Newb Monitoring Question: Headphones vs Monitors

I’m starting to record music from the Monomachine into Ableton and I am having some frustrating issues with monitoring. First off:

Speakers: Rokit 6
Interface: Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
Headphones: Urbanears Zinken

So my issues is that I’ll make a few loops that sound great on my monitors and then I will use the headphones to monitor from the mono directly and sometimes it sounds like garbage. My studio is less than ideal in that its a studio apartment that has different dimensions in different areas, high ceilings in some parts, kitchen in the same room, basically lots of objects for sound to bounce off of.

So my question is which should I trust the speakers or the urbanears into the headphone jack of mono? Sometimes I get both mixes sounding pretty similar but sometimes its way off. Especially an issue with “bassy” sounds. They will sound good on my Rockits but then when I listen on the headphones there are a lot of artifacts that pop up. Do I need a better pair of headphones or should I be relying on the headphone mix as it should be undisturbed by my less than ideal studio apartment set up?

Also, I’m not using any effects to process the sound in Ableton and I am using the 3xStereo + AB=Mix Routing.

Thanks for the help!

i’m not familiar with those headphones, but the Rockits are notorious for exaggerating the low end.

i’d recommend getting a pair of higher end headphones and learning them. listen to records you know really well to understand how they translate sound.

What kind of artifacts are you experiencing?

Unless you spend huge amounts of money, out will never have an ideal listening situation. The most important thing you can do is listen to a lot of music you’re familiar with on your monitoring setup and understand how it affects your perception. Then use that information to mix.

Here’s the bad news - I’d wager that both your monitors and headphones are lying to you

When your monitoring is not ideal, always use reference music to A/B your stuff against. It should keep you in the ballpark.

An accurate low end response is a rare commodity in project studios, yet it is among the most important aspects for making good sounding “club” music. I suggest you study acoustics a bit and see how much you can improve your situation.


Get a decent set of cans. Your room is what it is. But a good pair of cans can get you very far. I’d recommend a pair of AKGs. None of them DJ or skate headphones.

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Beyerdynamic headphones also get alot of praise. My fave is Focal Spirit Pro but it’s subjective, wouldn’t recommend them to anyone without knowing their preferences (bass shy)

Do you mean trying to make your own mix sound like a specific reference track with a mix you’re aiming for? Sorry for the noob question but I’m still firmly stuck in the synthesis/pattern programming/arranging stages.

I mean levelmatching the reference track to your music (usually you need to turn the ref track down lots, since it is already mastered) and flicking between your music and the reference track. Doing this will provide your ears with a reference point to better evaluate your music with (much less bass/more bass than your reference, more high freqs than your reference, too peaky drums compared to your reference etc).

The reference track should be roughly in the same style and energy level as the song your are working on.



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Great thanks for the replies everyone. Think its time to invest in some better headphones. I notice some of the higher end models require amps. Do the amps need to be plugged into a power source(usb/wall wart)?

Headphone amps are another rabbit hole unto itself. I would advise getting a pair of headphones that you can drive with your existing equipment first before investing into any headphone amps.

Generally speaking, your headphone impedance should be “compatible” with the equipment driving it in order to succesfully establish an impedance bridged interconnection. As long as this condition is met, a headphone amp will not give you significant benefits in sound quality until somewhere well above the 500$/€ mark IMO.

For a more indepth explanation of impedance bridging (and lots more), see below:

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‘flat response’ headphones at half volume level is a good option… if you really have to mix on headphones… slightly building the volume as you go.
all across soundcloud are ‘headphones advised’ which translates as ‘this mix is terrible, quiet and badly balanced with hardly any bass because i mixed it all on headphones’
set you bass and kicks in a room at a decent volume… then move to your headphones… dont rely too much on your ears and start using a visual spectrum analyser, perhaps. all the time im using headphones to mix a track late at night i know i’ll delete it all the next day, its dead time but still a fun fix of music creation … dont be hard on yourself… its pretty much the same for anyone – get your brain used to it if you have to keep it down low – your brain will get used to it if you reference other music

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Favorite Headphones

If you want to seriously investigate this matter, reading Mike Senior’s Mixing Secrets is a must. :wink: