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Studio headphones are designed for sound engineers, broadcasters, and any other professional or casual audiophile. They provide splendid sound signatures which are ideal for specialized recording, listening, and or mixing applications.
Just like any other audio accessories, the market provides multiple types of studio headphones. Some are built to last, provide excellent sound quality, as well as keep you comfortable while using them.
Others are fragile, uncomfortable to wear for long, and they may not deliver the professional-grade sound quality they promise.
How can you pick top studio headphones from rip-off models? We have highlighted some must-have qualities that delineate the best brand from the not-so-good. Also, we have evaluated the top studio headphones that you would want to include in your buying list.
Our Best Studio Headphones
Though expensive, Beyerdynamic DT 1990 comes with an avalanche of features to give you excellent value out of your money. It will serve you for years, and it will help you record or listen to high-quality audios. We would recommend it to audiophiles who won’t mind spending more dollars on a good studio headphone for listening and mixing.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 is one of the sturdiest studio headphones you would find. Its parts are made of sturdy metal to endure regular use. Some fewer parts are made of a sturdy plastic material. Weighing 370 grams, these headphones can feel bulky if you are used to models that weigh less. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 may not be suitable for audiophiles looking for a portable model.
These headphones are polished with a black finish and shiny silver colored grills. The color combination blends well with most settings. It looks more professional than the brightly colored headphones which look too casual.
The headphones’ standard package contains a hard case to store or carry the headphones, ‘A’ ear pads that provide enhanced frequency, ‘B’ ear pads that amplify the bass tone, a 3-meter straight cable, as well as a 5-meter coiled cable.
Comfort and fit
Are you looking to use your studio headphones for a lengthy period? If yes, Beyerdynamic DT 1990 would be an ultimate fit for you. Its headband and earcups have comfy leather paddings to keep your ears and head comfortably. The pads get a little warm after using them for prolonged listening, mixing, recording, or monitoring session.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990’s adjustable headband allows you to adjust it according to your head’s unique shape and size. This feature saves you from the non-adjustable models that may not fit snugly over your ears.
Performance and Sound quality
This high-end headphone utilizes 45mm Tesla neodymium driver technology to enhance its recording and listening precision. It delivers well-balanced highs, deep bass, and detailed midrange tones to let you enjoy your favorite jams.
Apart from using innovative sound drivers, Beyerdynamic DT 1990 uses open-back design to deliver a natural spatial sound. It is a suitable choice for audiophiles looking for a studio headphone they could use in mixing and mastering.
Since the open-back design leaks much sound to the surrounding, the headphones might not be ideal if you intend to use them in a library, an office, or any other setting that disallows unnecessary noise.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 has an impedance of 250 ohms. For that reason, you would need to pair it up with a dedicated amplifier.
Beyerdynamic DT770 is one of the best midrange studio headphones for music lovers or professionals looking for a model with dependable noise isolation capabilities. It delivers an excellent sound quality to let you enjoy your music or any other audio file. Its low impedance pairs up well with your smartphone or tablet.
Beyerdynamic DT 770’s headband and earcups are molded from a textured plastic and a robust metal to survive for years. The headphones come in black and grey finishes to choose from. This color variation presents you with the freedom to invest in a headphone with your most promising finish.
The studio headphones’ left earcup has a non-detachable three-meter coiled cable that connects your headphone to an audio system. Therefore, you would need an expert to help you replace the wire when it wears out.
The studio headphone comes in a pack containing a carrying case to keep your headphone and any other accessory you would need to operate the headphone. Moreover, the standard package includes a ¼ inch adapter and a user manual.
Fit and comfort
This mid-range studio headphone has generously-sized earcups covered with a soft and breathable velour fabric that keeps your ears comfortable throughout the period of use. The material is friendly to people who wear glasses. If the ear pads wear out, you can replace them with new parts sold separately.
Moreover, the headphones have an adjustable and padded headband that can accommodate various sizes of heads. The headband is made from light steel to eliminate unnecessary weight that could fatigue your head and ears when using it over a prolonged period.
Performance and sound quality
Beyerdynamic DT 770 features the closed-back design to shield your ears from background noises that would distract you when listening to your favorite jams, or compromise the quality of your vocal recordings. You can use this headphone in noisy settings.
Since the closed-back design shield sound leakage, you can use the headphones in a library or any other room that requires silence. Someone seated close to you would hardly hear the sound leakage from your headphones.
In addition to the closed back design, Beyerdynamic DT770 uses the state of the art drivers and sensitive transducers to provide superior bass response spiced up with clear and less-overpowering highs, mids, and lows.
The high–resolution sound makes it an appropriate choice for vocalists or broadcasters looking for good studio headphones for mixing and monitoring. However, some sound engineers who have tried this headphone say that the tones sound natural, but a bit distant.
If you wish to own stylish studio headphones that you can carry around comfortably, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is for you. It comes in white, grey, gunmetal, blue, black, and red color finishes.
The color ranges present you with a chance to get a studio headphone whose hue blends well with your studio room, or that which you can proudly show off. Moreover, you can fold the headphones to fit into small backpacks for enhanced portability.
Build quality and design
These studio headphones for professional audiophiles are made from sturdy plastic components. Just from appearance, you can tell that the headphones would hold up well under regular use and abuse.
The headphone comes with three coiled and straight cables that match the finish of your headphone. Audio-Technica ATH- M50X’s cables lack the inbuilt microphone found in the wires used in competitor models. On that account, you cannot use this headphone to answer calls on your phone. Also, these professional headphones come with a soft case and a 1/4 inch adapter for dedicated audio interfaces.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X folds flat to take up little storage space, and they weigh just 280 grams to save you from unnecessary weight. For that reason, we would commend them for mobile audiophiles who need studio headphones that they could carry around comfortably.
Comfort and Fit
These studio headphones have swiveling earcups with generous padding to shield your ears from excessive compression. It has an adjustable headband to let you adjust it into your most comfortable snug. It can fit into small to large size heads.
Just like the earcups, Audio-Technica ATH-M50X’s headband has generous padding that rests comfortably on your head.
While the headphones keep you comfortable, some users complain that the synthetic padding material is not breathable enough. As such, it might heat your ears during those hot days, thereby making you uncomfortable.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X utilizes the closed-back design to isolate background noises that would compromise the quality of audios rendered to your ears, or distract you while listening to your favorite tunes.
The headphone’s 40mm dynamic drivers deliver detailed treble, mids, highs, and bass to let you enjoy each beat from your favorite classical music. However, they do not have the neutral-sounding required in professional-grade studio headphones.
It is the reason why the manufacturer recommends them for DJs and audio engineers who need a headphone with a superb sonic performance for casual listening rather than professional applications.
If you are on a budget, yet you need studio quality headphones, Sennheiser HD280 Pro would fit into your needs and budget. In spite of the affordable price, these studio headphones deliver excellent sound quality, and they are built to survive for years.
Build and design
Most parts used in Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are molded from a sturdy plastic material. While plastic may not be as sturdy as metal, the type used in these headphones can tolerate damage resulting from regular use for a sensible duration.
The headphones weigh 285 grams, and you can fold them for secure storage and transportation. The foldable design and light weight make them a suitable option for audiophiles, sound engineers, and DJs who have been searching for a cheap and portable studio headphone.
Like most headphones on this best list, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro comes with the necessary accessories you would need to enhance your user experience. It comes with a coiled audio cable and a ¼ inch stereo adapter. They lack a storage bag and straight cable provided in other competitor studio headphones.
If your ear pads or headband wear out, you can easily find new spare parts to replace the old ones. The availability of replacement parts would save you from purchasing new headphones when a few parts wear out.
Comfort and fit
The headphones’ headband and earcups have generous padding to keep you comfortable when using them. However, many users who have tried this best studio headphone claim that the self-adjusting headband is quite tight and the padding gets too warm.
Therefore, if you are looking to use the headphones for prolonged listening or recording sessions, then this model would not be suitable. However, if you intend to use it for short sessions, then the tight headband and warm cushions should not be an issue.
Performance and sound quality
This studio headphone uses the closed-circumaural design to deliver the best in class sound isolation capability. For that reason, you can use it for listening or recording in noisy settings. Furthermore, the closed-circumaural limits sound leakage to the external surrounding. You can use them in environments where unnecessary noise is forbidden.
