Digital Sound & Music: Concepts, Applications, & Science, Chapter 1, last updated 6/25/2013
25 Studio Headphones
Good-quality reference monitor loudspeakers are wonderful to work with, but if you‟re working
in an environment where noise control is a concern you‟ll want to pick up some studio
headphones as well. If you‟re recording yourself or others, you‟ll also want to make sure you
have headphones for monitoring when performing together or with accompanying audio, while
also preventing extraneous sound from bleeding back into the microphone. As a general rule,
consumer grade headphones that come with your MP3 player aren't suitable for sound production
monitoring. You want something that isolates you from surrounding sounds and gives you a
relatively flat frequency response. Of course, a danger with using any headphones lies in
working with them for extended periods of time at an excessively high level, which can damage
your hearing. Good headphone isolation (not to mention a quiet working environment) can
minimize that risk. A set of closed-back studio headphones provides adequate isolation between
your ears and the outside world and delivers a flat and accurate frequency response. This allows
you to listen to your sound at safe levels, and trust what you‟re hearing. However, in any final
evaluation of your work, you should be sure to take off the headphones and listen to the sound
through your monitor loudspeakers before sending it off as a finished mix. Things sound quite
different when they travel through the air and in a room compared to when they're pumped
straight into your ears.
Figure 1.24 shows some inexpensive studio headphones that cost less than $50. Figure
1.25 shows some more expensive studio headphones that cost over $200. You can compare the
features of various headphones like these and get something that you can afford.
Figure 1.24 AKG K77 closed back studio headphones
Figure 1.25 Sony MDR 7509HD closed back studio
headphones Cables and Connectors
In any audio system you'll have a wide assortment of cables using many different connectors.
Some cables and connectors offer better signal transmission than others, and it's important to
become familiar with the various options. When problems arise in an audio system, they're often
the result of a bad connection or cable. Consequently, successful audio professionals purchase
high-quality cables or often make the cables themselves to ensure quality. Don‟t allow yourself
to be distracted by fancy marketing hype that tries to sell you an average quality cable for triple
the price. Quality cables have more to do with the type of termination on the connector and
appropriate shielding, jacketing, wire gauge, and conductive materials. Things like gold-plated
contacts, de-oxygenated wire, and fancy packaging are less important.
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