Quantcast

Mix with Headphones? 3 Valid Reasons Not To and 1 Tip if You Must:

A reader asks whether he can mix with in-ear headphones.  Read my response below right now...


Can you mix with headphones only?  This is a question recently sent in by a subscriber of RenegadeProducer.com:

"I'm setting up my home studio. I'm going to record vocals and instruments. I already have a microphone and an audio interface. I don't want to invest in Monitors for now.

My question is that can I use in-ear-monitors over headphone for mixing and mastering? I feel that since in-ears will also be useful in the live scenario, it will be a better investment over headphones. But since nobody around me is or has ever mixed on in-ears, none of them are sure if that's the way to go."

Here's the answer I sent him, expanded on a bit:

"I advise against in-ears for mixing and mastering for three main reasons...

  1. Good mixing depends on your ability to hear what's present in your mix.

    It's physically impossible for in-ears to reproduce a large part of the frequencies in your mix.

    This means you won't be able to hear what you're working with, especially in the low-end of the spectrum.

  2. The stereo image is warped in headphones so stereo placement becomes more difficult to get right.

  3. Your ears will take a beating if mix with headphones only for a long time. Tinnitus is a thing.

That said, you can use in-ears as a supplemental reference in addition to your monitors.

In short, even the cheaper pro monitors available will be a better option than in-ears, as long as you know them well.

The next best option would be pro reference headphones."

Now, this refers to in-ears, but what about larger pro headphones vs. monitors? They may address issue #1 above better than earbuds but issues #2 and #3 still remain.

If you really must mix on headphones, say on the road, or due to other constraints, then you should check out Sonarworks correction software for your headphones.  The software works only with a selected range of headphones as it corrects according to the specific headphone make and model's response.  Worth checking out if you rely on your headphones.

Look, you can get a decent mix on almost anything if you know what you're doing.  A well-designed, built-out and treated control room and high-end-monitors just make it soooooooooo much easier to do so.  Don't let the lack of these hold you back though.  Use what you have and make the best of it.  If that's ear-buds then go for it.  Just know that it will come with immense challenges and compensate.

The most important thing is to know your speakers/room/headphones and always use references when you mix, especially if you only have headphone when you mix with headphones

Please like, share and subscribe below if you found this answer useful!

Do you want more? Never miss a beat! Get the free Renegade Report newsletter below right now for exclusive content and updates. 

Sign up straight away because at the moment you also receive a free audio training that reveals the 3 key habits all professional producers must have to thrive in music and in the business.

Just enter your email address in the form below and hit the button and you'll get instant access in less than a few minutes from now. Thank you!

Your email address is safe. We promise to only send you the Renegade Report Newsletter and the Mix Skills Series.



Latest Posts

  1. The Basic Music Theory Vocab for Producers and Beatmakers

    Discover the basic music theory vocabulary you need to progress faster as a music producer or beatmaker. You just need the vocab...

    Read More

  2. The Vocal Mixing Skill-Stack for Producers & Beatmakers

    Discover the vocal mixing skills you need to to stack to make your vocals sit well in every mix you do. Tight, nailed, punchy and clear. Vocal mixing techniques for producers and beatmakers. Read now…

    Read More

  3. The Music Production Skills Stack You Need As A Producer

    Step right up and uncover the various music production skills you must stack to go from a competent to a proficient music producer or beatmaker. Start to crush it in your home studio on the daily! Sta…

    Read More

  4. Studio Flow - Music Production Workflow Course

    Discover tried-and-tested music production workflow tips, strategies, habits and techniques to make more music, consistent and fast. Includes exercises to help you break through blocks and escape the…

    Read More

  5. 11 Handy Home Recording Tips for Music Producers

    These handy home recording tips will make your life easier when it's time to capture the musical magic in your home studio. Specifically for music producers and beatmakers.

    Read More

› Mix With Headphones

Discover and Cultivate The Mindset and Habits of a Professional Producer...


Studio Flow Leaderboard Link Image

ProducerCode: Studio Flow is here to help you get out of your own way to produce more tracks, more often. As you go through the videos you discover, among other things, how to:

  • Know and beat your #1 music production enemy.
  • Get the right perspective - the perspective that is conducive to productivity in the studio.
  • Find your flow and increase your output to the level where you know it could be.
  • Feel fantastic when you start to crush it in your home studio on a regular basis!

Don't miss out on your chance to level-up your studio workflow and output.  Get ProducerCode: Studio Flow, pour a glass or mug of your beverage of choice and start to upgrade your music production process straight away. See you on the other side!