The headphone uses standard drivers to deliver a professional grade sound signature. Its highs and mids are well-moderated, and bass is not too overpowering. It is ideal for listening to various music genres. It has an impedance of 64 ohms, a feature that makes it suitable for amplifying audios saved in your phone’s playlist.
Despite its high price tag, Sennheiser HD 800 boasts of innovative features that would take your recording, listening, monitoring, and mixing applications to the next level. It delivers an outstanding sound signature, impedance, and frequency sensitivity.
This top model is ideal for seasoned DJs, sound engineers, broadcasters, and any other audiophile who would not mind testing and using the world’s most dynamic studio headphones.
Despite the top-end price tag, Sennheiser HD 800 has a simple professional look. Its silver and black hues blend well with your studio’s interior décor without begging for unnecessary attention that would look too casual.
HD 800’s headband and earcups are designed from Leona plastic a sturdy plastic that is highly resistant to wear and tear. While the plastic is sturdy enough, it appears cheap on such a top-end model of studio headphones.
Many audio engineers say that HD 800 would have been better if it used metal-plated wood or any other luxurious material. Sennheiser HD 800’s standard package contains a thick sleeved cable with a 6.3mm jack.
Comfort and fit
Sennheiser HD 800 has large sized earcups that sit snugly on all sizes of ears. A comfy micro-fiber material covers the earcups to shield your ears from excessive compression, and or fatigue. Therefore, you can use the headphones for prolonged sessions comfortably.
The headband‘s middle part has a cushion that sits comfortably on your head. It metes out the unit’s 330 grams evenly to minimize pressure. Moreover, the padding absorbs vibrations that could compromise the headphone’s quality of sound. The adjustable headband fits securely on your head and over your ears.
Performance and sound quality
Sennheiser HD 800 uses a 56mm ring radiator driver to deliver a 3D sound signature. This driver reduces sound distortion at high frequencies. It offers a tighter bass, crystal clear treble, and moderate lows. The modern driver delivers detailed tones in a more natural way than the traditional drivers used in low-end headphones.
This studio headphone has an open-back design which makes it an ideal fit for recording, listening or monitoring in quiet surroundings. On the contrary, the open back design might not be appropriate for noisy outdoor settings.
These top studio headphones have a high impedance of 300 Ohm. As such, you would need a good quality set-up if you wish to feel and enjoy the 3D natural sounds promised by this high-end unit.
Qualities to help you pick the best studio headphones
- Build quality
The right type is designed from sturdy metallic or plastic components to survive use and abuse for an extended period. Furthermore, good studio headphones should have easy to find spares to let you replace worn out parts. Getting a well-built model would save you from the cost of replacing broken headphones after every short period.
- Sound quality and frequency response
Best headphones provide a sound signature that is brighter than that offered by consumer-grade models. As such, the best headphones should render precisely what the audio producer or composer intended you to hear unaltered.
- Fit and comfort
Are you looking to use your studio headphones for extended sessions? If yes, get a headphone with large padded earcups and an adjustable padded headband. Earcups with soft fabric padding eliminate excessive pressure that can make you uncomfortable. On the other hand, the adjustable headband lets you fit the headsets onto your head and ears securely.
- Wired or wireless
Wired headphones deliver excellent sound quality and volume than their wireless counterparts. However, the wires can restrict your movement, and they can twist. You would need to replace broken wires regularly. If you need a headphone that can let you wander freely, go for the wireless option. It is still possible to find a wireless studio headphone with sensible sound quality.
- Open vs. closed design
Closed-back headphones leak less sound to the surrounding, shield your ears from background noises, and they deliver a brilliant bass. They are an ideal fit for recording and monitoring. On the other hand, open-back headphones leak more sound to the surrounding, but they have an excellent frequency response. The open-back headphones are suitable for mastering and mixing sounds.
Headphones with low impedance require less power while their counterparts with high impedance require more power to operate. Low-impedance headphones work well with phones. If you are looking to use the headphones in dedicated amplifiers, go for high impedance headphones.