Over the last few weeks I’ve been asking you, my cute little readers, a couple of questions, such as:

You guys give some really great answers, so let’s do it again, shall we?

How do you mix your songs? Do you use headphones? Do you use studio monitors? Are you a 90% monitors, 10% headphones kinda guy? Are you 100% one way or the other?

I talked about this briefly in the latest podcast. I’m particularly interested, since I’m working on mixing my album right now. I can definitely see the pros and cons of both methods of mixing. I’ll post my thoughts in a day or so, but FIRST, I want to hear from you.

Leave a comment. Tell us if you prefer headphones, monitors, or both. Also, be sure to tell us why.

[Photo by skippyjon]

  • Jack Nguyen

    Though I am a headphone freak, but while at home, I prefer my speakers more than the headphones, especially while resting or chilling with friends at home.

    • Yeah, headphones can be exhausting. Thanks for the comment!

  • Jack Nguyen

    Though I am a headphone freak, but while at home, I prefer my monitors. They are really great while relaxing alone or chilling with friends at home.

  • Bluebeep

    Both! I don’t have good room treatment but I do take the mixes to monitors and use headphones too

  • chrisw92

    I use headphones at the moment as I cannot afford monitors, together with the fact that my room is not even slightly treated… I don’t even have a proper I/O yet.

  • Dan

    I use headphones 99% of the time, but out of necessity more than anything.

    I’m a student living in student accomodation. So primarily I can’t afford decent monitors, and even if I could, I’d be contending with every other resident in my block.

    So I make do with a set of (decent) cans. They are more than adequate for my needs as I’m not getting anything released. I usually A/B my mix on whatever is around, such as my ipod, my PC speakers, my flatmates PA, car speakers etc, as you should with any mix.

    My University also has an awesome 24 track Pro Tools setup in the studio, so if I ever need to, I can make use of that in my free time.

    What I’ve found from both is that the headphones are so much better for panning, as aLf said, “like a magnifying glass”.

  • aLf

    Monitors for loudness-control, mixing & EQ and Headphones for Panning and average control – like some kind of magnifying glass.

    Thanks for a great site!


  • Joe R.

    I use the SAMSON RUBICON 6a (very nice) near field monitors. recently one went down (only the tweeter is working)

    Since then I have been using my headphones…

    What I have found is the Headphones translate better to my car stereo..

    I borrowed my wifes P/C Speakers from her desk. (they are good quality)hooked them up and found I get better translation with them than I do the $500.00 Samson!

    Dont get me wrong… The Samsons sound GREAT in the studio…. But what good is that when the mix sounds boomy everywhere else.

    So I now use headphones and monitors…. depends on what Im listening for.

    • Ciro

      I have the Rubicon 5A, I agree with this comment (that sounds “great” but mixes not translate well to other systems).Most the low end, and It happens (IME) because the Rubicon has a lack in the 100hz range , which is critical for the balance in the lows and makes you put more volume on things like bass guitar.Mids and highs are precise and translates well – altough stereo image has not enough “front to back” accuracy for a precise mixing stage.

  • Cliff

    Another one with a wife and family here, so I do initial mixing with cans, and wait till I can use my monitors for final mixing. I have been playing around with 112db’s Redline Monitor plug. It does cut down on the extreme seperation you get with phones, but in my mind the jury is still out on it.

  • Kirby

    Hi Joe.
    Thanks for answering the question. Made my day.
    I think I’m going to continue mixing through headphones, because my room is a nightmare at the moment and hopefully get some monitors lined up in the future.

  • I just got some Sennheiser HD 595s. They’re amazing. I’m very limited in my set up so I use these to mix. I do, of course, run it through the car and whatever else is around and make adjustments from there.

    I live overseas and am on a very limited budget. So the thing that sucks is that I do actually have monitors that came with my MBox2 bundle, but they cost too much to ship to Saudi Arabia. I’ll get them over here next time someone goes on vacation or something, but for the meantime, I’m trying to do the best I can with the headphones.

    I’m just starting out, too, so, since I have know experience or knowledge of what works best for me, I can only say what I have to rely on.

    Thanks for the great discussion here everyone, I learn something every time I come here.

  • Preshan

    I’d certainly prefer monitors over headphones in terms of mixing, as it allows you to hear the mix in a more natural environment. I don’t have fancy monitors (BX5a’s) but they tend to translate quite well and give me enough clarity to do my mixing.

    I use headphones for three main reasons:
    1. The amount of detail. It’s crazy the stuff you can hear when you’re using headphones that I would never hear on my monitors. (Unless I had $10 000 Mackie’s or something…)
    2. It gives me a reference point. When I do stuff in different studios, each with a separate set of monitors, I can mix on my headphones a bit more confidently because I know what they sound like.
    3. To check my mixes. I use the HD280 Pro’s mainly, but I like to mix-check on the PX-200’s and some cheap Roland’s. I’ve found that if I can get a mix sounding good on all 3, then it’ll sound good in most places.

