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Mix on headphones

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by 3dchris, Feb 18, 2003.

  1. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    Is it possible to do a great sounding mix using only headphones? If yes then:
    1) Which headphones to use?
    2) What are the key issues to be aware of
    3) Any tips?


  2. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member


    Headphones can be useful because they often reveal more low-level detail than listening through loudspeakers. But this is also their downfall when making mixing decisions. Because you can hear everything so clearly, it is common to mix some things too softly because they are so loud and clear in the phones.

  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I use headphones at times to track but never for mix. For me its weird to make panning decisions with the sounds coming from the sides of my head instead of in front of me.. …. Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  4. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Me too Uncle Cedar. I prefer to record vocals wearing headphones so as to be more aware of any minor tuning problems.
    I like the K240M from AKG, very clean, nice sounding.
  5. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    It is certainly best to mix on flat monitors. As had been said here already it's hard to hear a true stereo field that only speakers can give plus your eq's will be off (especially bass) when you try to translate the mix to other systems. If you absolutely have to use headphones only then I would suggest using reference material and then try to match it's panning and eqs. If you're serious about mixing then you'll have to bite the bullet and get a good set of monitors. Don't cut corners here as monitors will be one of the few pieces of gear that you won't have to replace every few years.
  6. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    well...if your asking then your probabbly not at the Record Plant so....use the above advice..and when checking overall balances of things (i.e. is the vocal loud enough...ect), lay the headphones down on the desk, ect.; and use them as a mono source with them off your head at a low level...you should still be able to hear all the important midrange elements (like: vocal, snare,hat, gtrs, keys, ect) at this level.
    For bass and bottom end, check a refference cassete or cd of your mix-in-progress in the car/boombox/homesterreo/ect (against other known ref's; i.e songs/albums you know and that relate to what you're doing) before you print your finals.
  7. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    Thx for prompt replies guys. I did not actually ask this question because I intend to mix entirely on headphones (I use heaphones as a reference only), but I will be recording/mixing in........a cottage! Yes...a cottage..the room is huge over there and there is a carpet on the floor and heavy curtains...the rest of the walls are made of wood (covered by wallpaper of some sort-rather glossy). I was asked to record a band over there and because I have no idea if I can make the room usable for mixing I was thinking to rely more on headphones. Any tips on how to make the room usable for mixing? I have Mackie HR824s monitors (Fats, don't scream at me please:). What I can do?


  8. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Get rid of the Wackie´s as soon as possible. Man, you are in the US!! Pick a pair of ADAMs, even the passive models will be years ahead of the 824´s!!!!!

  9. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    Alecio, I'm actualy in Canada not US. For now I'm out of money so I won't invest in any new monitors. Mackies will have to "do it". I will consider upgrading my monitors probably before Christmas :) )) I already started writing my letter to Santa :) )

    txn for input!

  10. I mix on NS 10m's and pop on a pair of Sennheiser HD600's frequently during the mix to check on things like what my low end is really doing... since I've been doing this my mixes seem to translate a bit better.
    Bob Green
    Area 51 Recording Studio
  11. Gary Gidak

    Gary Gidak Member

    You should be very careful about mixing/monitoring with headphones. It's way too easy to get a high db level pounding your eardrums, and I don't think a case of tinitis is is a worthwhile product of your labors. I make it a point to use headphones as little as possible, and keep them at low levels.
  12. Headphones are for a couple of things .. the tracking musicains, and for the engineer to make dead certain that thier mix would be something that the engineer would be happy with if he or she were tracking.

    The second use is for those times when the control room fills up with too much noise for the engineer to accurately hear the tracking musician's comments and mix. When this happens, nothing gets more attention then to turn down the monitors in the control room, put on headphones and deal with the tracking musician .. people will either get the idea or keep talking, in either case, you'll be in good touch with the tracking end.

    Headphone laying down on the console is an interesting idea for checking things .. I keep my listening levels fairly low in the Control Room, and then really lower them down, well below conversation level to check, kick, snare, bass, vocal whatever.. when you can define things at a low level, they'll be outstanding as the levels go up.

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