Game Music Jobs: The “Tuned Fat” Fiasco

Welcome to Game Music Jobs!

We all have them! You know what I’m talking about—that cheap pair of consumer headphones at a price that can’t be beat. Let me guess: they’re either in your closet or around your neck right now. You may not recognize their name, but can you recognize the difference in tonal accuracy when they’re compared to a good set of monitoring headphones? Sometimes bargain shopping for headphones may offer a bit of audiophile serendipity, especially when some off brands offer boosted bass and high highs. While these may be beneficial for casual music listening, they can be detrimental to the actual sound of your burgeoning music track. Consumer headphones tend to color and accentuate certain frequencies over others, such as the bass. This may be a major selling point for some listening mediums, but most audio professionals prefer headphones that are tuned flat.

The “Tuned Fat” Fiasco

Fat bass. Fat beats. What more could you need? While some eardrums may be the latest victim of the loudness war and comparable to that of their grandpas (dead or alive), it is often the subtle, nuanced sounds that can make a track stand out. Many times, the listening environment may not be the best, and that’s where a good pair of monitoring headphones can come in. There are two main types of monitoring headphones: open and closed back. The most common type of headphone is the closed back, which can make it sound like the music is playing directly in your head, while the open back can give more of a natural nuanced distance-listening experience. This is achieved by allowing air to flow through the earcups, but it may also suffer some sound to escape. Many find closed back headphones offer a more consistent listening experience in different environments, regardless of how loud your neighbors are yelling.

Well, you may be asking now: Munch, I just spent a buttload of money—which is equal to 126 gallons, by the way; look it up—on studio monitors. Great! Keep them! The standard rule is that mixing should be done 90 percent on studio monitors and 10 percent on your headphones. The only downside to using ear cans is ear fatigue; this can occur in as little time as 30 minutes. Make sure to give your little money-makers sufficient rest.

I like to think of myself as a fair guy. I have nothing against consumer headphones—as a matter of fact, they may come in handy. But as beneficial as your new studio monitor headphones may be, most people will not lean toward the flat, but always toward the fat—meaning that most people will listen on ear buds or some other medium suited for fancy music listening, and that’s where your hard work of mixing your track on a clear set of phones shines. You see, it’s important to listen to your track on a multitude of mediums of differing sizes and quality, to make sure it represents your idea clearly. Also, watch the video from our friend at Recording Revolution on Mastering in the artist resource section, and like our video. Keep your headphones and keep learning, and always B#.

This is Munchman with Game Music Jobs.


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