Pro Audio

Engineering the Sound: level up your headphone mixes with dearVR MIX

Powered by Sennheiser, the dearVR MIX plugin is a powerful reference tool for mixing with headphones. Engineering the Sound tested it out in the studio.

Headphones have always provided a decisive referencing alternative to monitors. Nowadays, thanks to advances in headphone design, more engineers than ever are trusting cans to the job from start to finish.

But this leaves a gap in the market: what if you want to simulate the experience of listening in different environments, without taking your headphones off? dearVR MIX is a plugin from Dear Reality (a subsidiary of Sennheiser) that aims to fill that gap, giving engineers vital perspective on their mixes, and helping them to make more informed decisions.

Headphone mixing is becoming more and more common as the idea of what constitutes a studio becomes smaller and smaller. With many producers now filling their schedules with touring, collaborative trips, and more, mixing on-the-go or between studios has never been more popular.

Also important is how expensive creating a home or studio setup can be. So headphone mixing has become a reality for many artists in the earlier days of their career, as it can save some pretty pennies while you focus on fine-tuning the creative elements of your craft.

dearVR MIX allows users to select different locations — two Mix Rooms, the Club (many dance music producers swear by testing out mixes in the club), the Car (a classic referencing technique), the Kitchen, the Stadium and more are on offer.

dearVR MIX

Within each of these Scenes, the engineer can tweak the Ambience to be Neutral, or lean into it with more gusto by pushing the dial toward Experience. The Focus setting can lean toward a Localised or Clarity setting.

The plugin is also compatible with the 45 most used studio headphones on the market at the moment, meaning the pair you use will likely already be optimised for use with dearVR.

But it also gives you the option to manipulate the soundstage. Mono, Mono Summed (both channels combined), Stereo, and Stereo Wide configurations are provided for crucial mix referencing tasks. And when you combine the Speaker Setup configuration with the Head Rotation setting (which allows you to perform a 360° headspin with the response in your headphones changing accordingly), you can really develop a comprehensive and realistic picture of what the mix will sound like in a variety of settings.

Overall, dearVR MIX is a user-friendly and powerful tool for analysing the strengths and weaknesses in your mix. Couple it with a trusty pair of headphones and you’ve got a solid launchpad for evaluating mixes in a range of different ambient environments.

If you’d like to give dearVR MIX a shot, visit the Dear Reality website to start a 14-day free trial now.