Have you ever wondered, “Why do podcasters wear headphones?”
Simply put, wearing headphones is critical to having a professional sounding podcast. In countless photos of audio experts, you always see the iconic headphones resting on their ears. From recording to editing, there are a variety of ways in which headphones increase your control over audio quality.
Amateur podcasters preparing their first studio need to make sure they invest in a proper pair of studio headphones. Not only is it important that your headphones provide high-quality audio monitoring, but also that they are comfortable and durable for long-term use.
Knowing about headphones will go a long way to boost your podcasting enterprise. This is a guide to understanding the numerous benefits of incorporating headphones into your podcasting setup. Understanding why headphones are so important to the process will help you make an informed decision when selecting the right pair for you. And of course, you can’t forget the aesthetic consideration of finding a stylish pair of headphones that will make you look the most snazzy.
Recording With Confidence
High quality, professional studio headphones add an unparalleled level of support to any recording process. Headphones allow us to hear what our voices sound like as others will hear them. Not only can we hear how our voice sounds, but we can also hear how all the voices in the podcast sound together.
The ability to hear your recordings through the ears of your future audience is a crucial part of the secret sauce that headphones provide. There are numerous ways that headphones will improve your microphone skills and recording process. Headphones will:
- Allow you to adjust your distance to the mic – When monitoring audio through headphones, you will hear minute fluctuations in volume brought on by your varying distance and angle to the microphone. Improve your microphone skills by receiving constant audio feedback and adjusting your position. This will improve the vocal quality of your co-hosts and guests as well.
- Reveal disruptive ambient noise – There is nothing more irritating than a fantastic vocal take ruined by one of life’s many sources of obnoxious atmospheric noise. Anyone that has ever tried to record anything has a story to tell about their hard work being rendered useless by a loud passing vehicle or nearby construction. Headphones will allow you to accurately monitor which environmental noises are creeping into your mix and ruining your efforts.
- Enable coordination with multiple collaborators – When collaborating with a milieu of voices of varying volumes and degrees of comfort with speaking into a microphone, headphones level the playing field. Not everyone you will have on your podcast necessarily has the same amount of experience or vocal confidence. Having headphones on hand for everyone involved in the recording will allow for consensus and coordination. Everyone can hear whether they’re speaking over the group or are coming through as a barely audible whisper.
- Hear unwanted audio pops – It is well known among audio engineers and laymen alike that certain syllables spoken too closely into the microphone will cause pops. Hard syllables such as “P,” “B,” and “K” are the common culprits for causing pops. Most people outfit their microphones with pop protectors to filter out most of these sounds, but it’s still important to monitor for them. Pops are unpleasant and unprofessional.
- Identify and filter out any harsh audio artifacts – Just like pops, there are all kinds of unpleasant audio artifacts that can plague your recordings. It’s the best practice to always monitor your audio input for anything out of place. Headphones can help you catch things like buzzes and hums from poorly connected audio cables, or even identify malfunctions or defects in your other equipment.
Efficient and Effective Editing
Editing without headphones causes you to miss a significant amount of detail and subtlety. There are small, otherwise imperceptible noises and artifacts that headphones allow you to detect.
First and foremost, if the audio you input into your editing session is not recorded with headphones, it may be full of anomalous elements that simply cannot be edited out. Let’s say you recorded a once-in-a-lifetime conversation with your guest only to boot up your favorite DAW and realize that the audio is utterly unusable. From someone running a vacuum in the other room to a jackhammer down the street, you may have already failed to filter ambient noise from your recording. Even if you try to edit around it, interruptions in the ambient noise will convey jarring transitions as distinctive jump cuts to your listeners.
Does your podcast have you moving around your workspace rather than staying put? Perhaps traditional corded headphones restrict your movement too much for your needs. Wireless headphones are an excellent solution.
Keep in mind that wireless headphones can require lengthy charging times which can interfere with your schedule, especially if you forget to charge them. Also, many of the top reviewed professional studio headphones just come wired by default. Generally speaking, they lead to higher fidelity signal connectivity and lower latency. However, wireless headphones are beginning to catch up to their corded counterparts in quality, albeit at a higher cost.
You’re less likely to find higher-end headphones without some kind of cord. It may be good to keep both kinds around to adjust to your needs accordingly. If an episode calls for an increased range of motion, you can switch to a lower quality set of wireless headphones while keeping a corded pair as your mainstay.
No Headphones, No Problem?
Sure, you could record a passable podcast without headphones. It isn’t guaranteed that lacking a nice set will utterly ruin the sound of your podcast, it simply takes away your control and limits your range and flexibility. Without headphones, it’s impossible to coordinate the audio of multiple guests. It doesn’t matter if you have a co-host in the studio or a guest calling in on Skype, each person needs to be able to hear themselves and others as the audience will in the finished recording.
In audio engineering, information is everything. You always need to monitor your audio signals in as many ways as you can. The more information is available, the more control you have over your sound quality. Being able to hear your voice as it is being recorded by your microphone allows you to make minute, moment-to-moment adjustments that will optimize the finished product immeasurably.
Top Podcasting Headphones
There are a lot of great headphones out there. You could spend a great deal of time scouring the market for the best picks based on reviews and testimonials, but this can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Here is a quick rundown of some options that industry professionals, reviewers, and bloggers agree are the best choices for podcasting headphones:
Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones
A decent set of entry-level studio headphones. They are affordable, durable, and stylish. This is a solid, dependable pair to get you started.
Price: Under $100
Bose SoundLink Wireless Around-Ear Headphones II
This is a sleek looking set of wireless headphones with unparalleled audio quality. They come in at a bit of a higher price due to their wireless functionality and high fidelity performance. If wireless functionality is critical to your podcast, this is the best set of studio headphones for you.
Price: Under $250
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Headphones
Infused with a retro aesthetic flair, these fantastic headphones will liven up your podcast with a sense of style. Fashionable looks aside, these headphones provide high-quality sound and are also very discrete, low profile, and portable. Studio headphones are usually much bulkier, so these will allow you to travel in style and impress your collaborators with your snazzy headgear.
Price: Under $150
Grado Prestige Series SR325e Headphones
These are arguably some of the nicest headphones you can get as a podcaster. They’re stylish, fashionable, functional, durable, and portable. You can’t help but make a statement with these headphones. If you want to splurge on the most fly and high-quality headphones around, this is the ticket.
Price: Under $300
Audio Technica ATH-M50x
This is the holy grail of podcasting headphones. The perfect balance of price, style, and function. Critics across the board adore these headphones and sing their praises from the rooftops. They sit at an affordable mid-range price point and offer everything you need for professional audio monitoring.
Price: Under $150
Every podcaster worth their salt is using some kind of headphones. So why do podcasters wear headphones? It’s difficult to recommend attempting to host a podcast without them. While they are not technically necessary, they are utterly indispensable.
It is also important to remember that headphones are relatively inexpensive when compared to much of the other gear you’re going to need. Even if you’re shopping for your very first startup studio, getting some headphones should be a no-brainer.
If you take podcasting seriously and want to get a leg up on the competition with the proper gear, you owe it to yourself to pick up some quality podcasting headphones. You will be able to hear every nuance as you record and edit, giving you the necessary degree of control over the output. If you were on the fence, the jury is in; True blue podcasting professionals wouldn’t be seen without their headphones.