#1
Hey guys
So i'm looking into getting some higher quality headphones than what i have right now (Skullcandy Smokin' buds) because I'm starting to get more interested in audio production. Problem is, i don't have a high enough budget to buy both a pair of over ear headphones for studio stuff AND a pair of in ear headphones for listening. I don't wanna have to walk around with over-ear headphones, so I'd need something smaller for that. At the same time, i don't wanna use weak headphones for studio stuff.

I came across this:
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&partNumber=MDRXB40EX
the reviews seem generally positive, and I found a decent deal on them. Can anyone tell me if it seems like these would be decent for studio use? I would also be able to use them to listen to stuff on the go, so it kinda caught my eye.
#2
Headphones in the studio are only good for monitoring for musicians while tracking and for checking mixes. For an engineer, you want real monitors. As in they sit on your desk and never touch your head/ears...

If you have headphones/earbuds that function, you'll be better off saving your money and buying some monitors later on down the road.
#3
Quote by sandyman323
Headphones in the studio are only good for monitoring for musicians while tracking and for checking mixes. For an engineer, you want real monitors. As in they sit on your desk and never touch your head/ears...

If you have headphones/earbuds that function, you'll be better off saving your money and buying some monitors later on down the road.

Right now, I actually don't. My Skullcandies have broken down again, so i figured it was time for an upgrade.

I'm primarily an electric guitarist playing everything from thrash to progressive rock to jazz, if that helps with the decision.
#4
I guess it comes down to this: What do you intend to do with these headphones?

If you intend to use them for tracking, then great. Get anything, pretty well, and they'll be fine. Though, closed-backed phones are better, as they bleed into the room less.

If you intend to use them for mixing, you WILL be disappointed.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#5
What will your listener be using? What is your target audience?

If you plan on distributing mainly to the MP3/iPhone, portable market, then you might reference your headphones during the mix.

I wouldn't probably rely on them for the entire mixing process, but you would be advised to put them on late in the game just to see what might need some tweaking. Having speakers, "monitors" (glorified stereo speakers), or whatever at a distance is going to compress your acoustic signal.

Speakers by nature compress the signal. They can't physically respond to sound as dynamically as a smaller diaphragm, so the signal you hear through speakers will be naturally "squishier" or more compressed than your headphones.

It's also traveling through air, and air has the same effect, limitations. It can only change density at a certain rate and over a certain range and exerts some physical resistance (again compression) on your acoustic signal - your mix.

If it sounds great to you on your monitors, then I suggest putting on a pair of headphones or even earbuds and listening.

Is anything too loud/too quiet?

If let's say the vocals or the lead guitar is too loud or too quiet in the headphones it means you need to compress that specific track more. Turning it up/down won't do, then you're just upsetting your mix and working backwards.

Isolate the problem track, let's say it's a lead guitar as that is usually one I end up chasing around with a hatchet by the end of a mixing session...

Tweak the compression and turn it up just a tad. Find the point at which the compression is audible, where it is "pumping" (you'll hear it, trust me) and make a mental note of that as your 100% max for compression.

Now turn it down to about 80% of that.

Compression has a feature called "Make-up gain," and that is what you want to work with here.

Put it back on the speakers (NOT the headphones) and work with your make-up gain to restore the guitar to the previous level it was at (since compressing it effectively turned it down.)

Now listen on the headphones.

Better?

You need to compensate for the fact that an iPod/iPhone user is going to be using earbuds and the nice acoustic compression your monitors give you is missing. A tad of compression on one or two specific "problem" instruments (usually lead guitar or often vocals) will even things out so your monitor mix and your headphone mix sound the same.

Next, burn a CD and listen to it in your car.

I actually have a male-male (I know, gay, right?) 1/8" cord for running my laptop through my AUX channel on the car stereo.

