The other day I was doing the dishes (shout out to my wife). Normally I listen to music or a podcast when I’m cleaning or working out.

This time I popped in those amazing Apple earbuds and tuned my iPhone into Josh Rouse’s album 1972.

I’d listened to this album plenty of times before, but always in the car or in my studio through my studio monitors. I’d never listened to it on headphones.

I was honestly shocked at all the things I heard for the first time…even over the sound of dishes clanking and water running. 🙂

There were all these little parts hidden in the mix that added such an interesting texture. I wasn’t able to pick them out before, but now that I was listening on headphones…er, earbuds…I could hear everything.

Headphone Power

I talk about mixing quite a bit here on HSC. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should mix your tracks on headphones. I think that task is best left to your studio monitors. However, don’t underestimate the power of headphones as an educational tool.

While I was listening to 1972 I got a ton of ideas for my upcoming album. He used all sorts of little drum loops and vocal parts that were almost imperceptible, but in the context of the entire mix they made a big difference.

I left that little dishwashing session inspired and full of new ideas. Had I listened to the album on the stereo, I probably wouldn’t have heard all these cool details. Listening on headphones, however, allowed me to be immersed in the creative production of this record.

Your homework: Go listen to an album on headphones. What things do you hear that you didn’t notice before? Leave a comment!

[Photo by david.nikonvscanon]