Mixing Headphones

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Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

I'm experimenting with mixing on headphones and getting some good results, I no longer have a treated room or the option for it so this looks like the way to go plus I can mix on the sofa with the laptop.

Currently using Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro which I like but wondering what others might recommended that would be superior.
Budget around £1000 and I hear good things about Audeze (LCD-X) and Focal Clears.

What I'd like to know is am I going to experience light and day comparing my DT 880's to either of those or similar? Or is it a lower margin of difference, 10% improvement? 25% maybe? Do I need to spend that much?

I am working with mostly acoustic folky music.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Sam Inglis »

I'm not familiar with the DT880, but I doubt you'd notice a night and day difference compared with the Focals. No doubt the Focals are better but I'd imagine the tonality is quite similar.

The LCD-X are very much their own beast, and don't really sound like moving-coil headphones. They have amazing low end, super low distortion and an incredibly punchy presentation of dynamics. The flip side is that they can seem a bit soft at the top end.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Wonks »

The LCD-X don't seem to have a very flat frequency response. But probably no worse than say the AKG 712. Enough dips and peaks above 1kHz IMO to make using some correction software fairly important if you don't want to miss things going on in the 5 kHz, 10kHz and 15kHz regions. And there is a significant boost of up to 15dB above nominal output level in the 18-20kHz region, so if you can hear up that high (I certainly can't), without correction you may be tempted to mix things slightly dull unless you keep cross referencing to existing tracks.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I have a set of DT 880s and have enjoyed them since I let go of the HD650s, which I found uncomfortable. Recently though I bought a set of the new DT900s (fully open back). They’re comfortable and more open than the 880s, so I use those now.

But as has been said, you won’t hear night and day differences with top end headphones. Whether the difference you hear is what you prefer and what you’re prepared to pay for, is your own call.

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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by tea for two »

forumuser641699 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 11:13 am
Currently using Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro which I like but wondering what others might recommended that would be superior.
Budget around £1000 and I hear good things about Audeze (LCD-X) and Focal Clears.

is it a lower margin of difference, 10% improvement? 25% maybe? Do I need to spend that much?

I am working with mostly acoustic folky music.

When I auditioned Focal Clear Mg I found it a Monster on Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Grunge, Nu Metal. The oomph presence, the bass, the guitars, the drums.
But Focal Clear MG wouldn't be my choice for Folky.

For similar reasons Audeze LCD- X wouldn't be my choice for Folky, LCD-X for me is more for Bass heavy styles.

Instead I would funds permitting choose Hifiman open backed He1000Se I auditioned were outstanding on Folk, Choral, Orchestral, Jazz, World, Country.
It's £2K now on sale but there are under and around £1K Hifiman as Ananda, He6se well worth audtioning
I would avoid the cheaper Hifiman Sundara as it's boxy muddy.

The DT880 were too harsh at top end for my ears : they hurt my ears lol. So they went to a good home.
Going to these £1K ish headphones you should hear a jump in clarity alongside less harsh hearing at top end which makes it easier to mix master on.

But there are other £200-£400 headphones worth auditioning perhaps they would suit : as DT900 Bob mentioned Bob does a lot of Folk Choral Orchestral professionally. Also AKG K712 which I use for some pseudo Choral, pseudo Orchestral for my own music, Shure 1840 worth auditioning.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

Thanks guys, I should have mentioned I have sonarworks for EQ.
Where I live there's no option to travel to demo so I'm looking for recommendations, especially for the folky acoustic music preference.

Honestly I have no idea so hearing it's not going to be night and day helps me with my budgeting. I wonder if something in the £500-600 region might be a better investment.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Might be worth considering the Avantone planars, considerably cheaper than the LCD-Xs and might give you a lot of the same benefits.
I believe Concertina Chap is a big fan.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Sam Inglis »

I rate the Neumann NDH30 and Shure SRH1840 very highly, and those are both within the lower price range.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Stuart79 »

I have a pair of Shure SRH1840s and find them easy to work with. Previously owned HD650s and while I enjoyed listening to music on them I found it difficult to mix low end. I find this a lot easier on the Shure phones. So it's a +1 from me.

I was mulling over a change/upgrade as my pair are well-used and showing their age a bit. But then I noticed that Amazon here in the UK have the 1840s at a significant discount so I just bought another pair.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 2:13 pm I rate the Neumann NDH30 and Shure SRH1840 very highly, and those are both within the lower price range.

Thanks Sam. Just reading your review of the Shure:

One of the problems of mixing on lesser headphones is that it can be hard to identify the point where a phenomenon such as sibilance becomes a problem. Some headphones have you reaching for the de-esser whatever the singer and whatever the mic, but with the SRH1840s, I never found myself trying to solve issues that weren't really there.

I've noticed this with my DT 880, am I hearing issues that are not there. I also noticed I missed some clicks and thumps on the DT 880 that I heard on my monitors.
The issues I have with mixing are in the lower end, too much, too little bass and boxy sounding acoustic guitar that should be full with nice bass.

The Neamann's look good too, which of the two would you take to the desert island?
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Sam Inglis »

forumuser641699 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 2:36 pm The Neamann's look good too, which of the two would you take to the desert island?

Tough call. The Shures are significantly more comfortable and perhaps just a shade more neutral in the low midrange. The Neumanns sound cleaner, for want of a better word, thanks to their very low distortion.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 2:45 pm
forumuser641699 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 2:36 pm The Neamann's look good too, which of the two would you take to the desert island?

Tough call. The Shures are significantly more comfortable and perhaps just a shade more neutral in the low midrange. The Neumanns sound cleaner, for want of a better word, thanks to their very low distortion.

Ok, seeing as Stuart pointed out the discount on Amazon, the Shure's are currently almost half the price. I'm going to take a punt, can always return them I guess.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Stuart79 »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 2:13 pm I rate the Neumann NDH30 and Shure SRH1840 very highly, and those are both within the lower price range.

Out of interest, Sam: what are you using on a regular basis? Do you chop and change between a few favoured models?
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Sam Inglis »

Stuart79 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:04 pm Out of interest, Sam: what are you using on a regular basis? Do you chop and change between a few favoured models?

I usually mix on speakers, and for tracking, I'll use any closed-back phones I have lying around. If I had to mix on phones I'd be very happy with the Neumanns or the Shures, or in a higher price bracket, with the HEDDphones or the Audeze MM-500.

Actually the phones I use the most are the old Oppo PM-3s I carry around with my laptop. They sound pretty good and they're small. Such a shame Oppo stopped making headphones.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Stuart79 »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:54 pm
Stuart79 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:04 pm Out of interest, Sam: what are you using on a regular basis? Do you chop and change between a few favoured models?

I usually mix on speakers, and for tracking, I'll use any closed-back phones I have lying around. If I had to mix on phones I'd be very happy with the Neumanns or the Shures, or in a higher price bracket, with the HEDDphones or the Audeze MM-500.

Good info. Thanks!

What speakers are you using?
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I meant to post a link to this website where you can see frequency plots of various headphones: https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/

I’ve found it quite informative and gives you a heads up on what to expect in terms of frequency response.

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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Wonks »

Note that there will be differences between individual samples of headphones. I’ve seen web sites that have tested several examples of the same model, and they have quite different responses at first glance. So, take single plots as indicative, rather than definitive. The main dips and peaks are normally similar but vary in amplitude and there are always the odd extra dips and peaks.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Sam Inglis »

Stuart79 wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 7:36 pm Good info. Thanks!

What speakers are you using?

Genelec 8330As at the moment. I'm currently trialling the subwoofer as well, and I fear I'm going to have to buy it.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by tea for two »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:54 pm
Actually the phones I use the most are the old Oppo PM-3s I carry around with my laptop. They sound pretty good and they're small. Such a shame Oppo stopped making headphones.

I had Grado SR 80e as a small over ear open backed when I was out and about.
They are worth auditioning.
Cex from where I purchased all my headphones (K712, ATH-R70x, DT880, SR80e) have a single B Grade SR80e in stock at the moment £60+£1.95 postage.
They also have a single B stock Grado SR225 £80 which is supposed to be a sweet spot in the SR series, a single B grade SR325e £160 it's more neutral than SR80e according to reviews although I can't verify this for myself.
Purchasing online only if they aren't to your liking can take them back to any cex store in the country approx 200 stores within 14 days full refund.

::

I have done this returning within 14 days on over 50 online purchases from cex including macbooks, cameras, mobiles, headphones, my reason I gave to cex store is they weren't what I was looking for. I have the printed receipt they sent with the purchase also I have the online receipt to show the store.
The cex store tests the item, duration of tests depends on item and what other backlog of tests they have : for headphones usually 30minutes.
They give a printed receipt. After 30minutes or whatever time 3hours for a macbook, I return to cex store they process refund which shows up in my email as a notification whereupon within 2 working days the fund are returned to my bank account. Cex don't accept paypal anymore
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

Just following up here......

