The best studio headphones for mixing, recording and creating content are all about delivering natural and accurate sound in a design that’s durable and comfortable enough to wear all day. Unlike consumer-grade headphones, which usually feature audio enhancements to make music and other content sound livelier, the best studio headphones offer a more neutral and honest representation of source audio to help podcasters, singers, sound engineers, and producers make informed choices when editing audio. If you make beats, track vocals, or work in audio post-production and want to start tackling your projects the way the pros do, this list of the best studio headphones is the perfect place to start.
How We Chose These Products
Not all studio headphones are designed the same, and we looked at a variety of criteria when compiling this list to find the best studio headphones for every type of use.
The overall sound of studio headphones is their most important feature to consider, and we selected primarily studio headphones with the most accurate, detailed, and neutral sound available, placing an emphasis on their acoustic consistency across the entire frequency spectrum. We selected the beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro as the best studio headphones for recording due to their gentle bass emphasis, while we picked the Sony MDR-7506 for their predictably affected sound.
Studio headphones are often worn for long periods of time, so we favored comfortable-to-wear designs with padded headbands and earpads when compiling this list. Many of our picks also utilize replaceable earpads, allowing them to be refreshed periodically.
The best studio headphones come in open-back and closed-back designs, and we took care to ensure that both categories are represented in our list. Open-back headphones offer a more accurate sound at the cost of creating noise in the room, and closed-back headphones are better for sound isolation.
Brand reputation is a significant factor we considered when making our list, so each of the picks come from reputable and longstanding audio manufacturers with years of experience in headphone design.
Best Studio Headphones: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 650
Why They Made The Cut: The Sennheiser HD 650 headphones feature a comfortable open-back design and high-quality components that give it some of the clearest and most balanced audiophile-grade sound available.
— Weight: 0.57 pounds
— Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 41 kHz
— Connectivity: 1/4-inch TRS, 1/8-inch TRS
— Precise, detailed, and uniform sound with low distortion
— Balanced frequency response for analytical listening
— Sturdy construction and comfortable earpads for long-term wear
— Open-back design leaks sound and doesn’t block environmental noise
— Snug fit may require stretching for some users
The Sennheiser HD 650 are some of the best studio headphones on the market thanks to their super balanced sound and comfortable-to-wear fit. They feature an open-back design and specially-designed acoustic silk that aid in providing consistently detailed sound across the entire frequency spectrum without excess bass buildup, which makes them a great all-around choice for mixing, mastering, reference listening, and other critical uses. Each of the HD 650’s 42-millimeter speaker drivers is picked and paired by hand to give the headphones a narrow tolerance of +/- 1 decibels (dB), allowing them to perform virtually free of frequency spikes or other anomalies that might affect the accuracy of their sound. They also feature especially lightweight aluminum voice coils, giving them fantastic transient response.
While these headphones are some of the most comfortable we’ve tested thanks to their velour earpads and roomy elliptical design, the headband may be a bit tight for some users and require stretching out for an ideal fit. Their open-back design also isn’t ideal for use in quiet spaces due to their tendency to leak sound, despite being more accurate than closed-back headphones. If you’re looking for similar performance at a lower price point, the Sennheiser HD 560S will get you in the ballpark, and if you prefer a closed-back design, the beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is our go-to pick for live tracking and quiet use.
Best for Mixing: Audio-Technica ATH-R70x
Why It Made The Cut: The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x are an incredibly lightweight and acoustically balanced set of headphones that are perfect for critical listening on the go and at the studio.
— Weight: 0.46 pounds
— Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 40 kHz
— Connectivity: 1/4-inch TRS, 1/8-inch TRS
— Flat and balanced response with accurate monitor-like sound
— Comfortable lightweight design
— Includes detachable cable and carrying bag
— Ear pads may feel too small for some wearers
— Poorly visible left and right labeling
— Lacks the heavy bass that casual listeners might miss
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x are a well-rounded set of headphones that are as natural and balanced-sounding as they are lightweight, making them one of the best studio headphones for mixing and mastering audio. As Audio-Technica’s flagship model and the company’s first ever open-back reference headphones, the ATH-R70x are designed from the ground up for comfort and accuracy. They’re designed with 45-millimeter drivers seated within an acoustically transparent mesh housing to offer an open speaker-like sound, and they feature a unique winged headband design that’s aimed to keep users comfortable during long mixing sessions. They also weigh less than half a pound and use a detachable three-meter cable, making them an ideal choice for mixing in mobile applications without sacrificing sound quality.
