Looking for studio headphones for recording or mixing?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Clearly, for music production, having good headphones is almost indispensable.
It is, quite simply, part of the standard equipment to have in your studio or home studio.
The problem is that there are many different models on the market.
Some of them are good, and some are not.
Also, depending on whether you’re looking for a headset for music production in general, a headset for beatmaking, a headset for recording, or a headset for mixing and mastering, you’re not going to go for the same model.
Also, to guide you in your choice, I propose through this article a selection of 10 of the best home studio headphones, with all the necessary advice to avoid a bad choice.
The uses of studio / monitoring headphones
Of course, headphones are used to listen to sound.
The sound is generated by two drivers, which are installed in each earpiece of the headphones.
So far, nothing exceptional: a (home) studio headphone, in its working principle, is similar to a standard headphone.
However, in order to be able to choose the right monitoring headphones, it is important to ask yourself the question of use: in a studio / home studio context, headphones can be used for various purposes.
Headphones for mixing and mastering?
The first possible use of headphones in the studio is for mixing and mastering.
In addition to, for example, monitor speakers – or even instead of them, because good speakers can be quite expensive and therefore a real investment that needs to be planned.
Indeed, contrary to what one sometimes reads, it is completely possible to use headphones to mix a track. Of course it is not ideal, but it is a possibility.
Overall, there are two different cases.
The basic case is the studio headphones that are used to mix the whole song. In this case, we will tend to look for a headphone that is fairly flat, that reproduces all the frequencies and the stereo image in an honest way.
The other case is the bass mix. Often, especially in a home studio context, the lack of acoustic treatment in a room makes bass a difficult element to control with speakers.
In this case, a headphone monitor can help to treat these low frequencies by freeing itself from the acoustic constraints of the room.
It can then be interesting, for a homestudist or a sound engineer, to have a headset dedicated to the work on the bass.
A headset for studio recording?
For all the recording and sound recording, we are on the other hand on a completely different use, with thus very different needs.
Imagine that you want to record a singer.
You are going to give him/her a headset, in which he/she will be able to hear the accompanying song and sing over it.
However, in this case, and contrary to the use for mixing, the frequency response of the headphones will be less important. Not insignificant, but generally it is not necessary to have something very precise.
On the other hand, you will probably need monitoring headphones that are well isolated from the outside world, to prevent the sound of the backing track from leaking out (this is called “replay”) and being picked up by the microphone(s) in the room.
The main criteria for choosing a studio headset
As always in the world of music production, there are many models of studio headphones.
Some are very good, some are very bad.
The problem is that it’s a bit difficult to compare them, especially when the comments on the net differ from one forum to another.
So I’m offering you a selection of concrete criteria that will help you choose your next headphones (well), whether you need them for recording or mixing.
Open or closed headphones?
There are basically two types of studio headphones: the so-called “open” and the so-called “closed” ones.
For me, this choice of open or closed headphones is really important: it’s the very first criterion to consider when buying monitoring headphones, since it will allow you to eliminate certain models from your list right away.
The mechanical difference between open and closed-back headphones
The terms “open” and “closed” headphones refer primarily to an easy-to-identify manufacturing feature: whether or not the outer shell of the ear cups is closed.
Physically, this usually translates into:
- Either by a plastic cover for closed headphones
- Or by a metal or plastic grille for open headphones
The first difference between these two types of headphones is therefore visual, as you can see on the image below:
Note: to make things a little more complex, there are also so-called “semi-open” headphones, which should generally be compared to “open” headphones.
The difference in sound between open and closed headphones
Of course, the fact that there are open and closed studio headsets is not just a matter of design: it has a strong impact on the sound properties of the headsets, with all sorts of associated advantages and disadvantages.
Closed headphones are very well insulated from outside noise by their construction, which, I grant you, makes sense.
This allows you to remain immersed in the sound, often with a “bonus” (appreciable or not) of more pronounced bass, since the closed construction will tend to create resonances in the space between your ears and the driver of each earpiece.
On the other hand, closed headphones are often associated with a smaller stereo image, i.e. a perception of the instruments in the space that is less wide and potentially less precise.
