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Author Topic: noise cancelling headphones....  (Read 3283 times)

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Offline enc

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noise cancelling headphones....
« on: May 22, 2015, 01:57:55 PM »
.... are they a good idea for field recording ?

i have a zoom h2n and a tascam dr 44 w used mainly for field recordings.

i monitor through a cheap but ok sounding philips headphones. problem is, the framework on them tends to creak and  and this is picked up by the recorders sensitive mics.

i also have a pair of Sony headphones but they are quite noisy and generate quite a bit of noise.

sooo, im on the lookout for a new set of headphones.

was toying with the idea of sound cancelling headphones. is that  a reasonable idea for monitoring in the field ?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 03:33:42 AM by enc »

Offline fmw

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2015, 08:22:55 PM »
Noise cancelling headphones only reduce steady background noise, like engine noise in a jet, or a room air conditioner.  They won't do any good for field recording. 

Over the ear headphones are what you want. 

Offline earmonger

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2015, 11:02:52 PM »
I would suggest IEMs--in-ear monitors. Basically earbuds built into earplugs--like the things you see musicians wearing onstage.  They're doing what you want, blocking the roar so they can hear the music clearly.

They're good for listening to music in situations like airplanes, too. 

In fact they block more decibels of external noise than noise cancelling phones--and noise cancelling phones need battery power and, from the ones I've heard, generally add a hiss or something that you can hear in non-noisy places. IEMs are simpler, more effective, smaller, more hi-fi.

Shure has been making good IEMs for a long time--look at the SE series here http://www.sweetwater.com/c454--Shure--In_Ear_Monitors--and I love mine. But there are a lot of other brands now, and you can find endless discussion on head-fi.org here http://www.head-fi.org/f/103/portable-headphones-earphones-and-in-ear-monitors

But here is the thing about IEMs--you have to get a tight fit. They will come with a variety of tips--flanged, soft, semi-soft, various sizes--and you have to try them all. Without a tight fit they will sound bad and they won't block sound. Look at the instructions for putting them in--they are different from earbuds, but companies like Shure have videos online--and methodically try all the tips with whatever you get. Everyone's ears are different.  It's a Cinderella thing.

If you find yourself at an airport, check out some of the fancier electronics stores. During one layover I ended up at one that let me try on some $700 and $1000 IEMs, high-end Shure and JBL. Boy, did they sound good...wait'll I win Lotto :)   
 

Offline enc

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2015, 03:31:14 AM »
THanks guys, very useful information  8) I'll not bother with the noise cancelling headphones. I hadn't realised they only worked with steady noise inputs.

Are the "in ear" type  similar to iPod in ear type as I find find those  uncomfortable.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 03:40:06 AM by enc »

Offline John Willett

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2015, 09:41:18 AM »
I find the Sennheiser HD 25-1 the best for location recording - and they are pretty-well the industry standard for sound recordists in the UK.

Offline enc

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2015, 09:50:06 AM »
hey thanks for the heads up john ... have been reading  reviews and feed back on those sennheisers.... they seem
 very good.

im trying out these at the moment ...

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9036109.htm?CMPID=GS001&_$ja=cgid:12488198090|tsid:59158|cid:200217410|lid:94809513890|nw:g|crid:59309260250|rnd:6289350183280554500|dvc:c|adp:1o3|bku:1

the noise deadening is excellent .... audio quality not so good ... ill give them another week or so  :)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 10:25:33 AM by enc »

Offline anr

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2015, 01:28:04 PM »
Almost all "Noise cancelling" devices are a severe compromise.  Few make use of a decent electronic system and all rely to some degree on the less than perfect passive attenuation provided by the earshell foam surrounds. 

The problem is always - what noise do you want to get rid of?  They were originally designed to attack damaging noise, as opposed to annoying noise; although both are important in many applications.  But most are broadband devices.  This is ok to protect passengers sitting in the back of a noisy aircraft for example; and is along the lines of what you want.  Many just blot out as much ambient noise as possible, but that must adversely affect your perception of the music.   But for the aircrew in the same aircraft this is positively dangerous, as they need to hear audio cues like gearboxes graunching, etc.  This is where the real development money goes.  The commercial systems you can buy are just cheap and cheerful spin offs.     

Thus, the best systems are those designed for a specific application, but most are still old analog systems.  Very few can afford the programmable digital system developed in the late 90s, which provides about 15-20dB(A) better performance. 


Offline John Willett

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2015, 06:36:24 PM »
Almost all "Noise cancelling" devices are a severe compromise.  Few make use of a decent electronic system and all rely to some degree on the less than perfect passive attenuation provided by the earshell foam surrounds. 

