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Setup for mixing with headphones

posted on #1
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I have been searching for a good portable mixing solution for the last few months and finally have a solution that I like. Lots of advise on the internet says that is not possible to generate mixes that translate well to speakers using just headphones, but I don't really think that is true. There are others that are experimenting with this and you just need some help using the magic of DSP.

The main things you need are:
1) A plugin to model "crossfeed"...how your ears hear speakers.
2) A plugin to model the frequency response of actual monitor speakers. More than one is better.
3) A plugin to frequency correct your preferred headphones to neutralize the sound
4) A pair of headphones you enjoy and a decent headphone amp is highly recommend.

Here is what I have settled on:
1) Waves Abby Road Studio 3 - This plugin is modeled on one of the Abby Road Control room and simulates three sets of speakers (near, middle, and far). It performs the crossfeed blending, room acoustics, and lets you select between the three sets of speakers. It also have frequency correction for the headphones, but I don't use that feature.
2) SonarWorks Reference 4 headphone correction. This an amazing plugin to neutralize and extend the frequency range of your headphones. Absolutely love it!
3) A pair of Sennheiser HD600 headphones along with an Little Labs Monotor headphone amp. The HD600s did not sound great on their own, but with the amp...Wow!

Hope this is useful...

Anyone else have a solution they like?

WhiteDrum55
posted on #2
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Thank you so much, WD!

I have to test your solution because when I play during the night I can't use my monitors to mix :)
Do you wanna get funky with me?
posted on #3
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sony mdr-7506..... wonderfully neutral for mixing, and seem to deliver atranslatable sound to most speaker setups ive tried.
and my audio technica ath-m40x's for pleasure listening... and yes the sonarworks plugin is amazing !
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I just dont work)
posted on #4
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The final puzzle piece to my search was a really nice $$$ set of headphones. I tried out the Sennheiser HD800s and the Focal Clear. They are both great! I decided to keep the Focals, mostly due to personal preference. They sound similar to the HD600, but with expanded bass response which I like.

My current headphone lineup is:
Sony MDR-7506 - these have been my go-to's for years.
Sennheiser HD600 - Used these for the last year or so.
Focal Clear - New to me, but they are incredible

Like Kimbo, I think the MDR-7506 are great for mixing. The only thing I don't like about them is that they have a enhanced and "floppy" bass response...even using sonarworks.

The HD600's are a step up from the MDR-7506, but only excel when you pair them with a good AMP. They are great when you use them with Sonarworks!

The Focal Clears sound somewhat similar to the HD600/good-Amp combination on their own, but they add more definition to the sound, and are absolutely stellar with Sonarworks.

Lessons learned:
1)One of the best and less costly ways to improve your headphone setup is to use Sonarworks. It does a great job of neutralizing the sound of a decent set of headphones.

2)The improvements you get going to higher end headphones are pretty subtle. It's on the order of five-times the cost, for a 50% improvement in sound.

3) I still keep reaching for the Focals over the others so I don't regret it ;)

Just wanted to share in case others are searching...

Mark (WhiteDrum55)
posted on #5
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A cool way, and a cool presentation, good if works for you and your monitors or speakers(question nearby, DSP?-)

It's much work to handle a jam within a single system. And it gets harder. I always used simple earphones. For everything. It's the best average soundsource, just naturally, by chance or purpose. The experience with headphones (afterwards (no matter how cheap or expensive they were) ) was so random, that a big song build with Headphones was only readable with Headphones. On monitors it still failed.

So, Earphone-jams have been the greatest outcomes, whether for Monitor view, or Headphone, or In-Ear, based on my experience. Because the few enjoyable jams on monitors (that I did) were jimmy-jams created with type of Earphones.
When it's Metal, we have a load of work and levels.

It's energizing. But it's the same with gentle Classic or Cinematic background stuff.
I appreciate methods that grant safe loudness, or any type of joyful listen, and I'm the intuitive gatewatcher here. So, keep the tips coming. Just saying, earphones is an indication, still, and good.

