The best headphones for your lab (or yourself)

CultofMac has a great review of the headphones I started using in my lab last year.  Sonically I prefer the semi-open AKG-style, but for holding up in class these are the absolute best you can buy.

At the beginning of the year, we went through three different models in actual classroom use: The Sennheiser HD201, the AKG K240, and the Shure SRH440.  The Sennheisers are super cheap, which is good if you’re on a tight budget I suppose, but they will only last about a year or two before the hinges snap.

The AKG’s *should* have worked well.  They’re very flexible, but not in a hinge-snappy kind of way.  The problem I had with these is that after a short use period, the electrical contacts in the ear cups would start to fail.  Back when they made these in Austria I never encountered this problem, but the newest batches are Chinese-made and must not have a reliable production method yet.

The Shure SRH440, on the other hand, is built like a truck.  These are the most solid headphones I’ve ever used – all metal, and still pretty comfortable.  The backs are closed, which make them a bit worse for mixing than the AKG’s, but for general class use they can’t be beat.

Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “The best headphones for your lab (or yourself)”

  1. Hey Will, Our Sennheiser HD202’s are at the end of their life due to very thin cables. How do you manage headphone use in your lab? Have you tried locking them away and having kids use the same ones each time, or do you just leave them permanently attached to the computers? Just trying to figure out a way to make them last longer…

    1. Hey – I haven’t had cables thin out before, but here’s what I do. First, the cables on the Shure’s I use are those coiled telephone-style cables which really helps not getting snagged on chairs and things. Also, I’ll zip tie the computer-end of the cable to the other stuff which keeps it from walking away usually. I had the cable breaking problem with the HD201’s we had before due to snags, and when I had those, I would hang the headphones in front of the station to the point where they didn’t quite touch the ground, and then zip tie the slack doubled over along itself and the other cables. This way, if a student dropped the headphones they at least wouldn’t hit the ground, and they couldn’t stretch too far in the first place.

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