When searching for a new pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones, one important step to making the best selection is to consider all the headphone types available. A functioning knowledge of headphone type, also known as acoustical principles, allows buyers to make a selection that best satisfies their expectations as listeners while meeting the demand of a headphone’s intended use. The three main acoustical principles found in modern headphones are closed-back, open-back, and semi-open back designs. Each principle offers users a unique and markedly distinct experience suited for particular environments and applications.
Audio Technica ATH M50s/LE, Excellent Closed Headphones
Perhaps the most ubiquitous acoustical principle, one of the primary advantages of closed-back headphones is minimized sound leakage. Whether in an on-ear or over-ear design, the closed-back headphone prevents music from spilling into your surroundings and keeps ambient noise from penetrating the reproduction. The resulting effect is described as sound isolation and is defined by a reproduction that is minimally colored by ambient noise.
Because they are among the best suited for quality reproduction even in noisy environments, it is of little surprise that sealed headphones are among the most common. Closed-back headphones are particularly well suited for studio engineers and DJs who demand a focused sound despite loud surroundings and are also of great benefit for travelers and office use.
Of course, for all the benefits of being able to listen to high quality audio in raucous environments there are some trade-offs. Most notably, the acoustic character of sealed headphones can have a constricted quality with a compressed sound stage leading to less resonant high and mid frequencies. Nonetheless, the limited space of the chamber does have some advantages particularly for enthusiasts of lower frequencies and robust bass. For such individuals, closed-back headphones may provide the most satisfying experience.
Grado GS1000I, Top of the Line Open Headphones
Open-back headphones are the inverse of closed-back headphones. Unlike sealed headphones, open-back headphones allow sound to flow freely through the drivers allowing more sound to emanate from the headphones. The effect of this acoustical principle is to achieve a broadened sound stage with organic and realistic sound character. While bass frequencies are not particularly accentuated, they tend to be properly balanced with higher frequencies which are allowed to ring and develop over time and space because of the free flow of air through and around the transducers. To many listeners, the freedom and natural development of the sound waves offers the highest quality sound.
While the convincing realism of the open-back sound stage can be impressive, it practically relegates the open-back headphone to the private and silent rooms of a home. Not only might people nearby find the sound leakage of the open-back headphone distracting, open-back headphones also allow ambient noise into the transducer resulting in sound so tainted by noise that it is hardly enjoyable.
beyerdynamic T5p, Exemplary Semi-Open Headphones
Certainly one of the most polemic principles available,semi-open back headphones attempt to reconcile the opposing acoustical principles by blending certain qualities of each. The semi-open headphone offers some sound isolation without fully enclosing the chamber and allowing sound to develop organically. While this certainly creates a more dynamic sound character, semi-open headphones might still leak enough sound to be a nuisance to others and should be considered as open headphones with better isolation.
In other words, semi-open headphones are more than likely to be a better fit for private listening than something one might use in a quiet library or office.
Conclusion: Choosing Yours
Knowing the distinct characteristics of each acoustic principle, it is time to think about what your demands are from your headphones. When choosing, be sure to consider the environments you are most likely to be in while enjoying your headphones.
If you know that you will be in busy and loud environments, DJ-ing the next block party, or monitoring a live performance, no other type of headphone will better serve your purposes than a fully closed, enclosed ear design. On the other hand, if you wan to unwind after a long day at work to the immaculate sound of your headphones in the privacy and quiet of your favorite lazy chair, open-back headphones might be the perfect companions (as I know they are for me!).
Most importantly, the acoustic principle of a pair of headphones is meant to help you get the most out of your music. Be sure to consider the types of music you are most likely to listen to. For instance, if you prefer classical or acoustic performances with balanced and rich sound textures, perhaps a semi-open or open design will be your best fit; whereas if you are into electronic and bass heavy music, a closed principle may better reflect the robust bass frequencies you are seeking.
To celebrate Audio-Technica’s 50th Anniversary, A-T has introduced a special limited edition ATH-M50s/LE Anniversary Headphone in a silver-colored metallic finish.
Showcased at the Winter 2012 NAMM show, the ATH-M50s/LE headphones clearly show that Audio-Technica has outdone themselves. This limited edition offering from Audio-Technica’s impressive line of 50th anniversary products boasts a remarkably broad and transparent frequency response range and luxurious ear cushioning that ensure a comfortable fit, especially over long mixing/recording sessions.
It’s apparent that Audio-Technica designed these beauties for professional mixing and monitoring due to the closed-back cushioned earcup design, which creates a superb seal and a true sense of immersion. These special headphones are also conveniently collapsible for portability and can be stored in the included protective pouch. For the DJs reading this out there, you’ll be happy to know that the circumaural ear pieces easily swivel 180° for efficient single-ear monitoring and offer a firm seal for the necessary amount of environmental isolation. The ATH-M50s/LE also utilize a straight cable that connects to the left earpiece that terminates with a gold-plated mini-plug (or with the included screw-on ¼” adapter plug).
