If you've read Tape Op over the years, you've probably noticed that one of my pet peeves is headphones. You gotta' have 'em, but they're expensive, and everyone treats 'em like crap. On the other hand, good headphones result in better performances-which means your recordings sound better. So in that sense, headphones can be a better investment than yet another pricey microphone. I've been using the original Extreme Isolation headphones (Tape Op #33) at The Hangar for several years now, and they're some of my favorites. Drummers love these cans, as they block out a lot of the ambient sound of their instrument so they can dial in a good mix without blowing out their hearing. In the past, I've kept the EI headphones stashed as they were a little bit on the fragile side. However, the new EX-25s and EX-29s I was sent for review are a big step up in build quality. The plastic is beefier, and the cabling is almost twice as thick with better strain relief. Earlier models had in-line volume controls that were easily damaged, but they're gone on the new models. The cord still terminates in the all-too-common but still annoying 1/8" plug, but the 1/4" adapter screws firmly on so it won't get accidentally disconnected. (The EXs can get very loud, and granted, the 1/8" plug allows you to use them with your favorite MP3 player.) Two things haven't changed. They sound great! They also block out lots of ambient sound. The EX-29 has 29 dB of isolation while the lighter EX-25 has (you guessed it) 25 dB. I am wearing the EX-25s while I'm writing this review, and it's eerie how quiet my noisy office and studio have become! If you're a laptop or one-room recordist, these are great for getting tones when you're stuck in the same room as the drummer you're recording. I've used these on a few location recordings I've done at rehearsal spaces, and they're a godsend! It's probably just the shape of my head/ears, but I found the larger EX-29s to be more comfortable than the EX-25s. Try them both, and see which ones you prefer. A great product that just keeps getting better! (EX-25 $84.95 MSRP, EX-29 $149.95; www. extremeheadphones.com)

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

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