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Do You Ever Mix or Master on Headphones?

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  • #16
    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.

    Flamming can also result when the drum (it's most obvious on drums) is picked at about the same level by two mics, where one is 5-10 feet further from the drum than the other. Normally the inverse square law works in your favor, but when the "far" mic is on a fairly quiet source like an acoustic guitar, you can get enough leakage in there to hear. It's something that should be fixed by re-arranging the mics or player's position before tracking.
    --
    "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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    • #17
      You actually need to mix on both headphones and speakers... Considering that a lot of today's music is only listened to in headphones, you gotta see how it sounds there too... So yes, I definitely would love to see an article on headphone mixing and headphones...

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      • #18
        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.


        Hi Jon,

        This is exactly how I work with the exception for using AKG K240 cans.

        Cheers,

        Mats N
        <div class="signaturecontainer">- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - <br />
        BT King - all my backing tracks can be found at :<br />
        <a href="http://nermark.articulateimages.com" target="_blank">http://nermark.articulateimages.com</a></div>

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        • #19
          You actually need to mix on both headphones and speakers... Considering that a lot of today's music is only listened to in headphones, you gotta see how it sounds there too...

          Sigh . . . . I suppose so. But the earphones ("buds") that are most common these days, plus the players with built-in compensation for them, are so different from the studio headphones that we're talking about here that the only thing you get from a headphone check is a different perspective on the stereo width.

          At the AES show, Monster (yes, the overpriced cable people) made a big push for their new headphones, both in-ear and over-the ear phones. The Dr. Dre Beats phones (the ones with the headband) produced lots of boom, and Dr. Dre says "I can really hear what I've recorded with those." They had some similarly hyped in-ear "Turbine" phones (including a Lady Gaga version - different in style, not sound), and also the "Turbine Pro studio" version which is a non-hyped version (and cost $100 more than the "listener" version). At their press conference, they had a few big name mixing engineers all who said "I could mix on these."

          I've gotta give them credit for making a point that we go to great lengths to record music accurately (or at least how we want it to sound) and then the listeners go and screw that all up with inadequate listening equipment - which of course can be remedied by Monster products. This is the same campaign that The METAlliance is running, only the METAlliance is doing it by blessing equipment that engineers use so they can make better recordings, rather than what the listeners use to hear the better recordings.
          --
          "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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          • #20
            My process sounds very similar to Jon Chappell's above. I will usually do initial mixes on the phones, then go to speakers later.

            I've lately been thinking alot about how people will listen to the music. The great majority it seems will be on earbuds and small computer speakers. So to me it makes some sense to pay particular attention to how things sound in those formats. Of course the near field monitors give us a type of information many of us are used to, but just about nobody listens to music in that way anymore. More often it is the 2 or 3 inch Logitech computer speaker, or the built in noisemakers in their laptop computer.

            So after I mix on the headphones, and tune it on the nearfields I listen on the computer monitors and if decisions have to be made to optimize one or the other I will usually optimize to the computer speakers.
            <div class="signaturecontainer">Calfee Jones</div>

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            • #21
              Using only headphones to mix is obviously a huge mistake. But not doing a reference check for headphones is also a fatal error these days. It's probably more important now than at any time since the late '70s/early '80s.

              I don't mix at all on phones, but I do a ton of listening on them. When Phil's delivered me a rough mix for my upcoming album, I have four listening sources I always check: speakers, TV, big phones (Sennheiser HD-485) and little phones (iPod buds). You learn a lot from doing the headphone listening, especially in the bass area.

              But I'd never mix anything serious using phones and no other sources, for the obvious reasons.
              <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="2"><i><font color="Green"><a href="http://www.zakclaxton.com/" target="_blank">Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all</a></font></i></font></div>

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              • #22
                Hi Jon,

                This is exactly how I work with the exception for using AKG K240 cans.

                Cheers,

                Mats N


                Well, that just proves that great minds think alike, right?

                Actually, I meant to point out that my whole routine of swapping the L/R, listening to Left only, etc., is just to "shake out my ears" a bit ... to get things "unstuck" for when I go back to the normal orientation. (This was a trick I often employed when I was a professional transcriber and music editor for publishing companies like Cherry Lane, Hal Leonard, Warner Bros., etc. It really helps you hear parts in a new light.) Summing to mono I spend a bit more time with, because that's useful from both a musical and production perspective.

