Tag: grado

Selecting the Best Headphone Type: Closed-Back, Open-Back, and Semi-Open Back

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.


Professional Headphones 15 % Off Sale at Sonic Electronix

Professional Headphones Promotion

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.


Headphone Amplifiers

If you are one of the many lovers of music who understand the importance of investing in a premium set of headphones,  you may also consider investing in the missing piece of the puzzle to make your great headphones sound amazing.

Headphone amps aren’t just an expensive toy for eccentric audiophiles.   Since the advent of the iPod and iPhone, the past decade has undergone a revolution in the way we experience music.   We compile our own personal playlists and shuffle through life to our own soundtrack, and we make a very personalized statement with the way we experience our music.

A headphone amplifier is typically a class A transistor circuit amp, although they are sometimes vacuum tube driven amplifiers, that will enable you to get the absolute most out of your headphones.   Your high-end headphones are designed to work in a very specific way,  and unlike the white ear buds that came with your phone, the drivers in your high-end headphones are much larger and require much more power to  reproduce all frequencies and perform to their max potential.

A high-end headphone amplifier like the Grado RA-1 uses a 32Ohm output impedance allowing you to make a great set of  high-end headphones sound amazing all in one stylish and sexy package.   This amp is also available in a portable version powered from two nine volt batteries.

Another use for a headphone amplifier is to allow multiple users to experience the same audio source all at once.   Some times refered to as distribution amps, these devices are designed for music production but can be employed by any group of music lovers who all want to get the best possible sonic experience.   The Presonus HP4 is the perfect way to pass the sound around, with four independent level controls the Hp4 gives you a ton of control.


Sonic Electronix’s Top 5 In-Ear Headphones Part 2 of 2

Last week we kicked-off our list of top five in-ear headphones and got off to a great start. This week we continue with some very prestigious companies like Grado, AKG, and the infamous Monster Cable who are widely known for their over-the head Beats by Dr. Dre. This is our conclusion from last week’s blog so make sure to read the first part to get the full effect of this list. You can read the part 1 of 2 by following this link: Sonic Electronix’s Top 5 In-Ear Headphones Part 1 of 2. To all our Facebook fans feel free to leave us some comments on what you think of our list, something we might have left out? Or what your list would have looked like.

Grado iGi

Grado iGi

The Grado iGi in-ear headphones use a proprietary bandwidth dynamic design that provides a very warm and precise sound that is unrivaled by any other ear-bud in its price range. The small medical-grade silicone earphone tips allow for a tight and comfortable fit that nestles within the ear canal. This tight fit produces superior noise isolation and improved bass reproduction. These Grado ear-buds offer a full-bodied range of vocals to really bring out the best in your music listening no matter what genre of music you are listening to. The Grado iGi also feature a raised Dot side indication so you will never have to confuse the right from the left and to make sure you are using your headphones properly and to their full potential.



AKG is known for manufacturing some of the best pro audio and personal audio listening devices. These AKG Q350-Black special edition Quincy Jones Signature Line in-ear headphones provide that quality that comes with the name AKG. The closed-back dynamic design reproduces deep and rich bass that is not found in your standard pair of headphones. The sound reproduction is clean, crisp with amazing highs, mids, and lows. These headphones really and truly do offer a full range of sound that gives a complete listening experience every single time with just about any genre of music. Their ultra light-weight design ear-buds offer extreme comfort for long listening sessions a long with high-quality noise-isolation for increase quality and performance. The in-line microphone provides complete music control while on your iPhone. AKG provides three different size silicone sleeves to get the most perfect fit that better suits your ear-canal. There really is not much to say about these in-ear headphones when someone like Quincy Jones puts his name on a brand like AKG the name really does speak for its self.

Monster Cable iBeats-BLACK

Monster Cable iBeats-BLACK

Last but not least are the infamous Monster Cable iBeats-Black by Dr. Dre in-ear headphones. These ear-buds offer the iconic Beats style and bass producing sound in a more compact design than its predecessor. The sealed in-ear construction and multiple design offer unsurpassed external noise blocking and improved bass and sound reproduction to truly enhance your listening experience. The single-billet machine-precision metal housing reduces vibrations to decrease interference and provide the best possible sound without interruption or cord brushing static. A hard chrome earphone finish provides rugged durability making them perfect for travel or when on the go. A built-in Control Talk Mic allows for hands-free calling and online chatting, and also offers track seeking capabilities without the need to touch your listening device. The iBeats are specially designed for iPad, iPhone, and iPod but will provide deep bass, enhanced highs, and clear mids on any listening device. With a company like Monster Cable and a name like Dr. Dre you know that you are getting some of the best stuff on the market.


Ortofon Cartriges: Styli with Style

OM S120

Sonic Beauty at an Arm’s Length

On the end of your turntable’s tone arm there are typically three parts that make up the assembly that converts the grooves on your vinyl record into audio.   This process is called transduction and works just like the transduction process of a microphone or loudspeaker.  These components are the headshell, the cartridge, and the stylus.   The cartridge and stylus are the most important components of your turntable as they are directly responsible for the tonality and any coloration in the reproduction of audio from your record.

Put the Needle on the RecordOrtofon Pro S Stylus

The stylus or needle is diamond tipped and found in one of two designs; spherical, which is primarily used by DJs for scratching as the physical properties allow for better tracking force, or elliptical which is the preferred choice for audiophiles looking for higher fidelity and a true to life frequency response.

The stylus comes in contact with the grooves of the record and is caused to vibrate both back and forth as well as up and down forming the left and right side of a stereo signal.  This vibration is transmitted via the cantilever to the cartridge.

The cartridge is where the kinetic energy of the stylus’ motion is converted into electrical energy in the form of an audio signal.  This is done by an electromagnetic induction process very similar to that of a dynamic microphone.   In fact both processes are referred to as a moving coil electromagnetic induction.   So you can look at the cartridge as a little microphone and just like the vast array of microphones for various audio applications Ortofon has a wide selection of cartridges and styli for every possible turntable application.

Keep On the Right Track

Ortofon specifically designs cartridges for turntable applications from scratching to digital transfer even for use specifically with Serato time coded vinyl like the Ortofon Concorde DIGITRACK and Ortofon-Serato Concorde S-120 which uses asymmetric suspension technology allowing superior tracking force and seamless response, key for controlling Serato Scratch Live while preserving the integrity of your time coded vinyl with a low wear design.

Ortofon has revolutionized the DJ cartridge industry with their all-encompassing Concord assembly which combines the stylus, cartridge, and headshell into one assembly, although the majority of Ortofon’s DJ cartridge line is Ortofon Pro S Stylusalso available in an OM model, which is designed to be used with a traditional headshell such as the Ortofon OM Q.BERT.  Co-developed by one of the most legendary DJs of all time, this cartridge combines unmatched tracking ability and low vinyl wear with a high output level tuned with an elevated midrange that pulls the scratch front and center in a mix.

Outside of the DJ community there is a resurgence in popularity of vinyl records as both a novelty and a hi-fi alternative to the compressed digital media. This has prompted a need for both a high fidelity cartridge that is suited for digital transfer and recording such as the Ortofon CC ARKIV.

Ortofon cartridges set the standards to which all other cartridge manufactures are compared and SonicElectronix.com is proud to carry the complete line of the finest DJ cartridges in the world.