If it sounds good in the car I am done. Period. Over. Time to send it to the record company and grab a beer!!
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

#6
But if you are mixing on proper monitors, you can go by, "If it sounds great on these, then I'm done." You can skip all the other steps.

This is WHY you buy monitors!

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#7
Quote by axemanchris
But if you are mixing on proper monitors, you can go by, "If it sounds great on these, then I'm done." You can skip all the other steps.

This is WHY you buy monitors!

CT


This
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
#8
Quote by axemanchris
But if you are mixing on proper monitors, you can go by, "If it sounds great on these, then I'm done." You can skip all the other steps.

This is WHY you buy monitors!

CT


Exactly

Of course it's still good to check it on other systems anyway just to make sure it translates, but starting on monitors definitely cuts down the time spent on it.
#9
Quote by axemanchris
But if you are mixing on proper monitors, you can go by, "If it sounds great on these, then I'm done." You can skip all the other steps.

This is WHY you buy monitors!

CT


No it isn't. If you mix only to audiophile equipment it is likely to sound horrid on cheap speakers/earbuds. That is your starting point.

You need to find a balance between good sound on your monitors and your reference speakers.

What is balanced on monitors may be horribly woofy in a car because those speakers have way more low-end, or it will be weak and honky on a cheap stereo because of the lack of bass and more mid-focused response curve on those speakers.

You don't notice these things on flat monitors, but you can fix them without making the monitor mix worse. It is usually just about fine-tuning some very specific problem frequencies.

This is why so many people favour the good old Yamaha NS-10 monitors, because they do tend to highlight those problem frequencies you hear on consumer gear. It is as close as you can get to having good sounding speakers that translate to other sound systems (ie: if you have a great mix on NS-10s then it probably WILL sound good on everything else).
#10
Quote by fleaflicker182
No it isn't. If you mix only to audiophile equipment it is likely to sound horrid on cheap speakers/earbuds. That is your starting point.

You need to find a balance between good sound on your monitors and your reference speakers.

What is balanced on monitors may be horribly woofy in a car because those speakers have way more low-end, or it will be weak and honky on a cheap stereo because of the lack of bass and more mid-focused response curve on those speakers.

You don't notice these things on flat monitors, but you can fix them without making the monitor mix worse. It is usually just about fine-tuning some very specific problem frequencies.

This is why so many people favour the good old Yamaha NS-10 monitors, because they do tend to highlight those problem frequencies you hear on consumer gear. It is as close as you can get to having good sounding speakers that translate to other sound systems (ie: if you have a great mix on NS-10s then it probably WILL sound good on everything else).

I'm sorry but so much of this is wrong I don't actually have time to correct each flaw as I'm on my break at work and on my phone keypad, but in short...

Monitors are designed so you hear things accurately - if you want to mix for bassy systems then the mix will suffer for everything else, so you're wasting your time worrying about the 5% extreme of listening systems that are dangerously bassy or bass-lacking.

Also, NS-10s (and the Avantone Mixcube) were so popula because a) everyone used them so became used to mixing on them as they learnt on them in studios (much like how a brand becomes monopolised) and because they are sealed-box design so have a much better transient response and tighter midrange - that means they're more accurate for mixing all but the low end where they have a smoother but higher roll-off and thus you feel the bass more than you hear it.

Will continue this later
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#11
See, you start with this...

Quote by fleaflicker182
No it isn't. If you mix only to audiophile equipment it is likely to sound horrid on cheap speakers/earbuds. That is your starting point.


... but then you go on to say this....

Quote by fleaflicker182

This is why so many people favour the good old Yamaha NS-10 monitors...It is as close as you can get to having good sounding speakers that translate to other sound systems (ie: if you have a great mix on NS-10s then it probably WILL sound good on everything else).


It's the second part here that validates what I was saying.

Proper monitors are designed to sound flat - they do not exaggerate any frequencies above any other frequencies, and don't scoop any frequencies.

What happens with consumer gear - and even a lot of expensive stereos - is that they are "tuned" or "tailored" to reflect a certain sound. You hear all sorts of marketing hype out there about, "Buy the new audio-pwnage brand speakers if you want slamming bass and sparkling highs."

Most people, when they buy headphones or stereo speakers will listen to them, and often, they will describe the ones that sound "best" (particularly with commercial genres like hip-hop, rock, dance, etc.) as the ones that make the bass boom and the highs sparkle. For listening, many buyers will choose these as great speakers. Money talks, and based on consumer demand, the manufacturers create speakers that reflect these values.

However, these slammin' and sparklin' speakers shouldn't *over* exaggerate these frequencies, or people will start to describe them as muddy, whoofy, strident, harsh, etc. They "accentuate" these frequencies.

If you have a great mix, it will sound fine on these commercial speakers. If your mix sounds boomy or tinny on them, the problem is your mix, not the speakers.

However, with proper monitors (and the NS-10's will suffice as an example), you create your mixes accurately. This *allows* you to play your material on a variety of commercial systems and have it sound good on all of them.

My favourite analogy is this.

Put on a pair of yellow-tinted sunglasses. Now go out and paint a scene - lake...trees... sun... etc. Now take off the glasses. Your trees are blue, your water is green and your sun is white. How the hell did that happen? Well... those tinted lenses distorted how you see the subject of your painting, and caused you to make all kinds of funny errors with your colours.

Now, sure, you *could* go back and try some red lenses, and then some blue lenses, and back to the yellow ones, and keep screwing with your colours until it looks good no matter what colour lenses you're wearing, but geez... what a lot of bother for what will ultimately mean questionable-at-best accuracy!!

What you need to do is paint that scene with *clear* lenses!

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#12
Quote by axemanchris
See, you start with this...


... but then you go on to say this....


It's the second part here that validates what I was saying.

Proper monitors are designed to sound flat - they do not exaggerate any frequencies above any other frequencies, and don't scoop any frequencies.

What happens with consumer gear - and even a lot of expensive stereos - is that they are "tuned" or "tailored" to reflect a certain sound. You hear all sorts of marketing hype out there about, "Buy the new audio-pwnage brand speakers if you want slamming bass and sparkling highs."

Most people, when they buy headphones or stereo speakers will listen to them, and often, they will describe the ones that sound "best" (particularly with commercial genres like hip-hop, rock, dance, etc.) as the ones that make the bass boom and the highs sparkle. For listening, many buyers will choose these as great speakers. Money talks, and based on consumer demand, the manufacturers create speakers that reflect these values.

However, these slammin' and sparklin' speakers shouldn't *over* exaggerate these frequencies, or people will start to describe them as muddy, whoofy, strident, harsh, etc. They "accentuate" these frequencies.

If you have a great mix, it will sound fine on these commercial speakers. If your mix sounds boomy or tinny on them, the problem is your mix, not the speakers.

However, with proper monitors (and the NS-10's will suffice as an example), you create your mixes accurately. This *allows* you to play your material on a variety of commercial systems and have it sound good on all of them.

My favourite analogy is this.

Put on a pair of yellow-tinted sunglasses. Now go out and paint a scene - lake...trees... sun... etc. Now take off the glasses. Your trees are blue, your water is green and your sun is white. How the hell did that happen? Well... those tinted lenses distorted how you see the subject of your painting, and caused you to make all kinds of funny errors with your colours.

Now, sure, you *could* go back and try some red lenses, and then some blue lenses, and back to the yellow ones, and keep screwing with your colours until it looks good no matter what colour lenses you're wearing, but geez... what a lot of bother for what will ultimately mean questionable-at-best accuracy!!

What you need to do is paint that scene with *clear* lenses!

CT


EDIT: (re-writing this entire post after admittedly not reading half of your response).

Your point about it not being the speakers but the mix is 100% correct, but it works the other way in my mind. The mix should take into account these dips and curves, as that is what exists in almost every speaker that the general public listen on (which is at least 90% of the population).

Sure, you could be a 20 year veteran mix engineer that has been using the same speakers in the same room for years, but the acoustic world is still not a 100% precise science. Things still happen in the real world that are not logical to the theory. While you could be an amazing engineer that will know exactly how your speaker mix translates to consumer systems, there is still room for error. Blindly accepting that your mix is going to translate is lazy and poor practice. Even if you never find any flaws in checking, you should still perform quality control checks. You wouldn't let a compressor or a desk out of the factory without making sure that it physically works and won't explode when you plug it in and turn it on, so why not make sure the mix is exactly as you thought it would be.

Also, your assumption is that every engineer IS that 20 year veteran.

Most people on this forum are beginners at mixing and recording, and as such they SHOULD DEFINITELY be comparing mixes on different systems, even as a way to develop a better ear. Truthfully, most of their mixes will be flawed after days of work due to the lack of a developed ear. I know my ear still isn't perfect (and I suspect neither is yours), but it would be much better at picking up these frequencies than the people generally asking the questions. You are answering your questions without practical advice for beginners. The professional outcome is a yardstick that is valid to mention, but rarely the correct answer on this forum.

Further to that, every instrument in every mix is different, and you can't assume that EQing to monitors will have the same translation to the commercial speakers. Every now and then something will slip out and cause a horrible ring on a stereo system that you thought you got rid of on monitors.

So that's my new 2 cents. Now for my advice on the actual topic (my bad for not addressing it in the first post).

TS, earbuds are useless for mixing, and only OK for tracking if you are doing single instruments at reasonable levels. Drum tracking would be pointless, as would tracking guitar to a click when the amp is louder than the earbuds. Therefore you will either have to get the earbuds and forget about mixing for a while, get decent headphones (which are probably out of your price range) and deal with the inconvenience of having bulky things on your ears in public (you still wouldn't rely on them for mixing anyway), or save up and buy a pair of monitors and just get a set of ipod earbuds for portable music.
Last edited by fleaflicker182 at Jul 10, 2011,
#13
Quote by fleaflicker182

Your point about it not being the speakers but the mix is 100% correct, but it works the other way in my mind. The mix should take into account these dips and curves, as that is what exists in almost every speaker that the general public listen on (which is at least 90% of the population).


You can't possibly account for the so-called "dips and curves" on other speakers out there. There are SO many variations and possibilities that it would be absolutely impossible. Solution: mix on something flat, and let the consumer speakers do the exaggerating the way the listener is expecting them to.

Quote by fleaflicker182

Sure, you could be a 20 year veteran mix engineer that has been using the same speakers in the same room for years....

Also, your assumption is that every engineer IS that 20 year veteran.

...You are answering your questions without practical advice for beginners. The professional outcome is a yardstick that is valid to mention, but rarely the correct answer on this forum.


How and where in the world did I suggest that? Me, personally..... I've been recording for a little over half that, and am working with $700 monitors. This is a FAR cry from a 20-year veteran mixing on esoteric gear in a perfect room.

So, sure, I'm not a beginner. But what I am telling people is what I would want to know if I was one.

Quote by fleaflicker182

Further to that, every instrument in every mix is different, and you can't assume that EQing to monitors will have the same translation to the commercial speakers.


See, that's the thing. It won't have the same translation to commercial speakers. The speakers will do what they do - that is, distort the original signal in a way that is pleasing to the ear of the listener... the same way it does to every other piece of audio pumped through it.

Quote by fleaflicker182

Every now and then something will slip out and cause a horrible ring on a stereo system that you thought you got rid of on monitors.


Shouldn't. Remember, it's the mix - not the speakers that are the problem.

That all said, I will usually check the mix on a couple of sources, but it is usually *checking* the mix as opposed to taking notes and trying to take them back to the studio so I can second-guess what will happen the next time I play it on whatever other system.

