I recently checked out new professional headphones from Shure and Audio Technica and was impressed by both. And then I saw the price…
My initial reaction was that both sets were expensive until I paused for thought. And then I realised just what an important link in the recording chain headphones are.
Of course, I’ve always known this. During my sessioneering heyday, I carried two pairs of headphones with me for every gig – a pair of Fostex T40’s for tracking and some Beyer DT990’s to reference mixes. Why? Because none of the studios I worked in had cans capable of allowing me to perform properly without removing one side to hear my guitar in the room. In order to deliver, I needed headphones that I trusted and which were comfortable to wear. The Fostex and Beyers were chosen after extensive research.
The reality is, unless musicians feel comfortable and can hear the same in their cans as they do in the room, performance will suffer no matter how much dosh is spent on mics, outboard, monitors, acoustic treatment and all the trimmings.
Over the coming months, we’ll be enlarging our stocks of headphones and designing a listening station to allow customers to compare different brands, as well as holding demo stock for trial in studios. With prices ranging between £50 and £200, some may seem expensive but think…what price can you place on comfort, accuracy and isolation? And bearing in mind that your headphones will be used for every tracking session, a decent pair of cans might well be the best bargain you’ll ever buy, a fraction of the price of that sexy microphone you put up once a month to track acoustic guitars.
So how are your headphones? Don’t short-change your studio rig. Remember, if you can’t hear what you’re playing or singing properly, your performance will suffer.