So about a month ago Senal sent me their new SMH-1000 headphones to try out. How do you review headphones though? I’ll start by telling you the story of my first day with them, followed by the new 29 days…
The first day I used them was on a new series of TV commercials for a national department store. What made it a tricky shoot was I had to use another sound mixer’s gear. He was originally booked but called me in to take the gig when something came up but this way he still got his kit fee. Ok, no biggie. His kit for the gig was billed as a Zoom F8 and a MKH50 and some Comteks. Upon arriving to set I noticed his F8’s settings were all sort of wonky so I reset the unit and began to set everything up like I like it. I put the MKH50 on my boom pole and I immediately noticed something was off. It didn’t sound like what I was excepting.
Now I must admit, I am not a MKH50 user. I typically swing a Schoep’s CMC-clone on the end of my boom. So I thought well it must be a problem with the microphone. I swapped it out a prototype Deity shotgun and again, it didn’t sound right. I start to check the PFL menu and all the routing menus in the F8 thinking something odd must be enabled… that’s when it struck me. I am not wearing Sony 7506 headphones… I muscled through and said ok, I just need to trust that the Zoom F8 is setup right and that my friends MKH50 is in good working order. By lunch I had forgotten I was wearing the SMH-1000 and by the end of the day I actually started to like how they sounded. Once we got into the heat of the action on the shoot I was hearing everything perfectly. The sound was crisp and vivid. Dialogue was punching through perfect. I never realized how much bass boost the 7506 headphones added to the signal. I have been a 7506 user for the past 15yrs and in 1 day I realized just how muddy and colored the Sony headphones are.
Now the next day was a local sound mixer event in Glendale California and I brought the Senal headphones along to pawn off onto a friend to get his opinion. Even though I had fallen in love with them doesn’t mean they are good. Sound reproduction is very subjective since everyone’s ears are different. So I gave them to a friend and said text me your first impression at the end of the day of wearing them.
And that’s the thing. When you look at the Senal SMH-1000 you’re first impression before putting them on is that they will be just a cheap Sony 7506 knock-off. And I mean, yeah, of course you’d think that based on looks. They are perfectly interchangeable with the 7506 for parts and accessories.
But you will notice a few upgrades that Senal added. It shouldn’t be shocking that they have a few upgrades, the 7506 headphones haven’t really changed much in the past 30yrs.
- Inchangable cables: You may remember a while back I did a DIY post about how you can mod your 7506 cans to feature a locking 3.5mm/TA3 jack so you can use any cable you want. While Senal just added that feature from the start.
- Multiple Cables Included: You get a 10ft long coiled cable and a 3ft long straight cable. I must admit, I wish the straight cable was a tad longer, maybe 4ft. For sound bag work, I wish I had about an extra 8-12” of straight cable.
- Better Frequency Response: They sound very crisp and vivid. They don’t boost the bass like the 7506. I was still able to hear airplanes and helicopters from distance and stop the production but dialogue sounded clean during normal takes.
- Lower Impedence: The Senal SMH-1000 are rated at 58 Ohms, my Sony 7506 cans are rated at 63 Ohm. 5 Ohms may not sound like much, but if you are a Zoom F8 / F4 user you will be happy to be able to reduce the headphone preamp.
- Same Accessories Plus More: You can use your Garfield Softies on them and you can replace the pads with better pads meant for your 7506 headphones. But Senal also makes some upgraded pads that are deeper for better isolation.
- Cheaper Price: These retail typically for $75
- 3 Year Warranty: That smokes the pants off Sony’s warranty
- No Leather Storage Pouch: Thats sold seperately. But you do save $25… is a pouch worth $25?
Should You Buy Them?
The Senal SMH-1000 are a great pair of headphones that I have now switched to over the past month. I have used them now on several shoots and have had those clients since called me back for more shoots, so clearly these headphones aren’t getting in my way to get great sound recordings. I won’t lie, the first day was jarring to try them out. I was thrown for a loop and it did take about a half day of wearing them for my ears to adjust. But they are solidly built and ready for your next shoot.