The 10 Best Headphones For Music Production In 2022 [Buyer’s Guide]

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It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned music producer, choosing the best headphones for music production is a vital step in your music-making process. For most producers, studio headphones can make or break a song. The audio quality, durability, and sonic reproduction of a pair of headphones are all factors that contribute to making your next mix sound just right.

Now, it’s true that the process of finding the very best headphones for music production is no simple task. It’s no secret that studio headphones come with a long list of specifications, and each pair is different from the last.

With that being said, we will cover everything there is to know about studio headphones in this article. Hopefully by the end, you will be well on your way to picking a pair of quality headphones to use when producing your next best track.

First and foremost, we need to better understand what studio headphones are and what they’re used for before adding a pair to your list of studio equipment

Quick Picks: Closed-Back Headphones

ImageProductScorePrice
TOP PICK
beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 5Hz-35kHz — Impedance: 80 ohms

9.7
View On Amazon
RUNNER-UP
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 15Hz-28kHz — Impedance: 38 ohms

9.6
View On AmazonView At Guitar Center
THE CLASSIC
Sony MDR7506
Sony MDR7506

Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 10Hz-20kHz — Impedance: 63 ohms

9.5
View On AmazonView At Guitar Center
PREMIUM PICK
beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms

9.8
View On Amazon
WELL-ROUNDED
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 8Hz-25kHz — Impedance: 64 ohms

9.4
View On AmazonView At Guitar Center

Quick Picks: Open-Back Headphones

ImageProductScorePrice
TOP PICK
beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 5Hz-35kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms

9.8
View On Amazon
RUNNER-UP
Sennheiser HD 650
Sennheiser HD 650

Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 10Hz-41kHz — Impedance: 300 ohms

9.7
View On AmazonView At Guitar Center
PREMIUM PICK
beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms

9.9
View On Amazon
WELL-ROUNDED
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Open/Closed: Open — Driver Size: 45mm — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 470 ohms

9.6
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BUDGET PICK
Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X
Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency response: 5 – 30,000 Hz — Impedance: 38 ohms

9.3
View On AmazonView At Guitar Center

What Are Studio Headphones?

Studio headphones handle a multitude of tasks when producing a song. As opposed to consumer headphones, they are designed to be used in a recording studio setup where audio is created and manipulated. Studio headphones are used specifically for producing, monitoring, mixing and mastering layers of audio.

What Makes Studio Headphones Better For Music Production?

The number one reason why studio headphones are better suited for music production is due to frequency response and sonic neutrality. High-fidelity headphones and consumer headphones are made to add coloration to the source sound, whereas studio headphones are made to have more of a flat frequency response. 

A flat frequency response ensures that the source sound is reproduced as accurately as possible with sonic neutrality in mind.

Don’t worry, we will touch on frequency response in more detail later on in the article.

Besides the frequency response, studio headphones are typically more durable. They need to be able to handle being thrown on and off of your head multiple times a session. On top of that, the drivers and other internal components need to hold up during long hours of consistent listening.

Lastly, closed-back headphones in particular need to have great sound isolation. When recording or tracking sounds, it’s imperative that any background noise is blocked outAcoustic treatment goes a long way here as well.

That way you know you’re getting an honest and accurate representation of the source audio that you’re working on. Open-back headphones are a different beast entirely, but we’ll get into those later. 

Headphones For Music Production Buyer’s Guide

Like we talked about before, this article will go over everything you need to know about studio headphones so that you can make an informed decision. 

Shopping around for the best studio headphones is undoubtedly a daunting task. There are endless variations of products offered by a multitude of manufacturers. So, what does it all mean? Where do you even start?

Well the first thing to keep in mind is the phrase “studio headphones” itself and what it means when you’re doing your research. Simply searching for “studio headphones” isn’t going to narrow down options for you. It’s too broad of a term.

There are specific types of headphones that are made for specific jobs. The most notable example of this is the difference between closed-back headphones and open-back headphones.

Closed-Back Vs. Open-Back

This topic is sure to be the first hurdle you come across when shopping around for studio headphones. The two options are very different from each other, but it’s actually quite simple to understand.

