What headphones should I use to produce Electronic Dance Music?

The best headphones for producing electronic dance music?

Which headphones should I buy for producing electronic dance music?. 

There are several different styles of headphones ranging from consumer models designed for listening to your music at leisure, through to those specifically designed for music production. We all understand what headphones are, and we can pick them up in the high street or on the web. The cost of these vary (along with the quality) but many are not particularly well suited for music production unless they specifically state they are for studio use. 

Unlike consumer headphones, professional studio headphones do not overemphasize frequencies and will provide a more accurate flat frequency representation of your mix. If you don’t receive this flat frequency response then you could make alterations that you believe to be correct but are actually detrimental to the music. This becomes particularly evident when you listen to your music on a phone, laptop, speakers or in the car.

When choosing headphones, there are a number of factors you should consider such as

  • How long you will be wearing them
  • Do they need to be portable, 
  • The weight

Of course, these are all down to personal preference and comfort, and if you’re going to be wearing them for long sessions at a time, you should ensure that they are comfortable. Alongside this consideration, you should also determine whether you want

  • Closed, open or semi-open
  • Super-aural or Circumaural. 

We’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages of these below:

Closed Back Headphones
Used for: Recording
Environment suitable for: Noisy
Benefits: They offer complete isolation from external environmental noise. The audio does not bleed out so others near you don’t hear what you are listening to. These are useful if you have to work in a noisy environment. 
Disadvantages: They often exaggerate the bass frequencies. The audio is more in your head so it is not always possible to accurately determine the soundstage (the positioning of the instruments). 

Open Back Headphones
Used for: Mixing
Environment Suitable for: Quiet 
Benefits: They don’t completely isolate you from outside environmental noise, but they produce a more natural audio signal than closed back. This gives the experience of a large audio space and a more accurate soundstage.
Disadvantages: Anyone nearby can hear the music that you are listening to. Also, they are not ideal if the environment you are working in is noisy. 

Semi-Open Headphones
Used for: Recording and mixing
Environment suitable for: Either, although there may be limitations in a noisy environment.
Benefits: These are considered to offer the best of both worlds, open and closed back headphones. Although many models can have limitations for mixing or recording due to an over-emphasized bass response. 
Disadvantages: They may overemphasize low frequencies.  

Super-aural (on top of the ear) or Circumaural ( surround the whole ear).
Size: Super-aural are more compact therefore if you have to transport them this may be a consideration. 
Comfort: The super-aural can be uncomfortable if used for long periods of time as they apply pressure to the ear and can cause headaches. 
Environmental noise: Super-aural don’t remove all the environmental noise. 

Frequency Response.

Many headphones will extend the frequency response far beyond human hearing (20 Hz – 20,000 Hz). Although we cannot hear frequencies this high, by doing so it reduces the non-linearity response and audio distortion. You also want a frequency response that is as flat as possible so that the audio reproduced is as close to the original. 

Final point

When buying headphones research the different products on the market, as these change dramatically month to month. Consider what you want them for, your budget and lifestyle. If possible try and listen to different ones. Play the style of music you will be creating through them. Remember that listening is a subjective experience.

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