Choosing Studio Headphones

Choosing Studio HeadphonesHeadphones are a critical addition to any home recording studio. They come in handy for instant feedback as you record, and they are also useful for mixing.

It is important to purchase headphones specifically designed for studio use in this application. Consumer headphones are generally tweaked to ensure an enjoyable listening experience—in other words, you are not listening to the raw sound. Studio headphones are more transparent, letting you hear exactly what is going on in the audio, whether that is good or bad.

You can purchase studio headphones without breaking the bank. However, it is important not to cheap out and waste money on a pair of headphones that sounds distorted, acts up with age, or feels like wearing a vice on your head.

Here are some factors to consider when shopping for the right set of studio headphones.

 

Sound Quality

For recording and mixing, a flat response is a must. Detailed sound is also essential. What you want to avoid is any type of “sweetening.” Good studio headphones may, frankly, sound terrible to you at first because you are probably used to consumer headphones that have been optimized to make everything sound good.

To make sure you get accurate studio headphones, try these two tests:

  • Read online reviews.
  • Listen to a few songs that you are intimately familiar with through the studio headphones. If they are any good, you should be able to detect details and nuances (good, bad, or indifferent) that you have never heard before.

Make sure noise will not be an issue with your headphones. A shielded cable will help. Also make sure the cable is no longer than necessary for your application, as longer cables are more prone to noise issues.

Why a cable instead of wireless? Because wireless headphones receive a compressed signal. Compression inevitably alters the audio. It may even reduce amplitude. For studio purposes, always use wired headphones.

 

Shape

Earbuds and headphones that don’t entirely surround the ear are typically not used in studio applications. For this purpose, it is important to have headphones that are circumaural, or completely surrounding the ear, to block outside noise and allow you to fully hear the nuances of the audio.

Within the world of circumaural headphones, you will find three variations:

  • Closed back. This style allows for complete sound isolation and no bleed. It’s just you and the music with closed-back circumaural headphones, no matter how loud the room is. One warning—it’s also just you and the bass frequencies. If you aren’t used to having a lot of bass placed in close proximity to your ears, don’t get thrown off during the mixing process, and be aware that you may experience ear fatigue when using them for long periods of time. Close-back headphones are often used for recording rather than mixing.
  • Open back. Why would we consider open-back headphones, knowing that they will let in more background noise and allow headphone bleed to get into the recording? Because they frequently have a clearer, more natural sound, and this can be very advantageous for mixing. Also, open-back headphones subject the ears to less air pressure buildup, an important consideration if you will be mixing for extended periods of time. Open-back headphones are often used for mixing rather than recording.
  • Semi-open back. This type attempts to combine the best features of both styles. While it does allow some sound leakage, the isolation is much better than with open-back headphones. They usually have both good bass response and a realistic sound. Semi-open back headphones are commonly used for recording in situations where the microphones are unable to pick up any headphone noise.

Need the airy sound of open-back headphones, but can’t afford circumaural? On-ear (supra-aural) headphones may seem like a compromise, but their sound quality is usually not as good. You will have to spend a great deal of money to get professional recording-quality supra-aural headphones.

 

Comfort

This criterion is not negotiable! If you are constantly battling your headphones, you will not be paying attention to the task at hand. Likewise, if you can’t wait to rip those things off your ears, you won’t be able to put in the time it takes to get a good mix.

To truly test the comfort of a pair of headphones, you need to wear them for at least 20 minutes straight. But what if that’s not an option before purchase? Here are a few tips:

  • Look for large ear cups when buying circumaural headphones, and small ear pieces when buying supra-aural headphones.
  • Make sure that the ear cups are padded with fabric or leather.
  • The more adjustable the better. An adjustable headband is a must, and rotating ear cups are strongly recommended.
  • Read reviews before making your final decision. Regardless of where you are planning on buying your headphones, head to the website of a good online music supplier and read what those with some experience have to say.

 

Other Factors

There are other things to consider when shopping for studio headphones:

  • Protective case.
  • Portable folding design.
  • Plug and adapter sizes.
  • Single- vs. double-sided cable.
  • Availability of replacement parts.

There are no hard-and-fast rules on most of these. Just make sure you get a pair that fits your needs and is compatible with the rest of your equipment.

 

The Final Criterion—Price

Of course, you will likely have to set an upper limit on the price tag. That’s just the way it goes.

So what is a good price to pay for headphones? Professional sets are generally expected to cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Good news—you likely don’t need to spend this much to get a good pair. You may be able to find a nice pair of headphones for as little as $100, but you will have to do plenty of research to make sure you are getting the quality you expect.

A few tips for lowering the cost without compromising on quality:

  • Look for a recording bundle that includes headphones from a reputable manufacturer. Buying the whole package at once usually allows you to save on the individual items.
  • Shop the big sales. (Did you check your favorite gear supplier on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?)
  • Compare the prices at different stores. For some products and on some days, Amazon is the way to go. On other occasions, you may actually get a better deal at a music company.

With just a little research and planning, you should be able to get quality studio headphones—without breaking the bank.

Free Today (November 14, 2018): The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)Did you get a chance to read The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!) for free last week? If not, we’ll give you another opportunity!

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!) by B. Patrick Lincoln is a collection of 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages. Young jokers (cards, you might say) will learn side-splitting riddles and jokes, all in a small, illustrated book made to be shared. Kids will enjoy trying out corny wordplay on their family, friends, and pun pals.

For example:

A very prudent gardener planted dollar bills throughout his entire garden. One’s first thought might have been that he wanted to grow the mythical money tree. But no, the gardener knew better than that. He was merely trying to ensure that he had rich soil.

Fortified with an arsenal of good clean humor (including a few turkey jokes), your child will keep them all laughing at the Thanksgiving family gathering this year!

