Not every one of us is related to the music world or music industry, or some artists among us have recently joined the industry or become a part of it. We have often seen that usually DJs and musicians wear headphones while performing, and I am entirely sure that everyone has wondered once what is the reason behind it?
Well, I don’t know about anything else, but for sure it can not be just for showing off, or to look stylish then what can be the reason? People mostly misunderstand that headphones are some sort of luxurious item rather than understanding the real meaning and necessity of spending to buy a decent pair.
The most annoying yet important question answers that it is worn by musicians so that “bleeding” can be prevented and allows them to communicate with the other staff like producers & engineers. Apart from it, they also enable the musicians to listen to a metronome, set their levels, and last but not least, to hear the playback sound clearly with an extra layer of production.
Now you must be thinking about what bleed is, so it is nothing new. You all have noticed that sometimes while recording, the mic picks some additional voices that exude. This can reduce the audio quality and instrumentation to a superficial level as the ability to differentiate between vocals and instruments while mixing is severely hampered.
With the help of headphones, pre-recorded tracks can be listened to by singers, rappers, and instrumentalists to play and perform their parts accordingly without facing any bleed.
Factors To Be Kept in Mind For the Ideal Headphones:-
- Sound Isolation
- Smooth transitions
- Band Recordings and the Backing Track
- Studio Recordings and Live Performances
Whether a singer or rapper, almost every musician looks for a peaceful environment free of noise for creating or recording an audio track. Because if they don’t use them, they will sound just like a bathroom singer singing their bathrooms, which will ultimately affect their way of creating a better audio track.
However, even the audience wouldn’t like or enjoy those performances that lack a fantastic sound quality. Well, it’s a given that the artists are needed to be left alone to be comfortable in their place if a better soundtrack is expected from them.
So, if they have been provided with uncomfortable and slippery headphones that keep on slipping off their head, their entire performance will be affected and will not be as smooth as it should be. Therefore, these headphones have been designed so that all the external sounds are canceled out, and the singers can fully concentrate on their music.
Even the slightest bit of disturbance or movements of the amplifier mic can easily be heard by the musicians; that’s how their continuous tours to the control room for double-checking all the arrangements can be diminished or even eliminated.
Some people also believe that DJing doesn’t require headphones. To your shock, this is not correct. DJs have to wear them so that they can clearly hear their mixes and simultaneously generate transitions smoothly in the intervals.
Creating a perfect switch and hearing the flow of music can be easily allowed by these headphones to the artists who mostly record in the studio itself. We all have witnessed that DJs mix and match the song even in the live shows without getting any distractions from the crowd. So, the first song gets played on the central system while another song gets played simultaneously but can be heard only by the DJ because of the headphones.
Let’s talk about the importance of transitions. It is a very fascinating yet complicated process as when one song gets transitioned into another, it feels like the song never ended in the first place. None of us even notice sometimes that we have danced on over ten-fifteen pieces non-stop. This happens because our mind gets confused and thinks that it’s only one long, never-ending song.
Band Recordings and the Backing Track
Singers wear headphones while recording so that the backtracking can be prevented from overpowering the singer’s voice. Headphones are feasible for singers just because they offer them complete focus on singing every note correctly and understanding which part doesn’t sound as per their expectations.
Not just DJs or musicians, other instrumentalists like the drummers or pianists wear headphones too. This is because they don’t want to mix the sound or their instruments with others to create sound Isolation/ separation.
Backing music needs to be listened to by the musicians whenever they are recording. However, they would have to listen to the music via speakers if not from headphones.
But, it will create some problems as then the microphone will surely pick the backing track of the music, which is highly unexpected by the musicians. Therefore, a headphone is used to distinguish each instrument and vocal.
Studio Recordings and Live Performances
We have seen recording studios with windows in movies or videos; have you ever wondered why? The audio engineers gesture to the musicians standing in the studio, whether to raise or lower the volume. Headphones can become handy in those conditions, and audio engineers can easily communicate with the musicians in the recording studio.
Artists like Singers and musicians wear headphones too while performing live. They have to change their dresses and costumes frequently and dance a lot, so their hands have to be free. Studio headphones can quickly achieve this.
They were wearing headphones by musicians and singers while live performances are just as crucial as during the recording sessions. So, some of you must have noticed while attending a concert or live version of your favorite band or artists, they sometimes wear earphones or, to be more specific, in-ear monitors (IEMs).
Optimal Volume Levels
IEMs are best to use for the artists as they can control the in-ear music volume while reducing the overall stage volume. Due to this, the artists can listen to their tracks at a comfortable volume. It provides multi-purpose like it isn’t just comfortable for them during any performance but is also great for preserving their hearing in the long run.
Specific instruments are needed to be heard louder than others by the musicians. Like, drums are essentially required to be attended by the bassist to follow the rhythm while vocalists are more concerned and focused on hearing their voices to make sure they completely sound great as always. With these IEMs, musicians can listen to and fully personalize their mix accordingly.
In these cases, on-stage monitoring systems proved to be a considerable dissatisfaction. They are required to blast the music at the loudest volumes so that the musicians can hear themselves. It can be easily interpreted that prolonged exposure to high and kid volumes for a more extended period can seriously cause severe damage to their hearing.
Elimination of Feedback
When we put music and sound in a musician’s ear via IEMs, feedback is essentially eliminated.
Floor wedges can amplify the music coming from a loudspeaker and can be picked up by the microphones, which are designed for the signers/performers.
This condition can result only when the microphones and monitor speakers are kept too close together or when the mics are turned up.
IEMs are again at an advantage as they provide complete mobility to the artists meaning freedom of movement. The artist doesn’t have to stand or stay in a single position to hear the full range of music. Musicians can bring the sound and audio wherever they go, so you get free movements as well as extra space on the stage to perform.
However, a restricted or limited movement is accessible to the artists when a stage monitoring system is engaged. It can also be termed the “sweet spot” where the music can be heard clearly. Additionally, other instruments like floor wedges and loudspeakers have already occupied a valuable stage space.
These headphones provide a basis for the artists or group of artists to hear themselves throughout the recording precisely at the same time. They can plug in their instruments to an interface, mixer, or headphone amplifier, in place of monitor speakers or instrument amplifiers. Due to these headphones, all the separate recorded tracks can be edited or mixed freely before their final release.
So with all the information provided in this article, I firmly believe that now you must have got the basic idea of why musicians wear headphones. The quality of music produced can be better, depending on the focus it got while in the making. Although you can’t just go for the comfort but not looks, go for a fabulous pair if you are looking to buy headphones.
Still, if there is any doubt left, feel free to comment or contact me and drop your questions and queries in the comment box.