There are thousands of different monitors and headphones out there. And besides that, they are split between hundreds of companies. So how do you know which are good and which are not? I don't want to give any specific company names here because all of them have their ups and downs. But I can explain to you the difference between headphones and studio monitors so you can decide on your own.
Table of Contents
1 - Pros and cons
So, first of all, I want to give you the main difference between headphones and monitors:
When listening with headphones, the music feels like it's coming straight from your head. When listening on monitors, you get the music from in front of you. Way more the audio comes from a fixed part in the room. This results in a fuller stereo image which will help with panning instruments for example. As you can see, monitors seem great and much better in the first place. That's true and I personally just like producing with monitors more.
The problem is that the monitors will engage with the whole room. As soon as you get some bad acoustic treatments or no acoustic treatments, you will get a wrong understanding of the audio signal. Another thing that needs to be mentioned here is your overall room. Music on monitors sounds different in a super small room and a super big room. All of those things need to be mentioned when talking about headphones and speakers. So for most of the people who just start with production headphones are probably the better choice.
If you're a person like me, who prefers to make music on monitors but got an unfavorable room, you can get both. Writing down all ideas with the monitors and doing all the basic bedroom-home-studio-mixing stuff on your headphones.
2 - Mixing
Besides all the main and more acoustic-based pros and cons, I want to talk about mixing stuff. When listening with headphones you will often hear way more details in tracks. This is great especially if you make music with a lot of detail like percussions and ear candy for example. But things like tonal balance and the effect placements are easier to get on headphones too. Effects like panning, reverb, or delay sound are often different on monitors than on headphones. So that's a thing you should check for when just doing the mixing on headphones.
Since 90% of your listeners will listen to your music with more cheap headphones like in ears, a car, or just some basic home systems, you should make sure to check your music there too. But that's just for the final steps.
As you can see, it depends on your situation and your personal preferences. With this guide, you can decide on your own which you think works better for your special purpose. When you just use your monitors for the vibe and songwriting, you can also get some good normal speakers. So you can put more money on some good headphones if you want both.
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