Just curious.... what kind of monitors do you use?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#14
Quote by axemanchris

Just curious.... what kind of monitors do you use?

CT

Well Chris, I'm willing to bet that despite his apparent love for NS-10's and their sound, he uses ported speakers like most of us in this forum, which happen to sound a million miles apart from NS-10s...

I think we should all just agree that using any kind of dedicated monitor, above a baseline quality, is the general rule of thumb for actually mixing your project from the initial audio files, and that you should typically check for translation issues in the latter stages of mixing, if not leading up to a final master.


Edit: Also, might I suggest that instead of people just using translation-checks on other systems as a way to learn how to mix, that a good way of doing this while you mix without constantly running off elsewhere is to use spectral analyzers a lot. I don't rely on my ear alone, because I know there are inaccuracies in my monitoring setup/room, but I know that by listening carefully and aiding myself at times with a visual cue, I can get rid of 95% of translation issues before I even check my mix on any other set-up (and even then, I have another two pairs of speakers* hooked up that I can switch to instantly, as opposed to taking the mix elsewhere and forgetting how it sounds on the monitors by the time I get to the new environment and get the song playing!).

Checking on other systems is always one of the last things I do with a mix, at the point where I feel happy with how it sounds from my chair, and just want some reassurance before I go any further.


*One pair being my old 'monitors', which are a cheap, barely-even-entry-level Edirol pair; the other being some ultra-cheap and nasty tiny plug-in laptop speakers with no actual amp inside, that are my budget 'mixcubes' lol.
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
Last edited by DisarmGoliath at Jul 11, 2011,
#15
Quote by DisarmGoliath
Well Chris, I'm willing to bet that despite his apparent love for NS-10's and their sound, he uses ported speakers like most of us in this forum, which happen to sound a million miles apart from NS-10s...

I think we should all just agree that using any kind of dedicated monitor, above a baseline quality, is the general rule of thumb for actually mixing your project from the initial audio files, and that you should typically check for translation issues in the latter stages of mixing, if not leading up to a final master.


Way to keep the peace man. I was tempted to jump back in the argument, but it probably wouldn't have helped any.

I personally find it hard to recommend any headphones (especially earbuds...) for studio work besides tracking. That money could, and should, be put towards a pair of monitors if recording/mixing is at all a priority.
#16
Quote by sandyman323
Way to keep the peace man. I was tempted to jump back in the argument, but it probably wouldn't have helped any.

I personally find it hard to recommend any headphones (especially earbuds...) for studio work besides tracking. That money could, and should, be put towards a pair of monitors if recording/mixing is at all a priority.

Hehe you can still argue, pretend you never noticed my post and I delete this one

Besides, I made an edit I'm sure some people could find fault and argue with
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#17
I'm going to leave the argument and say that my main point is that especially as a beginner, you should cross-reference like 95% of the audio world does (at least in Australia).

The dips and curves are not that varied in terms of real performance, and it is possible to get a decent mix on everything (with the possible exception of laptop speakers and similar tiny pieces of crap).

I personally have not had the luxury of owning a pair of monitors, which is largely why I ALWAYS have to check my mixes. To be honest, most of my mixing outside of when I finished study has been on headphones (and not usually amazing headphones). This makes it even more crucial to check my mixes. I ended up trying to specialise in video editing as a career-path because of more opportunities, so I mix and produce more on the side and not very often (although I am still constantly trying to improve my ear), and more recently I haven't had the equipment to do much of anything at all.

Having said all this, there is another very important thing that also hasn't been mentioned. It is very important for most mixes to also mix to a reference track (or a few), especially if mixing in an unfamiliar setup. Listening to tracks that you know like the back of your hand will help you understand the differences between one system and another, and to help develop your ear.

EDIT:

Chris, I've PM'd you about some stuff that is probably going too far off-topic.
Last edited by fleaflicker182 at Jul 11, 2011,