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Avoid This Mistake When Mixing On Headphones

Daily Blog - July 28th 2021

Mixing on headphones is challenging. And there is one thing you should particularly careful of, because it happens all too easily.

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When you're mixing on headphones you have two speakers directly attached to your ears.

This means, the stereo image will be different, compared to any other situation, because there is no crosstalk between the two sides and everything seems super wide. Things that are panned hard left and right are super defined and clear, because only one of your ears hears them, which is never the case if the sound travels through air before it reaches you.

When mixing on headphones, we tend to turn up the elements in the middle a lot more, because we can so clearly hear what's going on in the sides. We think the sides are louder than they actually are and try to compensate for it. 

This results in mixes with too loud kicks, snare drums, bass guitars or vocals and much too quiet guitars. Play such a mix on a phone or small bluetooth speaker and your guitars might be barely audible.

Mixing on headphones requires you to get used to a quieter "center channel". 

I know, there's no real center channel, because we only have two speakers, but you know what I mean. Everything that's panned center. Typically your kick, snare, bass and lead vocals. 

Have you noticed that with your headphone mixes? You might want to listen again and see if they really translate well. If you find yourself running into this issue (I sure did), I'd suggest checking your headphone mixes on speakers often and listen to a lot of reference tracks, until you can switch without wanting to compensate immediately.

-Benedikt


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