For open headphones, the opposite is true.
Already, as the driver is exposed at the back of the earpieces, the sound leakage will be important, and in both directions:
- People around you will hear what you are listening to.
- You will hear everything that is going on around you, which can prevent you from concentrating on the sound.
On the other hand, the sound is generally better in the audiophile sense of the word, especially in terms of the stereo image, which will be wider and more qualitative (you will be able to “hear” the position of the different instruments in space more easily).
In the same way, we often have a better restitution of the transients, and a little less saturation.
At the frequency level, open headphones will generally be flatter, more neutral, but at the expense of bass that is often under-represented (which will probably bother some beatmakers).
Which headphones for which use?
You guessed it: depending on your use, you will sometimes need open and sometimes closed monitoring headphones.
Closed headphones are less prone to sound leakage because of their superior isolation, so they make very good recording headphones.
For example, to listen to an accompaniment when recording your voice.
This is because there will be less bleed from the headphones into the microphone.
Also, in this type of use, the accuracy of the stereo image or frequencies is much less important.
On the other hand, open-air headphones are generally not recommended for recording, since sound leakage could be picked up by the microphone you are recording with, especially if it is very sensitive.
On the other hand, their very good stereo image and their relative neutrality with regard to frequency response make them very good headphones for mixing and mastering.
Ideally, you should have at least two sets of headphones in your home studio: one for recording, and a second for mixing.
However, for budgetary reasons in particular, this type of configuration is not always possible, in this case, it may be interesting, for example:
- Either to take as a priority an open headphone, because it will have a more transparent sound which will be essential during the mixing. For the recording and monitoring phases, you can always use basic in-ear headphones at first;
- Or get a very good closed headset, which can be used for both mixing and recording.
If you look at the specifications of commercial headphones – whether they are studio headphones or not, you will find that manufacturers always indicate a frequency range, often under the name “bandwidth”.
Bandwidth: 10 – 32,000 Hz
This is simply the range of frequencies over which the headphones are capable of emitting sound.
Humans, on average, can hear sounds from 20 to 20,000 Hz.
Hence the fact that this is the range of frequencies that we work on for mixing.
Hence the fact that CDs have a sampling frequency of 44.100Hz.
The problem is that most manufacturers advertise bandwidths for their headphones that are higher than this 20 to 20.000 Hz range.
Here are some examples:
|beyerdynamic DT 770
|5 – 35.000 Hz
|beyerdynamic DT 880
|5 – 35.000 Hz
|Audio Technica M50X
|15 – 28.000 Hz
|10 – 30.000 Hz
|10 – 39.800 Hz
|Focal Clear Professional
|5 – 28.000 Hz
In other words, the information itself is completely useless: headphones that can generate sound over a wider range of frequencies are no guarantee of quality.
The proof is that the Focal headphones, which have the lowest bandwidth, are in fact 8 to 60 times more expensive than the other headphones on the list.
On the other hand, I find it much more interesting to look at the frequency curve of the headphones.
Because indeed, no headphones are completely flat: depending on the frequency, the signal is never reproduced at the same volume. Even on professional headphones.
There is no perfect headphone.
And as you can see on the following graph, from one headphone to another, the variations can be important:
Looking at this type of curve can give you an idea of the behavior of the headphones.
You’ll be able to tell if the bass is going to be well represented in the headphones you want to buy, or not.
Similarly, if you’re looking for studio headphones for mixing, you’ll probably want to look for headphones with a relatively flat frequency curve. For example, on the graph, the blue curve of the AKG K240 MKII is pretty good.
However, keep in mind that the frequency curve is not the whole story: it does not tell you anything about the distortion of the signal, nor about the clarity with which the signal is reproduced.
In other words, it allows you to identify certain characteristics of the headphones, but it doesn’t tell you if they sound good.
Remark: the frequency curves of the monitoring headphones are rarely published by the manufacturer, but it is possible to access measurements made by different sites.
I recommend the Reference Audio Analyzer site, which allows you to easily compare the curves on a graph.
