don't work very well at all.
  7. OP mentioned nothing about sound isolation. With proper set-up prior to recording these MDR's are the best for his price point.
    EDIT...yes he did mention isolation in title...my bad
  8. Could be a headphone problem...

    How are you recording (picking up the sound) from the upright?
  9. Getting to the bottom of this will probably require more than just replacing the phones.

    Some questions to ask:

    What amplifier is driving your headphones?

    What is it's output impedance?

    What is it's power output?

    What is the impedance of your headphones?

    What is the efficiency of your headphones?

    Impedance mismatches between the amp and the headphone drivers will result in under or over damped bass response.

    Are you setting the input levels in Pro Tools clean, or are they too hot?

    Are you plugging your bass directly into your interface, or are you using an active DI?

    Somewhere in the above questions are probably where your solution is.

    Having said all that, if you're just looking for a headphone recommendation for tracking bass, check out the Beyerdynamics 770 Pro's. They are available in a range of impedances to match your amplifier, and also in a special version for tracking drums that will definitely ensure that your click doesn't leak into your mic.
  10. Also if you mic'ing the sound hole you will want to use a large-diaphragm condenser microphone.
  11. My guess is, unless there's something wrong with your current Sonys, the distortion is not coming from the headphones, but from somewhere else in the signal chain. If all the levels look right throughout the chain, then probably from the sound card.

    Edit: I see Latitude and I were writing the same thoughts at the same time.

    And, ToolMyBass, read the OP again. Yes he did mention sound isolation issues, even though he didn't use the term. Slough's comments are right on. The OP is having issues when he cranks the headphones loud enough to drown out the ambient acoustic sound right in front of him. Headphones that provide more isolation from that sound are one practical strategy to solve the problem, and really a much better one than cranking the headphones up loud enough to drown it out.
  12. That's because we're in the same time zone. If you were in New York you would have been three hours ahead of me.:)

    Agree with your points about isolation. The Beyer 770s made for tracking drums are ideal for this (but less comfortable due to their clamping force).

    Guess I overlooked a key question for OP: are your current phones open or closed?
  13. This is why I think he needs isolation phones.
    he's turning up so loud that the mic is picking up some noise from the headphones.
    Iso cans will help that.

    Classic problem with drummers as well, turn up so loud the click bleeds through.

    even those Vic Firth ones will help him with his problem, though they don't sound as good as the Koss.
  14. Caught that and edited my post.!!

    With proper recording techniques/set-up and levels, "sound isolation" will not be an issue. I have seen endless drummers use the same headphones that were very hard hitters and loved their mix. The drummer from Billy Talent being one of them for example.
  15. Ok, here some more info for you guys. I don't have specifics like impedance, power output, etc..

    Headphones are Sony MDR7506's
    Interface is M-Audio M-Track Plus
    Mic is AT2020
    Computer is MacBook Pro
    Software is ProTools Express

    I have the AT2020 plugged into the M-Track with the phantom power on. The headphones are plugged into the M-Track also. I have the audio output set to "USB" instead of "Direct".

    I have the AT2020 set about 1.5ft in front of the left sound hole (although I've been trying different locations for different sound like right in front of the upright bass).

    I've set the input on input gain on the M-Track so it never goes into the yellow. I've set it input on ProTools so it barely goes into the yellow.

    Does that help at all?
  16. I haven't used that particular M-box, but it clearly has a dedicated headphone jack w/level control, so that should be doing the job for you.

    Does this issue arise at the same volume when you're playing back recordings? If so, the simplest thing to do is take your MacBook and your M-box down to somewhere that has display headphones and see if the problem still appears with different headphones. If the problem goes away with different headphones, then you know yours are the problem. If the problem remains, you know it's not your headphones. If the problem doesn't occur at the same volume on playback, that also tells you it's not your headphones.
  17. Just looked at the manual for your interface. It does not give specs for the headphone amplifier.

    However, in addition to Major Softie's wise suggestion above, I suggest you review the manual and make sure your settings on the interface are correct.

    I would test with your Electric bass to simplify things and make sure you have input set to guitar (if using a passive bass), the other switch is set to analog, and that you have no mic connected to the interface.

    How do things sound now?