The 10 Best Studio Headphones

Selecting for the best studio headphones is quite a bit like making an investment in a sturdy and reliable pair of shoes. If you are an audiophile like I am, it is obvious these headphones are going to be used every day, just like a reliable pair of shoes. They are also going to be more expensive than, say, earbuds or a cheap Bluetooth speaker. Additionally, they are going to be purchased with the hope that they will last several years.

Sure, there are some models of headphones that are extremely overpriced simply due to brand recognition. Think those “Beats by Dre” models. Compare those to true, beautiful studio headphones that are less expensive and provide far better utility. This is synonymous with Jordans as compared with Allen Edmonds. One will be expensive and look great, but begin to fall apart after a few dozen wears. The other is also expensive and looks great, but has utility, and can last for years if taken care of properly.

Picking the best studio headphones is a process. I performed proper due diligence to ensure the best quality and the most effective pair for my personal tastes and preferences were chosen.

Important Factors to Consider When Selecting Studio Headphones

Determine a budget: There are obviously some quite decent pairs of studio headphones for around $100. They provide a solid entry-level status of utility for the user. However, the higher the quality, the higher the price. Sometimes it is worth waiting and saving a little more money to get those velvety smooth sounding cans.

Decide the utility: Am I going to be using these headphones for serious recording or mixing purposes? Are they more for everyday use, video gaming, or listening to music on the way to work? Will they be my go-to sound drowning device at the gym? Some combination of all these? The activity upon which these selected studio headphones will be utilized the most should be a large determining factor in the headphones chosen, including the style (semi-open, open, or closed).

Simply music or more? Am I looking for studio headphones for just the purpose of listening to music? I personally prefer closed back headphones, as they provide better sound isolation and privacy, and don’t leak sound out. Alternatively, bear in mind the type of headphone build being looked for. This is completely dependent on how they will be used.

Studio headphones are a different breed as compared to gaudy, feature-rich, bells-and-whistles headphones. Sure, there are some very popular noise-canceling studio headphones from well-known brands like Bose, but those are generally recommended for traveling purposes, or for listening in crowded spaces. I say this because the noise canceling option will typically double the standard price of a solid pair of studio headphones.

Open, Semi-Open and Closed Back studio headphone designs

Open-back studio headphones are developed with a bit of space for noise to escape. This is done intentionally. Studio headphones with semi-open or open designs are preferred for sound mixing, as they prevent bass frequency buildup inside the cups, allowing for a flatter and more proper sound.

If a user is intent on utilizing prospective studio headphones for sound mixing, mastering, and studio work, it is highly suggested to purchase open or semi-open designs.

Conversely, closed-back studio headphones are often suggested for recording processes. This design type prevents any type of external sound intrusion from leaking into the recording microphone, risking the sound accidentally being overlaid on the track being recorded.

Closed-back designs are the most commonly found design in the studio headphone market. They are generally the recommended design type for use in recording, everyday listening, and general music production.

It is important to note that there is a difference between actual studio headphones and headphones that are branded as such to appeal to a growing market of people looking to slap some cans on their head to look cooler while listening to music. Sadly, the “studio headphones” terminology is saturating by the day, much like “gluten-free”. Some of these headphones are not actual studio headphones.

I highly recommend trusting my top ten list, as it has been backed by personal utilization, research, and a thorough dissection of reviews. My reviews link to the Amazon pages for the individual products, as I am a firm believer in the most cost-effective, fastest-shipping options for studio headphones. Without any further ado, here is my top ten list.

Top 10 Studio Headphones

  • Sony MDR 7506
  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
  • Beyerdynamic DT 880
  • Shure SRH 840
  • Audio Technica ATH M50X
  • Sennheiser HD 600
  • AKG K240 MKII
  • V Moda Crossfade LP
  • Grado Prestige Series SR 80I
  • Ultrasone HFI 780 S-Logic

#1. Sony MDR 7506

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Closed, around-ear
  • Product Weight: 8 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 10 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Drivers: Neodymium, 40 millimeter
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 63 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • ¼” plug adapter
  • Maximum foldability for storage and portability
  • Soft case for travel purposes
  • 9.8ft power cord with gold plated input plug
My Thoughts

The Sony MDR 7506 closed design studio headphones are some of the best and highest rated on the market. Many music producers and recording studios swear by the MDR 7506, and for good reason. These are manufactured by Sony Electronics, which is one of the most well-known names in electronics and sound production equipment.

Additionally, these headphones are well priced in comparison to competing models. While the driver size is average, at 40 millimeters, the impedance level of 63 Ohms is quite higher than even some of the higher priced alternatives.

This product has been reported as being one of the most comfortable headphones on the market for longer sessions, and has highly accurate sound distribution, providing: mellow lows, decent level mids, and very crisp highs.

#2. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Closed, around-ear
  • Product Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 8 Hz to 25 kHz
  • Drivers: Sennheiser has not provided driver information
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 64 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • Coiled cord, ranging from 3.3ft to 9.8ft when extended
  • Interchangeable headband padding, ear pads, and cord
  • Collapsible and portable
  • Ear cups swivel, providing an ergonomically friendly design
My Thoughts

The full line of Sennheiser HD headphones is as close to the “gold standard” for studio headphones as one model line gets. The HD 280 Pro particularly has been lauded for its earpad comfort, lighter weight, and portability.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio headphones is the replaceability of its parts. The headband padding, ear pads, and cord can all be removed and replaced, extending the usable life of the product by multitudes compared to alternative options. In fact, the reported average lifespan of these headphones is over six years.
Regarding sound quality, the signal is crisp and clean. The bass levels are accurate, and there have been no reports of any hiss sounds in higher end frequencies. The fit is tight as compared to alternative studio headphones, however, this is intentional, as it assists with allowing for ambient noise flow-through.

#3. Beyerdynamic DT 880

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Diffuse field, Semi-open
  • Product Weight: 10 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 5 Hz to 35 kHz
  • Drivers: 45 millimeter
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 250 Ohms, with higher Ohms available
Features and Add-Ons
  • Coiled cord, ranging from 3.5ft to 9.8ft when extended
  • Adjustable headband, padded
  • Replaceable ear pads
  • Included nylon carrying case for portability and travel
My Thoughts

The Beyerdynamic DT 880 studio headphone comes in at a higher price point than those already reviewed, however, the price is reflected in the sound quality and longevity of the product. These headphones are semi-open, so are best utilized for sound mixing, providing a wide range of sound frequencies.

There have been concerns about the lack of features, however, these headphones were designed to provide the highest sound quality possible, not to look flashy on the user. One of the biggest draws of these headphones are the replaceable earpieces, very soft headband padding, and included case for portability and product longevity.

Sound quality for these is also crisp and clean. However, it should be noted that the semi-open design may cause music to leak out of the headphones when listening at higher volumes.

#4. Shure SRH 840

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Circumaural, Closed-back
  • Product Weight: 12 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 5 Hz to 25 kHz
  • Drivers: 40 millimeters, neodymium
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 44 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • Detachable coiled 9.8ft cord
  • Headband with adjustability and moisture wicking
  • Replaceable memory foam ear pads
  • Collapsible for storage and travel
  • 3.5mm stereo mini plug and 1/4” adapter
My Thoughts

Shure is essentially one of the highest quality and most reliable brands for sound equipment. While they are mostly known for microphones, their foray into studio headphones impressed many. The drivers and impedance level is standard for studio varieties. However, these are meant to be monitoring headphones.

Regarding sound quality, the Shure SRH 840 studio headphone provides deep bass and clear treble, resulting in a wonderful balance of accurate and clean sound.

Additionally, the ear pads are some of the highest quality on the market, with memory foam that is replaceable to increase product lifespan. With collapsibility for travel and storage and a coiled cable that is interchangeable and replaceable, this is bound to become a sturdy addition for any serious audiophile.

#5. Audio Technica ATH M50X

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Full sized, circumaural
  • Product Weight: 10 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 15 Hz to 28 kHz
  • Drivers: 45 millimeters, rare earth, aluminum coil
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 38 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • Ear cups that swivel 90 degrees
  • Collapsing design for portability
  • Comes with three cable sizes for maximum customization
My Thoughts

Audio Technica is one of the leaders in the studio headphone game and has been for years. Their original flagship model, the ATH M50, is very likely one of the most widely used studio headphones on the market. This upgraded version, the Audio Technica ATH M50X, is every bit as reliable as the original. Additionally, this version comes with interchangeable cables (a 4ft coiled version that stretches to 9ft, a 9ft straight, and a 4ft straight).

These headphones are the perfect option for lower budget home studio sessions, and work great for everyday use, as they are classified as “heavy duty”. However, if you are looking for studio headphones for professional mastering and mixing, it is highly suggested going for the higher priced upgrade version, the ATH M70X.

#6. Sennheiser HD 600

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Open, circumaural
  • Product Weight: 9 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 12 Hz to 39 kHz
  • Drivers: Aluminum and neodymium
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 300 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • 9.8ft detachable, Kevlar reinforced cable
  • Open style with metal mesh
  • Arrives with ¼” headphone cable adapter
My Thoughts

Sennheiser provides the first open ear studio headphones on our list. The circumaural designed Sennheiser HD 600 has been listed many times as one of the highest quality, longest lasting studio headphones for mixing and mastering. It needs to be noted that the open design might cause a good bit of leakage of sound, but they were designed for sound purposes (and the prevention of buildup of fuzzy noise), not privacy purposes.

