headphone ears monitor

no, it aint nearfield

Know bunch of you are like me and you cant crank up the speakers, so you secretely monitor and mix your stuff wif your headphones on! "shhh, the wife and kids are sleeping, I know my headphones response, so I can do it"

Any one there yet? I’m having major trouble trying this, and even though I know better, it does not work.

There must be some people having success with this? maybe?


Hey Chiller,

It’s not really a question of knowing your headphones, the soundfield can be really tricky because left and right are very discreet with the phones, and can cause some strange results we played on speakers without the discreet left/right.

I have to admit I do it too, I usually just work in mono (everything centred) for my “daily mixes” - So I can listen to them at work or in the car. I do finalize the mix on the nearfields though.

I’m lucky that my mixing room (or lair/den/hole as my wife calls it) is at the far end of the house and I can make noise at night without waking wife/kids.

Definitely use monitors for final release though.


Wotcha Chiller. I have the same problem, my music stuff is in a corner of our living area so I have to use headphones. I originally had a pair of quite expensive hi-fi 'phones that I liked the sound of, but all my mixes sounded crap on any other system (hi-fi. car, boom-box). I read a lot and asked around and ended up buying a pair of Sennheiser HD-270. The point is the headphones have to be very neutral and clean. That usually means Sennheiser, AKG, Beyer or other headphones designed for studio monitoring. Most “hi-fi” or DJ headphones will not work because they are not neutral. I can now be reasonably sure that what I mix in the Sennheisers will have a reasonable tonal balance on other systems, though I often have to do final tweaks of the bass levels. I make a CD and try it on the hi-fi, in the car etc., then go back and make changes until it’s good enough. I’d love a good pair of nearfield monitors but until we move that’s not going to happen!

Happy tracking

The mono mixing is a very good tip. I got used to work in this way with headphones and the result is usually good considering my skil.

I basically agree with TrustBuster. I mix with headphones (but they MUST have aflat frequency response) then listen in my car, which for some reason seems to be a really good environment for me. Trouble is I can’t write notes while I’m driving so, when it came time to master my project, I sent the family away and listened on the stereo in the family room.

personally, i do my actual mixing on speakers/monitors (which i don’t really “blast” anyways) then treat listening on headphones like i do when i’m checking any other stereo for reference… it’s just for reference, to make sure the track sounds good in other listening environments. tried mixing solely on headphones in the past, and it just didn’t sound right when played back on speakers afterwards.

i find headphones are the best way to check how the stereo image of your mix sounds… and i also find its the best way to pinpoint those tiny almost inaudible problems… ticks, clicks and background noise… i guess because it brings the audio so close to your ears?

i have a pair of akg k240 phones which seem to do this okay for me… the only complaint i have with this set is that i find them a little clumsy/awkward to wear for some reason.

i would love to hear specific recommendations for a set of comfy headphones… always thought the sony ones looked squishy, but a little pricy.

I mix using cans because of current limitations on my monitoring situation and relating to negotiations with the principal interior designer for my hous … er, studio. But I’ve been mixing since 1978 or so, and I’m pretty used to many of the differences and things to worry about or avoid. I don’t use expensive or nice flat headphones, instead I use Sony wireless (I hate being tied down for long periods). So I rely on doing a lot of comparison monitoring for EQ balance. Plus I know I didn’t get that nailed – one of these days I’ll get a chance to listen to my CD on a reall good system, and I’ll cringe … :wink:

A few points to keep in mind:

1) Mix wider than you think you need, or get used to liking a really wide stereo field. It’ll usually sound narrower through speakers.

2) Avoid or else be very careful with delay or phase-based stereo effects, because these are the ones that sound quite different in speakers versus cans. You see, with cans, each ear only hears one channel. With speakers, each ear hears that side loudest and first, but the other side a little later and a little quieter. With panning, this just makes a mix sound wider in cans. With delay effects, it’s not as intuitive or predictable (though the “wider in cans” rule usually holds). But the resulting image is a lot more different. Note that duplicating, shifting, and hard panning a track is a delay. Stereo chorus is a delay-based effect, but with enough image movement that the “sounds wider in cans” rule is good enough to work by.

3) Use stereo reverbs to build image & location more than delays. Sure, reverbs use early reflections to build the image, meaning a delay based image effect. But it’s subtler and less prone to going totally weird on you in speakers.

4) Do lots of comparison monitoring!

5) Remember that most cans won’t tell you much about the bottom end, especially below 40. One time I sent a quick mix to a guy without thinking about that. My cans don’t give a clue about anything below 60 or 80, and the upright bass track had serious energy at about 40 Hz, very percussive too. He played it cranked up nice and loud and practically blew the cones right out of the cabinets! (Oops!) Use good sense to avoid an unbalanced low end (i.e., keep the bass in the middle), and use comparison monitoring to help you set the bass tone correctly.

6) Don’t do it. It’s really not a good idea!

It’s really not the right way to get good mixes. But for me, it’s just a hobby, and household harmony is more important.

I always use headphones for mixing due to the fact that the only time i have for it is either during my train commute to work or late at night/early morning. As i’m in an apartment, I (usually!!) have to consider the people above and below as well :(
I use a pair of Sony MDR-EX71SLB which really do cut out any background noise and they certainly wail, i’ve heard that a company called Eshure (sp?) do something similar and better though…
I find it helps to take short frequent breaks to listen to an mp3 to make sure you’re in the right ball park…


some weeks ago i was in the mastering studio and there was an AKG K1000 high end headphone. its completely open. so you have a stereo field. look at aks site. its really expenseve 800 euros but i think i will buy it insteas of 2 genelec 1031.

Those AKGs look like they’d be great phones for mixing (in a quiet room). Of course, they still wouldn’t image like speakers do. The intra-ear crosstalk (while much higher than any other headphones) is still substantially less than good near-field speaker arrangments. But they’d be far closer to speaker imaging than any other headphones.

And gee, only $750! What a bargain! :wink:

Quote (learjeff @ April 04 2005,11:20)
And gee, only $750! What a bargain! ;)

Eh....I think I'll stick to my Sennheiser HD280Pro cans ($99) and my Event TR8 nearfields ($500). When I wanna check a mix on the nearfields, I just wait until the wifey and kids are away.

**Me** "Say honey, here's a ten-spot. Take the boys for ice cream?" :)

TG -- Master of the bribe......

PS I NEVER trust a "cans only" mix........