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Cheap crappy pair of monitors or half decent headphones?

Discussion in 'Mixing, Post-Production, and Effects' started by Puzzlefactory, Sep 26, 2017.

What's better? Cheap monitors or decent headphones?

  1. Cheap Monitors

    4 vote(s)
    8.3%
  2. Decent Headphones

    44 vote(s)
    91.7%
  1. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Stock picture! That's not my studio, I just posted it to show the baffles I have up!
     
  2. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    But our old Apple Cinema's are getting close to that :grin:

     
    Nick Batzdorf likes this.
  3. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    I'll still take the speakers over the headphones. Headphones are fundamentally different - precisely because they lack interaction with the room.

    For one, our brains compensate for serious lumps in rooms all the time. But you can make almost any room workable just by sticking up some gnarly broadband absorption at the front (behind the speakers, because the reflections you don't want are the ones coming from the same angle as the speakers).

    The psychoacoustic theory is that the speakers or headphones don't give you the direct sound, they sort of give you reflections of a direct sound that you missed. Similarly, you need the room to hear the speakers themselves, i.e. they behave like instruments in a room.

    It sounds crazy, I know.
     
  4. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    But look, this all comes down to preference. If you can make better mixes on headphones, or even if you feel more comfortable working with them, then of course that's the way to go.
     
  5. elpedro

    elpedro Senior Member

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    I'll take headphones over crappy monitors any day.but the listening fatigue takes a big toll with headphones.
     
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  6. JonAdamich

    JonAdamich Senior Member

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    Jan 24, 2016
    If you aren't tracking, get some open-back cans. Beyerdynamic is solid.

    990pro is a great pair but keep in mind you might need a headphone amp. Considering what audio interface you use, it might not give you enough boost.

    As someone else has mentioned 880 is also a solid choice.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  7. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Just bear in mind that you can hear everything on headphones. For openers, you're almost certainly going to make bad mistakes with ambience (i.e. not enough of it).

    Yesterday I was polite, because people have all kinds of wacky opinions, but to me they're a really bad idea for your only reference.

    And it's not like that's your only choice. I just did a quick search on Craigslist here, and there are about six pairs of perfectly acceptable speakers listed for under $150 a pair - and that's just my area, not the ones you have to drive half an hour to get.
     
    kitekrazy and synthpunk like this.
  8. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    what Nick said 100%.

     
  9. kitekrazy

    kitekrazy Senior Member

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    Most pop music is mixed for headphones on portable devices.
    I think mixing has become too much of a rocket science. Post a track and you'll get 20 different opinions unless something is really off.
    Some like to use crappy speakers and if it sounds good that's it. Some will listen to their mix on multiple devices and make adjustments.
     
  10. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    With orchestral samples, I'll buy that it's not brain surgery. Well... I won't really, but okay.

    Mixing is a highly evolved art form, and there are engineers who are as good at it as the best musicians are at playing instruments. Actually, I'd say the studio *is* an instrument!

    Over the years I've become reasonably competent at mixing. But I can tell you from personal experience that I've worked on a mix until it sounded really good - and then a friend who's a great engineer had at it, and it was *way* better. No comparison.

    If you listen to some of the great albums that have stood the test of time... I mean, you can still hear something new in the production every time you listen to them.

    A-B listening can be really interesting. You put one channel out of phase so the middle is canceled, making it easier to hear the reverbs and things.
     
    storyteller likes this.
  11. OP
    OP
    Puzzlefactory

    Puzzlefactory Senior Member

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    One of the best produced I’ve heard is Groove Armadas Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub).

    Which incedently also has one of my favourite string arrangements in the track Edge Hill.

    I’m still impressed with the production value today even though I first heard the album back in the 90’s.
     
  12. kitekrazy

    kitekrazy Senior Member

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    If I were to make money off my work the one thing I would leave out in a mastering chain is me. I think some who are starting out make more of an issue of mixing than creating. There have also been some professional artists who decided to master their own and it's obvious. I think Rush made that mistake. It is a skill that takes a lot of practice and the pro have to work at a much faster pace.
     
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  13. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    These days - that is, these days since the digital revolution that started in the early 80s - there's obviously much less of a separation between all the skills. Not only are we mixing as we go, we have way more toys than we can (or should) use available at the click of a mouse. No question, that's a tempting distraction.
     
  14. gsilbers

    gsilbers Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com

    i only remembered super styling. i re discovered it w your post and the whole albums is awesome!.
     
    Puzzlefactory likes this.

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