                It's never occurred to me to check the mix on earbuds, but I suppose I should do that too [*sigh*].
                <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="blue">Jon Chappell</font><br />
                Follow me on Twitter: <font color="blue"><a href="http://twitter.com/jon_chappell" target="_blank">http://twitter.com/jon_chappell</a></font><br />
                Check out my website: <font color="blue"><a href="http://jonchappell.com" target="_blank">http://jonchappell.com</a></font></div>

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                • #23
                  .


                  Like it or not, it's really important, Jon. If you ran an informal poll of people about their music listening habits, I'd put money down that if you remove the car from the equation, at least half of the people would report they do most of their listening through stock iPod buds. In fact, heh heh, I'd make an educated guess that there's more listening being done on those little pieces of crap than on any home-based speaker system at this point.
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="2"><i><font color="Green"><a href="http://www.zakclaxton.com/" target="_blank">Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all</a></font></i></font></div>

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                  • #24
                    checking the masters with headphones is not a bad idea

                    since the masters are pushed up to ear piercing loudnesses

                    however the mixmasterdeluxe never uses headphones, not for anything, because he knows that loudspeaker stereophony can not be listened to on headphones

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                    • #25
                      Like it or not, it's really important, Jon. If you ran an informal poll of people about their music listening habits, I'd put money down that if you remove the car from the equation, at least half of the people would report they do most of their listening through stock iPod buds. In fact, heh heh, I'd make an educated guess that there's more listening being done on those little pieces of crap than on any home-based speaker system at this point.


                      No doubt, you're right, Jeff. (Thus the reluctant acquiesence in my *sigh* reference.)

                      But it raises an interesting question: Who is really making mixing/mastering decisions based on the earbud test? Isn't most well-produced music mixed and mastered on great monitors? Don't earbudders just have to live with the same versions of music, but down-converted to mp3s? Isn't it just their lot to listen to music optimized for a different platform? Am I going to change a mix based on something I hear when I go to the earbuds? And can you even change something for the better in the 'buds without affecting the mix when played over grown-up speakers?

                      If we cave to the earbudders, don't the earbudders win?
                      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="blue">Jon Chappell</font><br />
                      Follow me on Twitter: <font color="blue"><a href="http://twitter.com/jon_chappell" target="_blank">http://twitter.com/jon_chappell</a></font><br />
                      Check out my website: <font color="blue"><a href="http://jonchappell.com" target="_blank">http://jonchappell.com</a></font></div>

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                      • #26
                        however the mixmasterdeluxe never uses headphones, not for anything, because he knows that loudspeaker stereophony can not be listened to on headphones


                        Loudspeakers don't listen to music. People do. Try a binaural mix, or drown in your self-righteousness.
                        <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="2"><i><font color="Green"><a href="http://www.zakclaxton.com/" target="_blank">Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all</a></font></i></font></div>

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                        • #27
                          Friends,

                          Read to page 95, loudspeaker stereophony.

                          Then read from page 96 on, headphone stereophony (Binaural signal reproduction).

                          http://www.hauptmikrofon.de/theile/Tutorial_TMT2006_website.pdf

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                          • #28


                            Loudspeakers don't listen to music. People do. Try a binaural mix, or drown in your self-righteousness.



                            and thank you for your stupid comment!

                            totally unprofessional!

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                            • #29
                              I've never once claimed to be a professional at anything relating to music creation. But I do know how people listen to music, Angelo. You can't stop them from using phones. You can try, though, for my personal amusement.
                              <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="2"><i><font color="Green"><a href="http://www.zakclaxton.com/" target="_blank">Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all</a></font></i></font></div>

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                              • #30
                                I often have no choice but to use headphones, but I always check on monitors and other systems.

                                I use Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro phones, and have tried most of the crossfeed adjustment programs over the last few years.

                                I really like Isone Pro. It actually gives me a simulated soundstage I can work with. It's taking time to get used to it, just like monitors, but it's made a difference for me. Mixes are translating as I expect them to.
                                <div class="signaturecontainer">_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _<br />
                                Seen any good mirrors lately?</div>

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