Tech Focus: Headphones and Headsets, Part 2 — A Look at What’s on the Market

Improved intelligibility, flip-up mic muting, noise reduction are among the features

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, if barely acknowledged of any piece of professional audio gear on the truck or in the studio. Here are top offerings from some of the leading vendors.

Click here for Tech Focus: Headphones and Headsets, Part 1 — They Only Look Simple

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

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 BPHS1 also has a boom-mounted moving-coil dynamic microphone that can be positioned for use on either side of the mouth. The BPHS1’s mic has a unidirectional polar pattern tailored for pickup of speech with maximum voice intelligibility and high off-axis rejection. The headset includes a user-replaceable detachable 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 (a 1.2- to 3-meter coiled, 3-meter straight, and 1.2-meter straight).

The SoundComm B30 headset — aka the Bose Sideline Headset — is the iconic one in the Bose collection. It integrates the company’s active noise-cancellation electronics, providing increased low-frequency noise attenuation. Features include a proprietary cushion design that provides a critical acoustic seal and contoured headband and earcup design. Single-ear or dual-ear versions are available, with microphone boom located on either the left or right ear; cable is terminated with a four-pin female XLR connector.

Clear-Com CC-110

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, and the gooseneck microphone can swivel to either side. When the mic swings up, it 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. These headsets 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 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.

The SmartBoom series of professional headsets provide outstanding audio quality while incorporating a convenient flip-up microphone-muting feature. The mic is optimized for voice communications and, because of its dynamic noise-cancelling design, is suitable for even the most challenging environments. In addition, the closed-back, on-ear headsets feature two models, a single-ear and a dual-ear design, both with increased comfort and enhanced acoustic isolation. The newest addition to the series, the SmartBoom LITE headset, also incorporates many of the PRO features, such as the ability to mute the microphone with a simple flip of the flexible mic boom but in a smaller, lightweight design for enhanced mobility and flexibility.

Riedel MAX

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 on either the left-hand or the right-hand side.

RTS has taken up the iconic Telex brand in broadcasting. The MH-300 and MH-300L Series single-sided headsets and headphones and the MH-302 and MH-302L Series dual-sided headsets and headphones offer modular design, lightweight construction, installation options, and multifunction use. The noise-canceling microphone, combined with the headphone transducers, provides 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.

Sennheiser HMD 26-II

The 27 series of broadcast headsets, introduced at IBC2016, comprises the HME 27 with electret microphone, HMD 27 with dynamic microphone, and the HMDC 27, which is additionally fitted with NoiseGard active noise reduction to protect the commentator against noise bursts. A switchable ActiveGard function reliably detects noise peaks above 110 dB and immediately compresses the signal to 110 dB, ensuring that any transmitted information remains fully comprehensible. The HMD 26-II-100 broadcast headset also is 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, and 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. Features include closed-back, collapsible, circumaural design, and detachable straight and coiled cables. The BRH50M dual-sided broadcast headset is a lightweight headset microphone for on-camera broadcast applications. Features include closed-back, supra-aural earcups; dynamic cartridge with supercardioid polar pattern; and adjustable headband for ergonomic fit and pivoting boom for left- or right-side wear.

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