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Do You Ever Mix or Master on Headphones?

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  • Do You Ever Mix or Master on Headphones?

    I thought this might be a good topic for an EQ roundup - test out a bunch of phones. review the Focusrite VRM technology, add some tips, etc. But, I thought some words of wisdom from SSSers would be cool to include too. So...

    Do you ever mix or master on headphones? Is it a part of the process, or the whole thing? What kind of headphones do you use? Do you find that mixes done on headphones are "trasportable," or not?

    Inquiring minds want to know.........
    _____________________________________________
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

  • #2
    Have had OK results using AKG K240DF phones. Similar to a decent pair of speakers. When silence is golden because someone is sleeping nearby.

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    • #3
      I only ever use headphones

      Never owned monitor speakers in me life


      At the moment I use AKG K141 cans

      a selection of my songs: https://soundcloud.com/songwriter101

      my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaulTiberiusNads

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      • #4
        yeah - I have a pair of Grado S60s. as good as any.
        Recording Studio Design Forum
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        • #5
          I usually don't mix/master with headphones. But sometimes I do. Sometimes I get surprisingly good results. Sometimes I don't. I am more likely to mix and master with headphones late at night. And I will usually listen to it the next day on monitor speakers to see if I need to mix again. I am pleasantly surprised when the mix I did with headphones sounds good with monitors.

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          • #6
            When I'm mixing a live show and recording it (direct to stereo), my only choices for monitoring the recording is the live PA or headphones. If it's a show where there's a lot of acoustic spill (acoustic instruments with a too-loud electric bass, guitar, or drums) where the PA mix isn't all that the audience is hearing, I'll set up a separate mix for recording so that I can fill in the holes, setting up extra mics that aren't used for the PA. In those instances I'll use headphones to monitor the recording mix.

            I use Sony 7506 phones because that's what I have, and I'll compare the sound with the phones on and off to hear what I need to add to the headphone mix. I set the pans by eye (unless it's a mono recording, which it often is) and tend to go wide since it's easier to narrow the stereo field than to expand it.

            Since I rarely work with a really loud PA system, I can get good enough isolation from the Sony phones so that I'm usually not too far off with the mix. It's usually good enough. If the client wants the best recording mix rather than a live mix for reference, I'll record multitrack and mix later, on speakers, or find a place where I can set up separately for recording and let someone else deal with the PA.

            When I'm recording with just a stereo mic pair, it's almost always a situation where I can't monitor on speakers, so there I use the headphones to check mic placement. I'll listen in mono for musical balance and amount of room ambiance, then in stereo for left-right position.
            --
            "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
            Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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            • #7

              Do you ever mix or master on headphones?
              Of course not, but I've always get pretty close after working with headphones. I've heard really good things about a VST plugin for this called Redline Monitor from a company called 112 DB.
                "If Obama wins a second term I will leave the forum". - Visconti

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                • #8

                  Of course not...


                  Exactly. I would say never do that, because "Loudspeaker Stereophony", and "Headphone Stereophony" are two complete different things.

                  In other words, your article should descibe what the two kind of stereophony are, and why the two are different.

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                  • #9
                    ...I am more likely to mix and master with headphones late at night. And I will usually listen to it the next day on monitor speakers to see if I need to mix again. I am pleasantly surprised when the mix I did with headphones sounds good with monitors.


                    I do a variation of this. I often mix with headphones (for me, AKG K271 MkII) because I can home in on the individual instruments better and listen for timing, breath noise/fret squeaks, flams, etc., faster and more efficiently this way than over speakers. I do make individual EQ adjustments, but sparingly. Here, I'll use my eyes as well as ears to employ any track compression.

                    When working with headphones, I make it a habit to swap the left and right sides, sum to mono, listen to left only (through both earpieces), then right only. This (hopefully) eliminates any fatigue or "stuck perceptions" my ears--collectively or individually--have picked up in the process.

                    Then I break for the night, and fire up the mix on the nearfields the next day (in my case, Mackie HR824, Tannoy Precision 6D, and my computer's multimedia speakers). That's when I'll EQ or employ light compression over the stereo bus, and perform any operations that fall more in the mastering domain.

                    Working with headphones so much in the preliminary stages enables me to learn the arrangement and individual parts well. Then when I hear the mix over speakers, it's a brand new experience, sonically. I can make decisions without fatigue. So I still experience the music fresh in one aspect, while knowing what I'm listening to in another.
                    Jon Chappell
                    Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
                    Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

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                    • #10
                      I use the headphones as a double check type of thing. I have some AKG 240 series. Since my music room isn't ideal from an acoustics standpoint, the phones can sometimes bring out any anomalies that the room causes/masks. Using the phones as a step is also like listening to mixes in different locations and systems.

                      I also would use the cans to see how effective any little "ear candy" tricks are.
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                      • #11
                        because I can home in on the individual instruments better and listen for timing, breath noise/fret squeaks, flams, etc.,


                        What's a flam?
                        Live:
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                        Studio:
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                        • #12
                          When I found out I was going to be a Dad, I bought Ultrasone ProLine 750's. It was a good investment.
                          When all is quiet I check the work I've done with them later with JBL4208's, Infinity Ref 6's, or Tascam vl-x5's and pretty much always conclude there is too much bass and plenty of reverb. But, it's priceless to be able to work while my son cranks The Fresh Beat Band, or plays with wooden Thomas The Train on the wood floors above me.

                          When the house is all mine, I'll sometimes crank a favorite cd and then listen from an adjacent room. Then I'll run my own mix and compare. That really seems to help for getting the low end right, around here anyway.

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                          • #13
                            What's a flam?


                            It's a drum term to describe a grace note, or double hit, that's not quite together, but not quite separated enough to be perceived as a rhythmic subdivision. It's a way of "smearing" a hit.

                            I'm using it here to describe when two instruments are supposed to be playing the same note together, but aren't. Panning instruments tends to obscure flams, and summing them to center often reveals them. For example, the snare is usually not panned center and neither is the rhythm guitar. And if they happen to be on different sides of center, it can be hard to hear if they're together when both are playing, say, the backbeat (beats 2 and 4). So summing them to mono helps to hear this (you can solo them too). Summing to mono is quicker, as it doesn't require you to change the pan knobs (which you have to restore to their original positions with care, too).
                            Jon Chappell
                            Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jon_chappell
                            Check out my website: http://jonchappell.com

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                            • #14
                              [QUOTE=Alndln2;37068655]... I've heard really good things about a VST plugin for this called Redline Monitor from a company called 112 DB.
                                , a VST plugin similar to the Redline plugin. It is significantly lower in price (20 Euro) and seems to be quite a bit more flexible as well. The plugin moves the soundstage to the front, models a number of speakers and is customizable to the specific listener (ear size, head size, etc...).

                                I'm impressed by the demo and plan on purchasing it before my next mix session.
                              Mudcat007, AKA Mudcat at Musicplayer.


                              "Never underestimate the power of Eric Estrada." wraub

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                              • #15
                                No, but I like to do a check with phones because they can reveal things that I might miss in open air listening. So it's monitors for the main mixing/mastering process.

                                AKG K240's for 20+ years and counting over here for tracking and checking.

                                "Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground."
                                ~John Lennon

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