[Gear In Review Podcast] GIR12 – Headphones

Hosted by Reed Smith and Bobby Rettew, MA

In the last episode we explored microphones used with video production; in this episode we are reviewing headphones to monitor and listen to audio. This is an area many people in the world of content creation consider, but there are so many different types of headphones, different price ranges, and different use cases. Listen and let us know which ones you use!

Here are links to portable hard drives we discuss:

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Reed Smith: Hey everybody, this is Reed Smith.

Chris Boyer: And this is Chris Boyer.

Reed Smith: And we are co-hosts on a show called Touchpoint, which is a podcast that’s dedicated to the discussions on digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, not only for just hospitals but health systems and physician practices.

Chris Boyer: In every episode, we’ll dive deep into a variety of topics on digital tools, solutions, strategies, and other things that are impacting the health care industry today.

Reed Smith: While you listen to this show, we would certainly love you to check out ours.

Chris Boyer: All you have to do is swing on over to touchpoint.health for more info and also some of the other shows that are featured on the Touchpoint Media Network.

Reed Smith: Welcome back to another episode of Gear in Review. I’m Reed Smith, joined as always by Bobby Rettew.

Bobby Rettew: Good afternoon, good morning, whichever it may be wherever you are in the world.

Reed Smith: Awesome, awesome. Well, you’ve downloaded this episode, so you know what it’s about, but first and foremost, thanks to all the loyal listeners and subscribers. We certainly appreciate the support. If you have not, make your way over to touchpoint.health. You can check out the back catalog of all kinds of various episodes that we’ve done on different products. If you’ve got an idea for something you’d like us to review or talk more about, please let us know that. Most importantly, if you will rate, review, subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts, that is the number one, A, best way, for other people to find us. We certainly appreciate that. Headphones.

Bobby Rettew: Oh, headphones.

Reed Smith: Let me [crosstalk 00:01:42] this by saying headphones as it relates to monitoring, so not headsets. A headset would include a microphone as part of the headphone, if that makes sense, and so we’re not really talking about that, although some of them do kind of come with some of that stuff, and we’ll get more into that, but talking about actual headphones.

Bobby Rettew: That’s right. That’s right. I tell you what, I have a lot of shoes because I like Cole Haan shoes and Nikes. I have a lot of bags, you and I like bags. I have more bags than my wife does. I also have lots of gadgets, but I have a lot of sets of earphones. I’m always looking for the perfect set of earphones. I don’t know about you, Reed.

Reed Smith: Yeah. I do too, and I think … We can break this down into a couple of categories and maybe let’s just jump into the first one which is more of earbud category, so in a simple form, not that they’re free, but free-ish is whatever came with your phone, so if you have an iOS device, you have some Apple earbuds that plug in.

Bobby Rettew: Yeah, and-

Reed Smith: They’re not bad. Right? They’re okay.

Bobby Rettew: They’re not bad. They do really good. They’re very, very versatile. Number one, they’ve got a mic on it so you can plug it into your phone and still talk on the phone and walk. You can plug it into your MacBook and it will leverage the microphone off of it so you can do webinars, listen to things through these earphones. They’re very, very versatile and Apple’s done a really good job with the technology.

Reed Smith: Yeah. Yep. And you’ve got the wireless version of that which is the AirPod and I don’t want to get into a lot of the differences there, but it’s wireless in essence. It’s basically the same form factor, it fits in your ear the same way, it has the microphone built in. Again, not really what we’re going after today. Of course, I am using an old pair of Apple earbuds right now as we record this and I think the difference is, I just need to hear you. I don’t need to hear me necessarily, and I think that’s the difference, is it’s like are you trying to monitor the quality of what you’re recording or doing, or is it just to communicate with?