Impedance and sensitivity of the headphones
On the data sheets of studio headphones, we generally find impedance and sensitivity values.
The impedance is an electrical parameter which materializes the way in which the headphones will oppose the passage of the current. It is measured in ohms (Ω).
Sensitivity, on the other hand, corresponds to a measurement of the volume emitted by a headphone for a specific power level. It is measured in dB SPL/mW or dB SPL/V.
These two parameters are important, because together they will influence both the output level of the monitoring headphones and their frequency response.
The problem is that, once again, manufacturers are not always very clear about these two figures:
- The impedance always varies according to the frequency of the signal, so the value in Ohms displayed on the data sheets is always an average;
- The unit is not always indicated for the sensitivity;
- The sensitivity is sometimes simply omitted from the data sheet; etc.
So what to do?
If you want to go into more depth on the subject to make sure that your headphones will work best with the rest of your equipment.
Here’s how to choose your headphones based on these two parameters:
Choosing the impedance of your studio headphones
First of all, let’s agree that there is no right or wrong impedance value.
For example, a good headphone can have a high impedance as well as a low one.
However, what is important to understand is that, depending on the equipment you are going to connect your headphones to, the impedance can play a crucial role in the maximum volume that the headphones can deliver.
For example, it is very unlikely that a 600 Ohm headphone can be used in good conditions if you plug it into a USB powered interface or a phone: most likely, the volume will be (very) low.
With 32 Ohm headphones, on the other hand, no problem at all…
So what impedance should I choose?
Here is a table that summarizes, in a simplified way, the impedance you should aim for depending on your use.
|Listening on smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop…
|50 ohms maximum
|Studio, home studio or DJ use (USB powered interface)
|32 – 100 ohms
|Studio, home studio or DJ use (powered interface plugged into a wall socket)
|32 – 250 ohms (but you can often go higher)
|Audiophile use with a dedicated headphone amp
|250 ohms and above (but headphones under 250 ohms will be fine too)
Choosing the sensitivity of your studio headphones
Sensitivity is a bit more complicated, especially since (as I said above) manufacturers are not always clear about the values they give.
As long as you are looking for studio headphones and not audiophile headphones paired with a specific headphone amp, the easiest thing to do is not to waste too much time looking at this parameter.
Indeed, if you choose the impedance of your monitor headphones correctly, and if they are among the standard studio models (typically, the headphones in my selection below), then you won’t encounter any problems.
The comfort of the headphones
Forget it, if you’re buying headphones for mixing or recording in your studio, you’re probably going to be wearing them for extended periods of time.
So it’s important to identify if the headphones are comfortable. So pay attention to the comments on this aspect to avoid ending up with headphones that are too tight or too hot.
Especially if you wear glasses.
Personally, I really like velvet pads, like these from beyerdynamic.
Then, beyond the question of comfort when the monitoring headset is worn on the head, it is also necessary to take into account the practicality of use.
- Some headphones have a detachable cable, others do not;
- Some headsets have a very long, straight cable, while others have shorter, spiral cables; etc.
Note in passing that some headsets contain accessories that allow you to customize the experience: choice of several cables, additional pads in a different material…
It is of course important to pay attention to the connectors available on the headphones.
To connect your headphones to studio equipment, such as an interface or some guitar amps, you will need a 1/4″ jack.
This is the most solid connection, that’s why it’s used.
However, if you want to connect your headphones to devices like smartphones, it will be useful to also have access to a 3.5mm jack (mini-jack) connector.
Generally, most headphones come with adapters, which makes the choice much easier.
In fact, if you buy one of the headphones I recommend in this article, you shouldn’t have any particular problem: they all have this kind of adapter.
However, pay attention to this “connectivity” aspect if you are looking for other models, to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The price of studio headphones
Of course, the price is always a criterion of choice.
So I’m pushing the envelope a bit by saying “consider the price when choosing your studio headphones”.
However, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that there is no absolute relationship between the price and the quality of the headphones.
At least, there is no reason to assume that a $300 headset is better than an $150 headset.
On the other hand, avoid the lower end of the market, unless you really have no choice.
