Whilst not the sexiest bit of kit, headphones are essential for all types of Video Journalism. They allow you to hear exactly what you are recording and if there are any problems in your audio chain. Conventional wisdom is; get a set that are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and allow you to block out external sounds.
- The Sony MDR-V6/MDR-7506 shown on the left of the picture is almost an industry standard. Sound is neutral and they exclude environmental sounds well. They are extremely comfortable; it’s like wrapping a down duvet around your head! So what’s not to like? Well the biggest drawback for me is their size. If I am using a #MoJo setup (iPhone) they are bigger than the iPhone, preamp and microphone put together. So what alternatives are there?
- I initially tried another headset model, the Sennheiser PX100s. They fold up into a really small package and are very comfortable to wear. Unfortunately in noisy environments, they let in too much extraneous sound. Back to the drawing board!
- Thinking that a compact solution with sound isolation was the way to go, I picked up a set of Shure E2Cs. They come with a variety of ear buds, which fit snuggly in the ear canal. From a sound perspective they are great; neutral, with great isolation. They were brilliant for travelling, allowing me to listen to music, on even the noisiest of flights. However the first time I wore them for work was really disconcerting. I could only hear where my microphone was pointing! If I had been working with a crew, this would have been fine, but I was working on my own, in crowds, during the Greek elections. To navigate safely I needed to be aware of people, traffic and any other potential hazards. I ended up having one headphone in and the other draped over the top of my ear. Then, when I started working, I would put the other one in. The problem was that, to get a good fit I had to use both hands and a manoeuvre that looked like I was trying to rip my ear off!
- How many blog posts have you read, that end with: ‘the cheapest solution, proved to be the best’? Well this this one does! Finally I purchased a pair of cheap and cheerful Sennheiser MX365* earphones, for around £10. These are comfortable and sound great. They allow me to monitor sound, but do not block everything out. When I set things up I can block out environmental noises, simply by putting the palms of my hands over my ears. When I am working alone I can hear what my microphones are picking up well enough to spot any problems, but still be aware of my surroundings. Job done!
*Some write-ups mention that they are not great for small ears, so you may need to look around for something smaller.