Headphones OR Monitors?



Only have $200 to spend. This is all I have to work with so please just list ones you would think are the closest to natural sound.
Either I buy ATH M-50 headphones. They are $120 and said to be flat, natural sounding.

But I hear headphones just about never get as flat/natural sounding as monitors. Only thing is, in my budget, the pros say you can't get a accurate sounding monitors. Well what is the closest to natural sounding monitors I can get for under $200 for the pair. If there are some not much more expensive that I may can find used under $200, please let me know.

I have already searched, but most are just good sounding monitors recommended under $200, and not so much for the flatest response. Which flat, natural sounding is what I need. But the thing is, my room is not acoustic treated really. Well I hung up thick cut up carpet and blankets, but not sure how effecient they are. Sounds like the room is pretty good, not too echo-y and not too dead.

So either the headphones or low-end monitors with unprofessional acoustic treated room?

Some that I have seen local for under $200 for the pair are:
[="http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/yamaha-sm12v-club-series-v-monitor?src=3WWRWXGP"]Yamaha SM12V Club Series V Monitor | Musician's Friend[/]
[="http://www.ebay.com/itm/JBL-62T-Main-Home-Stereo-Bookshelf-Speakers-/230931961119?pt=Speakers_Subwoofers&hash=item35c49e151f"]JBL 62T Main Home Stereo Bookshelf Speakers | eBay[/]
Custom made pair with [="http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/celestion-truvox-1530-15-400w-raw-frame-speaker"]Celestion Truvox 1530 15" 400W Raw Frame Speaker | Musician's Friend[/]
[="http://www.yorkville.com/products.asp?type=34&cat=20&id=332"]Yorkville Sound: YSM Series[/]
[="http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/fostex-pmo.4n-powered-studio-monitor-pair"]Fostex PMO.4n Powered Studio Monitor Pair | Musician's Friend[/]
[="http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/speaker-systems/home-speaker-systems/ns-6490/?mode=model"]NS-6490 - Home Speaker Systems - Speakers - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha United States[/]

[="http://www.krksys.com/krk-studio-monitor-speakers/rokit/rokit-6.html"]ROKIT 6 Studio Monitors Speaker KRK SYSTEMS[/]

Does it make much of a difference in sound if the original screen in front of the speaker box is missing?
Also another thing is, will the monitors require a seperate amp or is running them through my Focusrite Scarlette 2i2 enough?
And would they need a sub?

Flattest frequency response is what I am looking for.
Not sure what the technical term is, but I need one or the other to be able to hear a vocal recording at it's most natural sounding so everyone that listens to the recording will get the most truest sound.


Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Technically speaking, you can use any speaker to mix through. Where the rub comes in is that budget monitors are built cheaply, and are very seldom, if ever, as flat as you need them to be to really critically listen and mix through. Some models - car speakers are notorious for this - add a lot of hype or emphasis in certain frequency ranges, mostly low end... so what you are hearing isn't what you are supposed to be hearing.

Add to this equation the room in which you are mixing. If your listening environment has acoustic issues, if your low end is hanging around (standing waves), it will give you the audial illusion that you have enough bass on a mix when you really don't, so you will tend to mix things bass shy. High end frequencies can do this too, although they are a bit easier (and cheaper) to tame than low end... and, you can overdo treatments too.. if you put up too much 1" sonex to reign in 1k and up, then you will add high end to your mixes when you don't need to, and the result will be top end heavy or harsh mixes when played back through other mediums and speakers.

For the money you have to spend, and while I'm not normally a proponent for mixing with cans, I'd tell you to go with headphones. They're not perfect, and they have their shortcomings. But for that 200 you have at your disposal, it's very unlikely you'll get monitors that will give you a true indication of what is happening in your mixes sonically... and that's not counting the room that you are mixing in and the potential problems that it will also present.


Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Jul 2, 2002
77 Sunset Lane.
next question: what's the best set of headphones to mix on for under $200?

just don't.

all the things available on the cheap will sound pretty much the same. you will never find an "edge" over the competition in the budget arena. at this level you have to rely on musical chops and talent which i many ways is a good thing i suppose.

i think you should mix on the speakers on your lap top ... after all that's what you listen to music on isn't it? you can run off a file and play it back on your iPod or iPhone and listen through ear buds for reference much like the recordists of yesteryear recorded mix's to cd or cassettes. Post your song to YouTube and listen to it there too. after all these are the places your recordings are destined for aren't they? it's not like anyone is going to listen to your music through an Macitosh amp and Maranz speakers.

no need for good acoustics or speakers. it can all be done for under 200 bucks!

