10 Best Studio Headphones for Recording in 2021

Dave Mostert
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NameCategoryProduct
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional HeadphoneBest OverallSennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-EarBudget PickAKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear
Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone SystemUpgrade PickSennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System

1. Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

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Pros:

  • Neutral sounding open back headphones
  • Improved modulated back design
  • Detailed sound with instruments sounding clear
  • Comfortable and are made from quality materials
  • High-quality driver units
  • Well constructed and is built to last
  • Includes a two year warranty

Cons:

  • Very pricey
  • Not ideal for the casual listener

We’ve written a lot about music recording in the past, and several of our articles are centered on mixing and mastering techniques and tricks with using high quality reference headphones. What’s important when it comes to mixing is that you get a clear representation of what’s coming from your speakers. And having a pair of good headphones is key to this.

While we understand that open back headphones might not appeal to everyone, the Sennheiser HD650 proves that open back headphones can serve many purposes. Not only do they provide a bigger and more balanced soundstage than a closed back headphone, but they also seal off less of the outside noise. This makes it ideal for mixing as you’ll get a clear sound feed from the headphones but can still hear the surrounding environment if necessary.

2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Our rating: 9 / 10

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

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Pros:

  • These headphones have received outstanding customer reviews
  • Premium features for a reasonable price
  • The comfy fit will keep them on your head during hours of recording
  • The cables are detachable
  • A microphone is included with the headphones
  • The ear cups swivel to lay flat
  • The ear cups can rotate flat for storage
  • They fold flat
  • They are light weight
  • They’re very sturdy

Cons:

  • The sound quality can feel somewhat dull
  • They aren’t noise-cancelling
  • The ear cups could be a bit more comfy

45mm Driver.

3. Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone

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Pros:

  • Exceptionally wide frequency response
  • Excellent sound isolation
  • Volume and sound controls
  • Accurate reproduction with a mix of warmth and clarity
  • Low impedance
  • Comfortable design with large ear cups
  • Top choice in the best recording headphones market
  • High quality light weight headphones

Cons:

  • Admittedly, they don’t look very attractive
  • These aren’t cheap

If you’re looking for one of the best headphones for home studio recording, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO is a good start. The Beyerdynamic brand is a solid German company with a reputation for quality. And these DT 990 Pros do not disappoint. The sound has been praised as accurate, which makes them a good choice for recording and mixing.

Frequency response is wide, with reasonable bass. And listening to them is like sitting front row center at a live concert. They have good sound isolation and volume and sound controls. The frequency response is broad – about 15hz to 35khz. The open-back design means they leak sound, but they don’t go so loud that they’ll disturb your recording environment.

4. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

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Pros:

  • Great value for the money
  • 26-34,000 Hz frequency range
  • Sturdy construction
  • Ideal for recording and monitoring
  • Sound is balanced and crystal clear

Cons:

  • Microphonics
  • Weight

Sony has been making earphones since the early 70's, and has taken that experience and perfected the craft. Their MDR7506 is one of the most popular pairs of headphones in the world. And with good reason.

The sound is clear and you can use these on stage or in the studio. They are closed dynamic headphones, which means they won't leak audio. The frequency range is between 26-34,000 Hz, which is good enough for general mixing.

They are collapsible, so they have a smaller profile when you are not using them.

5. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone

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Pros:

  • Excellent frequency response
  • Comfortable and snug fit
  • Minimal leakage of music
  • Great for mixing and recording

Cons:

  • Could reduce ambient sounds too much
  • Too much low end could crack a lot of interfaces

With a frequency response of 12 – 28,000 Hz, these headphones give you an incredibly accurate sound. This means when you listen to music you will enjoy the deep bass, but you will also be able to hear the high end treble sounds that you could not hear before.

Not only will you get a truly high fidelity sound, but the frequency response of these headphones is exceptionally flat, which is perfect if you will be doing professional recording.

One of the best features of these headphones is that they are closed back. This means that you will not only get a little more isolation from sound coming in from the outside, but the sound will not come out to the outside causing issues with others.

6. Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System

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Pros:

  • Open-back design allows for great sound isolation
  • Features hand-assembled transducers for the best sound
  • Can be used conveniently for watching movies, gaming, etc.
  • Extremely comfortable ear cups
  • High, extended quality and durability
  • Perfect for professional use

Cons:

  • Very expensive (but worth the price!)
  • Only available on Sennheiser website, so will cost extra for shipping

Hands-down, these are the best studio headphones for recording today. The Sennheiser HD 800 S system is an open-back stereo headphone that’s been hand-assembled in Germany. The sound quality can be compared to no other listening experience on earth, as these headphones offer amazing sound accuracy. They also come with hand-selected transducers and they are designed to truly reproduce audio from recordings.

The HD 800 S has a unique design that’s also iconic. They’re very comfortable and their ear pads are covered with lamb fur for extra softness. This product is ideal for music producers who are looking to get that authentic studio experience. The unique aspect of their setup is that they are used on both ears, not just one, as with most headphones.

7. Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones

Our rating: 8 / 10

Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones

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Pros:

  • Exceptional sound quality
  • Excellent bass response
  • Comfortable, lightweight design
  • Least expensive headphones on our list
  • 3-year warranty

The SRH1540 headphones from Shure have been designed to offer studio-quality sound reproduction that's second to none. While they aren't the most stylish headphones available on the market, they do a great job of providing you with a high level of comfort, durability, and quality. If you're looking for a first pair of studio headphones, or you’re upgrading what you have already, the SRH1540s are an excellent choice.

For professional monitoring, you're looking for headphones that have outstanding sound quality. That means no distortion from bass, and every note played staying clear. It also means that you want headphones that offer a high level of comfort when you wear them, whether you're a vocalist, musician, or engineer.

If you’re looking for a quality pair of headphones that don’t drain your bank account, the Shure SRH1540s are an excellent choice. They have an attractive price point, and as far as music quality is concerned, they have a good sound quality for recording.

8. AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear

Our rating: 8 / 10

AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear

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Pros:

  • Large earcups, long earpads and headband for comfort
  • Reduced sound leakage
  • Great frequency response
  • Cable length of about 10 feet
  • Extra-long single-sided cable
  • Cord is flat to prevent tangling up

9. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in Black. Closed Construction

Our rating: 7 / 10

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in Black. Closed Construction

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Pros:

  • Great all-around vintage headphones for use in the studio
  • Mid-range is mids out, nice definition, smooth mids with superb detail and clarity for a flat sounding headphone
  • Dark, full bass, extended high-mids, generally smooth and rich across the spectrum
  • High quality sound and comfort quality doesn’t cut corners
  • Very stable and huge cups, they do not mentally effect the sound and very comfortable to wear

Cons:

  • They are big, not ideal for travel
  • Heavy but the headband is quite wide so it provides plenty of support
  • The M50s are collapsible and probably have better SQ

If you have limitations and can only spend a small sum, this is a pretty good option. This is a bit of a basshead headphone. It has a great sound and good construction.

The DT 770 Pro is a high quality pair of headphones. It's been engineered for use in the studio so it can handle all the noise of loud music, and deliver a huge amount of bass.

It's got nice, big cups and a comfy headband. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and this 250 ohm model is great for general use. Super accurate frequency response and good and clear lows.

10. Sennheiser HD 800 Reference Dynamic Headphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

Sennheiser HD 800 Reference Dynamic Headphone

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Pros:

  • Open, natural, immersive sound
  • Open, natural, immersive sound
  • Incredibly accurate, refined, and transparent highs
  • No matter where you place it, you'll get an almost perfect frequency reproduction
  • High-quality, durable, and best-sounding headphones you can buy

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • High impedance might be an issue for some devices

It's a good idea to supplement your home monitor monitors with a good pair of headphones. It can be a challenge to find high-quality ones; however, we recommended the Sennheiser HD 800 REFERENCE. It features a rare combination of natural, extremely accurate sound reproduction and high-quality material construction, to produce sounds you've never heard before from something sitting on your head.

