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Thread: Do people down mix with headphones?

  1. #1
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    Do people down mix with headphones?

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    I tried this before and the beats came out very horribe sounding can it be done?

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    Headphones are not optimum. Good for a check, but decent flat monitor speakers are best practice. If not, or in addition to, you can use multiple speakers/systems to check your mixes on. But I would _not_ use headphones as a primary monitoring resource. They will give you a false perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adaliadella View Post
    I’ll be the first to say that if all you have is headphones, then by all means don’t let that stop you from mixing. Remember, it’s not what you use, but what you do with it that matters.
    I disagree... up to some point this is all well and good. And it definitely sounds very beginner-friendly.
    But the harsh truth is... that .. yeah, it's bullshit. Sound quality matters... a lot and in a lot of ways. Without great monitors you're working in the blind. A great headphone can be useful if your room and speakers aren't perfect (likely they never will be) but if you mix solely on them, and play it back on speakers it's gonna sound way off.

    Oh sure, there definitely are cases of "yeah I literally mixed that down on my iPad while I was waiting at the airport."
    Cool story, but those are always very knowledgable mixers with a decent amount of studio experience. They can rely on that knowledge and experience to compensate for what they can't hear on the headphones. Like for instance how sound acts in an actual space. It becomes very hard to judge dynamics, even before your ears get exhausted (much quicker on headphones.. you really have to take a break every 15 mins or so). There's a temptation to go wild with panning, mid/side, widening and whatnot because it all sounds great on headphones while sounding incoherent and floaty in a room (which is actually a cool sound to mess with if you're into making ambient!). So unless you have a lot of experience and intuitive knowledge of the gear and effects you're using, it's not very likely you'll make anything decent with just headphones. I definitely can't and I've been around a while.

    Quality matters. Not just to the listeners. For you as the maker as well. If you want your music to be taken seriously, you should take it seriously.
    Working with quality gear is more fun, more satisfying, gets better results more quickly and intuitively. It allows you to do more with less, while you're goalseeking your dynamics and mix, my excellent and large speakers get me 75% there before I even start thinking about mixing. Now what 'quality gear' entails for you is entirely personal. For one that's gonna be a laptop and field recorder, for the other a lab with modular synths. Whatever is exciting and fun for you to work with. Even then you don't want to skimp on sound quality... at all! If you're trying to take photographs, you're not gonna do it from behind a dirty window, right? Unless you're intentionally looking to achieve that effect.

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  5. #4
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    Hello,

    I believe that it is very possible to do your mixdowns with headphones. I wouldn't necessarily say that it is something that I would primarily do but I do reference my mixes with my headphones along with playing them on my monitors. For the most part with me, I try to get as many different references as possible just to hear your mixes on different systems. I also think that eventually practicing this will also help you even get used to hearing if your mixes sit right by listening on all different formats. Just from my perspective.

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    I'd say it depends on the headphones a lot. Open back headphones kind of imitate to some extent the reality of working with studio monitors (of course, very much not the same thing, but still better than closed headphones blocking out any sound from the external world) - and I'd say, with a bit of practice and referencing on other speakers, may quite do the job. I doubt the mix will be radio ready, super clean and perfect, but in my opinion you can do quite a lot.

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    I just recently started producing on monitors again and noticed how off my mixes sound compared to when I'm using headphones. I think at least for me noticed that my ears get tired much faster when using headphones.

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  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by castel View Post
    I just recently started producing on monitors again and noticed how off my mixes sound compared to when I'm using headphones. I think at least for me noticed that my ears get tired much faster when using headphones.
    Definitely. And here again - open back headphones tire your ears a bit less. But still - there's always a tendency to boost the volume with time, which is not good for your ears.

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  11. #8
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    It can be done if you are using a good flat response headphone. If you do, I suggest Studio Monitor headphones like Audio Technica ATH-M50x
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  12. #9
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    Depends on the headphones. From what I've researched open back and flat frequency are the specs you are looking for in a mixing headphones.




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    Last edited by Dre Major; 09-27-2018 at 01:10 PM.

  13. #10
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    A lot of people with poor room acoustics supplement their monitoring by mixing with headphones.

    I know a lot of professional producers that use both headphones (for checking noise, reverb tails and so on) plus monitoring. You definitely need monitors for stereo imaging.

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