Hearing protection and headphones don’t always necessarily go hand in hand. American drumming specialist Vic Firth, however, has brought them together with their stereo isolation headphones, SIH for short. Now Vic Firth has introduced a redesigned version of his hearing protection headphones into their product line – the SIH 2.
Like their predecessor, these headphones are geared toward professional musicians, rather than those who just want to listen to music. Drummers especially have trouble in the studio due to the acoustic level of their instrument, which results in a high listening volume for their headphones. In some cases, this leads to “headphone bleed”, which means you can hear the headphone sound on the recording, and in the worst cases, a musician can permanently damage their hearing.
Happily, the SIH 2 solves this problem. It combines earmuffs with a headphone, the high level of external noise attenuation reduces the listening volume, therefore minimising headphone bleed and protecting the musician’s hearing.
The Vic Firth headphone is delivered in a clear plastic wrapper, which can be thrown away after opening, as it is not suitable for transporting the headphones. Personally, I am not a fan of this type of packaging; apart from the environmental aspect, they are usually quite difficult to open.
Once opened, you’ll find there are virtually no accessories as the headphones are supplied with a permanently installed cable and a plug-in jack adapter.
Look and Feel
As with its predecessors, the capsule hearing protection is unmissable. And as with the capsule ear protectors – called “Micky Mice” in workshop jargon – the Vic Firth SIH 2 is far from being a funky headphone. After all, the targeted buyers sit in dark, lonely studio rooms and don’t need to show off their coolness, content instead with a hint of high-tech (just a hint, however, because the shells are not made of real carbon…)
Comfort vs. Insulation Values
The thick cushioning ear pads certainly contribute to the high sound insulation value of 25 dB, as specified by the manufacturer. Another factor is the contact pressure to the listener. As with the SIH 1, the SIH 2 pushes neatly on the skull bone. Thanks to the soft pads, they manage to still feel reasonably comfortable. However, the plastic material of these cushions, under which you will quickly start to sweat, is what makes wearing them rather unpleasant over long periods of time. Sure, while studio recordings do not necessarily require a musician to wear them all the time, rehearsals or concerts take longer than recording a 4-minute rock song.
In the previous model, I had criticised the aggressive tuning in the mids. The packaging of the SIH 2, however, states that it aims to provide “cleaner mids”. Of course, this is what I tested first. True, the range around 2 kHz is still pronounced, but overall the SIH 2 in the mids sounds really clean and more comfortable than the SIH 1. The bass range of around 100 Hertz is featured discreetly, which makes clean bass drum punches. However, I miss the sub-bass below 100 Hz, so a little more energy in this area would increase the fun even more. In the upper registers, the Vic Firth SIH 2 is quite discreet, from about 10 kHz. All in all, the SIH 2 still sounds neat and is quite reasonably priced; there’s really not much to complain about!
With the new version of their stereo isolation headphone, Vic Firth is taking a step in the right direction. Sound-wise, it has been improved in all the right places compared to its predecessor. The SIH 2 is still not a hi-fi receiver for the audiophile sound detail collector, but for the hardworking studio musician, this headphone is just right. The high external noise attenuation comes at the cost of increased contact pressure, but if this allows a quieter listening volume in the studio, I’ll gladly accept this disadvantage.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Impedance29,35 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)98,04 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head1164 g
- Weight with cable341 g
- Weight without cable309 g
- Cable length170 cm
What's in the box
- 6.35mm stereo jack