Sony MDR-E 9 LPH
Edited by SupJax on Mars 01 2020 00:46
posted on #6
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WhiteDrum55 wrote:
The final puzzle piece to my search was a really nice $$$ set of headphones. I tried out the Sennheiser HD800s and the Focal Clear. They are both great! I decided to keep the Focals, mostly due to personal preference. They sound similar to the HD600, but with expanded bass response which I like.

My current headphone lineup is:
Sony MDR-7506 - these have been my go-to's for years.
Sennheiser HD600 - Used these for the last year or so.
Focal Clear - New to me, but they are incredible

Like Kimbo, I think the MDR-7506 are great for mixing. The only thing I don't like about them is that they have a enhanced and "floppy" bass response...even using sonarworks.

The HD600's are a step up from the MDR-7506, but only excel when you pair them with a good AMP. They are great when you use them with Sonarworks!

The Focal Clears sound somewhat similar to the HD600/good-Amp combination on their own, but they add more definition to the sound, and are absolutely stellar with Sonarworks.

Lessons learned:
1)One of the best and less costly ways to improve your headphone setup is to use Sonarworks. It does a great job of neutralizing the sound of a decent set of headphones.

2)The improvements you get going to higher end headphones are pretty subtle. It's on the order of five-times the cost, for a 50% improvement in sound.

3) I still keep reaching for the Focals over the others so I don't regret it ;)

Just wanted to share in case others are searching...

Mark (WhiteDrum55)


My only critisizm here is that, at over a grand, the focal clears are way too rich for my blood. I agree they're great but the sonys are really neutral and only about £150!. So bang for bucks....I'd defo go sony......well...unless i won the lottery. :D
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I just dont work)
posted on #7
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just discovered "match eq" in logic ... wow!
so if you cant afford sonarworks... download the free trial (21 days) and install it as a plugin (should happen automatically) then on your master bus simply enable sonarworks as the last plugin.. then add "match eq" after it. then simply copy the curve that the sonarworks plugin shows you and save it as your monitor system name. do the same for any other monitoring solutions you have then delete the sonarworks plugin.
so now while you monitor you activate the relevent match eq for the system you're using. REMEMBER TO DE-ACTIVATE IT AT FINAL MIXDOWN!
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I just dont work)
posted on #8
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Reaper with AKG K 240 MK II headphone for me. I love the clarity of the mixes and the comfort of a half opened headphone.
Edited by Evilvince on Mars 02 2020 16:17
If you read French ;)
http://forum.onlybass.com/
posted on #9
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I've been using Sennheiser HD579 for mixing. They're open back which tend to give better sound quality than closed, though at the expense of leaking sound (so not great for vocalists or if you are micing up stuff). I like them as they have a very flat response so don't colour the sound. A lot of headphones that sound "good" tend to accentuate the bass or high-end - which might sound pleasant but ain't good for mixing.
posted on #10
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Sony MDR-7506 pro's an Inexpensive but high quality headphone In my opinion. Isolation as most of what I add is vocals and just want to hear what's going on in the mix. Seems to be popular here as well
Edited by axenvocs on Mars 04 2020 21:28
posted on #11
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Interesting post Mark - as I was thinking about Sonarworks as well.

Today I checked it out, and after an hour or two I bought it (which was pretty clear to me even after the first 20 seconds or so).

We have the Sennheiser HD598SE (my main cans), the HD569 (closed ones for work, also good), and Zuleikha uses the AKG K-141 Mk2. All are supported and can be corrected which is cool.

Thanks for the heads-up my friend, it pushed me into the right direction :)

Cheers,
Wolfgang
posted on #12
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Im an AKG 240 guy for years. It always makes the best studio headphone lists. I like blocking out all external sounds.
Dont underestimate mixing in mono. It shows ALL flaws.
Stereo is really just another effect. If it sounds the best it can in mono, in flat response studio phones, then its just a matter of volume for soundcloud, the Loops, Youtube etc....

For portable mixing, you may want to look into referencing software.

