Is There A Difference Between Studio Headphones And Regular Headphones?
Absolutely! And knowing the characteristics of both will help ensure you choose a set of headphones that are right for you.
Let's cut to the chase: Yes, there are some big difference that make the "Studio Headphones Vs Regular Headphones" debate very important to anyone considering buying a new pair of headphones. How important? Let's just say that unless you understand the purposes for which these two very different products are designed, you could be a very, very unhappy listener.
For starters, know that the term "Studio" isn't just a marketing buzz word - it's a very descriptive word that sums up the sound reproduction qualities of a particular set of 'phones. Does this make the better than the consumer level variety? That depends on what your intentions are. If you're a professional in the music or audio recording industries, hearing a flat, even sound is critical for developing good mixes and finished products. Yes, I said "flat." No bass boost or treble increases here. Recording engineers must hear an accurate representation of the sounds they are working with, and 'phones designed for consumer listening will not cut the mustard.
Why? Because regular headphones don't reproduce a flat frequency response. They have increased bottom and top ends (bass and treble) and slightly reduced mid ranges - commonly known as a "scooped mids" sound. The result is a deeper, rumblier and punchier bottom end and soaring highs - the ideal E.Q. settings for casual listening.
So if you're looking to upgrade the earpieces on your iPod or MP3 player, I would strongly suggest against anything with the word "studio" in the title, unless you specifically want a flat response curve. Most people don't, though, so that's why I'm warning you here. In fact, most people who spend higher dollar amounts on studio headphones end up complaining that they sound "flat" and even "dull," then complain that they don't work and aren't worth the money. Believe me, it's not that they aren't worth the money, it's that these people purchased products that weren't designed to their particular expectations.
Similarly, if you're a recording guru or even just a home studio enthusiast, do yourself a favor and never use regular "cans" in the studio environment. You'll never hear a good representation of the captured sounds, which will absolutely wreck havoc on your mixes, not to mention your source recordings. Imagine the frustration of dialing in the perfect E.Q.s on the drum kit, bass, guitars vocals and other instruments, then realizing that the final product is completely flat and lifeless in the bottom and high ends. That's because you were getting a false read. And without the proper equipment you'll always fight that phenomenon. So unless you want to always guess your way through the mix, I'd strongly recommend never using average listening gear in the studio.
As a recording artist myself, I recently wrote Best Studio Headphones Under 100 Dollars. If you're in the market, I'd highly recommend reading it - and not just because I wrote it, but because it explains why you don't need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a clear, precise sound curve that's perfect for recording, mixing and mastering.