Opinions: Headphones or Speakers?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by ZiggyPastorius, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. ZiggyPastorius macrumors 68040

    ZiggyPastorius

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Berklee College of Music
    #1
    I've asked similar questions, as have other people, but this question just came fresh in my mind, and was wondering what you guys thought.

    I'm going to be using my Macbook/Logic Studio platform for composing and recording, and mixing. Here's my question to you guys: When you're working in various places, (since I'm sure you audiophiles would never use the internal speakers for an accurate and clean sound. Yuck!) Do you prefer to listen to your work as you edit and write it through headphones or speakers? I'm assuming headphones, as that's my current choice. To make it a cleaner answer, if your budget is around $100 for the headphones or speakers, which would you use? Headphones seem like a wiser choice for me, as I'll be able to work when it's loud, and the sound will be directly in my ear, making it easier to listen for things. What do you guys think/do?
     
  2. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #2
    I think if you have close neighbors of roommates - you will be liked better with headphones.

    You're likely to get a pair of headphones for 100 dollars that sound better than speakers costing the same. Especially for something plugging into a computer.
     
  3. ZiggyPastorius thread starter macrumors 68040

    ZiggyPastorius

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Berklee College of Music
    #3
    Thanks! I figured headphones would probably be the better choice, as I do a lot of work in the public, or at school. Neighbours aren't much of an issue. I was also wondering about the sound quality..so thanks. What do you guys generally use? Would there be any benefit in getting speakers instead of headphones that I should know about?
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    headphones are fine for checking stuff, but i can't do anything extensive with them. the stereo image is exaggerated and it's difficult (for me, anyway) to get a true sense of frequency balance.

    though, if one is on location, one must live with it.
     
  5. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #5
    AKG K 271
    Beyerdynamic DT250-80
    A good bet for quality headphones
    If you have the money and don't find it uncomfortable in ear phones are supposed to be developing very well at the moment.

    Ziggy
    -You need Both
    Headphones give better response for the value but you can't mix on em if you're involved in music
    -You need a pair of isolating cans floating around any studio
     
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #6
    I'll echo Zim's comments. Listening via cans will not sound the same as listening via studio monitors. I've never seen anyone mix to headphones in a studio before.

    I work in a less than ideal sound environment so I've got to do most of my work wearing cans, but when it comes time to make my final audio adjustments before I hand the project off I always take off the cans.


    Lethal

    EDIT: I got a pair of Sennheiser HD 280's almost a year ago and I love them. They do a good job blocking out environmental noise, sound good to my ears, and are comfy (I probably wear them 45-50hrs a week on average).
     
  7. SigmundFraud macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    #7
    Not for Mixing!

    Yes, Headphones will be fine for composing and editing, even listening to other peoples music. $100 will get you okay (but not great) headphones and awful speakers. Just don't even think of mixing with headphones. At very least you'll make muddy, boomy mixes once played through speakers. By the same token, $100 speakers won't be much chop either. Have you got a friend with monitors you can visit for your mixing/mastering?
     
  8. ZiggyPastorius thread starter macrumors 68040

    ZiggyPastorius

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Berklee College of Music
    #8
    Nope, I don't. =\ Could you guys explain by any chance, what the main differences between "mixing" and "editing" would be? I must think of them as being pretty similar, but, maybe not.

    I'm not a professional at this sort of things, and I will barely be able to afford getting headphones and speakers with my other stuff. There's no one who does that kind of stuff in this town, and my whole reason for getting my whole setup is so I can start doing semi-professional recording. Of course I'm not going to be able to do anything awesome, but, yeah. So what I'm getting from this is that since 90% of what I'll be doing is composing and editing, and very little mixing, I should go for headphones first and invest in speakers later?

    Edit: It's a little more difficult, because from what it seems, you guys are adults, and do this stuff professionally semi-professionally...I'm still in high school, don't have a ton of money to get perfect headphones and speakers, and mixing and producing music is going to be a secondary thing for me in my life. My actual degree/job will be more along the lines of music education/film scoring.

    Edit #2: Ah, so I looked up audio mixing online, and I realise I will not be doing audio mixing anytime soon :p I don't have that kind of equipment (anymore) though I do wish I still had my old mixer :( So with that, I assume I should go for headphones, correct?
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #9
    regardless of composing, editing, mixing, whatever, you still need to hear what you're doing. using headphones would be getting around not having money for a decent monitoring system, but it's still a massive compromise.

    a monitoring system is comprised of:

    1. the room
    2. the speakers
    3. the d/a
    4. the amp(s)
    5. any device used to control the volume between the d/a and the amps
    6. cabling

    to make it good, it costs $$$. but you can get a huge bang for the buck by treating your room. i've got products from both realtraps.com and gikacoustics.com. the former is better, the latter is cheaper, and you can DIY with some owens-corning 703 fiberglass insulation and cheap fabric.

    this is a money game. spend wisely and you can improve your situation for not a ton of money, but don't think you can spend just a couple hundred bucks and get something that doesn't have compromises.

    that said, you can learn to work with any situation, but having a good monitoring system helps immensely. that's what i spent the last 2 years getting going for myself, and it makes a huge difference. it also cost a lot.
     
  10. ZiggyPastorius thread starter macrumors 68040

    ZiggyPastorius

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    Berklee College of Music
    #10
    But, see, I don't even know what a monitoring system is, or what it does, let alone know what's a good one, how much it costs, or whether I should get it. It's like I said before, I'm a high school student. I understand perfectly that if I want to make high-quality professional outcomes, and all that, I have to spend a lot of money, but I'm not going to be signing record deals or anything. I'm going to be composing via finale and logic, and recording ideas on various orchestral and small-ensemble instruments. I have nice Mics. to use, I'm getting an audio interface so as to be able to get the sound into the computer, I'm getting the computer, and I'm getting an external drive. That stuff is already going to cost me $1900. But again, I don't want to know the reasons why I shouldn't spend that money, I want to know, for $100-130, what can I get JUST ONE, either headphones or speakers, that will allow me to sit down, record, compose, listen, and edit, right away. If I need to, I'll get more equipment later down the road, but for right now, I can afford one and one only. Hell, right now I use three-year-old, generic computer speakers and generic iPod headphones to do all my music, so pretty much anything will be an upgrade. So, all the monitoring systems and professional recording studios aside...Speakers, or headphones? $120

    Edit: I misread your post a little bit, so my post may sound a little harsh...sorry if it does.
     
  11. lost eden macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    I would strongly reccomend headphones for your budget. You might be able to pick up a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro if you're lucky, but really your budget just isn't enough to enter the '(semi-)professional' sector of the market. If you've got your heart set on speakers, the absolute only thing that might just possibly be in your price range would be the Creative Inspire M85-D monitors, which you would connect optically to the Mac.
     
  12. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #12
    Zim i'm interested in treating my room, do you know of any good guides?
     
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #13
    start here: http://realtraps.com/howto.htm

    i've got stuff from them and http://gikacoustics.com/ . the realtraps stuff is better made but more pricey. the gik stuff is like a nice DIY.

    i've found the realtraps minitraps to be functionality equivalent to the (much cheaper) GIK 244. but, i've *not* found the GIK 242 to be functionally equivalent to the realtraps microtraps, as GIK claims they are.

    therefore, for 1st reflection points, i'd recommend the realtraps microtraps, but for bass trapping you can get by with GIK 244s.

    btw, you can see some pics of my complete space in this thread.
     
  14. Avatar74 macrumors 65816

    Avatar74

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    #14
    The thing you should keep in mind is that you will want to be able to get the most bang for the buck. In this regard I say get the monitors first.

    The reason? If you arent going to be doing intricate editing and meticulous tweaking at first, you'll want something to broadly serve both recording and mixing purposes.

    You can do well in this regard because you don't seem to be ready to do serious pro work commercialy just yet, anyway. Regardless of the lack of resources in your town, you don't have the experience to command the rates to justify greater expense. That wont always be the case but you have to start somewhere.

    There are a few economical options to at least get you started... This may sound like blasphemy to some but I understand your constraints and I have done professional audio engineering and I've had to get creative on a budget when I didn't have the money.

    There are pc speakers and consumer speakers to start. Studio near field monitors are ten times as expensive... A pair of Tannoy desk monitors cost upwards of $1300.

    I find PC speakers generally very mediocre and often underpowered for this kind of thing. I used to use the old Bose Roommates which were very flat sounding, and I don't mean they had a flat response curve. But they had some power and I would always recheck my tracks on other systems by burning test mixes to CD. Then I. Got Klipsch PC speakers which sounded good but were underpowered and the sub was muddy.

    Finally I got a deal on a pair of KEF Q-compact bookshelf speakers ($140 for the pair) but they needed an amp so I scrounged up an old stereo receiver and hooked it up and the KEF's sound great and are very powerful for their size. I would try to piece together a starter setup this way through eBay and clearance rack stuff.
     
  15. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #15
    In addition to all the advice re: not mixing on headphones (which is very true), there is one other reason why you should try to avoid headphones as much as possible. Namely: those who use headphones in studios, are liable to go deaf.

    For a harrowing account of what happened to one musician who used headphones, read Pete Townsend's account on his website. Basically, it is not the loud concerts that have done in the many musicians who are today basically going deaf - it is specifically the use of headphones for mixing.

    In general, doctors discourage people from using any headphones for more than an hour or so in a day, and even then, you should use them at low volume (which is hard to do). The quality of the headphones is not the issue. It's using them at all.

    As a result of all this, these days I simply do not use headphones - for multiple reasons.

    My strong advice is SAVE YOUR HEARING - AVOID HEADPHONES.

    Here's an interesting link:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/8841090/music_making_fans_deaf
     
  16. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #16
    I've heard this partly an issue with the IF from the transducers...
     
  17. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #17
    For mixing: speakers, hands down. The only times I use headphones are when I clean up audio clips (noise removal), because I can hear the background noise a little better using headphones. The only other use for headphone mixing that I could think of is in cases when you know the final product will be heard only over headphones - such cases do exist, but they are pretty rare.

    - Martin
     
  18. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    London/Norwich
    #18
    I use headphones for live input monitoring when recording interviews and gigs. In the studio headphones are extremely useful for the same sort of thing. You should always listen to everything you master through as many devices as possible.
     

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