Originally Posted by jplanet
I agree that quality monitors are essential to mixing, but not necessary for good tracking. If you are in a scenario, as many are, where you record at home, but send your projects out to be mixed, I would say that you can get spectacular results with a $100 pair of AKG headphones...and your neighbors will thank you!
If you're recording with a guitar amp mic'ed with an SM57, your neighbors will also thank you for using an amp sim VST...That also gives the mixing engineer the option to re-amp your sound...
Even though I'm going to disagree with your premise, I thank you for bringing the topic up.
You gotta do what you gotta do, and if it works, go with it. But my experience is that it is very difficult to make primary decisions with headphones, whether tracking or mixing, especially on stuff like electric guitar.
Headphones obviously exaggerate the soundstage, but they also tend to deliver exaggerated fletcher-munson effects, even at low-ish volume levels. Things that sound rich, full-bodied, and "big" on headphones have a way of sounding tinny and muffled on playback with regular speakers. Detail and presence evaporates, and electric guitars (for example) often sound excessively over-driven and nasally when you play back the tracks in the car or on a stereo.
There is nothing wrong with monitoring at conversation-level volume or below, in fact it is often desirable to do so. If you live in a circumstance where even conversation-level sound is too loud, then it's going to be hard to make a serious go of recording, but people have done it all with headphones.
In any case, this leads perfectly into my next post, which is all about level-matching...