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Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:06 pm
by Tiasdad
I use Sennheiser HD280 Pro's and love them.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:21 pm
by Thomas
I was on the phone with a GC rep a few days ago and he was trying to convince me that mixing with headphones was a mistake. :?

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:08 pm
by Mark Bliss

It could be described as a flawed approach to mixing.
But at the same time a very important part of a usable solution. Especially given that many (the majority) of us don't have access to a room of sufficient size, much less properly treated (and I don't mean some foam panels) or a set (or two) of expensive studio monitors, etc.

In reality, using a proper set of headphones, getting to know them well (referencing familiar material. A lot of familiar material. frequently.) and also referencing our efforts on other sources (home stereo, automobile, even earbuds) is all a viable part of mixing on a budget, especially as a hobby, etc. etc.

Don't even get me started on GC specifically...... Beyond this one suggestion.
Larger stores often have displays set up where you can "demo" various headphones. Treat yourself to a little time spent doing just that. I learned a new respect for upper midgrade cans after just a few moments of a/b testing. Far more difference than I ever expected the first time I did that.
I then proceeded to go buy some gear from a respectable company. 8)

Lastly, I'll throw this out to those who think headphones cant be used for decent mixing results.
There are not only well known mixers who mix predominantly on (Albeit high end no doubt) headphones. And there is at least one popular mastering engineer who is in high demand and makes a decent living while not revealing he works on a laptop, in the box, and on headphones.

Bottom line, either way you choose to work, you still need a decent set (or several) of cans. And in all likelihood, as you gain experience, you will later upgrade to a better set at a later date, not regret you got a set.
Just avoid the consumer grade generic and bass biased stuff, choose a decent "entry level studio grade" set and get to work getting familiar with them already...... :wink:

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:14 pm
by Torton5
I think it's hard to get away from having 2 sets of cans, 1 for tracking (closed back) and 1 for mixing (open back). The problem with closed back is that everything sounds thicker, meatier and bassier than it really is so when you play material back on a stereo system or hifi/car system it sounds weak and thin. Also, the coloring is all wrong because of the reflections inside the cans, which can range from mild to massive impact depending on the cans. That nice thick chorused guitar sound that sounds great in the cans turns out sounding thin, metallic and even slightly out of tune on a standard hifi system.

Closed backs are for tracking only in my view and you want them to suit your vocals. I've got Sennheiser HD380's and they are ok but there is an unpleasant bass thing going on with my voice when tracking. I had the Sony 7506's and I realize now that they were really great for my voice but I sold them looking for greener pastures, tried all sorts but I am going back to those.

If your low on cash and don't want to fork out for new, buy them on Ebay some good deals there, providing the pics are great and you run some disinfectant over the pads, give them a good clean, everything is great. You are MUCH better off buying some slightly more expensive good industry standard or recognized cans for tracking, even like the HD280's, than you are buying new cans not up to par, with horrible echo, small or tinny drivers, low milliwatt rating and head crushing clamp strength or too weak and fall off.

I'd stick with the Sennheiser HD280's/380's (male or low voices) or the Sony 7506's/7509's (female or higher range voices) for tracking, by tracking I mean using them solely for recording to hear your voice/guitar etc back to you while recording. Closed back means no bleed into the microphone when you sing/perform. I have tried others, some AKG but they were awful for tracking, horrid echo in the cans I couldn't get rid of, really put me off.

Of course, it has occurred to me that the vast majority of people using DAW's to mix with don't sing and make EDM sounds so for this group, the ATH50's etc will probably suffice even for beginning mixing.

With open cans, they tend to be thinner with less bass and they are very different to mix on than closed back cans but worth making the change because you can turn out a good translatable mix with these, they are less colored and give truer representation of your actual sounds. When you get used to the bass side or lack thereof, you can get real balance across the frequency spectrum from them. I've tried AKG701's and HD600's in the past, they are both good, some others but I can't remember them, I think the AKG 240's? All those cans are gone as they were for work. I've been using some Sennheiser HD598's because they were cheap on ebay, thought I would give them a spin, not too bad, heard if you use them with the "Morphit" software, they are supposed to be great.

There are 2 companies now that have released software, designed to make your cans more "reference" like, I think Sonarworks and Toneboosters, I've downloaded the "Morphit" demo from Toneboosters, haven't had time to hear what it's like yet.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:35 pm
by Mark Bliss
I have used both of those software options, and one thing to consider, if you are thinking along that route, is to purchase a pair of cans supported by the software. They each provide preset EQ correction curves for specific models.

And though its um.... well out of the proposed budget. I'll throw this out there:
I have used the much acclaimed HD650's combined with Sonarworks and can confirm it would put you in a very nice place dollar for dollar for mixing. Upgrade wishlist stuff. 8)

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:13 am
by Torton5
That's a good point Mark, the software only has presets for certain headphones, mine, the HD380's and the HD598's are on the list of the Morphit software. So would be good for others to check if they are interested in this stuff.