Of course, there are some headphones like the AKG K240 MKII that allow you to mix in good conditions at a very low price, but you should rather think that to have a good pro studio headphone, you should aim at least at $100 – $300.
Above $150, however, I find that you’re going for really high-end studio headphones, or audiophile headphones.
Of course, they can provide a very good sound quality – but let’s not forget that a headset is never perfect.
So unless you have a really big budget, don’t hesitate to stick to more standard prices, which will already give you access to very good recording or mixing headphones.
The best home studio headphones
To help you in your search, here is a selection of 10 of the best professional studio headphones.
Of course, there are other good headphones, but these are for me among the reliable references that will satisfy you without any doubt.
My main recommendation for people with a small budget but looking for a good headphone to mix.
With a nice and recognizable design, the K240 MKII from AKG is flexible and rather comfortable: it does not squeeze your head too much, even if you wear glasses.
It comes with extra velvet pads, which you can mount in place of the leatherette pads already installed to maximize the comfort of use (at least, that’s what I did on mine).
In terms of sound: necessarily, given the price, it can’t be perfect. That said, the AKG K240 MKII offers a sound with a good definition and especially well balanced.
As a result, it can sound a bit boring because it doesn’t try to improve the sound it delivers – which is a good thing for a headphone dedicated to mixing and mastering.
The bass is there but not emphasized either, which makes it difficult to adjust for my taste: we feel that we are not on a closed headphone.
The stereo image, as for it, is very good and very wide: a real pleasure, even if it lacks a little precision in the midrange.
In the end, a good open studio headset, especially for beginners.
- Over-ear design for comfort during long work sessions
- Semi-open technology for solid bass and airy highs
- Patented Varimotion 30 mm XXL transducer for accurate signal transfer and great dynamic range
- Self-adjusting headband for optimum fit
- The choice of professionals around the worldstage and studio standard for more than two decades
Brand : beyerdynamic
Type : Closed
Bandwidth : 5 – 35.000Hz
Impedance : 80 Ohms
The DT 770 is a classic among classics as far as pro studio headphones are concerned.
The construction is solid, and reinforced by a good quality metal frame.
The design, also recognizable (“oh my, a beyerdynamic headset!”), is pleasant and aesthetic: the headset looks serious.
By default, the DT 770 comes with velvet pads that are particularly comfortable: it is therefore pleasant to wear, even if it can slightly tighten the head in the long run. Nothing unbearable though.
In terms of sound, I find it really beautiful: it’s hard to find anything to complain about with such a detailed sound.
Admittedly, the stereo image is tighter than what you would get with open-air headphones, but the DT 770 allows for critical listening without any problem.
Its clean, saturation-free bass reproduction makes it possible to check and mix the lower end of the frequency spectrum of your mix effectively.
It also isolates very well from outside sounds, which makes it particularly useful for recording – however, it is one of the closed-back headphones that I would be very confident in using for mixing.
And if you want a good headphone for music production or for non-studio use, the beyerdynamic DT 770 will also find its place in your home.
- Closed over-ear headphones for professional mixing at home or in the studio
- Perfect for studio recordings thanks to the their pure and high-resolution sound
- Hard-wearing, durable, and robust workmanship Made in Germany
- The world famous DT770 Pro Headphones deliver unmatched quality in sound reproduction at an incredible price. No matter your application, tracking, mixing, critical listening, even gaming, your DT770's will deliver sound you can rely on - every time.
- Sound - Unique design, construction and innovation give the DT770's superb sound reproduction across all frequencies. Custom built diaphrams in our production facilities in Germany deliver consistent performance to the listener
Brand : Audio Technica
Type : Closed
Bandwidth : 15 – 28.000Hz
Impedance : 38 Ohms
Another headphone commonly used in studio and home studio, and which is a bit of an alternative to the DT 770 we talked about above.
Evolution of the M50, it has a frame with a lot of plastic parts, but very solid (unless you abuse it, of course).
The pads are made of leatherette, and they can get a little hot over time – not that it’s unbearable though.
The headphones surround the ear well without being too tight and offer good isolation so you can easily concentrate on the sound.
