Top 10 Best Studio Headphones

2 Sep 23 2014 in Reviews

It’s a given that headphones are less ideal than studio monitors. They’re less comfortable, they lead to ear fatigue quicker, and they don’t give an accurate stereo image like monitors do.

However, there are also unparalleled benefits to having a good pair of studio headphones. If you work in an untreated room, then using headphones when mixing is a must to make sure that room problems aren’t affecting your mix. You can also hear a more accurate low-end image. Finally, headphones allow you to produce wherever you are.

In this post I’m going to share 10 of the best studio headphones that you can buy today. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new producer who’s never purchased a piece of pro audio gear before, or a more experienced producer who’s looking to upgrade from their last pair – there’s something here for everyone.

Note: The headphones are organized by price – low to high. Prices may vary over time.

10. AKG K 240 MK II - $109

AKG K 240 MK II

First up we’ve got the MK II edition of the highly popular K 240 model from AKG. These are a great pair of headphones for newer producers who don’t want to invest a ton of money right at the beginning.

In addition to being affordable, the K 240’s provide a level of comfort that allows producers and musicians to spend hours on end making and mixing music. Comfort is one of the first things to go when it comes to entry-level headphones, so the fact that AKG have paid careful attention to it here is a big plus.

Finally, the K 240 MK II model comes packed with two different detachable cables (straight and coiled). These can come in handy depending on how you want to use the headphones, and also when travelling and moving around.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Semi-open
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 25kHz

Learn more about the AKG K 240 MK II headphones and purchase them here.

9. KRK KNS 8400 - $109

KRK KNS 8400

If you’ve already got a pair of KRK studio monitors, then you’ll love the KNS 8400 headphones.

KRK wanted to fix the problem that many producers and engineers experience when moving between monitoring on speakers, and monitoring on headphones. They put effort into making sure the stereo image and frequency response of the KNS 8400 were similar to their very own studio monitors, in order to reduce the dissonance that occurs when switching between the two mediums.

Aside from that, they’re also great entry-level headphones. They’re comfortable, and they look the part. It’s also worth mentioning that the cable, as well as head and ear cushions can be easily replaced.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 23kHz

Learn more about the KRK KNS 8400 headphones and purchase them here.

8. Sennheiser HD 380 - $125

Sennheiser HD 380

The HD 380’s are well known among engineers, musicians, and producers for their ability to work well in the studio, as well as in a live setting.

They’re considered to be one of the best headphones in their price range, and this comes as no surprise when you take notice of the extremely accurate low-end reproduction, which is something that’s often poor in cheap headphones.

As always, comfort is an important factor when it comes to purchasing headphones. If you’re using them for hours on end, then you want them to feel nice. The HD 380’s also deliver in this department, being extremely lightweight and comfortable.

If you’re looking at the KNS 8400 or K 240 MK II, you might want to consider stretching a little higher for the HD 380’s.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 8Hz – 27kHz

Learn more about the Sennheiser HD 380 headphones and purchase them here.

7. Audio Technica ATH-M50 - $125

Audio Technica ATH-M50

When comparing the HD 380’s and the ATH-M50’s, it’s difficult to tell which headphone is better. Both headphones are extremely popular, made by reputable companies, and have a proven track record of delivering results.

In my opinion, people who place a strong value on comfort will prefer the HD 380’s. The ATH-M50’s aren’t necessarily uncomfortable at first, but they do start to become frustrating after an hour or so of use.

In terms of sound reproduction, however, I would rate the ATH-M50’s above the Sennheisers. The low-end is fantastic, as are the mids and the highs. In addition to providing the best quality sound in the low price range, the headphones also provide great isolation making production an enjoyable process if you’re sitting in a coffee shop or on a train.

Oh, did I mention I use them for DJing? They work well in that area too.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 28kHz

Learn more about the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones and purchase them here.

6. Shure SRH840 - $199

Shure SRH840

Shure is a lesser-known brand when it comes to headphones, but if the quality is anything like their microphones then you know they’re worth looking at.

