Selecting the best headphones for your home studio should not be too complicated. The first step is to identify your needs and the primary purpose for the headphones. Your headphones could be for tracking, mixing, monitoring, or any combination of these needs. Identifying the purpose helps narrow down your search and will result in purchasing the right pair of headphones. This, because there are different physical attributes to headphones that can make some better for tracking vocals where microphone bleed could be an issue, and others that are better for monitoring or mixing, etc.

What are “studio” headphones?

Studio headphones have features that are designed specifically with audio recording in mind. One of those features depending on the design style is acoustic isolation. When recording music in a studio, you not only want to prevent outside sound from entering in, but also prevent sound from also leaking out. Vocalists are normally in front of sensitive vocal microphones and the sound leakage from a headphone may be picked up by the mic, and create audible bleed through which of course is problematic at the mixing stage of the project. When there is audible and unwanted bleed through on a recorded track, the only real tool left at mixdown is to use a gate which is less desirable because the bleed will still be audible when the gate is open to allow the vocal to be heard. So better to remedy that potential issue up front with headphones that seal out the audio that is being played through them.

Another feature of a good quality studio headphone is that it reproduces the sound you’re hearing as accurately as possible. The sonic neutrality or minimal coloration of studio headphones help to reveal any flaws in the captured sound. They provide reliable sound reproduction for the engineer to make the required changes to his/her mix. Headphones are also one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment in a recording studio. Therefore, comfort and durability are also important factors that you can consider when searching for headphones for your recording studio.

Types of headphones

Headphones used for recording studios are categorized into 3 types depending on their open or closed ear cups.

Closed-back headphones

Preferred by vocalists, closed-back headphones are much better in preventing noise (and sound leakage) compared to open-back headphones. However, the internal of soundwaves in the closed-back headphones can sometimes interfere with the accuracy of sound. Hence, these headphones are best for monitoring purposes but not for mixing sounds.

Open-back headphones

The design intent behind open-back headphones is to allow sound to escape, and not get trapped inside the enclosure. This allows the headphone to bring out a more natural sound. The open-back headphones are used mainly for mixing purposes as there is a complete absence of internal wave reflection inside the
headphone. However, they are less helpful in recording as a vocal mic may pick up the sound leaking from the headphones.

Semi-open or semi-closed back headphones

The semi-open or semi-closed-back headphones bring the best of both worlds together. They help in mixing as well as monitoring as they release the sound pressure. These headphones have the right amount of ambiance but are not as good an option when recording where a sensitive microphone may pickup some of the bleed coming out of the drivers.

Most studio have both, closed for tracking, open or semi open for mixing and checking mixes.

The Fluid Audio Focus Headphone Mixing System not only offers high-quality, comfortable headphones mixing for sound engineers and music enthusiasts, the also provide professional studio mixing suite environments allowing entire mixing duties to be accomplished using the headphones alone. This can be advantageous where maintaining a quiet room is important or if you find yourself remote mixing somewhere where physical studio monitors are not an option.