Aarrgh!! Dealing with headphones has to be one of the worst things about owning a studio. Headphones seem to spontaneously break, blow up, or magically grow legs and leave the studio without even having the courtesy to say goodbye. Every studio has at least one big box of busted headphone parts that's waiting for a rainy day when the various parts can be pieced together into one or two working pairs. But this never happens, and the box just gets thrown out in disgust during cleaning frenzies every few years. Truth is, headphones in a busy studio have the longevity of BIC Lighters in an Amsterdam coffeehouse; unfortunately, headphones happen to be closer in price to nice Zippos. I try to keep one or two pairs of "good" headphones around for cutting vocals and such. See past issues for some of my faves from ULTRASONE, Direct Sound, Audio-Technica and Fostex. But I'm always on the lookout for a good pair of "BIC Lighter" headphones. When I find a model that works, I'll buy 10-20 pairs and quit my complaining for a few years. I bought my first pair of HD 202's about a year ago at a local hi-fi store for under $25. A year later, they're still working, and nobody ever seems to complain about them. Granted, they're not in the same league as some of the cans mentioned above in terms of sound quality and power handling, but for most uses, they're just fine. And they're pretty sturdy. When I saw an advertisement from BSW (www.bswusa.com) in some other mag listing five pairs for $89 (item HD202PKG), I called and ordered ten pairs. If you buy ten pairs, they're $79 per five-pack. This is a killer deal at well under $20 a pair. ($149.75 MSRP for HD202PKG; www.sennheiser.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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