Over the past few weeks, people have been asking me what is better: Mixing on headphones or mixing on speakers?
Now I have already created a blog post about the pros and cons of mixing on headphones, but I don’t believe I ever gave an answer as to what the best headphones are, and what the best speakers are. Today, I am here to clear the air about this issue.
After much research and many hours testing headphones, I have found that the AudioTechnica ATH M50 studio headphones are the best at an affordable price of under $200 MSRP. Most AudioTechnica ATH M50 studio headphones can be found for around $139, and are a great bargain for the price.
I personally have a pair of AudioTechnica ATH M50 studio headphones and have had them for almost two years.
These headphones are built like tanks: they withstand being stepped on, dropped, and whatever else you can manage to do to them. As their name suggests, these are studio headphones, which means they are specifically manufactured for studio settings. The specifications can be read here, but they have a great frequency response. The range that these headphones are capable of are, for the most part, out of the human ear’s range. The human ear’s range is from around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, while these headphones are capable of 15 hz to around 28,000 hz, which makes these headphones great for mixing.
Of course, there are also cons to any product, and some of the inherent flaws in the design of these headphones is the weight. While the headphones are designed to be as comfortable as possible, (and they are for a while), the weight on your head causes you to have a headache after a while. I have also found that the headphones can cause your ears to bend a little, causing discomfort after an extended period of time wearing them.
In recent years, scientists have also found that wearing headphones for more than an hour at a time can increase the amount of bacteria in your ear by eleven times. This leads to pain in your ears, and can eventually lead to hearing loss (which is a producer’s worst nightmare!). If you use these headphones periodically and carefully, they are extremely well-rounded and exceptional headphones.
Now on to speakers. For almost three years, I had no speakers, which was extremely detrimental to my development as a producer. When I did get speakers, I got very bad ones from one of my friends, which was even worse because they didn’t balance the bass or highs and made my music sound worse than before. The only thing worse than having no speakers is having bad speakers.
This was how I happened to come across the KRK Rokit G3 series. They are the most popular and well-liked studio monitors in the production world at the moment. While there are many, many other studio monitors out there that are worth looking at, (the PreSonus Eris E5 series are REALLY good), I will be talking about the KRK Rokit G3 series since I personally have these speakers.
The KRK Rokit G3 studio monitors have a great frequency response for studio monitors below $300. A pair of these monitors are usually around $250, but that also depends on the size of the monitors. The series consists of 5″ monitors (what I have), 6″ monitors, and 8″ monitors, and their prices go up respectively.
The frequency response of these monitors is about 40-45 Hz to about 35,000 Hz, which is not as wide a range as the AudioTechnica studio headphones I mentioned earlier. But, one thing that monitors are able to do that headphones can not do, is let you hear what your music sounds like after it passes through air, bounces off walls, and any other objects in your room. With headphones, you don’t allow the sound to pass through air or bounce off the walls, giving you a distorted view of your music.
One of the best things that you can do for your music is to do a combination of both: use your studio headphones for reference, and then switch to your monitors to mix on there, and then switch again. Learn how your equipment responds to different frequencies, how it sounds in different environments, and what things you can do to fix these problems that you have with your equipment.
Hope this all helps! Cheers!
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2 thoughts on “Speakers or Headphones?”
It’s good to work on the speakers (audio monitors) but also is good to test your mix sound on audio headphones.
I said that in the last paragraph of the article. It’s good to reference your mix using both tools, since your listeners will be hearing your song through both mediums.