Studio headphones are an essential tool for mixing music. They’re a key part of any home studio setup.
A good pair of mixing headphones will be always useful in your studio. Even if you eventually upgrade to near-field monitors, your trusty headphones will still be indispensable for tracking and mix referencing.
But there are more more headphones on the market than ever before. In this article I’ll break down the 25 best headphones for music production available today and how to choose the best pair for your home studio setup.
How to choose studio headphones
Choosing the right studio headphones is important—you’ll probably be spending a lot of time listening to them!
Before you dive into the top 25 you need to know what to look for.
Aside from sound quality, the most important things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for headphones are price, comfort, impedance, and open or closed-back design.
Budget is a big concern when it comes to headphones. Most manufacturers’ headphone lines start at “budget-conscious” and go all the way to “money is no object.”
Find out where you stand with your budget early so that you know you’ll be getting the best value for your money.
Comfort is also a big factor. If you’re planning to do long mixing sessions on your headphones make sure to check in about the fit and feel.
Impedance is the electrical property that tells you how to drive your headphones properly. Will you need an audio interface with a powerful headphone amplifier or will you be fine using your computer’s ⅛” jack?
High impedance headphones require stronger amplifiers to drive them and tend to be associated with more high-end designs.
Open or closed back design is probably the most important factor.
Closed-back headphones are important for tracking since they don’t allow much sound bleed through. Don’t try to track vocals without them!
Open-backed headphones naturally have lots of bleed, but they sound much more transparent. These are the best choice for mixing or critical listening.
You might need to have a pair of both styles available in your studio!
Audio Technica’s headphone offerings have a great reputation for casual listening as well as intensive studio tasks.
The ATH-M50x in particular has garnered a lot of praise for its performance at the $150 price range. The top of the line ATH-R70x reference headphones can compete with the best of the best on this list for sound quality.
AKG is a headphone brand that’s been around since the glory days of the analog era. Their classic models are extremely well respected and their high end offerings like the K701 are staples of pro studios everywhere.
Beyerdynamic is another long-standing pro audio manufacturer with a rich history of headphone design. The DT770 PRO is another top contender in the $150-200 range that deserves a look.
Sennheiser is one of the biggest names in headphones. Their HD600 and HD650 designs are some of the most beloved headphones ever designed. You simply cannot go wrong with either of these classic pairs of headphones.
You might think of Sony as a consumer audio brand, but they produce several headphone models that have been studio favourites for decades. The MDR-7506s perform shockingly well for the price!
Shure is well known for producing many of the popular in-ear monitoring systems used on the biggest stages in the world. Their studio headphone line is excellent as well, especially if you prefer a closed-back design.
Buying new headphones is an exciting thing. A good pair of headphones can reveal things in your tracks and mixes you’ve never heard before.
Now that you have an idea of what’s out there, go figure out which headphones are for you.