Welcome to the third part of our popular Studio Gear series. Part 1 focused on microphones and preamps, and part 2 laid out many popular options for the recording and editing software known as DAWs. Today, we’ll discuss the finer points of headphones, and the importance of a sold pair (or pairs!) to the finished sound of your ACX audiobook productions.
Headphones, Not Speakers
It is imperative that you use headphones when editing and mastering your audiobooks. Your studio may have excellent speakers, but you’ll need a decent set of headphones to pick up on the small noises and and finer points of your production that may need editing.
Before we get into the specifics, we’ll offer the technical definition of headphones courtesy of Sweetwater:
A headphone is an electromagnetic transducer designed to be worn on the human head for the purpose of audio listening/monitoring, and as distinct from an earphone, or system worn in the ear. They are usually based on the principle of electromagnetic induction used to convert the electrical energy output of a headphone amplifier into acoustic energy, or sound.
Two Types of ‘Phones
When it comes to recording and editing audiobooks, there are two main uses for headphones. When narrating, it is ideal for narrators to use open or semi-open headphones, so the actor can hear themselves well. When editing, however, isolation is key so that clicks and other unwanted noises can be heard. If your budget allows, you may want to invest in a pair of open headphones for recording and a pair of in-ear monitors for editing and mastering. But don’t worry, we’ve got suggestions for those not ready to make that kind of investment below.
ACX Production Coordinator Andrew Grathwohl joins us to offer his headphone recommendations for audiobook production newbies and those looking for a top of the line setup.
Senheiser HD 202 II – These are great headphones for editing and narrating on a budget.
AKG K 240 – The most beloved vocal monitor headphones in the industry. The K 240 headphones by AKG are the standard headphones used by vocalists in professional studios. You can’t go wrong with these for editing nor for narrating!
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 – An excellent closed-cup headphone that excels in vocal editing scenarios.
Shure SE535-V – Achieve the highest quality sound and isolation possible with these Shure in-ear-monitors. Though the price tag is high, these headphones are durable and will last a lifetime.
Now that you’ve got some options, picking the right headphones for your budget should be easy. Your ears, and the ears of your listeners, will be thankful!
Which headphones are you using in your studio?