Closed-back headphones have ear cups that are completely closed off and are typically sealed with either foam or leather pads. This design makes them perfect for tracking and recording audio during production. Due to the sealed nature of the ear cups, sound waves have nowhere to escape. This gives you an optimal level of sound isolation and noise-cancellation. Inherently, closed-back headphones do tend to have embellished bass frequencies.

Open-back headphones feature a perforated housing on the backside of the ear cups. This design allows sound to pass through the ear cups which in turn relieves pressure from the speaker drivers. The goal behind this is to create more of a natural sound from the headphones. You lose out on sound isolation, but you gain an improved sound quality and a better reference for mixing and mastering. Note that there is a greater amount of sound leakage with this design and casual listening isn’t recommended with these types of headphones.

So what does all of this mean for you? Well, as a general rule of thumb, it’s never a bad idea to have a pair of both styles of headphones. Each style has its own set of tasks that it can handle, and both styles are valuable in their own right.

Now, there is another style of studio headphones that you’re sure to run into. Semi-open headphones are supposed to be a middle-ground between the other two main types of headphones. Honestly though, they’re more like open-back headphones than anything. That being said, it’s still not recommended to use them in noisy environments.

On-Ear Vs. Over-Ear

This one is pretty easy to grasp, but it’s important to understand the difference between on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones.

On-ear headphones (or supra-aural) are designed to rest on top of your ear. These types of headphones are typically more lightweight and compact. They do tend to put some pressure on your ear though and can easily become uncomfortable in a long session. They also lack isolation when compared to over-ear options. They are more commonly used as DJ headphones for live performances rather than in a studio environment.

Over-ear headphones (or circumaural) are designed to cover and surround your entire ear. These are the more common types of headphones used by music producers in a recording studio. They’re more comfortable over long periods of time and have better isolation than their on-ear siblings. They are bulkier than on-ear headphones though, but the weight difference doesn’t hinder their comfort-ability.

Overall Comfort

The on-ear vs. over-ear debate leads us to the next factor: comfort. Like we just talked about, most users find over-ear headphones to be more comfortable for longer listening periods. That being said, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be more comfortable to you.

You should know that the more expensive the studio headphones are doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be more comfortable. A lot of this actually depends on your preferences. A pair of headphones that cost $1000 might not be as comfortable to you as ones that are $150. 

With that, if you have a local music store nearby, it might be wise to head over there and try on a few pairs of headphones and see what’s more comfortable to you. Chances are they’ll have a few of the options that will be in the list down below. Just food for thought.

Either way, you absolutely need a pair of quality headphones that you can wear comfortably for extended periods of time. You will be spending countless hours having them on your ears while producing on our DAW, sitting in front of your computer monitor. Therefore, it only makes sense that you find a pair that meets your specific preferences.

Wired Vs. Wireless Studio Headphones For Music Production?

It’s important to note the difference between wired and wireless studio headphones. While it’s true that there are some high-end wireless options out there that are making waves in the music production industry, direct input is still the safest route to go. 

Wireless headphones tend to introduce latency/lag to the audio signal which is never a good thing when it comes to critical listening and music production. 

It’s my recommendation that you stick with wired headphones even though wireless technology is improving. Sure dealing with cords is never fun, but at least you’re not making music production harder for yourself by adding latency into the mix.

What Is Impedance In Headphones?

Impedance refers to the amount of resistance in an electrical current. The amount of resistance is measured in Ohms (Ω). When talking about impedance in studio headphones the general rule is: the higher the impedance rating, the more voltage is required for the headphones to work properly. 

Moreover, more voltage means less electrical current, and less electrical current means less distortion. High-impedance headphones with a proper headphone amplifier to power them will make for a more “pure” sound quality, which is what every music producer is looking for.

You’ll generally find that most modern audio interfaces come equipped with onboard headphone amplifiers that can power headphones with an impedance of up to 250Ω or higher. 

That being said, if you want to take some of the load off of your audio interface, then you can opt for a dedicated headphone amp or DAC/amp combo to handle this job separately. It’s entirely up to you.

One thing to keep in mind here is that some studio headphones will have high impedance ratings, and some won’t. Open-back’s in particular usually come with higher impedance ratings whereas closed-back’s are commonly low impedance headphones. 

Either way, it’s always a good idea to double check the impedance rating found in the tech specs of a particular set of studio headphones before purchasing. 

