Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixing With Headphones


Are you a musician? Do you want to record an incredible music piece? If yes, then we don’t think that we need to tell you the importance of sound mixing. The primary goal of mixing is to bring out the best in your multi-track recording by making required adjustments like panning, adding time-based audio effects, etc. However, for the small studio owners or in-house musicians, achieving professional-quality mixes is not an easy task. It might be due to unavailability of best equipment or lack of financial resources.

If you are hunting for the best solution to create a masterpiece without spending much on professional mixers, then it may surprise you that these limitations can be overcome easily and inexpensively by mixing with headphones. Yes, you have heard it right! Many producers, musicians think that it is impossible to mix on headphones, but it is a fact that if good-quality headphones are used and mixing on headphones is done accurately, it can reveal some useful details that even the best speakers can’t.

If you are looking forward to doing audio mixing by using your headphones, then it can turn out to be a good step towards the creation of your outstanding music track. While there are countless numbers of headphones available in the market, it becomes difficult to decide which one will suits you the best. But, a little research can make a difference and help you to choose the best one. Before you go ahead, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of headphone mixing. Without wasting much time, let’s discuss the pros and cons of mixing with headphones one by one.

Benefits of Mixing with Headphones

#1- Small is the New Big

Have you used a magnifying glass to read the small letters on the newspaper and magazine? We bet you have. Headphones are similar to magnifying glasses; they allow you to hear even the smallest node loudly. They provide you a provision to zoom in and zoom out on the different elements of your mix and catch the noise nodes like clicks, pops, chair squeaks, etc. They can also help you to add sound effects that make your audio track a mesmerizing one.

#2- Affordable

When it comes to audio mixing, you need to invest a lot in several expensive equipment and a recording room. This type of music mixing will take all your resources and can make you poor. However, headphone tunes out to be a pretty budget-friendly option as compared to buying a studio monitor, speakers and a decent room. Although the experience may not be that high end, it will offer you high ROI.

#3- Eliminate Acoustic Noise

In most home studios, noise is a constant battle. During the day, the loud noises from neighbor house disturb you. And, at night, they complain that you disrupt their sleep. However, headphones allow you to create an isolated environment and help you to comb this issue. Moreover, when we know that someone is listening to us, it distracts a lot and hinders your creativity. With headphones, you will have complete privacy; it will be only you who listen to your music track.

#4- Provides the Freedom of Work

Shut down your laptop and put it into a backpack along with your headphones and have an on-the-go music production station. Mixing on headphones provides you the freedom to work on your music piece regardless of your location, but this is not the case with monitor studios. If you love to create music anytime, anyplace, then you should think about investing in a good quality pair of headphones.

These are the advantages of headphone mixing. It is possible to mix with headphones to achieve good results. However, each coin has two faces. Similarly, mixing with headphone has some disadvantages too. Before you rely on your headphones for the creation of your music piece, it is wise to have a look at its disadvantages. In this guide, we are going to discuss the cons of headphone mixing.

Drawbacks of Mixing with Headphones

#1- Inconvenience

It is not easy to wear headphones and carry weight on ears for 7 to 8 hours; your ears will start to pain. Not only it can cause ear fatigue but also limit your ability to mix for long durations. It even sometimes loss of dynamic sensitivity because our ears are not prone to an imbalance of frequency; your ear gets damaged from blasting music over time. Except this, your brain may become desensitize to sensory information after a certain period.

#2- Everything Sounds Great on Headphones

Headphones are made to either boost or reduce frequencies to improve the quality of music you are listening to. However, if you can get a mix to sound awesome on headphones, it doesn’t mean it will translate the same onto the speakers. It can easily fall apart on the speakers of your laptop, car stereo or mobile phones. Hence, if you want to mix on headphones, make sure you use high-quality headphones.

#3- Coloration

Each headphone model has a different frequency response that will affect the nodes of your music piece. But, every listener won’t use the headphones of same frequency you are using. Due to this, your audio track won’t sound as powerful as on your headphones. For instance, if you use headphones that have an added bass boost, you may feel like that you have an appropriate amount of bass in the mix, but when it is played on another headphone model without the bass boost, the bass will sound weak.

#4- Panning

Panning is a vital part of audio mixing in which the sound signals are distributed into a new stereo or multi-channel sound fields which determines on which side the music will be loud – on the left side or right side. With headphones, you will get complete separation of left and right channels, but on the speakers, you will hear some left channels in the right ear and some right channels on the left ear. Hence, it is difficult to pan an instrument to sound differently on headphones as well as speakers. You have to mix your music that feels good on both headphones as well as speakers.

These are the disadvantages of headphone mixing, there are some challenges you need to know before making a final thought of using headphone mixing. Here are the challenges you could face during mixing with headphone.

Challenges of Headphone Mixing

  • The Low-end Lowdown

Getting the right mix of bass for your music piece without a good arrangement is one of the major challenges you could face with headphone mixing. Since the bass response is affected by the seal between the earcups and the ears, headphones have some issues with low-end nodes. Hence, speakers are widely used for mixing, but some advanced mixers can also cause a mess with low end. So, before you decide on, make sure you try headphone mixing as well.

  • Cross-bleeding

Another major challenge of headphone mixing. Sometimes the listener’s left ear hears some of the sound emitted by the right speaker and the right ear picks up some of the right speaker's sound. While sound monitors allow you to locate from where the sound is coming in front of you, but with headphones, you won’t be able to judge this effect which makes mixing difficult when dealing with panning, spatial effects and volumes.

    Now, you’re aware of the advantages and disadvantages of mixing with headphone, and the challenges you would face during headphone mixing. But, it doesn’t mean we can completely ditch our headphones. Mixing with headphone work in some case and sucks in others case. However, which one you will choose, it all depends on you what you like and what you dislike. Speakers have its disadvantages too, but it doesn’t mean we stop using them and similar is the case with the headphones.

    But, if you want to use headphones for audio mixing, then you need to become familiar with them. It is good to listen to a lot of music using the same headphones that you are going to use while mixing. It will help you to understand its frequency range better.

    If you are looking for a reliable store to buy headphones for audio mixing, then you can find it online as well from a local store. Before you go ahead, it is wise to know the things you should consider when buying headphones for mixing. For more information, explore the internet or wait for our new blog post.

    All the best!


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