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There's not many threads where this is discussed extensively - and some of them are rather old...

...but I'm looking for a pair of headphones I can use for sound design (game audio, specifically) during off hours when my family is asleep. During the day, I've got a nice pair of 5" KRK's and can use them to monitor mixes and play back SFX, etc.

I'm not trying to get perfectly accurate mixes here or do EVERYTHING in headphones (bad idea, I know). However, I do need headphones that are decent enough that when I work in them, I can get relatively accurate results and minimize the amount of next-day adjusting when I play it all back in a proper environment.

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8 Answers

I'm a big fan of the Audio Technica M50s for both location and post work. I was mixing a short film late a few nights ago with mine as to not disturb my housemates.

They have a very flat and uncoloured response.

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I fully agree Audio Technica M50 are excellent and affordable. –  Tomáš Bílek Feb 4 '13 at 10:14
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I've read enough headphone discussions (here and elsewhere) to know that one man's "industry standard" is another man's harsh/muddy/crap sounding cans. I guess sound quality really is that subjective.

But what you DO get with good headphones that you don't get with smaller monitors, is a full frequency response. Small speakers in small rooms are just not going to give you accurate reproduction in the low registers (doesn't a 20hz sound-wave have a 17 meter wavelength or something like that?) - headphones reaching as low as 30hz or better will get you there. Might be helpful when assessing the bass content of sounds like explosions and such.

Easily as important IMHO, is to get cans that fit your noggin just so, don't make your ears too hot, have sensibly priced spares, etc.

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When it comes to location sound and fieldwork, my weapon of choice is BeyerDynamics DT-250. Fairly isolated and I always knows exactly what I'll get. But they're not very linear.

When it comes to mixing, designing, and virtually any post production where I for some reason must use headphones, so far the only acceptable ones I've found to date is the Sennheiser HD-650. Very open, and very very linear. Of course there might very well be other among the much more expensive ones that are even better though I haven't found any yet (and I do search for perfection), but I must say these babies impresses me a lot, and sounds nothing like the HD-25!

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It's a matter of taste. Even the models mentioned here would not be fit for everyone interchangeably, because they just sound and feel different.

If you wish to make a reasonable choice, then maybe you should try out the different models and see what you like. Seriously, there are too many choices. When you budget enough, then all cans are basically "good", just different. Physically, open back headphones enable the most natural frequency and dynamics response.

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I use my Beyerdynamic DT250 (80ohm) for sound design. Importantly, they're extremely light and comfortable, so I can wear them for hours at a time. Heavy headphones will gradually fatigue and annoy you, so its important to take weight/comfort into consideration.

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I keep a few pair around. I think of them as a cheap and convenient ways to check my mixes in different settings.

I actually have all the headphones mentioned here plus the Grado 80's.

The Beyerdynamic DT250 have over hyped highs. The Audio Technica's are pretty flat, but a little on the boxy side. The Grado's are flat and open, but not much in the way deep lows. I have some Sennheiser HD280s that are very very boxy.

If I had to pick one set it would be the Audio Technica ATH-M50. I agree they are great for field recording if you do that.

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I've been using the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro for a year now, and can say they're the most comfortable headphones I've used. They have a flat response, so I often use them to check mixes with.

I suggest checking any panning you do using headphones with your monitors, as I've found it doesn't always correctly translate.

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ultrasone pro 750s for me. a little pricey but well worth it.

offset titanium drivers - means the sound doesn't shoot straight into your ears. super comfy earpads, and they come with spares.

I've worn them while recording audiobooks and they greatly reduced fatigue. not tons of isolation, but a better approximation of speakers in a room than most IMO.

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