The goal with any set of headphones when you are mixing music is the quality. So when you decide to mix with your studio headphones there are some guidelines you should be aware of and a few tips to help you along the way.
Studio headphones are mainly for professionals who either live in the studio, are audio engineers and overall diehard musicians that appreciate good quality when hearing their tracks, loops and music. These kinds of headphones can be versatile to your entertainment listening needs. Studio headphones can withstand the wear and tear of your sessions. They are built strong and last for a long time. So when you are mixing, these powerful headphones give you the top of the line listening experience any professional would come to expect. However, because they are so precise and clear, in your mixing efforts, you will hear every flaw when it comes to doing your mastering and compression. It grabs all the bad edits, distortion and background noise you would have missed if using cheaper headphone equipment.
If you have over exaggerated boosts that are not actually real, this can give you the wrong results you are looking for. Studio headphones deliver flat frequency responses. They are specifically designed for mixing music. An audio engineer knows this right off the bat that this is what they need. Buy studio headphones that are created for the purpose of mixing music, don’t get cheap.
Protect Your Ears
Obviously, you don’t want such bad headphones you are on the verge of being deaf. Mixing music takes up a lot of time and in that process you need to protect your ears and hearing. Don’t strain them in long periods without at least taking a break. You can suffer some serious hearing damage if you are not careful. Maintain your mix volume at a soft level. This will still give you a good sound, allow you to mix longer and save your eardrums. Keep in mind, your ears are often fresh early in the morning, which is probably the best time to start mixing. As for breaks, five minutes is not enough. You can follow OSHA Permissible Noise Exposure chart for the adequate amount of time you should be breaking per dB. You can also can simply walk without listening to anything at all. It doesn’t hurt to shut things off once in a while to allow your ears to recover.
Once you have listened to a good sound of music through headphones, you will know what great quality should sound like. This gives you the advantage to make better sounding mixes all the time. It’s because you know what excellent quality sounds like through headphones.
Sometimes balance can be lost in the mixing process. That’s why your job is to make sure your are receiving and hearing all sounds in a mix. Good quality studio headphones can help with this and make your mixing session go more smoothly.
It’s always smart if your are using studio headphones for mixing to grab material you can reference to for your experience. This is important for the low and low-mid frequency ranges. A reference track ensures that nothing is over exaggerated or coming in too quiet in your mix and you’re getting a great balance. Gather some references to give you similar instrumentation regardless if its in a different genre.
Stereo Image Issues
Often times headphone mixing can lose panning when played on speakers. This leaves you with an unbalanced mixed sound. That’s why it’s important to always use your reference tracks. Your sounds may also come through headphones a little louder. Your goal is to make sure the process is subtle and avoid stereo image plugins. Make sure you don’t put in drastic effects processing when mixing. You want your sounds to remain punchy. Remember that way too much EQ changes the timbre and tone of your sound. Too much compression gives a bad pumping effect, destroys transients and decreases the dynamics of your mix overall. Try to keep things dry, because you could find your ears could mislead you in the process.
Many find themselves never using studio headphones and opt to go the cheaper route damaging their ears and missing important parts of their mix. Using a high quality studio headphone can not only enhance your mixing process, but ultimately improve it over time. As mentioned, studio headphones allow you to hear all glitches and weird edits. They were will certainly let you know if something sounds off balanced. As also stated, consider always using some kind of reference track you can go by. This can be helpful in the end and help you produce the mix you intended when you started. One good tip, is to begin mixing in the morning hours. Our ears are at their finest during this time so starting your mix process as the sun rises doesn’t hurt.
In the long run, mixing music on studio headphone will certainly diffuse any later hearing damage. Your goal is to mix music in it’s finest quality, not to go deaf. With high-end headphone gear your are protecting your ear drums. Keep your mixes subtle and don’t over do it on the EQs. Studio headphones are meant to be worn by professionals who know they are up for the purpose for mixing and durable for all session work. They are a reliable and essential piece of equipment to audio engineers whose job it is to find all flaws in a mix. Being subtle in your process is very good. Try to not put in any over the top drastic effects that can take away from your overall goal of creating punchy sounds. If looking for the right pair of headphones for your mixing experience, it’s best to consider the extra expense of getting studio headphones. In the end, you will find it’s worth the time and certainly worth the cost.