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Headphones as reference monitors???

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by took-the-red-pill, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    This comes out of the "Importance of great monitors" discussion:

    One guy's opinion was that:

    "The discussion happening here seems to largely consist of people talking at cross-purposes. Surely there are two types of 'monitor'.

    1. A reference monitor for giving you maximum info on mic placement, source quality etc.

    2. A mix monitor to allow you to produce mixes that work on a range of playback systems. "

    I have a few ???'s:

    A) What about headphones to select info on mic placement and source quality?

    I would think that you would hear the whole picture in it's clearest light, without it being coloured by the listening environment and such.

    I'm thinking of my situation where I have limited cash on hand, and more importantly I will likely have one big room for recording/mixing/sleeping/playing. If I have only one room, I would think that the phones would be the only way to get an accurate mic placement?

    I'm not suggesting it for mixing, but.....

    B) Are there points one would do well to grab the headphones and give a listen to the mix to hear minute details, background noise, etc?

    C) Do any of these companies build monitors AND headphones which are sort of "made for each other" so they have a similar sound? Seems to me that would be helpful

    What do y'all think?

    Thanks
    Keith
     
  2. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Boy, what a great idea! Monitors and headphones that were "matched"! Truly, great idea! Why it couldn't be done is beyond me?

    At the moment though, I don't know of anyone advertsing that they do this..? There are few manufacturers that even make phones AND speaker that I know of? At least "serious" phones/speakers... Phones/mics, yes. Phones/speakers, no.

    I use headphones to just "determine". Is this working? Is there a "hum" there? Am I getting popping "P's" while I'm doing my voiceovers am I "straying" from the mic and losing what I want. My headphones are invaluable. Not to mention that my really good phones cost but a fraction of really good speakers! At least, to some degree, when I listen to my phones I'm hearing things exactly as an engineer would hear in his "utimate" room - if he was using phones. I will never have a great mix room or speakers, but I can have and use great phones - and it helps.

    In truth though, my headphones likely cannot "translate" to a mix, unless the ultimate goal is mixing for someone who will be using my headphones. As much arguing as there is though, the same is true(COMPLETELY TRUE) of speakers. Unless the perfect speakers are placed in the perfect room, with the perfect listeners, listening perfectly, from the perfect listening position.....?

    That said, reasonable speakers, in a reasonable room with a reasonably experienced listener/mixer, will likely beat the headphone mixer everytime. Most people listen in "any" room, with "any" speakers. If a good mixer has higher quality equipment, it's likely that his mix will be "more" right. He can't account for the faults of his ultimate listeners. All he can do is give 'em his best and hope they get enough of it to be satisfied...

    The goal then is to have good headphones and use them(Easily atainable) AND to have good speakers in a good room(Not so attainable, but should be more so than for the "average" listener.) and use those, too.

    Indeed, the ultimate goal of a mixer should be to learn to use what he has, to learn it's high and low spots. His experience will allow him to compensate with confidence even if it doesn't "sound quite right" through either HIS speakers or HIS phones. That's a tall order, but it is done everyday...

    TG
     
  3. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    I would say to not think of headphones in that way. They are, in and of themselves, a listening environment as colored as any room you could place a pair of monitors in. Think about how they sound while being worn properly, and how they sound when you pull them 6 inches away. Now account for different head and ear shapes and I'd argue that the SAME pair of headphones will sound different to me than they do to you. I work with a guy every week who has a huge head and I know just by looking at how his headset fits him that he and I wouldn't hear them the same. And, just as different monitors sound different in the same position in the same room, and the same monitors will sound different in different rooms, headphones vary in sound from pair to pair. Yes, you may be able to make good judgement calls on background and low level noise(s) with them, but don't use them for the same purposes that you would monitors. You could use them to reference your mixes on, but don't rely on them as your sole mixing reference. They can also be useful in mic placement if you don't have anyone to assist you while you sit and listen in the control room, but those uses are about as far as I would go.
     
  4. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Okay, that makes sense.

    As I said, I would never mix with them, but for some things they get you 'right there' and that seems to help for pinpointing problems.

    Thanks guys.
    Keith
     
  5. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Okay, that makes sense.

    As I said, I would never mix with them, but for some things they get you 'right there' and that seems to help for pinpointing problems.

    Thanks guys.
    Keith
     

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