Headphones in live mixing.


I’ve probably posted about this before – it’s certainly one of my pet-hates. 


I often find myself wanting (or having) to remind noise-boys happily mixing in their own head that they’re ripping the heads off the front 20 rows because they’re not dealing with an EQ, balance or feedback issue that they’re not hearing!

In summary, headphones are a great way to check individual inputs or outputs for:

  • problems with mic positioning,
  • distortion,
  • crackling,
  • presence of signal,
  • balance of a mix YOU CAN’T HEAR IN THE ROOM, such as those for foldback, recording, or other rooms.

When NOT to use headphones…
In live sound reinforcement, headphones are simply terrible for listening to the mix that you’re producing in the room, whether for judging mix levels or tonal quality.  You’re hearing small speakers, close to your eardrums, mixing for a space that exists only in your own head.

So don’t use headphones to check or perfect your main mix – it’s truly an accident waiting to happen.

If you’re changing something and you can’t hear a difference in the room then going to headphones isn’t going to help anyone hear that change except you. Worse still, while you’re dealing with a problem that only you know/care about, you’ll likely miss something crucial that everyone will notice!