Should You Use Headphones to Mix?


One thing I see online a lot is people asking if it’s okay to mix on headphones.  One thing to keep in mind is that some people can only afford or have access to headphones.  If that’s the case then don’t let it stop you.  It’s more about how good your tracks sound than with what you use.

But all things being equal, if you can afford to spend a couple hundred bucks on a pair of monitors, do it. Here’s why.

Headphones are Deceiving

One thing you may notice is that when you’re mixing, everything tends to sound good when using headphones. It might be because you can hear every little detail or the fact that the stereo image sound wider.  Who knows the exact reason?

With all that said, you might get a good mix on your headphones but there isn’t anything to says it will sound good in the real world. That’s what is so frustrating. You may have done a great job getting your mix to sound great but it sounds like poop on speakers. I’m not saying a great headphone mix will sound bad on speakers, I’m just saying that usually it can be misleading.

Use Your Monitors First

When it comes to mixing on monitors, I generally find that the opposite is true.  If I can get the mix to sound good on my monitors then it generally stand a good chance of translating well onto my headphones.  Let me say that again.  When I get a GREAT sounding mix on my monitors, everything seems to fall into place on my headphones.

So why is this the case?  I can’t really tell you why because I’m not the smartest engineer in the world.  What I can tell you though is that I find it’s best practise to start my mix on my monitors and make minor tweaks as I listen to the mix on my headphones.  If I start the other way around, it generally sounds like POOP.

Monitors And Headphones Are Like Best Buds

Try not to think of headphones and monitors as individuals but rather as partners.  They compliment one each other like a husband and wife.  If you just start on the monitors and tweak on the headphones than you should be in a good spot while you’re mixing.

You also need to remember that many people will be listening to your music on headphones so it might be a good idea to make sure that it translates well onto them. I do this with my nice studio headphones that you can find here.

Basically there two devices go hand in hand. Do the bulk of your balancing, EQ, and compression work on monitors. Then move over to your headphones to make sure that nothing is sticking out. After that you can come back to the monitors to make the final tweaks.

Maybe You Need to Keep Quiet?

A big reason that you may not be using monitors and you are using headphones is because of your neighbor, family, kids or even your wife.  No one really wants to listen to your music but you and maybe your fans right?

If you can still mix on your monitors than I would highly suggest doing so.  Just turn then down quiet so that no one hears them. Way down if you have to.

It’s funny because mixing at low volumes is one of the best things you can do for your mixes. You’ll get a more balanced and translatable mix that way. Then if you absolutely need to, go back and do some tweaking on your head phones. I think you’ll be happy with how your mixes sound 🙂

Simple Ways for Using EQ


Why do home studio mixes sound muddy or harsh in comparison to the way the pros do it?  Exactly what is the distinction between the two?  Is it costly plugins? Much better acoustic treatment? A console?

The distinction, in my viewpoint, is how they utilize EQ.

The most powerful tool an engineer has is their equalizer. It’s the best option you can use to get clean and clear mixes.  If you want to mix like a pro than you have to use an EQ just like the professionals do.  So in this article I am going to try and teach you how to better use the equalizer.

It’s a Better Volume Fader

To me, the EQ is just a more advanced version of a fader.  You can turn things up or down but only at specific frequency ranges.

Volume faders help an engineer place a track into general places in the mix in hopes of getting a good starting balance.  This is great for a starting point.  The problem is though that you want to be able to hear the frequency spectrum of the tracks.

This is why an EQ is so great because it allows you to focus on the taking out the things you don’t want an then replace them with the things you do.  AWESOME!  let’s keep rolling

Some Things You Should Know

Although EQ’s look different when you compare all the different versions that are out there.  They actually all do pretty much the same thing.  I’m going to show you the things that you really should be focusing on.

Even though an EQ can be as basic as one band or as intricate as 7 (or even more) bands, all that matters is that you comprehend how a simple one band EQ works. By having more bands, you do have access to more settings, but that will be for another day.

Due to the fact that of all the faders and knobs, it is frightening when looking at a mixing console for the very first time.  That is until somebody carefully mentions to you that as soon as you can comprehend one channel strip from top to bottom, you will understand the whole console since they are all just the same thing as each other.

Let’s get into it!!!!

The Frequency Knob

This is the most evident and crucial knob you have to understand. It merely permits you to choose which frequency you wish to boost up or cut by turning it down.