The SRH840 model is verging on the middle bracket in terms of price range, but there’s a clear reason for that. These cans are quality built. They’re incredibly comfortable (far more so than other headphones in the same price range), and they’re built to last.

While you probably won’t need to worry about them for a while, the SRH840 comes with a spare pair of earpads that can replace the original ones when they’re worn out.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 25kHz

Learn more about the Shure SRH840 headphones and purchase them here.

5. Sennheiser HD 25-1 II - $199

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II

The HD 25-1 II’s are hands down one of the best pairs of headphones available today. Not only because they’re extremely versatile and can be used by mix engineers, bedroom producers, musicans, DJs, and everyone else; but also because they’re so well designed and engineered.

The wide, flat frequency response offers a crystal clear representation of what you’re working on. For the price, it’s unbeatable, which gives an explanation as to why these headphones are so damn popular.

Having a detachable cable and lightweight structure, the HD 25-1 II’s are convenient to travel with and produce on the go, making them great for DJ/producers who want a single pair of headphones that can be used for more than one purpose.

It’s also worth mentioning that the FSS boss personally recommends these ;)

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: On ear
  • Frequency Response: 16Hz – 22kHz

Learn more about the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II headphones and purchase them here.

4. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro - $229

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

As you can see from the above image, the DT 770’s are massive. The downside to this is that they’re not the most portable pair of headphones, but this is vastly outweighed by the comfort that comes in hand with size.

If you’re someone who spends countless hours recording, producing, and mixing with headphones, then the DT 770’s are absolutely perfect. They’ve got great isolation, a good frequency response (especially in the low-end), and a robust build.

They’re not the nicest looking pair of headphones, but if you’re someone who spends most of their time indoors then does it really matter?

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 35kHz

Learn more about the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones and purchase them here.

3. Pioneer HDJ-2000 - $249

Pioneer HDJ-2000

I was hesitant about including the HDJ-2000’s because they’re not fully studio headphones; they’re primarily built and designed for DJs.

However, they can also be of value in the studio too. Mainly because of how comfortable they are. The pitfall is the frequency response, which can be a big letdown when it comes to mixing.

If you’re producing on the road and get the chance to visit your own studio (or someone else’s studio) regularly, then the HDJ-2000s can be a viable option for those who want just one pair of headphones that can be used for DJing as well as production.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 30kHz

Learn more about the Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones and purchase them here.

2. AKG K 701 - $249

AKG K 701

If you’re not a DJ, or you’ve already got a good pair of DJ headphones but need the equivalent for your studio sessions – then grabbing a pair of AKG K 701’s may be just what you need.

These headphones provide extremely accurate sound reproduction as well as imaging. AKG have given careful thought and attention to this aspect, which, in my opinion, places these headphones well above the rest in their price range.

In addition to the fantastic sound quality, the K 701’s are also very comfortable, making long recording and production sessions bearable and even enjoyable.

Yes, they’re a little more expensive than other models mentioned in this post, but the extra coin pays dividends in terms of sound quality, build quality, and comfort.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Open back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 39.8kHz

Learn more about the AKG K 701 headphones and purchase them here.

1. Focal Spirit Professional - $349

Focal Spirit Professional

At first look, these headphones seem overpriced, and that’s what many have said… until using them. The sound reproduction that the Spirit Professional’s possess is absolutely mind-boggling; some have said that it’s equal to $1000 headphones.

Not only that, but the headphones have great isolation without sacrificing comfort. They don’t look comfortable, but surprisingly, they are. If you’ve got big ears then they may take a bit of getting used to, but other than that you’ll feel right at home with this pair of quality headphones.

If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will last you a long time, give you the best possible sound reproduction whilst providing a level of comfort that allows for sustained periods of use, then the Focal Spirit Professional headphones are the perfect choice.

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed-back
  • Fit Style: Around ear
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 22kHz

Learn more about the Focal Spirit Professional headphones and purchase them here.

What would you add to this list? Comment below.

Last Modified: 2014-09-23 02:58:29

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