listening with headphones or not...

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evs
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listening with headphones or not...

Post by evs » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:35 am

normally i use my headphones when making music. but as i normally make very subtle ambient/noise/drone stuff, without drums, its very comfortable and i never had problems with it.

now yesterday i made some noisy techno. not even long.. but when i ended i had the impression that this could be dangerous. i felt it way too much in my ears. (everything is ok now, but i recognised it..)

interesting, i thought. maybe i was listening much louder? or is it because drums have a much higher impact on your ears?

anyone here that is making more wild music with headphones and does not have a problem?

curious to hear your storys!

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Post by Astrolabe23 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:04 am

I get headphone fatigue pretty quick. Not so much from the volume (I keep it down), but from the actual headphones pushing on my ears. I have never found a pair that are comfortable for more than 20 min or so. I usually only wear them when tracking something with a live mic. For me, all music writing and listening is done on monitor speakers.

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Post by cptnal » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:55 am

If you feel it's too much then it probably is. The only time I use the cans is to tweak the mix (I think my monitors need adjusted for bass) but that's for comfort more than anything. Don't push your ears too hard - that tinnitus never goes away. :cry:

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Post by slumberjack » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:23 am

i love making music with my plushy-flushy beyerdynamic headphones but it's been rare since i got used to proper studio monitors.
there is tinitus once in while, it disappears quickly usually. after 20 years on stage idk where i got that beeeeeeep from.

take care to your ears.
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Post by Koekepan » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:17 pm

I use open-backed AKGs as monitoring headphones, and I turn the music down as quiet as possible, while still hearing it.

By following this strategy, I don't get hearing fatigue.

Maybe an audiologist can chime in, but one of the worst things for your ears is high energy with nowhere to go (pounding spikes in closed-back isolating headphones) because then you get heavy energy directed at your ears.

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Post by calaveras » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:19 pm

I don't like playing with headphones on, though I have been doing it for years.
After about 11pm I kind of have to quiet down for neighbors and housemates sake.
As far as headphone pain;
I find it's got a lot to do with the headphones themselves.
On my Beyer 770s I never feel a need to push the bass at all.
On my Shure 440 the bass is very anemic so I end up maxing out the kick!
Ditto for the Sony 7506 and the harsh upper mids.
The other factor is that some cans are just not comfortable long term.
The Beyer are like a premium car, firm but not uncomfortable.
The Sonys, Senal and Shure are all decent cans, but after about 45 minutes I end up getting uncomfortable. Beyers are not so stuffy or clamped feeling.
AKG K240 are good for this as well.

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Post by BailyDread » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:43 am

i'm not able to reference any specific scientific material to back up this claim, but apparently the ears have a much harder time protecting themselves from transient material with a lot of content within the ear's natural resonant freq (roughly 4000hz). this means that a 120dB spike of a snare drum is, at least in theory, more damaging than a 120dB constant tone. apparently, the ear can react and take steps to protect itself with more constant tones, while the attacks of drums are so sudden that the ear just absorbs the brunt of the force. i heard this from the guitarist of Mission of Burma's website, who has a whole section devoted to tinnitus.

so yes, turn it down. or do what i do... use musicians earplugs (you get them at an audiologist or from an earplug online store). then you can turn the headphones as loud as you want. i generally only do this if i'm recording guitar and have my monitors turned off tho b/c i don't want bleed. but i often listen to my monitors at absurd dB levels w/ my earplugs in and it's a great way to still feel the "impact" of the sounds without all that damage. when i'm mixing though i prefer as close to whisper quiet as possible. the ears have natural compression that occurs with higher dBs and it can make mix decisions deceptive.

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Post by evs » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:33 pm

Thanks for all the answers!

Yes, I had some dealing with tinnitus, too. Although I have to say it’s not true that it’s not going away. Statistically most tinnituses go away after some time.

And yes, so far it all was easy, but now with these drums, it’s really dangerous.. this is much heavier for the ears than my noise drones:-)

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Post by Panason » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:12 am

BailyDread wrote:i'm not able to reference any specific scientific material to back up this claim, but apparently the ears have a much harder time protecting themselves from transient material with a lot of content within the ear's natural resonant freq (roughly 4000hz). this means that a 120dB spike of a snare drum is, at least in theory, more damaging than a 120dB constant tone. apparently, the ear can react and take steps to protect itself with more constant tones, while the attacks of drums are so sudden that the ear just absorbs the brunt of the force. i heard this from the guitarist of Mission of Burma's website, who has a whole section devoted to tinnitus.
I think this is more or less correct. mid-high frequencies seem the worse. What I don't get is using ear plugs in the studio or underneath headphones.... just turn the volume down?

I learned the hard way not to mix at loud volumes and now that I have neighbours close by, headphones are inevitable since I'm doing repetitive beats :roll:

I was using the ATHMX50s (fully closed back) and they were terrible for the ears. I would only ever use these again for monitoring in a live situation when there are no monitor speakers.

