Any good headphones for mixing yet?

I know not to do final mixes in headphones (I just do pan positions, reverb trails etc)
but I am wondering how far technology has progressed in that area.

Is there something like:
“Headphone Room Simulation” technology etc.

Has anyone tried anything new; that is usable?


I’m hearing very good things about this little gadget.

Lots of speaker and room emulations in there too.

Thinking I might see one of these in my rig in the not too distant future!

Also, an interesting article here about mixing with headphones. Biggest issues mentioned are 1) lack of bass response (addressed by comparing to reference material, and listening on different sources, and higher quality headphones), and lack of cross-talk (which is mimicked by those plug-ins, and I think you can even “build one” within Cubase).

Direct answer to your question: there is softwear to simulate the “head masking” effect, and the fact that with non-headphone listening, we hear some of each channel in each ear. The article Includes links to plug-ins that are supposed to do that.

They mention Sennheiser HD650s and AKG K 701s by name as good choices. Article is 3-4 years old now, I’m not sure how to find out what the replacements are. They are both open-backed, which means the sound leakage might make it hard to track with them - but hey, a cheapo pair ought to do for that!

For me, the question isn’t “should I mix on good headphones, vs. on excellent speakers in a perfectly treated room?”, but rather “… vs. with average speakers (at best) in a bad room …”

Very cool sounding. $100 for the box, plus of course the cost of the headphones. I looked up the Sennheisers HD 650s, they are somehwere around $600. So, that would be $700 total … I guess that’s cheaper than decent studio monitors PLUS treating a room … and you get to do it at night …

10-20 msec of latency … I wonder if Cubase can ping it or something to compensate?

Actually, the cancellation modes in my room are so bad that I actually get a better bass response using headphones

Indeed. I can understand that. but still check your mixes in an open space rather than headphones.

In fact you’re probably better off running out to the car and playing it on the system their every few tweaks.

Cars have a pretty good acoustic space, considering all the seats and stuff make good absorbers and they are too small to produce nasty bass resonances

it won’t make your music any better. Spend the money on fun :slight_smile:

I actually did a test of closed back vs open back headphones. I recorded two tracks, using identical volume settings.

You could not tell the difference between the tracks.

Seriously, when a drum set is miked, you get bleed everywhere. Yet still, somehow, great drum tracks are made.

I only use headphones as a reference… I think its a bit unpredictable to mixdown or master on Headphones. My reference is a Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro.

Right. I mix mostly on my monitors, but also check on a pair of small desktop speakers… plus, I check on two cars, actually, that have much different sound in them… as well as a little single speaker clock radio.

The problem is always the bass. If I mix on my monitors and get a decent bass level, in the car it’s so loud it craps my speakers. That’s why I’m still wondering if one of those “correction” options might not be better than nothing at all.

These are some very cool free test tones I downloaded a few years ago. They have test tones from 16 Hz (I can hear it with headphones!) up to 20KHz, and also other very cool tracks: including a completely out of phase 1KHz tone (as a test for trim, gain, panners - if everything is working correctly, like panners centered, faders and trims at the same level, should hear nothing at all. If not - well at least it’s good to know!), white noise, pink noise, D/C offset (I’m not really sure how to use those?), etc.

There’s a nice .doc file explaining how to use them too.

So, I ran the tones from 16 Hz and up through my headphones. It’s easy to see why mixing on headphones is impossible … the 20 Hz and 40 Hz sounds were about a zillion times softer than the 1 KHz sounds.

Cool, thanks :slight_smile:
I can hear the 16Hz with headphones, but I have to turn the volume up high. Will try on my speakers later, should be interesting.
Headphones are clearly having trouble though, I didn’t dare turning them up very high because it didn’t sound clean at all.

Yeah, I have to say, I barely heard the 16 KHz tone, and I have written them for my money back, because I can’t hear anything on the 20 KHz tone! :laughing:

Oh, wait, it was free!

I guess what impressed me the most is how “unflat” my headphones were - some of the tones in the middle of the hearing range seemed decades louder than the others.

There isn’t much, musically speaking, below around 40 hz. The bottom 8 or so notes on a grand piano, the bottom end of a double basson.

I have a reference recording of the Saint Souns pipe organ, recorded on some kind of ultra geek digital recorder. It’s said to be one of the cleanest 16 hx recordings available. I use that to test levels of the sub on my main system (I have an HSU VTF-2 sub which will reproduce down to about 12 cycles). I can tell you that 16 hz is no longer really a pitch…you can feel your nose hairs moving and sense it more than hear it.

Lot’s of engineers will tell you that they, as a matter of habit, generally put a high pass filter on the majority of tracks and roll off the low end below 40 hz because there’s really nothing much down there. Leaving it in, tends to muddy the mix and eats up a lot of energy (see how much more real perceived volume you can get out of the same track…one mix has no high pass filtering (ie…all the low freq stuff is left in on all tracks) and the second mix uses HPF on as many tracks as possible. Eliminating all that stuff makes room for the freq’s that matter.

I dont mix on headphones, though I’ll often check a mix on phones (panning, detailed listening to a particular part or sound). I use a pair of AT MTH50’s. Very nice, closed back. Smooth sounding…not absurdly expensive.

Bob Katz has a chart in his mastering book that shows the pitches and frequencies of all the orchestral instruments. Can be handy if you’re working on a mix and you have a one note bass problem… he has a video on you tube that describes this.

Here’s a link to the chart…not sure if you can download it from here…

Hi; I recommend you to buy a Audio Technica ATH-M50. My tracks are sounding exactly same at the dancefloor even if I mix with headphones. I barely use my Adam studio monitors. Perfect for producing mixing…

Aloha E and tanx for that. That’s exactly what I mean.

Wondering now if the same would be true using the ATH-M50’s for other genres of music.

Thanks again for chiming in.

Just go and play the mix in the car :slight_smile: - much easier.

Great point and a very wise thing to do.
But remember most folks listen to music in the car while the car moving.
So do a lil driving around and listening as well.


I bought Grado SR60s 16 years ago. They’ve been used every day since then, they’ve been sat on, had beer/coffee/tea spilled on them, dropped and generally abused. I’ve NEVER heard any other headphones that sound as clear, articulate, detailed and responsive. When they eventually break I will replace them with - SR60s! :sunglasses:

Aloha Z,
and thanks for that info.