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Mastering Headphones?

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by nicomusic, May 21, 2010.

  1. nicomusic

    nicomusic Guest

    Hi there,

    I was wondering if is there any kind of special headphones to use in the mastering process. Since I do not have a special room to do it, I would like to know if is there any tool to do a home mastering.

  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You can't master with headphones. At best, headphones are utilized to check specific and finite details but are no good for 90% of the mastering process.
  3. nicomusic

    nicomusic Guest

    I guess I must adapt a room for this process then.
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    The monitoring chain and the room are the most important parts of the recording process at every stage.

    And headphones suck just as much at every stage. I mean, I suppose you need them for tracking here and there and once in a while they come in handy for zeroing in on edits and what not, but otherwise, they're pretty worthless... Even really nice ones.

    If we could do it with headphones, we'd save tens of thousands of dollars just on the monitoring chain and the room treatment. And believe me - we would.

    But we can't.

    So we don't. :)
  5. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    If you see anyone claiming to be a professional mastering engineer employing headphones, you´d better advise him to work in a circus. You may use something like an AKG K240S or a Senheiser HD600 to verify Pans, effects but this is for the mixing stage.
  6. nicomusic

    nicomusic Guest

    What kind of answer is that? Are you trying to be funny? It was just a question!!
    Perhaps all you mastering engineers have your minds clouded with your mastering studios!
    But hear my words!! Everything is possible, even mastering with headphones. Why not? That is a chance for musicians amateurs as us.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Pretty opinionated for someone who doesn't actually know everything or likely anything involved in Mastering. If you knew what was truly involved and required you wouldn't talk so naively. You cannot hear what your need to hear on headphones to Master a project properly. Headphones are at best good only for parts of the mixing stage. And that's before we ever get to Mastering. Talent (self proclaimed or otherwise) and enthusiasm do not change the cold facts of reality. If you think otherwise then you'd better stick with low quality MP3 formats.
  8. mrmelody

    mrmelody Active Member

    Kudos to Jack.
  9. rick-slo

    rick-slo Active Member

    Though I agree that headphones are not the way to go, for a consumer who is listening to their music on headphones (more and more of that today) would speakers or headphones likely give better results?
  10. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Speakers, of course.

    You have to really screw something up to make it sound bad on headphones... Really bad sounding mixes can sound absolutely reasonable through cans.

    One of so many reasons why they're really not useful for mixing - And certainly not for mastering.

    If everyone is only ever going to hear something through ear-buds, by all means go for it. But don't expect it to translate to the real world.
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    By the same token, we don't record and edit in lossy formats like MP3. It is irrelevant that most kids listen on earbuds. Trying to lower quality to a common denominator only ruins quality.
  12. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Maybe my answer was a bit too dry, but at least you got an answer and suggestions of models.
    And of course, all the other folks here do also know their stuff.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I would never attempt to even begin to master on headphones including finished results for mixing. Every time I tried this, it never sounded good on other systems. Waste of time! Hopefully the OP takes a breath here and see's there is much to learn, and gains from all of you taking the time to help him to the next level.

    I only use cans for times when I need to isolate exterior disturbance like other people working around me, or if I need to work late and want to keep my sound from disturbing others. I'm always ear fatigued from them. Takes a day to recover IMO.

    That being said, I've always liked the looks of this amp, and wondered if it made mixing in headphone more pleasurable. [URL="http://www.spl.info Short: Sound Performance Lab[/URL]

    I'd love to hear if anyone has had the opportunity to listen to the Phonitor?
  14. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I played with the amp a little. It's a nice amp. But I'm not a big headphone guy. I have a pair at hand for checking pops or noise or maybe a tough edit, but no way can could I trust them to make decisions about compression or eq. Plus they make my ears sweaty if I wear them too long.

    Every once in awhile I'll listen on a pair recreationally, my buddy has a $10k headphone setup that sounds really nice. But he's a freak and doesn't mind sweaty ears.
  15. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    If you try to master through headphones, make sure you have a headphone preamp with a mono button, and use it. Headphones can hide a lot of issues that might otherwise be obvious on speakers. Like phase cancellation between left and right channels. They can be useful to check a mix. And to see if there's too much wind noise to be acceptable. But they generally lack low end to start with and lie a lot. Even good ones. Low end rumbling noises and electrical buzz and other nastys can be hidden by headphones.

    And then there's the ear sweating and ear infection issues, compounded if you're not the only one who wears your cans. And they tend to break a lot if you've got a big head or a hard floor. I use them at the point of capture. Helps to check for any radio stations and such being picked up. Or just use them to dampen the SPL level of the performance. Pretty useless otherwise as the performance in proximity is almost always louder then the headphones can or field recorder by itself can do.
  16. ZeroZero

    ZeroZero Guest

    Though it is right that ultimately mastering on headphones is a no no - somer people need to work on headphones for neighbours etc. If your question was what are the best headphones for my studio then hte answer has been given above. If you want to master do it during the day when your mums out (joke). Phil spector used ot listen to his music on car speakers because thats the way his customers heard it. If you want your music to sound at its best on cans then... otherwise follow the others advice - use real air
  17. Headphones is not for mastering audio. I suggest that OP of this thread to have his/her ears fully trained working on professional studio monitors designed for mastering rather than wasting time finding a way to master using headphones. Mastering is a highly specialized and technical field.

    I only use headphones for pleasure listening.

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