Podcast Headphones

Podcast Headphones

You should all use headphones on your podcast. There are a multitude of reasons why you should incorporate a quality pair of headphones for you and your podcast guests.  Here’s why:

During COVID-19, you might not have had a choice but today you do.  Using Zoom or Teams may induce feedback noise from your computer speakers so how can you solve this dilemma?  Headphones are the answer:

  • Audio bleed is like echo, but subtler. This is caused by headphones that aren’t made right. Closed-back headphones are better for audio quality and audio bleed.
  • Headphones reduce audio echo and bleed, preserving the integrity and quality of your podcast. What is echo? What is audio bleed?
  • Increased editing capability and accuracy
  • If you listen to your recording via computer speakers, it will indicate that you are relying upon sub-par audio quality.
  • Echo happens when your microphone picks out the audio coming through your speakers. This can lead to feedback and delay in the audio. It also makes it difficult for your guests hear you.
  • Listen to your own voice. Although it can be disconcerting, you can still hear your voice through headphones. Because you can adjust your volume while you record, you have more control.
  • Improved microphone technique. You can hear the minute audio fluctuations and your mic technique infinitely improved by wearing headphones
  • Self review. Your guests and you can both self-review you are recording if it sounds muffled or distant. If this happens, adjust your angle or position accordingly. This means that you don’t have guests interrupting your recording.
  • Listen out for the sound called “popping”. This is the sound that hard consonants such p and k make, which is difficult to discern without headphones.
  • You can monitor external audio. The use of headphones allows you to see if there is any audio that could be affecting your recording. It will help you avoid unpleasant surprises later or have to request a rerecord with guests.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between noises in your recording and the track when editing via speakers.
  • Headphones allow you to hear every nuance and detail in your recording.

The key to producing professional-quality podcast recordings is wearing headphones. All of this is why you may feel pressure to find the right pair of headphones. Let’s take a look how to make an informed choice.

Finding the Best Headphones for Podcasting

Be aware that opinions on equipment can be very subjective. Different people have different preferences, so it can be confusing to figure out which ones are right for you. You should choose what is most comfortable for you.

Price/Budget

Although everyone has different budgets, it is important to determine how much you are willing to spend before you start shopping. With so many options for headphones, the price doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

Comfort

This headphones will be worn long hours so it is important to ensure your comfort.

  • Consider lightweight headphones. If worn for long periods, heavy styles can become uncomfortable.
  • Comfortable headphones with big earpads and padding are the keys to your comfort.
  • You can customize your headphones and make a big difference.

Storage & Transport

Are you concerned about portability? Consider the portability and convenience of your headphones if it’s something you do constantly.

  • Are they heavy and bulky?
  • Are they flexible? Can they be folded?

Open-Back versus Closed-Back Headphones?

Open-Back headphones:

Open-back headphones let air flow through the earcups to the speaker element.

Benefits of Open-Back Headphones

  • Better audio. These can make your audio sound better, more natural and clearer. But these ‘better’ audio qualities are only available in fully soundproofed environments.
  • More ambient sounds Some would argue that open-back headphones pick up more ambient sound which results in better audio quality.

Disadvantages of Open-Back Headphones

  • You get less isolation. You won’t get the same sound isolation with open-back headphones as with closed-back.
  • Highly sensitive to sound bleed or leakage. This is when the mic picks-up sound ‘leaked’ from your headphones. Your microphone hears both recorded and live voices.
  • Less durable. Open-back headphones are more durable than closed-back ones because they are more susceptible to moisture.

Closed-Back Headphones

Closed-back headphones have a completely sealed, or ‘closed off’ design.

Benefits of Closed-Back Headphones

  • There is very little sound leakage. This closed structure ensures that only audio is emitted into your ear.
  • There is minimal sound leakage, which means that you can listen to yourself while recording.

Disadvantages of Closed-Back Headphones

  • Less natural audio. Open-back headphones do not block out external sounds as well as closed-back ones. This can cause less natural-sounding audio.
  • For podcasting, it is preferable to use closed-back headphones. Both in recording and post-production, better sound isolation is essential.

Wireless or wired headphones?

Your personal preferences and habits will determine your final decision. Going wireless can save you from tripping on your cable if you are prone to wandering around during your podcast.

Battery life. You should also remember that wireless headphones require charging every now and again, which can disrupt your flow.

  • Most wireless headphones have an option to be wired.
  • Higher latency. Wireless headphones are more latency-prone.
  • The time it takes for the sound to reach your ears is called latency.
  • While latency can be affected depending on a variety of factors, such as wireless technology or environmental factors, wired headphones tend to have lower latency than wireless headphones.

In-Ear, On-Ear, or Over-Ear Podcast Headphones

In-Ear

  • Due to their small size, in ear headphones are very portable.
  • They can cause discomfort if worn for prolonged periods. This is not a good choice for editing or recording sessions.
  • Worse Audio Quality. In-ear headphones have a small driver, which can cause inaccurate frequency representation (i.e. They are not suitable for podcasting because they have sub-optimal sound quality.
  • Over-priced. In-ear headphones can be more expensive than others, but offer inferior quality.

On-Ear

  • Lightweight and portable. These headphones, also called ‘supra-aural’ or ‘on-ear’, are extremely popular due to their portability and light weight.
  • Open sound. The sound of on-ear headphones is more open because you can still hear the world around you.

Over-Ear

  • Over-ear headphones are the best option for podcasters and sound engineers.
  • Great audio quality. Over-the-ear fits are extremely comfortable, and the audio quality of the headphones is exceptional.
  • Not portable. You might not find over-ear headphones portable if you travel a lot.

