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Studio Headphones

 


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Recording/Mixing Technique: If a Martian ethologist were to land on earth and watch us humans, he would be puzzled by many aspects of human nature, but surely art — our propensity to create and enjoy paintings and sculpture — would be among the most puzzling. There are numerous occasions when such a tactic is required: we might be working late at night where monitoring on loudspeakers is too antisocial; or perhaps we are recording on the move with portable equipment, so using loudspeakers becomes impractical. It's often necessary to work on headphones in the home studio, even when mixing. At one time or another, we all resort to using headphones while trying to assess a mix. It may also be that we are recording in the same room that we are monitoring in, so loudspeakers are, again, inappropriate. Whatever the reason, working with headphones is a common practice, and in this article I will work through some of the techniques that can make using headphones more reliable and productive. So what headphones should you choose, and how do you go about getting the best results? It might even be that the monitoring room has poor acoustics or that the monitors are unfamiliar, and we either don't trust or can't rely on what we are hearing from the speakers. Mixing On Headphones: Pros and Cons The way in which our ears interpret sounds from loudspeakers is inherently very different to that from simple headphones. Stereophony is an auditory illusion — much as watching 25 still pictures each second in rapid succession creates the visual illusion of naturally moving images. . As a result, the recorded amplitude differences between the left and right channels don't create the required time-of-arrival differences. The simple amplitude differences we encode our stereo signals with to provide positional information (via the ubiquitous pan pot) only create a believable impression of spatial positioning when auditioned via a pair of correctly sited loudspeakers. Speaker listening is different from headphone listening, because not only can sound from each speaker reach the opposite ear, but there is also an important contribution made by reflected sound arriving at the listener's ears from different angles. What biological function could this mysterious behaviour possible serve? Cultural factors undoubtedly influence what kind of art a person enjoys — be it a Rembrandt, a Monet, a Rodin, a Picasso, a Chola bronze, a Moghul miniature, or a Ming Dynasty vase. But, even if beauty is largely in the eye of the beholder, might there be some sort of universal rule or ‘deep structure’, underlying all artistic experience? When listening to a loudspeaker, its direct sound inherently arrives at both ears, and if the speaker is positioned off to one side (consider the left-hand speaker in a stereo pair, for example), then its sound will reach the closer ear slightly earlier than it reaches the more distant one. The first thing to say is that, generally, headphone monitoring is almost always only a ‘second best’ option. The vast majority of recorded sound is intended for listening via loudspeakers and it is important to recognize this fact. When wearing headphones, each ear can only hear the sound from its own earpiece — there is no natural way in which the sound from the left earpiece can reach the right ear, for example The details may vary from culture to culture and may be influenced by the way one is raised, but it doesn’t follow that there is no genetically specified mechanism — a common denominator underlying all types of art. The consequence is that most of us perceive sounds coming from inside our heads, spaced roughly on a line running from ear to ear. The fixed time-of-arrival differences for each ear combine with the variable amplitude differences encoded between the channels of the stereo audio material, and fool our sense of hearing into perceiving different time-of-arrival information for each reproduced sound, and thus discrete directions. Headphone listening works in a very different way.

Mixing On Headphones: Pros and Cons The way in which our ears interpret sounds from loudspeakers is inherently very different to that from simple headphones. Stereophony is an auditory illusion — much as watching 25 still pictures each second in rapid succession creates the visual illusion of naturally moving images. . As a result, the recorded amplitude differences between the left and right channels don't create the required time-of-arrival differences. The simple amplitude differences we encode our stereo signals with to provide positional information (via the ubiquitous pan pot) only create a believable impression of spatial positioning when auditioned via a pair of correctly sited loudspeakers.

Speaker listening is different from headphone listening, because not only can sound from each speaker reach the opposite ear, but there is also an important contribution made by reflected sound arriving at the listener's ears from different angles. What biological function could this mysterious behaviour possible serve? Cultural factors undoubtedly influence what kind of art a person enjoys — be it a Rembrandt, a Monet, a Rodin, a Picasso, a Chola bronze, a Moghul miniature, or a Ming Dynasty vase. But, even if beauty is largely in the eye of the beholder, might there be some sort of universal rule or ‘deep structure’, underlying all artistic experience?

When listening to a loudspeaker, its direct sound inherently arrives at both ears, and if the speaker is positioned off to one side (consider the left-hand speaker in a stereo pair, for example), then its sound will reach the closer ear slightly earlier than it reaches the more distant one. The first thing to say is that, generally, headphone monitoring is almost always only a ‘second best’ option. The vast majority of recorded sound is intended for listening via loudspeakers and it is important to recognize this fact. When wearing headphones, each ear can only hear the sound from its own earpiece — there is no natural way in which the sound from the left earpiece can reach the right ear, for example

The details may vary from culture to culture and may be influenced by the way one is raised, but it doesn’t follow that there is no genetically specified mechanism — a common denominator underlying all types of art. The consequence is that most of us perceive sounds coming from inside our heads, spaced roughly on a line running from ear to ear. The fixed time-of-arrival differences for each ear combine with the variable amplitude differences encoded between the channels of the stereo audio material, and fool our sense of hearing into perceiving different time-of-arrival information for each reproduced sound, and thus discrete directions. Headphone listening works in a very different way.

One of my favorite studio headphones is the Audio Technica ATH-M50 . The integrity of sound and richness across the frequency band is quite impressive. The price to value ratio on this studio headphone is dead on.

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