Referencing software basically works if you are mixing a song for youtube, you have a sample song that you consider a "golden standard" and any mixes you do is referenced to it. Or Soundcloud..or ...Wikiloops...Like this..

It really isnt much work. You just show the software what is considered a "great mix" then when you mix , it will show wave forms overlapped with the ideal mix and you tweak sound levels from there.

https://www.masteringthemix.com/products/reference?currency=USD
Edited by LittleWing on Mai 06 2020 20:56
posted on #13
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I was on AKG K240 in my youth, that was what they had in the studios. Good stuff indeed :)
posted on #14
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wjl wrote:
I was on AKG K240 in my youth, that was what they had in the studios. Good stuff indeed :)


You can buy custom ear pads for them now and what i like is if the cat chews the cable, it is just a matter of buying another one on ebay as its quick connect.
posted on #15
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I cant vouch for this but I am skeptical its snake oil. You can research it though...

https://shop.audified.com/products/mixchecker
Edited by LittleWing on Mai 06 2020 21:09
posted on #16
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Enjoying all the replies :D Also thanks to LW for the tip on referencing. I will check that out B)
posted on #17
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LittleWing wrote:
Im an AKG 240 guy for years. It always makes the best studio headphone lists. I like blocking out all external sounds.
Dont underestimate mixing in mono. It shows ALL flaws.
Stereo is really just another effect. If it sounds the best it can in mono, in flat response studio phones, then its just a matter of volume for soundcloud, the Loops, Youtube etc....

For portable mixing, you may want to look into referencing software.

Referencing software basically works if you are mixing a song for youtube, you have a sample song that you consider a "golden standard" and any mixes you do is referenced to it. Or Soundcloud..or ...Wikiloops...Like this..

It really isnt much work. You just show the software what is considered a "great mix" then when you mix , it will show wave forms overlapped with the ideal mix and you tweak sound levels from there.

https://www.masteringthemix.com/products/reference?currency=USD





I totally disagree withe the statement "stereo is an effect"!
our ears are incredibly sensitive pieces of equipment, sensitive to frequency, spls AND DIRECTION!
take a mono source, (say guitar amp) place it stage left, then take a stereo source ( say keys back line) stage right, then add a drum kit centre stage towards the back..... when we listen live (even with our eyes closed) our brain sorts the signals from left and right ears to let us know direction and distance (even down to which bits of the kit are being played at a given moment, and where it is in relation to the rest of the kit) from our listening position.
Even if the recorded source is true mono, we pan it to a position in the stereo field to simulate this live state
in this day and age, mixing for MONO is an anacronism.... if a listener cannot be bothered to listen with even ear buds, then im sorry but i cannot be bothered to pander to their lack of respect for what we try to achieve.

As for "ERRORS" being shown up in mono... since we have now established that MONO is the effect, the errors are caused by this effect!
....thats how amazingly clever our ears are! They can listen to a fractional difference in phases of a delay and seperate them, left from right, when summed to mono the signal dissapears!.... so NO, mono is outdated, and whilst it used to be a useful reference when mixing for radio which was always broadcast in mono, even this source is now STEREO. So quite frankly the corelation meter and gioniometer can get lost, i think they have no relevance in the context of modern mixing.


It should be said that even stereo only gives our ears information about where a source is in relation to our FRONT soundscape,
Our ears are even more sensetive about what's BEHIND us....(saves us from being eaten by an attacker from behind where we ONLY have our ears to warn us)!
The advent of "surround sound" means we can, if we choose, mix for a REAR soundscape as well.
This is great for "home system" listening, but is as if far from the norm as stereo used to be from mono.
Edited by kimbo on Mai 07 2020 11:44
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I just dont work)
posted on #18
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kimbo wrote:
LittleWing wrote:
Im an AKG 240 guy for years. It always makes the best studio headphone lists. I like blocking out all external sounds.
Dont underestimate mixing in mono. It shows ALL flaws.
Stereo is really just another effect. If it sounds the best it can in mono, in flat response studio phones, then its just a matter of volume for soundcloud, the Loops, Youtube etc....

For portable mixing, you may want to look into referencing software.

