Gear Lab #1: The Best Headphones for Location Audio? Here’s My Opinion.

Gear Lab #1: The Best Headphones for Location Audio? Here’s My Opinion.

Our first Gear Lab is hot out of the oven!

I thought I’d start things off talking about headphones, one of the most important pieces of gear for any location audio operator.

This isn’t the place you should ever consider going cheap. You’ve got to accurately hear what you’re doing. They also need to be built extremely well to stand up to all the abuse we heap upon them. There’s also some features I consider “must haves” – and some I think are really annoying.

So, what headphones do I use and stand behind? Click on the link below to Watch Gear Lab #1 and find out!


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  1. July 12, 2012, 6:25 pm   /  Reply

    This video was great, I was just about to buy new headphones for location audio, and I am ordering a pair of HD-25’s right away. Can’t wait for more of your videos and recommendations!

    • Dean Miles
      July 13, 2012, 8:52 am   /  Reply

      Thanks Joel, glad the video helped. Keep checking back, I’ll be posting more gear labs soon on lavs, shotguns, mixers – you know the tools!

  2. Cristiano Caldeira
    October 24, 2013, 1:28 pm   /  Reply

    Man, I’m loving the site. It’s just very professional how you two share your experience. I wish I can do a great work like yours.
    Here in Brazil we see many using the Sony MDR-7506. Dispites things like the wire, what you think ’bout it in comparison the HD-25?

    • Dean Miles
      October 24, 2013, 9:57 pm   /  Reply

      Glad you’re enjoying the site Cristiano! I used 7506’s for about 7 years but once I tried the HD25’s I was sold. The HD25’s are tougher in construction, they’re more comfortable, I love the folding ear cup, they reference the bottom end much better, and they seal around the ear for better isolation.

  3. Suraj
    February 13, 2015, 4:24 am   /  Reply

    Can you please suggest what would be the best earphones for location recording? Sometimes I go into slum areas for recording sound elements and as soon as people see those big headphones (and of course mic) they become intimidated and that affects my recording.

    • Dean Miles
      February 13, 2015, 8:38 am   /  Reply

      Hi Suraj, when I find my equipment (headphones and mic) frightening talent I change the way I work. First, I change the way I operate. I get basic levels of the the environment wearing my headphones and then take them off for recording and moving about. I visually reference my levels once I start recording to make sure sound is being recorded at a descent level, but headphones on with your mic and eyes pointed and looking directly at someone will create problems – I wouldn’t like it, would you? I also don’t extend my boom pole if I’m carrying one, and I try to keep the mic (with zeppelin and wind jammer) close to my body. I also move slower and try not to make too much eye contact so people don’t feel singled out.

      If people are curious I’ll let them listen to my headphones so they realize there’s nothing special going on. And finally, when I am recording I try to be as inconspicuous as possible and I take my time. After 5 minutes of me not moving and just sitting there people get bored and realize nothing more is really going to happen. After a while they continue on like I’m not even there.

      I’ve been in the situation you’re working in many times. And to be honest it’s kinda hit and miss with how people react to me trying to record sound. Being sneaky is a big no no, so is being all look at me I’m a sound op with lots cool equipment. I find being as low-key as possible yields the best results.

      I hope this helps,

  4. Suraj
    February 13, 2015, 1:02 pm   /  Reply

    Can I also ask you one more question?

    What is the brand of the boom pole and mic you are using? I saw you holding them comfortably with one hand! I use Sennheiser MKH 70 or 418 and the boom+mic combination is quite heavy!
    Are you using Sound Devices 788t as the recorder?

    • Dean Miles
      February 13, 2015, 1:43 pm   /  Reply

      The boom pole I’m using in the video was a VDB. I now use and love an Ambient 556 pole. I also don’t use long heavy shotguns like the MKH70 or a 418. I prefer the sound and flexibility of short shotguns like the Shure VP89S, Rode NTG3, and Neumann KM150. For one hand booming, you can’t do it with the larger heavier mics.

      Here’s a video to explain a little better –

  5. acksiosk
    March 17, 2015, 6:44 am   /  Reply

    Thank. good video

  6. Whitney
    April 9, 2015, 11:06 am   /  Reply

    Thanks so much for this! I just did a video interview in a loud room where I thought that the subject’s audio was clear, only to discover a door opening and closing in the background once I got home. The takeaway: It’s time for me to invest in better headphones. The kind where I only hear exactly what’s being recorded and not the noise that’s all around.

    The HD25’s seem perfect for ths, though I am concerned that they are on-ear and not over. The last on-ear headphones I had were so uncomfortable and hurt my ears after less than an hour of wearing them to the point where I had to take them off.

    Obviously, it could just be that the headphones I had were crappy and uncomfortable, but I’m wondering:

    Do you find the HD25’s very comfortable on your ears for long periods of time?

    And also:

    Is there an over ear headphone that you recommend if I find that the HD25’s hurt my ears?

    Thanks so much!

    • Dean Miles
      April 9, 2015, 12:14 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Whitney, I wear glasses and the HD25-II are very comfortable, and I wear them for hours on end. I understand your concern about on-ear headphones possibly squishing your ears. I started using over-ear headphones years ago and found them too heavy and hot so I switched back to over-ear and found the HD25’s. The HD25’s are my favourite headphones by far out of all the headphones I’ve tried.


  7. Miguel Pascucci
    April 3, 2016, 8:40 am   /  Reply

    Hi Dean, thanks for sharing to all your experience! Right now I’am on a produccion where i have to use earphones, do you think if is there any problem using earphones for sound recording? Would you recommend or not to use it? Thanks!!!

    • Dean Miles
      April 3, 2016, 10:16 pm   /  Reply

      No sure what the question is? Are you talking about using earbuds (in-ear headphones)?

  8. Miguel Pascucci
    April 4, 2016, 6:14 pm   /  Reply

    Yes earbuds, like sennheiser cx300ii… Thanks for your quick answer!!!

    • Dean Miles
      April 5, 2016, 2:28 am   /  Reply

      Not sure why you would ever have to use earbuds but I would never stray from a proper set of monitoring headphones. Earbuds (no matter what the make or quality) are not flat response or sealed, meaning they are going to colour the sound as well as let sound in from the environment you are working in. Both will create issues for you to actually hear what is being recorded. Proper location audio headphones are designed for you to be able to monitor the true sound of what is going to be recorded, not a coloured pretty sound that will have added external ambience clouding your listening.

      I would never use earbuds, and I can’t think of any situation I’ve been in in the past 26 years of field recording where I would’ve had to.

      I hope this helps.

      • Miguel
        April 5, 2016, 3:47 am   /  Reply

        Thanks Dean! I really preciate your help!!!

  9. August 1, 2016, 9:25 am   /  Reply

    We stumbled over here by a different website and
    thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

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