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  • Using headphones for mixing? woah boy

    (not strictly a guitar issue but relevant)
    I moved from a detached home to a terrace. In deference to my new city neighbors I decided to use 'phones for recording and mixing.
    Tracks sounded fine until I played them through the sound system. Voice is lacking low end and the great piano sample I usually use sounded like a bleedin' harpsichord!
    What is happening is pretty obvious but I still live where I do

    So here is the question:
    Should I simply run the 'phones through a separate EQ set up to 'mimic' speakers perceived profile or will that just be a whole cats cradle of new complexities?

    I am sure others have been there, as this guy has
    http://homerecording.com/bbs/general...eakers-101586/
    Last edited by Chordite; 05-14-2016, 07:26 AM.
    .

  • #2
    I have lived inside the cans for years at a clip depending upon the living situation of the time. Recording in the cans is ok but I have found that mixing is a job for monitors. Even small near field monitors make a huge difference in the final product. I found that PC speakers with a separate sub don't work as well as decent full range speakers.

    You don't have to be loud when mixing. No louder than your neighbors watching an action film or playing spotify through their sound bar.
    LIVESTRONGwww.bandmix.com/kevman/Hey what happened? I had 5000+ posts here.

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    • #3
      You can probably mix with headphones but you'll need flat eq headsets . Most headphones are hyped indifferent parts of the EQ to make prerecorded music sound better.

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      • #4
        And always check through good playback speakers + other thing like car stereo & home systems.

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        • #5
          get a set of monitors. There are many that are cheap if that's important to you.

          And mixing on them should be done at low volume levels anyway. Should be no need to have them very loud.
          Last edited by soundcreation; 05-14-2016, 09:35 PM.

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          • #6
            soundcreation is correct. When you listen or mixing things at high volumes you will get distortion. Not good.

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            • #7
              There are several issues with headphones. The biggest is the two ears are isolated and you have no cross feed like you do using actual speakers so you have no sense of distance. Getting the proper depth/three dimensionality winds up being purely dumb luck.

              I used headphones for a good 15 years trying to get decent mixes and I'd get maybe one out of 20 which came close and most of that came from testing the mix in an automobile or on a Hi Fi system and going back to tweak it. None of those recordings I did were optimally mixed.

              The outer ear lobes aren't being used when you use headphones. The sound shoots straight down the ear canal instead. What you loose is two things. One the outer ears act like radar detecting the distance of sound. For example, the sound may be off to the right and the right ear receives more direct sound, your left ear hears what's called a shadow. It may be more reflected sound then direct and sound is lower volume and colored.

              The brain has adapted to using both ears in the open air like this since birth. Headphones cant capture all the variables. They are OK for providing isolation when tracking, hearing small flaws and adjusting a stereo image but that's about it. You'll never get a perfect mix using only cans.

              There are two other items. Its extremely difficult to design headphones to be linear, especially when the element is so close to the ear. Even if they were, everyone will hear differently through them. Everyone's outer ears are shaped differently and when you eliminate them by using headphones you get an upper midrange bump in the upper midrange frequencies. When you mix with headphones you'll get a strange and unnatural dip in the highs and there is nothing you can do about it.

              Your brain is going to tell you to mix based on what the ears are hearing and without the outer ears being part of what is heard you will make mistakes. Its like wearing glasses that distort the distance and color of what you see. if the glasses are tinted and you're asked to grab a colored object, you cant tell what the true colors are. If the glasses magnify things you may think they are closer then they actually are.

              The best option for overcoming these faults is to use speakers. Even if they are just Hi Fi or computer monitors its better then using no speakers at all.

              The second is to use a plugin specifically designed to help compensate for headphone flaws. They add come cross feed which emulates depth and they add some specific EQing to compensate for the loss of the outer ears. Its been awhile since I checked out what was available. I'm sure they have many more now. The one I did try was Canz3d http://www.midnightwalrus.com/Canz3D/

              I wasn't over impressed but I really didn't use it enough to give it a fair evaluation. They may make better ones now, especially some of the ones that you purchase.

              Honestly I hate using headphones and only used them to prevent feedback tracking vocals. I wont use them for any other reason. I can say when I switched from using headphones to monitors, my mixes went from getting one in twenty to sound good to maybe one in twenty sounding bad.

              The last thing I'd suggest is running a frequency analyzer and comparing your mixes to commercial mixes frequently. This my not give you optimal depth but you can at least get the frequency responses closer to be right.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by soundcreation View Post
                get a set of monitors. There are many that are cheap if that's important to you.

                And mixing on them should be done at low volume levels anyway. Should be no need to have them very loud.
                Indeed. A nice small set of reference monitors at a reasonable volume is the way to go. The louder you mix, the more issues you will have with room acoustics too.
                Listen...

