Headphone suggestions

This is slightly off topic because it is not NanoStudio specific, but I am looking for a new pair of headphones for use in my music making. The choice is so overwhelming that I keep putting off making a decision.

I'll be using them either plugged into an iPhone 11 Pro via a lightning adapter or via a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4.

Any suggestions? I don't want to spend a fortune. £50GBP, perhaps.

Comments

  • edited November 19

    My suggestion is to go for the tried and true Sony MDR-7506 Pro. They have been an industry standard for tracking for decades. They are used in tons of studios and radio stations across the world. They are durable and sound good and still cost around $100 usd. Mine have lasted 4 years and are still going strong. There are plenty of reviews out there on the web and google so you can see what others say about it but i doubt you will find a better pair of headphones for that price range. Plus you should be able to find them at any music supply store if you cant order them online. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MDR7506--sony-mdr-7506-closed-back-professional-headphones

  • I'm not a fan of the Sonys, they're way too bright and not suitable for mixing:

    https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/gear-reviews/studio-headphone-review-sony-mdr-7506/

    £50 is a pretty low budget for decent headphones, it might be worth spending a bit more and getting something like the BeyerDynamic DT770 or the Audio Technica M50X and use them in conjunction with the excellent ToneBoosters Morphit plugin to create a more neutral sound.

    If you're after a budget pair I think the Philips ones sound pretty good for very little money:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-SHL3060BK-00-Headphones-Closed-Back-Black/dp/B00NN7D85G/

  • edited November 19

    Alternatively another budget pair that is also supported by the Morphit plugin (unlike the Philips cans I mentioned above) would be the Sennheiser HD202. Use these with Morphit and I would imagine you are not going to get anything better for the money:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sennheiser-HD-202-HD202-Headphones-black/dp/B000065BP9/

  • There’s a reason 7506’s are everywhere. I’ve been using them for years. I find them quite comfortable to mix with and for general listening.

    You need to learn what you’re listening for anyway. You’re not going to mix strictly on headphones. You’ve got to listen through speakers, buds, in the car etc..

  • Well, NS10s are everywhere as well, and they're not neutral either. Many engineers seem to favour bright/bass light monitoring, but you simply cannot evaluate the low-end if your monitoring is not revealing it to you. Fine for checking how something might sound on crappy speakers, but not suitable for critical mix decisions, especially ones that involve bass, such as that crucial kick/bass balance.

    There has been this idea floating around for decades that "neutral" means no bass, partly because of monitors like the NS10. The measurements say otherwise. Most Sennheisers are much closer to neutral than the MD7506.

  • edited November 19

    @richardyot said:
    There has been this idea floating around for decades that "neutral" means no bass, partly because of monitors like the NS10. The measurements say otherwise. Most Sennheisers are much closer to neutral than the MD7506.

    The MDR 7506 are definitely not neutral but they do have an abundance of bass. And 3kHz. They are very comfortable but I have to check everything with my speakers because I will underestimate how much I have to push the highs and underestimate how much I have to cut +15kHz.

    Morphit works wonders for the poor bass response of the Apple earpods but it also created some high mid weirdness that was hard to ignore. The problem with preset based calibration plugins like this is that these cheap head/earphones have incredibly high variance between pairs. I’ll use it anyway because it’s way better than without it but it’s good to be ware of its limits. I’m a little dubious about how Morphit handled the MDR 7506s, it removed some bias but introduced more in other areas in my opinion.

  • @Stiksi Morphit probably isn't perfect, it will depend on the accuracy of measurements and the quality of the headphone drivers.

    In my testing though it definitely made the Focal Spirit Pros and the DT770s sound very similar to each other once both were calibrated, so it does seem to be converging them to a standard sound signature. It was less effective on the HD25s and the Bose QC25s, but maybe that's down to the drivers in those cans simply not being capable enough, or as you say because of variance between models. Still even those cans sounded better with than without IMO.

  • @richardyot said:
    @Stiksi Morphit probably isn't perfect, it will depend on the accuracy of measurements and the quality of the headphone drivers.

    In my testing though it definitely made the Focal Spirit Pros and the DT770s sound very similar to each other once both were calibrated, so it does seem to be converging them to a standard sound signature. It was less effective on the HD25s and the Bose QC25s, but maybe that's down to the drivers in those cans simply not being capable enough, or as you say because of variance between models. Still even those cans sounded better with than without IMO.

    Yes, it’s pretty good. I still haven’t found actual ”neutral” headphones. Not from Sony, Sennheiser, Bose, definitely not Beats, or B&O or Beyerdynamic. I spent months trying to find some a few years back but they’re all pretty bad. Even mediocre speakers are better than high-end headphones.

  • edited November 19

    @Stiksi said:

    @richardyot said:
    @Stiksi Morphit probably isn't perfect, it will depend on the accuracy of measurements and the quality of the headphone drivers.

    In my testing though it definitely made the Focal Spirit Pros and the DT770s sound very similar to each other once both were calibrated, so it does seem to be converging them to a standard sound signature. It was less effective on the HD25s and the Bose QC25s, but maybe that's down to the drivers in those cans simply not being capable enough, or as you say because of variance between models. Still even those cans sounded better with than without IMO.