So I ordered the Shure SRH1840. I let them play in for several hours with spotify and a quick listen to commercial music and my god, the detail! Sounded great.

On the downside they are a bit plasticy, the foam isn't anywhere near as nice as my DT 880's which have a more fluffy material that just feels nicer. I don't like the cable at all, again the coiled one on the DT 880's is nicer, doesn't get in a tangle either and I'm also not a fan of the connectors especially having one to each ear rather than just one cable going into one ear. Those issues were disappointing considering the price, the brand and who they are targeting.

That said, I'm blown away by the sound I hear and having done a mix on them and finally getting to test it on the speakers I was delighted, it sounds fab, super clean, no mud, lack/too much bass, just perfect. The Shure SRH1840 are a great investment, I see no reason to use speakers now to mix although I do find an hour is about all I can take before my ears get tired but that's ok. I'm now sat on the sofa with the laptop mixing in comfort.

It's mentioned elsewhere in the forum but Sonarworks SoundID Reference software have headphone reviews and the Shure SRH1840 got absolutely slated, someone suggested the review model might have been faulty. There is mixed opinions out there on the net though a quick look at the reviews on sweetwater tells you all you need to know, they're fine headphones.
To be honest, I'm going to sell my Sonarworks SoundID Reference. I didn't use the plugin on my test mix, and the translation was so good on HHB circles and my smaller kitchen speakers, the Shure's are accurate enough without Sonarworks profile.
I only wish I had got the Shure's in the first place. Thanks Sam for the recommendation, they are indeed fantastic.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by sonics »

I'm glad you're happy with them. I like the Shure SRH range of headphones, and use the 840 here (even flatter mids than the 1840). Build could be better, but in general the drivers produce great dynamics and mid-range detail. I'd still use corrective EQ, though, if I were you. Makes the good even better, so why not?
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by forumuser641699 »

sonics wrote: Tue Jun 20, 2023 6:16 pm I'm glad you're happy with them. I like the Shure SRH range of headphones, and use the 840 here (even flatter mids than the 1840). Build could be better, but in general the drivers produce great dynamics and mid-range detail. I'd still use corrective EQ, though, if I were you. Makes the good even better, so why not?

Based on their dire review of the shure's I'm now very sceptical that their EQ correction is accurate. That and the fact my mix translated perfectly without it leads me to think I've £200 odd quid tied up in a product I don't need.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by sonics »

Does it sound accurate? You could always make some corrections yourself using EQ, I suppose.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by tea for two »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Jun 02, 2023 6:54 pm Actually the phones I use the most are the old Oppo PM-3s I carry around with my laptop. They sound pretty good and they're small. Such a shame Oppo stopped making headphones.

Sam I read from your SoS review you also like Rode NTH-100 closed backs.
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/rode-nth-100

I purchased this week Rode NTH-100, compared to my Shure SRH440 closed back, the Rode sounded not as clear not as open, also I couldn't edit sounds with accuracy on the Rode whereas I can edit sounds on the Shure.
I returned the Rode.
Last week returned Senny HD560s which is supposed to be a close relative of HD600. 560s was muddy muffled compared to SRH440.

I think 440 is a bit of a gem. I prefer it to my AKG K712 so much so I don't have K712 any longer.
I still have K702 which for me has one of the best soundstages even compared to £1K-£3K Focal, Hifiman headphones I auditioned.

I think it's worth auditioning SRH440 the OG version not the later 440A, usually £45 odd used.
They fold up so become smaller.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I've pointed out here before the wide variation in headphone frequency responses obtained by the various websites that measure them, so they must always be taken with a large grain of salt.

Nevertheless, the plots below are all from the same site, so are theoretically comparable, even if not 100% accurate.

What these plots show is that the Sennheiser is by far the most accurate and neutral of the headphones you mentioned. The Rode isn't far off (apart from the peculiar HF notch which could well be a measurement artefact).

In comparison the Shure has an inflated low end and hyped and peaky treble. That may not be a bad thing in specific circumstances, as the latter enhances detail and so could well make editing easier.

The AKG K702 has a similarly peaky top end, whereas the K712 has a smoother response again and appears to have a notch around 3-4kHz, much like the Rode which would tend to obscure detail — although I suspect that's a measuring artefact too....

