Headphones versus monitors, a contentious topic in an age where music production technology is so easily accessible that someone can compose, arrange, produce, mix and publish a song all from the comfort of their bedroom. Which more often than not, do not offer the most ideal acoustics to be monitoring for the critical listening sometimes required for producing and mixing.
 

So in order to give a helping hand for those of you who are still on the fence on the debate on headphones vs monitors I’ve put together a list of some pro’s & con’s for both set ups.


At the end of the list there are some recommendations for hobby/bedroom producer style setup monitors and headphones for high, medium and low budgets.

Headphones

Pro’s:

  • Work anywhere at any time of the day.
  • Relatively cheaper than monitors.
  • Help to get a good grasp of your reverb and delay trails
  • Not susceptible to a room's acoustics, (Room modes, flutter echo, reverberation tails)
  • Can help expose and are sensitive to pops, clicks, digital distortion, buffering distortion & word-clock jitter.


Con’s:

  • Exaggerated sense of stereo field.
  • Fatiguing to listen to for long periods of time
  • Some headphone models can be quite colouring in their response.
  • Often unable to reproduce low frequency/sub frequency content.
  • Can ruin your well groomed hair.

 

Studio Monitors

Pro’s:

  • When set up correctly (Equilateral triangle to listening point) can produce an accurate stereo field playback.

  • Ability to reproduce accurate low frequency content
  • Less fatiguing to listen to for longer periods of time
  • Ability to crank the volume and “Vibe” off the music
  • Doesn’t mess with your hair, except if you really crank it and sit your head next to the woofer.

Con’s:

  • Relatively more expensive than headphones
  • Can be loud and intrusive to other at late hours of the night or early hours of the morning.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE ! Frequency response is dependant on monitor placement and room’s shape, acoustics and modes. Managing/treating low frequency response in small spaces can be a very difficult task.
  • Speakers will only ever perform as well as your rooms acoustics allow them to.
     

HEADPHONES


HIGH BUDGET
Audeze LCD2 $1,200+

MEDIUM BUDGET
Sennheiser HD600 $300-$350
Focal Spirit Professional $450+

LOW BUDGET
Sennheiser HD 380 $160-$200


MONITORS


HIGH BUDGET

Focal CMS50 $1,700+


MEDIUM BUDGET
KRK Rokit RP6 $800+
Tannoy Reveal 802 $900+

LOW BUDGET
Tannoy Reveal 402 $400+

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