2 Ultimate GuidetoOrchestraHeadphones About the expert For the past 12 years, Mike Olson has been working at Headroom (www.headphone.com), where learned each make and model of headphones through his day-in and day-out experience and through the experiences of his customers. Headphone.com has conducted thousands of headphone reviews over the decades. Head Room was founded in 1992, and they were one of the first research labs to build headphone amplifiers. Later in this guide, you will learn more about when headphone amplifiers are needed. Avoid these headphones There are certain brands of headphones that won’t represent the quality of the orchestra very well, and you should avoid them at all costs. Most of the popular manufacturers for consumers are designed with popular music in mind, not classical or orchestral. These headphones just don’t have a flat response, good stereo field, and articulate sound—the qualities that are needed for great orchestra headphones. Avoid these brands: *Beats, Soul republic, V-moda, Monster, Bose, Skull Candy, and any brand of cheaper headphones. *These names are trademarks of their respective owners. Later in the guide, I will reveal the one brand of headphones that Mr. Olson says “is the best overall for classical music.” Compare headphone manufacturers by clicking here.
Ultimate GuidetoOrchestraHeadphones 3 What type of headphone should you buy? We scoured the universe for headphones that are very detailed, very accurate, and very articulate. They should show all frequencies with accuracy, which means that they have a flat frequency response, and don’t overly emphasize a certain frequency, such as the bass. However, you still want bass for the kettle drums. Just not an overwhelming bassy sound like Beats. For classical music, when a recording and headphones have a good sound stage, you can almost visualize the instruments in the different parts of the orchestra. The strings are in front, the basses to the left and the timpani is toward the back. All things being equal, open-back headphones usually have a better sound stage since the sound is not trapped in, but allowed to move away from the ears. In fact, all the headphones in our highest price range are full-sized open back. In a quiet room, the best style of headphone is the full-sized, over-the-ear headphone with an openback. Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Closed-back headphones isolate you from outside noise, and also prevent people nearby from being disturbed by your music. Since they isolate you from the outside world, they can give a more intimate experience when listening to music, and you can better travel out in public with this style of headphone. Closed back are the traditional headphones. While there are great benefits for having closedback headphones, open-back headphones give the best sound quality. Since an open-back allows the sound to escape, it gives you a better sense of space and stage. According to Mike an openback headphone is the “supreme experience” and “the way to go” when buying a headphone for orchestral music. On the flipside, open-back headphones are not good in noisy environments, since the openness allows noise in. Also, open-back headphones sometimes need extra power from a headphone amplifier. Open-backs tend to be more expensive than closed-backs.