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Your favorite headphones

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by zZippy, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. zZippy


    Oct 13, 2018
    British Columbia
    At the moment, I’m using some cheap in-ear headphones, or stealing my kid’s slightly less-cheap over-the-ear Sony pair to plug into my DI or amp for silent practice.

    Both are OK for what I’m doing (scales, jamming along to aux-input songs, etc.), but I wouldn’t mind something better.

    What’s your preferred headphone make/model/ style for this kind of thing? Why? What specs should I consider?
  2. Sony MDR 7506 studio headphones are the pro standard and at $80 don't break the bank. You can hear all frequencies equally, no bass boost or any of that mess. I've been using them for over 20 years.
  3. Sid s

    Sid s

    Dec 22, 2016
    Western NC, USA
    I use AKG K702. They were expensive but well worth it. They are comfortable and the frequency response is pretty darn good, whether you listen to your bass amp's output or anything else.
    zZippy likes this.
  4. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Sennheiser HD580. Had this pair about 10 years. Love them.
    Pewter camaro and zZippy like this.
  5. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    My son bought me a pair of ShureSRH240A's last Christmas. Still use them every day. Good sounding, comfortable and on sale often (at GC and others) for just under $100.
    zZippy likes this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    AKG K240 "studio" headphones

    they are cheap. they are "reference" headphones. they are an industry standard for decades!

    20-20k hz without (with minimal) coloration or 'fake bumps' in the frequency range.

    good luck with your headphone search/decision! :thumbsup:
    3bc, Chad Michael and zZippy like this.
  7. zZippy


    Oct 13, 2018
    British Columbia
    Thanks, everyone. This has been very helpful!
    Bartrinsic likes this.
  8. Bartrinsic

    Bartrinsic Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2018
    San Diego
    I've been surprised by how good planar phones are for bass. HIFIMAN makes the HE-400i which can be found for well under $200. These require a lot of power--I use a dedicated tube amp and the phones take a balanced input (although that balanced cable costs extra). The HE-400s is more efficient but not quite as authoritative on the low end. I generally don't take these phones out anywhere. For comparison, I also have a pair of Sony MDR-1As, which are comparable in price. Those are my portable over ear pair--light comfortable and easy to drive. But nothing so far beats a sufficiently powerful tube amp into planar cans for bass practice. Schiit makes great headphone amps for reasonable coin if your bass rig outputs aren't powerful enough. The brands mentioned above are good--I've also read good things about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but haven't tried them. Take your time trying options with a focus on mono bass (i.e. you may want a decent stereo sound stage for your backing tracks but that's not the priority for the bass)--consumer gear could be better than pro gear for practice use. I've learned that the hard way for bass: buying something that may be a perfectly good 'pro choice' or super-high-end, miles-wide sound stage consumer products may not be the best for quiet bass practice sessions when you have only yourself to please. High power into mid-priced cans that require/handle high power can make a big smile.
    Rilence and zZippy like this.
  9. JulienP.


    Jan 28, 2016
    I tried the Sony 7506 and went with the DT770. Somehow I found the Sony too straightforward, it's like the DT770 allow for more space.
    Playing daily with DI into computer with plugins.
    Very happy with it!
    One Way, RedJag and zZippy like this.
  10. Bolsyo


    Oct 18, 2015
    I have been practicing with DI/computer for many years now using Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Very nice sound, but they have a slightly boosted bass. After years of heavy use, the earpads were getting worn and compressed, so I recently replaced them with larger Shure SRH840 pads. Those pads fit fairly good and made them more comfortable, but also made them a bit more open and neutral sounding. I'm very happy with them, and they have survived a few drops off my desk too.

    Have also heard a lot of good reviews of Beyerdynamic DT770, but haven't had the chance to try them myself.
    blondmix3 and zZippy like this.
  11. ofajen


    Apr 12, 2007
    92.4W 38.9N

    zZippy likes this.
  12. In the last 5 years or so, I've been using my Grado SR125's … they have a sonic signature, that bumps the upper mids.… not sure if I like it or not.

