Ask David Glenn — Ep. 2: Mixing on Headphones

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Ask David Glenn — Ep. 2: Mixing on Headphones

Alright, welcome, and thanks for tuning in
to the Ask David Glenn podcast!

I’m your host, David Glenn with Davidglennrecording.com,
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Today, we have a great question from my man,
Collin Jansen, who comes from within the forums

of The Mix Academy, but before we jump in,
I want to let you know that the Ask David

Glenn podcast is sponsored by themixacademy.com,
where each month, members gain access to session

files, start to finish mix tutorials, online
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with your membership at themixacademy.com.

Alright, today’s question comes from Collin
Jansen over in The Mix Academy forums, and

he writes in, “Hey, David.

Is it true that you mix exclusively with headphones?

If so, why?

And which ones are you using?”Well, it’s
a great question, and I’m not necessarily

exclusive to headphones, but I do enjoy mixing
on headphones.

I think that comes from growing up, I always
had a Sony Walkman.

I always had a cassette player with headphones.

Then, moving into the CD player, always had
a portable CD player with headphones.

I traveled a lot growing up playing soccer.

So, music on the go was always kind of my
experience being in a hotel room, so.

Growing up – I mean, listening to music
going to sleep on repeat, it was horrible

for my ears, and probably for my sleep pattern,
but always listening to music on headphones,

I became very comfortable early on working
with headphones.

I traveled a lot, and it was a very convenient
way to work and to keep working, be it on

a plane, or in different studios with different
rooms, and different speakers.

I always felt comfortable coming back to my
cans, but I use the Sennheiser HD 650s now,

and I really like those.

I used to use the Beyerdynamic DT-770s.

There’s a couple of models.

There’s the 80 Ohm and the 250 Ohm.

I like the 250s way better.

Actually, quite a bit of a difference between
those two models, but those broke, and a bunch

of people told me, “Hey, check out the 650s.

You’ve got to be careful around the low-mids,
there’s a little bit of a bump there, and

something different in the mid-range, just
a little bit.”But they showed up, I Next

Day Air’d them when the 770s went out, and
I absolutely hated the Sennheiser HD 650s

the first time I put them on, the first time
I listened to something with them, I thought

they were total crap.

I absolutely hated the experience, so I messaged
a couple of friends.

Joey from The Mix Academy web show comes to
mind.

He was really adamant about me checking these
out.

It was like, “dude, what the heck is going
on?

You’re killing me, man.

I had a record to finish.

It was last minute.”And he said, “Hey,
just go listen to a bunch of music, and learn

to like them, because once you start mixing
on them, I guarantee you’re going to love

what your mixes sound like.”

Kind of can relate that to what a lot of people
say about working on Yamaha NS-10s.

How they would hate the experience of actually
listening to music on them, but whenever they

push through it, and they just did their thing,
their mixes would translate well across multiple

playback systems, and so I definitely can
experience – I have experienced that, and

I can relate to that through using the Sennheiser
HD 650s.

So, if you’re in the market for them, I can’t
remember how much they are right now [$500

USD], but they’re definitely worth the money,
and I definitely recommend picking some of

these up.

A couple of reasons I like headphones as well
is I don’t trust the low end in my room, and

even though I have some Yamaha HS5 speakers,
which are great in a small room, especially

untreated rooms, I still feel like the headphones
give me a better representation of pretty

much everything, but the low end especially.

You got to get the low end right.

So what I’ll do is I’ll reference quite a
bit with the headphones.

I’ll pull in, you know, hot tracks on the
charts, Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk, Muse, Dead

Inside we just talked about on The Mix Academy
web show.

I’m pulling in songs like that, or if I’m
working on a live gospel track, I’ll pull

in something mixed by my friend Salvo out
of Nashville.

Israel Houghton.

I’ll just click back and forth from my mix
to their mix.

Back to mine, back to theirs, and I’m just
listening for what my low end is giving me.

If you follow me for any amount of time, you
know I’ll take a FabFilter Pro-Q2 or any EQ

on my master fader, and I’ll cut all of the
top end out of the song to where it’s just

like, 30Hz and below.

Only the sub stuff, and I’ll compare my mix
to another mix, and then I’ll open that up

to 40, 50Hz. 100Hz.

Just kind of work my way up through the spectrum
to kind of get a picture of what my low end

is doing, versus what the industry tracks
are doing.

I do that religiously with my headphones,
and then I check on the speakers.

Anywhere from 100 up, and then I go back and
forth between the cans and speakers.

I feel like you get a really, really great
mix doing that, which translates to the car,

and the iPod headphones, the phone.

I think it does really, really well at helping
me establish a mix that works well across

multiple playback systems, so.

A couple of thoughts on mixing with headphones.

I really dig it.

These are open back, so I feel I can go a
little bit longer and not be fatigued.

If you are mixing on cans, you want to be
careful not to blow your ears out.

You get really tired really fast.

I’d recommend taking some breaks and making
sure that you watch that.

I set a timer with Siri using my iPhone.Say,
“Siri, set a timer to one hour.”

I’ll mix for an hour, take a ten minute break,
come back.

It’s not for everybody, but it definitely
helps me to continue the flow, and there you

go, man.

So that was a great question, and just to
recap, if you do decide to work with headphones,

you want to make sure you listen to a lot
of music on whatever headphones you decide

to use.

You want to make sure you reference against
industry tracks from both within your genre

and outside of the genre, being that we’re
competing with all genres nowadays.

And you want to use the EQ trick.

Put it on your master fader, suck out all
the top end, pull it open and listen to your

low end, and their low end, your mid-range,
their mid-range, how much top, how much air.

Check against the reference tracks, and make
sure you’re in the ballpark.

You want to watch your volume, make sure you
give yourself a moderate level to listen to,

and then you want to make sure you take breaks
every hour or so.

If you have closed backs, I would probably
even recommend 30-45 minutes before taking

a break.

So I want to thank you guys for tuning in.

Collin, thanks for the question.

If you’re listening and you’d like to have
your question featured in an Ask David Glenn

podcast, head to DavidGlennrecording.com/askdavidglenn,
and you can submit your question via the built

in audio recorder, or feel free to shoot me
an e-mail.

David@davidglennrecording.com, with the subject
line, “Ask David Glenn.”Thanks again,

guys, and we’ll catch you on the next one.

Ask David Glenn — Ep. 2: Mixing on Headphones

Mixing with Delay: http://mixingdelay.com
Mixing with Reverb: http://mixingverb.com
The Mix Academy: https://bit.ly/mixacademy

In the second episode of the Ask David Glenn Podcast David answer’s his friend Colin’s question about mixing on headphones.

Collin is a member of my membership site. Learn more at: http://bit.ly/mixacademy

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Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

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