People love music, not headphones. Headphones are just tools that let us listen to music. 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 professional sound engineer mixing down a score in the studio or a musician creating original tracks from your bedroom, you’re going to need a pair of headphones that let you hear what your music sounds like with little embellishment. That way you can tweak the sound to your liking without worrying too much about blowing out someones speakers the second they press play.
For the studio you might want a comfortable pair of reference headphones that you can use for all-day listening sessions. Or maybe you want a pair of headphones that can pull double-duty, letting you use them in or outside the studio. Whatever your preference, we picked a few solid pairs of options to get you started on your journey, or to continue onwards to the next level.
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.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 ProFull Review
Beyerdynamic is one of those companies that people trust just because of their reputation. They’re known for great quality headphones, and the DT 880 Pro’s are no exception. Besides being super comfortable thanks to padded velour earcups to keep your ears happy, they also have a decently flat sound with the exception of a slight peak in the 7kHz – 11kHz range. If you’re going to be mixing tracks and don’t want the headphones you’re wearing to color your mix at all these are a good pair of mid-tier headphones to look into. Of course if you decide to use these with mobile devices you’re going to need an amp to power the 250Ω behemoths, but it might not work out for you as these are also semi-open back so sound leakage is going to be an issue. But if you plan on keeping your headphones deskside, these won’t disappoint.
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 are better for the musician that might need to feel that extra bit of emotion from the instrumentation while in the recording booth. 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 wearing them out and about.
We’ve mentioned these 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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