    Yes, it’s pretty good. I still haven’t found actual ”neutral” headphones. Not from Sony, Sennheiser, Bose, definitely not Beats, or B&O or Beyerdynamic. I spent months trying to find some a few years back but they’re all pretty bad. Even mediocre speakers are better than high-end headphones.

    According to Sonarworks' measurements, the most neutral consumer-grade cans are the HD650:

    Sennheiser HD 650 is pretty much the most neutral headphones available on the market.

    https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/sennheiser-hd650-review/

    I also think they sound reasonably speaker-like.

    Personally I don't mind mixing on headphones, but I do always need to check the mixes on speakers as well, mainly because reverb and low-bass always sound different on speakers.

  • @richardyot said:
    @Stiksi Morphit probably isn't perfect, it will depend on the accuracy of measurements and the quality of the headphone drivers.

    In my testing though it definitely made the Focal Spirit Pros and the DT770s sound very similar to each other once both were calibrated, so it does seem to be converging them to a standard sound signature. It was less effective on the HD25s and the Bose QC25s, but maybe that's down to the drivers in those cans simply not being capable enough, or as you say because of variance between models. Still even those cans sounded better with than without IMO.

    I should have picked up the Focal Spirit Pros when they were $199. I didn’t realize they were being discontinued. Have you done any testing on their successors, the Focal Listen Pros? Im curious about mixing on those.

  • @Nomzai said:

    @richardyot said:
    @Stiksi Morphit probably isn't perfect, it will depend on the accuracy of measurements and the quality of the headphone drivers.

    In my testing though it definitely made the Focal Spirit Pros and the DT770s sound very similar to each other once both were calibrated, so it does seem to be converging them to a standard sound signature. It was less effective on the HD25s and the Bose QC25s, but maybe that's down to the drivers in those cans simply not being capable enough, or as you say because of variance between models. Still even those cans sounded better with than without IMO.

    I should have picked up the Focal Spirit Pros when they were $199. I didn’t realize they were being discontinued. Have you done any testing on their successors, the Focal Listen Pros? Im curious about mixing on those.

    I haven't heard the Focal Listens, so I can't comment on them. The reason that the Spirit Pros were discontinued though is that many of them broke (split headband) due to a manufacturing defect. I know at least 3 people who had to return theirs. Mine seem OK, I've had them since 2015 without problems so I may have been lucky, but maybe one day that fateful crack will appear in the headband...

  • My friend has had them since around the same time and they cracked within the first year. I think he just used glue on them and is extra careful with them now. I really love those headphones. Super bummed I didn’t pick them up when i had the chance.

  • edited November 20

    Thank you for the suggestions. I can extend my budget to look at the Sony MDR-7506s.

    As for all the discussion on neutrality, I am very much a hobbyist. I produce very little music that I call finished and it's just a bit of fun, so I don't need perfection. Just something to indulge my need to create a little music that I like to listen to. I have proper monitors for when I care enough to try to do a final mix.

  • @richardyot said:
    Sennheiser HD 650 is pretty much the most neutral headphones available on the market.

    https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/sennheiser-hd650-review/

    I also think they sound reasonably speaker-like.

    Cool, I’ll hunt a pair down to have a listen! Open backs aren’t a possibility for me but I’ll do it out of curiosity 🙂 As far as I can tell Focals are sold in one store in Finland, so I haven’t tried them either.

  • i have HD650 and they are really great headphones... i was worth every cent...

    They are VERY neutral but i was surprised that Morphit "HD650" improved this even more. Significantly more ! I was like WTF ? It removed a bit of mud in bass/low mids spectrum which i was nit aware before... also hihats are now lot more detailed... Real surprise for me !

  • @Nomzai said:
    My friend has had them since around the same time and they cracked within the first year. I think he just used glue on them and is extra careful with them now. I really love those headphones. Super bummed I didn’t pick them up when i had the chance.

    Yeah, they are great headphones. They're the reason I sold my HD650s: similar sound signature but easier to drive, and closed which can be an advantage in some situations (noisy house etc).

  • @tristan said:
    Thank you for the suggestions. I can extend my budget to look at the Sony MDR-7506s.

    As for all the discussion on neutrality, I am very much a hobbyist. I produce very little music that I call finished and it's just a bit of fun, so I don't need perfection. Just something to indulge my need to create a little music that I like to listen to. I have proper monitors for when I care enough to try to do a final mix.

    It might be an idea to listen to a few models in that price range, just to see which sound signature you prefer. The world seems to be divided between people who like brighter headphones and people who like darker ones, and the Sonys are very popular indeed, but they're too bright for my tastes. If you prefer a brighter and more upfront sound though, they could well be the ones for you, and they are very good at revealing high-end details thanks to that 3khz hump.

  • @richardyot said:
    Well, NS10s are everywhere as well, and they're not neutral either. Many engineers seem to favour bright/bass light monitoring, but you simply cannot evaluate the low-end if your monitoring is not revealing it to you. Fine for checking how something might sound on crappy speakers, but not suitable for critical mix decisions, especially ones that involve bass, such as that crucial kick/bass balance.

    There has been this idea floating around for decades that "neutral" means no bass, partly because of monitors like the NS10. The measurements say otherwise. Most Sennheisers are much closer to neutral than the MD7506.

    You just need the proper tissue paper. 😉

    http://www.bobhodas.com/examining-the-yamaha-ns-10m.php

    https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/yamaha-ns10-story

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