Best Headphones for Mastering And Mixing
Headphones for mastering and mixing: In this guide, you will learn everything a headphone has to offer. Headphones are recommended as well as loudspeakers (at least) for additional monitoring during mastering and mixing. Read here what criteria are really important to help you find the perfect model for your needs and budget – with specific recommendations for the best studio headphones in three price categories.
On the following lines, you’ll learn what to look for in a headphone for mastering & mixing in design, sound, cabling, wear comfort, and more. Especially if you have no experience with headphones for mastering and mixing, you will be able to check most of the sound characteristics described here only in comparison.
The device class that interests us here is almost always called “studio headphones” by manufacturers, distributors, and dealers. This can be misleading, however, because there are also studio headphones for tape recording, which are used by musicians to listen to their voices or instruments during recording.
With good headphones for mixing and mastering, you get a balanced, detailed and spatially differentiated sound, while the sound insulation plays a subordinate role – with models the priorities are exactly the opposite.
In addition, there are a lot of headphones, which are aimed especially at DJs or simply suitable for music listeners who do not produce or hang up. Among these models, there are singles, which offer the sound quality necessary for mixing and mastering, but in general, you should look for specialists – for example, according to the models, which we have selected in this guide for you.
Mixing and mastering headphones are usually open because their sound is generally spatially extended, sounds “free” and “airier” than in closed models. Thus, individual elements can be better localized and mixed differently if necessary.
With open or semi-open headphones, the sounds penetrate louder inwards than when closed – provided that your (home) studio largely rest, but this is irrelevant. In addition, the sounds played by studio musicians of this design escape more to the outside, but also that does not matter because unlike in the recording room, there is no microphone, which catches this background noise again.
A headphone for mastering & mixing should not over-emphasize the bass, midrange, or treble. If, for example, a headphone is too powerful, one mixes with this deceptive impression that the bass is again too weak on rather neutral listening devices (representative of the average of all possible devices). The same applies if a headphone has greater deviations in the middle and the high frequencies.
A completely straight-running frequency response is technically impossible, so it depends on how far a model approaches this ideal. Slight to moderate deviations can be balanced with enough listening experience and supported by good studios in mixing and mastering. Nevertheless: buy rather like a headphone that is well balanced.
In stereo productions, a good headphone for mastering & mixing gives the impression of a stage on which individual sounds (eg the different instruments of a band) can be clearly arranged and separated from each other in the width and depth of the sound room. Only then can you make the right decisions in the DAW, which concerns the balance controls of the tracks and all other parameters for the design of the spatial impression.
However, the sounds in the middle (classical, for example, voice, kick/bass drum and electric bass) should be able to get through to the left and right sounds. In the center of the mixing, there should be no “hole gap” to formulate it.
The impulse scatter indicates how accurately the levels of an audio signal will reflect – how impulsive they are in the transmitted and in the actual sense. This is particularly noticeable in the decay behavior of low-frequency signals. A really abruptly kicking kick drum should after the recording while playing by headphones (approximately) decay just as quickly and pull no “tail” behind.
With a powerful headphone, the dynamics of the individual elements in the mix can be “true-believing” – this is the basis for the targeted use of transient designers, compressors/limiters, and other dynamics effects.
The cable should be disconnected from the headphone for mastering & mixing so that it can be quickly replaced by a replacement cable in case of a defect. Otherwise, the entire headphone must be repaired time and costly.
A second major advantage of a detachable cable is the option of using a different type – basically the smooth shape and the spiral shape (called “helix” or “twisted”) as well as the flat ribbon cable. On some models, several cable versions are included.
Who often times longer sessions in the studio, will appreciate high wearing comfort. The strength of the contact pressure is one of the most important factors – usually the pressure can be adjusted by pulling out the forks, so you can adapt your listening tool to your head shape and size as well as personal preferences.
Furthermore, the material as well as the filling of the ear and head pads are decisive. Synthetic leather and leather are standard, while suede is more comfortable for most people, but it is not easy to wash and heat up.