People love music, not headphones. Headphones are just tools that let us listen to music. Whether you’re a professional sound engineer or a musician, you’re going to need a pair of studio headphones that let you hear what your music sounds like with little embellishment. So what are the best studio headphones you can get? Look no further, we got you covered.

Editor’s Note: this list was updated on October 26, 2018, to account for notable mentions and price fluctuations.

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The best studio headphones are the 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 is in the conversation.

Sennheiser HD 800

The 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, impressive clarity, and a wide soundstage. 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.

What you should know about studio headphones

Studio headphones aren’t for everyone. But there’s still a lot to like about a pair of headphones that won’t color your music too much when you’re listening.

One of the most popular pairs of headphones right now are the Studio3 Wireless from Beats by Dre, and even though they have the word “studio” in the name they’re not what you’d want to be using if you plan on working with audio.

Wearing the Sony MDR-7506's.

The Sony MDR-7506 headphones aren’t insanely comfortable but they get the job done.

  • You’re going to want a pair of headphones that reproduce a relatively neutral frequency response, to allow for accurate, consistent mixing. When looking at our objective readouts in individual reviews, keep an eye out for relatively “flat” response lines.
  • While consumer cans don’t typically require an amp or DAC, we’re talking about studio headphones, which sometimes do. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy-to-use USB interfaces available to streamline your production process.
  • Your ears aren’t perfect. Most of us can hear sounds from 20Hz – 20kHz, but that depends greatly on your age and how well you’ve been taking care of your ears throughout your life. Check how well your ears are doing via the SoundCloud file below (no it isn’t my mixtape).

If you prefer on-ears, go with the Grado SR60e

Grado is a headphone manufacturer in Brooklyn that makes some of the most respected products in audio. Its cans usually have a somewhat minimal design with beautiful build quality, and the SR60e just happens to also have a great sound for under $100.

Grado SR60e

Full Review

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 make them easy to wear for extended periods of time. If you want good sound on a budget, the SR60e is a solid choice.

Mix it up with the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

Beyerdynamic is one of those companies that people trust just because of their reputation. They’re known for great quality headphones, and the Beyerdynamic 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 relatively flat sound with the exception of a slight peak in the 7kHz-11kHz range.

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro

Full Review

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’s ATH-M50X is a studio classic

The ATH-M50x have a reputation for 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.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Full Review

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.

Save cash without sacrificing quality with the Sony MDR-7506

One of the best studio headphones you can get for audio just happens to also be one of the cheapest. Well under $100, the Sony MDR-7506 headphones are basically an industry standard. The retro design might not be for everyone and the ear pads aren’t the most comfortable, but when it comes to sound quality the neutral sound will get you as close to your audio as you can get at this price point.

Sony MDR-7506

Full Review

The low end is fine, but you’re not going to get the bump you’d expect from most consumer headphones. Instead, the Sony MDR-7506 emphasizes the mids and highs, which is part of what makes them so good for monitoring audio. If there’s any harshness in your mix, these are going to show you.

As good as these are, they’re not flawless. The plastic build doesn’t feel all that sturdy and because these fold at the hinges for easy transport, you might want to be careful with these when you stuff them in your backpack. The ear cups could also use an upgrade because even though they swivel a bit to get a better fit, they don’t rotate at all. That said, the pros outweigh the cons. These are an industry standard for a reason.

Notable mentions

Best headphones under $100: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x on Audio-Technica record player

Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x may receive a lesser model number than the M50x, but that doesn’t mean they’re a lesser heapdhone.

  • Beyerdynamic DT 240 ProThis set of on-ear headphones is compact enough for transport with the inclusions of studio headphones, like a removable coiled cable.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro: If you want absolute luxury and don’t mind paying for it, these open-back cans look, sound, and feel premium.
  • Sennheiser HD 598SE: The large, circumaural design makes these headsphones comfortable for extended periods of time, while the open-back design allows for a more realistic reproduction of 3-D space.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M40XAlthough the, ATH-M50X is often in the limelight, the M40X cans are no slouch, and provide a less emphasized low-end.

Why you should trust us

Working at SoundGuys allows each of us to have plenty of hands-on time with the latest and greatest audio products. While we do spend ample time testing out great products, we also receive some ones that need work. Regardless of how one pair of headphones stacks up against another, it gives us a different reference point for understanding what’s good and what’s not when it comes to consumer products.

Listening to the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro studio headphones.

Testing headphones means putting them to work in realistic situations.

Ultimately, we want to make the research process easier for you, so you can spend more time enjoying your headphones. And while you can read all about our ethics policy, we’re transparent in that none of our writers may benefit from championing one set of cans over another.

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.

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

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