Composing: Headphones vs. Monitors

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Composing: Headphones vs. Monitors

Post by anti-banausic » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:29 pm

So, for the longest time, and myriad reasons, I always composed to headphones. Then I would either try to mix with headphones (never again!!!!! in a million years), or mix on the monitors.

However, I must say this for anyone who is just beginning. I was basically forced to not use monitors due to living conditions, the time of day that I had to mix, and for awhile no monitors. But writing to headphones has such limitations.

First, mixing is far easier when you create or choose the sounds that work well together. I know that eqing can separate sounds later in a mix, but sometimes the timbre of two sounds that you like sit so close to each other, and it may sound fine on headphones, but trying to extricate the sounds is very much more difficult than starting with two that compliment each other (which is harder to detect on headphones).

I have two sets of headphones, both sennheiser, the HD280 pro, and the HD265 linear. On one the highs are too accentuated, and on the other the lows are too heavy. I tried for awhile switching back and forth, but the low end is way mushy on one, and can't hear much on the other.

I guess I am just stressing that mixing is easier when you compose on monitors because sound design and choice can be guided by what works, and not what "sounds like you want" on headphones.

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Post by Sales Dude McBoob » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:43 pm

Use both.

Working with your monitors set to a super low volume is actually more effective at disecting the mix.

I'm glad you're using monitors now... I'm sure your eardrums really appreciate the change as well!

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Post by aqua_tek » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:07 pm

hear hear.

that used to be my approach as well until recently, which is why I've been having a hell of a terrible time trying to "fix" my mixes now on my monitors.

Lesson learned. No more composition on headphones. I just use them as A/B tools now.

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Post by synnack » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:04 pm

I agree with the comments that you should use both.

However a big part of this has to do with listening levels, If you use headphones and have it cranked up your ears will burn out quick and you'll mix something thats crap. But if you keep the levels low you can actually get by with the right headphones for a long time for composing.

For mixing though both is required.

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