Although Beats headphones are not as popular as it was before Apple acquired the company, they are still part of the most popular headphones we have today. And they are loved by many because of their bass response and the overall hype around them.
Maybe you are learning how to produce music and you don’t want to spend money on a new pair of studio monitors or headphones for mixing. And you are thinking of using your existing Beats headphones for mixing. But can they do the job? Are Beats headphones good for mixing?
In short, no. Beats by Dre headphones are not good for mixing. Beats headphones may be good for casual listening or DJ work, but they are not suitable for mixing. This is because Beats headphones have boosted bass or low frequencies. And this makes them inaccurate for mixing purposes.
Later in the article, I’ll give you my tips on how to improve the sound of Beats headphones and make them excellent for mixing. And I’ll also talk about some alternative headphones which are made specifically for mixing and mastering music.
Now let’s talk, in detail, about why Beats headphones are not the best headphones for mixing.
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Why Beats Headphones Are Not Ideal for Mixing
It is hard to find any sound engineer or audio enthusiast who would recommend Beats Headphones for mixing. This can simply be attributed to the fact that; Beats headphones are great for listening to music but terrible when it comes to producing music.
Many people may enjoy listening to music on Beats headphones as they add a lot of bass to tracks. And everybody loves bass. Several kinds of research have been done to confirm that humans actually enjoy bass. And beats headphones have a lot of it.
However, the fact that they may sound good when used in listening to music does not mean you should use them for critical decision-making during mixing. Read along to find out exactly why Beats Headphones are not ideal for mixing.
Bass Boost Makes Sound Inaccurate
The sounds produced by Beats headphones are not flat, which is quite obvious.
What do I mean by this?
If you have used any of the Beats headphones, you’ll agree with me that they are bass-heavy headphones. As a result, any music you play through Beats headphones automatically becomes boomy.
And this is an intentional feature added to Beats headphones — to boost the low-end frequencies.
But here is the problem.
Since the bass in Beats headphones is highly boosted way above the other sound frequencies, it does not give you an accurate representation of what you are listening to. And this is the main reason why audio professionals don’t use Beats headphones for mixing and audio/music production.
Mixing through Beats headphones will give you a false representation of the low-end volume.
For instance, through Beats headphones, you might think the bass of whatever music you are mixing is at the right level. While in reality, the bass is actually thin. Or you might think the bass is too boomy, so you decide to reduce it with EQ. But, again, while in reality, they are right on the level.
And you may only notice how thin your mixed music sounds after you have exported it and played it through different sound systems and headphones. And that’s primarily because you used headphones with biased frequency response, such as Beats headphones.
The point I’m trying to make is, since Beats headphones have a low-end boost, if you mix with them, you will end up with a sound record with little or no bass at all.
When it comes to mixing, I recommend you get headphones with a much more balanced and unbiased frequency response. Headphones that are as flat as possible are ideal for mixing down and finalizing tracks.
They will help you to know what the music actually sounds like during mixing. I will talk about some of the best headphones you can use for mixing later on in this article.
Beats Headphones Are Closed-Back
One of the main selling points of closed-back headphones is their ability to isolate you from the chaos present in noisy environments. They seal your ears tight enough and isolate them from noise in the environment. And all Beats headphones have a closed back.
This makes them quite excellent for listening to music when you are on a bus, train, subway, at a park, or any noisy place.
This is one of the primary reasons why Beats Studio 3 Headphones (on Amazon) is one of the most sought-after headphones today. This headphone is not just a closed-back headphone; it also features noise-canceling technology, which completely gets rid of background noise.
All of these advantages make closed-back headphones great for listening to music; they are not ideal for mixing. Here is why.
Firstly, music and recording studios are some of the quietest places you can find. This means closed-back headphones are rarely needed in studios to isolate noise.
Also, audio professionals prefer open-back headphones for mixing. In a relatively quiet environment, open-back headphones have the effect of adding space, as if the mix you were working on were resonating in your surroundings.
Unlike closed-back headphones, you are not cut off entirely from the outside world when you use open-back headphones. So you get to hear other sounds in the environment to reference against your mix.
This experience is similar to listening with studio monitors as the mix will sound like it’s being projected and reflected into the room. This makes open-back headphones much better than closed-back headphones when it comes to mixing.
Also, open-back headphones provide a deeper and wider stereo experience when used for mixing. The sounds it produces are great and enable you to have holistic and balanced listening. This is unlike closed-back headphones, which isolate the listening to each ear, making the left and right channels sound separated than they actually are.
Some sound engineers use open-back headphones entirely for mixing. While others who use speakers and monitors as their primary mixing device still use open-back headphones as a second or third reference for mixing.
Unfortunately, all Beats headphones are closed-back and cannot generate the same experience when used for mixing.
Are Beats Pro Good for Mixing?
Beats Pro over-ear headphones were released some years ago. And the manufacturer claimed that these were made for audio professionals. According to them, Beats Pro was made for heavy-duty use in the studio and club.
With these claims, you would expect these headphones to deliver accurate sound, which is required for mixing in the studio. But is that the case? Are Beats Pro good for mixing?
Beats Pro Headphones are not good for mixing. Just like any other Beats headphones, Beats Pro over-ear headphones boost the low frequencies of whatever audio is played through them. This changes the natural frequency of the sound, making it not an ideal headphone for mixing.
