#1
I've been pulling my hair out trying to mix a song using cheapish studioheadphones and I'm upgrading to M-50's in a week or so. My question is can I ever really trust them? At the moment when I listen back on my hi fi system my mixes are always wrong. So I'm basically mixing then monitoring in post with my hi fi because my headphones aren't accurate enough. I have a plug in which helps with cross fade and that to a large extent fixes the stereo issues but I'm having problems with EQ.

So can you ever trust headphones at all?
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Last edited by ChemicalFire at Apr 13, 2012,
#2
Seems you're in the process of answering your own question.

That said, headphones are useful for a second opinion, and for really critical details like looking for clicks in edits, or sometimes assessing reverb settings, picking out delays, etc.

Even in my treated room with proper monitors, I'm finding that I am looking for two second opinions before going to the final test in the car:

-my AKG K240 headphones
-my iPod ear buds

If the mix sounds good on all three, I'm pretty confident I have a winner.

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

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#3
Sadly I'm not in a position where buying monitors is a viable option. I live in Uni halls for a lot of the year and the rest of the time I'm in a room that has no room for them.
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#4
I use my headphones mostly for editing and checking on really minute details like delays and reverb.

When it comes to mixing, I really just use them as a reference because they're really vague, for lack of better words, when it comes to hearing frequency balance, etc. I think if you listen to enough music on your headphones and get a feel or how professional mixes sound it will give you a solid reference to work your own mixes toward.
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#5
M-50's are a great choice for mixing. It's always a good idea to play your tracks back on different speakers anyway.
One thing I will say which may seem really obvious, listen to how your favourite songs sound on your headphones before mixing and pick out if they're slightly bass heavy/exaggerated mids etc and keep that in mind when you're mixing your own stuff.
#6
That's what I've been doing. I just don't think these headphones are QUITE up to par. Hopefully the M-50's will help that.
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#7
I use a pair of Sennheiser HD555's that I received as a gift way before getting into recording and they always seem to bring out all the defects of a bad mix. Definitely get a good pair of phones, it'll help.
#8
If you've got a cheap set of speakers and a good set of headphones, the best approach is to switch between the two regularly - use the headphones to balance the frequencies and hear the details more accurately, use your speakers to get the general mixing and stereo separation accurate.

You can mix on pretty much anything provided you learn the sound of your own speakers/headphones (by listening to lots of music on them) and regularly compare your mix to commercial recordings.
#9
i generally use headphones when near completion after mixing with monitors. If they sound good in monitors then sound good in head phones = sorted.
#10
Honestly, I think I could do complete mixes on the M50s. It's all about getting used to your set up. As long as you know how your monitors/headphones translate to other sources, you could mix on $5 headphones and still get decent results.
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#11
I dont think spending lots of money on high quality monitors or speakers is a good idea. Most people who listen to your music will be played on car stereos or computer speakers worth maybe $65? Why not get cheap sounding stuff to match the cheap stuff most people have? Make it sound good on that and it will sound great everywhere.
#13
Quote by JamesSheasgreen
I dont think spending lots of money on high quality monitors or speakers is a good idea. Most people who listen to your music will be played on car stereos or computer speakers worth maybe $65? Why not get cheap sounding stuff to match the cheap stuff most people have? Make it sound good on that and it will sound great everywhere.


...which sounds like great logic until you consider that:
1) there is no shortage of posts here that read to the effect of "my mixes sound great on my computer but sound like sh!t everywhere else"
2) no pro engineer mixes on cheap speakers

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 JamesSheasgreen
I dont think spending lots of money on high quality monitors or speakers is a good idea. Most people who listen to your music will be played on car stereos or computer speakers worth maybe $65? Why not get cheap sounding stuff to match the cheap stuff most people have? Make it sound good on that and it will sound great everywhere.

Here's where you've gone wrong...

You are assuming that all low end speakers/headphones have nearly identical characteristics and traits. They don't. In fact, the very reason why mixing on low-end computer speakers/headphones is ill-advised is because if you aren't mixing to a frequency curve as flat as possible you will not judge how much to boost or cut various bands of the mix (at a simple level) so you may be getting a mix to sound great on a system with a hyped upper-midrange. Sounds amazing on your system. But then when someone listens on an equally low-end setup which is heavily lacking in upper-mids, you'll have even less mids than you would if you'd mixed on a system with unhyped mids... so you're making the problem of the listener's setup even more exaggerated by mixing to something with an opposing freq. response.

If you mix on something that is as accurate as possible, then the margin of error is only as much as the flaws with each system, therefore less pronounced as an average. Therefore you're giving the best mix to the biggest portion of listeners you can.
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#15
The best analogy I can come up with is this:

We often use the term "coloured" to describe stereo speakers. Stereo speakers are designed to appeal to a consumer base in the interest of getting the consumer to part with their nickels. This is why you get all those speakers with "slamming pumping bass" and "searing and sparkling highs." Well, that's great, isn't it?

Well... that depends on what you're looking for.

Consider the glasses analogy.

Do you want funky shades, or do you want reading glasses? Oh sure, they're very similar in design and style, but the performances are entirely different. Do you get the ultra-cool Ray Bans or do you get the post-dated hippie aviator glasses with the green mirrored lenses? Well, if you need glasses to read, then the answer is "f***ing neither." It doesn't matter a damn how cool you look if you can't see anything.

Now, consider this....

You opted for the Ray Bans. Hip. Current. Suave. Great. Now, put them on and go out and paint a picture. If you can get it to look right wearing those, then all the people who wear sunglasses (which is most of us at least some of the time) will identify the picture as looking right.

Now take them off. "Why does my picture look f***ed?" Well, quite simply, because your vision is being skewed by the tinted lenses. How can you be surprised? Now get your friend with the yellow-tinted sunglasses lenses to look at your picture. He breaks out in hysterical laughter at your blue trees and green sky. He describes your painting in terms of a bad acid trip. Surprised? Well, we shouldn't be, but we see threads every week from bewildered people who can't understand why their mixes they did on their PC speakers sound like @ss anywhere else.

Now put your reading glasses on. Try again. Looks perfect. Surprised? No, why would you be?

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.
Last edited by axemanchris at Apr 20, 2012,
#17
I have a pair of HD-280 pros, which are PART of my mixing process. I also use my cheap-ass computer speakers, since I get a better stereo image out of them. Too bad they suck.
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#18
I always reference a couple of pair of headphones (and a stereo, and a car, and my roommates stereo), but I don't think I would replace even my cheap monitors wit headphones in the mixing process.
#19
Axemanchris nailed it. Monitors serve a very important purpose, they're not there so manufacturers could take money on some freshly overhyped but really less-then-essential product (smart tvs come to mind). When you make a mix it'll be almost impossible to make it sound perfct on every single system out there, headphones, car stereos, living room hi-fi, concert PAs... Finding the ballance is the key. And that's with using state of the art monitors. Personally I'd never take headphones into consideration, I think that will be like trying to draw a wall-big grafitti while looking through the microscope.
Last edited by Casull454 at Apr 21, 2012,
#20
I mixed the first song on my profile purely with ATH-M50's. I had a track I mixed by the same band featured on BBC Radio 1 recently; I trust them more than I trust even run of the mill monitoring solutions. The only thing I find inherently difficult to get right with them is vocal level so I just run a few quick checks on monitors after I have finished most of the mixing but otherwise its 99% headphones.
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