Mixing & Mastering
Electronic Music
Headphone Calibration Software

2 MOST IMPORTANT HEADPHONE CALIBRATION PLUGINS YOU NEED [4 FREE]

Create better mixes with headphone calibration software

Create better mixes with headphone calibration software

Can I use headphones to mix and master audio and still get great results? Yes, it is possible to mix and master audio using a pair of headphones! You only need a headphone calibration tool and a virtual mixing room simulation plug-in or a cross-feed plug-in.

These tools allow you to flatten the frequency response of your headphones and accurately reproduce what your audio would sound like through speakers, even when using headphones.

With the right setup and tools, you can trust your ears even more and create better mixes and masters.

Free headphone mixing plugin tutorial for Mixing and Mastering on Headphones 

  • Use your EQ as a Headphone Plugin, or use a Headphone correction Software

  • Also, use a Virtual Mixing Room Plugin

 

We have all struggled with getting the right sound when mixing. You might not be able to get your speakers to the right volume, especially if you're working on your songs at night. Or the acoustics in your room might not be good enough to ensure your mix sounds good on every device.

That's where a headphone plug-in can come into play. It can help you mix with headphones, help you make better decisions, or act as a second option to listen to.

Some popular headphone EQ software options include Sonarworks Sound ID Reference, dSoniq Realphones, Acustica Audio Sienna, or Tonebooster Morphit. You may not know that you can also use your favorite parametric EQ like Crave EQ, Fabfilter Pro-Q, DMG Equilibrium, or Kirchhoff EQ in Ableton, FL Studio, or Reaper. Sometimes you can get an even better sound when mixing with your headphones.

If you don't have a suitable equalizer plugin, use one of the following EQ plugins.

Best free Parametric EQ Plugins:

 

Mixing On Headphones Contents

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WHY USE A HEADPHONE CALIBRATION
AND A MIXING ROOM PLUGIN

Find out how a headphone EQ can help you get the most out of the headphones you have. A cross-feed or virtual mixing room plug-in can also dramatically improve your mixing and mastering results.

Keep in mind that the plug-in should always be the last one on the master track and must be disabled before exporting the final mix. For example, DAW Reaper has a "Monitor FX" channel that will not render any effects on that channel.

 

Step by Step Guide:
Free Headphone calibration software for producing music

Want to learn how to mix and master using headphones? You're in luck! This guide shows you how to utilise your EQ as a powerful free headphone calibration software option to achieve incredible results.

USE YOUR EQUALIZER PLUGIN FOR HEADPHONE CORRECTION

Yes, you heard right; with the correct headphone EQ settings, you can use an equalizer with at least 10 bands to optimize your sound.

The result via the DMG Equilibrium sounded even better with my headphones than with Sonarworks Sound ID Reference. The sound was much warmer at the end, and the bass response in the low end was so much better. Therefore, try the following steps in any case.

This is possible thanks to the Headphone EQ list from Oratory1990 on Reddit. You will find the best studio headphones for mixing and hundreds of HiFi headphone models from which the frequency response was measured.

 

 

1. Visit Oratory 1990 on reddit

Visit the following link to use your equalizer as a free headphone calibration software.

* If you can't find your Headphones in Oratorys list. Then try this link, and search for your headphone model on the web page. Measurements by Crinacle, Headphone.com, Innerfidelity, oratory1990, Reference Audio Analyzer and Rtings are included.

2. Search for your Headphones and open the "Harman Target" Curve PDF

Optimizing the best headphones for mixing and mastering: In this example, I have picked the headphone profile from the Sennheiser HD58x and will transfer it to my DAW in the following steps.

After you have searched and selected your headphone profile, click on the Harman Target curve. This specific target frequency response produces the "best possible sound" for headphones. Next, a PDF will open where you can get more information.

3.Left side without EQ (Before) - Right side with EQ (After)

Do your headphones provide the best sound quality for music mixing?

I want to share some information with you. Take a look at this diagram that displays the optimal sound (Harman target) as a green line.

On the left side, you can view the frequency response of your headphones without any correction (Orange Line). The Sennheiser HD58x Jubilee has a slightly weak bass response and a little too much midrange.

On the other hand, the compensated frequency response curve (Blue Line) is shown on the right side. How does the sound compare after we have made equalizer adjustments?

4.The Optimum EQ Settings for Sennheiser HD 58x

If you scroll down the PDF, you will find the EQ filter settings for your headphones on the left side. This will optimize your headphones for mixing audio.

5. ADD A GAIN PLUGIN - TO BALANCE THE VOLUME

The first thing we do is put a gain plugin on the master track. Since the settings on the equalizer change the volume, this must be balanced beforehand. Otherwise, clipping can occur, and your headphones will sound worse than before.

Why must the gain plugin be used? If you raise a frequency by 10 dB, it becomes 10 dB louder. But a software EQ cannot produce more loudness than the maximum (0 dBFS). To avoid this problem, you use the gain plugin.

In most DAW, you will find a gain plugin: In Ableton, this is called "Utility gain." Otherwise, you can also use the free "Purest Gain" plugin from Airwindows.

 The value for the gain plugin can be found in the marked red area; see Preamp gain.

6. EQ Settings: which you enter into your equalizer

In the red-marked table, you will find the equalizer values for your headphones - Here, you can see the EQ values for the Sennheiser HD58X.

 In this case, 8 bands have to be added to your equalizer.

7. Start to add the "Filter Type", "Frequency", "Gain", "Q-Factor" or "BW" in your EQ

Now add band by band to your equalizer and set the correct "Filter Type", "Frequency", "Gain" and "Q-Factor". 

  •  In some EQs, you have a "BW" value instead of the "Q" which sets the curve's steepness.

  •  Fabfilter - Pro Q3 uses a different system, and all Q values need to be multiplied by 1.41 (Source)

8. Five minutes later I have transferred all values for 8 bands
into Pro-Q

Now it's almost done; check the sound and hear how your mixing and mastering headphones have been optimized.

9. Or Use any other Equalizer like DMG Equilibrium

10. USE A HEADPHONE CROSSFEED PLUGIN OR VIRTUAL MIXING ROOM

Load the headphone EQ first and then a Headphone Crossfeed Plugin or a virtual Mixing Room behind it. The crossfeed makes the headphones less fatiguing to listen to for long periods. 

Let your headphones behave more like loudspeakers for a more transparent and precise sound. This allows the listener to reduce the channel separation to a natural level. 

The main difference between headphones and speaker monitoring is the perception of stereo width.

In theory, the sound from the left speaker is for the left ear, and the right speaker is for the right ear, but in reality, both ears hear the sound from both speakers to a greater or lesser degree.

With headphones, however, this is different - the left ear hears only the left signal, and the right ear hears only the right because the drivers in each earcup are isolated.

However, with the help of correction plugins (crosstalk or virtual Mixing Rooms), it is possible to reduce the difference in perception between speakers and headphones.

The goal is to achieve a subtle feeling of openness and natural directness of sound on headphones. So mixing and mastering on headphones leads to better results.

 

Read more about Virtual Mixing Rooms &  HEADPHONE  EQ Plugins at the beginning of this article.

11. IMPORTANT: TURN OFF THE HEADPHONE EQ AND THE CROSSFEED PLUGIN FOR RENDERING

Crossfeed and Headphone Mixing Plugins are part of your monitoring chain, not your mix. Bypass both Plugins when printing your final mix.

12. DON'T USE YOUR INTERNAL SOUNDCARD

Any pair of headphones can be improved with a Headphone EQ, but the Headphone amp is also essential. Get the most out of your headphones by getting an external headphone amp or a decent audio interface / DAC.

Best headphone EQ & Mixing Room Plugins

dsoniq realphones headphone calibration software

 DSoniq Realphones 

If you need help getting your music to sound good through headphones, I have a suggestion. Check out this plugin called dSONIQ Realphones. It's pretty sweet because it corrects the sound of your headphones and lets you hear what your music would sound like in different environments, like a fancy studio or even a car. Here's what makes it so great:

First, it works with over 200 headphone models and lets you choose from different sound profiles. Plus, it makes your headphones sound like you're listening through some excellent speakers with its virtual mixing room emulation. You can even hear what your music would sound like playing in a club or a car.

It's a helpful tool for ensuring your music sounds good no matter where it's played. Give it a try!

sound id reference headphone calibration

Sonarworks Sound ID [Headphone and Speaker Calibration]

If you're into music production, you should check out this software called Sonarworks Sound ID Reference. It's pretty cool because it can calibrate your speakers and headphones to ensure the sound is consistent on any device.

It measures the frequency response of your room and speakers using a measurement microphone and creates a calibration profile to correct your sound system's acoustic flaws and colourations.

It also has over 300 supported headphone models, so you can apply a pre-made calibration profile for your headphones. This is helpful because you can confidently create, mix and deliver your music, knowing that your sound will be accurate and consistent across different platforms and devices.

Other Options

- Acustica Audio Sienna [They offer free headphone calibration software and a Free Virtual Mixing Room Simulation that includes 2 studios.]

- Tonebooster Morphit

- Waves NX (now comes with oratory1990 Headphone Presets)

- Dear Reality 

- Blue Cat Audio - Re-Head

- Slate Audio VSX 

 

Headphone Crossfeed Plugins

- Goodhertz CanOpener (Use the Mix Engineer preset, Safe Gain Off)

- Airwindows Monitoring 3

- MathAudio Headphone EQ  (only activate the crossfeed; keep the rest off)

- 112db Redline Monitor

- Or use a Virtual Mixing Room like Acustica Audio Sienna or DSoniq Realphones

 

Headphone Crossfeed Hardware

- SPL Phonitor

- Merging Technologie Anubis

 

What Software I use for Headphone calibration / Virtual Mixing Room

The software I use to calibrate my headphones is DMG Equilibrium Equalizer, one of the best, most powerful and flexible EQ plug-ins that can handle any kind of audio processing. I use the EQ data provided by Oratori 1990, a user who has measured and calibrated hundreds of headphone models. He has shared his EQ presets for free on Reddit, you can download the PDFs and enter the EQ data into the DMG Equilibrium Equalizer. This way you can correct the frequency response of your headphones and make them sound more neutral and accurate.

The software I use as a virtual mixing room is the dsoniq Realphones plug-in, which recreates the sound of various studio monitors and mixing rooms using advanced binaural technology, which can enhance the realism and immersion of the sound. I use the 'Big Fat Bottom' live preset, which is one of my favourite presets for bass-heavy music. This preset gives me a warm and punchy sound with lots of low-end energy, which is perfect for my taste.

With this combination of software, I can get the best sound out of my headphones and mix and master my music with confidence. I highly recommend you give them a try and see for yourself how they can improve your headphone experience.

Headphone EQ Solutions

HOW TO USE A WINDOWS HEADPHONE EQUALIZER SYSTEMWIDE

Also with a Windows PC you have the possibility to use an equalizer between your sound output. You can download a free Windows equalizer like the "Equalizer Apo" here. Use this Parametric / Graphical EQ to get the best sound out of your Windows system.

MAC EQUALIZER APP

HEADPHONE EQUALIZER FOR ANDROID

To optimize the audio output for Spotify or Youtube on your Android phone, you can use the following Headphone EQ.

USB DAC WITH EQ FUNCTION

  • Qudelix - 5K 

DAC with headphone amplifier, which also includes an EQ for tone correction.

HEADPHONE FREQUENCY RESPONSE CHALLENGES

Headphone recommendations

I am Marcus, a music enthusiast who runs a mixing and mastering business. Additionally, I compose insightful articles for my blog and produce music as a member of the techno duo Agravik.
Marcus
Mixing & Mastering - Mastrng.com
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