Disclosure: Halter Technical sent me these headphones for review for a seperate media outlet. Halter Technical has not had any input into this article.
Introducing the Halter Technical Elite Monitors
If you aren’t familiar with Halter Technical, that’s okay. They aren’t a big name brand you should recognize. They are a smaller niche brand that has traditionally tried to appeal to the higher end sound mixing community in the TV and film industry, really a niche of a niche. That said, they have a history of putting out products that are designed directly for their customer base and hit all the right marks their customers are looking for. Until now…
The Elite Monitors are their first launch into what could be a massive consumer product. Their early ear pieces and Comtek headphones are affordable but weren’t directly designed to have broad appeal. The Elite Monitors on paper are the same way expect one thing…. the TV Film industry niche they fill… isn’t really a niche. In fact it’s the opposite. They punch well above their price tag and offer a value add that challenges headphones they sell for $99. And they do this all well selling for a mere $25. But it’s not their price tag that makes them possibly a pair of headphones you should own. It’s because they do something that other headphones just don’t achieve.
The Elite Monitor headphones were designed for spoken word listening. In theory, a niche that a script supervisor, producers, and director on film sets need. Expect when you expand it out you realize this is a pair of headphones that every podcaster on the planet should be using to monitor their podcast recordings. That everyone out there that enjoys listening to audiobooks should have hanging on their head. A pair of headphones that every videographer should be using when they film a sit down interview. Now you see, the desire to consume spoken word audio with a very clear audible pair of headphones… well that’s a smart idea and not niche at all.
The Elite Monitors achieve this by having 40mm drivers designed to not cause audio fatigue for the user after several hours of listening. This along with its ultra flat response and a slight bump in the 5Khz range to add clarity is what makes the Elite Monitors unique and different than any other pair of headphones designed. Most headphones in the sub-$99 price point are designed for music listening so they have a fake bass boost which makes them unpleasant to listen to the human voice. This style of headphone is fine for music but give you a very false sense of what your video or podcast actually sounds like. And it is this void in the market that the Elite Monitors stand out from the crowd.
Another aspect that I think that gets overlooked with headphones is noise. How loud are they when you put them on and take them off. Which might sound like a stupid care, but think about how often you take off your headphones on set. How often do you have to move a cup so that someone can whisper something in your ear? During sit down interviews on corporate shoots, this happens a ton. And the Elite Monitors don’t make any noise. That’s right, they are silent, with each movable part of the headphone being covered in a rubberized material to keep down the handling noise. Something that can’t be said about any other pair of headphones in the sub-$99 range.
The vented ear pads is another nice touch. This past month we have seen record highs in Los Angeles. And the idea of wearing something over the part of the body that acts as natures radiator sounds uncomfortable. But the Elite Monitors never made my ears itch or burn. The on-ear designed has allowed me to stay cool and still listen to clear audio. The pad on the headband is also breathable. Overall, you can see that a lot of care and thought went into each part of the design. Clearly these were made by someone who has a history of wearing headphones 12hrs a day for their job as a professional sound mixer in Hollywood. (PS… that’s exactly who designed these; a Hollywood sound mixer with over a decade of experience)
After 2 weeks of making the Elite Monitors my daily driver headphones that I use for reviewing video edits from my video production team, and for watching YouTube podcast, I can most definitely say they are worth every penny that Halter Technical is selling them for. Infact, they are probably being sold below value given just how good they sound.
Who Should Buy This?
Youtubers / Digital Content Creators: Absolutely. You won’t find a better pair of headphones designed that cater to this demographic. Given how much Youtubers now rely on talking head shots to their audience, they should definitely be using these headphones to edit their videos.
Videographers: Yes! These headphones are silent when you remove them from your head. This is critical if you are doing a sit down interview and need to remove them as you walk between your recorder and camera during an interview. So often you are low on staff as a videographer and headphones like this really will make your job easier.
Professional Location Sound Mixer: Maybe/Yes. Some of you will only use them as a premium pair of Comtek headphones for your director. I get that. It’s hard to think a pair of on-ear headphones can be used for mixing given how much audio bleed there will be. But I think for those starting out, the Sound Devices Mixpre/Zoom F8 customer base, these definitely could be used as your daily driver headphones on set.
It will be interesting to see what Halter Technical does in the future. Maybe over the ear monitors? They are clearly working with the community to design headphones that appeal to the underserved. And well they still might be considered a niche brand now, I bet it won’t stay that way long.
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can find him on Instagram @Andrew_From_Deity