The Best Studio Headphones (Review & Comparison) Of 2020 – Our Top Picks Reviewed
If you’re setting up your own studio, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a solid pair of headphones. But what exactly sets studio headphones apart from the pack? Why should you invest in studio headphones at all? In this guide, we’ll look at everything you need to consider, as well as our picks of The Best Studio Headphones on the market.
The Products We Reviewed – Click to go
3 Studio Headphones You Must See – Our Winning Picks
The Best Studio Headphones and Headsets Reviewed
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (#1 Top Studio Headphones)
Weight: 2.1 lbs – 90 Degree swiveling earcups – Type: Over Ear
Any search for studio headphones online will probably bring Audio-Technica up. There’s a good reason for this. We think most people will get a kick out of the comfy, stylish design, and the fact that there’s a case provided helps to keep your cans protected in case of a heavy day at the mic. The marketing for this pair claims that there is ‘critically acclaimed sonic performance’ on-board. What that translates to us is, the sound quality is definitely worth considering.
Regular studioheads will probably appreciate the swivelling cup design and the contours on the ears. This isn’t just for comfort, as it can mean that they will shut out more noise than you’re expecting. Some users might find the bass here to be a little less neutral than what they are expecting. However, for everyday studio use, you could use the ATH-M50x regularly without having to worry about knocking them about too much.
2. Sony MDR7506 (#1 Best Value Studio Headphones)
Weight: 8.1 ounces – Wireless: No – Headphone Type: Dynamic, closed – Style: Over Ear
Has it really taken us this long to get to Sony? In any case, the big brand has been known to produce some solid studio and home audio tech over the years. The MDR7506 range is nice and lengthy in terms of cord, and most studio users should find the basic comfort in ear pads as well as single cable design to be worthy of a closer look. It’s a closed ear model, which, yet again, means you’re looking at a good level of isolation, though you might want a little less pressure.
What might appeal to some people is the level of portability on offer. Unlike many studio headphones, this pair can fold right up and pack away into its own case. That’s probably going to appeal to travelling DJs and mixers. Let’s not discount sound quality, as if you are looking for noise reduction and level production, these headphones should give you everything you’re looking for.
3. Sennheiser HD 800 S (#1 Premium Pick Studio Headphones)
Weight: 11.6 ounces – Type: Open Back Around Ear – largest drivers ever used in dynamic headphones
This is the first fully open back headphone system on our list, and for good reason. Sennheiser latest upgrade on the HD 800 S boasts what they claim to be the ‘largest driver ever’ in cans of this nature. What that means for you and I is that they stand to produce better quality playback. That’s always a good thing. Open back design does mean that you are free from a lot of the pressure, but some users might find a lack of isolation that they are otherwise happy with. However, what you might find is that the absorption technology helps to level things out.
The HD 800 S ensures the sound you hear is as ‘natural’ as possible, which may appeal to most studio users. The focus on keeping things natural and neutral stays true to the whole concept of studio headphones. What some buyers might also like is the fact that the design of the earcups is fairly unique. They are comfortable but are wide and angled. This, according to Sennheiser, helps to create a ‘spatial listening experience’. That translates to clearer sound in our book, and it might do for you too.
4. AKG K 240
Dimensions: 9.3 x 8.8 x 4.4 inches Weight: 2.4 lbs – Type: Semi-open – Extended Warranty: 1 Year
These headphones are ‘semi-open’, which might appeal to new studio users who want the isolation, but none of the pressure. The cushioning should make things nice and comfy for most people, and there’s an adjustable headband so you don’t have to strain yourself while listening with one ear, for example.
This pair of headphones can arrive with an extension cable and is gold-plated in design, making it a premium choice for some people. However, many studio users and DJs might find the adjustability worthy of the price, which can vary. AKG is a manufacturer which might not be up there with the best-known headphone producers, but this is a solid pair we think most mixers will be happy with, at least for audio quality and comfort.
5. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
Weight: 1.2 lbs – Noise isolation: Yes – Type: Over-Ear
Beyerdynamic is a name that comes up a lot when people talk about the best studio tech. The closed, comfortable looking earcups here will probably appeal to most people, not just those who are going to be spending a lot of time on the decks. In fact, if you’re going to be swinging your cans around, or subjecting them to a lot of hard wear and tear, you might find that these headphones stick with you. You only have to look at the construction to see that they won’t snap in a few minutes.
The designers claim that there’s a focus on high resolution sound here. That’s all well and good, but naturally, you are likely going to need that neutral level. Beyerdynamic claims that bass, for example, translates into crisp, fresh audio useful for studio mixing. Seeing as bass is something you might struggle to tweak during editing, we’d see this as a bit of a plus. What’s more, you might actually enjoy using these for everyday use, seeing as they are portable enough.
6. Beyerdynamic DT 880
Weight: 1.72 lbs – Wireless: No- Type: Semi-open back
Heading back to Beyerdynamic, let’s consider their DT 880 range. This premium pair of headphones is semi-open, which, again, should give you a fair amount of isolation without all the unnecessary pressure you get from closed systems. Your preferences may vary here, of course. These headphones should be pretty comfortable for most people in a studio environment, as the headband is very adjustable, and the earpads are super-soft and comfy.
The DT 880 Premium offers a good balance in terms of sound design. Most studio users might find that these headphones give them what they want from an honest soundscape. There’s never too much bass, and never too little mid or treble. Users might also appreciate the single-side cable functionality, which helps to keep things flexible. You might even want to use these headphones at home, too.
