Recording music is a delicate process. Even a small production error can result in a catastrophic failure for an aspiring musician. The wrong type of headphones can create sound quality problems and make you less attentive to your music. That’s why, when it comes to choosing the right type of headphones, closed-back studio headphones are the best choice for recording musicians.
In this article, I explain why closed studio headphones are the best choice for studio recording and how you can choose the best pair of closed studio headphones for you.
- Understanding the benefits of closed studio headphones
- What are closed studio headphones and why are they important for recording
- Picking the right closed studio headphones
Understanding the benefits of closed studio headphones
Closed-back studio headphones are headphones with closed ear cups that isolate noise from the outside world (hence the term “closed”).
They are excellent tools that allow musicians to focus on music production. But can also enhance someone’s personal experience when listening to music.
Here are three benefits that closed studio headphones have and why you should use them in your daily life:
- Home recording or video editing: Closed studio headphones don’t let outside sounds interfere with what is being recorded. They create an exceptional recording and monitoring environment and provide balanced, uncolored sound reproduction, so you can hear the material as it was recorded.
- For general use: Closed studio headphones are ideal for many situations. Whether you’re at home, in an office, or on the road, these headphones keep the outside world out of your ears.
- For gaming: Closed studio headphones have much more comfortable cushions than other types of headphones. The thicker padding means less pressure on your ears, making these headphones much more suitable for long gaming sessions.
What are closed studio headphones and why are they important for recording
When recording music, neutral-sounding studio headphones are a must. This is because you need to hear the recording in its truest form, without coloration or alteration of the sound during recording.
Recording with colored headphones or bass boost is like editing photos on a monitor with poor color accuracy. You’ll get an inaccurate representation of your work, and the results won’t be great.
Similarly, it’s a bad idea to record with headphones that have an uneven frequency response. As such, the best studio headphones are known for their neutral sound. Neutral or flat sound is a characteristic that is considered dull, but it helps the artist hear and understand the recording with greater accuracy.
Since your music will be listened to on different devices, it is best to be exposed to a clean and neutral sound to deliver a consistent product. Neutral studio headphones also have no overly emphasized frequencies, which is ideal for recording, monitoring, and mixing.
Open headphones have an accurate sound; however, closed studio headphones are the best for recording, as they do not suffer from sound bleed, which affects the final product. With that said, let’s continue listing the advantages of recording with closed studio headphones.
Four reasons why closed studio headphones are the best choice for recording
We’ve listed a few benefits and reasons why closed studio headphones are good for you as a dedicated music listener. But haven’t fully answered the question of why closed studio headphones are the best for recording. To continue, the top three benefits musicians can get from using closed studio headphones are:
Closed studio headphones do not color your music too much, which means you don’t lose any of the original quality of your sound with this kind of headphones.
Closed-back studio headphones are able to provide you with a more accurate sound so that you have total control over the volume, tone, and pitch of your recording.
You can get a greater creative edge on your recordings by choosing high-end reference headphones like Beyerdynamic DT-1770 Pro with a mini-XLR connector.
Focus on your music production with no interference from outside sounds
The lively, vibrant sound quality produced by closed-back studio headphones is due to their design.
When sound engineers use closed-back headphones instead of open-back headphones, they can focus on the purity of their music as heard by music lovers who use closed-back headphones for their acoustic character.
Create a good baseline for modern and electronic music
The closed-back studio headphones are ideal for recording music lovers who want to produce music in the electronic or modern style.
The headphones’ closed design enhances the delivery of Rock, Metal, Pop, Dubstep, Techno, EDM music, Electronic genres through the richest and most vibrant tones possible and helps make your music more intense and contemporary.
Increase overall productivity
It sounds like a vague benefit, but when you can increase your productivity and efficiency, you are able to save time and money.
Because of the comfort provided by closed studio headphones, you can record, mix, and edit for 6—8 hours without physical fatigue.
A good pair of closed-back studio headphones are lightweight, have moderate clamping force, and can fit comfortably on your ears.
They should also allow your ears to breathe, which is a huge advantage for any musician or recording artist in a hot studio.
These are the main reasons closed studio headphones are so good for music recording. If you know of any less apparent reasons, feel free to share them in the comments section at the bottom of the article.
Picking the right closed studio headphones
In my experience, it can be difficult to find closed-back studio headphones that are compatible with your recording equipment and every music style.
However, if you’re looking for headphones that offer great sound at a reasonable price, you should also consider the type of music you’re recording.
Each set of headphones uniquely reproduces sound, so you need to find a pair that captures all the nuances of your genre of music.
Fortunately, several types of closed-back studio headphones are available at varying prices.
Several inexpensive closed studio headphones produce quality sound. However, it’s important to consider their limitations and how they’ll fit your purpose.
