Apple AirPods vs. NS-10s: The New Standard for Mixing? - Eventide Audio

Apple AirPods vs. NS-10s: The New Standard for Mixing?

Traditionally, studio monitors like the Yamaha NS-10s have been the gold standard for their honest representation of sound. However, with the rise of consumer devices like Apple AirPods®, a new question emerges: Are AirPods the new standard for audio mixing? We explore the practicality, accuracy, and overall impact of using AirPods and other consumer headphones for professional audio mixing versus traditional studio monitors. 

The Legacy of Yamaha NS-10s 

The Yamaha NS-10s gained legendary status in the music industry for their unique ability to reveal flaws in a mix. Their distinct sound profile, characterized by a pronounced midrange and minimal bass extension, forces engineers to create balanced mixes that translate well across various playback systems. Despite—or perhaps because of—their stark sound, NS-10s have remained a staple in studios worldwide since their introduction in the late 1970s. 

Why AirPods? 

Apple AirPods are consumer-oriented wireless earbuds that have become ubiquitous since their launch. Their portability, ease of use, and spatial audio capabilities make them a popular choice for everyday listening. But let’s see how they really compare to the NS-10s in terms of a professional setting: 


  • Great for Checking Mixes: One major advantage of using AirPods for mixing is their ubiquity among consumers, making them ideal for checking how your mix will sound on a commonly used device. This helps ensure your mix translates well to the devices your audience uses most frequently. 
  • Portability: Unlike bulky studio monitors, AirPods can be used anywhere, making them ideal for on-the-go mixing and adjustments.
  • Convenience: Their wireless design and seamless integration with Apple devices make them extremely convenient for quick listening checks. 


  • Frequency Response: AirPods do not offer the flat frequency response that professional studio monitors do, unlike the NS-10s. This can lead to a skewed perception of bass and treble frequencies, potentially resulting in unbalanced mixes. 
  • Ear Fatigue: Extended use of AirPods can cause ear fatigue, making them less suitable for long mixing sessions compared to traditional studio monitors. 
  • Latency Issues: One common drawback is the latency that can occur with wireless headphones like AirPods. This delay can be problematic for precise timing adjustments during mixing and especially recording the phase. 

Real-World Applications 

On-the-Go Mixing & Editing 

One significant advantage of AirPods over NS-10s is the ability to mix on the go. AirPods’ portability allows audio engineers to work from virtually anywhere, whether they’re traveling, at a coffee shop, or simply moving between different locations. This flexibility is invaluable for those who need to make quick adjustments or continue working on projects outside of the traditional studio environment. The combination of powerful DAWs and portable consumer devices like AirPods makes it possible to achieve high-quality mixes without being tethered to a stationary studio setup. Laptops provide the computing power necessary for running complex audio software, while AirPods allow for detailed listening and adjustments. This setup is particularly advantageous for producers who need to work in various environments or who travel frequently. 

Immersive Audio: The Future of Mixing

The future of mixing is undeniably immersive. Platforms such as Apple Music and DAWs like Logic Pro, Cubase, Adobe Audition, and Pro Tools now support immersive audio and Dolby Atmos, paving the way for a new era in audio production. Immersive audio allows for a more engaging and three-dimensional listening experience, making it an essential consideration for modern mixing. While the Yamaha NS-10s will always hold a place of reverence in the industry, the rise of consumer audio devices like AirPods cannot be ignored. Learn more about the benefits of immersive mixing here

Compatibility with Modern Tools 

For a truly professional Dolby Atmos mix, traditional studio monitors like the NS-10s fall short. The NS-10s lack the frequency reproduction necessary for accurate spatialization, making them inadequate for Dolby Atmos applications. Moreover, achieving the minimum recommended speaker configuration for a Dolby Atmos setup would require up to 12 speakers, which is both expensive and space-consuming.

In contrast, a single pair of AirPods offers a great, budget-friendly entry point into immersive audio. These devices provide an accessible gateway for experiencing and creating high-quality spatial mixes without the need for an elaborate multi-speaker setup.


Versatility and adaptability are crucial in modern audio production. While AirPods may not replace the precision and honesty of traditional studio monitors like the Yamaha NS-10s, they provide valuable insights into how your mixes will be heard by the general public. By utilizing both professional monitors and consumer devices such as headphones, earbuds, and Bluetooth speakers, you can create well-rounded, high-quality mixes that translate across all listening environments. 

Moreover, embracing immersive audio is becoming increasingly important. As streaming services adopt spatial audio, mixing in immersive formats first ensures your tracks sound great across all platforms. Incorporating immersive audio techniques not only enhances your mixes but also future-proofs your production skills in an evolving audio landscape. 

With immersive mixing set to become the new norm, get the right tools to redefine your sound and craft experiences that captivate and inspire. The Blackhole Immersive and MicroPitch Immersive plug-ins are designed specifically to elevate the Dolby Atmos, surround, and spatial audio mixing experience. Blackhole Immersive creates vast, otherworldly spaces, while MicroPitch Immersive adds intricate pitch modulation effects. Using these plug-ins with AirPods delivers an expansive auditory experience, making the mix more engaging and immersive. 

Try Blackhole Immersive and MicroPitch Immersive plug-ins for free with a fully functional 30-day demo.

Eventide is offering exclusive crossgrade opportunities for existing plug-in owners. These tools help you explore new frontiers in audio production, ensuring you stay ahead in the evolving world of sound.

Explore Immersive. Transform Your Sound. Elevate Your Artistry.