Headphones for Mixing

Since I posted it, I came to realize that I need Monitors for mixing and not headphones.
I guess “headphones are useful for - critical listening for noises or other sonic aberrations on individual tracks or mixes”

So, can anyone recommend affordable monitors? I’m not sure if I need the Powered monitors or not. I use Layla20 as my recording device.

Thank you!!!

Well, dgaziel, that’s a big question. First thing to say is, many folks on this forum would say don’t mix on headphones, use good near-field monitors. I for one am obliged to use headphones because my “studio” is a corner of the living/dining room and my wife would go nuts if she had to hear the frequent repeats of bits of music that derive from mixing.

I started by using a pair of high-end Philips headphones that I thought sounded great. I liked their deep bass and sparkling highs. Trouble was, every mix I did sounded great in these headphones but truly awful when played on a hi-fi system or in the car. I searched for a long time and finally understood that headphones for monitoring/mixing should be different from hi-fi or DJ headphones.

I recommend European manufacturers such as Sennheiser, Beyer and AKG, all known for studio headphones. You need a very flat, neutral presentation of the music for mixing. I now have Sennheiser HD 270, a moderate-price closed design which suits me. They cost about CHF 160 here in Switzerland so are probably around USD 100 over your side of the pond.

I still have to check my mixes on real systems with loudspeakers but I find it is only the deep bass that needs tweeking; the upper bass, mids and highs are usually fine.

Hope this helps. Cheers



I too mix with headphones, I have a pair of (cheap) Sennheiser eh1430’s
There have been many debates regarding Monitor speakers over the years on this and other Forums and the conclusion I have come to is that the most successful way to mix is using a combination of methods.
Try your mixes on as many different platforms as possible, you’ll get a feel for what is required to make your music "portable"
Don’t get hung up on specs. There aint no perfect speakers. Price does not always mean quality :D


Hi dgaziel :D

I have near field monitors but I am learning to record and mix my stuff on headphones, because extremely high end headphones will show you problems that even some of the best nearfield monitors will not.

Another reason I am learning to use headphones is because you can completely remove the acoustics of your room from the picture. The idea behind nearfield monitors is that you get up close to them so the sound is as direct as possible, in this way you minimize room reflections. It is important to minimize the room reflections you hear because the sound from the reflection is altered in tone and is not giving you an accurate representaion of what your music really sounds like. If you make adjustments to the tones you hear on your recording based on this inaccurate information you can create a recording that may only sound good in your room.

You could eliminate this problem completely by spending a few months studying acoustic theory and then treat your room yourself. You could drop a big bundle of cash and hire someone to treat your room for you, and hope they really know what they are doing. Or you could buy high end headphones which will completely eliminate the room from the picture.

I guess you can tell that I like the last option the best, hehe. At least for now.

If you decide on giving headphones a shot their are a few things you should know. The first is that you should buy very high quality headphones. The ones I have are made by Sennheiser ( model # HD 600 ) and they are recommended by a mastering engineer named David Torrey at DRT mastering who has mastered over 2000 albums. he has done work for major label record companies like Warner and Sony. He has a very high end electrostatic speaker setup ( among others ) and yet he still uses these headphones in his work. When these headphones first came out they were considered to be the best Dynamic headphones you could buy, they have a frequency response from 12hz to 39Khz, quite astonishing. Another thing you need to know is that you need to tune your ears by listening to high quality commercial recordings before you start adjusting your tones and sound. In effect you are tuning your ears to your particular monitors ( in this case headphones ) and the way that good quality recordings sound thru them. Also it is important to play at least 100 hours of music thru the headphones when you first get them. This is referred to as breaking in the headphones, it loosens them up and ensures that you get the highest quality sound they are capable of.

You are probably thinking Oh My God how much do they cost ? Actually not as much as you might think, you can buy a pair that has been refurbished by Sennheiser for $ 200 US dollars. You can get them thru Amazon, and you will get a 2 year warranty with them from Sennheiser. Most decent nearfield monitors cost more than that, especially if they are active.

Having said all this it is true that I still plan to use my nearfield monitors to double check my sound, along with other playback systems also. This is just good practice as most recording folks will tell you. Another reason to do this is that headphones dont image very well, that is they dont give you that great an idea of how well your panning is working, speakers usually do a better job of this.

Anyway, I hope this will be helpful to you. Just another bit of opinion from the ongoing Speaker versus Headphone debate, hehe.

Ted Roberts :D