Finally, to finish on the physical aspect, it comes with two cables: one is straight, and the other is twisted, which will allow you to choose the one that suits you best.
On the sound side, the rather low impedance allows the M50X to adapt to most systems: audio interfaces, PC, smartphones…
The sound is pleasant and lively, with bass that is certainly a little highlighted but very clean: no unwanted saturation. Note in passing that this bass lift makes it a very good headset for studio recording, since it helps the person recording to feel the rhythm well.
I also find it nice as a DAW for beatmaking or music production in general.
The average stereo image and a slight midrange dip means that I don’t find it, from a theoretical point of view, perfect for mixing – that said, mixes made on these headphones tend to sound good on other listening systems. That’s why I find this M50X rather versatile, in the end.
- Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
- Proprietary 45 millimeter large aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper clad aluminum wire voice coils
- Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range with deep accurate bass response
- Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
- 90 degree swiveling earcups for easy one ear monitoring and professional grade earpad and headband material delivers more durability and comfort
Brand : Sennheiser
Type : Closed
Bandwidth : 8 – 25.000Hz
Impedance : 64 Ohms
A widespread headphone in studio and very interesting for recording, despite some defects.
In terms of manufacturing quality, the HD 280 PRO from Sennheiser ticks all the boxes: it is made of plastic, but it lasts over time.
It is delivered with a twisted cable, which is appreciable despite the fact that it is unfortunately not detachable.
The attenuation is very good (32 dB), which is ideal to avoid the repisse of the headphones in the microphones during the recording.
In terms of sound, the HD 280 PRO is really efficient for recording but clearly not my first choice for everything that is mixing.
It is indeed not quite balanced, with a slight lift in the bass on some models but especially under-represented highs from 7 or 8000 Hz.
As a result, the midrange tends to come out, which may bother some people but is useful to hear the sound well when recording in a noisy context (drum recording for example).
Considering the very correct price, the HD 280 Pro is for me a good investment if you are looking for a headset for recording.
- High ambient noise attenuation
- Accurate, linear sound reproduction
- Soft earpads for a comfortable fit
- Folding and rotating earcups for space-saving transport
- Tough, single-sided cable
Brand : beyerdynamic
Type : Semi-open
Bandwidth : 5 – 35.000Hz
Impedance : 250 Ohms
A quality headphone – a bit like the DT 770 mentioned above, but in a semi-open configuration.
Unsurprisingly, there are the characteristic velvet pads that keep the headphones from getting too hot when worn for a long time, as well as the same solid metal frame that makes you feel rather confident.
The whole thing is made in Germany, and it shows.
Beyond being comfortable, though, the DT 880 offers a pleasant and very detailed sound, as with many of the other DTs from the same brand.
Neutral in the bass and the midrange, it has on the other hand a peak of presence in the highs, between 4 and 10 kHz, which makes it a little bright.
On the other hand, it is possible to hear a lot of details in the sound, and its open design makes it an excellent headphone for mixing and mastering.
Beware of the 250 Ohm impedance, which is a bit high, and which will therefore be limited for USB-powered interfaces or for use on a smartphone.
- Frequency Response - 5 - 24,000 Hz and Impedance - 16 ohms
Type : Open
Bandwidth : 10 – 41.000Hz
Impedance : 300 Ohms
Admittedly a little expensive, the HD 650 from Sennheiser is nevertheless one of the reference headphones.
The construction is reliable, solid, and the headphones are generally comfortable and light, with velvet pads.
The cable is detachable, but with a rather special connection (on the headphone side of course – on the other side, it’s a standard jack).
Of course, as the HD 650 is a completely open headphone, there is a lot of leakage: it is almost impossible to use it for recording.
For mixing or mastering a track, however, it is a very good choice because it allows to work with a lot of precision.
The sound is very neutral, well balanced. The midrange and highs are natural; the bass is well present but perhaps not sufficiently emphasized.
The stereo image is excellent.
All in all, the HD 650 offers a clear and vivid sound, and it will allow you to hear a lot of things that you probably wouldn’t pay attention to on other headphones – which also makes it a good audiophile headphone.
