Headphones and Monitors

OK, so I have about as good a room as I can get regarding acoustics. 4 bass traps, diffuser at ear level behind my mix position, Auralex absorbers, reference monitors on homemade monitor stands filled with sand, and even the thumbs up from Ethan Winer after sending him my waterfall plot using Room EQ Wizard.

I have KRK Rokit 8 RGs and the 10" Subwoofer powered by the Apogee Duet running through the balanced breakout box and connected with TRS to XLR balanced cables. Needless to say it sounds really good in here.

I have been using the monitors exclusively for about 6 months now, with very little use of headphones, because I feel it important to hear what is happening in the open air. I think I have become quite familiar with my set up and have been listening to an array of musical styles through my system to get a sense of the balance.

I have listened to everything from the Beatles in mono to Villalobos on vinyl through my monitors with the settings as is. I have read just about every book and article I can get my hands on to control sound from a technical perspective, and the reasoning behind why my ears guide my decisions. I even compare my own projects with high-quality Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan productions to reference things that might be out of whack. So here is the dilemma:

I am working on a couple of tracks that are quite good for me at my present level of skill. Things fit, the bottom end booms but doesn’t overwhelm, the top is crystal but not fatiguing, and the mid-range just sits as if it is emanating from behind my computer monitor. It’s beautiful. Then I put the headphones on and it sounds like absolute shizz-nit.

Now, I put other things I just mentioned through my KRK 8400 headphones and surprisingly most of THAT sounds like shizz-nit as well. Well, at least the modern techno like some Villalobos and some Hawtin I have been collecting on vinyl. Even their music loses a lot of bottom end and the sense of “depth” that my monitors seem to have. According to lots of reviews, the KRKs are pretty flat and true, so I’m not so sure they are colorful to any extent of being false, if that makes any sense.

Question: Do I forget the headphones and go with the truth of the monitors or waste a ton of time trying to find a happy medium between the two? Considering many people listen to lots of music on iPods and iPhones and such, I’d think it dangerous to completely eschew the role of the headphones…


Hey stranger :slight_smile:

Over the last couple of wks… I have the h’phones around my neck… checking every 5-10mins or so.

Then going back.

Its easier to keep it real for me.

I do that aswel. I think the headphones pick up the reverb and the space that been created in the mix better

A good pair of headphones is an absoltue necessity i think. I use dt880’s and although some ppl say they are bass heavy, i think there awesome. My mixes were so flat and boring in the low end til i got a pair of these. My kicks and bass totally rock now :slight_smile:

Think HP’s are basically like a magnifying glass - if that analogy makes sense :slight_smile:

good to see you posting again Jamie !! one piece of advice would be to just go to a night Club and test it out . also try the car , Ipods ETC and compare them

I always try and get stuff to sound good on as many differnt sources as possible… everything will have holes and peaks that other things dont have.

my speakers lack detail and my room has some bass peaks… my headphones are a bit bass light and dont handle fast transients well.

If i can get something to sound good on both im 95% confident that its right.

Thanks guys!

Yeah Aline, I’ve been hiding for a bit. Trying to work on some tunes and figure some stuff out! Thanks for the help guys!


I have those headphones as well and what i usually find is if it sounds good on the headphones i dont have to do that much tinkering when i switch the monitors on. I also agree with what everyone said you wanna try and get it sounding good on both. The headphones however can pick up and make you aware of unwanted sounds and clippings that you wont hear on your monitors.

I find the KRK headphones really flat, its just a bit bass light imo but i suppose thats not a bad thing.

I use my krk 5’s and my krk 8400 headphone and mix while producing. then I’ll do a final mix down on my krks checking with my headphones. then plug in my ipod hifi and see how it sounds there. usally find I’ve cut things to much at this stage and zapped some of the warmth out of my synths on normal speakers and I also find I need to go back and enhance the bass more as other speaker are not as good/clear as krks or such like. so I’ll then go back and fix on my krks, back to ipod hifi and so on untill I’m 100% happy it sounds good from all sources I have, including crap in ear headphones. If it sound good my lots of different sources then your winning imo.