Headphone Mixing

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Voiceofallanger, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    Birkenhead, UK
    Hey guys. Haven't been here in a while. Been setting up my new studio :) It's been hard work so I've not been around so much.

    So my question is.. Headphone mixing.. When would you say are the best times for you to use headphones to mix something?

    I must say, I'm a little to confused as to why some people use headphones and stuff because I tend to use mainly monitors and rarely headphones...

    I was wondering if you could highlight some typical uses of them mixing wise.

    Thanks a lot!
  2. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Munich / Germany
    Home Page:
    One typical use for me is to check a mix or edits for bad fades/crossfades, unwanted noises and panning errors, etc.
    I like listening to music and mixes on HPs before I render, but I could not mix anything decent with them.
    It is like checking a painting through a magnifying glass. You see (hear) some hidden mistakes more easily, but you don't want to watch
    the Rembrandt through it when you want to enjoy the painting as a whole.
    Look at the efforts industry undergoes to bring HS mixing closer to the pros:

    Videos: Sound Performance Lab
    The vid gives some backgraound on the differences, too.
    The device is technically excellent, but I am not convinced of the principle, tough.
    There is still no substitute for real monitors/room acustics ( always the pair of it! ).
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    When is it a good time to utilize headphones to mix with? Ummm...When you don't have speakers or can't use them.

    A lot of us broadcast guys, back in the day, had to mix plenty of stuff on headphones and that required a very intimate knowledge of the cans we were using and not the cans we were sitting upon. And like the Munich Master said and I reiterate, most of us enjoy mixing too, to two monitors & then checking things on our high quality headphones, after looking at the ballet dancers, to obtain a much more anal outlook of our acoustic signature before everything is etched into stone or CDs. Frankly it's much easier with CDs which has nothing to do with the good folks living in Frankfurt eating frankfurters. I'm not sure? But I know in Munich, the Hefe' Wietzen beats out anything in the United States. So headphones are probably used more often there? You know, with everybody singing those loud beer drinking songs, you've gotta' use-em.

    And then there's that other variable between closed ear & open-air headphones. When I need to do critical mixing on headphones I prefer open-air given that the ambient noise levels around me are tolerable. Again the perception between the two types is vastly different. Sure, I've also mixed plenty of stuff on closed ear headphones Which brings in its own variables. Bass is much harder to judge properly than open-air types. So in the end, you really have to adapt yourself to your headphones as there is no perfect choice except one of preference. And then you'll have to do a lot of back-and-forth stuff in order to figure out how to make those mixes sound right by just using your cans.

    Canned corned beef always seems to come from Argentina?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    Mar 27, 2007
    NY, USA
    Home Page:
    i use them for tracking and editing (like Big K said) and sometimes to double check my panning. I have Sony MDR somethings.

    with regards to what Remy said, about the open air variety, a few weeks ago at my friend's place i used this set:
    AKG K702

    Amazon.com: AKG K702 - AKG REFERENCE OPEN BACK HEADPHONES: Electronics

    I swear to God I couldnt tell I had headphones on. It actually seemed like I was in a room, listening to monitors. I Gas'ed instantly for them.
  5. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Munich / Germany
    Home Page:
    Yes, open cans, all the way. Better bass and more natural feeling. Only the top class of closed HPs can deliver the sound I like.

    Those AKGs are really nice. I tested them with fun when I was looking real hard for new reference HPs to substitute my old worn-out ones.

    But life can we so sweet...
    Guess what I got for my 50th aniversary? It is ever so hard to make a present to somebody who got most, except that, what he always
    wanted, but never could justify to buy. My family collected ( dearly) and bought this here:
    YouTube - Sennheiser HD 800 promo

    I don't even keep it in the studio.
    I have placed hidden snap-traps and barbwire around it.
    It is only MINE!!! And I always listen with a Bavarian Weizenbier in my hand...
  6. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    Birkenhead, UK
    It's nice to know that I'm doing it right then!!! I couldn't really find THAT many uses for headphones and I thought I was doing it wrong.. Obviously you know when you're recording stuff yeah they're great but for mixing.. Naw I don't really go near them that much.

    Pleased to hear all this feedback. PS. BigK those headphones are awesome.

    Thanks all of you for your responses, I'll read up on all you said :)
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    Just to reiterate the giants who've weighed in...

    I also use HP mainly for checks. Not just for errors of mine, but also b/c a lot of people might end up listening to the song in question on HP or earbuds.
    I want to know what it's going to sound like to them.
    I also check on a car stereo and home stereo, etc, for the same reason.
    But only check. It's much better to learn and trust your monitors+room, if you can.
    I'm still working on this, but making progress.
    With cans, it's also about learning and trusting them. And your ears. Thank you Remy.

    FWIW - I use AKG k-240s for these purposes. They're not the 702, but they don't cost as much either. :wink:
    Besides, they're the first pair of cans I ever bought - so obviously I trust them.
    Just another +1 on the open back headphones for monitor checks.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    Oh my goodness Rainer! I just had a look see at these. They look absolutely amazing. I had some other comments but I self censored them.....
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    I was looking at these the other day. Are they $1500.00 ? Hard to imagine. How do they sound? Whats so special? You are one lucking dog!
  10. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Munich / Germany
    Home Page:
    Sennheiser 800 Headphones

    Hello Soap...
    Yes, it is fun to listen with HPs and experience another impression of your works.
    I don't do that to check HP compatibility, though. Knowing your environment well safes you running from one player to the next, from one location to another.
    Somehow, when I look at it, I have grown tired of wanting to please all possible listeners on HPs, MP3 Player, Radio, HiEnd, consumer class,
    large and small speakers, winter & summer, day and night..LOL...
    I just do the best possible job and try to find the right vibes for the productions.
    I don't say I would not check some mixes amd masters on my home stereo and more for the fun, in my car, though. But in general, I trust my work and ( a little less)
    the judgement of my customers, which is only possible with what you said: know the monitors and work in a room with a great acoustic.

    Hi Jack & Chris
    When I unpacked the beauty I was releaved that no minors where around who heard my ... "rejoicing", too.
    What a pleasant surprise that was. I know, they bought the cans through another relativ who got a nice rebate on them, but they still must have been about 900.- Euro.
    I never had bought them by myself. It is just not the kind of cash I would want to spend on HPs, but here they are... .
    What they sound like... best I can say: whatever you but in them comes out 1:1. Room, spaciousness, clarity, frequencies, ..I guess, if you plug them in a wall socket* it still sounds great, especially the 50 Hz and its harmonics... ;-)
    They are a pleasure to wear, even for a longer time, and not wearing out your ears, at all. If it is $*^t you send to them, you still get $*^t out of them, but is kinda.... more valuable excrements.
    Listening to a classic concert is very close to sitting right there: Scala di Milano... Rock music gives you a beautiful, controlled punch and the correct pressure you'd expect.
    I have checked and owned a number of HPs, including the ~ 14 I have in the studio, but those 800s are truly unbelievable.
    Many thanks to all who chipped in and a hug to the Sennheiser Engineers. ( Still, they could sell the 421 mic clips much cheaper...)

    * don't try that at home Kids!!!
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