I switched to the AKG 702 and my ears are very pleased with the relief. They are really good and I wish I had spent the extra for the next model up....
Koekepan wrote: Maybe an audiologist can chime in, but one of the worst things for your ears is high energy with nowhere to go (pounding spikes in closed-back isolating headphones) because then you get heavy energy directed at your ears.
That's how I felt when using the closed backs.

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Post by BailyDread » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:48 am

Panason wrote:What I don't get is using ear plugs in the studio or underneath headphones.... just turn the volume down?
I use them with my headphones when I'm recording extremely loud guitar amplifiers in the same room as my recording gear... At those dB levels, you simply can't hear the metronome, even through closed back headphones, unless you crank em to absurd levels.

I use them in the studio when I want to mix by "feel" in my chest cavity. At first I thought it was weird too but then I noticed I was really liking the mixes I came up with this way. If you've never used musician's earplugs it might be kind of hard to understand, but they really do basically just attenuate volume with very little high frequency roll-off. When I first got them, I thought something must be wrong because I was playing guitar and everything seemed normal, just got some great tones and the amp was really singing, but it didn't seem all that quiet... Then I took the earplugs out and struck a chord and jumped about five feet in my chair because it was loud enough to stun a mule :lol: some of us just crave that physical sensation of high dB levels, but we don't want to decimate our ears :tu: my custom musician's plugs give me 25 dB of very clean attenuation... So I can get things cooking at like 115ish dB and my ears are still comfy

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Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:20 am

I cannot mix for a longer time with headphones, even at really low volume. I do use headphones a lot, however, but more for reference and/or if it is late at night. Nevertheless, after 20 minutes or so, I have to stop. The sound get to close I think.

As the good folks above has mentioned: protect your ears!

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Post by rbhansen » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:47 am

Koekepan wrote:I use open-backed AKGs as monitoring headphones, and I turn the music down as quiet as possible, while still hearing it.

By following this strategy, I don't get hearing fatigue.

Maybe an audiologist can chime in, but one of the worst things for your ears is high energy with nowhere to go (pounding spikes in closed-back isolating headphones) because then you get heavy energy directed at your ears.
+1 on AKG open-backed.

1/ my ears can go much longer with these vs a couple of other closed-back I used to use (including AKG).
2/ my head can go much longer as well...they’re not nearly as tight as other cans...they seem to just float/hover on my head and ears.

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Post by lauprellim » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:57 pm

I just finished a project recording, editing and mastering a bunch of Brahms piano pieces for a colleague. Unless you have REALLY good headphones I recommend using monitors!
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Post by ikkyu666 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:58 pm

not a fan of mixing with headphones. the bass response is never accurate for me and it just isn't how ears hear music - that is, directly into your ears with perfect isolated panning. that means that it won't always translate well to actual systems. i only use them for a quick reference or for writing. i've had tons of tracks that i started mixing late at night with and the next day i completely murdered the mix thinking it sounded great on the cans.

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Post by Panason » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:17 pm

ikkyu666 wrote:not a fan of mixing with headphones. the bass response is never accurate for me and it just isn't how ears hear music - that is, directly into your ears with perfect isolated panning. that means that it won't always translate well to actual systems. i only use them for a quick reference or for writing. i've had tons of tracks that i started mixing late at night with and the next day i completely murdered the mix thinking it sounded great on the cans.
Yeah this is really a problem for me too- lots of time wasted. For me mixing and writing go together so it's bad.

Worse, the open cans didn't save me. I'm getting tinnitus after a recent headphone session...

TURN THAT VOLUME DOWN. Then turn it down some more... :ripbanana:

I am actually tempted to get rid of all my headphones to make sure I don't use them again.

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Post by hsosdrum » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:53 pm

The only time I ever use headphones is when I'm playing/tracking live drums along with previously-recorded tracks. Aside from that I always monitor and check mixes on 3 different sets of speakers, one of which I've been using for over 35 years, so I know it extremely well and can trust the judgments I make on it.

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Post by jorg » Fri Oct 18, 2019 3:10 pm

I'm pretty low-budget. I am also very constrained (can't afford to make any noise at all most of the time). I get extreme pain from headphones pressing on my gigantic Dumbo ears. I use earbuds (fairly decent ones).

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Post by Koekepan » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:39 pm

A quick comment on the topic of how people hear music:

From their bluetooth speaker stuck on top of the fridge out of the way of the toddlers, turned up to volumes that can be heard over the toddlers.

In crapple earbuds in the gym while pounding out a quick 5k on the treadmill.

On a thunderous club system with no stereo imaging whatsoever, and a sound guy who makes his own independent decisions that are largely defined by whichever drugs he took in the last thirty minutes.

In a car in rush hour traffic where the right tweeter cuts out every time the bass hits.

The only people I know that listen on monitors are producers, and one audiophile I know. The audiophile is a devotee of Klipsch, and I don't know any producers who use Klipsch in production.

By this standard, monitor speakers are a waste of time and money. They reflect an impossible ideal.

