Headphones or Speakers: Which is Better? is a frequently asked question. Well, the truth is that it all depends on what you enjoy, your writing/mixing techniques, and the limits imposed by your studio. Some of the industry’s top producers stick studio monitors vs headphones and some swear by using headphones alone, so we understand why this subject is frequently asked.
This article will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision; this includes the definition of headphones and monitors, their pros and cons, and how each may affect your productivity, sound, and so on. Continue reading.
Which is Better: Studio Headphones or Monitors?
Let’s start from the beginning. I’ll start by explaining what a studio monitor and headphones are.
Studio headphones are designed for professional use, with sound characteristics that are particularly fit for recording and mixing. However, they’re frequently diverse enough to serve as excellent enjoyable listening.
Studio headphones are a natural progression from studio monitors. What I mean is that they provide a smooth, precise response that accurately portrays your mix. Standard headphones, by extension, will not give users the same unbiased sound; thus, it’s best not to mix with them.
- Headphones work in a similar way to magnifying glasses in that they let you hear even the tiniest node clearly.
- Reduce acoustic noise
- They are usually unable to produce extremely low frequencies.
In audio recording, mixing, and mastering, studio monitors are essential. They create sound mixes that are clear, accurate, and dynamic, allowing you to identify and remedy any errors in audio quality.
- Excellent audio quality
- Improved bass
- Several power sources
- Controlling the volume is difficult
Headphones Vs. Monitors: What’s the Difference?
The difference between listening to music over monitor speakers versus headphones is mostly due to how the human sensory system interprets sound.
When dealing with everyday sounds, the brain analyzes the frequency and timing discrepancies between the two audio streams from both left and right ears to determine the course of a sound.
When you mix with headphones, for example, the sound is delivered directly to your ears. This is not the case when using a monitor. As a result, it is simpler to detect the stereo width when utilizing headphones rather than monitors.
A monitor usually has left and right speakers; therefore, you’ll hear sounds differently with each ear due to their various placements in relation to the sound source.
Due to the apparent massive range of differences, there has been a never-ending debate about the superior option for mixing. Simply stating that one is superior to the other would do an injustice to the situation.
Why Should You Get Both of them?
One of the most significant advantages of utilizing headphones is that they remove the room from the equation because direct amplitude has no effect. This is because the speaker is so close to your ear that the cups don’t reflect anything. The echoes and reverbs will seem deeper and broader as an outcome of this.
If you’re producing or mixing while traveling and don’t have a studio set up, or if you don’t have the means to treat a room in your house/studio, having no involvement/issues produced by the room is a great plus.
With monitors, however, this is not the case. The natural acoustics smooth out the intense sound waves in the room’s mix. When you listen to music using headphones, you get a closer sense of the raw sound than when listening to music on a monitor, which is usually more intense and loud.
As a result, a mix made for a club’s sound system will sound sterile when listened to through headphones.
This isn’t a disadvantage, though. With headphones, you can hear even the tiniest nuances on monitors. This is useful in a variety of situations. It makes headphones extremely helpful for correcting faults such as pitch difficulties or timing glitches in songs.
In comparison to monitors, headphones can be very useful for picking up distortions or clipping if you perform a lot of sample work or specialize in audio restoration and editing.
You can think of it as focusing on the tiniest details, allowing you to spot and repair even the smallest of faults.
However, this in no way qualifies the headphone as a superior mixing tool. In addition, you won’t be able to detect many mistakes without using a monitor.
When mixing using headphones, the stereo fields can become excessively narrow. Another possible blunder is forgetting to include enough reverb vocals in the mix, which will result in a particularly dry final.
As a result, it is often recommended that you listen to the mix with both monitors and headphones before modifying the effects used in the combination for professional production.
Starting with monitors and fine-tuning your EQ, compression, and balancing before going to headphones to adjust the sound. After that, you can return to monitors to make any last adjustments.
While the optimal monitoring option for you will vary based on your circumstances, it makes sense to choose a “best of both worlds” strategy, the ratio of which will be determined by your particular choice.
You should ideally have headphones as well as monitor speakers. When it comes to gain staging, stereo image, and setting down the structure, nothing equals the comfort of speakers. However, headphones make concentrating quite easy when you need to go deeper into your sound while altering the tone or modifying a compressor.
Furthermore, we must remember that consumers listen to music through headphones and speakers. You can be confident that your mix will transition properly if you create music utilizing both.
What If I Don’t Have the Financial Means to Purchase Both?
We would choose headphones if we had to make a decision on a tight budget, which, let’s admit, is the situation for most of us. The reason is straightforward. A person on a tight budget will be unable to afford high-end speakers or adequate room treatments. And mixing with laptop speakers is just as excellent as recording in an untreated room.
In contrast, even a low-cost pair of headphones, such as the Samson SR850, can be combined with correction software to produce great results. However, we recommend that you take frequent pauses. While it’s tempting to get sidetracked while composing music, keep your ears in mind.