Recording and mixing with headphones..

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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EnjoyTheSilence
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Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by EnjoyTheSilence » Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:40 pm

I´m pretty new in the world of recording and sequencing. I´m using a Supreme cd 90 headphone for the moment when I´m recording. I also got a pair of ALP 5 active monitors. Even they are real monitors it sounds so crappy when I listen to the songs in the monitors compared to the headphones. It´s almost irritating.
Some sounds like soft synthpads for example suits perfect mixed in the headphones but is
barely audible in the monitors.
If someone would like to listen to the songs I have made I think I just give them the headphones and reject the monitors. I actually have thoughts now to maybe get a pair of "better" headphones, mix as far as I can do and then hand over the song to someone with a real studio and let them do the final mix and mastering.

So. Whats the best headphones for recording and mixing?? Should I buy open ones??
I´m thinking of something in the pricerange of 150-300 dollars..
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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by garranimal » Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:43 pm

Different things work for different people. Generally I would do all my mixing using monitors. I don't want monitors to sound good, nor bad - but you want some reference point so you could guess how the mix will sound on different sound systems: in the car, in a bar or club, radio possibly, people's laptops. That said, knowing the sound of your monitors very well is probably more important than the actual brand and model you use in that regard. But you also need monitors you can trust like any product. I don't know about Event monitors, but I use and love KRKs. Yamaha HS and NS are used by a lot of folks.

Whenever everything is mixed, only then will I also do a check in headphones. I've owned many kinds over the years and tend to like skull candy earbuds, but also my closed cup Sony MDR-V900 sound very good too. Power output, distortion, and audio range are interesting numbers to look at but be sure to try them on and see how the sound are are comfortable. At this point my mix is mostly done, and I'm listening in headphones for: stereo image, checking mono for any dropped instruments (it happens, phase cancellation is very real!), and confirming the mix in general making sure nothing is jumping way out of place in the sound field.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by dustinh » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:15 pm

There's a lot to be said on the topic of mixing with headphones vs monitors. Here's my two cents for what it's worth.

First of all, when mixing with monitors, most true studio monitors aren't designed to sound good. They have a flat response for a reason, so you can hear the actual audio signal as accurate as possible. Also, a lot of consumers listen to music on "crappy" speakers so you want to know what the mix is going to sound like on various speakers, which is why people say to listen to your mix in your car, boombox etc.

I have a couple of issues with headphone mixing. First issue is that most headphones have a very colored sound (a big bass boost and sometimes an increase in the high frequencies). This may cause you to compensate with EQing your instruments. For example, if your headphones have a big bass boost, you may cut more low end than you should in the mix to compensate for what the headphones are doing. This would make it sound thin and wimpy on flat response monitors. Secondly, the stereo field doesn't sound the same on heaphones. With monitors, you're listening to both left and right channels as they cross paths in the air. If there are phase issues, you will notice them on speakers whereas with headphones, you're listening to the left and right channels in isolation so stereo phasing will not be noticeable.

All that said, I agree with what garranimal said about checking your mix in the headphones afterwards to make sure it sounds good. Since headphones are becoming more and more common these days with ipods and such, it's important to check you mix in them. So as far as that goes, in all honesty, I would just buy a popular pair of consumer headphones so you know what your mix sounds like in cheap headphones as opposed to expensive ones.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by code green » Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:19 pm

I would just add that, per garranimal's advice to get to know your monitors, the best way to do this is to play music you're very familiar with through them--and note how the monitors affect the various frequencies you're accustomed to hearing (this is also a way to get to know your room, btw...which is no small consideration in mixing in monitors).

Aside from sonics, one thing for which headphones are invaluable--even and especially if you're mixing entirely or almost entirely on monitors--is checking for little glitches you might not hear otherwise. Distortion, noise from zero crossings resulting from edits, pieces of ambient noise (thumps, chair squeaks, etc.) you don't want in there, etc. Beware, though, of cutting sibilance according to what you're hearing on headphones, as they tend to hype that effect in comparison to monitors.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by astroidmist » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:21 am

Good advice in here. The other guys already said it. Start with monitors, check with headphones, go back to monitors, fix it up, etc.

Nothing more to add but...

The acoustics of headphones (two separate enclosed spaces) will always be tricky.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by krzeppa » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:08 pm

Don't really have much to add, but I will just give some of my personal experiences. I think everyone's advice so far has hit everything right on the head. I sometimes take my laptop/midi keyboard/headphones to work to play around with on my lunch break. I may create a few things I think sound good while I'm at work, but when I run them through my monitors....WHOA!...there is definitely something wrong. The bass is almost always way too loud, and much of what I have made appears inaudible....I always have to mix it properly on the monitors. Once I mix it on the monitors....which doesn't really sound all that amazing....it does sound much better on other systems. I will actually sound better in my headphones, car stereo, home stereo, cheap a*s computer speakers. As was already stated, it is key to mix with monitors and cross-reference with other devices. You want to make sure your stuff can sound good on shitty equipment too, not just the high end stuff......Many people may only hear you music on a computer with shitty speakers....So that is why it is important to cross-reference. The flat sound of monitors allow you put everything together in such a way to do this. It does, however, take some time to get used to you monitors.....So I suggest to just keep mixing through the monitors until you can easily realize how sounds translate from monitors to other equipment.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by garranimal » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:33 am

krzeppa wrote:I sometimes take my laptop/midi keyboard/headphones to work to play around with on my lunch break. I may create a few things I think sound good while I'm at work, but when I run them through my monitors....WHOA!...there is definitely something wrong.
This exactly what turned me off to starting-off mixes with cans. I don't even like to use the cans during synth patch creation for the same reason - only as a last resort when it's late and everyone's asleep in the house. Ah but yes, when it's all mixed on the monitors and the final mixdown is made, it does sound heavenly with the phones on.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by Zamise » Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:35 am