To my knowledge the one of my fans who gets closest to in-depth listening, listens to my stuff on a bus commute, through isolating headphones. Is that how I should be monitoring now?

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Post by thermisonic » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:48 am

Studio monitors aren’t a waste of time or an impossible ideal. They let you hear what’s actually in the recording, so that when the music is played on a multitude of different systems it’s more likely your mix will work on those varied systems.

Ultrasone Pro 550 headphones are very comfortable, and on sale at the moment. I have a ten year old pair, and just bought more in case the old ones should fail. They haven’t yet.

I finish mixes on both

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Post by naturligfunktion » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:27 am

Koekepan wrote:A quick comment on the topic of how people hear music:

From their bluetooth speaker stuck on top of the fridge out of the way of the toddlers, turned up to volumes that can be heard over the toddlers.

In crapple earbuds in the gym while pounding out a quick 5k on the treadmill.

On a thunderous club system with no stereo imaging whatsoever, and a sound guy who makes his own independent decisions that are largely defined by whichever drugs he took in the last thirty minutes.

In a car in rush hour traffic where the right tweeter cuts out every time the bass hits.

The only people I know that listen on monitors are producers, and one audiophile I know. The audiophile is a devotee of Klipsch, and I don't know any producers who use Klipsch in production.

By this standard, monitor speakers are a waste of time and money. They reflect an impossible ideal.

To my knowledge the one of my fans who gets closest to in-depth listening, listens to my stuff on a bus commute, through isolating headphones. Is that how I should be monitoring now?
Sure, but that is not an excuse to make music that does not sound good in my opinion. If you have a good pair of monitors, and a good room, and listen to your mixes on a variety of speakers, including your car ofcourse, the end result will be a mix that sounds good on any system. It will sound better in a pair of broken headphones or coming directly from the crappy bluetooth speaker but more importantly, it will sound far better in your home, coming out from your badass hifi system.

;)

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Post by spilthyfred » Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:43 pm

A nice set of studio monitors should do the trick. Well worth the investment imho. Then you can cross reference your tracks with your headphones.

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Post by Koekepan » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:00 pm

Perhaps I should have marked my post with some kind of indication. Something like "reductio ad absurdum".

I wasn't trying to make a case against studio monitors, or reference headphones, or anything like that. I was (trying to) point out that the logic of following how the average listener hears a musical production would lead to cheaply craptastic musical monitoring. Do I really think that (to take one notoriously controversial name) deadmau5 gives a rat's patootie if his stuff sounds like fermenting cowpie on $3 earbuds in a gym? Not for a moment. Neither do I.

More seriously, and on topic for this thread: one can do an excellent job mixing on headphones. I know this because I've heard excellent work coming from broke kids with old laptops and sub-$100 headphones. It might be easier with the tuned studio and the full-range monitors, but I'm very happy working with headphones in environments and at times where turning up the wattage on big speakers isn't an option. My advice remains the same as before: open-backed where isolation isn't a requirement, and keep the volume as low as you can.

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Post by eltrasgu » Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:49 am

I avoided headphones for years and still got chronic tinnitus after a couple gigs of "noisy techno" (jasss and group a) but I think that is dangerous to mix with headphones because you'll need them louder than good near field monitors.
It will be hard to mix with them at low volume.
Also I would definitely avoid certain frequencies that hurts me specially with headphones, and yeah, now w/ tinnitus I feel sensitive listening to some drum sounds.
Maybe your ears just need a rest if you produce everyday.

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Post by Technologear? » Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:23 pm

Hearing damage occurs from bad combinations of both volume intensity and length of exposure.
So you can turn it down, listen for a shorter length of time, or preferably both.

Intensity of exposure can be impacted by not just volume but proximity. Headphone drivers are right next to your ears. Closed headphones don't allow much to bounce out either.

Applying this to mixing: go for the monitoring setup that helps you hear what you need to and decide what to do the quickest.

My preferences are:
1 Monitors in my quiet studio set at 'just loud enough that the monitor bass is clear'.
2 Monitors set briefly too loud to just check the bass. About 1-2mins of total time.
3 Monitors up loud but I'm in a different room
4 Open backed headphones in a quiet environment, low volume
5 Dito but brief high volume for bass checking
6 Closed headphones in quiet environment, low volume
7 Closed headphones in loud environment - I've stopped this now, too risky for me. If the room isn't quiet I don't mix. I don't even listen to music on the bus or train anyone, I kept turning it up.

I acknowledge the 'young people have mixed great records on poor monitoring setups' argument, but we never hear about their hearing health years later.
I've never seen a modern artist get successful and NOT invest in better monitoring once they earn money. (Yes, keeping old headphones earbuds and cheap monitors to cross-check but not as mains)

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Post by ZargZorg » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:25 pm

Even though I use headphones 80% of the time,
like it was said above, when mixing you end up having to push the volume louder sometimes and I find myself getting fatigued pretty fast. Also, the bass response ends up having to be tweaked to a monitor mix so, If I could, I wouldn't use them except to check for tiny details.

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