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9 reasons why you should mix on headphones – instead of monitor boxes

Published 10:09 am on Thursday 18th April 2024 by Beat Magazine

1 Pro models instead of Hi-Fi

First of all: Not every headphone is suitable for professional mixing, because hi-fi models in particular tend to color the sound softly and beautifully instead of providing the listener with an honest sound image. So make sure you use pro headphones, such as the new HD 490 PRO from Sennheiser.

2 Use reference tracks

Producing with headphones results in a much more intense perception of the sound – you are almost drawn into the sound and hear every detail much more clearly. This can be a disadvantage if it causes you to lose objective vision, but a huge advantage if you know your headphones. We therefore recommend that you listen to as much music as possible through your headphones and definitely also reference tracks. The better you can assess the sound properties of your headphones.

3 Use open-back headphones

Although they are a little more expensive than regular headphones, purchasing an open-back headphone is worth it. This architecture allows the headphones to vibrate like a monitor box and therefore deliver a much more precise sound with minimized resonances and distortion.

4 Save room acoustics

One of the biggest advantages of producing via headphones is that you don‘t need a special room with special dimensions as a studio, nor acoustic elements to decimate annoying frequencies or standing waves. This saves immense costs in terms of equipment.

5 You always have your studio with you

What‘s more: You can produce anywhere with your usual setup, not just at home in any room, but also on vacation, on the go by plane or train, with friends at a jam session or in the tent at a festival.

6 Prevent fatigue by mixing quietly

A big problem when working with headphones for long periods of time is the ear fatigue that quickly sets in. You can prevent this by mixing quietly so that you can still hear yourself talking. Otherwise, saturation occurs quickly and then the session is over. Of course, there‘s nothing wrong with turning it up every now and then, as it provides a breath of fresh air and variety. By the way, we once again recommend the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO, which ensures
permanent ventilation through its rear opening.

7 Listen to alternatives

Here we have to briefly mention the HD 490 PRO again, because it comes with two different ear pads that can be replaced at any time: The producing ear pads (velor) have a slightly warmer sound signature to create perspective and help users to assess sound holistically. The mixing earpads (fabric), on the other hand, provide a flat, neutral sound that helps to go into detail when a sound reference is needed for mixing.

8 Don‘t let the bass be a problem

As already mentioned in tips 1 and 6, headphones can cloud objective perception and quickly tire your ears. Low frequencies and sub-bass are particularly problematic here because they often sound washed out and undefined. Here the Sennheiser HD 490 scores again with its pure sound based on neodymium magnets (neodymium enables smaller sound transducers with a big sound). However, the same applies here: keep your ears open, listen at a quieter level and take breaks every now and then.

9 Test your mix in different environments

The HD 490 also comes with software called dearVR MIX SE. This is a virtual mixing room with which you can simulate 9 stereo environments such as a studio, car or club and thus preview your songs directly in the final environment.

Our recommendation: Sennheiser HD 490 PRO

The HD 490 PRO has proven to be a real studio workhorse and, in addition to the finest sound, offers a lot of comfort for longer mixing and jam sessions. The two interchangeable ear cups provide alternative “viewing angles” when producing and the included equipment results in an all-round product.

HD 490 PRO technical data:

  • Acoustic principle: open
  • Ear connection: circumaural
  • Converter principle: dynamic
  • Driver size: 38 mm
  • Frequency range: 5 - 36,100 Hz (-10 dB)
  • Sound pressure level: 105dB SPL (1 kHz/1 Vrms); 96dB SPL (1kHz/1mW)
  • Max. sound pressure level: 128 dB SPL (1 kHz, 5% THD)
  • Distortion factor: <0.2% (1kHz, 100dB SPL)
  • Impedance: 130 ohms (1 kHz)
  • Nominal power: 300mW (100 h, noise IEC 60268)
  • Temperature range: Operation: 0C to +50C; Storage: -25C to +70C
  • Relative Humidity: Operating: 10 – 80% (non-condensing); Storage: 10 – 90%
  • Weight (without cable): 260 g

Find out more about the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO at

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The Producer Blog - Hardware

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