Bobby Rettew: Right. So I think you and I kind of navigate a couple different worlds here. Number one, as a video and content creator, audio person, I have a really nice set of earphones that really cover all the way around my ear and close in so I hear exactly what is being projected into these earphones, and this is very important for me, specifically in the world of video. When we’re doing interviews, I need to listen to what’s coming through the camera and I need to listen if that person is talking if something around the corner is obstructing that person’s audio. This allows me to cancel out the world around me and only hear what’s coming through the microphones. It doesn’t have a head … it doesn’t have a microphone to it, it just has a plug on the end of it, it’s a mini plug.

These are the Sony MDR 7506 headphones and they’re under $100 but they’re still professional earphones that I love. They’re very, very comfortable to me and I can use them to plug them into a video camera. I’ve got them plugged in to my Yeti, Blue Yeti microphone to listen to this podcast so we can talk, I use them for video editing, so I plug them into the audio jack of my laptop or iMac to listen as I edit, so I can hear all the rich sounds so they’re very versatile based on the plug and I like them, mainly because it allows me to cancel the world out around me.

Reed Smith: Yeah. Similar to that, the one that I’ve got experience with is the AKG, which is a popular brand of studio quality microphones and headphones, but AKG makes a studio headphone called the K240. I think they run about $70 or so and you can actually detach the cable from the headphone itself, somewhat for portability, a replacement if something gets damaged I guess. It’s got a way that you can plug into [inaudible 00:06:28] on the other end, so it’s a lot of flexibility. It’s an over the ear microphone, just like the Sony that Bobby just mentioned. Again, for monitoring, monitoring quality, hearing what is happening. It’s great for that. I think those are a couple of great options that are cost effective.

I think you move up the chain and you get to things like noise canceling, true noise canceling headphones, like the Bose QuietComfort, those are good. Really, they’re meant more for listening to music. As a matter of fact, the QuietComforts are now wireless. I don’t love the idea of wireless if I’m actually monitoring something because then I’m reliant on this wireless connection. I’d rather plug something in, have it wired quite honestly if I’m really doing it from a production standpoint. I don’t know, what are your thoughts about that?

Bobby Rettew: I 100% agree. I’m not a big fan of wireless. We have … in the video world, there’s two types, or a couple types of production that many people deal with in the video world. Number one, there’s cinematic production where you’re really producing high quality videos or film so to speak. The second is more in studio production. Then for what we do is more mobile content creation storytelling, and so we have to be flexible. We have to be able to pick the camera up and walk down the street and get images and we also have to be flexible where we do our interviews, inside, outside, wherever it may be.

So if you have a walk and talk interview, it’s not fun to have that wire going from the camera to your ear to monitor the audio, because it’s one more thing you’re having to put your arms through and it can be kind of a frustrating thing, but when we’re running wireless microphones, to your point, I don’t want to depend on another wireless connection to monitor and not know what is breaking up.

I’ll give you an example. We will … when we go in to different settings and we’re recording interviews and we’re using wireless maybe outside, well, wireless microphones work off RF, digital and sometimes a lot of digital RF and so if you have a policeman who has a walkie-talkie and it’s close in signal to your wireless, when he clicks that micr- his walkie-talkie, it might interrupt and make your wireless microphones pop and you hear the pops when the person’s talking.

So these headsets are really good because it cancels everything out and you can hear the pop if it’s in the middle of an important soundbite and we’ll ask the person to say it again. If you had a wireless headset, you wouldn’t know if the microphone is popping or your headset is popping.

Reed Smith: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: So we’re really intentional about gathering good quality audio content and that’s why headphones are so important and so that you can hear what’s going on and the wired approach is always number one the safest bet, the most secure bet, and you’re gonna get the top quality audio as well.

Reed Smith: Yeah, so really a better indication of is what I’m hearing, what I’m hearing.

Bobby Rettew: Right.

Reed Smith: So that’s a great point, that’s a great point. Again, it kind of depends on what you’re doing. Again, if you just need to verify that there is audio coming through, like what you and I are doing right now, yeah, earbuds are fine. That’s fine. But really, something over the ear that’s more of a studio quality, again, for $100 or less that’s probably the way to go.