The problem is always - what noise do you want to get rid of?  They were originally designed to attack damaging noise, as opposed to annoying noise; although both are important in many applications.  But most are broadband devices.  This is ok to protect passengers sitting in the back of a noisy aircraft for example; and is along the lines of what you want.  Many just blot out as much ambient noise as possible, but that must adversely affect your perception of the music.   But for the aircrew in the same aircraft this is positively dangerous, as they need to hear audio cues like gearboxes graunching, etc.  This is where the real development money goes.  The commercial systems you can buy are just cheap and cheerful spin offs.     

Thus, the best systems are those designed for a specific application, but most are still old analog systems.  Very few can afford the programmable digital system developed in the late 90s, which provides about 15-20dB(A) better performance.

Sennheiser originally developed active nose reduction at the request of Lufthansa who found their pilots going deaf at the age of 40.

Sennheiser's original consumer ANR headphones had basically the same circuit.

But ANR only works at low frequencies - high frequencies need passive attenuation as in closed headphones or ear defenders.

But, due to the electronics, IMHO ANR headphones are not suitable for monitoring purposes - great for aircraft use and travelling, but not for music recording.

Offline voltronic

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2015, 09:33:03 PM »
Mark me down as someone who dislikes noise cancelling headphones, and instead prefers noise-isolating cans or IEMs. 

I recently picked up a set of Sennheiser HD 380 Pro sealed over-the-ear cans, and they are outstanding.  I paid $90 on eBay for an open box / new set.  Going for $140 on Amazon at the moment.  The bass especially is very extended without being over-hyped, and I'm discovering things in recordings I never knew were there before.  Including HVAC rumble on some of my older recordings that now will need a pass through iZotope Rx...
http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-380-pro-headphones

The isolation is plenty good enough to use live.  The only knock against them which you will read in reviews is the included cable is a very heavy, coiled type.  I bought this lightweight one from B&W and now they fell just about weightless on my head.
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Shop/Recertified-Products-and-Accessories/Accessories/P5-standard-audio-cable.html

Truth be told though, the Sennheiser's are a bit bulky even in their nice included case to take on live recording, and I primary use them for mastering on my computer when I need a different perspective than my monitors.  For live recording, I usually use my Etymotic MC5s which have great isolation are are quite inexpensive.
http://www.etymotic.com/consumer/earphones/mc5.html

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Offline enc

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2015, 12:52:19 PM »
on the advice of john willet up there  ::) and reading literally hundreds of reviews on the senheiser HD25- 11  i just ordered a pair ! 

the HD202's will be going back to Argos. to be fair, they aren't bad at all especially for the money ... just the cabling is so thin... dont think they'll stand up to much lugging about. 

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2015, 03:08:32 PM »
Noise cancelling has the potential to improve musical isolation for headphone monitoring, but I've come across no implementations which are actually capable of doing so.

I've posted here previously about experimenting with some active noise-canceling Audio Technical in-ears.  My intent was to use their active noise-cancellation to maximize low-frequency isolation and supplement the isolation provided by the plug's physical occlusion of the ear-canal, which was sufficient through the rest of the audible range after replacing the stock flanged silicone tips with modified high NR rated foam earplugs.

In short, it worked great, but..  Providing the most neutral-sounding, high-isolation earplugs I've ever used with outstanding balance between the bass and mids.. until the level of the music reached the point where they would actually be useful and the noise-cancellation circuitry ran out of headroom and clipped badly.

I still think it would be a good idea, and probably would be the only way to monitor the low end more accurately from within the same environment.  My intent was only partly for recording monitoring, partly as an improved 'active' ear-plug with the potential for having a user modifiable eq curve.   As an OT aside, I think high-quality active noise cancelling should be adapted to audiophile open-backed headphones.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2015, 03:13:27 PM »
If you need the most isolation possible from a passive solution, the best you can do is to wear tight-fitting high NR rated isolation 'ear-muffs' over fully inserted, well seated in-ear monitors.  I've done that a few times with gun-range style muffs over Etymotic ER-4S with modified high NR foam plugs.

If all you need is a way to check to make sure you are recording music rather than static, and confirm that signal is being routed to the correct places, closed-backed headphones work fine.   That's a lot less hassle, offering quick, on-off.  Just don't try to make critical decisions monitoring on them while recording.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2015, 03:17:54 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline John Willett

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Re: noise cancelling headphones....
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2015, 10:33:42 AM »
on the advice of john willet up there  ::) and reading literally hundreds of reviews on the senheiser HD25- 11  i just ordered a pair ! 

You won't regret it. 


... just the cabling is so thin... dont think they'll stand up to much lugging about.

The thickness of the cable does not tell you everything - for example, the cable on the Sennheiser MKE 1 is just 1mm in diameter, but is the toughest and most indestructible cable I know.  I heard that someone caught a costume in the cable during a theatre show and this was so bad that it tore the outer plastic cover off the cable revealing the wires - which refused to break and the mic. kept working perfectly.  The reason - there is more Kevlar in the cable than copper.  ;D

 

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