Best Studio Headphones
By: The Gear Dude | Date: 28th April 2020
Headphones are an essential element for tracking and mixing. Anyone making music in a home studio is going to need to own a pair at some point. If you’re like me, you want a comfortable pair of headphones and sound great. It’s also important to find a pair that has a nice and flat response if you’re going to use them for mixing. It is important that they do not color your sound too much. I’m going to talk about some of what I feel to be the best options on the market today.
Since 1991 the Sony MDR7506 has been one of the most commonly seen and widely used headphones for recording and mixing. Coming in at under $100 USD from most places they are a great value for the price. Sonically they have a very wide frequency response going from 10hz to 20khz. The MDR7506 sports a closed back design to aid in making them great for tracking. The cable is not detachable and very long, 9.8 feet to be exact. Sony coils the cable to help deal with some of the extra length. The majority of the construction and body of these headphones is made from plastic. Even with the included carry bag I would worry about throwing these in a backpack as they could break. However they do price out cheap enough in the realm of headphones that they aren’t heartbreaking to replace. Some people will find that the earcup padding is not the most comfortable and may feel they become uncomfortable after long listening sessions.
- Great for mixing
- Sturdy cable
- Great price
- Not bassy
- Coiled cable is heavy
- Fragile plastic construction
Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO
If comfort is your number one priority look to the DT770 PRO-250 from Beyerdynamic, it also helps that they sound great. These German made headphones are the Sherman tank of studio head ware. Handling these everything feels very solid, there are minimal plastic pieces and all of the moving parts are very sturdy and look to withstand the test of time. The headband while being soft and comfortable is very rugged and highly adjustable. I would describe them sonically to be quite transparent and extremely detailed tonally. This has made them a high-end recording studio favorite for decades. The closed back design makes them great for singers tracking in a vocal booth as there will be minimal bleed. Did I mention the bass response as well? These headphones have a very deep ultra-low bass that maintains a crisp tone even if you plan to “make the trunk thunder.” The headband and earcups are also replaceable if they should wear out. The headphones also have a two-year warranty through the manufacturer.
- Extreme comfort
- Sturdy design
- Great frequency response
- Don’t include carry case only bag
- Cable cannot be replaced if it fails
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Many people looking at studio monitor headphones find two things are lacking. Flexible joints like DJ headphones and replaceable cables. The Audio Technica ATHM50X is here to solve both of those problems. Many artists and listeners alike will gravitate to these as they have a very lively and engaging sound due to a bit of a boost in the higher midrange. This however does present a challenge if you plan to mix with them as sonically they are not the most accurate. DJ’s will enjoy the flexibility as the earcups can swivel up to 90 degrees. Heavy users will also enjoy the detachable cable for easy replacement. This is one of the things on headphones I find fails more than anything else. These are usually available to order though any Audio Technica dealer.
- Great looking
- Excellent sounding
- Detachable cables
- Detachable cable is proprietary
- Multiple plastic flexible joints
- Not great for mixing
Sennheiser HD280 PRO
The market for headphones around $100 USD is busy and can seem to be a bit crowded, however the Sennheiser HD280 pro has always stood out to me as a great pair of headphones. Right away you will notice they have a seemingly bulky size and mostly plastic construction; I feel though that they are quite durable. I’ve owned and abused a pair or two of these in my life and they are quite sturdy. It’s very convenient that they fold up to be quite small for easy transport. Sonically they are very flat and true, even enough to the point where they’re not ideal for listening for personal enjoyment. The bass isn’t the most prominent and thumpy bass either which may turn off some users, but again for mixing this isn’t such an issue.
- Cable not detachable
- Flat response better for mixing
- Neither bag nor case included
AKG K240 Studio
The AKG K240 Studio headphones in an early form debuted around the same time as bell bottomed jeans. Chances are most user have either seen or listened to a pair of these over the years. I find them to be a very comfortable pair of headphones and they come in at a great price under $100. They have been able to stand the test of time by being a phenomenal sounding pair of headphones. The highs are quite crisp while the midrange is crystal clear and very detailed. The bass isn’t going to rattle your skull however if that’s just not what these headphones are aimed to do. They do feature an open back design which unfortunately makes them not great for tracking vocals. The biggest drawback with these headphones though is durability. They’re mostly made of plastic and are not the sturdiest design, however the detachable cable is a very nice touch. If you’re looking for a cheap pair of headphones for at home mixing the AKG K240 Studio is a great choice.
- Replaceable cable
- Comfortable headband
- Not very durable
- Can be quite "leaky"