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Author Topic: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??  (Read 2671 times)

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Offline Sevoflurane

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ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« on: October 22, 2018, 09:58:38 PM »
So I am looking for a set of well balanced studio reference headphones. Really, I want to be able to edit my recordings on my laptop without having speakers to use. I have these AIAIAI headphones and although they say that they are "neutral," they simply use too much of the lows and when I listen to recordings on other headphones they sound super flat. They also make my ears fatigue real quick because of that and my tinnitus is already shit as it is and I bet this exacerbates it, for sure.

So, if anyone has a good recommendation, that would be awesome. My budget is around $200. But If there are some that you swear by that are a bit more. I'd be down to crack on it. I'd rather ask around here than try and read a bunch of reviews on a bunch of product. Cause I trust people here know what I would like.

Thanks for your help.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2018, 10:21:46 PM »
Have you attempted to EQ? Which model do you have? If you search a bit, you can usually find a good measurement graph for most models and use that as a baseline to begin your EQ settings.

For your budget, I've heard good things about (but haven't auditioned myself) the AKG K612.

Offline chk

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2018, 07:22:42 AM »
Sony MDR 7506 or Sony MDRV6 (use the same drivers) have been a standard in studios for years, which is a good indication.  I also like the Audio Technica ATH-M50 series. Sony’s are a steal at around $70-75 on amazon. They are neutral, light and comfortable to wear, and should be on your short list.

Offline heathen

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2018, 02:01:03 PM »
I also like the Audio Technica ATH-M50 series.

I have a pair of these, and while I like them a lot they are definitely not flat and not something I'd want to use for editing/mastering. 
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2018, 03:21:08 PM »
What is the MassDrop reworked Senn HD600/650 called?  The MassDrop version is right in your budget, those Senn models are fatigue-free, pretty much reference standards, and have frequency balances which should serve to aggravate tinnitus somewhat less than other phones which tend to have a brighter and more forward sound.  Keep in mind that they are open backed (which is part of the reason they are so well-behaved), so no isolation from environmental noise.  If that is important to you, look for a closed-back headphone.
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2018, 04:10:55 PM »
I think the Massdrop version is called the 6XX.

When I recently went to an ear doctor I brought up the subject of headphones and she recommended closed back headphones because with the open cans people have a tendency to turn them up louder to overcome background noise (even the mild "everyday" background noise that we don't usually think much about).  Just throwing that out there.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2018, 04:59:30 PM »
Quite true.  I notice that tendency myself.

The flip side is that if in a location with enough background noise that you need to turn up open-backed cans to drown it out, you should be using close-backed cans for critical listening tasks anyway.

I've wondered about the possibility of quality active-noise cancelling for open-backed 'phones.  But I suppose that may not fly in the audiophile-oriented open-backed headphone market.
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Offline Sevoflurane

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2018, 05:14:49 PM »
Have you attempted to EQ? Which model do you have? If you search a bit, you can usually find a good measurement graph for most models and use that as a baseline to begin your EQ settings.

For your budget, I've heard good things about (but haven't auditioned myself) the AKG K612.

I am not sure if you are talking about attempting to EQ my recordings orrr...? But I don't really do much to EQ recordings. But if I feel that some recordings may be a bit flat or tinny. I try and boost the bass up. But if I am using my AIAIAI cans, because they already have such a exaggeration of the low end. It gives a false indication of the recordings. Then I listen to them back on other headphones and they still sound like there is no bass in them.

Appreciate the responses. I think the other thing I don't want to do is continue to make my tinnitus worse. I had chronic ear infections as a kid and it made my ears very sensitive. I always wear custom plugs to concerts. But maybe my job with some intense sounds has made it worse. Who knows... I just try and be very cautious about it.

Thank you for all the recommendations. For sure I will be getting an open back headphone. I have never been worried about outside noise. I still try to run my headphones low as it is.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2018, 05:54:43 PM »
Have you attempted to EQ? Which model do you have? If you search a bit, you can usually find a good measurement graph for most models and use that as a baseline to begin your EQ settings.

For your budget, I've heard good things about (but haven't auditioned myself) the AKG K612.

I am not sure if you are talking about attempting to EQ my recordings orrr...? But I don't really do much to EQ recordings. But if I feel that some recordings may be a bit flat or tinny. I try and boost the bass up. But if I am using my AIAIAI cans, because they already have such a exaggeration of the low end. It gives a false indication of the recordings. Then I listen to them back on other headphones and they still sound like there is no bass in them.

