Making music is even more fun if you have the right equipment. If you are making music, you will be spending hours listening in the studio, and you need the kind of equipment that will last and withstand the rigor. Having the right headphones is especially crucial in music-making because it allows you to hear the music with clarity. Everyone involved in music-making from the instrumentalists to the DJs must have top-notch headphones so they can listen to every note precisely. Headphones are necessary equipment in making high-quality music and to enhance the art of a musician.
The following are some tips for buying good headphones for your music-making:
- Consider the type of headphone design
The design usually refers to the physical aspect of something while these two headphones certainly look different from each other the main point that sets them apart is how they sound different from each other.
- Closed-back headphones
Closed back headphones are more prolific in the market and are more widely used compared to any type of headphones. The earcups of this model are covered and the material covering is usually plastic. Metal is used by more high-end models. The goal of this covering is to keep the sound in and offer isolation. It prevents the sound from being heard outside. Likewise, it keeps the noise from the outside from being heard by the wearer. Closed back headphones offer an intimate listening experience because it gives isolation and the wearer can’t even hear someone who is talking to them even if they are close by.
A great advantage of closed-back headphones is isolation and individual sound. You will be the only one who can hear the music you are listening to. However, the disadvantage of this type of headphone is it can make the sounds seem artificial and unnatural. However, a good advantage of closed-back headphones is the more intimate experience you will have when listening to music.
- Open-back headphones
The cups of these types of headphones are exposed and the most common design for them has exposed grills so you can see through the drivers. Sounds are driven by the driver in the earcups and these drivers are exposed in open back headphones. How an open back headphone functions are completely different from closed-back headphones. Open-back headphones have no sound isolation and the sound can be heard outside. Even outsiders and passers by can hear what a person is listening to with an open back headphone. In the same way, the wearer can hear outside sound. The only way to block out ambient sound is by cranking up the volume. Open-back headphones can be an annoyance to people within hearing range.
The advantage of an open back headphone is the sound is not compromised. What this means is you will feel that what you are listening to is all around you. The sound seems to float above your head. Many aficionados of the open back headphones describe the sound as something like being in their own private concert. You are truly locked away and in your own space as you are surrounded by music from all points.
- Consider the impedance of the headphone
Impedance refers to the power needed to give energy to a piece of particular equipment. The impedance in speakers and headphones are measured in (omega), which is the unit of electrical resistance. The higher the impedance, the more difficult it will be to drive than one which is rated lower. A stronger amp is needed to move the driver properly. Headphones have two categories of impedance.
- Low impedance
A headphone of 50 ohms is on the low-end impedance. Low impedance headphones that are 50 ohms and below work well with portable devices since they can produce good quality sound and volume from low voltages.
The volume will be satisfactory and won’t need external amplification. Most devices are made with low impedance because manufacturers are thinking of the smartphone phone and tablet market. For headphones that can really work with mobile devices, look for an impedance that is around 30 ohms.
- High impedance
Headphones that are 75 ohms or higher are high impedance and need an outside source of amplification to work. A headphone with 250 ohms still can work with your smartphone or tablet, but you need to crank up the volume, and even then, you will not get the full effect. High impedance headphones are specifically used for production music making because they have a higher quality sound when driven with an adequate voltage power.
Like open back design headphones. High impedance headphones are made to be in privacy. They need additional amplification. You can buy a dedicated headphone amp to bring out the full effect of the headphones. The sound quality is worth it, and you will notice the difference.
- Earcup size and design
Headphones are placed on the ear, and they should fit there perfectly and snugly. The following is a discussion of earcup sizes of headphones.
- On-ear earcup design
This type of earcup is placed on the outer parts f the ear. This is an affordable design, and most headphones on the market tend to be on-ear. Since this type of design sits on the ear, the head bands shouldn’t be too tight because it can cause pain even in short time listening sessions since the on-ear design will push the ears into the head. Although each person’s head is different, it is important to read reviews of the headphones you are getting. If you see too many reviews of people complaining about the fit of the headphones, chances are the headbands of the headphone is too tight for most head sizes.
These types of earcups offer more comfort since the earcups are made to fit the entire ear. They allow the entire ear within the cup so you can have a comfortable listening session for hours on end. The earcups are above standard and can fit most ear sizes. Just like on-ear earcup design headphones, the next thing you should look for is clamping force. Even if the ear cups are comfortable to the ears, if the clamping force is too tight, it may cause you to be uncomfortable after a long session. Choose the right clamping force for maximum comfort in your music listening.
It should be noted that over-ears are costlier than on-ear types, but the comfort you get from them goes a long way. In over-ear types, you get less stress since the ear fits inside the cup. You will find that you can listen to over-ear headphones all day without straining your ears as compared to on-ear types that press on your ears.
- Sound signature across the frequency spectrum
The sound signature is how your headphones sound across a frequency spectrum. The spectrum. This is a personal preference since people prefer a different emphasis on the frequency spectrum. Certain terms apply to different sound signatures:
- Low end sounds tend to be warm sound signatures and emphasize bass sounds. They are more prominent on the low end and may even sound muddier or fuzzier. Emphasis on bass can lead to sound changes across the sound range.
- Bright sounds emphasize the treble spectrum. They are different from bass since they emphasize the high notes of the music more than the detailed, warm tones. Some people find that bright music tends to sound harsh and those brighter headphones will bring out the defects in music more than the bass sound headphones.
- Other factors to consider
- Decide on a budget
How much do you rely on your headphones? Would you be willing to spend a lot on one? Consider also if headphones are the right equipment to invest in. Perhaps you may need to invest in monitors first. Maybe it is the monitors that need improvement. Monitors are the speakers used by musicians to hear their own performances. If you get amazing sound from your headphones, your monitors may sound grainy and weak, and you may be forced to buy new monitors as well, which will only force you to go on a spending blitz.
- Consider your usage
If you are going to use your headphones primarily for editing and mixing work, consider open or semi-open models for the most natural sound. If there is a lot of background noise in your area, a closed-back is the only way to go. If you are a performing musician, go with headphones that are power efficient and go for a lower impedance model with high isolation.
When you are recording, you need headphones with background isolation and low impedance. Consider also that there are special models for drummers and other high noise users.
- Try the headphones at the store
It is best to try headphones at the store rather than buying them online. You will be able to test the sound quality right away and be able to decide if it is a proper fit. If you buy online, there is no way for you to test products, and you may just get a disappointing surprise once you’ve opened your parcel and tried it. Headphones are an investment, and you should be sure about the quality you will be getting.
There are many things to consider when buying a pair of headphones for your music-making. These considerations are both technical and musical, so you should know exactly how your headphones will work in both aspects. Personal tastes will affect your choice, and it is important to know what you are getting upfront by researching on manufacturer’s descriptions and fact sheets.