Ear Monitors Australia Pro 80 Headphones
(first published in CX magazine – February, 2014)
At ENTECH (Sydney) last year I stumbled across some headphones that I wasn’t expecting to see – Ear Monitors Australia’s EMA Pro 80s.
Actually, I had to laugh at the time because when I first clapped eyes on them my first thought was that they looked… well, decidedly ’80s.
They seemed old-fashioned – gloss black with plain metal arms, paper stickers denoting the company’s name and logo, and overall that unmistakeable ‘earmuff’ persona. But knowing the guys at EMA I figured there would have to be something more to these headphones for the company to bother showing them off at a trade show. In-ear specialists selling over-the-ear headphones? Hmm…
But as it turns out, they sound really good. Looks aside, they’re comfortable, not too heavy on your head, or too tight. They’re tonally balanced and actually not too dissimilar sounding from EMA’s in-ear monitors (I have two sets of the company’s custom in-ears that I’ve been using for many years now).
Unlike several other brands of headphones I have down here at The Mill, the Pro 80s are great for recording, and for several reasons: they’re closed backed, so they don’t spill into the mic or generate feedback; they’re very comfortable to wear even though they look like they shouldn’t be; and they’re balanced in their response.
They produce a very substantial (yet controlled) bottom octave without ever sounding gratuitous or EQ’d like some so-called ‘DJ’ headphones, while offering plenty of tops without sounding like they’re compensating for excessive low-end. Tizzy and boomy they are not.
Most of the other headphones I use at The Mill tend to sound too bright or boomy, too thin and in one case, incredibly dull. Sonically, these drive straight through the middle of all that. They’re balanced, unremarkable, and devoid of hype. I’ll be using them far more in the coming weeks and months (as both recording and mixing headphones) to determine whether they’re tone is trustworthy, but so far, I’m very impressed.
The other benefit is that they’re not too pricey. At $249 retail, they’re the sort of headphone you could probably buy a bunch of… and if they break you don’t have to contact the insurance company. Some might baulk at a headphone that feels a bit ‘prototype’ in its finish – let’s face it, the stickers are weird – but I’ll simply be removing these with orange oil.
Actually, perhaps I’ll replace the stickers with some old Castrol motor oil stickers I collected back in the ’70s, and go for the full ‘grand prix retro’ stylee.
In Australia, contact Ear Monitors Australia for more info: (03) 9844 2524 or earmonitorsaustralia.com