I’m not only a live performing musician but a studio musician and producer as well. I have tried dozens of different headphones over the years and almost invariably breathed a sigh of relief when an old pair died just so I would have an excuse to buy another pair. It seemed like finding the perfect pair of headphones was like searching for the holy grail. To be honest, I still haven’t found that perfect pair of headphones but I have found a couple headphone solutions that have kept me satisfied for a while now.
In an earlier post I told you about my Shure E530PTH sound isolating earbuds which I use with my live in-ear monitor system. I really like the Shures but they make it difficult to communicate in the studio because they are difficult to keep taking out of my ears to talk to the other musicians I’m working with. I really need a great pair of closed-back headphones to use in the studio simply because of the years of using that type of headphone in studio situations has made me used to being able to take them off when I need to communicate. When my last pair of Sony studio headphones came to an untimely demise (the cord got tangled and tripped over) I had another excuse to go looking for a great pair of studio headphones.
While doing head to head comparisons at the local audio shop of several different types of headphones from various manufacturers I finally tried the Sennheiser HD380 Pro headphones and I was taken aback by how rich and full they sounded! The first thing that hit me was how good the bass sounded. The bass response of the HD380 Pro headphones is deep but not mushy. You can hear the attack of the bass drum very well and then a full blossoming of bass frequencies behind it. It’s really hard to describe in words as it’s just something you have to hear. The overall sound of the headphones is warm without being overly bright or crisp. I hate it when headphones have too much sizzle to them which other headphones are prone to do with cheap drivers. The HD380 Pro’s have very smooth frequency response and seem to slightly favor bass frequencies but in a well balanced way. They do seem to be more suited to rock and electronic music than orchestral or classical music. That makes them perfect for the rock music that I love.
The next thing I noticed right off was how comfortable the earpieces are. They enclose my entire ear and are padded with a pillowy foam cushion that never makes my head sore even after a 3-hour recording session. The entire design of the HD380 Pro’s allows you take the headphones completely apart, piece by piece if you want. This makes it easy to replace worn out parts like the cable or earpads. Remember the cord tripping incident that killed my Sony headphones? Well the same thing happened to the Sennheisers but the cord just popped out of the Sennheiser headphones and I was able to plug it in and keep my headphones going without any grief. I did wear one cable out because I rolled a studio chair over it too many times but I like these headphones so much that I just bought a replacement cable for them. Replacing the cable was as easy as unplugging the old cable and plugging in the new one. You can also replace the headband cushion and driver elements as well.
Another thing I really like about the HD380 Pro’s is their sound isolating capability. When you put some music through them the pads really seal out all external sounds. It’s really surprising how well they sound isolate from the microphones as well. I can crank them up as much as I want and I don’t ever pick them up through the microphone. They are rated at 32dB of external sound attenuation which is about as much as those yellow foam earplugs you see at concerts. The Sennheiser HD380 Pro headphones come with a 3.2 foot single-sided coil cable which extends up to 9.8 feet, a 3.5 mm stereo mini jack with a screw-on 1/4″ adapter as well as a very nice carrying case to store them in or take them with you. With a frequency response of 8Hz to 27KHz and and Sound Pressure Level of 110 dB they truly do sound fabulous. I highly recommend the Sennheiser HD380 Pro headphones for your studio or just casual listening whenever you want the best sound.