The earpads on the Audio-Technica ATH-R70x are comfy and have a good amount of give, but they’re smaller than those on the similar-sounding Sennheiser HD 650 and might feel a bit tight to some users. Left and right ear markings on the ATH-R70x are also hard to see due to their placement and the headphones’ symmetrical design.
Like most of the best mixing headphones, the ATH-R70x lack pronounced sub-bass frequencies due to their open-back design, so while makes them accurate enough for mixing and mastering, casual listeners and audiophiles who may want a little more bass enhancement should consider the beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro instead.
Best for Recording: beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
Why They Made The Cut: The beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro offer a balanced and consistent sound profile with slightly pronounced bass in a comfortable closed-back design that’s perfect for tracking and recording in privacy.
— Weight: 0.6 pounds
— Frequency Response: 5 Hz to 35 kHz
— Connectivity: 1/4-inch TRS, 1/8-inch TRS
— Closed-back design separates headphone noise from environment
— 80-ohm impedance offers present low-end response for tracking
— Comfortable and replaceable velour earpads
— Slightly pronounced bass response may affect mixing experience
— Relatively bulky plastic-heavy design
— Cable isn’t detachable
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are a super versatile pair of headphones set apart from our previous picks by a closed-back design and modest bass boost that make them one of the best studio headphones for recording. They have a small low-end lift combined with a detailed and accurate frequency response that makes them particularly good for live monitoring of multiple instruments and quick achievement of a relatively balanced mix while tracking. While we prefer the 80-ohm version of the DT 770 Pro for recording due to its good balance of low- and high-end presence, it’s also available in 32-ohm and 250-ohm models that offer more and less bass emphasis, respectively.
The sound profile of the DT 770 Pro is consistent and balanced enough that they’re good for mixing, but their closed-back design is ultimately not the best choice for critical editing due to the way it affects the accuracy of the headphones’ sound. They also feature a rather bulky design that may make them cumbersome to store or place on a desk in smaller spaces, and the cable is permanently attached, which can affect their long-term durability. If you’re looking for headphones that can pull double duty between tracking and mixing, a semi-open design like the DT 880 may be a better choice. Still, if you’re looking for a combination of great isolation and balanced sound, the DT 770 Pro is one of the best studio headphones for recording that money can buy.
Best Wireless: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Why It Made The Cut: The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 allow users to swap between critical editing and personal listening without changing headsets, making it a unique and flexible option that can pull double duty.
— Weight: 0.67 pounds
— Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 28 kHz
— Connectivity: 1/8-inch TRS, Bluetooth
— Flat and accurate sound via wired and Bluetooth connectivity
— Includes USB charging cable, detachable audio cable, and built-in mic
— Convenient collapsible design ideal for travel use
— Lacks noise-cancelling functionality
— Studio-quality sound focuses more on accuracy than enhancement
— Bluetooth perceptibly degrades audio when compared to wired function
While Bluetooth isn’t really advisable or even commonly supported in studio environments due to the loss in audio fidelity over wireless connections, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 offer a combination of full-fidelity wired functionality and wireless Bluetooth connectivity that make them some of the best wireless studio headphones on the market. Like the non-wireless Audio-Technica ATH-M50x after which they’re modeled, the ATH-M50xBT2 feature a flat-tuned frequency response for accurate playback with the addition of USB charging and a built-in mic for taking phone calls via Bluetooth. They also feature a collapsible design with a detachable 3.9-foot cable and carrying bag, and users can tune or adjust the headphones’ wireless sound to their taste via the Audio-Technica Connect app.
Because they’re designed with sonic accuracy and flat frequency response in mind, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 won’t deliver the enhanced rumbling bass or other enhancements that some Bluetooth headphones offer, and they also lack noise- cancelling functionality. For this reason, they should be treated more as accurate, studio-grade headphones that happen to offer Bluetooth functionality rather than a traditional pair of wireless headphones like the Apple AirPods Max or Beats Studio3. If you’ll be listening to the ATH-M50xBT2 with a critical ear, it’s also important to bear in mind that they won’t sound quite as good over Bluetooth as they will in wired mode.
Best Budget: Sony MDR-7506
Why It Made The Cut: The Sony MDR-7506 are an affordable studio staple that offer a balance of sculpted, predictable sound and portable convenience.
