Headphones for Videographers
Published: June 27 2014
Categories: Accessories Original Posts
Headphones are not just a travel companion for videographers, they are almost a must-have device while shooting with a lot of audio recordings. Many videographers don't realize the importance of having a good set of headphones. But a good pair is truly a great addition to your videography kit. While on a shoot, it will help you spot issues like bad microphone connection, dead batteries and wireless mike interference before hand. It is particularly important while handling a shotgun boom mic as it will help you to understand the optimum sound volume and quality of the recording and enables you position the microphone appropriately. Understanding and using your headphones appropriately helps you improve your audio quality and consistency. In this blog, we would discuss how to choose the right set of headphones which will improve your videography and video editing capabilities.
Types of headphones
Buying a new pair of headphones could be just as complicated as buying a new camcorder. There are different variety and styles available, and you have to select the one that would suit your requirements. Headphones are generally divided into three groups - Circum-aural, that is around the ear, supra-aural or on the ear, and in-the-ear headphones that are often called as ear buds. In most professional recording applications, circum-aural headphones are preferred. These are thick, padded with cushions and surround your ears completely. They usually have closed backs that help in providing isolation and giving you better bass. They are the best to get complete audio details while recording the sound on location or in a recording studio. The only drawback is that these headphones are bulky and become inconvenient to use for longer durations. The padded cushions have a tendency to sweat your ears making you feel uncomfortable to use it for longer times. The supra-aural headphones are lightweight headphones that you usually get with a portable CD or MP3 player. They don’t have a cushion surrounding your ear. Instead, they have a cloth or foam lining on the speakers. These headphones produce a sound quality that is open and transparent, but without a closed back it does not provide you with much of isolation, leading to a lot of background noise blending with the output. In addition, people have a tendency to increase the sound volume to compensate the background noise which may lead to temporary or even permanent hearing damage. The in-the-ear variety is small ear bud style headphones which aren't ideal for video production, but certainly better that going without a headphone at all. These are inexpensive and compact, and many a times provide you more isolation that supra-aural headphones. These headphones are average on audio quality.
Wires and Plugs
Once you know what type of headphones you want you also need to look in for some other aspects like wiring and the size of the plug. Manufactures these days provide you with two wire options; single cable and yoke style cables. Single cables are only attached from one side of the headphone, making it convenient to put it on and off with just one hand. Most professional videographer, editors, and sound-recordists use one sided cable headphones as it is easy to use even with just one hand while the other hand is operating the recorder. The downside of this cable is that they are thicker and heavier than yoke style wires, making them a bit inconvenient. Yoke style cables are attached from two sides of the headphones and are much lighter and slimmer than a single cable. These cables are not that compatible for one hand operation and tend to get tangled pretty soon. When it comes to the plug, almost all compact camcorders use 1/8 inch mini-plug as it saves a lot of space. The problem with these mini-plugs is that they get dislodged too easily and mostly at the wrong time. The larger 1/4 inch plugs are more reliable but often not found in most small camcorders. It is wise to select a headphone with 1/8 inch mini-plug, but even if you have a 1/4 inch plug, you can still adapt it to fit the smaller jack with the help of an adapter.
When to use the headphones
Well, a headphone will be put to use in many situations; while shooting, recording sounds, and editing the videos. While shooting, these headphones will help you to keep a check on the microphone’s quality. They will also ensure that the mics are functioning properly and without any interference. It could be used while recording sound effects or Foley for the video production. These headphones enable you to audition different mic techniques, distance and pick up patterns, helping you choose the perfect setting in real time. While editing and recording voice overs, it certainly is a must as it helps the recording artist to know the perfect distance from the microphone and avoid breath pops. It also simplifies the recording and overdubbing process by allowing the voice recording artist to hear the previous takes and correct the mistakes instantly.
Overall, headphones help you in different phases of your video production and provide you with an in-depth and exaggerated view of your audio recordings. They help you find out those fine mistakes that many a times go unnoticed on a speaker and help you enhance your video output.