Also, it’s recommended that you have a headphone amplifier one way or another just to make sure that you’re prepared. 

Plus, there is a noticeable difference in high-impedance headphones, especially when it comes to critical listening and mixing. The higher the sound quality the better in this regard.

Frequency Response

At the beginning of the article we talked a little bit about the role that frequency response plays in this topic. Finding the best headphones for music production heavily relies on a basic understanding of frequency response, and the knowledge actually goes a long way in audio production in general.

For the sake of this piece, we’ll keep things as simple as possible.

Frequency response in terms of headphones refers to the range of frequencies that they can reproduce. To begin, let’s talk about the frequency range itself which is measured in hertz (Hz). To put things in perspective, humans can hear frequencies from as low as 20Hz all the way up to 20,000Hz. 

When looking at the specifications on most studio headphones, you’re sure to see the frequency response listed. This measurement tells you the range of frequencies that the drivers can reproduce. 

This begs the question: does an extended frequency response mean better sound quality? Well, not necessarily.

Even the most basic consumer earbuds have the ability to reproduce sounds up to 20kHz or higher, but that doesn’t mean that they’re suitable for music production. The frequency response spec should really only be used as a guideline. 

For instance, if you’re planning on making music in a bass heavy genre like EDM or hip hop, then you might want to get a pair of headphones that can reproduce frequencies as low as 15-20Hz.

The bigger consideration here is the actual frequency response curve of a set of studio headphones. This was mentioned before, but a frequency response curve that’s more flat is ideal. 

It’s nearly impossible to find a pair of headphones that has a frequency response that’s completely flat, but a lesser amount of dips and peaks is always better for critical listening.

Take a look at the frequency response example below.

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This is the frequency response curve of the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pros, which are one of the most popular studio headphones on the market. As you can see, the curve isn’t flat by any means, but there aren’t many areas that are over-embellished either. 

The bass and treble frequencies are a little exaggerated —which is to be expected in a pair of closed-back headphones— but this is still a good example of what you’re looking for.

What’s Your Budget?

It’s no secret that the best studio headphones are expensive. Moreover, if you decide that you want a pair of closed-back headphones and a pair of open-back headphones, then the dollar amount starts to add up pretty quickly.

The truth is that buying a pair of headphones for music production is not something you should take lightly. The best studio headphones and a nice set of studio monitors are two of the most important investments you’ll make during your music production journey. 

It’s worth it to save up a decent chunk of change to buy some quality audio devices.

That being said, you can get a pair of beyerdynamic DT-770’s (closed-back) and a pair of DT-990’s (open-back) for a little over $300 total. Those sets of headphones will surely make a drastic impact on your studio production process. 

My point is that you don’t have to shell out a massive amount of money, especially if you’re just starting out. It is important to make sure that you’re getting products that are of high quality though. That way you’re not limiting yourself. 

All of this depends on what your budget is and how much you’re able to spend.

In my list of best headphones for music production, I’ve made sure to include options for most budget-ranges without sacrificing quality.

Final Factors To Consider

Now that you’re more familiar with what to look for in a pair of professional headphones for music production, it’s time to round out the list of questions to ask yourself before purchasing. Once you’ve answered these questions, you should be able to make a confident decision on the best studio headphones for your needs.

  • What’s your intended use? – do you need a pair of headphones for recording/tracking, mixing/mastering, or both? I always say it’s a good idea to get both a pair of closed-back and open-back headphones so you can accomplish any music studio task that may come up. This is, of course, entirely dependent on your budget. 
  • What genre of music will you be working on? – if you’re planning on producing bass heavy music, then you might want to consider buying a pair of headphones that complement low-end frequencies. Make sure the frequency response covers frequencies down to 20Hz at minimum.
  • What’s your experience level? – if you’re just starting out, then you don’t need to go crazy and blow all of your cash on your first pair of studio headphones. Your priority should be to invest in one or two good pairs of headphones and a solid set of studio monitors. Conversely, if you’re a veteran, then you should already know what areas you’re trying to improve on in terms of audio reference points.

Best Headphones For Music Production List

Now is the time to dive into the list of best headphones for music production. We’ve talked about all of the important factors to consider when shopping around for the best studio headphones, and you should be ready to narrow things down. 

Below are my top picks of the best options on the market today to further help you make the right choice for your studio endeavors. 

Just an FYI, the list is split up between closed-back and open-back options. Like we talked about before, both types of headphones are made for different purposes. Therefore, I’m giving you great products in both categories, then you can decide from there.

Let’s get into it.


Best Closed-Back Studio Headphones


beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

TOP PICK
9.7/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Noise Attenuation: Passive Noise Isolating — Frequency Response: 5Hz-35kHz — Impedance: 80 ohms — Cable Type: Straight — Cable Length: 9.8 ft. — Plug Size: 1/8" plug, 1/4" adapter — Features: Drawstring Storage Bag — Color: Black — Weight: 0.6 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Different impedance options

+ Extremely comfortable

+ Excellent sound quality

Reasons To Avoid:

- Bass frequencies are embellished

9.7out of 10

Build Quality9.6
Sound Quality9.7
Value9.9

To kick things off, we have the best studio headphones in the “closed-back” category: the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pros. Full disclosure, these were the first pair of studio headphones I bought many years ago, and I still use them regularly to this day. In fact, they are my go-to headphones for arranging and tracking in particular. 

Although I wouldn’t recommend them for critical listening or mixing, they do a great job when I’m in the initial stages of making a new track.

Now, these closed-back headphones do come in 3 different impedance rating options: 32Ω, 80Ω, and 250Ω. This helps to give you options to choose from based on the gear you already have as well as what your intended use is. 

In terms of sound quality, the DT-770’s handle mids and highs very well. Everything is clear and stereo separation is above-average. The low-ends are a bit exaggerated, but that’s to be expected in a pair of closed-back headphones.  

Overall, the reputation of these studio headphones speaks for itself. They’re affordable, built to last, very comfortable, and are an all-around great option for any music producer.


Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

RUNNER-UP
9.6/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 45mm — Noise Attenuation: Passive Noise Isolating — Frequency Response: 15Hz-28kHz — Impedance: 38 ohms — Cable Type: 2 x Straight, Coiled — Cable Length: 9.8', 3.9' — Plug Size: 1/8", 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Features: Drawstring Bag — Foldable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: 0.625 lbs. (without cable and connector)

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Interchangeable cables

+ Great sound for the price

+ Wildly popular among music producers

Reasons To Avoid:

- Higher frequencies aren’t very detailed

9.6out of 10

Build Quality9.4
Sound Quality9.7
Value9.8

Next up is a pair of closed-back studio headphones that require no introduction. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X  have made waves in the music production industry for a number of years now, and they’re popularity has yet to diminish. It’s pretty easy to see why though.

For one, pretty much every professional producer out there has a set of these bad boys in their arsenal. This can mainly be attributed to their ability to reproduce low-end frequencies. 

Music producers in bass heavy genres praise these headphones for their surprisingly accurate bass response and clean low-mids. In fact, their sound quality makes them great for casual listening as well.

On top of that, the ATH-M50X headphones come at an unbelievable price. They might just be the best value studio headphones on the market. The build quality is also noteworthy.

There aren’t a lot of downsides to these headphones, but the airy high-ends are certainly one. Also, the comfortability is hit and miss. Some producers find them to be very comfortable, while others do not. The only way to tell is to try them on for yourself.

In any regard, there’s a reason why the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X are so popular, and that definitely makes them a worthy option for your studio productions.


Sony MDR7506

THE CLASSIC
9.5/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 40mm — Noise Attenuation: Passive Noise Isolating — Frequency Response: 10Hz-20kHz — Impedance: 63 ohms — Cable Type: Coiled — Cable Length: 9.8' — Plug Size: 1/8" (plug), 1/4" (adapter) — Foldable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: .5 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Well established in the industry

+ Affordable

+ Durable

Reasons To Avoid:

- Cable is heavy & cumbersome

9.5out of 10

Build Quality9.4
Sound Quality9.5
Value9.7

Here we have a true classic in the industry. The Sony MDR7506’s have been around for a generation, and have even seen use in the broadcasting and television industries. Chances are, this isn’t the first time you’ve laid eyes on these studio headphones.

There is one main reason why these headphones are so beloved, and that’s due to their ultra-flat frequency response. The sonic neutrality of these headphones is almost unforgiving, which makes them great to use for referencing.

Probably the best part about the MDR7506’s is the price-tag though. You get high-quality audio, sturdy build quality, and an established name all at a very affordable price-point. 

The only issue I have with these studio headphones is the included cable. Although it’s great that it’s a coiled cable, it’s very long and pretty heavy. It can become a bit cumbersome at times during a studio session.

At the end of the day, the Sony MDR7506’s are true classics. They are a perfect option for entry-level producers and veterans alike.


beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

PREMIUM PICK
9.8/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 45mm — Noise Attenuation: Passive Noise Isolating — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms — Cable Type: Straight, Coiled — Cable Length: 9.8 ft. (straight), 16.4 ft. (coiled) — Plug Size: 1/8" plug, 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Material: Velour and Artificial Leather Earpads included — Case/Gig Bag: Hard Case — Weight: 0.85 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Ultra-premium sound quality

+ Low-ends sound particularly great

+ Top-notch build quality

Reasons To Avoid:

- Pricey

9.8out of 10

Build Quality9.9
Sound Quality9.9
Value9.5

The beyerdymic DT1770 Pros are a bit of an anomaly in the closed-back headphone realm. I say this because they’re actually great for mixing. They are surprisingly balanced, and although the low-ends are slightly embellished, they sound very clear and are separated from the rest of the spectrum.

I mean, these headphones aren’t just great for mixing. These just might be the most well-rounded set of cans on this list. 

They can handle pretty much any task with ease. Want to use them to monitor recordings? Go ahead. What about arrangement and tracking? Piece of cake. If you’re looking for versatility, then look no further than the DT1770 Pros.

As if they weren’t getting enough praise, the build quality is top-notch as well. You can expect many years of hardy use out of these things.

All of this quality comes at a price though. So far, these are the most expensive set of studio headphones that we’ve talked about. If you’ve got the dough, then these guys are more than worth it. 

These are a premium option for a serious, professional music producer, and they’re sure to become your next favorite companion in the studio.


Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

PREMIUM PICK
9.4/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Closed — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Noise Attenuation: Passive Noise Isolating — Frequency Response: 8Hz-25kHz — Impedance: 64 ohms — Cable Type: Coiled — Cable Length: 9.8' — Plug Size: 1/8", 1/4" adapter — Features: Swivel Earcups — Foldable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: 0.49 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Great sound quality at a fair price

+ Solid build quality

+ Very good frequency response

Reasons To Avoid:

- Not the most comfortable pair out there

9.4out of 10

Build Quality9.3
Sound Quality9.4
Value9.6

Sennhieser has been a company that embodies the meaning of “industry-standard” for a long time now. When it comes to headphones, a product from Sennheiser is going to be mentioned. 

The Sennheiser HD280 Pros are what one would consider to be a budget option, but that doesn’t mean they don’t manage to sound great.

These studio headphones have been yet another super popular option for a number of years now. They still have that Sennheiser sound quality to them, and you get a pair of cans that are built-well to boot. All of this at a price that’s very easy to consider.

There is one drawback to the HD280 Pros, and that’s their ear pads. Don’t expect these things to be the most comfortable pair of headphones you’ve ever worn. After extended use, you’re sure to feel some fatigue around your ears. 

Honestly, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to these studio headphones. The sound quality alone makes these cans worth every penny.


Best Open-Back Studio Headphones


beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

TOP PICK
9.8/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 45mm — Frequency Response: 5Hz-35kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms — Cable Type: Coiled — Cable Length: 9.8' — Plug Size: 1/8", 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: .55 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Amazing sound quality

+ Sound stage is wide & dynamic

+ Great value

Reasons To Avoid:

- Needs a headphone amplifier

9.8out of 10

Build Quality9.7
Sound Quality9.9
Value9.8

As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of beyerdynamic headphones. Just like the DT-770 Pros, the DT-990 Pros were my first ever set of open-back headphones. I will say this, the sound quality blew me away the first time I heard them, especially when I considered the price I paid for them. 

These are the best studio headphones in the “open-back”category when considering what you get for the price.

Now, you’re definitely going to need a decent headphone amplifier to power these things. At 250Ω, everything sounds crisp and vibrant when properly powered. The mids in particular really stand out, and mixing and mastering is a breeze through these headphones.

The DT-990 Pros feature the same soft ear pads as the DT-770’s, so they are very comfortable. Truly, you barely even notice that they’re on your head. Also, the build quality is just as great as their closed-back siblings. Both headphones are made to take some punishment.

So, if you’re looking for a way to enter the world of open-back headphones without breaking the bank, then I can’t recommend the DT-990 Pros enough. Don’t get me wrong, the sound quality is good enough for veterans to love as well.


Sennheiser HD 650

RUNNER-UP
9.7/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Frequency Response: 10Hz-41kHz— Impedance: 300 ohms — Cable Type: Straight — Cable Length: 9.8' — Plug Size: 1/4", 1/8" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: .57 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Very accurate & natural sound quality

+ Build quality is superb

+ Ultra-wide frequency response

Reasons To Avoid:

- Minor issues with low-end frequencies

9.7out of 10

Build Quality9.8
Sound Quality9.7
Value9.5

As expected, we have another option from the likes of Sennheiser. Actually, Sennheiser was the originator of open-back headphones back in 1968. It’s safe to say that they know what they’re doing. 

The Sennheiser HD650’s are a great representation of that legacy. They are the younger brother to the ultra-premium HD800 S, and the close cousin to the HD600. The reason I included the HD650’s in particular is mainly due to their tone. 

They have a slightly better bass response than the HD600’s. Also, the tone is more “warm” and everything simply sounds full.

The HD650’s do suffer from a lack of low-end presence, but that’s usually the case with open-back headphones. Like I said, it’s still a better bass response than their cousin, the HD600’s.

Besides that, the build quality is as good as you’d expect from Sennheiser. The aesthetics of the perforated ear cups are a plus as well. Overall, these open-back headphones are the epitome of classic, and they have a solid foothold in the industry. I don’t think that will change anytime soon either.


beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

PREMIUM PICK
9.9/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural — Driver Size: 45mm Tesla Neodymium — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 250 ohms — Cable Type: Coiled, Straight — Cable Length: 9.8 ft. (straight), 16.4 ft. coiled — Plug Size: 1/8", 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Material: Velour Earpads — Case/Gig Bag: Hard Case — Weight: .81 lbs

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Transparent & satisfying audio quality

+ Very durable

+ Sleek design

Reasons To Avoid:

- Pretty expensive

9.9out of 10

Build Quality9.9
Sound Quality10
Value9.7

These studio headphones are the open-back version of the DT1770 Pros from earlier. The beyerdynamic DT1990’s utilize the same Tesla drivers and offer a sound quality that’s just as satisfying, but more transparent.

Again, these are essentially the same headphones as the DT1770’s, but they feature the traditional perforated design found among open-back headphones. The build quality is supreme and the overall look and feel of the ear cups is sleek.

In terms of audio quality, it doesn’t get much better than this. Mids and highs are separated beautifully and the bass is unexpectedly focused. 

Now, these bad boys do have an impedance rating of 250Ω, so you will need a good quality headphone amplifier to properly power them. 

Also, the DT-1990’s are not cheap. Expect to pay a hefty price for these premium open-back headphones. 

Just like their counterpart, you get what you pay for though. Everything about these cans scream “quality” and they’re one of the best reference headphones that money can buy. Really though, you can do pretty much anything related to recording and music production with the DT1990’s and it will handle it with grace.


Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

WELL-ROUNDED
9.6/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Type: Wired — Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 45mm — Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz — Impedance: 470 ohms — Cable Type: Straight — Plug Size: 1/8" plug, 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Case/Gig Bag: Carry Bag — Weight: 0.46 lbs. (without cable)

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Pure & detailed sound

+ Quite comfortable

+ Great reference headphones

Reasons To Avoid:

- Very high impedance

9.6out of 10

Build Quality9.6
Sound Quality9.7
Value9.6

Next up we have a premium option from Audio-Technica this time. The ATH-R70x’s are renowned for being lightweight, ultra comfortable and able to produce some of the most detailed sound reproduction on the market.

The great sound quality can mainly be attributed to the excellent stereo separation that the drivers provide. At 470Ω, you’re not going to have any problems with electrical current, as long as you have an amplifier strong enough to power them of course. If you do though, then your ears are in for a joy ride.