Prices in Australia:

AKG 701 $1009.00! wow didn't know they were that expensive.
Sennheiser HD 650 $540.00
Sennheiser HD 600 $450.00
Sennheiser HD 598 $289.00

Hard to find any of these cheap secondhand. I picked up my secondhand HD598's for about $100.00 Aus, they are in perfect condition. So it can be done. Maybe with the Morphit software, they will get me to the promised land! The Sonarworks is $155.00 Aus, just for the headphone plugin, too much for me for this. Don't even know if this type of software will work for me. The Morphit is $47.00 Aus both converted from EURO.

Other things to consider when buying headphones, not sure if bleed will be an issue, might try the HD598's for tracking, see what happens. Also, headphone cords....I think the Sony 7506 is a coiled cord. I only use straight cords, I made my own for the Sennheiser 380's but apparently you can buy a straight cord to replace the coiled one for that model. Different models, different cord options. Also, my 598's have a full size headphone plug, not the small one, might not suit others, another thing to check if you are buying headphones.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:35 am
by Thomas
I've got a pair of Sony MDR-600s that I bought in the early 90s. AFAIK, the audiophiles like to malign them for their bass enhancement. I think they were classified as "Studio" headphones, but I've heard a lot of DJs bought them and now Amazon is asking almost $900 for these discontinued cans. :shock: What I've just now done is take the driver backing covers off. I'm thinking this will tame the bass and open up the sound stage. They are now open, which is no problem because I have a quiet workspace. Already the sound is more open and less in my head.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:04 am
by Torton5
That's another way to sonic heaven, I've noticed a lot of hardware mods flying around for different headphones, if it works why not?

I also just realized yet another issue not yet mentioned. That of headphone impedance, I remember now why I went for the 598's, because they have an impedance of 50 and I was using a USB powered interface. The more expensive, professional phones require an amp to drive them because their impedance might be up around 300 or more and with their capable frequency range, you need a dedicated headphone amplifier to fully realize them.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:10 am
by Ianpb
I'd never use headphones on their own for mixing and mastering, but they are useful for dealing with detail that's not always obvious on loudspeakers and, bearing in mind that plenty of people now tend to listen to music with headphones and earbuds, it is a factor worth checking. I've noticed too that when switching mixes to mono, headphones tend to highlight flaws more significantly than monitors.

Certain hi-fi headphones, as with hi-fi loudspeakers, should advisably be avoided because they are designed to make whatever is put through them sound good. I found this out the hard way when long ago I bought the Shure 440, which comes with the worthless marketing claim of being "Professional Studio Headphones". Through them I created a fantastic, big-sounding mix - and managed to achieve it very quickly. However, upon switching to monitors, I found the mix to be badly balanced and tonally flawed, ie. dire.

Incidentally, I trialled the Sonarworks Reference 4 calibration software on three models I had at the time, namely the AKG702, Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro, and Sennheiser HD201. Alas, it made all of them worse, and when I pointed this out to the company together with detailed explanations, they showed complete disinterest, claiming that their software is used in many top recording studios, which I don't believe one bit.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:09 am
by mixyguy2
Thx for the replies. Yeah definitely looking lower end. The HD280s are on the short list along with the AT 20s (best bang/buck it seems) and the Sony MDR V6, which continue to get more favorable praise than their newer models, that I've seen.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:41 am
by trevlyns
Sorry, I know this is two pages long and I haven't read all the replies.. but the HD280's are closed back and more suited to tracking vocals. For mixing, open back cans would be more appropriate for a more accurate bass..

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:20 am
by mixyguy2
Agreed and thx but I don't really need a Headphones 101, my speakers will be my primary mixing tool to listen, the headphones as just an alternate take. I've neither the funds nor interest in buying 2 sets.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:05 am
by starise
trevlyns wrote:Try this site...
This is a very handy chart. Thank you.

If listening you want it to sound good. If mixing you want it to sound accurate. If it doesn't sound accurate you might as well throw it out because the mix won't translate well to other systems.

I don't recommend mixing only on headphones. They are ok as a late night fill to get a mix started so you don't wake anyone. Sit on the mix a day or two and come back to it on monitors. SPL wasn't mentioned either or the Fletcher Munsen effect. Basically your ears can fool you when they get tired or if the volume is too high.

If you have one short leg it is probably best to either have it lengthened or use a shoe pad. A lot of mixing is knowing both your limitations and the limitations of the equipment. If you know the limitations you can compensate to get the standard. The headphones type isn't as important as knowing this.

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:20 am
by mick
I use AKG K92, I've seen them at £35 lately dropped from £50+ ... es-review/

Re: Headphones for mixing

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:34 am
by mixyguy2
mick wrote:I use AKG K92, I've seen them at £35 lately dropped from £50+ ... es-review/
Great thx; I've heard mixed feelings on AKGs but not familiar w/those in particular. What do/don't you like about them?