Unpopular Opinion. Beginners Should Be Mixing Through Headphones
Author: Brandon S Hire
I said it. I stand by it. People will scoff at it, despite countless examples of respected engineers mixing amazing sounding records this way. Heck, people are even mastering hit records through headphones.
But you don’t hear people talk about it as much because people still buy into the lie that it’s impossible. Instead, they defer back to the tried and true method of using monitors in a good sounding room. Tried and true methods are what they are for a reason, and it’s definitely worth it to treat a space and use monitors…if you can.
But what if you’re a beginner with no mentor to help you develop your ear? Or what if you don’t have space, or resources, for such an intensive endeavor? Even if you’re making your own acoustic treatment to save money, you’re investing time and some money into building treatment for a room that likely wasn’t designed with acoustics in mind.
The problems with monitoring environments for beginners begin to add up quickly. You have to have a dedicated space that you’ve spent time meticulously tuning. You have to calibrate your space, and you have to be sure you’re able to monitor at the right volume levels so that your ears aren’t lying to you about how much top and bottom are present. That means you’re playing music loud enough that you could hear it through the walls of most residential spaces, which can cause disruptions. You can read more about these issues at the full article on The Noise Floor A/V.
"Headphones don’t require a large investment of time and space and money to set up accurately. And it’s VASTLY cheaper to get a great pair of headphones than it is to get a properly treated acoustically correct space to work in."
But let’s face facts. If you’re not already working in an amazing sounding room that has been tuned and calibrated, there are likely budgetary reasons for this. However, working on headphones allows people of all skill levels to focus on working by taking the room out of the equation completely. You won’t hear any room reflections, making reverbs easier to hear. Headphones don’t require a large investment of time and space and money to set up accurately. And it’s VASTLY cheaper to get a great pair of headphones than it is to get a properly treated acoustically correct space to work in.
S4X - New reference headphones by OLLO Audio
My recommendation is a good set of OLLO S4‘s. I get mixing and mastering set up that I can trust for only a few hundred bucks. I don’t have to worry about how one room might differ from another room in various studios. I don’t have to worry about what lies my room might be telling me, spending time and money stressing about tuning the room, etc. I don’t have to worry about disrupting my family or my neighbors. I can just put them on and get to work.
Brandon S. Hire
OLLO Audio distributer