Beware, however, of the high impedance, which will not fit on all sound cards…
- Specially designed acoustic silk ensures precision damping over the entire frequency range and helps to reduce THD to an incredible 0.05 percent
- Improved frequency response is 10 39,500 Hertz ( 10 dB)
- Hand selected matched driver elements; Highly optimized magnet systems for minimum harmonic and inter modulation distortion
- High power neodymium magnets deliver maximum efficiency; 3.5 millimetre jack plug. Frequency response (Headphones):10 41000 Hz
- Lightweight aluminum voice coils for very fast transient response
Type : Open
Bandwidth : 10 – 39.800Hz
Impedance : 62 Ohms
Another nice headphone from AKG, made in Austria.
The K702 is particularly comfortable, even if you keep the headphones for a long time or if it is hot.
We will appreciate the detachable cable and the velvet pads installed by default.
On the other hand, to be able to enjoy the sound of these headphones, it is important to have a good headphone amplifier.
So, no more USB powered interfaces, at least for my taste, even if the volume seems to be correct, the sound quality will not be maximal.
If you have a good headphone amp, the sound provided by the K702 is of very good quality, with a wide stereo image and a lot of definition.
In particular, the depth of the sound is very good: it is easy to tell the difference between a “near” and a “far” sound.
Necessarily, the bass is less present than it would be on closed headphones, but when listening to it, many details come out, which is ideal for managing the balance of the instruments in a mix context.
In other words, good studio headphones for mixing and mastering.
- Over-ear design for maximum wearing comfort for long work sessions
- Sophisticated open technology for spacious and airy sound without compromise
- Patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm for improved high-frequency range and better performance at low frequencies
- Unique flat-wire voice coil for higher sensitivity, better impluse and treble response
- Specially shaped 3D-foam ear pads for optimum fit and ease of use
Brand : Audio Technica
Type : Open
Bandwidth : 5 – 40.000Hz
Impedance : 470 Ohms
A rather high-end studio headset from Audio Technica, with a rather high price but still relatively accessible.
The design is modern but particular, especially at the level of the headband: everyone will not like it.
The headset is comfortable, and the cable is removable, as on the ATH-M50X we talked about before.
Be careful though if you buy this headset: the impedance is very high (470 Ω) – which will prevent it from being used in good conditions with smartphones or USB powered interfaces.
Competitor in my opinion of the Sennheiser HD 650, the sound is precise, qualitative.
The entire frequency spectrum is balanced, with an excellent rendition of dynamics and details, which allows you to approach mixing and mastering with confidence.
- High-efficiency magnets and pure alloy magnetic circuit design reduce distortion and ensure accurate and extended high-frequency response
- Carbon composite resin improves structural rigidity to provide detailed transient response
- Acoustically transparent, aluminum honeycomb-mesh housings provide a natural and spacious open-back sound
- Breathable fabric earpads and improved wing support provide long-wearing comfort
- Feather-light weight (approx. 210 g w/o cable) and robust construction make headphones perfectly suited for professional use
Brand : Sony
Bandwidth : 10 – 20.000Hz
Impedance : 63 Ohms
An alternative to the HD 280 Pro for recording, even if I would give a small advantage to the latter.
Common in studio, the design is quite basic: we are on a functional headphone above all.
As it is closed, there is not too much leakage of the sound towards the outside.
I say “not too much”, because there is some anyway.
Clearly, the MDR 7506 is not made for mixing at all, but it is often used for recording.
The sound is focused on the midrange / treble, which can quickly become aggressive.
But at the same time, thanks to this excess of somewhat bright frequencies, the MDR 7506 fulfills its role as a recording headphone since it helps to hear the mix over the artistic performance.
Moreover, it is also very useful for detecting certain problems during editing.
A reference headphone, then, but with flaws that you should be aware of before buying it.
