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Review: Heil Pro-Set 3 Headphones

Stop me if you have heard this before. More than once. IMHO, one of the keys to consistently doing cool stuff—no matter the field of endeavor—is to be open to the project you are working on morphing into something totally different. I may be high on crack, but I believe that is one of the basic things we have going for us at L2P/SPL/L2P Worship/Level 11 Media. I can’t think of a single project we have done that did not look a whole lot different than what we thought it was going to be when we started.

 

I think that is one of the reasons I am such a huge Bob Heil fan. Yeah, I love his mics but when it comes to the fan thing, I’m a fan of Bob. I mean all of his audio stuff grew out of a love for ham radio. How cool is that?  And he learned about phase from constructing giant antennae arrays and those lessons ended up in mics he designed 40 years later.

 

So, headphones. We have had a bunch of headphones in for review in the past couple of years and I always pass the review to someone else. For one thing, for any listening application I have been using in-ears for almost a decade. At this point, I have top of the line stuff from a couple of different companies and they sound great and I’ve not needed anything else. I did have a set of good noise-canceling cans a couple of years ago and I used to use ‘em at the gym. But this was pre-Beats by Dr. Dre and I was never one to set fashion trends. I got tired of people looking at me like I was a loon walking around the gym with headphones on. Sold ‘em a year ago.

 

And for mixing gigs? Remember, I came up as a musician who learned how to mix, not as an actual engineer. I did not even know what a PFL button did until I had been mixing shows for 10 years. I have gotten used to just listening to the house and rarely bring headphones and if I do, it’s the in-ears.

 

So, now that I have qualified the hell out of my POV… I freaking LOVE these Heil headphones. Love them.

 

They are comfortable. (Unlike ANY in-ear product after an hour or so.) They look cool. They are very affordable. (Just over a hundred bucks online.) And they sound really, really good. 

 

The specs say they go down to 10 Hz and I’m gonna have to believe that. The low-end extension is ridiculous. If you’re one of those (like me) who uses in-ears but wishes they had more bass of the type you can feel and you’ve engaged some kind of EQ on your listening device of choice to make up for that lack… You wanna make sure you disengage any kind of low end boost before trying the PS3s or you run the risk of rattling your brain loose from whatever moors it in your skull. And, super important, they do not extend the bass at the expense of other parts of the audio spectrum. Like the aforementioned Beats. (Which are 100% about marketing. Did you know they are made and designed by Monster cable? Yep, the same Monster that sells cables that are virtually the same as any other high-quality cable but charge twice as much for it.)

 

I love the fact that they have a removable cable. But lots of headphones these days have that feature. The Heils come with three cables. A coiled one for DJs. A straight one for most other uses and a third one with a super-skinny barrel for plugging in to an iPod or iPhone without having to take it out of whatever cool case you have it in. Love that.

 

A side note. When the Pro-Set 3 came out there was some chatter on one of the gear-based Web sites (GearSlutz). One person claimed they were cheapies made by a company called Yoga that had been re-branded. And a bunch of people piled on to that bandwagon. 

 

These are people who don’t know Bob. The entire idea of buying something cheap, slapping a label on it and selling it for a huge profit is simply not in the man’s world view as something he would even consider doing. 

 

Heil stuff is sourced by part. In other words, they may get 10 parts for one product from 10 different sources in order to get parts that meet or exceed their quality expectations. Then they ship it all to the U.S. and everything is assembled in Fairview Heights, IL. You are not going to find a version of these headphones anywhere else under another name. Not gonna happen.

 

Back to that being open to new ideas thing. Not many people realize that in the “gap” between Bob’s renowned audio exploits in the 70s and when the first Heil performance mics hit the market a couple of decades later, he was far from inactive. Remember that love of ham radio? Bob was making mics for a long time and pretty much owned the ham market when his friend and fellow ham Joe Walsh asked him to make a better vocal mic for use onstage. And this headphone project was supposed to be for the ham market. But in sourcing those parts, Bob came across a driver that he really liked and it was just a small step sideways from there to planning for a full-on pro product.

 

I’ve only been using them for about a week, maybe two. And I already have a hard time even thinking about them not being on my desk. I use ‘em all the time. Like everything Bob does, they are just freaking cool. Looking for something to nitpick as a negative, the only thing I came up with is that I wish the pads were just a skoosh bigger on the inside diameter because the left side sits on top of one of my earrings. That is really all I could come up with.

 

I think this is what you call a rave review.

About the author

Bill Evans

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