Headphones For Mixing Buyers Guide
For mixing purposes the definition, comfort and durability become the center of your concerns and we have done our best to select a few notable sets covering a cross-section of budget ranges but to give you a better idea of exactly what to look for we have gone into a lot of depth in this articles buyer guide.
What type of headphones do I need for mixing?
Typically producers will mix via a set of studio monitor speakers, however, for critical listening, a set of headphones can give the listener the ability to hone in on a specific musical trait. They draw better attention to the nuances within the expression of instruments.
In a recording environment, you need to be looking at studio monitoring headphone sets as they are more accurately tuned to respond, sometimes you will see the term reference in the place of monitoring.
This is because technically speaking you should listen with speakers as they give a better spacial dimension to the audio but a reference set gives you a good idea of how the track will sound to those listening via headphones it is therefore also a crucial way to give your work contemplation.
Because a closed-back set of ear-cups keeps the audio with and directs it to the listener they can be a vital tool for trying to determine the root causes of problems such as hisses, hums, crackles, and pops.
For a more natural audio experience, it is preferable to have an open-backed set they typically have a more extensive response and give the listener a good middle ground between critical immersive listening and the spatial awareness that studio monitoring speakers boast.
What are the Benefits of Mixing with Headphones?
Obviously, there are benefits to having a set of headphones in as much as they provide a private solution ideal if you are in a busier environment or need to keep the volume down.
Mixing a mastering can often be a lengthy process and the neighbors might not be pleased about hearing the same part of a tune on repeat at unsociable hours.
In this sort of home-studio, set-up situation headphone mixing can sometimes be the only way to go making them an essential item.
They are also easier to lug about if you do any local recording as they are lighter-weighted more compact and easily portable.
For this reason, when it comes to DJ use headphones are critical for live mixing and monitoring purposes.
Can I Use a Regular Set of Headphones for Mixing?
Generally speaking, you need to look for a dedicated set for a better result. Studio manufactured headphone sets typically feature a high-frequency roll-off which helps to reduce the volume level of higher frequencies which are naturally louder and non-idyllic close to your ears from a headphone speaker driver.
Most headphones have a frequency response of around 20hz -20khz but they have what we call a curved frequency response which is lovely for listening pleasure but not strict enough to genuinely replicate the input signals.
If you mix listening to a curved response set then master the track it will sound notably different afterward via a set of speakers.
Studio-ready models will typically have a flattened response which, very simply put, means what goes in comes out. They stay far truer to input and this gives them the high-fidelity required to really work with them.
They don’t enhance the audio though they may sometimes have a bass boost to allow you to focus in and out of the lower frequencies whilst you are engineering. They try to remain neutral and impartial with a more natural-sounding and honest cross-spectrum reproduction which is far better for audio analysis.
What To Look For in a Set Of Headphones For Mixing?
In addition to the flattened response mentioned above and the extended frequency response glossed over, you should be looking for a good transient response which in essence relates to how quickly the driver components react to an electrical stimulus.
A higher resolution set is better suited to studio use but for DJ use is not quite as important.
Comfort is a vital factor to consider as mixing typically takes a long time. Open-back models can be comfier as they allow for better circulation and have a lower clamp force too.
Technically speaking mixing ought to be done on an open-backed set anyway as they provide a better representation of the audio within a space, this makes critiquing and editing the audio easier as you get a more natural reproduction in comparison to that of a closed-back pair.
They generate an idea or perception of width and depth giving the audio a dimension-like quality known as a sound stage or soundscape.
Open-backed headphones have grilles like a traditional speaker, this exposes their grilles allowing sound to escape and giving ears breathing space which is also better for long periods at the mixing desk.
At the end of the day, comfort is subjective and can rest on the quality of the materials your budget can provide. A premium set may afford you a little more luxury but at the very least even with a budget model, you should be looking for adequate cushions. A strong yet flexible headband which is neither too loose nor too tight, which can adjust a sufficient deal.
We have highlighted some good low-priced options today but there are advantages to coughing up a little extra some premium models have parts which can be replaced and if they are going to be a serious workhorse set it’s worth a thought.
If your circumstances insist that you require a closed-back mixing solution then we have you covered, today’s headphones make for great options and we have aimed to find a good range at varying price levels.
There are a number on the market advertising idyllic mixing capabilities but not too many living up to it especially in the lower regions which can make choosing a set pretty tough.
We have packed this week’s buyers guide full of useful information which we hope will give you all you need to source a set, although as music experts we stress that a set of monitors is always preferable for mixing.
It is important to remember that headphone mixing can often lack the depth a set of monitoring speakers can provide if you have no other options we suggest looking at an open-backed set instead of the closed-backs we have highlighted here today.
Did you Know
You should give Our 10 Best Beyerdynamic Headphones article is well-worth a good nose, as it contains some awesome studio reference, their engineering is truly exceptional and the critical listening sets are something else we strongly recommend the DT 990 Pro model.