A paperback edition is also available. Download free sample pages here.

An Introduction to Sheep Dairying

An Introduction to Sheep DairyingDairy sheep? Seriously?

Yes! There are many reasons some adventurous homesteaders and agripreneurs have turned to sheep dairying. Believe it or not, one is the flavor. Sheep milk has a high rate of acceptance among those who have tasted it.

And then there are the health benefits. According to various dairy sheep organizations, sheep milk boasts the following claims:

  • More protein than cow’s milk.
  • Small fat globules, which are easy to digest.
  • Higher levels of CLA than cow’s or goat’s milk.
  • Higher levels calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, B12, and E than cow’s milk.

Sheep milk is also amazingly versatile. It can be enjoyed as a beverage, but it is also suitable for cheese, yogurt, kefir, and ice cream. Can’t process it all at once? No problem—sheep milk is naturally homogenized and can be kept in the freezer until you are ready to work with it.

 

Who Buys Sheep Milk?

It is rather ironic that so few Americans use sheep milk today, given the fact that sheep dairying has been practiced in nearly every part of the world since the most ancient times. Very few people indeed drink sheep milk as a beverage in our country.

A more palatable way of presenting sheep milk to the American public is in the form of artisan cheese, popular with foodies, retailers, and restaurants alike. The United States, while it produces very little sheep cheese, is a major importer of this product. Some of the sheep cheeses popular in our country may sound familiar to you:

  • Feta.
  • Ricotta.
  • Roquefort.
  • Pecorino romano.

Some sheep farmers prefer to sell their milk to cheese processors rather than oversee the cheesemaking process. Finding a processor in your area can be a challenge, however, because a large-scale processor must be assured the milk of at least 750 ewes to be profitable. You may need to either find a local artisan to work with or learn how to make sheep cheese yourself.

 

The Best Breeds For Sheep Dairying

The sheep dairying industry is not as well developed in the United States as it is in Europe. In many European countries, specialized dairy breeds of sheep have been selected over time for production. In the United States, most new dairymen will have to do this selection themselves unless they are fortunate enough to live where imported populations of specialized breeds have been established. This can make starting a profitable dairy flock difficult and time-consuming. Upgrading a meat flock into a dairy flock may be necessary.

One mark of a good dairy breed is its ability to produce enough milk to sustainably nurse twins and triplets. Another factor is the ewe’s ability to breed back quickly, even in the winter.

Breeds that have come to the surface in U.S. sheep dairying include:

  • Assaf (specialized).
  • Awassi (specialized).
  • Dorset.
  • East Friesian (specialized).
  • Finnsheep.
  • Icelandic.
  • Katahdin.
  • Lacaune (specialized).
  • Polypay.

Hybrid vigor gives crossbred ewes an advantage over purebred ewes in health, so a combination of these breeds is often advantageous for dairying with sheep. Crossbreeding is also a reliable way to increase the milk production of a meat-breed flock.

 

Special Considerations of Dairying With Sheep

Raising sheep for dairy purposes requires different management than is necessary for raising sheep for meat or wool. Heavy milk production places tremendous demands on the metabolism and reproductive system of the ewe. In fact, it is not always possible to meet the energy needs of specialized dairy sheep on forage alone. Extra care must be given to proper sanitation and nutrition to avoid health problems such as these:

  • Mastitis.
  • Ketosis.
  • Milk fever.

Tail docking is also recommended to ensure clean dairying practices.

When to separate the lambs from the ewes is an important consideration. In most countries, the lambs are separated from their mothers about 24 hours after birth and are then raised on milk replacer. While this practice maximizes the amount of milk available for processing and sale, it does result in a less vigorous lamb, a real downside in America where a major part of the income of a sheep dairy may come from selling lambs to ethnic markets for meat. For this reason, it may be desirable in many operations to wean the lambs at 30 days of age. The milk production can be increased in this system after the first week by keeping the lambs in separate quarters at night so that the ewes can be milked in the morning.

 

Are Dairy Sheep Right For You?

Sheep dairying is not exactly an easy enterprise to start. Building a flock can be difficult, and special equipment is required. However, if you love cheesemaking and have access to upscale markets interested in artisan cheese, sheep dairying may be a good fit for you.

Note that many sheep dairies do not rely solely on milk or cheese for their profits—lamb and wool are two additional streams of income that can make this business a success.

2018 Kansas Election Results

2018 Kansas Election ResultsKansas Governor

Democrat Laura Kelly won with 48% of the vote (489,337 votes). Republican Kris Kobach received 43% (443,346 votes), Independent Greg Orman 6% (66,163 votes), and Jeff Caldwell 2% (18,898 votes).

 

United States House of Representatives

  • 1st District: Republican incumbent Roger Marshall won over Democrat Alan LaPolice.
  • 2nd District: Republican Steve Watkins won over Democrat Paul Davis and Libertarian Kelly Standley.
  • 3rd District: Democrat Sharice Davids won over Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder and Libertarian Christ Clemmons.
  • 4th District: Republican incumbent Ron Estes won over Democrat James Thompson.

Free Today (November 5, 2018): The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)As the season slows down and Thanksgiving approaches, it’s time for fun and family! How about adding some humor to those cozy fall evenings?

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!): 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages by B. Patrick Lincoln is free today on Kindle. This illustrated collection of clean puns and corny wordplay will answer those questions young jokers (cards, you might say) have always wanted answers for:

  • Why is it inadvisable to read the contents of this book to an egg?
  • Why was the ground delighted with the earthquake?
  • And why did the chicken really cross the road?

These clean jokes and riddles are suitable for children ages 4 through 104. After all, you’re never too old for a good joke.

A paperback edition is also available. Download free sample pages here.