As a general rule of thumb, a quality recording headphone costs around $150-$300. Although headphones in the lower price range, such as the closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones, can still offer a satisfying level of comfort with balanced and accurate sound reproduction.
On the other hand, headphones in the higher price range are more useful when recording complex and concentrated material, which involves a large composition or elaborate arrangement as they’re adequate to reveal the smallest details of your music and proper instrumental separation.
Personally, I recommend investing in a more expensive pair of closed studio headphones if you are recording music with live instruments and lots of bass and treble. Otherwise, stick with a regular pair of studio headphones under $100 – $150
Studio recording headphones don’t require sophisticated features, other than a collapsible design for carrying, multiple cables of varying lengths, and reliable construction for longevity.
An XLR cable is also an excellent addition for high-end recording headphones, which benefit from better signal transfer than a standard 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) cable and resistance to radio signal interference.
The balanced audio signal can be amplified more accurately and converted more easily into the audio format of your CD, MP3, or vinyl record. Therefore, it is a necessity for quality sound if you want to avoid noise, distortion, and loss of signal quality.
Adequate isolation and sturdy construction
Good sound isolation and a durable design are two other important features for any decent pair of closed studio headphones. Since you’ll be working with these headphones frequently, you need to make sure they’re solidly built and can withstand constant wear and tear.
Newer studio headphones are often nicely built but don’t last long, while classic studio headphones like the Sony MDR -7506 have been on the market for decades and still hold their own.
In addition, a headphone whose components are repairable or interchangeable is a huge advantage. This is another advantage of the MDR-7506.
Remember, you’ll probably work with your headphones every day and use them for years. You don’t want to buy new ones every couple of months because of a problem that needs fixing.
In the end, I can’t say which are the best closed-back studio headphones because each set differs depending on the user.
Do I really need closed-back headphones to record?
The answer is yes. A good pair of closed studio headphones is an indispensable tool for recording music or soundtracks of any kind. So, if you want to record your own music or if you plan to create your own sounds from scratch, you need a good pair of closed studio headphones.
Another reason closed studio headphones are needed is because they’re much quieter than open-back headphones and more accurate and less distorting than regular headphones or in-ear monitors.
Are studio monitoring headphones the same as recording headphones?
Most monitoring and tracking headphones are open, but closed-back monitors are just as reliable for recording as for monitoring. Studio monitoring headsets are for listening while recording, but they can still provide quality sound that helps you in your recording efforts.
Pro tip: Open studio monitors can deliver powerful, clean sound. However, you can benefit from a separate set of closed-back headphones for mastering and mixing after you’ve finished recording. You can also use multiple closed headphones for recording specific instruments, like drums or vocals.
How can I tell if my closed-back headphones are good for recording?
In addition to the quiet atmosphere that a closed-back headphone provides, which should be necessary for the purpose of music recording, there are three other aspects that you should keep in mind:
The range of reproducible frequencies, the neutrality or balance of the sound response, and the clarity and accuracy of the sound.
- The minimum frequency range of a closed-back studio headphone should be between 20 Hz and 20 kHz.
- The frequency response should be as flat as possible without emphasizing other bands, and the average variation between frequencies should be minimal (between 5 and 15 dB, except for the high-frequency range, where the trebles are a bit more uneven).
- Finally, the accuracy and clarity of the sound can be tested by listening to tracks in which the same sound is reproduced on quality speakers or professional reference headphones and then on your studio headphones. You have a clear winner if your headphones can capture nuances that cannot be heard or reproduced by speakers. If the sound is more natural, extended, and transparent, then you have a good set of studio headphones.
Are all closed studio headphones adequate for recording?
The need for closed-back headphones varies depending on the type of recording you are doing.
If you are recording vocals or instruments with multiple overlays, closed-back studio headphones with a well-developed soundstage and good imaging will be the best choice for you.
In other cases, such as recording acoustic instruments or vocals with minimal layers, a closed-back headphone with a more balanced mid-range and/or a softer low-end is enough.
On the other hand, if the bass is desired in the recording, a set of closed studio headphones with deep bass and a rich, warm sound response is preferable to ensure that the bass is well represented in the recording.
Some of the best headphones for recording are Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm, Sony MDR-7506, and Audio-Technica ATH-M50X.
Are closed studio headphones affordable?
Absolutely. With the right studio headphones, musicians can get the ideal recording conditions in their studio without worrying about paying too much.
Studio headphones can be expensive and difficult to acquire, but many are affordable and provide excellent value for their price. In fact, they provide better performance for dollars than conventional headphones designed for the general consumer.
Recording is an essential step in music production. It is inevitable. It requires a lot of time, effort, and energy and the right pair of headphones.
Many factors determine the sound of the final result. Ultimately, your choice of headphones can make a huge difference in whether your songs turn out to be a positive or negative experience.
With all the information presented in this article, I hope you understand why closed studio headphones are the preferred tools for recording and what goes into a successful recording session.