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Studio Monitors or Headphones

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by baze7, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. baze7

    baze7 Guest

    I have a small home studio and just want to get an opinion on mixing using headphones vs. monitors. Good idea / Bad idea? Please let me know.

  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    you'll find it very difficult to get good results on headphones.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Baze7, if mixing on headphones was so great, why would studios have speakers? To get to the other side? I don't think so. We mix on headphones, when we have to. Particularly, when you are doing live recordings of orchestras and such and are set up backstage, you use headphones. You might find people using headphones in the control room where the control room is used as a studio. Certainly couldn't have open microphones and speakers together without problems.

    When in the control room, it's best to mix on speakers, at least 2 different pairs. Switching between your numerous control room speakers and then listening to play back through headphones & the car, should ensure a mixed sound that will translate well on numerous different systems. I never rely on a single reference and neither should you. In fact, headphones are as personal as underwear and feminine hygiene products. I can't stand Sony, can't use them. I find that AKG's have a nondescript muddled quality and certainly don't care for those either. KOSS, ain't what it used to be, even though I have a couple of precious pairs of Pro4AA's. I can only use Sennheiser headphones and generally the open air variety as opposed to the HD280 which is a closed isolated back. I'll use those in a high noise environment when I have to. Otherwise, I love my Sennheiser HD 545. It's the only headphones that sound natural and real to me. I can/have mixed on those often.

    Head phony woman
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. TheFraz

    TheFraz Active Member

    As I prefer my AKG's and have no real love for Sennheisers.

    Mixing on monitors makes for a much greater chance of having your mix translate to other systems.
  5. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    IF you have to mix on headphones, you should have a good pair. I think this is very important. Many people i have seen, under-estimate the quality of a headphone, and lean away due to price.

    My favorite, and i think many would agree, is the beyer dynamic 770. (check it here). This is a great headphone, and about 200. If you know someone at a music store, you can pick them up for as low as 80 bucks. Cant go wrong.
  6. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    The biggest problem with mixing in headphones is the period of the lower frequency waves.

    Wavelength = Speed of Sound / Frequency.

    For instance, the "length" of a 100Hz tone is 11.3 feet;
    Whereas the "length" of a 20KHz tone is .68 inches.
    The 20K tone's period resolves a heck of a lot closer to your ear than does the 100Hz!

    You will certainly hear 100Hz in your headphones, but what you miss is the actual wave propagating in the air!
    When waves freely float (vibrate) through the air, they affect each other harmonically - adding and subtracting as they move. It is this addition and subtraction that makes the mix sound dark, bright, lively or dead when you take the mix from headphones to your car or someones home stereo system...
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Sound waves do not intermodulate in air (at least to first order) in the way you suggest they do. Also, wavelengths do not come into it, at least for direct sound.

    If there were such things as an acoustically perfect pair of headphones and a perfect pair of loudspeakers, they would still sound different. The reasons are firstly that each one of your ears hears both of the loudspeakers (one delayed by the extra time the sound takes to travel to the further ear), but each ear only hears one headphone, and secondly that loudspeakers have to work in an acoustic environment, and that environment will have its own frequency characteristics, reflections, absorptions and so on.

    If you are mixing for listening on headphones (e.g. a binaural mix), then you mix using headphones. If you are mixing for listening on a hi-fi system or a car stereo or anything else with loudspeakers, then you should mix using loudspeakers as monitors.

    You can get headphone amplifier boxes that delay and add cross-channel signals in an attempt to simulate what the sound would be like on loudspeakers. I have never heard one, but an engineer I trust said he had and it was terrible.
  8. Wouldn't you want to get some type of compromise since people who will be listening to the CD might be using many different types of equipment.

    It should sound as good as possible with as many systems as you can make it. From car stereos to highend home systems to cheap PC speakers.

    I know Z.Z. Top would run out to there cars after the final mix and see if it sounded the way they wanted. Songs like "Legz" were geared toward that venue.

    How to accomplish this I have not a clue, I'm talking more as a performer being on the other end and wanting my CD to be flexible.

    Although certain kinds of music will not be played on crappy systems as in the case of Classical music which I would suspect would be played on a descent system minimum. I'm talking more about Pop and other more main stream forms of course.
  9. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Bigdaddy: Read RemyRAD's post, that's exactly what she was getting at.
  10. ENW

    ENW Guest

    Headphones vs. Monitors

    I'm upgrading my AKG K240 headphones. The Sennheiser HD 600 & HD 650 have come highly recommended. Any opinions?



    I've got decent monitors but I even play the mix through those crappy speakers in the computer monitor. I figure if it doesn't distort there, it won't distort anywhere. Obviosly, I ignore the frequency response of the computer speakers. It's just to see how smooth the signal is through that awful medium.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Now wait a minute Eric, how can you say that those little three-inch computer speakers are an "awful medium"? If it's awful, it wouldn't be medium. If it was medium, it wouldn't be awful. I think you have simply demonstrated here your intelligent engineering technique to utilize every reference at your disposal. Regardless of whether the reference should be disposed of or not. Of course, again, "awful medium", I think is an oxymoron. Like Army intelligence. Or our President's IQ.

    I make awful good recordings
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  12. ENW

    ENW Guest

    Thank you but stop it. You're making my head hurt:)

    Did you get the e-mail about the Asian restaurant I recommended? Be careful about the traditional Chinese portion of the menu. The beef noodle soup is a bowl of blood with beef & noodles (no joke). Other than that, I love the place.

    Thanks for the feedback on the headphones. Oh God, I just realized that's a pun.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I'll watch out for that Chinese beef blood soup. Don't appreciate the Vietnamese beef noodle soup either as it's mostly tripe. I can do without cow stomach. Not my cup of tea. But all that is probably more edible than Mogami spaghetti or, Sony sushi?

    My snake! Where's my pigtails?!?! Oh? That's not Kosher.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  14. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    A good combination for cheap is a very high quality set of headphones for tonal balance, eq and (some) compression choices, etc, and a relatively inexpensive set of speakers to make decisions on balance/levels and panning.

    Pick whatever speakers a) don't immediately present an obvious imbalance (jeez, that's a lot of bottom, or the highs are killing me), b) seem that you can listen to them for a while without fatige, and c) sound pretty well balanced with mixes you know are good. I had a pair of $39 Yamaha computer speakers (with I think a 3" single driver each) that fit all these criteria.

    As far as headphones for mixing, I think Grado is a great choice. They're all open backed, so not great for tracking (although pretty good for the drummer). In a closed headphone I use Beyer DT770's, which are a bit bright, but I like them.

    I could mix with Grados or Beyers and my Yamahas, and get pretty good results.
  15. ENW

    ENW Guest

    Thanks John. Remy kindly gave some good suggestions as well. It's looking like the open back design will be good for my intended use.

    Thanks again. You all have a good holiday.


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