(please detect a generous portion of sarcasm).



Well-Known Member
Apr 4, 2006
Blacksburg, VA
I agree with the general gloomy assessment that nothing you are going to buy for $200 is going to give you much help in generating mixes that translate from place to place. (That's not quite true. Some DIY bass traps will help both tracking and mixing and make your room a more pleasant place to play and listen to music.) Unfortunately, the best advice to you is the best advice to all of us all of the time: keep your money in your pocket and work with what you have. More unfortunately, you probably won't follow the advice. Most of us don't. I rarely do.

So once you have faced the fact that you are going to have to test your mixes on several different sources (headphones, earbuds, car stereo, several home stereo systems in several rooms) before you get a satisfactory mix, you might (if that money is still burning a hole in your pocket) ask yourself what kind of transducers will make OTHER parts of your audio life better. Do you need a better set of headphones for tracking? There are lots of closed back cans at the $100 price point that are fine for tracking. Look for comfort. Get a pair that sounds "good" to you. Forget flat. Not happening at this price. How about the speakers that are hooked to your computer? Don't think of them as "monitors." Think of then as a home stereo - one you use to listen to music for pleasure. Do you like their sound? Have you looked at yard sales, thrift stores, and Craigslist? People are dumping perfectly good home stereo systems to buy 5.1 systems. Again, you'll have to learn how to mix on them. But there is no getting around that.

New Guy

Thanks for the help everyone.
Great tips for testing mixes on various devices. I will have to settle for the best mixing cans I can afford for now and train my ears to come with the best accurate mix I can get for now.
Might be able to get good enough to not need monitors for mixing. Haha.
As for possible used deals on good monitors, what are some makes and models that could potentially show up? Ones that are flat for the truest sound for mixing.


Mar 20, 2000
Nanaimo BC, Canada
The way I look at monitors and room acoustic is:

The more people you want listening to your mix, the more accurate you have to be. If you are doing this for is yourself, and it sounds good to you that's all that matters.
If you are giving your music to professionals where the goal for your songs is to be on the radio, a cheap set of monitors or headphones will never cut it. What you think sounds good will never match commercial standards.

As another example, If you are always painting a picture with dark shaded sunglasses on, do you think that picture is going to look the same to me if I don't have the same sunglasses on here? To me, every picture you paint is always going to be too bright. You would have to include those sunglasses with every picture you sold.

We treat out rooms and use quality monitors so our music sounds better in all playback systems.


Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2005
Chris states the professional requirements of professionals. And the stuff that Chris has ain't cheap. Not generally on Little Billy's bedroom control room budget. It requires a professional budget. So what do you do when you don't have that best of equipment? It's a tenuous situation. So in order to effect good across the board listenability, you're going to have to check your stuff on as many average home systems as is humanly possible. And you'll go back to tweak and re-tweak, your mixes a few times over. But that's what you do without a budget for the stuff that most any professional studio would already have an abundance of. And whatever you might miss in the 20-60 Hz to 10,000-20,000 Hz areas... won't make much of a damn to the 80% of the populace that also don't have the ability to monitor or hear any of this stuff that only the audiophiles might bitch about. So screw the audiophiles, those aren't the guys that are going to make you money. But they could be those guys that if there were any record labels anymore, might offer you a contract? So what record labels are you shooting for?

Chris nearly has stated the proper professional way in which this should be done. But Little Billy only has a $300 budget and wants the best. Isn't that what we all wanted from Santa Claus when we were young? I mean we all appreciate those toy cars, trucks, guns, close and bake ovens but even at eight years of age, ya know you wanted the real deal. So your imagination had to make up for what you lacked and that's what good engineers have to do. Especially when you don't have all those highly desirable tools in which to work with. Meaning that ya have to keep going back to those reference CDs, now with your headphones and see if you can decipher the discernible differences between your stuff and the real stuff? And then you play it back through all of those speakers on all of those systems, yet again. It's a less convenient process requiring quite a bit more effort to make up for the lack of budget and equipment. But it can be done. It is done. It's regularly done. And you're almost done.

Is it soup yet?
Mx. Remy Ann David