Complete Guide to Studio Headphones & In-Ear Monitors

Review of the best studio headphones & in-ear monitors. These equipment play an important role in any recording studio.

Headphones vs. Monitors

When it comes to monitoring, there are several advantages of using studio monitors. With headphones, it can get a bit difficult to get an idea of how it all sounds in a typical reflective room, and they are rarely as flat in frequency response compared to good studio monitors.

Most budget headphones are also usually unable to convey the high frequencies quite right, and the bass is also a bit less full. Besides, many find it a lot easier to work with speakers, as opposed to headphones.

So, even though headphones will be more cost effective, at some point of time you should consider getting a quality set of monitors. However, for amateurs, even headphones would do just fine.

Most of the time, it’s the budget that makes many music enthusiasts choose a pair of headphones. A good studio can cost a few thousand dollars, which includes several expensive equipment. Good headphones, however, are available for $200 to $300 which is actually not bad.

In-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones

Most of the time, this is personal preference.

However, there are lots of musicians/enthusiasts who prefer listening to music using “in-ear” but when it comes to recording, they use “over-ear” as it gives more clarity and blocks out any background noise.

When shopping for headphones, you’ll notice models that say “extra bass” or “live sound”, which means they are designed to reproduce certain frequencies (bass, treble, mids) better than others, much like most of our home entertainment amps & speakers.

However, for mixing / monitoring, it’s always better to get “flat” speakers/headphones, something that doesn’t focus on any certain frequencies.

Sound Isolation: Is It Important?

In a recording studio, it is important to hear the greater details of the various tracks/mix, especially at lower volume; and this is achieved by sound isolation headphones.

General purpose headphones, on the other hand, are intended for casual listening and do not give you complete sound isolation.

Listening at comparatively lower-volume is always good because it means you ears don’t get fatigued over extended periods. Besides, it is much safer for your ears than turning up the volume to overcome the background noise.

And it is not that sound isolating earphones are used only in studios; the way these are built they can be used while travelling, exercising, and even studying if you like listening to soft music while reading.

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Isolation vs Noise Cancellation

Noise isolation is actually different from noise cancellation.

Noise cancellation headphones are usually used by sound engineers for specific purposes, especially to negate selected frequencies; but then it may introduce certain coloration into the resulting audio.
These headphones are generally larger and are powered by batteries.

Sound isolating earphones on the other hand physically blocks the background noise, and for that purpose, these are recommended over most noise cancellation earphones.

Extension Cables for Earphones

This is something that you may need later on, as you do more studio work or stage performances. These are available in different lengths; so you may choose as per your requirement.

Here’s a video that explains more about Home Recording Studio Monitors and Headphones

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