Monitors VS Headphones
So we can choose from Monitors or Headphones just either or with thousands of choices of each and even more blog posts, videos and books on why each one is better or worse when it comes to Mixing and Mastering your music. I have all ready done a video on this subject in my Learn How To Mix Videos series which I will post at the bottom of this page. But in this post I want to go a little deeper into why Headphones are your best choice and why you may never understand why they are……mmmmm WHAT?
Let’s go back to when you first saw a picture or video of a real Studio, there they were… those glorious Monitors sitting atop that amazing Mixer and embedded in the wall there were more Monitors maybe. This image was copied to your analog database, your mind, and tagged with the word “Studio” so it could be accessed fast I know it was for me. So lets look into to this Studio in the image. First off it is a professionally built studio run by Professional Engineers, this is very important to understand because you can buy those Yamaha’s sitting on top of that mixer but that’s were it ends, you just buy them. You see when you buy them they will not be in the room you see in this image and most likely they will be in a room more like the picture below.
Ok here we are in our glorious home studio, we have pro monitors that have been used on countless platinum albums and that’s a truth, but……they are not in a professionally built control room. So you are left with pro monitors in a room that totally voids their amazing capabilities, sure you could buy some foam and bass traps and glue them to your four walls in your square room with perpendicular walls but that will not some how unlock the much needed pro studio level in your mind. Ok I am sorry I might be being a little harsh but I want to get you thinking about this. There is a very powerful market out there that wants you to buy monitors for your studio, there are thousands and thousands of people saying you need studio monitors in your studio…..why? Have you ever asked yourself why you should have or need to have studio monitors in your studio? Most likely if you are like me you have and then you headed to the web and found post after post stating you do need them, plus they look cool right? So you buy your monitors and place them on your studio desk and time passes. Like most people you add things to your room, move stuff around but your monitors stay right there never moving while you change your sonic monitoring environment never really thinking about it, after all you have pro monitors and you think they sound great.
Things are going well you have a killer little home studio with pro monitors and you are writing, recording and mixing your own music it’s a dream come true. You belong to social networks and share and talk with people that are doing the same thing and of course have studio monitors. You upload your music and share it and soon the day comes when you make the post on a forum “I would like you guys to listen to this mix, I have tried everything but my mixes sound muddy, please help“. Next comes reply after reply of why your mix sounds muddy and most likely no one is suggesting you use Headphones to mix with. They are probably offering EQ settings, room treatments and even new studio monitors. I am hoping you are opening up a little to the reality of Studio Monitors in that they are not just two speakers, they are two speakers and a room and most likely a room that is for ever changing which means your monitoring source is not a stable true representation of your mix. Now lets talk about your Mixing Ears, your ability to hear the mix, to hear frequencies isn’t this the most important thing when mixing? Think about it…when mixing don’t you want the truest representation of your mix in a stable environment that never changes, I know I do and I do not have a professionally built studio to mix in.
Think about the Monitors VS Headphones topic and ask yourself this one question….. Which of these two monitoring sources under your circumstances gives you the best representation in a consistent stable environment to mix or learn how to mix your music? If you don’t mix in a professionally built studio surely your answer is Headphones I would think. We have only been talking about Monitors from a listening stand point so what about Headphones why could they be better for you? First let me say there are professionally built Headphones made for mixing audio and one of the greatest things about them is the room does not effect them…..awesome! This really is a huge asset for the home studio engineer let me explain.
Home Studios are not Professional Built Studios that cost hundreds to millions of dollars to make and the reason they cost that much pretty much revolves around two objectives and they are “keep the noise out and have a great consistent stable monitoring source”, sure they want great rooms to record in also but we are talking about mixing here and pro studio mixing rooms are built and tuned for just that. Your Home Studio is a place for you to write, play, record and mix your music that is in a bedroom or room in your house or apartment that has poor isolation from the outside world and horrible rooms to monitor your mix in compared to a pro studio but don’t let that get you down. There are Virtual Instruments and Headphones that take away the need for the isolation and a great room and this is a truth. Even more Virtual Instruments and audio recordings done in your home studio can be mixed on Headphones with pro results.
The reality here is Studio Monitors are great but only if they are in a tuned room can their abilities truly be realized and used. Knowing your monitoring source is rule number one so why not start with Headphones, learn them and learn how to mix? Save your Monitors to just listen to your mixes.
I mix in my Sony MDR-V6 Headphones check them out they are in almost every pro studio and are tried and true Pro Studio Headphones second to none and they have been around for 35 or more years and you can still buy them for under $100
Ok thanks for taking the time to read if you have any questions, opinions please feel to post below…..I can take it 🙂