- Neodymium magnets and 40 millimeter drivers for powerful, detailed sound.Specific uses for product : Professional audio system,Home audio system
- Closed ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
- 9.8 foot cord ends in gold plated plug and it is not detachable; 1/4 inch adapter included
- Folds up for storage or travel in provided soft case
- Frequency Response: 10 Hertz to 20 kilohertz
Brand : Shure
Bandwidth : 5 – 25.000Hz
Impedance : 44 Ohms
Finally, the last option on this list, a nice headset from Shure.
Sure, the design is not really original, but the headphones are comfortable and rather solidly built. The detachable cable is a plus, by the way.
In terms of sound, the SRH840 is overall quite flat, which allows it to be analytical and easily bring out some flaws. However, it has a small hump around 100 Hz and in the upper midrange – nothing to worry about though.
As it is a closed-back monitor, it is necessarily part of my recommendations for recording. However, it is completely possible to use it to work on a mix, as it brings interesting information.
- Precisely tailored frequency response delivers rich bass, clear mid-range and extended highs.
- Wide, padded headband provides ergonomic fit for superior comfort over extended periods
- Closed-back, circumaural design rests comfortably over the ears and reduces background noise
- Collapsible design for easy storage and portability.
- Legendary Shure quality to withstand the rigors of everyday use
Studio Headphones FAQs
Beyond the studio headphone recommendations above, here are some answers to common questions about studio headphones.
Is it absolutely necessary to have two headsets, one open and one closed?
You can record and mix just fine, for example, with an Audio Technica M50X, which is a closed headset.
However, I think that in a home studio looking to have a somewhat “professional” approach, a bit serious, it makes a lot of sense to have both closed headphones dedicated to recording, and open headphones dedicated to mixing and mastering thanks to its greater neutrality and a wider stereo image.
Can I use Bluetooth headphones?
For recording, why not, even if it might add latency.
For mixing and mastering, definitely not: it is important to have a high quality conversion stage to avoid damaging the signal. On this point, I would rather trust the converters of your audio interface…
Can I use Beats / Bose or non-studio oriented headphones brand?
99% of the time it’s a bad idea.
If you have no choice, no budget, already have Beats headphones and want to make music, sure: use them.
But in principle, it’s better to avoid: commercial headphones dedicated to listening to music are mainly aimed at making music as pleasant as possible.
In particular, by artificially boosting the bass.
So avoid these headphones, especially for mixing and mastering, and go for real pro studio headphones instead.
Do new headphones need a break-in period?
A bit like new speakers or a new car, some headphones need a break-in period.
That is to say, before they deliver maximum performance, they need time to adapt.
The best way to do this is to leave the headphones plugged in by themselves, with music playing in a loop and/or pink noise. There is no “standard” amount of time, but you can assume that at least the first 20-50 hours of listening will not be at its peak quality.
Feel free to do this break-in in successive volume steps, rather than subjecting it to high volumes from the start which could have a negative effect.
Can closed headphones be used for mixing and mastering?
Ideally, for this type of application, it is best to use open headphones.
As I said earlier in the article, they allow for a wider stereo image, and are generally flatter across the entire frequency spectrum (at the expense of bass that is often a little less present).
However, if your budget does not allow it, you can imagine mixing with closed headphones.
Be careful, though, about the model you choose to avoid getting something that is not suitable.
Note: In the selection of closed headphones in this article, I indicate those that can also be used for mixing.
Can I use studio headphones to listen to music?
Yes, you can use your studio headphones to listen to music, whether in an audiophile setting or just on the way to work.
Typically, I use my M50X regularly when I’m on the train, or on Skype calls from my PC.
Depending on the headset, it is possible that the experience is not perfect: indeed, studio headphones tend to be quite neutral, while some headphones more oriented to casual listening will be more colorful, which will have an improving effect on the music.
Can I use headphones with active noise reduction?
No, for me this type of headphones is to be avoided in studio.
Indeed, since this type of headphones influence the frequency response and simply the sound content that is emitted, it is not recommended to use them in studio or home studio.
Are there studio headphones with a microphone?
No, as far as I know, there are no (good) headphones dedicated to studio use that have a microphone at the same time.
Now you have all the information you need to choose your next pro studio headset, whether it’s for DAW, beatmaking, recording or mixing.