The ATH-M50s/LE headphones come with Audio-Technica’s sophisticated and proprietary 45mm large-aperture driver technology and stellar-quality components that deliver exceptional power handling and high SPL capabilities while maintaining sound clarity that puts crystals to shame throughout the audible frequency spectrum. With punchy bass that would knock out Mike Tyson and high-end sure to make you quiver, these headphones feature neodymium magnet systems in their drivers for super-efficient signal transfer. Finally, these headphones are available in black color with coiled cable (ATH-M50), white color with coiled cable (ATH-M50WH), and black color with straight cable (ATH-M50s).
Sonic Electronix was at the NAMM show, and here’s just a bit of what we saw:
Special 50th anniversary edition with stunning traditional urushi lacquer finish, hand-painted Japanese maple leaves, etched-on serial number, and carefully crafted wooden carrying case
Did you hear that guy say that those microphones were hand-painted with a mouse hair brush? How awesome is that?! Anyway, even beyond its aesthetic appeal, it’s quite an impressive microphone. It’s got a dual-diaphragm capsule, three switchable polar patterns and transformerless circuitry that almost completely eliminates low-frequency distortion.
Special 50th anniversary edition in silver-colored metallic finish
This pair of headphones, while not hand-painted with a mouse hair brush, is another pretty sweet offering from Audio-Technica for their 50th anniversary. They’re collapsible and include a carrying pouch for easy transportation, they boast a frequency response of 15 – 28,000 Hz (8,000 Hz above the range of human hearing – perfect if Fido wants to listen to his favorite doggie tunes on his next walk) and proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnets. Worth every penny, if you ask me.
Keep an eye out for more Audio-Technica gear coming soon to your favorite audio gear e-tailer, Sonic Electronix!
This next video is of the amazing Reactable – an electronic instrument that uses numerous sound generation and manipulation modules to create music in a way that, as far as I know, is completely unique:
As stated in the video description, for those of us who don’t have the luxury to decide between buying a brand new car or buying an awesome new instrument such as The Reactable, there’s a delightful alternative: a Reactable app that’s available on both the Apple App Store and the Android Market. Check out http://www.reactable.com for more information.
Also, be sure to check out SonicTV on YouTube for more informative and fascinating videos of products to come!
Untangle your life and experience the freedom of a wireless guitar system. Wireless guitar systems are such as the Audio Technica ATW-701/G is a super convenient way for the performing guitarists out there to explore the stage and share and experience with their audience. By untethering yourself from your pedals and amps you will be free to really get into a performance, Inexpensive VHF systems such as the Audio Technica ATW251g are perfect for the weekend rockstars and the garage band heroes.
Wireless guitar systems consist of two basic components. The transmitter with is attached directly to your guitar via the supplied cable. The transmitter is encased in a bodypack style enclosure about the size of a deck of playing cards. They are easily clipped onto your belt or guitar strap and transmit wirelessly to the receiver
The receiver is typically a small box that can be mounted on an amp or by your pedalboard. Depending on the design, the wireless receivers can be field selectable meaning they can operate on many different frequencies.
Wireless guitar systems give an added level of safety to your performance by eliminating the need for the snaring cables under your feet you can be confident you won’t be accidentally stage diving as a result of tripping over a guitar cable.
Set up and tear down are also a breeze as a result of wireless systems especially if you’re are performing at a festival or venue where you either follow or open for another act as that’s atleast one less cable you will have to track down, untangle and wrap.
You are also free to keep the sounds coming as you eliminate the possibility of stepping on a cable, pulling it out of your guitar, and blowing fire out of your amp as the result of a hot line flopping about the stage while you play air guitar for a few seconds.
If you are looking for an upgrade in the field of home, DJ, or studio Professional Headphones now is the time to act. For a special limited time only Sonic Electronix will be offering a 15% discount on all of our Professional Headphones. As the holiday season comes around the corner now is the perfect time to purchase those high quality headphones you have always wanted. With manufacturers like Audio Technica, Grado, Sennheiser, Kicker and many more you are sure to find exactly what you want and need.
Professional Home Headphones
The want for high-quality sound reproduction is what sets the true audio listener apart from your average every day listener. Headphones like the SR60i and SR80i from Grado offer a fuller sound reproduction that is almost never seen in your standard pair of headphones. Here you will get cleaner, crisper and more accurate highs, mids, and lows. Kicker’s HP541 headphones also provide that higher-quality that makes listening to music a whole new experience.
Professional DJ Headphones
With professional DJ style headphones not only is sound quality important but aside from that they must feature some sort of swivel of the ear-cups and extreme flexibility. Pioneer’s HDJ-500K, and HDJ-1000 offer unique folding housing and joint movement that allow for flexibility during performance which allow for easier use when mixing. The same goes for the Shure SRH750DJ and SRH550DJ headphones. These headphones excel in low and mid frequency reproduction which is essential to a good DJ. A DJ is only as good as his equipment, and these DJ style headphones will allow for true artistic presentation.
Professional Studio Headphones
Studio monitoring headphones are a complete different ballgame in the professional headphone category. These headphones will pick up a very wide range of frequencies which is needed for proper monitoring and mixing. Audio Technica’s ATH-M50, Sony’s MDR-V600, and Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones all offer a very dynamic sound reproduction and are able to reproduce frequencies that are not always heard but play a significant role in the overall sound quality and production. Studio monitoring and mixing professional have a great sense of hearing but even they need a reliable pair of professional studio headphones to get the job done as accurate as possible.