Best Studio Headphones

Best Studio Headphones

You have probably already heard or read about the two main types of headphones; closed and open back. Closed headphones are literally that; closed! When recording in the studio, often we need to boost the volume a fair amount to hear ourselves (or for our clients to hear themselves!) performing. The more we boost the volume in the headphones, the more likely the noise of the metronome or backing track will end up getting captured by the microphone! Closed back headphones aim to minimize this effect and are therefore recommended for recording situations.

Open back headphones are the opposite. They aren’t literally open, but the housing for the speaker drivers are usually perforated in some way to allow the sound to escape easily. The idea is to simulate the experience of mixing with monitor speakers as closely as possible . When properly placed in an equilateral triangle with the listener, speakers naturally cause what is known as cross talk; some sound of the left speaker enters your right ear and some sound from the right speaker will enter your left ear. This happens at a slight delay in comparison to the direct sound (left speaker to left ear, right speaker to right ear), and this is known as cross talk. Open back headphones aim to recreate this by allowing the sound to escape as much as possible to cause this natural effect. Open back designs also supposedly reduce bass build up in headphones allowing for better decision making during the mixing process. Due to the design, noise enters from outside into the headphones as easily as noise escapes from them, so they are not really recommended for casual listening anywhere other than quiet environments.

Beware! Some of the higher end headphones may require a decent headphone amp to drive them properly, this is so they receive the power they need to perform optimally!

If you already have a great set of headphones, or know which ones you are going for, check out our all important “Guide to Mixing on Headphones” and thank us later!

There are headphones available for all budgets, so let’s take a look at our recommendations! We love checking frequency curves at https://www.rtings.com/headphones/1-2/graph

 

Closed back

Low Budget:

Audio-Technica ATH-M20 X

  • Great entry level headphones.
  • Not the flattest response or best isolation, but this hasn’t stopped Audio Technica from making a name for themselves with plenty of satisfied users.
  • The cheapest out of the ATH M20x, M30x, M40x, M50x (these are the most popular although cost 3 times the amount of the M20x) and M70x – all models are just as recommended and roughly get flatter and better at keeping the noise in (and out!) the more you spend.
  • Reviews and price here!

Vic Firth SIH2

  • Significant amount of isolation of 25db
  • Ideal for drummers or other studio applications
  • Again probably not the flattest headphones, but as mentioned closed back are more suitable for recording rather than mixing, so they are not really required to be flat sounding – they just need to keep the sound in, and these do a great job of that!
  • Reviews, price and more info here!

 

Mid range:

Sony MDR-7506

 

Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro

 

High end:

Shure SRH1540

  • Very comfortable
  • Good isolation
  • Comes with a carry case and accessories
  • Check price here!

 

Open Back

Low budget:

AKG K-240 Studio

  • Not very flat but they have the signature AKG sound
  • Well known headphones
  • Semi open
  • Auto adjusting headband
  • Deatachable cable
  • Price and more info here!

 

Mid range

Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro

 

AKG K-701

  • Flat wire technology gives them a great transient response and nice tonal balance
  • Comfy headphones
  • AKG’s signature sound
  • Info, price and reviews here!

 

Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro

  • Semi Open
  • Supposedly some of the flattest sounding headphones available
  • Comfortable
  • Super comfy like most Beyerdynamic headphones
  • Price, reviews and info here!

 

High end

Sennheiser HD-650

  • Known to be some of the best sounding headphones on the market
  • Better than the predecessor, the HD 600
  • Non fatiguing
  • Super comfy
  • Comes with protective case
  • More info, reviews and price here!

 

Shure SRH1840

 

Now that you know what the score is, check out our “Guide to Mixing on Headphones”!

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