— Weight: 0.5 pounds
— Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 20 kHz
— Connectivity: 1/4-inch TRS, 1/8-inch TRS
— Longstanding industry-standard design at an affordable price
— Lightweight collapsible design perfect for travel and storage
— Great for tracking or personal listening
— Coiled cable tangles easily
— Unbalanced sound profile is mid-heavy and lacks bass
— Not as durable as pricier options
The Sony MDR-7506 have been around since 1991 and continue to find a home in studios around the world due to their predictable sound signature and reasonable price point, making them one of the best budget studio headphones available. Unlike other studio headphones that are designed primarily for comfort or flat and accurate sound, the MDR-7506s have a barebones utilitarian design and a mid-heavy sound profile that’s reminiscent of low- to mid-range consumer stereo systems. While that makes them a poor choice for mixing and critical uses, the Sony MDR-7506s are a cost-effective option for monitoring during recording as well as a decent choice for personal listening.
The practical design of the Sony MDR-7506 hasn’t changed much since its introduction, and it shows: its coiled cable often becomes tangled during even light use, and its lightweight design doesn’t feel particularly sturdy or durable. Still, the longstanding legacy of the MDR-7506 as a studio workhorse combined with its incredibly accessible price point make it a no-brainer choice if you’re looking to stock up on studio headphones or grab an extra pair without breaking the bank.
Things to Consider Before Buying Studio Headphones
The best studio headphones for mixing, like the Sennheiser HD 650 and Audio-Technica ATH-R70x, feature an open-back design that prevents frequency buildup and allows them to sound as sonically accurate and true to the source material as possible. However, open-back designs create audible noise within the user’s environment, making them unsuitable for quiet shared spaces or recording vocals in close proximity to a microphone. For this reason, the best studio headphones for recording generally have a closed-back design that passively isolates audio from the environment at the expense of some acoustic accuracy. If you’ll be using a single pair of studio headphones for mixing and recording, a closed-back design like the beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is a good compromise due to its balanced sound profile and ability to keep sound from leaking into the room.
If you’ll be using studio headphones for mixing, a design with a flat and unaffected sound signature is ideal for accurately making critical edits. However, the most accurate and true-to-source studio headphones often lack pronounced bass response, which can make them less suited for recording purposes when users need to hear a more balanced and lifelike mix of every element. If you’ll be using your studio headphones for listening to music or simple monitoring purposes, you might also prefer an even more sculpted and midrange-heavy sound profile like that of the Sony MDR-7506.
If you’re looking for a pair of studio headphones that perform as well in the studio as they do on a commute, a wireless design like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 are a good choice thanks to their ability to function via both Bluetooth and traditional wired configurations. More substantial, non-collapsible open-back headphones are suitable for mobile work as well, but they’ll take up more space in a bag and usually only feature a standard analog 3.5-millimeter audio connector.
Q: How much do studio headphones cost?
The cost of studio headphones can vary wildly, with the cheapest being below $30 to the most expensive topping out in the multiple thousands of dollars. For the purpose of this article, the best studio headphones range between roughly $100 and $600.
Q: How long do studio headphones last?
Studio headphones can last for decades, but that’s highly dependent on how often they are used. In a normal working studio environment, headphones endure a lot of wear and tear as they are put on, taken off, dropped, and pulled. If you want to get the most life out of your studio headphones, opt for a design with replaceable cables and earpads like the Sennheiser HD 650 or Audio-Technica ATH-R70x.
Q: What is the difference between studio headphones and normal headphones?
Studio headphones differ from normal headphones in that they are specifically designed to sound as neutral, or “flat,” as possible. Because they aim to play audio without causing any enhancements or changes to the sound, studio headphones are the best choice for making critical editing choices where accuracy matters.
Q: Can I use studio headphones for gaming?
Studio headphones aren’t a great choice for gaming due to their flat frequency response, which can make video game audio sound neutral or boring during the playing experience. That said, studio headphones are great for editing video game audio.
Q: Can studio headphones be used for listening to music?
Studio headphones can be used for listening to music and are a particularly good choice if you want to hear the most accurate and detailed representation of the source as possible. However, the best studio headphones lack any “hyped” sound or enhanced bass, so look elsewhere if that’s a priority.
Q: Do studio headphones have mics?
Studio headphones typically don’t have mics, with the exception being Bluetooth studio headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2. In a studio setting, the best microphones for high-fidelity recording are much larger than the typical built-in microphone and are standalone pieces of equipment like the Shure SM7B.
The Sennheiser HD 650 are the best overall thanks to their super-consistent accurate sound and comfortable fit. The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x have very similar acoustic performance but are incredibly lightweight, making them some of the best studio headphones for mixing, and the beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro feature a closed-back design with a small bass boost that make them fantastic for recording and sound isolation. If you’re looking for a pair of studio headphones for wirelessly listening to music on the go, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 are a fantastic option with a flat sound profile, and if you’re shopping on a budget, the classic Sony MDR-7506 have a predictable sound that makes them a good workhorse option for basic monitoring.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
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