Side by Side: Headphones

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The most personal pieces of equipment in a studio are the announcer's or producer's headphones. I have always believed an announcer should have his own pair. It's like a musician choosing an instrument or an artist choosing a brush. They are worn for long periods, so comfort is important, but over the long-term it's the consistent sound they deliver.

Besides consistent monitoring, if an announcer owns his own pair of headphones, he's more likely to take care of them. There are better things for the engineering shop to do than repair headphones all day.

There are lots of different headphone choices available, thanks in part to club DJs and other audio users, but even consumers are choosing better headphones for personal use. For this Side by Side, we looked at closed-back designs. The closed design reduces the potential for feedback and also eliminates much of the room noise. We chose a street price of $100 or less with the idea that this was a compromise price point between very good quality and affordability. Some of the models below can be purchased for much less.

Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs
These professional headphones offer a flat, extended frequency response and can deliver a high SPL. Features include a sturdy strain-relief cable, comfortable circumaural earpieces that can be rotated 180 degrees for one-ear monitoring, 40mm drives with neodymium magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, an 11' straight cable with a 1/4" connector. Elements, cables and earpads can be replaced in the field. 5Hz - 28kHz; 60Ω.

 Hosa Technology HDC-800 Hosa Technology HDC-800
Featuring an extra-wide headband, this design provides lateral pressure to maximize the ear cushion placement for best isolation. The headphones are collapsible to fold flat for convenient storage. The cable is terminated in a 3.5mm plug and includes a 1/4" adapter. The efficient drivers provide a linear frequency response. 20Hz - 20kHz; 32Ω.

 Koss Pro4AA Koss Pro4AA
Probably the most popular headphones in the 1970s and 1980s, the Koss Pro4AA delivers full-frequency, high-fidelity performance with outstanding noise isolation. This design, retired in the late 1980s, has returned. The headband is made of steel and padded with rubber. The adjustable slide bars ensure a snug fit. The 8' coiled cord has a 1/4" stereo plug. 10Hz - 25kHz; 250Ω.

 Sennheiser HD280 PRO Sennheiser HD280 PRO
These circumaural headphones are designed for professional monitoring. They are collapsible for storage and include swiveling ear cups. They attenuate 32dB of external noise, and the 10' coiled cable terminates in a 3.5mm connector. A locking 1/4" adaptor is included. 8Hz - 25kHz; 64Ω.

 Shure SRH440 Shure SRH440
The enhanced frequency response delivers accurate audio across an extended range, and the closed-back, circumaural design reduces background noise. An adjustable headband and collapsible construction provide comfort and portability. A bayonet clip securely locks the cable into the replaceable ear cup. The 10' coiled detachable cable terminates in a 3.5mm connector. A 1/4" adapter and carrying bag are included. 10Hz - 22kHz; 44Ω.

 Sony MDR-7506 Sony MDR-7506
These headphones fold for storage and transport. The coiled cable terminates in a 3.5mm connector and includes a 1/4" adapter. The 40mm diameter drive units deliver deep bass, low distortion and wide dynamic range and are mounted with Neodymium magnets. A carrying bag is also included. 10Hz - 20kHz; 63Ω.

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