Make GREAT Headphone Mixes!!!

Kenny's Tip of the Day - Make GREAT Headphone Mixes!!!

Some people seem to think the headphone mix is a lesser thing. That’s it’s not really important. Push up the faders so the artist can hear themselves and the rest of the band and let them perform. Pretty basic. Right?

No. I couldn’t disagree more. The headphone mix is everything to the person listening to it. Their performance depends on it. If they can just barely hear themselves or what they’re hearing isn’t that good or special, how are they supposed to perform at their best?

For years, I used to create the headphone mix and the artists were very happy. But then I got the idea to allow them to create their own. Buying one of those specialized boxes that had 8 inputs where I could buss each instrument to its own channel.

That turned out to be a big mistake. Most artists can’t mix. And if they’re not hearing what I’m hearing in the control room, I have no ability to help them along with their performance. We’re hearing different things but discussing the same thing. Their performance.

So I abandoned that technique very quickly. The artist is always hearing what I’m hearing. Unless it’s a big live band all playing together and then I’ll allow them to create “more me” versions (while still hearing my mix) along with control of the click track. Not everyone wants a cowbell compressed into their skulls. Looking at you drummers. LOL

But I’m ALWAYS mixing as I go. So that when an artist is doing an overdub or adding the final lead vocal, they are hearing what the final mix will sound like. Exactly. From the compression on the 2 buss to the EQ and slap back echo on the vocal itself. They are singing into a final mix.

And I’m massaging their performance as well. I may not be adjusting their preamp gain as they’re recording (unless they are very dynamic) but I am adjusting the playback level as they are singing. Moving it louder and lower based on what I think they need on each and every phrase.

Nothing is more important for the performer than the situation they’re recording in. And nothing affects their performance more than what they are hearing as they perform. Using the all-important Headphone Mix.

You can learn more by watching my videos at

I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia