Monitor headphones are special headphones used to “monitor” sounds during recording or audio mixing. While the audio for a track is being mixed, a producer uses a monitor headphone to check the quality and compatibility of each of the sounds that will make up the audio. A similar thing happens during recording. A monitor headphone gives a near-exact reproduction of the recording so that people involved can make tweaks where necessary.
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How Exactly do Monitor Headphones Work?
Monitor headphones are designed to pick up the tiniest bit of sounds. For instance, if an audio recording uses sounds from the guitar, piano, drums, and other musical instruments, a monitor headphone will be able to reproduce each sound almost exactly how they were recorded without killing off the sounds from any of the musical instrument.
For example, some cheap headphones will reproduce audio recordings without echoes, sounds from backup singers, and other things that make a track distinct. It is until you listen to such recordings with better headphones that you realize that the cheap headphones killed off some parts of the recording.
Now increase the quality of the better headphones by a considerable margin; that’s how precise monitor headphones are in sound reproduction. As stated earlier, they pick up the tiniest bits of sounds used in a recording without increasing or lowering the intensity of any of the musical instruments used.
What do Monitor Headphones Look Like?
You would have seen a monitor headphone if you have ever been in a recording studio or watched a movie or documentary that involves the recording of sounds. They appear more durable, comfy, and bigger than regular headphones since they are designed to be used by more than one person.
They have extra padding around the ears so that mixing engineers, producers, artistes, and other professionals can wear them comfortably for an extended period. They also come with thick and durable cables that can survive a lot of tugging and pulling.
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What are the Unique Qualities of Monitor Headphones?
Monitor headphones have three main unique qualities that differentiate them from regular headphones. They are comfortable, durable and their sound output is different.
Monitor headphones are designed to be used for long periods. They fit easily across the head and have extra paddings for extra comfort. Their earpieces also completely cover the ears to avoid bruises when they are used for long.
If you are a very careful person, you might be able to use your headphones for a long time because you are the only one that has access to it. You know how to maintain it and keep it safe. The same cannot be said for headphones used in a studio where different artistes record their songs. As such, the headphones are designed to last long.
This is probably the most distinctive feature of monitor headphones. Monitor headphones are designed to reproduce all sounds exactly the way they were recorded. The headphones do not increase the intensity or tempo of a sound over others or reduce its intensity. Everything comes out almost exactly the way it was recorded. This is necessary for appropriate modification to be made where necessary.
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Who are they for?
Monitor headphones are used to achieve precision in the reproduction of sound. They do not boost the sound, nor do they improve the quality of sounds. They produce sounds almost exactly the way they were recorded. This is why they are used by professionals who, unlike regular music lovers, need the reproduction of the precise sound.
Another way that professionals in the music industry, such as mix engineers, producers, and artists, benefit from monitor headphones is that the devices can reproduce sounds from a wide range of frequencies. Monitor headphones can pick out sound from the lowest to highest frequency range (20 to 20,000 Hz) that the human hear can pick. This means that they can reproduce from the deepest bass to the highest treble frequency.
Monitor Headphones/Regular Headphones
Regular headphones are quite different from monitor headphones because they are not designed for professional use. They are designed to “improve” the quality of sounds produced, usually based on market demand. The “improvement,” most of the time, means alteration. In most regular headphones, the bass is given prominence over other sounds that make up a musical track.
So while you will feel the booming from regular headphones, a monitor headphone will only reproduce the exact bass used in the reproduction of a track. If the original recording contained the deep bass that most people seem to want in music, then the monitor headphone will reproduce the same way, but it will not intensify it or make it cover other musical instruments.
Some regular headphones are also unable to reproduce sounds from the wide range of frequencies available on monitor headphones. For these two main reasons, monitor headphones are quite different from regular ones.
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Should I Buy Monitor Headphones
The choice to use a monitor or regular headphones is mainly dependent on a person’s taste in music. Many people like headphones that increase the bass of the recording. The booming that comes from the increased bass is what makes music enjoyable over headphones for people in this category.
If you are in this category, purchasing monitor headphones might not be a perfect idea. This is because monitor headphones will not give that booming effect you get in headphones with increased bass features. The headphones are designed for precision, not enjoyment.
For people who prefer headphones that will bring out every sound with distinction without killing one off for the other, monitor headphones are a great idea.
Monitor headphones are used by professionals because they reproduce sound from a wide range of frequencies with much more precision than regular headphones. Therefore, they are favored by musical professionals who want to get the precise sound and not an altered version. People who love headphones with that loud booming effect might want to choose regular headphones instead of monitor headphones.