Ignoring the fact that headphones are almost always frowned upon for mixdowns and mastering, here’s the short story of my search for a pair of good headphones for my bedroom studio.
Before we start, just let me do a quick note on the whole ‘you cannot / should not mix on headphones’ argument. Not true. The true statement should read ‘You cannot / should not depend on headphones as your ONLY source of truth when mixing (or mastering)’. The truth is that good headphones have a perfectly fine place in any mixing process. They offer a closeness to the stereo image that monitors often cannot, they reflect what many of your average listeners will actually hear, and they can let you catch minute details about your sound that only the intimacy of headphones will show you.
But enough about the pros and cons of mixing on cans, this post is about how I decided to buy a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (250ohm) for my bed room studio.
This was my list of criteria:
- Closed Back
(To not disturb the rest of the family)
- Under $250
(Since I figured I would probably want to upgrade to more expensive ones later anyways if this music thing really takes off)
- Light weight and soft pads
(My head is tiny, my ears are not…)
- Relatively low impedance
(I didn’t want to buy a dedicated amp)
- Flat response
(Naturally, as flat as you get with the above requirements)
Give the above, my short list was:
- Denon AHD2000
According to graphs I dug up online their response freq. looked ok but in the end they were ruled out since they were too expensive, and Denon’s reputation for reference class headphones was speaking against them. Also, the 5000 looked so much better but would have put me even further way out of my budget. I have this itch when I buy something that I know there is a better version of out there… Also, according to reviews online they are very very tight on the head.
- AKG (Q) 701
Great looking but too open, the noise leakage would have kept the rest of the family up and that defeats the whole purpose…
- Beyerdynamic DT 880
These cans are supposedly ‘Semi-Open’, and their cost / performance seemed excellent. In the end though my online ‘research’ ruled them out as leaking too much noise.
- Beyerdynamic DT 770
For a closed back headphone their cost / performance seemed unmatched. They look great and the response freq. is flat enough for you to learn to compensate. They’ve been around a long time and seem to have a relatively good reputation (in their price class) amongst electronic(a) producers / artists. In the end, this is what I went for.
You might wonder why there are 2 open / semi open cans in the short list, and the answer is simply that anyone you ask on what headphones to get for mixing will tell you to at the very least get open ones. Supposedly this is because open cans, by virtue of their design, are capable of more faithfully reproduce especially lower frequencies. For this reason I wanted to see if something like the semi-open design might be passable, but in the end I had to rule them out.
I’ve paired my 770’s with a Focusrite Scarlett interface without any special amplification, and at 250ohm you do have to turn up the volume a bit further than on consumer class headphones, but the Scarlett is more than capable of driving them. Especially if you are like me and do most of your mixing at night when the rest of the house is very quiet :).
After I got them I have revisited some of my older songs, and the brutal honesty with which they show how poorly mixed those songs are was a bit hard, but at the same time an eye opener.
The BD DT 770 Pro are extremely comfortable even for long (think 5 hours +) sessions. I usually forget I’m even wearing them after an hour or so. My only complaint is that the attached cable is a coiled one and that can get a bet heavy depending on how you wear them. You just need to be careful with how you place the cable so that it has a bit of support resting on a table or something in between you and the source.
I highly recommend those headphones for anyone looking for an affordable pair with great cost / performance and comfortability, but as anyone will tell you, they shouldn’t be your only or final source of truth while mixing. No headphones should.
Get them from Amazon on the following link:
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, 250 ohms
Let me know if you have any questions.