Do you need to boost the thump of a kick drum? It might be way down in the 60hz range. The frequency knob will take you there. Need to remove some harshness in that lead guitar riff? You can use the frequency knob to get up to that 2khz or so range and to cut what’s hurting your ears.

The frequency knob can certainly take you where you want to go. Like if you want to remove some harshness in the elecetric guitars, you can utilize the frequency knob to hit the 2kHZ region and take out what you feel is hurting your ears.

Keep in mind, merely turning the frequency knob does not change or influence your audio in any way. It just puts the EQ into a range so that you can manually manipulate it with the GAIN knob.

The Gain Knob

Now that you have the FREQ knob zoned in on the problem frequency, it’s time to turn this knob up or down and this is where the gain knob comes into play.

This knob truly is as simple as it sounds.  It’s literally the volume knob for your frequencies.  I wish I could teach you more about it but it’s just too simple to screw it up.  When you turn it it will either increase or decrease the volume – simple!!!

The Q Setting

“Q” is an odd name with an even weirder number value. I’m not truly wise or interested to find out why you can crank up the “Q”.

I believe a much better name for what “Q” does would merely be “width,” since that’s how I perceive it in my mind.  So if you wanted to affect a certain frequency like 100Hz for example, you could effectively narrow the Q so it only affects that frequency.  You could also WIDEN the Q so that if would still be affecting the 100HZ but it is also affecting other frequencies around it.

So once you can identify the frequency that you want to affect, all that the Q does is allow you to tweak how much you want to affect that frequency.

EQ Shape

Most EQ’s are either a bell or notch filter, by default. A bell is exactly how it sounds, it looks like a little bell that you can either boost or cut.  A notch is sepcifically a cut filter that is really tight in it’s cue.  Basically allowing you to “notch” out a frequency.

On the other hand, most EQ’s have a something on either ends of the unit.  Something that is called a shelf.  Sometimes you can switch between the shelf filter and to a bell or notch.  It is called a shelf filter because it looks like a shelf.  It allows you to boost or cut a frequency range where multiple frequencies are affected.

Shelf EQ’s can be helpful for “opening up” the top end of a track, without a crazy extreme or targeted boost.

Don’t Over Think it

So at this point you should know all the ins and out of how an EQ works on a basic level.  Try not to over think this and actually using the EQ is completely different than knowing about it.

The EQ can be your best and worst weapon.  Too much is never a good thing and too little might also be a bad thing.

Just make sure you are constantly practicing.

Why You Should be Mixing Music and Not Just Producing

Mixing MusicMixing and mastering your cd is the last step of the manufacturing stage that will certainly make or break your audio productions. But today, mixing and mastering can be done totally online or by you, if you choose to do so.  You should check out the various websites that teach you how to mix via tutorials, articles and videos.  It will get you up to par in what you should be doing to mix your tracks.

The music business is a highly competitive market, so ensuring your tracks are absolutely perfect is an absolute must. Top quality sound is progressively becoming the norm and is definitely sought after as audio systems progress in their quality as well.  The much better experience you give to the listener then the happy they will be.  You want fans for life!!!

What is Mixing?

The process of mixing music can sometimes be pretty ambiguous so it is essential that you understand what it is all about.

Mixing Music is where you try to create a musically pleasing experience for the listener. You do this by using tools like compression, EQ, Delays and even reverbs.  You truly want the track to attract attention from the audience by offering a unique sonic texture to it.  Even though mastering comes last, it’s still some what part of the mixing process.  You just want to make sure that all the volumes are set correctly so that there isn’t an unevenness to all the songs.

It’s actually a good idea to do all the mixing and mastering around the same time and have the same person, if not you, do all the songs.  Of course you want to have different people mixing and different people mastering but you can decide that yourself. If you are doing the mixing than you need not worry about it.  The reason why you should have one person mix all the songs is so that there is a Constancy among the records.  They should all sound very similar and they should sound like they are meant to live together.

It’s just Important, Okay?

Bascailly, mixing and mastering is massively important to the sound of your records.  It’s probably the very best method to ensure your audience is happy when they listen to one of your songs or share it with their friends.  Nobody wants to listen to a song that isn’t top quality.  It makes you look unprofessional and not serious about your craft. This procedure is vital to making certain you succeed in your music endeavors.

If you decide not to tackle the mixing on your own, there are plenty of services that offer mixing online and for a very reasonable price.

To learn some really cool stuff on mixing I suggest checking out especially his post on mixing vocals.  His tutorials are of the highest quality I have seen.

Also here is a cool video I found on mixing music.