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                • #9
                  OP, what model headphones are you using?
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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                  • #10
                    Old stuff
                    I Use Koss pro 4s (fully enclosed) and then a pair of Panasonic RP-ht030 for "walkman listener" testing.
                    .

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                    • #11
                      That's consumer stuff. Common problem with consumer gear is it made to sound good, not accurate. Pro gear has a very liner frequency response curve without dips and peaks. Consumer gear often has boosts in the bass or scoops in the mids to hype and enhance the sound quality to make the music sound better then it actually is. This makes them unsuitable for mixing purposes. You need linearity not hyped sound.

                      If all you can afford are bargain basement bones, AKG makes a surprisingly good set of closed backed headphones. I bought a pair of these for tracking vocals without feed back and they come very close to my high end set of open backed AKG's http://www.guitarcenter.com/AKG/K52-Headphones-1444141025115.gc?country=us&currency=usd&source=4W WRWXGP&gclid=CPqX-u6238wCFZaEaQody1ULUQ&kwid=productads-adid^97030193202-device^c-plaid^172464934602-sku^1444141025115@ADL4GC-adType^PLA

                      If anything the slight presence on the high end will actually work in your favor as you mix because you'll naturally add a little extra presence mixing which will make your mixes sound clean.

                      Mr Brown has it right however. Even a bargain basement set of monitors like these will blow the doors off most headphone mixes. http://www.americanmusical.com/Item-...FYIBaQodL7oMZw

                      Its not like you run them loud either. 85db is what's recommended and you can talk and be heard and understood at that volume. Its about what you'd adjust your TV volume for when watching shows. (without a home theatre setup)

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                      • #12
                        headphones are great for checking certain things in mixes.... but i wouldn't mix with them

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mistersully View Post
                          headphones are great for checking certain things in mixes.... but i wouldn't mix with them


                          I definitely prefer mixing on speakers over trying to mix on headphones, and that's pretty much the way I approach things. I use headphones when tracking, and when mixing I tend to use them more for housekeeping; checking for noises and other sonic gremlins that occasionally reveal themselves best on cans... but they've never been my primary mix reference. For the majority of people, they wouldn't be what I'd recommend as their main mix reference either.

                          However, since more and more listeners are consuming music via headphones and ear buds these days, I feel it makes a lot of sense to also check to see how your mixes will translate / hold up when played back on cans. I have a couple of pairs of consumer ear buds and headphones, and I occasionally check with those, but usually I rely on higher-fidelity headphones that are closer to flat in their response. Grados are an excellent choice that I (and a lot of other audio engineers) like to use. I have SR125's. They're crap for tracking since they're completely open-backed and leak like a screen door on a submarine, but they're far more accurate than most consumer headphone models, and work great as a mix reference. If you need something that is closed-back so you can use them for tracking too, try the KRK KNS8400's. They're also noticeably more comfortable than the Grados are, although a touch more forward in the upper-mids. On an even tighter budget and need multi-purpose studio headphones? Check out the $100 Sennheiser HD280. They're also sealed and offer excellent isolation, but could be pressed into service as reference headphones in a pinch. But as with all headphones and speakers, you'll need to learn the quirks of whatever you use to mix with, and compensate accordingly. I like doing as little of that as possible, which is why I've put considerable time and money into my room acoustics and monitoring system. The more accurate they are, the more you can rely on them to tell you the truth.

                          I understand that some people absolutely need to mix on headphones since their circumstances (room mates, sleeping babies, etc. etc.) allow them no other options, but if you can use small monitor speakers occasionally to augment and check what you're doing with the headphones, that's usually better. Otherwise, you're probably in for a very long learning curve in terms of getting to "know" the sound of your headphones and trying to get your mixes to translate to other systems the way you intend.


                          **********

                          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                          - George Carlin

                          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm skeptical about the whole monitors vs headphones debate.

                            a. What is the goal? If it is to make music that sounds good on the most commonly-used consumer devices, then most people I see are using phones and buds.

                            b. Anecdotally, my best mix ever was using an iPad and K240 cans at the SFI airport.

                            c. I think my Alesis M1mk2 monitors don't sound very good. But they sound like my Sennheiser HD280 cans.

                            d. So i match them up. But to what end? My K240's mix better consistently than either.

                            e. I think monitors are better for getting PAN singles right. Otherwise, I've seen no persuasive case for not mixing w/good headphones.
                            Last edited by Etienne Rambert; 05-17-2016, 02:39 PM.
                            He has escaped! Youtube , ‚ÄčMurika , France

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                            • #15
                              I am curious about one thing. Agreed, it's no good mixing recordings with headphones on. If you play it back on your house stereo, it'll sound sooo wrong and different. But guys: what if you mix using your loudspeakers and then feel good about that mix; logic would tell me that that mix would sound equally wrong if you listen back using headphones. Any thoughts?

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