The high-ends are airy yet crisp, the mids are potent and in your face, and the bass is as clear as it gets among open-backs. All of this makes these studio headphones great for referencing, critical listening, mixing and even mastering.

Again, the only downside is the fact that you need a very capable headphone amplifier. Outside of that, the unique headband design makes them very comfortable for extended listening periods, and the build quality is great as well. Definitely a great option for producers of any kind.


Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

BUDGET PICK
9.3/10Studio Frequencies Score

Features & Specs:

Open/Closed: Open — Fit Style: Circumaural (Around the Ear) — Driver Size: 53 mm — Frequency response: 5 – 30,000 Hz — Impedance: 38 ohms — Cable Length: 3.0 m (9.8') — Plug Size: 1/8", 1/4" adapter — Detachable Cable: Yes — Color: Black — Weight: 265 g

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Great sound reproduction

+ Lightweight yet durable

+ Very affordable

Reasons To Avoid:

- Some issues with high-end frequencies

9.3out of 10

Build Quality9.2
Sound Quality9.3
Value9.5

Rounding out the list of open-back studio headphones, we have another option from Audio-Technica. These open-back’s are loved by audiophiles due to their price and accessibility, but they certainly make for a great companion in the studio.

The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X studio headphones come equipped with two one-of-a-kind 53mm drivers that create an ultra-wide sound stage experience. 

What really shines is the mid-frequency reproduction, which is typically what’s most important in a set of reference headphones. The lows are a little light, but again, what else can you expect from a set of open-back headphones.

The highs are just fine as well. They’re not extremely detailed by any means, but at this price, you’re getting a more than respectable overall sound quality.

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives with the ATH-AD700X studio headphones though, especially when considering the price-tag. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Normal Headphones For Music Production?

You can use normal headphones for very basic music production tasks. You can use “normal” headphones to successfully edit, arrange, and track certain sounds during the initial creation process. Those tasks don’t require accurate reproduction or representation of the source sound, thus consumer headphones will do just fine. That said, complex tasks like mixing and mastering definitely require studio headphones.

Do Studio Headphones Make A Difference?

Studio headphones can certainly make a world of difference in not only mixing and mastering, but the entire music production process. They have an ideal, flat frequency response which reproduces sound more accurately. Studio headphones also cover a wider range of frequencies, which helps producers in the process of editing and fixing sonic impurities in a song’s overall mix.

What Is The Purpose Of Studio Headphones?

Studio headphones are designed to have a flat frequency response, which is key in reproducing sounds more accurately. With a more accurate representation of the source sound, producers are able to identify any flaws that may exist within the many layers of a track. With a quality pair of studio headphones, producers and sound engineers can make necessary adjustments and tweaks with more of a critical reference point.

What Is The Difference Between Studio Headphones And Normal Headphones?

Studio headphones are designed to reveal flaws, imperfections, and impurities in source audio. Normal consumer headphones are made to add “coloration” to source audio to make it more pleasing to listen to. The whole idea behind studio headphones is sonic neutrality which is better for critical listening. Normal headphones are better suited for casual listening.


Conclusion

Choosing the best headphones for music production is the first step to leveling-up your capabilities in the studio. There is a lot to consider, I know, but headphones are a vastly important piece of the recording puzzle. Being well-informed goes a long way.

With that in mind, there are two options that really stand out in my eyes as the best studio headphones that money can buy. 

As far as closed-back headphones go, my top recommendation is a pair of beyerdynamic DT-770 Pros. They are relatively affordable, built extremely well, and have great sonic reproduction quality.

Onto closed-back headphones, the beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros are my clear favorite. They’re just as affordable as their closed-back cousins, and the sound quality is even better somehow. Plus, I can attest to the fact that having both headphones in your arsenal is beneficial in a number of ways.

Really though, all of the studio headphone options on this list are great in their own ways. I have included headphones that are well-known, well-established and have a ton of reputation. From here, the choice is yours.

My only goal with this article was to provide you with some helpful information on your quest to find the best studio headphones for your specific needs. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time. 

Cheers guys!

Author
Jeremy Bongiorno
I have been a musician and producer for over 15 years. My goal is to provide reliable, honest information and hopefully help to improve the quality of life in your studio.

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