Six of the Best – Headphones

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Welcome to the MusicTech Buyer’s Guide, where we round up some of the best products reviewed in MusicTech. This month, we look at some of the recent and not so recent headphones we’ve tested…

Best All Rounders – Audio Technica AT-M70

Bang for buck, it was hard to beat our previous reference phones, the Audio Technica AT-M50s, but then along came the AT-M70s. At £299, they are not the cheapest on offer here but probably the best all-rounders. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Because of the extra frequency response on the M70s, I expected more bass, but actually the opposite is true.

If anything, there is now a noticeable clarity of the bass on the 70s compared to the 50s. It’s not muddy, but more defined, perhaps more accurate on dance music, and flatter. The M70s are accurate and great for long sessions – not a common combination – so perfect for mixing. The best just got better.”

Price £299
Contact Audio Technica 0113 277 1441

Best DIY – AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular

Ignore the ‘Modular’ bit. The big draw with these phones is the fact that you can choose your bits and construct them yourself (and be tempted by combos that certain producers use).

But your best bet is to choose the Studio ones that we tested, and which sound great, rather than risk making your own. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “As much as we like the concept of building and choosing your own components, for studio use that concept gets in the way of what are a great set of phones.
Just go ‘Studio’ and you’ll be fine…”

Price €229
Contact AIAIAI +45 35 34 63 54

Best Marmite – Telefunken EA THP-29

You will either absolutely love the look and feel of these or you will, like some in our office, not. But there’s no denying the sound and comfort of Telefunken’s latest – and who cares what they look like when you are wearing them? Reviewer Andy Jones said: “I have no difficulty recommending them. Sure, I have reservations about the plastic band – but its flexibility probably helps the isolation – and some may not agree with me about the Art Deco design, but if I’m wearing them, they’re comfortable and, more importantly, they sound great, then they’re winners to my ears.

For the cash, then, there’s little to beat them. Plastik Fantastik! Like monitors, you need two pairs of phones for mixing: one for comfort and long sessions, and one for accuracy. There are few headphones that do the first job better than these.”

Price £129.60
Contact Unity Audio 01799 520786

Best Flatness – Audeze EL-8

At the best part of £600, these are among the most expensive headphones around, but like good monitors they sound as flat as a pancake. Almost too flat, as reviewer Andy Jones said: “What this means is that for a pure listening experience some may find it a little underwhelming. I compare it to the first time I used truly flat monitors.

I thought they weren’t as good as my cheaper ones, simply because they weren’t enhanced, so sounded a little lifeless. But for ‘lifeless’ in mixing terms, read ‘useful’, because you will hear all the nooks and crannies of your mix, and there is a space around these that will enable some detailed meddling of it.

You might not want to mix on the EL-8s for hours on end, but also like good, really flat monitors, you’ll end up with better mixes at the end of your sessions.” He concluded: “Those after enhancements and a more joyful, but dishonest listen, might need to
aim lower.”

Price £599
Contact Scan 01204 474747

Best Budget – M-Audio HDH50

These are (just about) the cheapest phones on offer here. Like monitors, we normally say go for the most expensive set you can, but if you really are pushed, these phones will do a decent enough job. They were also compared to a set of cheaper M-Audios, reviewed in the same issue, and we concluded that they are definitely worth the extra £70, saying: “At £120, the HDH50s are a good buy, and offer a better mix experience and range than their cheaper brother.”

Price £106.80
Contact InMusic, 01252 896040

Best Price v Quality – Shure SRH940

These are standouts from Shure’s SRH headphone range –the latest of which is reviewed in this issue. At £179, they are probably the best value in that range, versus the features and sound you get. The frequency range traverses 5Hz to 35kHz, and at 322g they are light enough to remain comfortable for long listening sessions; sound-quality wise, they fit the bill too.

While not as all-encompassing as some of the higher-priced ones here, they do offer a comfort v sound factor which is right up there with the best. Good value, good sound and isolation, plus great comfort. A very solid set of reference phones for various mixing situations.

Price £179
Contact Shure via website




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