Podcasting Headphones with or without Microphone:

  • An inbuilt microphone is a more attractive option. This is because it’s less complicated, easier to use and costs less than buying a separate mic.
  • Low audio standard. The frequency of headset microphones, which are intended to pick up audio close to the source, is deliberately low.
  • A standalone microphone is capable of a wider frequency response. This means that it can pick up the subtleties and nuances in your audio.
  • A good microphone will always win over an inbuilt microphone, as we all know. But again, it is up to your personal preference. There are many good options.

Headphones Podcasting

Podcast Specifications

Noise-canceling versus Sound Isolation

  • Sound isolation is a set of headphones that block external noises like traffic, fans, and other low-level sounds – great for podcast recording.
  • Avoid noise-canceling headphones. They invert outside noise to cancel them out, leaving behind strange compressed audio.

Frequency Response

Frequency Response is a measure of how loud your headphones are, and this can have a significant impact on the quality of your recording.  A flat frequency response is what you want. It means that your audio will sound natural and unfiltered.

Impedance

Impedance is the quality and volume of the audio that your headphones produce.  Your headphones need to have low impedance (between 32 and 80 Ohms). This means they use very little power in order to provide high-quality audio.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity refers to how well headphones convert an electrical signal to an acoustic one and how loud they are able get.  Headphones that have high sensitivity ratings will produce more volume than headphones with low sensitivity.  You are looking for sensitivity in the range of 80 to 125 decibels

Best Headphones for Podcasting

Best Headphones Podcasting

Less than $100

Audio Technica ATH-M20X

  • Type: Closed back & circumaural
  • Moderate comfort
  • Size
  • Frequency response: 15 – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity = 96 dB
  • Impedance: 47 Ohms

Sennheiser 280 PRO

  • Type: Closed-Back and Circumaural
  • Comfort: Well-padded headband and ear cups
  • Frequency response: 8-25,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 113dB
  • Impedance: 64 Ohms

Prices between $100 and $200

Sony MDR7506/1

  • Type: Closed back & circumaural
  • Comfort: Excellent, light and with padding
  • Other specifications: High sound isolation and clarity.
  • Frequency response: 10-20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 106dB
  • Impedance: 63 Ohms

Sennheiser HD-25

  • Type: Closed-back & Supra-aural
  • Comfort: Lightweight and sturdy with an adjustable padded helmet
  • Other specs: The thick on-ear pillows effectively block external sound
  • Frequency Response 16 – 22,000 HZ
  • Sensitivity 120 dB
  • Impedance: 20 Ohms

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

  • Type: Closed back, wireless with wired option or circumaural
  • Comfort: Professional-grade headbands and ear-pads
  • Other specifications: Capable of collapsing with the ability to swivel your ear cups
  • Frequency Response : 15 – 28,000 HZ
  • Sensitivity: 99dB
  • Impedance: 38 Ohms

$200 and More

Shure SRH840

  • Type: Closed back & circumaural
  • Comfort: Excellent choice for comfort and high quality
  • Frequency Response : 5 – 30.000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Impedance: 42 Ohms

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II

  • Type: Closed back, wireless with wired option, or circumaural
  • Comfort: Great with a padded headband or plush ear cushions.
  • Other specifications: High durability and noise cancellation, as well as impact-resistant materials.
  • Frequency response: undisclosed
  • Sensitivity: undisclosed
  • Impedance: undisclosed

$400 and higher

Shure H1540 Premium Closed Back Headphones

  • Type: Closed back, wireless with wired option and circumaural
  • Comfort: Excellent, low-density foam with slow recovery for maximum comfort
  • Frequency response: 5-25000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 99dB
  • Impedance: 46 Ohms

Sennheiser HD660S – Open Back Studio Headphones

  • Type: Open back & circumaural
  • Comfort is a Good Thing
  • Frequency Response : 10 – 41,000 HZ
  • Sensitivity = 104 dB
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms

Best Headphones for In-Built Mic:

Audio-Technica BPHS1

  • Type: Closed-back and circumaural
  • Comfort is good
  • Other details: Microphones can be worn left or right, and have a sturdy and durable build.
  • Frequency response 600 – 1000 Hertz
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Impedance: 65 ohms

Sennheiser HMD 300 Pro-XQ-2

  • Type: Closed back & circumaural
  • Comfort: The pressure-sensitive design offers better comfort. It uses very low pressure that is evenly distributed.
  • Other details: The Microphone can either be worn on the left or right side. Also, the foldable earcup design makes it easy to store/transport.
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz – 25000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Impedance: 64 ohms

Conclusion: Podcast Headphones

If you aren’t convinced, now is the time! For podcasters, headphones are essential for producing high-quality recordings. There is something for everyone, and everything can be found on the market.

FAQ Podcast Headphones

Earbuds can be Used in Place of Headphones

They’ll work well, but they won’t be as good as the best headphones. Headphones will fare better.

Can I Podcast without Headphones?

Yes, you can. However, it is not advised. Your editing capabilities are limited and you run the risk of getting feedback during your recording. You won’t be able to accurately monitor your levels during your podcast.

Can AirPods be Used for Podcasting?

You’ll find them everywhere these days. While the microphone works well for noise cancellation, it is not as good as a standard microphone for podcast recording.

How can Headphones let Me Hear My Voice?

This is known as monitoring. Headphones can be used as a ‘monitor’ to allow you to hear the audio while you record. Mic monitoring refers to the ability to hear yourself while recording, as your mic input is sent directly into your headphones.  Simply put: not all DAWs can support mic monitoring.

Do You Require a Headphone Amplifier for Your Headphones?

This will depend on personal preference and recording style. Make sure that your headphones and amplifier are of equal quality. Sound equipment can only sound as good as its worst component.

Amplification can improve audio quality. Headphones can amplify weak audio signals and enable you to adjust audio levels for guests, so everyone can adjust the volume during the recording.

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