Sorry, I should have been more detailed in my initial response. I mean to use a parametric EQ on the headphones alone to achieve a flat (or whatever you want) response from them. Unlike speakers, there is no 'room' to affect the sound (most of our ear pinnae are similar enough not to make a big difference), so it's not difficult to get an effective change.

If you search around, you can usually find someone who has your model of headphone and has measured their frequency response. Then, you use EQ to shape your headphones' native response to whatever you like. Try Inner Fidelity's database: https://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-measurements

On Windows, I have used Equalizer APO: https://sourceforge.net/p/equalizerapo/wiki/Documentation/ which works great. I don't know about other OS solutions.

I think it's worth a shot before you spend money on a new set of headphones, and once you learn the process, you can apply it to any headphones (which sounds like it would be useful for avoiding making your tinnitus worse). You can also use it with Room EQ Wizard and a measurement microphone at your listening position for speaker EQ.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2018, 06:11:28 PM »
Edit- dyneq posted while I was typing..

I am not sure if you are talking about attempting to EQ my recordings orrr...?

In comparison to speakers, headphones have wildly different responses from each other.  Everyone's ears have a different shape and a different response when measured at the eardrum, which is different than the response we perceive in our mind after our brain does all of its processing.  Because they are close-coupled to the ears, a headphone with measured flat-response won't produce anything close to a neutral flat response in the listener, but at the same time a non-flat modified response curve that works well for one person will not work well for someone else.  The best headphone manufacturers can do is target a general response which works generally well for most types of source material and generally well for most listeners.. or go for a target "house sound".

What makes mixing on headphones difficult is that it's very difficult to achieve a calibrated reference.  It's not like putting speakers in a reasonable sounding room in such a way that the effect of the room is perceptually secondary.  It's more like listening to a speaker at the other end of a long hallway where the hallway dominates the response - in this case the hallway is analogous to the transfer function between the headphone and your ear.  You can EQ the response of the headphone>ear system to so as to be more neutral for your own hearing, but doing so is not a straightforward thing and generally requires specialized tools to really get right.  Regardless, some folks will dial in a corrective EQ curve which corrects for the grossest errors at least, which they always use with those headphones for critical listening tasks. That EQ correction is not applied to the music, its only to make the headphones closer to "right", such that one might be able to make clearer judgements about the music, perhaps including EQ corrections intended to be applied to the music rather than the headphones.

Despite marketing claims, most commercial attempts at this thus far are pretty rudimentary and don't really work very well compared to what can be done for speakers in a room, but it can help. This kind of thing is very interesting and I expect to see increased development of better sounding personalization EQ for headphones in the future. 

The more important thing than achieving a truly corrected personal headphone response is learning how what you hear through whatever headphones you are using translates to how it will sound elsewhere.  If you know that you can intentionally compensate, working around the response of the 'phones.  So if they are bass-heavy you learn to dial in less bass, etc.  That takes time and checking, but is essentially no different than what one needs to learn to do with speaker monitors to get things to translate well on other systems.

Hope that helps.
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Offline Sevoflurane

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2018, 02:32:02 PM »
Ok, everyone has pretty much told me that I should still get a set of monitors. What do you think of these? I am looking for something small and is still good for reference.

https://www.amazon.com/IK-Multimedia-Monitors-ultra-compact-bluetooth/dp/B01C5RZWCQ
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Offline capnhook

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2018, 05:51:57 PM »
I have been using Sonarworks True-Fi for a while.  I use it to apply some major correction to my Senn HD600's.  Some other taper turned me on to it a bit ago.

It's giving me more confidence that my mixes will sound the way I want them to sound in headphones, and out of good loudspeakers.

https://www.sonarworks.com/truefi

You can take the particular headphone's baseline correction, and adjust it to an approximation for your age, too.  I found I didn't need as much HF lift as the average person my age does.

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Offline Sevoflurane

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2018, 06:16:30 PM »
Cool Capn! Is that license a one time thing? Looks like something I will add when I finally get a new computer!
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2018, 08:51:25 PM »
Don't know what they offer now.  I got one license.
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"Don't ever take an all or nothing attitude when it comes to making a difference
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Every little bit is registered.  Every little bit.  So be as beautiful as you can as often as you can"

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2019, 08:35:30 PM »
I have been using Sonarworks True-Fi for a while.  I use it to apply some major correction to my Senn HD600's.  Some other taper turned me on to it a bit ago.

