by Adam MolinaMarch 22, 2017

People love music, not headphones. Headphones are just tools that let us listen to the music we love. Some put emphasis on different aspects of sound that we might enjoy and others leave it as is, it depends on how you like to enjoy music. But headphones aren’t just for listening to your favorite songs on the way to work, plenty of people use them for creating sounds as well. Whether you’re a sound engineer mixing in the studio or a DJ mixing live, you require a pair of cans with a very particular set of functions.

For the studio, you might want a comfortable pair of reference headphones that you can use for all-day listening sessions. If you’re a DJ you have a different set of requirements for your headphones. They need to be tough but flexible so you can carry them from place to place, and you also might prefer closed-back headphones that get loud enough to hear during a live show. We picked a few solid pairs of headphones to get you started on your journey, or to continue onwards.

Best for Studio

Best Sound

Sennheiser HD 800

Sennheiser is one of the most trusted brands in audio and although there are plenty of debates over which of their headphones sound better, the HD 800’s are certainly in the conversation. These are large open-back headphones that tell it like it is. Some people even say these might be little too much, to the point where they sound unnatural. They have a very flat sound with little to none distortion, crazy good detail, and a wide soundstage perfect for hearing every frequency range. There are mixed opinions on long-term comfort and everyone unanimously agrees that these are expensive, but if you’re serious about audio they might be worth it.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
13.8 x 10.8 x 5.9 inches/330g
Pros
Sound qualitySoundstage
Cons
PriceComplaints on comfort

Grado SR60e

Grado is a headphone manufacturer in Brooklyn that makes some of the most respected products in audio. They usually have a somewhat minimal design with beautiful build quality, and the SR60e just happens to also have a great sound for under $100. These are also open back headphones with a leather strap holding the two earcups in place. You’ll also get retro foam padding on the earcups that makes them easy to wear for extended periods of time. If you want good sound on a budget, the SR60e is a solid choice.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
3.1 x 6.7 x 7.5 inches/7.8-ounces
Pros
Sound qualityOpen-backBuild qualityPrice
Cons
Design

Best Comfort

Sennheiser HD 650

If you still want professional level accuracy without spending close to $1000, the HD 650 earphones are another great choice. These cost roughly ⅓ of the price of the HD 800’s, but you’ll find plenty of people who swear by them as well. These are also open-back so soundstage is great, and the oval shape of the ear cups fit comfortably over your ears for longer listening sessions. For the price, the HD 650’s (and even the HD 600’s if you’re interested) have a quality that will let you mold the sound of your music to your liking.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
10 x 12.4 x 4.33 in/0.57 lb
Pros
ComfortSound quality
Cons
Proprietary cable

AKG K 701

The AKG K 701 headphones are over-ear cans have a reputation for being extremely comfortable, and if you’re going to be locking yourself in a studio and mixing audio that’s important. These have two large ear cups attached by two thin metal bars that float over the top of your head when you’re wearing them. In between them is a leather strap that rests on top of your head while wearing so the tough parts of the headphones don’t put too much pressure on your head. These have velour padding which helps with sound reproduction as well as comfort. That said, these are open-back so expect some of your low end to go bleeding outside of the headphones, but on the bright side you’ll get a great soundstage.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
9.4 x 11.5 x 6.5 in/0.51 lb
Pros
ComfortOpen-back
Cons
Build quality

Best for DJ’s

Best All-Around

V-MODA M-100

One of the best headphones you can get for DJ’ing are the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 headphones. These headphones cover all the bases necessary for live shows. They have a solid construction with a metal headband that lets you snap the ear cups into a more compact size thanks to their CLIQFOLD hinges. The earc ups have metal plates on the outside and comfortable padding on the inside, both of which help give you a solid noise isolation so you can hear what you’re mixing. Of course, they also have a sound perfect for DJ’s. Lows are given a nice push so they don’t melt away when loud music is playing all around you and mids are still clear as well. The audio cable is removable and also has a microphone built in for voice calls, but those are secondary features that make these good for everyday use as well. For a tried and true pair of cans that many DJ’s have found to be perfect for their use case, the M-100’s are the way to go.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
7.04 x 4.5 x 9.5 in/0.62 lb
Pros
VersatilitySound isolationBuild quality
Cons
Design not for everyone

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The ATH-M50x have a reputation as being a pair of studio headphones, but they’re not as flat sounding as many people seem to think. Sure they’re “flatter” than most headphones out there and they’ll get the job done in the studio if you need them to (which is also what makes them such a great all-around pair of headphones, but I digress), but the headphones we mentioned previously are way better in terms of accuracy. Because of the bump in the low end of the ATH-M50x headphones these also make a surprisingly good pair of DJ headphones. The ear cups sit flat on your ears and provide a decent amount of noise isolation, not to mention that they also swivel up to 90-degrees which gives you the versatility you need while mixing.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches/2.1 lbs
Pros
FlexibleGood sound
Cons
Proprietary cord

Bang for your Buck

Sennheiser HD 25

Whether you’re just starting out and don’t want to break the bank or are a veteran DJ looking for a back-up pair of headphones to bring with you to events, the HD 25 headphones by Sennheiser are worth looking into. They’re not as robust or durable as some of the other headphones on this list, but the slim frame means they’re super lightweight and easy to manage. These are on-ears so sound isolation isn’t going to be amazing, but the plush padding and rotatable ear cups give you the versatility to make them work for you should you prefer to just press one of them against your head. These also have a fairly high output of 120dB so you shouldn’t have a problem hearing what you’re mixing live.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
9.6 x 7.4 x 3.3 inches/14.2 ounces
Pros
LightweightPrice
Cons
Noise isolation

Monoprice 8323

Weve mentioned before, and while audiophiles love to balk at the cheap price there is no denying that these are one of the best budget options available. Youre not going to find flashy looks or fancy features here, but you will find sound that seems like it should cost a lot more. Monoprice seems to have a habit of doing that. The ear cups have a thick padding meant to keep loud noise on the outside of the headphones, and when you pair that with how loud these can get without too much distortion they’re really worth the money. Of course, the ear cups also rotate a full 90-degrees which is perfect for only using one ear cup while mixing live or letting them hang flat across your chest without getting in the way.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
9.2 x 9.3 x 3.5 in/1.05 lbs
Pros
PriceFoldable
Cons
Decent sound

Again, our picks tend toward the midrange and lower as far as pricing goes, but there are many other headphones out there that will cost you a whole lot more than what we’ve got here.

What about your favorites? Let us know your picks for the best studio headphones in the comments below!

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