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Mixing with headphones in 2020
Old 30th June 2020
Lives for gear
KrisNY's Avatar

Mixing with headphones in 2020

Hey all!

Wow, it has been a very, very long time since I last logged in. Years. There are a bunch of new forums here that I don't recognize! Wanted to get some input from those who do a lot of mixing on headphones.

I find myself in a new living situation where I'm mixing on headphones 100% of the time. I currently have a couple of pairs I'm switching between for perspective - my trusty old 80 ohm Beyerdynamic DT 770's, and a recently acquired pair of AT M50x's.

My next purchase will definitely be a pair of open back headphones - I really like Grado SR80's for listening, but I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience with them as far as mixing goes. I'm a big fan of the Beyerdynamics and my ears are familiar with their sonic profile, so a pair of 990's is also in serious consideration.

My other big question is regarding Sonarworks, Can Opener, and Waves Abbey Road Studio 3. These corrective headphone plugins are essentially a whole new world to me, and I'd love to know who's a fan of which of these, and why. I suppose you likely have to go in blind and demo them all to see which will work for your ears, but I'd definitely welcome any feedback on these three.

Be well in these crazy times,
Old 1st July 2020
Here for the gear
I've been mixing on headphones quite a bit in the past couple of years and have arrived at a couple conclusions, all of which, admittedly, are not market driven or targeted to audiophiles and industry professionals.

The first is that mixing exclusively on headphones is entirely acceptable, and can work just fine. I do use studio monitors as well and listen to mixes on other sources like car stereos. I have also used speaker simulation software, though not the ones you specifically mention. This approach and practice doesn't require a particularly sophisticated explanation and seems like a common sense one, but it is not mandatory for good results.

The second is that the type of headphone you are using does not necessarily make for better results. I have also used the Beyerdynamic DT 770 80 ohms version, as well as the Sennheiser HD280 pros. I found them both to be very useful for mixing, though slightly different. I have also used the DT990's and the Sennheiser HD600's, which are both open back models.

So, my conclusions are rooted in the generally supported practice of using reference tracks to assist you with your mixes. When I used a particular set of headphones enough for casual listening, I learned their sound. I particularly liked the way the Sennheiser HD280 pro sounded on guitar oriented rock music. So I'd listen to that type of reference track on the 280 pros to mix that type of music. It seemed reasonable to assume that if I liked the way a reference track sounded on a particular set of phones or speakers then I could use them for mixing as well?
Old 1st July 2020
Gear Addict
WiZKiD's Avatar

I think this topic has been kicked around a lot here. I reference to headphones and of course would use them if I HAD to make mix calls, but no matter what I'd rather use a pair of open back than closed back any day. Senn HD650 is a good starting place, I have the mass drop version and they are pretty decent. There are definitely better mixing headphones than these.

I haven't gotten great results in headphones without many car listens, and referencing across many systems. Closed back only made this worse for me. It has been my experience, as soon as I get a pair of focals (or other great speaker) in a treated room, I laugh at all I didn't hear in headphones. This is just my experience, and YMMV. I've seen DJs that make hits in headphones while sitting in million dollar studios. But those same DJ's produce music on airplanes, green rooms and pretty much anywhere else they find themselves. I think a lot depends on how well you KNOW what your using. As mentioned above, a good reference mix will help.
Old 1st July 2020
Gear Maniac

I have been mixing on headphones for a few years now. I have found that using crossfeed software has been the single most important factor in being able to do that, followed by using corrective EQ. I have used most of the different crossfeed plugins, and (at least for the time being) I have found that my mixes translate the best using CanOpener Studio (by Goodhertz), followed by either Sonarworks, or a good minimum-phase EQ with a custom profile copied from the AutoEQ website. I like Abbey Road Studio 3, as an all-in-one option, as it has EQ compensation built in, however it has been out for quite a while now, and has not received a single update, and it only has about 9 different headphone models to choose from, which I find absolutely ridiculous, especially given the price, and given that it is made by Waves, which is one of the biggest makers of plugins (if not THE biggest).

I have also been testing Re-Head by Blue Cat, but I haven't been able to get it to sound right. I'm hoping that maybe a future update will make it work better, because it is sold at a really great price, and also has crossfeed and EQ all-in-one. I have faith, because Blue Cat tends to make really great stuff

A wonderful free (with highly encouraged donation!) option is the Monitoring (Redux) plugin by Chris, over at Airwindows. He is truly a genius, and he makes wonderful stuff. The "Cans C" preset in the Monitoring plugin sounds remarkably close to Canopener, and requires zero adjustments. The reason I use Canopener is because it has a few nice extra features, like a "Safe Gain" option, and dithering.

With regard to EQ correction, I do like Sonarworks (in linear phase mode), I think ToneBoosters Morphit is pretty good, and, once again, I also like inputting custom curves into a good minimum phase EQ. I have yet to try the new DSoniq plugin, as it seems expensive, and I'm pretty happy with my current setup.

Old 1st July 2020
I’m not exclusively mixing on headphones but I also have the m50x and rely on them a lot for mixing. I was also wondering about the Grados, the 125 and 225 models, and my friend who has the Grados suggested Phillips Fidelio x2. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet but I’m thinking about it.
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