The battle between headphones and monitors arise in almost all home studio owners anywhere in the globe. This fight is full of uncertainties and misinformation. In fact, the endless discussion is so tiresome. These two seemingly works effective on mixing but the two truly creates big differences. And now you’re in a halfway of craziness thinking which one really wins. Let us help you determine what’s on the top and hope it’ll shed up some light.
Poor and inaccurate might be the headphones are but if all you have is a headphone, then don’t let that stop you from mixing. Renting is another head-breaking issue and buying high-end mixing equipment can sometimes be a burden but you can always make the best out of what you currently have. Bear in mind that when it comes to mixing, it’s not about what you use, how you use it matters most.
Advantages of headphone
A simple small gear like headphone becomes the subject of mixing and mastering on it becomes increasingly relevant. The mobility of music production equipment increase and headphones certainly has a role to perform.
- Noise prevention
Headphones are just within your reach. It allows you to make construction within it to give you a neutral listening environment. Headphones are always to the rescue. Purchasing high-density insulation or acoustic panels are such a financial snag. Headphones can help you obtain beyond just music. In just a few dollars you can gain entry into the world of professional mixing.
By having a good pair of headphone with the flattest frequency response and preferably, with the open-back shells protects your ears from disastrous sound pressure. Now, with headphones you don’t have to worry about analyzing your room and have the power to ignore room inaccuracies completely. Moreover, headphones allow you to hear detail in tracks that you may have missed with using speakers.
Disadvantages of headphone
The benefits above are undeniably comforting but there are some disadvantages as well. Being well-oriented on those bad sides can help you weigh things up before jumping on the trap.
- Crossfeed complications
- Translating errors
- Acoustic problems
If you think you can always get the desired accuracy, knowing the fact that it is not will change your mind. Yes, headphones make your ears wrapped but you still have to deal with cross-feed complications where there are moments you’re hearing some of the sound emitted by the other side of the headphone. This is somewhat like your left ear picks up some of the sound produced on the right so this can have a twist and negative effect on the brain.
Using headphones will not exclude you to experience environmental problems. If you mix with headphones you’re leaving one part of your studio room because how your mix sounds are expressed by the room around you. It is always easier to hear the frequency around you and how it reacts to its surroundings if you consider blasting it in your room, but headphones are not capable of it. Mixing with headphones only takes the most of your time.
Mixing on headphones is a tough job because it is not easy to judge the stereo width of a track especially when it is being pumped into your ears. However, when you consider a standard set of monitors you can hear the right channels in different proportions, this is why as you can see to normal studio environment – there are left and right speakers.
Studio monitors will help you avoid such time-consuming disadvantages and you’re going to be free from stress more often. Headphones are undoubtedly useful for checking details and they are considered as the zoom tool for audio but when it comes to serious mixing, they have nothing to do with it. You need the room around to win the fight.
Relying on headphones alone would drive you to make misjudged mixes easily. Too narrow stereo field is one of the most common mistakes leaving vocals overly dry. The best and fair judging effect can only be obtained through listening on a pair of studio monitors. You want to produce the track that sounds great and you can’t get such achievement without having equipment that is made to perform that job, the studio monitors.
A set of studio monitors are always reasonable and a better option for listening to that last. However, you can still use both headphone and monitor in the recording. These two always have a good partnership. It is perfectly possible to write a track on headphones and then check it on your monitors for the final stage.
Always mind the detail of your mix. Headphones can help you perfectly on panning, reverb and delay effects of the mix over those loud speakers. You just have to increase the wet levels of your plug-ins so that the effects will have the chance to translate more effectively. Know what to mix on headphones and know what to leave on monitors as well. Don’t forget that mixing involves a trial and error process so, manage your expectations.
The headphone is capable of correcting an error in the tracks. This simple thing has an ability to set aside clarity and isolation from acoustic coloration. It can fix distortion, pops and clicks problems easily. It performs dynamic signal processing as well. However, headphones also have limitations. They are not so good for tone-shaping processes because the frequency response of the sound, either from the distance of the source or the properties of space differs.
This is where you should leave all those limitations to studio monitors. Why? For various reasons. Studio monitors have exceptional capacities and abilities that any kind of headphones can’t provide. Headphones can be used as a mixing tool substitute. Take note: they can only be used as a substitute. They are not perfect for serious mixing. So, who would win in the fight? Well, studio monitor sounds better than headphones but you need them both.