I think another couple of things to think about, again, this gets down to personal preference, but how portable are they? Do they fold up or not? Do they come apart or not? How replaceable are the pieces, like the pads and the cables and things like that? Then ultimately just how does it fit? How does it feel? That’s a hard one, unless you can go somewhere and try on a bunch of different ones.

Bobby Rettew: I agree. The other thing with these headphones, one of the things that in my previous world as a photojournalist, we were very intentional about the types of earphones we bought all the way down to the types of cords. These Sony headphones that I’m using right now, they’re … the cord has a bungee setting on it where it comes off your earphone and kind of bungees a little bit and then it straightens back out and goes into … it plugs in.

The … when I was in the world of broadcast television, we bought Sony earphones that did not have the bungee and the reason why is because the bungee, number one, can get tangled up very quickly and so if you’re trying to plug in really quickly, you’re having to untangle and it’s just a mess and so we made sure that we purchased the headphones that we liked with a straight cord so that we could properly wind them up and store them so that when we unraveled them it was quick and easy. That’s an important form factor piece for me as well.

Reed Smith: Yeah, I think so. So again, personal preference, where are you gonna store it, how are you gonna use it, how portable does it need to be? It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about headphones, microphones, cameras, whatever it is, go somewhere, some conferences, South by Southwest is a good example. There’s booths for all this types of equipment, microphones, headphones, etc, and you can try on different ones and things like that, so if you have the opportunity to do those types of things, that’s a great way to do it. Or do a site that allows you to try it for a period of time and return it if you don’t like it.

But again, an over the ear mic for monitoring definitely the way to go, whether you’re monitoring audio or audio as it relates to video, so … Then earbuds if that’s what you have and all that works, that’s what works. Then there are some cases you can’t really do it and so that’s okay, but for times that you can, a good set of headphones is worth the money.

Bobby Rettew: Yep. One last thing is I do like the Apple earbuds. They’re really good when I’m having to listen to a video to kind of transcribe or make notes. The one reason I like them is that I can turn the volume up and down on the earbuds, whereas on my studio my headphones, I’m adjusting the audio, the level coming into my ears, on the device and that’s one of the reasons why I like the AirPods because they’re flexible and you can turn the audio up and down.

Then with the AirPods, the wireless Bluetooth ones that are about $170 that Apple has created, one of the things that I do like about that for my iPhone is that since they are wireless, they can either play audio off my iPhone or off my watch, so if I leave my iPhone at the house and I’m out running, walking, whatever, I can listen to a podcast from my watch into my AirPods. So that’s something that’s really good, especially for content creators, because it allows me to listen to something while I’m out doing things to kind of just think about maybe a project I’m working on and I want to listen to the audio, so they do have a good functionality to them that’s practical for what we do.

Reed Smith: Awesome, awesome. Well, lots of good things. Got a lot of good examples. Again, links to the products we talked about, you can find those in the show notes. We’d certainly love feedback and hear from you about what you use, what you’d like us to talk more about, that you have questions about, whatever it may be so … Just appreciate the support and look forward to hearing from you on the Interwebs.

Bobby Rettew: Have a good day. Thank y’all, and remember, rate and review us on all the different outlets, including iTunes. We want people to see that you like us.

Reed Smith: Absolutely. So for Bobby Rettew, I’m Reed Smith, and we’ll see you next time.

This show is made possible in part by the Social Health Institute. Through research and partnerships with healthcare organizations around the country, the Social Health Institute explores new and innovative ways for hospitals, healthcare organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategy. To learn more about the Social Health Institute, visit them online at socialhealthinstitute.com. That’s socialhealthinstitute.com.

This has been a Touchpoint Media production. To learn more about this show and others like it, please visit us online at touchpoint.health.

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