Mastering, mixing, recording, etc. regardless of what you are doing in the studio, you need a great pair of headphones. The quality of your production is mostly dependent on the quality of your audio/musical tools of trade.
When choosing studio headphones, it helps to do your research because there are numerous options with very different specs. In terms of specs, a few of the things that are incredibly vital and cannot be compromised, include the headphone drivers, the sensitivity f the headphones and finally the headphone impedance.
You also have to decide if you are going to purchase open or close back studio headphones. At the end of the day, your studio headphones should offer you maximum comfort and the freedom to move about without hindrances. We have taken the trouble to help you in your search for the perfect studio headphones.
1. Sennheiser HD 280 Quality Pro
These budget-friendly studio headphones can certainly be classified as one of the best studio headphones buys for under $100. A product by Sennheiser a German company, this product has the capability of achieving beautiful, natural and warm sounds. It offers excellent clarity and does not in any way interfere with the music. You can rely on this headphone for the reproduction of a flat and balanced sound.
- Designed for efficiency and comfort, the Sennheiser HD 280 features an ergonomic and lightweight build that ensures maximum comfort.
- It has a noise cancellation/isolation capability because it was designed to wear around the ear.
- Even though it is made from plastic, it is very durable
- It won’t break your bank.
- It wears a bit too tight while it is still new, but this will ease off with time as the clamping becomes loose.
- If you want aesthetic with your studio headphones, you will certainly not find it here.
2. Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Acclaimed by many of the audio industry experts, the ATH-M50 X is one of the best beginner’s studio headphones that will give you a professional vibe. Without even going into the details, the quality of the headphones is quite professional, and both the headband and earpads attest to this. This closed back studio headphones features a circa mural design and a pair of 45mm large-aperture drivers constructed with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils and rare earth magnets. These features make it great for professional use and enable its exceptional performance.
- It is easily portable because it is collapsible.
- The headband is comfortable and fits perfectly while the ear pads are nice and soft, so it does not hurt your ears.
- External noise somehow manages to leak in despite the noise cancellation that the big ear pads offer.
3. Beyerdynamic DT-990 Acoustically Open Monitor Headphones
Any audiophile will appreciate these acoustic headphones as they have been designed to meet all your needs in one speaker. Whether you are talking about resonance, the frequency range or noise cancellation/ isolation, these headphones check all the right boxes to deliver a clear, well-balanced sound.
A sound test affirmed to us why the Beyerdynamic DT 990 had to be included in our list. We found that in comparison to other studio headphones it was far much easier to hear subtle notes and instruments thanks to the low-end response and the smooth extended highs. With this kind of performance, the plush memory foam ear pads, aluminum headband, and forks are just the cherry that garnishes a really yummy dessert.
- It has Lightweight performance enhancing diaphragm on the headphones.
- The sound production is top notch, detailed and incredibly crispy. If you listen to acoustic music from these headphones, you are transported to a live musical performance.
- They are incredibly comfortable to wear for long hours and do not hurt your ears.
- The package is fundamental, and it has no storage case. Although this isn’t a deal breaker, it would be nice to have a place to keep your headphones once you are done with them.
4. Sony MDR-7506 Large Diaphragm
We really like these closed-back MDR 7506 from Sony. And no, we are not in any way biased to the well-known and revered brand that is Sony. The MDR 7560 is excellent for two reasons; it is inexpensive and has an overall great performance. Featuring 40mm neodymium magnets and a dynamic frequency range of 10-20,000Hz the sound quality is top notch and will delight your ears. Even the most disapproving audiophiles can without a doubt appreciate the capabilities of such a headphone that takes away some of the hassles in mixing and equalizing. The construction of it is well done with nice soft ear cups that will not cause discomfort.
- The noise cancellation/ isolation on the MDR 7506 is one of the best we have seen in the market.
- It is an excellent value for money.
- The cable cannot be detached which can be a bit of a hindrance especially if you need to move around.
- It simple and plain design does nothing for aesthetic
5. AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Sig Premium Headphones
Most celebrity designed headphones are usually not worth their salts because they are often designed and made as just another thing under the celebrity’s belt/brand name. However, that’s not the case with the Quincy Jones sig. Implementing a less is more approach the headphones capture your attention with a simple yet appealing and dramatic design. The circumaural design of the headphone gives off the feeling of having a plush sofa placed around your ears. The sound quality of the headphone is so good because of the flat-wire voice coil technology. This technology reproduces sound that is tremendously accurate with transient response.
- The neodymium magnet system technology helps to minimize sound alteration.
- The earpads are specially shaped so that your comfort is not compromised.
- The headband seems to be a problem for some users with others complaining that it is too tight, and they could feel it on their skulls, while others said that it had bumps. The discomfort, especially during long wear, is a valid drawback but it should not be a deal breaker that takes away from the excellent quality of these headphones.
6. Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Studio Headphones System
The Sennheiser HD 800 is what we would call the king of studio headphones. This is because these open-back headphones are reference class headphones which means they can be used to test other audio devices. Listening to audio from these headphones is so natural sounding because the driver’s steel encasing direct sound at an angle that enhances that natural vibe. Apart from the great sound the HD 800 is also great for extended wear as the ear pads which are made by hand have microfiber in them and headband is designed to ensure minimal fatigue.
- There isn’t any distortion to sound played on the headphones. Most if not all unwanted frequency responses have been eliminated so you can hear every single music nuance.
- The HD 800 is undoubtedly expensive.
7. Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Studio
I had to save my personal best for last. The Sennheiser HD 650 open back is one of my preferred studio headphones because it manages to reach the perfect balance between value for your money and great performance. With exceptional sound clarity, the HD 650 does not experience any trouble with either its treble, mids or bass, something that often plagues other headphones. The titanium build of these headphones gives it a very sexy look and feel making it stand out of the crowd.
- The two-year international warranty guarantees you peace of mind should anything happen within two years of purchase. This does not include damages resulting from user misuse.
- The design of the HD 650 is quite something, from the excellent quality titanium finish you can tell that it is well thought out.
- The headphones produce great quality sounds; the sound is so detailed with clear mids and treble and smooth bass.
- Unlike other options in the market, Sennheiser HD 650 does not have noise canceling capabilities. The brand has issued statements about this saying that they designed the headphones to provide users with a realistic environment where they could hear outside noise while in the studio.
For studio recording, the ideal headphones and what is considered to be the holy grail for most audiophiles and music engineers is the open back headphones. This is because they are great for extended wear during those intensely long studio sessions and they also emit a balanced sound of unmatched quality.
The design and construction of most open back headphones allow for the sound produced to travel in two different directions, towards the ear and outward. This is believed to create a more realistic outcome and experience. This, however, does not mean that close back headphones are not great. It all comes down to a user’s preference.
There is after all quite an infinite number of studio headphones for recording from reasonably priced ones to the ones with hefty price tags. You just have to find the right one for your needs and budget.