I've always had this trouble too, I use my headphones a lot, rarely use monitors. One thing I'll do sometimes after working on a song for a while is to drop the master volume in half which makes a lot of the more nuance stuff harder to hear in the headphones, if I don't hear it then I bring the level up on just that track. It just helps sometimes, I've no major mastering tricks. My stuff always seems to suck when I play it on something else, with a few rare exceptions, always nice to be blown away hearing it on nice sounding house or club system rather than cheap computer speakers, but I want it to sound decent on all of them.
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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by tekkentool » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:00 pm

It depends on the headphones. I don't like my friends Dt770's because they have 6-7 dB boost on the sub 300 hz frequencies. My K702's have a slight rolloff and slight increase in the high frequencies.

Mixing on headphones is no disadvantage as long as you're not being silly and using proper referencing and knowing your monitoring setup. I used to put out fine mixes on el cheapo SR60's because I knew what they sounded like inside out.

s**t I mean, porter robinson produces using a pair of cheap 2.1 media speakers. Does it mean he puts out bad mixes? no, his stuff always sounds boss. (
Monitors are a luxury for amateur musicians, up to a certain skill level and quality of mix they won't be a disadvantage to anyone, just as long as you get a pair that at least attempt to be semi flat.

K702's are great headphones if you're just producing and want to have access to a brilliant spectrum of midranges and highs (slightly rolled off bass). Either that or the Dt770's if you don't mind a bit of bass. (though my mixes always have a brilliant bit of booty to them now that I mix with the k702s, kicks are huge etc).

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by lazerface » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:38 am

I do all my writing and mixing with headphones..
Sennheiser Monitor headphones, cant remember the model, but they sound flat to me.

I would drive my gf and housemate batshit crazy if I used monitors.

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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by EnjoyTheSilence » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:38 pm

lazerface wrote:I do all my writing and mixing with headphones..
Sennheiser Monitor headphones, cant remember the model, but they sound flat to me.

I would drive my gf and housemate batshit crazy if I used monitors.
I just bought a pair of Sennheiser HD 380 PRO. A big difference compared to my old cheaper headphones..
Some songs i have made sounds pretty good in these new headphones. Others was like:

"-s**t c**p. What was that?? Now you realize that a cheap headphone just fools you and tricking you when you record in them.
Some songs is really gonna need a big revision and readjustment now.
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Re: Recording and mixing with headphones..

Post by Shreddie » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:14 pm

I'm a long time advocate of mixing on cans... Partly this is a personal thing as I've listened to music almost exclusively on cans since my early teens so I know what things should sound like on them but there are some good reasons why I think it's the best way to mix...

Probably one of the most important is with reference to this...
dustinh wrote:If there are phase issues, you will notice them on speakers whereas with headphones, you're listening to the left and right channels in isolation so stereo phasing will not be noticeable.
The thing is that phase issues are technically a fault with monitors that headphones do not have. We acoustically treat our rooms to get minimise phase issues and monitor manufacturers such as Tannoy employ concentric designs to further minimise them. Basically, with monitors you are creating a phantom image, the problem being that the ear(s) can hear both components of it, effectively two signals reaching each ear due to the timing differences. In 'real' situations with live instruments, this does not happen, instead each ear will only hear one signal. Headphones can perfectly recreate this (hence why binaural recording works on cans), monitors cannot. Another thing with regard to phase is that the moment you move your head, the relative phase between your monitors will change thanks to the timing becoming different. As headphones are effectively fixed to your head, this can't happen. There's a number of other things too but I can't be bothered to go into them.

But if that stuff isn't enough, there is something else I've noticed, and that's the better a room is and the better the monitors are, the more it sounds like a decent set of cans... Go figure!

But I'm getting away from the point here... The most important thing is to know your system, whether it's monitors or cans doesn't actually matter that much as long as it's reasonable enough... In my case, I wear my headphones when mixing, creating sounds, watching films/TV and I use them with my MP3 player so I know exactly how things should sound on them, in other words, I know my system... If you don't listen regularly enough to other (commercial) tracks on your system, you'll never get used to how things should sound and your mixes will always be c**p. This is the real advantage of headphones though, you can take them anywhere and always have the same 'monitors' in the same acoustic environment. Anyone here tried walking down a street with their monitors and their room? And how many use their monitors just for regular listening?

So for me, I mix on headphones then check on other systems which includes more headphones/earphones, a laptop and a couple of sets of speakers.

If you're after headphones though, many do have odd frequency responses so it's important to get ones that are known to be good... The current most favoured ones are Sennheiser HD650's and AKG K701's or 702's. Personally I use Ultrasone Pro2500's... They have a slightly uneven response at the top end but have superb stereo imaging and very tight bass, their frequency response is nominally flat. The most important thing for me though is that they are very comfortable (pretty light too) and due to a little technology they employ, they're less likely to cause listening fatigue... Both of which are important for me as I sometimes wear them for up to 18 hours a day.

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