Print Page

Ask – The real deal about mixing with headphones

1/14/2013

 
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50 headphones (available with straight or coiled cable) are a popular, budget-friendly option for many musicians who mix over headphones.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I LIVE IN AN APARTMENT, SO I MIX ON HEADPHONES. I KEEP READING THAT’S A REALLY BAD IDEA, AND NO PROFESSIONAL WOULD EVER CONSIDER MIXING ON HEADPHONES. BUT I’VE ALSO SEEN COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE WHO DO MIX WITH HEADPHONES AND HAVE BEEN SATISFIED WITH THE RESULTS. SO WHICH IS IT?

KIM “BEE” SHARPE LAS VEGAS, NV VIA EMAIL

If you’re mixing at levels that would bother the neighbors, reconsider how you mix. Many top engineers mix at relatively low levels not just to avoid ear fatigue, but because they feel that if a track sounds great at low levels, it will sound fantastic when you pump up the volume.

There is no law that says you have to choose between speakers and headphones. It’s common practice to switch among speakers—for example, comparing one really good pair with something more lo-fi to emulate how music would sound on consumer gear.

With more people listening to music on earbuds and headphones, it’s important to do at least a reality check with headphones

Mixing with headphones has pros and cons. You’ll hear more detail, but there’s an exaggerated stereo field, effects like reverb will sound more prominent, and if you turn up the levels, you’ll have a harder time judging balance. And while a given amount of money will likely buy higherquality headphones than speakers, headphones— especially the “over ear” kind—can be bass-shy.

Whatever you use, remember that the goal is to create a mix that will sound good over everything. If your mix sounds wonderful over speakers at lower and higher levels, but also sounds great over earbuds and a couple different sets of headphones, you’re pretty much set.

THE EDITORS

Got a question about recording, gigging, or technology?
Ask us! Send it to ElectronicMusician@musicplayer.com.

  Print Page