Referencing software basically works if you are mixing a song for youtube, you have a sample song that you consider a "golden standard" and any mixes you do is referenced to it. Or Soundcloud..or ...Wikiloops...Like this..

It really isnt much work. You just show the software what is considered a "great mix" then when you mix , it will show wave forms overlapped with the ideal mix and you tweak sound levels from there.

https://www.masteringthemix.com/products/reference?currency=USD





I totally disagree withe the statement "stereo is an effect"!
our ears are incredibly sensitive pieces of equipment, sensitive to frequency, spls AND DIRECTION!
take a mono source, (say guitar amp) place it stage left, then take a stereo source ( say keys back line) stage right, then add a drum kit centre stage towards the back..... when we listen live (even with our eyes closed) our brain sorts the signals from left and right ears to let us know direction and distance (even down to which bits of the kit are being played at a given moment, and where it is in relation to the rest of the kit) from our listening position.
Even if the recorded source is true mono, we pan it to a position in the stereo field to simulate this live state
in this day and age, mixing for MONO is an anacronism.... if a listener cannot be bothered to listen with even ear buds, then im sorry but i cannot be bothered to pander to their lack of respect for what we try to achieve.

As for "ERRORS" being shown up in mono... since we have now established that MONO is the effect, the errors are caused by this effect!
....thats how amazingly clever our ears are! They can listen to a fractional difference in phases of a delay and seperate them, left from right, when summed to mono the signal dissapears!.... so NO, mono is outdated, and whilst it used to be a useful reference when mixing for radio which was always broadcast in mono, even this source is now STEREO. So quite frankly the corelation meter and gioniometer can get lost, i think they have no relevance in the context of modern mixing.


It should be said that even stereo only gives our ears information about where a source is in relation to our FRONT soundscape,
Our ears are even more sensetive about what's BEHIND us....(saves us from being eaten by an attacker from behind where we ONLY have our ears to warn us)!
The advent of "surround sound" means we can, if we choose, mix for a REAR soundscape as well.
This is great for "home system" listening, but is as if far from the norm as stereo used to be from mono.



My phrase "Stereo is an effect" , I typed quickly, but yes ...it is natural to the human ear and stereo is what we hear in everyday life . Yes no disagreement there. Bad phrasing.

I dont disagree with any thing you stated about mono , other then "it has no relevence in modern mixing".
I state that by just doing a google search for "mix in mono", shows its a commen practice.It is a commen TECHNIQUE to mix in mono.

I am not saying render the track in mono.
It is a tool to eliminate phase issues, eq issues and its widely used.

As far as mono being "outdated" , many would disagree. Again I state that by just doing a google search for "mix in mono", shows its a common practice/technique and used by pros and home recording enthusiasts alike.
It does , as a tool, work to achieve a better stereo image.
Stereo does seem like an effect when you do level the track a few times in mono, its not the case, but its easy to have that view which is why I typed it but it was not the best description.


I certainly hope you dont believe I am ANTI STEREO!

The next mix you do , if you wouldn't mind, adjust your levels in mono then go back to stereo and you'll hear a difference. Try it. It works.

Its just another tip/trick or whatever but the end result is a better stereo mix because of it.It is a serious mixing tool. You can choose not to but it doesnt hurt to try it. Everyone has different techniques.

My verbiage wasn't the best but Friday is almost here my friend and Im actually pleased to have passionate discussions about music!

The benefits of checking your track in mono:
https://www.productionmusiclive.com/blogs/news/mixing-in-mono-why-why-not


[youtube]sCayA8pv5JM[/youtube]
Edited by LittleWing on Mai 07 2020 16:07
posted on #19
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Long live passion. ;)
he who works with his hands, is a labourer
he who works with his hands and his head, is a craftsman
he who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist.....(I just dont work)
posted on #20
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For mix drums I have to switch between stereo and mono to check phasing. It's not enough to just flip the phase switch between 0 and 180. I end up making small changes to the time alignment to get better sound and it is much easier to hear the effect in mono. :)
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