There are many reasons to mix music on headphones. As many as there are contraindications for this type of action. But finally – what is truth, and what is just a myth?
Myth one – no mix made on headphones will sound good. The fact is that any mix should work on a variety of speaker systems – from small pickups, a car system to large-scale stereo sets. It is also true that before we start work, you should do your own thing
It is the same with the headphones – if we have done a lot of work on them, listened to the tracks, knowing their advantages and disadvantages, we are able to create the correct mix – which, after checking on a larger listening system, will simply sound good or will require slight corrections.
Myth two – Headphones disturb the concept of panorama It is true – when working with headphones, in most cases we are isolated from the world around us and thanks to that the effect of the panorama seems more aggressive – and thus every shift of the instrument in the panorama is clear. When listening to loudspeakers, we are doomed to all reflections of sound from the walls and the nature of human hearing – and thus – we will never achieve almost-perfect stereo separation as it is in the case of headphones. Remember that a very large number of people will listen to the material on external speakers and it is important to check our mixes on different sets of speakers in order to adjust the panorama.
Myth three – Headphones highlight errors in recordings This is a very good advantage of this listening system. More than once, when checking the mix on the headphones, I was able to hear very delicate – but always artifacts that were created during the recordings and needed to be removed – but they were not audible on the “large” monitors!
Not a myth, but very important that … … Do not listen to our work on headphones at very high volume. The rest – this also applies to monitors, but it is much more important in the case of headphones. Apart from the health aspects – after all, you know how easy it is to damage your hearing (with particular emphasis on in-ear headphones) having everything “unscrewed” at the maximum level. It is confirmed that despite the exciting and powerful sound, our head and ears are not able to withstand such high volumes for a long time – so if we choose the mix on the headphones, it is recommended to use over-ear headphones – they are much less invasive. The second important thing about this topic is that “what’s louder is better” – unfortunately, but not. The high level of listening only gives this appearance – this is how we are made and sometimes you like to listen to music out loud – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but not during the mix. Probably every sound engineer has experienced this effect and after a while will admit that when the mix sounds good quiet, it will also sound good loud – unfortunately not the other way around!
Remember that… The inexpensive equipment will make a professional average. Only the experience gained through years of work will allow you to achieve great results – and the equipment and professional studio equipment will come with time. Mixing music on headphones is a process that allows you to get very satisfactory results, and there is nothing wrong with that. I know many people who work only with headphones and their work does not differ much from those carried out on professional listening systems. Remember to listen to a lot of music before starting work, the work of other sound engineers on your headphones because this will allow you to get to know the characteristics of the transducers used in them and thus adjust to their frequency sharpening and possible disadvantages. However, it is good to have additional listening sources to check your work and adjust it so that it sounds good on most devices available on the market – which, contrary to appearances, is a very difficult and time-consuming task.