Aside from writing about music, I am also a recording engineer. This isn’t my profession, but I do enjoy producing, mixing, mastering (or pseudo-mastering), and running live sound. An example of my work can be heard on Saeyers‘ self-titled EP.
I’ve invested a fair amount in microphones, outboard gear, plugins, headphones, and synths. Considering that bedroom pop is a DIY genre, I thought I might share thoughts and tips on home recording, beginning with headphones.
Over the years, I’ve amassed a decent collection of headphones. Friends frequently ask me for advice on what headphones they should buy, and while they’re often consumers, my thoughts about them tend to center around the recording and mixing process.
The AKG K240 Monitor headphones were originally introduced in the 1970s, and they’ve since been replaced by the Studio model. They have high 600 Ohm impedance, which means they’re quiet; you’ll need a headphone amp to bring their volume up. They’re comfortable, though your ears will get sweaty if you wear them too long. They have a slightly muddy sound to my ears (around 150Hz), so I wouldn’t recommend doing your final mixes with them. But they sound great… punchy bass and crisp highs. They’ve since been discontinued.
AKG adjusted a few things and introduced the AKG K240 Studio cans. These headphones sound even better, in my opinion. They have 55 Ohm impedance, which means you won’t need a headphone amp to boost the level. The cable is removable, so they’re easier to pack up and the cord is easier to replace. They’re a little clearer sounding and less muddy to my ears.
These cans are semi-open-air headphones, so you shouldn’t wear them while tracking acoustic guitar (or quieter instruments) because they’ll leak. But if you’re tracking in the other room, recording direct, laying down synths, getting your basic mixes, or checking your mix against another set of headphones or nearfield monitors, these cans are great. With the price at $69 (Sweetwater), it’s hard to not own a pair (or three).
These aren’t the headphones you’ll want to use for tracking vocals (though you might get away with it if you’re recording with a Shure SM7b microphone), acoustic guitar, or strings. Why? Since they’re semi-open-air cans, they leak sound a little if your volume is up. You’ll want closed headphones while recording quieter instruments, especially if you’re using a condenser mic.
These headphones also come in the AKG K240 MKii Studio model, but I don’t have a pair to comment on. (Send me a pair and I’ll gladly review them!)
AKG K240 MKii Studio headphones:
P.S. – Send me recording gear and I’ll review it.