To get the full sound clarity from these headphones, a headphone amp is a requirement. Otherwise, you are best to go with a less expensive option if you only plan to listen to music on your smartphone. The quality is ridiculously high on this model, and the comfort level is incredible. To push another level up, the Sennheiser HD 650 is one of the preferred models of true professional mix-masters.

#7. AKG K240 MKII

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Semi-open
  • Product Weight: 9 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 15 Hz to 25 kHz
  • Drivers: Information not provided by the manufacturer
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 55 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • Straight and coined detachable cables
  • 30mm transducers and gold-plated plug
  • Headband that self-adjusts
My Thoughts

The original K240 is a steadfast staple of the studio headphone industry. The K240 MKII is a step up from the original. They are semi-open, so a slight amount of sound leads through, however, as noted, it is aimed to prevent sound buildup which can affect the sound quality. Generally a better headphone for mixing, there is a self-adjustable headband and seemingly comfortable ear pads.

This is a step up from the original K240 as it arrives with an extra cable, and has far softer ear cushions. The sound is noted as extremely flat and accurate, with matched treble and bass balance.

#8. V Moda Crossfade LP

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Closed design, circumaural
  • Product Weight: 9.5 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 5 Hz to 30 kHz
  • Drivers: Dual diaphragm, 50 millimeters
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 32 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • Remote and microphone cable for devices that are compatible
  • Travel case (hard shell) included with purchase
  • Steel frame headphones with memory foam ear pads
My Thoughts

If I had to choose one pair of studio headphones on this list to be indestructible, it would without a doubt be the V Moda Crossfade LP studio headphones. These headphones are notorious for working flawlessly year after year. The drivers are bulky, the sound is flat and smooth, and the product is extremely well built, with steel frames, Kevlar-reinforced plugs, and cables, and an included hard shell, form-fit case.

The memory foam ear pads can be quickly replaced as well. The sound quality is outstanding, with hard bass, non-amplified highs, and a beautiful blend of mids. This is the perfect pair of studio headphones for studio usage in both mixing and mastering.

#9. Grado Prestige Series SR 80I

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Closed design, around-the-ear
  • Product Weight: 5 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Drivers: Unreported by the manufacturer
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 32 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • ¼” screw-on plug adapter
  • Vented diaphragm for beautiful sound
  • Air chamber that does not resonate
  • Replaceable ear pads
My Thoughts

These studio headphones are currently not being manufactured anymore by Grado Labs. However, they are still available for purchase from several retailers, including Amazon. These headphones have been stated to last well over five years of continuous use. They are larger than alternative studio headphones, however, are the lightest pair of headphones on the list by far.

The sound quality has been noted as well above average, with evenly matched highs and lows, crisp bass, and clean treble.

#10. Ultrasone HFI 780 S-Logic

Tech Specs
  • Design Style: Closed design, circumaural
  • Product Weight: 10 ounces
  • Frequency Response: From 10 Hz to 26 kHz
  • Drivers: Mylar gold-plated, 40 millimeters
  • Maximum Power Output: 1,000 mW
  • Impedance Level: 35 Ohms
Features and Add-Ons
  • 1/8” adapter, gold plated plug, and carry bag
  • Extremely foldable for storage, travel, and portability
  • Adjustable headband
  • Surround sound inclusion
My Thoughts

These are the oldest headphones of manufacture on this list. They have been around for well over a decade, and remain one of the highest quality studio headphones available. This is far and above the strongest model from Ultrasone, and that is backed by many, many reviews of the product. They have 40 millimeter Mylar drivers and a gold-plated plug.

Regarding sound, the stable build has strong acoustics, deep bass compared to most studio headphones, and crisp and clear lows, mids and highs. The ear cups are noted as being incredibly comfortable and can be switched out when they begin to wear down due to regular extended usage.

Final Thoughts on the 10 Best Studio Headphones

It is difficult to choose one pair of studio headphones as the overall best option, especially since they are all so vastly different from one another. The ten listed above are most definitely the best of the best studio headphones, providing the greatest bang for the buck in their subcategory of headphones.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting studio headphones for extended usage, both amateur level and professional, is to not get wrapped up in “brand recognition” or bells and whistles. Do not be thwarted by the Beats by Dre and other gaudy low-quality headphones. A good rule of thumb is that if the headphones get laughed out of the studio, they are not true studio headphones.

Don’t skimp on studio headphones! From replaceable cables to memory foam ear pads, from neodymium drivers to wide-ranging frequency responses, studio headphones are some of the greatest investments an audiophile can make. Give my suggestions a thorough look, and you’ll end up with a solid investment in your sound arsenal.

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