It has an open back for maximum sound quality, an open-design ear cup, and large, circumaural (around the ears) ear cups for optimal comfort. It even has velour ear pads for comfort, as well as the headband, which is made entirely of a highly durable aluminum material. The lightweight plastic frame has an adjustable mechanism, so you can be sure not to experience any fatigue during extended use.

The HD 800 headphone is also highly adjustable; this might be the most adjustable set of headphones available. Its headband bends and slides into place, and it's nicely balanced for use for long periods.

11. AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones

Our rating: 5 / 10

AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones

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Pros:

  • Professional sound
  • Round and smooth sound
  • Ultra-wide frequency response
  • Comfortable for long-term wear
  • Soft ear pads and headband
  • Detachable cord
  • RCA connector
  • Can swivel ear cups
  • Includes a hard case

Cons:

  • Not suitable for highly active activities
  • Budget models are not as good
  • Possibly uncomfortable for some users

These headphones are a professional music maker’s dream. They have a variety of positive attributes that allow you to create exceptional recordings and mix songs. The AKG Q 701 is the fastest and easiest way to record professional-sounding music in your home studio.

The sound quality of these headphones comes from their excellent engineering. They're tuning was preferred by the legendary music producer and conductor Quincy Jones, so the headphones are primed to give you the best possible sound.

The headphones have a semi-open design, so you can hear some of what's going on around you. This allows you to be more aware of your surroundings while you're recording, which makes them suitable for use in public spaces. However, the AKG Q 701 headphones are not noise-canceling, so you'll still hear some ambient noise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which headphone is best for recording?

Designed for quality in the studio, the Audio Technica ATH-M50x delivers on all fronts. With a focus on detail, it has slightly boosted treble that provides a realistic sound. Without sacrificing base, the mids are warm, keeping the clarity that we’ve come to expect from Audio Technica.

Surrounding the inner earmuffs is large, adjustable knobs to control how tight or relaxed you want the headphones to feel. Included in the box are a set of additional interchangeable earbuds. For easy storage, when they’re being used, the headphones come with a bag.

Can you use Beats headphones for studio recording?

Sure. You can use any headphones for recording if that's what you prefer.

You can also borrow some from your sister, go buy a cheap pair on Amazon, or find some used at a yard sale (be sure to disinfect them of germs first).

Problem is, if you're recording in a studio, hip hop beats or EDM music won't exactly lend themselves to the process. It's also pretty difficult to capture the warmth of your grandmother's voice if you're wearing Beats by Dr. Dre.

When you're recording in a studio, it's helpful to have a pair of headphones meant for that purpose. You'll have less distortion as well as tighter bass.

You also need to use a pair that will fit you perfectly. When you have headphones that seal off your ears, you won't be distracted or annoyed by external noises.

Let's take a look at the best studio headphones for recording in 2021.

What is the best headphones for mixing and mastering?

The most popular headphones for listening to music are not necessarily the best for mixing. They are often too bass heavy, can create distortion, and are at odds with the editing process because they create an unnatural sound.

Newer recording studios are often equipped with studio-quality headphones. Because these headphones usually don’t have external wires, they take up little space and are portable. They are also very quiet, typically much quieter than regular headphones, and provide a good amount of isolation. Studio headphones also come in nearly any type and color.

So, what should a music producer look for when shopping for headphones? Here are some of the most important things to consider.

What headphones do sound engineers use?

Fortunately, there are many different types of headphones an engineer can choose from when making a recording. Most will be plugged into the mixing board, but one of the most common mistakes many engineers make in a recording is choosing headphones that they can hear themselves through while they are recording. Often, the engineer canʼt hear the artist as well as they should be and mistakenly could be making recording adjustments based only on what they are hearing themselves through the headphones.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that finding the best studio headphones is a difficult task … if you’ve tried as many models as we have over the years, you will eventually develop a perceptive ear for the essentials and nuances that make for good headphones. Today, most higher-end models come with a 5-year warranty.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional HeadphoneBest OverallSennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-EarBudget PickAKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear
Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone SystemUpgrade PickSennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System