7. OneOdio Pro-10
Weight: 10.6 ounces – Wireless: No – Wired for studio use – Sound Quality: Dynamic Bass
OneOdio may not be a name you are familiar with; however, their basic studio monitor headphones sell well, and receive plenty of positive attention. If you prefer classic style headphones, from comfort to functionality, these monitor units should do more than enough for you. They are closed back, which means there might be some pressure, however, there’s a great trade-off in terms of audio quality. These headphones boast massive drivers for what users may find to be great, level soundscapes and playback.
The unit is developed to be as comfy and as flexible as possible. That should appeal to most studio users. What’s more, it seems to be pretty flexible across a variety of devices. You’re certainly not restricted to plugging these in via the studio mix. If you do a lot of single ear listening and checks, these headphones are ideal to help facilitate your use. That might appeal to even more people.
8. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
Weight: 1.5 lbs – Wired – Tesla driver technology – Type: Open-back design
Beyerdynamic’s ‘pro’ range of headphones offers a sleek, open design. This might help keep things nice and breathable for you while mixing and recording. This design doesn’t seem to lose any of the necessary sturdiness you’d expect from a studio model, wither. However, some users might want to look for something a little more robust. But what about the sound quality?
These headphones operate at a high response rate and offer 250 ohms, which should be more than enough power for a lot of people. What will appeal to many studio users is the fact that these headphones are super-easy to customise. You can swap out ear pads, your headband and even your cables. If you prefer a coiled cable, you can swap out the straight link as you desire.
How We Choose The Headphones In Our List
When it comes to picking the best studio headphones, we wanted to do our research. However, the basics were clear. Providing your headphones are sturdy, comfortable and offer audio quality that focuses on neutral levels rather than any special boosts, you’re probably going to find a good pair. The headphones we chose for this buying guide are those we feel offer the best value and the most mileage. That is, you’ll get years of regular use out of these devices.
Buying Guide for Studio Headphones
With so many headphones on the market how can you choose the right ones for your needs? This is where our experts come in, doing the hard work for you. We have tested and spoken to leading industry experts to find the best studio headphones on the market.
What Are Studio Headphones?
Studio headphones are pretty different from everyday headphones in many ways. However, the main driving reason for buying phones built for studio use is the quality you get for your money. Yes – everyday headphones and earphones will probably give you plenty of bass and tons of treble. However, true studio headphones keep things pretty neutral. When listening to mixes in a studio environment, you’re going to need your levels as close to ‘basic’ as possible.
Why Should You Use Studio Headphones?
Producers and DJs use studio headphones while mixing and recording for the neutral levels. When shopping for casual headphones, you’ll probably find that some models offer extra bass, others offer wireless control, and more besides. With studio headphones, you hear sound as it is intended. That means you get to hear your mix without any added EQ or effects layered on top.
This means you know right away what you’re working with. Too much bass or mid could really wreck your soundscape once it transfers to main speakers. There’s temptation to slap on lots of effects and use noise-cancelling headphones in the studio, but you are going to need a flat level of sound. This way, your mixes will be easier to tweak, and you’ll know exactly what they sound like at ‘worst’.
What Are the Other Differences Between Studio Headphones and Regular Headphones?
Studio headphones aren’t necessarily going to bring the best out of your music right away. Think about the circumstances under which you’d use a regular pair of headphones. These cans will be used for maximum comfort, and maximum sound levels. The aim of these headphones is to provide you with the best sound quality possible for your music. You might assume that’s the case for studio headphones, however, these give you the cold, hard truth. There are no wrapping things up in fancy EQ.
However, you may find that some studio headphones offer at least a little bit of noise cancellation. They won’t cancel out everything, as there are going to be some sounds and noises you’ll need to work out in the edit. However, they do tend to filter out more noise than your run-of-the-mill headphones.
Studio headphones are also hardier and more resistant to regular use. Think about the rough and tumble studio phones go through – normal headphones wouldn’t stand a chance.
What’s the Difference Between Open Back and Closed Back Studio Headphones?
This distinction refers to the difference in how your headphones are built. Open back headphones offer less pressure and more accurate frequencies. However, many people prefer closed back models because sound is easier to isolate, and therefore, there’s no chance of you missing any slight bits of sound or notes that you might want to iron out. However, you may end up paying more than you expect for open back models.
Does Isolation Matter?
Yes! When it comes to mixing and recording in the studio, you’re going to want to isolate the sound you work with in any studio environment. Think about how busy and cluttered a studio space can get. If there’s any chance of external noise getting in, it’s going to spoil your mix and it’s going to get in the way of your tweaks and edits. You will need to buy a pair of headphones that directly closes off the sounds you want to listen to, so again, you can hear them ‘as intended’ – not with stacks of white noise and other background fuzz over the top.
Why Can’t I Use Normal Headphones in the Studio?
You can – and we’re not stopping you. However, you’re going to be in for a rough time of it. Studio headphones are built for purpose, and by this, we mean that they are robust, rugged, and shock resistant. Studio headphones go through a lot. They get swung around, knocked about, and used constantly at varying volumes and levels of intensity. Can you imagine putting your own headphones through that? Probably not.
The best headphones to use in a studio should be durable and reliable to a fault. Standard headphones, no matter how fancy they may be, are only ever going to last casual, occasional use. A good pair of studio cans will withstand everything you throw at it.
Plus, normal headphones just aren’t going to tell you the ‘truth’ about your sound. If you want your mixes to really sound great once they’ve left the studio, pick a pair that will give you some tough love on the way to the editing suite.
Studio headphones are pretty necessary if you’re going to get the best out of your mixes. Look for a pair that offers clear, neutral sound, and which is solid for years of use. Do also check out the big brands – but don’t be afraid to hunt around for a bargain. Whatever you do, don’t just assume your Beats or everyday headphones are going to cut it in a studio setting.