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
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.
Grado SR60eFull Review
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.
Best for DJ’s
V-MODA Crossfade 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.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xFull Review
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.
We’ve 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. You’re 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.
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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