‘Being In the Room with the Musicians...’ - Convincing Headphone Audio

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Trixmay 988, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. Trixmay 988

    Trixmay 988 Demere's Dreams Thread Starter

    Perth, Australia
    I often hear people positively describe their audio equipment as making it sound like they’re in the room with the musicians. That’s kind of been the bar I’ve set for almost every headphone I’ve bought so far, but I’m wondering if people are just exaggerating or my budget’s been too low previously.

    Is it possible to get that kind of truly convincing soundstage out of a pair of cans without paying thousands of dollars (DAC excluded)? Does anyone have any recommendations of headphones personally if so?
  2. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

  3. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    What kinds of headphone setups have you tried?
    One issue is that not everyone hears headphones the same way. What I consider a "you are there" style of sound on headphones may not be what you hear.

    If you search on my posts for "you are there" you'll find some posts by me explaining my philosophy and methods for getting what I consider a degree of "you are there" sound with headphones. It's tricky and requires the whole chain from DAC to amp to headphones to work together to achieve. One thing wrong in that chain will spoil it. It's also a thing where generally more money wisely spent is more better for getting more of that effect.
    alarickc likes this.
  4. fuse999

    fuse999 Forum Resident

    Takes a good recording as well.
    guitarguy and Ham Sandwich like this.
  5. guitarguy

    guitarguy Tone Meister

    Planet Earth
    As a musician who has spent a fair bit of time in the recording studio I have a hard time understanding that phrase....unless you are talking about pre-multitrack recording or..?

    Soundstage is completely fabricated by whoever is doing the mix down.

    There is NOTHING...NOTHING IMHO that compares to hearing the final mix in the control room sitting in the sweet spot. But that was when dinosaurs still roamed the earth!

    My preference for capturing that control room energy is a pair of hi impedance cans (AKG K240M / 600 ohm) driven by a low-wattage power amp like the Crown D-75. On the front end I’d use a decent DAC with balanced XLR outputs into some kind of an analog channel strip like the Black Lion B173. This replicates a signal chain like in the studio where the multitrack outputs are routed back through the console for playback or mix down.

    Another good choice for cans would be Beyer DT150...

    If the D75 is a bit too scary then the Rupert Neve RNHP....

    I’d also love to try the SSL Fusion Analog Master Processor.
  6. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    In my experience, binaural recordings can provide a you-are-there-experience with headphones, but not so much stereo recordings. Speakers properly set up in a well-treated room, to me, can deliver a you are there experience more readily with stereo recordings, than headphones but only with recordings made to deliver that kind of experience, which is not the case with most modern pop and rock recordings.
  7. alarickc

    alarickc Vinylholic

    Portland, OR Area
    Headphones can give you everything except scale. With some work and the right selection of headphones (HD800s or planar-driver phones in my experience) you can get a soundstage that is even and well proportioned, but it's never going to be life-sized. My Abyss 1266's have one of the largest soundstages available in headphones due to the unique frame design, but even they can only cast a 6-10 ft radius soundstage. That's only large enough to suggest 6-18" performers. It's an odd illusion, similar to looking at a severly tilt-shifted photo. If you can get past that headphones are very rewarding, offering detail and immediacy speakers don't touch. If you can't though, you really need a life-size soundstage, I'd suggest giving up before you waste too much money.
    Ham Sandwich likes this.

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