Rode NTH00 response:
Image

Sennheiser HD560S response:
Image

Shure SRH440 response:
Image

AKG K702 response:
Image
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by tea for two »

I like an open sound as Shure 440. Even though AKG K712, Rode NTH100, Senny HD560s have the better graph they don't have the open sound I like. Senny 560s was too muffled muddy for me. So I didn't keep them. K712 I had almost a year.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Sure. I'm not criticising.

Just be aware that what you're calling "an open sound" is, in reality, a hyped high-end which over-emphasises the true level of air and detail in the recording.

it's the audible equivalent of an over-saturated photograph or TV picture. Exciting and vibrant...

And while it can be a boon to editing in that it exaggerates details, it can also be disastrous in mixing as what sounds right in the headphones is likely to sound subdued on genuinely neutral speakers or 'phones.

So for those very reasons, I generally use K702s for editing (if I have to use headphones), and HD600s for mixing...
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by tea for two »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Thu Nov 09, 2023 11:44 am it can be a boon to editing in that it exaggerates details it can also be disastrous in mixing as what sounds right in the headphones is likely to sound subdued on genuinely neutral speakers or 'phones.

Fo sho. Important to check mixes on monitors, hifi speakers, phones, boom boxes. Also on different headphones.

K712 I found I just couldn't get the Bass right in the mix I was over egging the Bass when mixing on it. Everything else was fine on K712.
NTH-100 was better for this so I mixed 10 Bass Beatz heevee tunes on NTH-100 before returning them lol they were used B grade from where I purchased (cex).

Shure SRH1840 open backed which Sam likes
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/shure-srh1840
is next for me to audition as soon as they are available (in cex). Reckon as I already like 440 I may well end up keeping 1840 should I get them.

Audeze LCD-X which Zuke likes is the best for me I found for editing sounds and mixing Bass Beatz heevee. Butt they are approx £1K.
Glowing review from Sam for LCD-X.
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/audeze-lcd-x-el8

Hifiman He1000se approx £2K are superb for anything that wasn't Bass Beatz heevee or wasn't Hard Rock Metal when I auditioned them.
Yet I am happy with K702 for such because of the soundstage of K702 also because it's top end doesn't hurt my ears which the Beyer DT770 DT880 pro I had hurt my ears at the top end.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by ajay_m »

I have to say that I am very pleased with the NTH-100s. I think the issue though is that, apart from innate preferences (e.g, some people really like an over-hyped treble response), at higher frequencies the coupling from driver to ear does I think vary depending on the listener's ears, which obviously are unique in geometry from person to person.

The NTH-100s are very low cost, very ruggedly built, comfortable to wear and have that terrific 'lock' feature that means every time you pick them up and put them on they are perfectly adjusted. But that's my opinion and I know other people have strongly different views. Still, for their very reasonable cost I do think they are a good place to start. I certainly find them neutral but revealing, at least for the frequencies that really matter, and they are enjoyable just to listen to music with as well.

PS: on the subject of treble response, I have a pair of the original Galaxy Buds and whoever voiced these must have some serious hearing loss in the upper midrange. In order to tame them, I have the graphic EQ on the phone set to -1dB at 2KHz, -2dB at 4KHz and -4dB at 8KHz, otherwise to my ears they sound terribly sibilant.
And yet I don't recall any reviews mentioning this, so - is it just me? Who knows, but I think headphones are intensely personal.
Looking at that comparison site I suspect the HD650s would also be very nice, but they are twice the price of the Rodes, of course.
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Re: Mixing Headphones

Post by shufflebeat »

tea for two wrote: Thu Nov 09, 2023 9:25 am I think it's worth auditioning SRH440 the OG version not the later 440A, usually £45 odd used.
They fold up so become smaller.

Great ‘phones but remember to budget for kid gloves.

I had the srh840’s following the recommendation by Dave Rat. The folding function was great until they broke.

I bought #3 a pair of srh440’s for his birthday, he loved them, they broke - in the same place, other ear.

After much fannying about with Shure who, after a long delay, sent me the wrong replacement part I bought two pairs of broken 440’s and repaired my 840’s and the young fella’s 440’s.

Eventually my 840’s broke again, same place.

In a fit of optimism I bought the srh840a, the re-designed versions. Pretty much the same sound as the originals (to me) but fold flat rather than in on themselves. I bought a cheap semi-rigid case that they fit snugly in and now they live in my laptop bag but I’m quite happy to throw them in a leads bag when a gig dictates that the Senn hd25’s won’t be suitable.

Happy but poor.

#3 ended up with some refurb AKG k70…somethings that he uses to mix on - much preferred.

I mix on Senn hd650’s
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