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Mixing headphones

Four Essential Tips for Mixing with Headphones

ByWith the ever-increasing mobility of music-production equipment, the subject of mixing and mastering on headphones becomes increasingly relevant. While there is no real substitute for mixing and mastering on tuned near- or mid-field monitors in an acoustically treated room, headphones certainly have a role to play in production. Whether for convenience, portability, noise considerations, or other reasons, here are a few ideas to keep in mind when mixing with headphones.

Monitoring for the Mix

One of the primary goals in mixing is to make sure that the track will sound good to all listeners, regardless of what kind of playback system they listen to it on – professional quality studio monitors, inexpensive home hi-fi speakers, live sound systems, car stereos – the mix must work well in all of these disparate listening environments. And that includes headphones, from full-range studio-quality phones to the cheap, tinny earbuds that come with many personal music players.

Considerations for Mixing with Headphones

Your perfect headphone mix might suddenly sound unfamiliar to you when played over a PA system. Why? Once your audio leaves a set of monitors, the room acoustics and reflections might alter the characteristics of those fiery beats. Every room is different and has a soun especially if there’s little to no acoustic treatment. Some rooms can overrepresent certain frequencies (peaks caused by standing waves) and underrepresent certain frequencies (dips caused by nulls).

As a producer, be aware that many people will be listening to your tracks in a less-than-ideal environment, so you owe it to yourself to audition your headphone mixes in the real world as much as possible.

What exactly are studio headphones?

The term studio headphones gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? Studio headphones are headphones meant to be used for creating, recording, mixing, and mastering music – in other words, things commonly done within the context of a music studio. Of course these days, a proper studio space is hardly necessary.

With little more than a laptop and some software, you can record and produce anywhere at any time.