I mix using a combination of headphones and monitors (depending on the time of day!) and I'm concerned about the potential damage to my hearing. How loud do I need to listen to music when mixing?
Liesje Van De Hoorn, via email
SOS Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: As quietly as you can is always a good place to start. The level you work at will depend on your room acoustics and monitor speakers to a degree, as well as the type of music, your state of mind and how tired your ears are. For that reason, it's a good idea to find a comfortable reference listening level and stick to it as far as you can. In general, I find that working with a level that still allows comfortable speech without raising your voice to someone sat beside you is about right. The better the monitors or headphones, the quieter you can work while still hearing the detail you need to make mixing decisions.
Take plenty of breaks to reset your personal hearing reference threshold, too. It's easy, if you work long hours, to gradually crank the level up more and more without really noticing.