    My next set of phones will likely be the AKG 240 studio, mentioned above.
  13. seilerbird


    Apr 12, 2012
    I am lucky. At 70 years old my high frequency hearing is shot. All headphones sound the same to me so I get by with $20 headphones.
  14. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Several things to consider.

    1) closed versus open.

    Closed phones form a virtually airtight seal around your ears which keeps music from leaking out and room noise from leaking in.

    2) reference versus enhanced.

    Reference phones have a flat frequency response and are intended to reproduce music with "hi-fidelity" to the source material. Enhanced phones accentuate certain frequency bands in order to appeal to the listener's specific taste. Typically, bass frequencies will be boosted and DJ's often use these.

    3) comfort.

    If you will be wearing them for any length of time you don't want phones that will become uncomfortable. There is a surprisingly large variation in comfort levels of various makes and models, depending on earped material, headband construction, and weight.

    4) price

    With headphones, it really does matter how much you spend and It takes a lot of money to reach the point of diminishing returns. Generally speaking, phones that cost between about $80 - $100 (and there are lots of them at this price) are considered "entry level", which should be adequate for most people practicing the bass and for casual listening. Many disagree, and stepping up to $150 or $200 gets you noticeably superior sound quality. Still others want even better, and spending upwards of $300 (sometimes waaay upwards) is necessary to really appreciate just how alive and vibrant music can be.

    There are other factors to consider, but these are probabky the big 4. All of them are a matter of personal taste which means that taking a survey like this, while potentially useful, can only provide you with a list of other people's subjective opinions.

    I could tell you that I've been almost exclusively using the Sennheiser HD280 phones about 12-15 hours per week for about 15 years for bass practice and casual listening and i really like them a lot (enough to have 3 pairs). These are entry level ($99), closed, reference phones that I find comfortable for several hours at a time. They are one of the "studio standards" at this price point, and have many satisfied users. But they also have many haters. I heard them described as producing sound that is thin and lifeless, lacks adequate bass response, are uncomfortable, and are mechanically fragile.

    I once bought a pair of V Moda phones ($200) on the enthusiastic advice of several musician friends and I hated them. They had an aggressive bass boost that was overpowering and obnoxious to my ears.

    Again, subjective, personal taste.

    One more thing. New headphones need to have some hours of use before they "break in". Until they do, they will sound unnatural and muddy. Many users buy a new set of phones and are disappointed by the dull, lifeless sound, not realizing that they need at least a few weeks of use to settle in.

    Hope this is helpful.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
    JulienP., wraub and garp like this.
  15. BoogieZK


    Sep 28, 2008
    Toulouse, France
    Fostex TH7 - cheap and unbeatable for the price.
    Good bass, good mids, good highs...
    Throw some Brainwavz Roudpad on them and you're good to go.
  16. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Sony MDR-7506 when I absolutely need the closed-type design; Sony MDR-7502 (open-type) for everything else. To @hbarcat's point, if you wear headphones for any length of time, comfort can a major factor. My ear lobes start to hurt after about 30 minutes of wearing most closed-type headphones.
    JulienP. likes this.
  17. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    My go to for the last several decades is a pair of Sony 7504 (not 7506), a long discontinued model. They've been described as fairly flat and neutral (for cheaper cans) to the point of being boring. This works for me.

    I found the 7506 too hyped in the bass and high frequencies, and fatiguing over long use.
    7504 is also comfy to wear compared to the 7506 ime, between studio and radio I've worn them for hours at a time with no discomfort.

    I see there's a pair on the bay (no affiliation), that's the first one I've seen in years besides mine.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  18. I’ve used Sony MDR-7506 phones for over 25 years. The standard in the broadcast industry for years. Great quality, no coloration, excellent clarity when mixing, which is my primary use.
  19. Ulf_Hansson


    Apr 15, 2014
    I can really recommend the AKG K271 (II), the closed-back version of K240. Great, natural sound, comfortable and works super in the studio thanks to the closed design.
    Bassngtr likes this.

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