Tech Focus: Headphones and Headsets, Part 2 — What’s on the Market
Critical monitoring in active live-broadcast environments has always seen the A1 reaching for a pair of headphones to get more-intense control of the listening space, and the headset remains the most intimate piece of wearable tech in the business. These items are among the least expensive, most ubiquitous, yet barely acknowledged piece of professional-audio gear on the truck or in the studio. This month, SVG is giving them some well-deserved love. Here are top offerings from some of the leading vendors.
The BPHS1 broadcast stereo headset with dynamic boom microphone features closed-back circumaural (around-the-ear) earcups designed to provide maximum comfort and ambient-noise rejection with minimal ear fatigue. The moving-coil dynamic microphone, which can be positioned for use on either side of the mouth, has a unidirectional polar pattern tailored for pickup of speech with maximum voice intelligibility and high off-axis rejection. The BPHS1 includes a user-replaceable detachable 3.4 m (11-ft.) cable terminating in two output connectors, one each for the microphone and headphone. Microphone output is a three-pin XLRM-type connector, and the headphone output is a three-conductor ¼-in. connector. Three windscreens are also included to protect against noise and pops from breath and wind.
The ATH-M50x professional monitor headphones have exceptional power handling and very high SPL capabilities and feature a closed-back cushioned earcup. Other features include proprietary 45-mm large-aperture drivers with rare-earth magnets and copper-clad–aluminum wire voice coils; 90-degree swiveling earcups for easy, one-ear monitoring; and detachable cables (includes a 1.2- to 3-meter coiled cable, 3-meter straight cable, and 1.2-meter straight cable).
The CC-110 (single-ear) and CC-220 (double-ear) are high-performance headsets with cardioid dynamic microphones that emphasize the speech band for greater intelligibility. The headset is reversible and can fit on either ear; the gooseneck microphone can swivel to either side. When swung up, the mic is quickly muted for privacy, and an audible “click” occurs in the headset. The CC-300 (single over-ear) and the CC-400 (double over-ear) high-performance headsets come with a cardioid dynamic microphone. They have a flexible design: the XLR cable can be easily replaced, allowing it to be repaired in the field. Like the CC-110 and CC-220 headsets, the microphone has a 300-degree range of movement, so it can fit on either the left or right ear, and the gooseneck microphone can swivel to either side.
Introduced at IBC 2016, the SmartBoom Lite series of headsets offers advanced features and design enhancements, including SmartBoom technology, which allows the adjustable microphone boom to act as an on/off switch for quick muting. The headset provides high ambient-noise reduction and produces high-quality audio using a cardioid dynamic microphone. In addition, the closed-back, on-ear headsets feature a single-ear lightweight design with enhanced acoustic isolation.
Riedel’s MAX series headsets have been specially designed for use in areas with high ambient-noise levels. The headsets feature excellent attenuation abilities and, therefore, provide optimal hearing protection for users. The special noise-canceling electret or dynamic microphone guarantees clear communications in all conditions. The soft headset cushions are easily detachable for quick exchange and fit perfectly to the ear. The microphone boom rotates 270 degrees and allows the microphone to be worn either on the left-hand or right-hand side.
RTS has taken up the iconic Telex brand in broadcasting. The MH-300 and MH-300L Series single-sided and MH-302 and MH-302L Series dual-sided headsets and headphones offer modular design, lightweight construction, installation options, and multifunction use. The noise-canceling microphones, combined with the headphone transducers, provide clear and precise communication in noisy environments. The MH Series headsets are audio-level limited and conform to the EU Council Directive 2003/10/EC.
The new 27 series broadcast headsets, introduced at IBC 2016, comprise the HME 27 with electret microphone, HMD 27 with dynamic microphone, and the HMDC 27, which is additionally fitted with NoiseGard active noise reduction that protects the commentator against noise bursts. The switchable ActiveGard function reliably detects noise peaks above 110 dB and immediately compresses the signal to 110 dB, ensuring that transmitted information remains fully comprehensible. The HME 27, HMD 27, and HMDC 27 will be available soon. The HMD 26-II-100 broadcast headset is also equipped with the ActiveGard limiter and a dynamic hyper-cardioid patterned microphone. The microphone features noise suppression and has a shock-mounted capsule for absorbing structure-borne noise. The short, flexible part of the boom guarantees correct positioning of the microphone. Key components — cables, ear cushions, padding — are modular and can be replaced easily.
The BRH440M dual-sided broadcast headset features circumaural earcups to block out background noise. A dynamic cardioid microphone delivers natural, clear vocal reproduction. Versions are available with and without cable. The SRH940 professional reference headphones deliver accurate response across the entire audio spectrum for smooth high-end extension with tight bass. They feature closed-back, collapsible, circumaural design, and detachable straight and coiled cables.