Many home producers use headphones extensively for tracking, editing, and mixing. The dirt secret about headphones is that they aren’t the best way to monitor your music. Studio monitors, in an acoustically treated room, give you the most optimal sound reproduction. But that’s not an option for everybody.
This guide discusses some of the pros and cons of using headphones for monitoring, including the following:
Even the best headphones out there are not going to provide you the same degree of accuracy as mixing with good studio monitors in a well-treated room. Still, mixing with headphones is something that many people choose to do because of the conveniences it offers in certain situations.
When using any headphones for mixing, it’s important to understand the things that headphones can’t do.
For instance, frequency response is never going to be absolutely correct on headphones, especially in bass frequencies, which require physical distance to develop, given their long wavelengths.
There are some great advantages to headphones for detail work in mixing. I frequently use headphones for editing and dialing in sounds with headphones, even earbuds if I’m on the road.
The key is to always reference your headphone mixing with monitors, or lacking those, on every pair of speakers you can get your hands on. Some famous producers like to use the worst pair of speakers they can find for reference, such as those in cheap boomboxes. If it sounds good on substandard equipment, it will probably sound good on a superior system.
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