When recording voice-overs artists or musicians usually wear headphones. It makes you wonder why they need them. The answer is short. When recording you need to wear headphones to hear feedback which helps to avoid plosives, clipping, and background noise.
Here we will go a bit in-depth about how headphones affect your recording process and what types of headphones are best used in different situations. Also, stick to some good value and quality headphone recommendations.
Plosives are puffs of air coming from your mouth when you pronounce some sounds. Usually, it’s words starting with ‘p’ or ‘b’. When you are recording these puffs of air may hit the microphone and produce unwanted plosives.
Wearing headphones allow you to hear them and adjust them. If you start hearing them, it means you are either speaking too close or you need to adjust the microphone so that air coming from your mouth wouldn’t reach the mic and go past it.
The best way to deal with it is by placing a microphone directed at your mouth, but not speaking directly into it and aiming to speak beside it.
Wearing headphones will make sure you hear plosive immediately instead of after you have finished recording and begun editing just to realize you will need to redo the whole thing.
Clipping is another form of audio distortion. Clipping is introduced when you are speaking too loud into your microphone. It significantly reduces your audio quality.
Wearing headphones helps to detect clipping. If you feel like your audio suddenly started sounding harsh or metallic, it probably means you are clipping and you need to move further away from it or reduce gain on your pre-amp.
Wearing headphones allows you to hear what the microphone is picking up. Before recording just put on headphones for a while and listen to see whether there is any noise.
If there is, that is because your microphone is picking it up and if you don’t fix it before clicking the record button, it will get into your recording.
You might not even hear the noise before putting the headphones on, but if you can hear it through headphones, it means it is getting into your recording and that is all that matters.
Another reason for owning a solid pair of headphones is that you need a good representation of what your recording sounds like.
Your recording will sound much different if you are listening through phone speakers, laptop or earphones. Getting the best representation studio headphones is your choice.
Studio headphones usually don’t have much coloration and represent the true sound. This means that they do not boost bass or treble.
If you own headphones that are made for the music they likely have enhanced lows. You don’t want to use such headphones for recording, because they will make you believe that your audio sounds different than it actually does.
You don’t need super expensive studio headphones. If you are just starting out with voice-over and audio recording spending over 100$ on headphones is not your priority.
Get good value studio headphones and use the rest of the money buying a decent microphone, interface or fixing your room acoustics.
There are good headphones for audio monitoring that sell for less than a hundred.
Here are a few really good options
Sony MDR7506 Professional – 100$
These are industry-standard audio monitoring headphones. You will find them in many studios, movies, radio shows, podcast, etc. You can’t go wrong with these. The great thing about them is they are not too expensive selling at around 100$.
If you don’t want to spend 100$ these are great cheaper options from respectable brands to choose from
AKG Pro Audio AKG K72 – 49$
AKG Pro Audio K182 – 70$
When choosing headphones for recording and audio editing, it is very important they feel comfortable on you. Realize that you will be using them for long periods of time.
If the headphones you bought feel uncomfortable, the whole recording and editing experience is much less pleasant.
Everyone is different so it is hard to tell which headphones will fit you the best. If you have a chance, you can visit a store and if they allow it, you can try them on.
Otherwise, look at whether headphones have big enough cups for your ears and whether they are adjustable. Most of them are. The headband cushion also shouldn’t be too rigid, otherwise, it will rest uncomfortably on your head.
When choosing headphones for recording check whether they are closed back or open back. If they are the latter, it means they will leak a ton of sound you don’t want when recording.
Any sound that is leaked might be caught by your microphone and dubbing, which ruins your takes.
Instead, look for headphones that have a tight seal. Sony MDR7506, for example, clamp a bit tight on your ears, but they don’t allow any sound leaks.
When I first bought them, they felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but now I can wear them for hours without noticing any discomfort.
Earphones although not the most optimal, but can also be used while recording. They will not provide the best audio quality, but they are great because they are cheap.
You probably own a pair of earphones anyway, so if you don’t have proper studio headphones earphones can be a temporary replacement.
Earphones will most likely not represent the true sound of your recording, but they should help with noticing plosives, background noise and clipping.
Besides if you are struggling with uncomfortable headphones earphones could be your solution. They don’t cover your whole ears as headphones do; if you hate to have your ears clamped tightly, earphones could be an alternative.
One issue, besides audio quality, with earphones is that they often leak sound. Either look for more earphones that don’t leak any sound that might get into the recording or set them to a minimum viable volume.
Earphones will not be good for audio editing tho. They will not provide a good representation of what you sound. However, after you have edited your audio, it is a good habit to plug in some earphones just to check what your recording sounds like.
Most people will listen to your recording not through headphones, but through earphones. Therefore, you should check what you will sound like to most.
When recording, headphones are used to monitor and detect any imperfections that might appear in your recording.
If you can detect these imperfections, such as clipping, background noise, mouth clicks, plosives before you finish recording it will save a ton of time when editing later in post.
Also, in the worst-case scenario, these unforeseen imperfections might ruin the whole take and you may need to re-record the whole thing.
When monitoring your recording use headphones or earphones that don’t leak any sound to avoid dubbing.
You may use open-back or semi-open-back headphones when editing audio later in post.
Earphones could be an alternative for headphones when monitoring your audio.
Don’t use headphones with enhanced frequencies for monitoring and audio editing. Look for studio/monitoring headphone that provides neutral sound.
You don’t have to spend a lot on studio headphones, they are quite affordable and you can get a pair of good headphones for less than 100$.