It’s likely no coincidence that my favorite headphones are from Audeze. They are based on the same planar magnetic technology behind PS Audio’s speakers.
I’ve tried a number of their headphones but currently, in the mix room at Octave Records, I am enjoying a pair of their LCDMX4 which they tout as being best for mixing and mastering.
What I find fascinating about headphones is how very different in comparison to loudspeakers some aspects of the sound are. Tonally, they are nearly identical, but that’s where the similarities end.
It’s somewhat of a jarring experience to commutate between speakers and headphones on the same mix.
Some of this is to be expected. Loudspeakers have the room to contend with and the listener sits multiple feet away from them. Headphones, on the other hand, are the ultimate nearfield monitors. The source of sound from those planar magnetic drivers sits mere inches from your eardrums.
The challenge of course is finding the proper balance between them. We make decisions in the mix so the music sounds live when played back in the room on speakers. Speakers are the default standard. (Might be interesting someday to do an entire mix just for headphone users).
For me, these headphones are like a magnifying glass. They allow one to zoom in on fine details to hear deeper into the music than is possible on a loudspeaker.
The trap, I suspect, is leaning too hard in either direction: setting balances based solely on one form of reproduction than the other.
As most things in life turn out, the art is in finding a proper balance.