When it comes to listening back to your home-recorded voice over auditions and hearing every nuance of the recording and performance, one tool to use is a pair of high quality headphones.
However, as you start looking into purchasing a set, the search can start to get pretty dizzying with the long laundry list of features and pro’s and con’s.
Studio quality headphones, while serving the same purpose as those headphones you would use to listen to music, have a few more unique characteristics you will want to look out for when looking into purchasing a set. Here are the top four qualities to look for when investigating home studio headphones.
- Studio sound quality. Studio headphones have a nice balance in the quality of sound in all frequency ranges. Popular brands used for listening to music, such as “Beats”, emphasize the bass because most consumers will be listening to pop music or hip hop. Studio headphones have a “flat” frequency response across the range of hearing of 20-20,000hz.
- Over the ear design. This is where your i-pod headphone buds just won’t cut it. Studio headphones are designed with thick foam ear padding that creates a sound seal around your ears. While this passive sound deadening does not cut all noise out, it does contribute to creating conditions where you can hear any unwanted noise in your recording. The best are called “closed” because they don’t let sound leak in or out.
- NO sound canceling technology. While this technology seems ideal, it is better left on the airplane. This is a cool idea when there is a lot of external noise competing with your tunes but is a nuisance when recording in a home studio setting. This technology while deadening outside sound can create a slight hiss that is not actually present in your recording, further complicating the process of determining that you have the best recording.
- Plug in. While it may seem obvious, you will want to make sure the “male” end of the headphones matches the “female” headphone input on your home computer. Where most studio equipment uses ¼” jacks you’ll need the 1/8” jack for your personal computer. The ideal product will have the 1/8” with a ¼” adapter so you can use your new headphones in either home or professional studios.
Nowadays you are judged by the quality of your recording in addition to your performance. A good set of headphones will go a long way toward assuring that your auditions and jobs are presented with top quality sound. Brands to investigate are Sony, Sennheiser, Audio Technica and AKG. I use the Sony MDR-7506 headphones. They’re pretty standard in L.A. studios and are not expensive–usually under $100.
A music store is a better source for these brands that a consumer electronics store. As you progress in the voice over business you can also add a set of monitor speakers to complement your listening equipment. We’ll look at this option next time. For now good luck and keep talking!