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expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

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expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:52 pm

Hi there.

I've herd about mixing on headphone issues and also cheap monitors being colorful. My budget is almost 1000$ and don't know if I buy a good headphone like Sony MDR-7509 or some AKG models, or monitors like JBL 2325p or M-Audio BX5 or some mackie models. My current gear is an AIWA cd player as monitors.
What do you prefer for your self in such a situation?

Thanks.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Chevytraveller » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:00 pm

Monitors can only perform as well as the room they are in.. so you have to factor in some kind of room treatment if going for monitors

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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:07 pm

Mixing on headphones is a very different experience to mixing on speakers, and it can take a lot of getting used to. You end to notice things on headphones that you just don't hear on speakers, and vice versa.

Virtual room modelling systems like Focusrite's VRM box help a lot, because they give a much better appreciation of what it would sound like if you were listening on decent speakers in a decent room. It's not a perfect solution, but if you are forced down the headphone's only route I'd budget for the VRM box to make headphone mixing as reliable as possible.

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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:37 pm

What about dsp monitors like genelec's or jbl's?
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:50 pm

We've reviewed them and the reviews are all available for free on line here.

The DSP stuff is clever, but nowhere near clever enough to really fix the acoustics of a poor room. And DSP-based speakers aren't cheap.

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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby The Elf » Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:53 pm

I found monitoring nirvana in headphones (AKG K701 in my case - it's not necessary to throw so much money at them), but it's understandably not for everyone.

I remain dubious about DSP trickery for headphones, but it seems to have its place for some.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:04 pm

Thanks. But what cheaper one than K701 do you think can work for me?
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby The Elf » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:05 pm

I thought you were looking at 'expensive headphones'?

I've undercut your monitor budget by quite a margin! :crazy:
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:12 pm

Let me check it........
Ou yes you did!
I thought that nirvana might cost a little bit more!
Thank you.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:06 pm

I voted for expensive headphones too - I wouldn’t be without my Sennheiser HD650 for sound design or mixing.


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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby tim_obrien » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:41 pm

Whad'ya Mean I Can't Mix With Headphones????
http://www.bluebearsound.com/articles/headphones.htm
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:20 pm

I'd have to respond with my own feature on exactly the same subject, but with a very different conclusion ;)

"Mixing On Headphones: Successful Mixing Without Loudspeakers"
www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan07/articles ... phones.htm


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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby The Elf » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:48 am

tim_obrien wrote:Whad'ya Mean I Can't Mix With Headphones????
http://www.bluebearsound.com/articles/headphones.htm

I totally disagree with the conclusion in that link. I produce successful, commercially viable mixes every week. If it didn't work the clients wouldn't be paying me!!

My mixes are all the better since I dumped the search for the perfect monitor/room and found headphones I can trust!
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:00 am

I don't think either speakers or headphones, on their own, provide the perfect solution. Ideally you need both becuase they highlight different flaws and facets of a mix, principally because of the fundamentally different way our ears and brain reacts to them and interprets the information they present.

A decade ago I'd have said that the priority should be to mix on good speakers in a well treated room... and I still tend to work that way, using phones as a second reference check rather than the primary tool.

However, these days it seems to me that a significant proportion of listening is now via ipod etc, particularly in the yoof markets, and therefore that how the mix comes over in headphones is, arguably, more important than how it works on speakers.

It is certainly possible to mix on headphones, making critical judgements on EQ, imaging, balance and so on, but it is far from trivial and requires good headphones (and a decent headphone amp). As always, significant experience is required and regular cross checking on speakers is essential as you build up that expeirence.

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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby The Elf » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:13 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:regular cross checking on speakers is essential as you build up that expeirence.

Very true. I make all of my primary mixing decisions in headphones, then my speakers become my final reference. This lets me get the low end honed. I can actually tell more about low frequencies by touching the speaker cone than I can by just listening.

It's certanly not about one or the other, but I would no longer go chasing the perfect monitor or room. But I do realise that I am far from the norm in my mixing habits - it just works for me!
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:54 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:A decade ago I'd have said that the priority should be to mix on good speakers in a well treated room...

In fairness, that's not that far off when the article was written.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:58 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:A decade ago I'd have said that the priority should be to mix on good speakers in a well treated room...

In fairness, that's not that far off when the article was written.

Ah, true - I didn't notice that that first headphone feature was dated 2003 :headbang:

Headphone mixing has come on a lot since then ;)


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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:12 am

+1 to what Hugh has said. I've also recently discovered that having more than one pair of decent headphones helps enormously if you are spending a lot of time mixing on headphones.

Also, I'd suggest that if you're used to the through-the-head sort of stereo imaging you get on headphones, rather than the narrower and acoustic shadowed image from speakers, then it follows that there's no problem mixing with them.

The very low end seems to pose problems on headphones... but then the very low end poses just as many problems in most domestic rooms when listening on speakers.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:46 am

Thank you every body for these complete reviews. but...
The Elf wrote:I found monitoring nirvana in headphones (AKG K701 in my case - it's not necessary to throw so much money at them)
How can I don't throw out so much money and get a good headphone? May you please give me cheaper but affordable options?
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:28 pm

why is it people will spend $1000 on monitors, but immediately want a cheaper option when you suggest they spend half that on headphones?


buy the AKG701/702 and get on with it...
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby alexis » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:03 pm

Check out the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pros. Much less expensive than some headphones, and well-recommended by those who would know: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan10/a ... phones.htm
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby The Elf » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:43 am

Hexagon wrote:Thank you every body for these complete reviews. but...
The Elf wrote:I found monitoring nirvana in headphones (AKG K701 in my case - it's not necessary to throw so much money at them)
How can I don't throw out so much money and get a good headphone? May you please give me cheaper but affordable options?
I paid around 150 quid for my K701. If you can find anything of comparable quality anywhere near that price then let me know!

If that's not 'affordable' then there's little point looking at monitors...
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:34 pm

Oh no,
You looked to mean it's maybe possible to buy something cheaper (than ~350$ on most stores for k701)with the same or near quality as you say "you don't need to throw out so much money" and now if you think it's not then nothing is as affordable as your choice man.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby DaleSmith » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:37 am

I'm using DT880 pro's too. They are great. I've not used the 701s so can't comment on them. Price wise I don't think there is much between the 2 in any case.

Before them, I had Grado SR80i. For the money, ( £100ish ) sound great. but you get what you pay for. Build quality of the Grado's isn't the best.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Frank Eleveld » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:49 am

Not having an appropriate room at home for my music projects anymore, I do most of my mixing on headphones, with several different speakers for further referencing. They're Sony cans, about 15 years old. Can't recall the model number but they were about £ 100-ish back then.

There are better and more accurate phones but for me, they seem to provide a decent image of a mix. I use Pimeta (DIY) headphone amps with them. Again, there are better options but not at this price point. I'd love to have a Grace M902/903 but I can't justify the expense.

I think you'll have to use what works best for you, and if you only have a specific option, learn to make the most out of it.

Cheers,
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby MoSound Productions » Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:01 pm

Hard to say. I use headphones to check to low end of the mix (not sub), so find a headphone that is good in that range. Also get a crappy one for reference.
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Re: expensive headphones or cheap monitors?

Postby Hexo » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:57 am

Thanks for new comments.
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