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Old 06-03-2011, 08:50 PM
smrpg99 smrpg99 is offline
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Default All about Headphones/Speakers

I'm sure somebody on these forums knows the ins and outs about these. All I know about headphones and speakers comes from personal experience. I know what frequency ranges tell me, but what about impedance, sensitivity, and anything else I may need to know?

It's been bothering me the past couple of days, because I had a conversation with a guy at the local Target I work at where he claimed that the only differences in headphones that mattered was how they were eq'd. I told him that I knew better from experience working with music software and that you hear things in mixes on good headsets and monitors that other ones can't reproduce, but I have very little technical knowledge about them. So, anyone want to fill me in, preferably in a fairly digestible form? Thanks.
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:57 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is online now
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Default Re: All about Headphones/Speakers

First off, headphones and speakers are quite different, so what matters with one, might be unimportant to the other. With headphones, the impedance will usually tell you how loud they will get with the average headphone amp). There are tons of AKG D240's in studios all over the world, and they are often 600 ohms, which made it okay to connect several sets to the outputs of a small power amp(Crown D60 and D75 were popular for this). Most interfaces these days are designed to drive low impedance headphones(like 30-60 ohms). The 600 ohm phones needed a lot of juice to get loud(like those 30-50 watt power amps). Modern low impedance phones will get plenty loud with a 1-5 watt headphone amp. Most studios are using powered speakers these days, so the impedance doesn't matter to the user as the proper amp is actually built into the cabinet. With un-powered speakers, 2 factors that matter are impedance and sensitivity(how loud the speakers is when driven with 1 watt and measured at 1 meter). A 4 ohm speaker will usually be louder than an 8 ohm speaker(given the same amp), but a 4 ohm speaker rated for 95db at 1 watt/1 meter, might be the same volume as an 8 ohm speaker that is rated at 99 db at 1 watt/1 meter. As for frequency response, with speakers, its pretty simple to look at the specs and anticipate the general sound, but headphone curves are out the window as the cups are stuck on your head, and its really tough to get an accurate measurement on headphones. In both cases, there is no substitute for listening before you buy. And with speakers, its important to listen in your room, because every speaker will sound different in different rooms(acoustic spaces) due to room modes, the room dimensions, reflections, furniture, and placement. IOW, a speaker that sounds great in the store, might be terrible in your room. Specs can't tell you that one, you need to listen. pray a little, and plan on treating the room if you want accurate listening.
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Last edited by albee1952; 06-05-2011 at 12:25 PM. Reason: extra clarification and typo's
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:01 AM
smrpg99 smrpg99 is offline
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Default Re: All about Headphones/Speakers

Thanks. It still sounds like really understanding what's best and why is still difficult, but at least I feel a bit more educated.
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Old 06-05-2011, 02:16 PM
aka21stCentury aka21stCentury is offline
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Default Re: All about Headphones/Speakers

Interesting facts about those older AKGs (made in Germany) now everything is made in China or Thailand using rare earth magnets.

When TV or News crews on location are monitoring a live take at $80-100k per day what do they use? 7506s

IMO they are like NS-10s. Everyone is used to their sound and can usually manage a decent rough mix, or location adjustments ---> soft clip limiters, levels, for location work that translate decently to larger speakers in an acoustically treated control room.

My only complaint is that after a while the springs get sprung because of my fat head.

Sony wants to stop production, as they must be expensive to make.

Koss oil filled phones pads still hurt your head but were once available special order through Radio Shack but now they come with a built in mic primarily for pilots. Used the originals for better isolation but perhaps higher end Senns (I've been told) do the job but may hurt your head for extended sessions. Better isolation than 7506s. I've used the top end Beyers, unfortunately a cable was cutting audio in and out annoyingly (one side).

I must have bad luck, between Beyer, AKG, Fostex, AT, all are broken (usually one side cuts out). Fostex were well made but had a design flaw in the plastic injection molding. These are the older pro models.
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