Beats by Dre has always been a consumer-grade headphone brand with great marketing. And the “Pro” title was just another marketing gimmick in an effort to appeal to audio professionals.
It does not have a flat frequency response which audio professionals and mixing engineers need to make mixing decisions.
This headphone does not give you a transparent reading of what your mix sounds like. Instead, it is designed to make any song sound nice by emphasizing the low end and making the top end brighter.
What About Beats Studio Headphones – Are They Ideal for Mixing?
A few years ago, the Beats brand released a new collection of headphones with the name “Beat Studio.” While going through some blogs and forums, I realized that the name “studio” attached to this particular headphone had lots of people still unsure as to whether “Beat Studio” headphones have been designed for mixing of sounds and tracks in studios.
Although Beats Studio has quite a balanced frequency response, it’s not accurate enough for mixing purposes just like other Beats headphone models.
Headphones that are ideal for mixing are known as studio monitor headphones. Beats don’t make studio monitor-like headphones. Studio monitor headphones are designed in such a way that; they do not change the nature of the sound on their own.
This means they output the exact sound that passes through them so that you can hear the faults in your music and fix them. Beat headphones, including the Beats Studio, are designed purposely to color the sound and make it pleasing to hear. This is characterized by the high bass frequency response of Beats headphones.
Although Beats Studio is not ideal for mixing, they are excellent headphones for recording. That’s because they seal your ear really tight and prevent the headphone’s sound from bleeding into the mic. And this results in a clean recording.
How to Make Beats Headphones Good for Mixing
If you already own a Beats headphone and can’t afford to purchase a new studio headphone, fret not. They are ways to calibrate your headphones and make them excellent for mixing. And I’m going to share my top two tips with you.
So here are the two ways to make Beats headphones good for mixing.
Use Sonarworks SoundID Reference
Sonarworks is a very reputable company in the audio space. And for so many years, they have remained relevant and still thriving till today. This means they are definitely doing something right.
They are known for making audio calibration software for studio monitors and headphones. And one of the game-changing software they have made so far is the Sonarworks SoundID Reference.
Sonarworks SoundID Reference (on PluginBoutique) is a sound calibration and EQ correction plugin software designed by Sonarworks. This software applies an EQ setting to your headphone and gives them a flat frequency response. By doing so, you get accurate sound output from your headphones.
This software has an average of 280 EQ settings for over 280 different models of headphones. And with Beats headphones being some of the most popular headphones, there are EQ settings (or what they call headphone profiles) for every Beats headphones.
All you need to do is to choose your headphone’s brand and model, and Sonarworks will make it sound as flat as possible. And this makes your headphones instantly good for mixing.
Due to this software, many consumer-grade headphones are now used professionally for mixing and mastering. And you are guaranteed to get really good results from them.
Use a Crossfeed Plugin
Sound engineers usually prefer mixing on studio monitors to headphones. That’s because, with monitors, they hear both the left and right speakers simultaneously. And this is referred to as crossfeed.
However, that’s not the case with headphones, especially closed-back headphones like Beats headphones. Your right only hears the right channel and your left ear only hears the left channel.
Here is where a crossfeed plugin comes in.
This is software that simulates a headphone’s sound like you’re listening from a speaker monitor. It does this by blending some of the left channel’s audio into the right channel and the right channel’s audio into the left channel.
This gives you the illusion that you are listening through a speaker instead of a headphone. This creates a huge soundstage in your headphones and fixes bad mixes that might result.
Best Headphones for Mixing
If you have the budget to pick up a new pair of studio headphones, I highly recommend you do that. That’s because studio headphones are uniquely designed for studio use. Hence they usually have an excellent frequency response suitable for mixing.
These are three headphones that can give you a better reference for mixing. Let’s take a look at them.
Audio Technica ATH M50x
Even though the Audio Technica ATH M50x (on Amazon) is a closed-back headphone, it comes highly recommended by many people, including seasoned sound engineers. This headphone is a professional monitor headphone that provides an unmatched experience for most sound engineers and audio professionals.
It has been an industry standard for many years. And because they are closed-back headphones, they are used for recording vocals as well.
This headphone comes with a detachable cable which you can replace when the original is damaged. It is engineered to have large-aperture drivers, sound-isolating ear cups, and robust construction. It delivers accurate audio and is perfect for long studio sessions.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (also on Amazon) is a newer headphone model by Beyerdynamic. This is one of the world’s finest headphones that can be used for mixing. It is an open-back headphone designed to make listening stress-free. It can be used for casual listening or in the studio for mixing and mastering.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro has a very nice sound with rich bass, clear mids, and soaring highs. It is robust, comfortably padded, and has an adjustable spring steel headband design. In addition, it has a wide frequency response range of 5 Hz to 35 kHz.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (Amazon) is engineered to have an extremely robust construction and modular design. It has a unique collapsible design, combined with swiveling ear cups which have maximum flexibility in any application.
This headphone is capable of outputting quality sound and has aggressive noise isolation. It is designed to meet the demands of the professional environment.
Beats by Dre headphones are basically consumer headphones and not a pro-audio brand. Beats headphones boost the low end of a song and are not suitable for mixing purposes. They will distort your sense of hearing the natural frequencies in your mix when used for mixing.
However, you can use them purposely to hear how your mix will sound on Beats headphones but not for actual mixing. However, they should not be used as a main reference auditioning tool for music production.