These Studio Headphones are Made for the Vocals, These Aren’t: A blog about monitoring in the recording studio and using studio headphones vs live headphones.
Dynaudio BM12 monitors; Genelec 1032 monitors; Sennheiser HD 650 and AKG K271 studio headphones (top to bottom)
While working on an article about vocal mics, I was reminded of a post I wrote several years ago about monitoring in the recording studio and using studio headphones vs live headphones. The original post was for a different site that is no longer online, so I thought it might be worth republishing here.
The arguments for using the same headphone for both live and studio use are sound: consistency, familiarity, and cost effective. But there are some great reasons to use a different headphone in the studio – mainly because your audience will be listening on speakers or ear buds while you will be listening on “cans” [studio slang for “headphones”]. The goal is to make your mix sound good on both types of playback system. Unfortunately, that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Any set of speakers can have multiple listening positions with very different frequency responses (see this article). If you are
For the recording process, many engineers prefer to use studio headphones. The reason for this is that they have a more accurate frequency range and are less ‘colored’ than live monitoring headphones.
Live monitoring headphones are generally used by DJs and artists to listen to their sounds when playing on stage as they have bass-heavy sound and decent noise isolation. Studio headphones, on the other hand, are used in the recording studio for listening back to mixes, checking for clipping and other unwanted distortion, creating effects and adding reverb or other treatments.
They are also ideal for vocalists who need to be able to hear themselves clearly over all the instruments with a flat frequency response so that they can hear how their voice will sound when played back.
Studio Headphones Are Made For The Vocals
The main difference between studio headphones vs live ones is that studio headphones have a flat frequency response so you can hear every frequency as it was intended to be heard without any color added by the headphone itself.
They can also be used as mixing headphones if you’re looking for something that won’t break your budget but will still give you high-quality audio playback while mixing tracks together at home or in a professional recording studio environment where space may be at a premium.
I’m a music producer, engineer, and artist mostly working with bands in the studio. I’ve been asked by a few people to write about what headphones I prefer to use in the studio.
There are two main types of headphones used in the studio: studio headphones and live headphones. There are also tons of different brands and models of each type.
I have had great success using the Audio-Technica ATH-M50S for many years. My go-to choice for monitoring has been the M50S since it came out in 2007.
I love these headphones because they are not overly hyped (as in overly bass boosted) like most consumer headphones on the market.
The M50s have a nice flat response with tight bass and smooth mid range and highs that is closer to what you would hear when listening over speakers or monitors.
The monitoring headphones I use today are only a few years old, but they’ve been used to mix over 100 albums. They are my go-to headphones for all sorts of reasons, but one reason I use them more than any other is because they are made for vocals.
So what makes these headphones different?
If you listen to music, you probably know that there’s a huge difference between how the vocals sound on a DJ mix and how the vocals sound on a recording. The DJ mix sounds like it’s coming out of your computer speakers; the recording sounds like it’s coming out of your ear buds.
When you hear your favorite band singing, or when you listen to a recording of a song you love, it sounds like it was recorded in a studio. You can hear every nuance in the singer’s voice and every instrument clearly.
That’s because the sound from your computer speakers is coming directly from the studio monitors that are sitting on top of your mixing console. In most cases, the studio monitors are actually built into the mixing console, so the sound from those speakers is being sent directly to your ears without passing through any wires or cables.
But what about when you listen to music on
When it comes to studio headphones, there are different types of headphones that are designed for different tasks. The most common ones are:
– Closed back studio headphones
– Open back studio headphones
– Live sound headphones (aka DJ style)
With the 3 main styles, there’s an interesting debate between people who use the closed back and open back studio headphones over which one is better. Others will say that live sound headphones are far superior in every way and that you should never record with anything but a live sound headphone. Some people even completely dismiss the idea of using live sound headphones for recording because they think they “leak too much sound” or “have too much bass.”
A lot of studio headphones are made for instrumental monitoring. That is to say, tracking or mixing instruments and getting a sense of the overall balance. So it’s not uncommon to find that you have trouble hearing vocals, or that the vocals sound distant or unclear. The solution to this problem is to get a pair of headphones designed specifically for vocal monitoring.
If you’re already using a pair of studio headphones, you may be surprised when you hear how much sound actually comes out of them when you put them on your head. These cans are made for listening at low volumes, so it’s possible that you haven’t heard anything but the bass since you first put the headphones on. But at high volumes, or even in proximity to your ears, these cans can start to sound like an assault on your ears!
The point is that if you’re going to do any vocal monitoring with studio headphones, then you need a pair that’s designed for it. A pair with a high-quality earcup design and an open-back design will give you better vocal clarity and better bass response than almost anything else out there.
If you’re an aspiring singer/songwriter or producer who plans on doing any recording or mixing in your spare time, then I’d recommend getting a pair
One of the toughest questions I get asked about is what headphones to use for monitoring. And as much as I’d love to say there’s just one answer, it really boils down to personal preference and what you’re doing with them.
I’ll cover some of my favorite studio headphones below, but first let’s talk about the differences between studio headphones and stage/live headphones.
Studio Headphones are renown for their ability to produce beautifully neutral sound. They’re designed for use in a recording environment, where you need to hear your music as accurate as possible. This is why most people prefer closed-back headphones when tracking vocals or instruments. Open back headphones are great for mixing because they create a more open sound and don’t cause ear fatigue as quickly, but they can also be distracting when tracking. If you know that you’ll only be using them in the studio then closed back or semi-closed headphones are your best bet. The bass response won’t be quite as strong as on a pair of Beats by Dre, but if you can hear the highs and mids accurately then it’s much easier to make sure you’re getting a good sound without adding too much bass in the mix