In the last year, London-based freelance sound and mix engineer Jake Jackson has turned to using Shure SRH1840 headphones, together with KSM44A, KSM141, and Beta 181/C microphones, on various film, game, and music projects, including Book of Potions for the Playstation 3 and the score to Nick Cave's forthcoming documentary 20,000 Days On Earth.
Jackson, who was an in-house engineer at AIR Lyndhurst in north London before going freelance in 2009, and still does much of his work at AIR, began using the SRH1840 open headphones early last year, and was immediately impressed. "I’ve never heard a pair of headphones sound so realistic; they won hands down compared to my previous ones. There was more clarity, depth, better highs, and warmer lows; they were just amazing."
The SRH1840s have now become an integral part of Jackson's mixing workflow, particularly when he has a lot of mixing for TV to do at in a short space of time. "I still work on mixing desks where possible, so I use the headphones to EQ quickly; I can quickly whizz up and down the desk with them on, and I don’t have to keep going back to the centre of the desk to hear the sound properly. I trust them as much as the speakers. Also, when I'm editing in front of Pro Tools, I'll often keep them on. Again, I can have a stereo image from the headphones as I get an initial balance, adjust gains and plug-in settings and so on, without having to return to the monitors' sweet spot by the desk each time."
By early Summer 2013, Jake had decided to try out some microphones. "AIR pretty much only has SM57s in their cupboard, and I knew Shure must have more up their sleeves." Through the summer, he tried out two pairs of small-diaphragm condenser mics, a pair of Beta 181Cs, and two KSM141s, on various orchestral projects at AIR, including the scores to the TV series The Paradise, and Danny Glover's slave uprising history film Tula: The Revolt. "I used them as spot mics on woodwinds and percussion, and for a few stereo pickups on sections. They were clean, crisp, and transparent, very precise: exactly what I look for in an orchestral spot mic."
Suitably impressed, Jake graduated to a pair of KSM44a large-diaphragm condensers when asked to work at The Retreat studio near Brighton on the score to Nick Cave's personal drama/documentary, 20,000 Days On Earth. "The Retreat has a good selection of mics, but I wanted a few more options, and the 44as were beautiful on the celeste, which formed a large part of the score. They added a nice touch of warmth to the celeste even though I put them up close, and gave a lovely stereo image."
"Everyone uses Shure live stuff, but these studio mics have been a real surprise to me; the electronics are great and there's no noise," concludes Jake. "It's a shame AIR doesn't have a set!"