  • hariel

    I use an AKG K500 as a reference headphone. I do mixes 60% (monitors) – 40% (headphones), actually because my headphones are much better than my monitors…

  • garth

    slightly off topic (kind of)-
    but when do you plan on having this piece of work done joe? I actually dig your tunes and would more than support you by buying a copy of it when it’s finished (as i’m sure the rest of the regulars on here would too)

  • Do I Mix With Headphones?


  • I use headphones to get things 85% there, but for that last 15% I’ll use monitors. I’ve also had the same pair of earbuds for about 3-4 years that I use almost all the time for music listening, so (hopefully) I have a good sense of how things sound through those.

  • Jed

    Years ago I used to mix with headphones but I mix 100% through my monitors. I use headphones for tracking and as one source of checking my mix, along with iPod earbuds, car stereo, home stereo, etc. If you know your monitors you should be able to get a great mix out of them and compensate for what they are either enhancing or diminishing.

  • Dave

    I would have to say I’m in the same boat as David S. plus being in an apartment that doesn’t allow much in the way of room treatment or monitors. So I do the main mix with Sony MDR-CD180 headphones, while checking with iPod buds, little Logitech laptop speakers and finally in my car. Between those, I can pretty much get it in the ballpark. I must be doing something right – on my last CD, even my most pickiest of listeners actually commented on how good it sounded. (excuse while I break my arm trying to pat myself on the back :-))

  • Lukas

    I don’t mind doing some parts of mixing on the cans, mostly due to the fact, that I don’t own a proper studio with acoustically treated mixing room. I know my room still sounds far from perfect which quite often leads to a bad mixing decisions, but I am working on it.
    I try to do most of balancing, panning, eq, compression and reverbs with monitors engaged anyway, at least I am getting to know the monitors and the room, even if it is not always outstandingly beneficial to the mix – it’s like some sort of educational purpose for now. Some people may find it weird, but I will make final calls with the headphones on – I just don’t trust them speakers in the room yet.
    Until I get it treated, I will have to trust my cans which I know inside out.
    Ideally, I would probably be 80% monitors, 15% cans and 5% other systems kinda guy.

    Great post, Joe!

  • I too have a wife in the other room. So for editing/comping/pocketing I’m often using open-back Sony MDR headphones (using Sennheiser HD280’s for tracking).
    For EQ/mixing/etc I pretty much only use my Yammie monitors, andI soft-check what I’m hearing on the open/closed cans. I’ve got a really basic auralex foam arrangement above my DAW area and on the wall directly behind my monitors, nothing really super scientific. I’m planning to gett off my rear and build a couple of basic homemade bass traps soon.

  • 90 percent with monitors. I always check my mixes with several headphones and speakers. I pull out the headphones to check small detail. I find with headphones I under do verbs and such. Monitors give you a better sense of space in your mix. When it’s all said And done it only matters that your mix translates from whatever system you use to other playback systems and doesn’t sound like poo. Thanks Joe for a place to voice our two cents.

  • For the most part, I trust my knowledge of my room and monitors for most of the tracking of the project. I periodically check the phones to either confirm or deny my idea of the sounds. When i get to mixing, I use them to make sure that the overall mix is even and that my low sounds are reproducing on the small drivers, and that my mix doesn’t lack due to the inability for it to be reproduced on those output sources.
    I’ll also use the headphones to get a better idea of the panning i’m using because they give better separation of the mix.
    Lastly I use them to take my room out of the equation.

  • Sennheiser HD 280’s. I use them during the later stages of mixing when things are pretty settled and I want to check details. These particular cans are pretty good for mixing when you keep the volume low, very detailed and pretty accurate. They’re also good for tracking as they’re sealed and don’t leak much.

    On the low ball side I have a set of beater phones that I wear at the gym. Because I go to the gym a lot I really know the sound of these phones.

  • Mike Dronkers

    Headphones mostly, but not by choice. That said, you always know exactly how they should sound, no wonder what room you’re in.

    Mastering has to be on monitors, and everything has to pass the car test.

    SONY MDR-V6….is there a better budget headphone out there?

  • I mix almost exclusively on monitors, switching if possible between bigs and one or two pairs of nearfields. Once done I tend to test my mix on a pair of decent cans, as well as some sort of poor speaker system – car stereo, kitchen radio etc.
    Obviously if I’m mixing from home I don’t have the privilege of a pair of bigs, but I still use my monitors over headphones and I test the mix on my lounge stereo.

  • Steven

    I use the monitors for all EQ, compression and most balancing. I use headphones for reverb and getting an alternative perspective on the mix. Headphones are always a consideration as your music is most likely going to be listened to on an ipod or similar device.

    I like to use headphones to make sure the kick and bass are coming through the mix in that context. It’s a regular problem when I mix through my monitors.

  • David S.

    wow, i’m the first commenter!
    i use headphones for 3 reasons.
    1. my room is not treated at all, so the accuracy might be waaaay off.
    2. i have a wife in the other room.
    3. most importantly, most everyone i know uses an ipod/iphone w/ headphones when listening to music. so, i cater to the most popular form of listening. so far, i’ve found that mixing to headphones and then listening on speakers has worked. i’m not rick rubin, but neither is anyone else who is not rick rubin.

    • i’m not rick rubin, but neither is anyone else who is not rick rubin.

      hee hee hee… 🙂