You can take the particular headphone's baseline correction, and adjust it to an approximation for your age, too.  I found I didn't need as much HF lift as the average person my age does.
Second this recommendation, quite helpful with the Massdrop K7XX's I use for mastering. They were $199, and pretty neutral, a bit more clinical than the HD6XX's.
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Offline 108Ω

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2019, 01:51:20 AM »
Personally, I never consider anything complete unless I hear it on several very different systems that I am familiar with.
And that means at least once on the car system (it's full-range and can highlight overlooked flaws)
Mastering to 'phones alone isn't really possible because the bottom end is always rolled off
Small desk monitors will have the same issue.
If no option for "big" monitors, use a spectrum analyser and watch what's  happening under 240Hz
Remember that low frequencies can produce uniquely rich harmonics as formant objects resonate in a recorded space.   (boomtown)
Play what you've completed on a system capable reproducing lows, even if highly colored, just to "know" what's going on.

There's always Beatlephones:




OK, but seriously, on a budget?  Either of these will not break the bank, and are quite neutral
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« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 02:26:27 AM by 108Ω »
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2019, 10:27:20 AM »
I have an old pair of Grado SR-80s that need to be serviced. How would these work out for mixing? I'm using ATH-M50s right now and want to use something a bit flatter.
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Offline 108Ω

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2019, 12:55:02 AM »
I have heard some describe SR-60 / 80 as great listening, but a bit flavored.
As over-the ear, there may be more anatomic geometry involved than around and covering the ear, but that gets debated.

Fletcher-Munson curve aside, this is the SR-80e:





Mixing for cut-ins, dubs, etc, isn't mastering for balance and presentation, just to keep it clear.   Although there is overlay between the two.

I do use phones, often at least two different types on different days, because we acclimate to sound and other factors even barometric pressure affect how we hear.
However, a good pair of nearfield monitors, with the greatest range and flatest response that you can provide, are probably a better way to go.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 12:57:08 AM by 108Ω »
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2019, 06:16:12 AM »
Sennheiser HD-424 ?

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Offline dyneq

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2019, 04:34:53 PM »
Since I last posted about EQing headphones, I've learned a bit more and wanted to share with those interested in trying it out. It is easier (and cheaper) than ever to try this.

AutoEq https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/README.md

The AutoEq project contains 1438 (and counting) EQ profiles for many popular headphones. Basically, they use pinnae-mounted microphones to measure a headphone's frequency response and then derive a paremetric EQ profile to achieve the flattest possible response from them. Check here first to see if your headphones have an EQ profile available before you jump in.

If you read the page linked above, there are instructions on how to apply the EQs in Windows, Android and Linux. If you're on a Mac, I'm sure there are great parametric EQs available that you could plug the raw EQ numbers in to and save/tweak.

I'm currently using (on Windows 10) Equalizer APO > HeSuVi > ODAC > Grado 225 with the provided EQ profile. Equalizer APO is a real-time EQ that works within the Windows audio subsystem. HeSuVi is a GUI that includes the AutoEq profiles as well as virtualization/surround stuff (which I don't use).

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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2019, 06:34:36 PM »
That looks very cool. I'm looking forward to giving it a try soon.
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2019, 07:10:31 PM »
Sennheiser HD-424 ?



I had them. 414 and 424. My local hifi shop carried them. Loved those yellow ear pads.
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2019, 05:05:03 PM »
The open-backed Sennheiser 414s with the yellow pads were my favorite pleasure-listening phones ever.


I use Sony V6 for critical monitoring but I don't consider them pleasant, merely accurate. They go loud, so they are often used as studio monitor headphones, but that is for musicians to hear themselves in the monitor mix over live drumming, moreso than for critical listening.


I mix on floor-standing speakers which are really too close to my head (about 2 feet away, totally off-axis, right by my desk) but I'm used to it.
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Re: ISO: Neutral Studio Headphones??
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2019, 09:50:16 AM »
I have been using Sonarworks True-Fi for a while.  I use it to apply some major correction to my Senn HD600's.  Some other taper turned me on to it a bit ago.

It's giving me more confidence that my mixes will sound the way I want them to sound in headphones, and out of good loudspeakers.

https://www.sonarworks.com/truefi

You can take the particular headphone's baseline correction, and adjust it to an approximation for your age, too.  I found I didn't need as much HF lift as the average person my age does.

I got this awhile ago and I love it! My Shure 440's sound very balanced now and the bass isn't as prominent. A very flat response. Something that I have desired for quite some time.

I am looking to get some studio monitors next. Upgraded to a bigger place to where I have my own room for my music stuff. The dream! But for now, these headphones will do! Great product.
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