If you need a pair of headphones for use in a studio, finding the right option for your needs can help elevate your production to the next level. If you need something for live studio recording, you'll want closed-back headphones as you can monitor the live recording without sound leaking into the microphone. On the other hand, for mixing, many sound engineers may prefer more spacious and immersive open-back headphones as they can be more comfortable after a long day spent in the studio. The best studio headphones often have a coiled cable to give you enough range to move around your studio.
We've tested over 640 pairs of headphones, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best studio headphones to buy. Also, check out our recommendations for the best DJ headphones, the best headphones for music, the best wired headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.
The best studio headphones that we've tested are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These very popular wired over-ears are well-known within the recording community. They provide amazing value and feel surprisingly well-built and durable despite their relatively low price point. They're comfortable enough for long recording sessions, with large ear cups and a well-padded headband.
Their sound reproduction is well-balanced and fairly accurate, with a tiny amount of extra bass but an even and accurate mid-range. They're a good choice for mixing, mastering, or recording as their closed-back design leaks a lot less audio than open-back headphones. Their ear cups can swivel, and they feature a detachable cable, so you don't need to replace the entire pair should the wire get damaged. They also come with three different cable options, including a coiled one that can stretch up to ten feet so that you can move freely around your studio.
Unfortunately, none of the included cable options feature an in-line remote, so they may not be the best option for casual use if you like to be able to change your music quickly. Despite being closed-back, they still leak a bit of audio at higher volumes, so they may not be the best for extremely noise-sensitive recording situations. While this will likely be fine if you're monitoring a recording session from a separate room, it may be an issue if you're recording yourself.
The best headphones for recording that we've tested are the Sony MDR-7506. These over-ears have decent build quality, a comfortable fit, and a retro-looking design. They're closed-back headphones, meaning you can listen to mixes with less risk of audio leaking into your recording.
Their sound profile is well-balanced, with some extra thump and punch without being overwhelming or muddy. The mid-range response is incredibly accurate, so instruments and voices are clear, accurate, and detailed. These headphones also deliver sound quite consistently and use a coiled cable, which should help prevent tangles.
Unfortunately, they don't have ANC and don't passively isolate you from very much noise. Their build also feels a bit plasticky and cheap, and the headphones sometimes creak when you put them on your head. That said, their well-balanced sound profile and comfortable fit make them a solid choice if you want closed-back headphones for recording.
If you prefer the fit and feel of in-ear monitors, check out the TIN Audio T3 instead. While their sound profile isn't as neutral as the Sony MDR-7506, they have a lightweight and more portable design. Their in-ear fit also helps passively block out more background noise as well as deliver audio more consistently. Even though they're not as comfortable, they come with eight differently-sized pairs of ear tips, including two pairs of foam tips, to help you get the best fit possible. Unfortunately, their passive soundstage is very closed-off, and it feels like the sound is coming from inside your head, which is to be expected from in-ear headphones.
Try the Sony if you want over-ear headphones with a more open and out-of-head passive soundstage. However, if you prefer in-ear monitors that block out more background sound, consider the TIN instead.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for mixing that we've tested. These high-end headphones offer an exceptionally immersive passive soundstage that feels large, spacious, and out-of-head. They also have an excellent build quality and are very comfortable.
These open-back headphones have a very neutral sound profile. Their mid-range is very flat, ensuring that vocals and lead instruments are reproduced accurately. Their treble accuracy is excellent, so your mixes don't sound piercing or harsh. They come with a few handy accessories like two audio cables, a carrying pouch to protect the headphones from dust, and a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter.
Unfortunately, their open-back design means that they struggle to reproduce a thumpy low-bass. The pin that keeps the joints in place may also come loose over time, which can be a little frustrating as the headphones otherwise feel high-end. That said, if you're looking for dedicated headphones for mixing, they're a solid choice.
If you're looking for over-ear headphones with more neutral bass response, you may prefer the HiFiMan Arya. They aren't as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S and only come with one audio cable, but their planar magnetic transducer helps them to reproduce bass more accurately. They have a more neutral low-bass response, and their sound profile is very well-balanced overall. They also have an open-back design and create a remarkably open, spacious out-of-head passive soundstage. Their faux-leather fabric headband and well-padded ear cups should be very comfortable for most, but their build doesn't seem quite as premium.
Go for the Sennheiser if you want the open-back headphones with a better passive soundstage performance. If a more extended low-bass response is your priority, the HiFiMan are worth considering instead.
The Superlux HD 681 are the best budget studio headphones that we've tested. These wallet-friendly over-ears have a semi-open-back enclosure, which helps them create a more immersive, natural, and wide passive soundstage. They also have a comfortable and lightweight fit.
These headphones have a fairly neutral sound profile that's suitable for most kinds of audio content. Their mid-range is especially flat and well-balanced, meaning vocals and lead instruments sound present, clear, and accurate. Although their treble range is slightly over-emphasized, some users may prefer this bright sound as it can help emphasize imperfections in your tracks. They have fairly consistent audio delivery too.
However, you may still notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or glasses, as these can break the seal on your head. The headphones' build quality is also cheap and plasticky, which doesn't make them feel very durable. However, if you're looking for budget-level studio headphones, they offer a neutral sound, comfortable fit, and immersive soundstage.
Nov 29, 2021: We've checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Sep 30, 2021: Removed the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless as the 'Best Wireless' pick to better reflect that wired headphones are more suitable for studio use because of audio lag. Added the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 to Notable Mentions because they're a wired version of our top pick.
Aug 04, 2021: Replaced the AKG K371 with the Sony MDR-7506 because of their more consistent sound delivery, and the Superlux HD 668B with the Superlux HD 681 because of their much better bass accuracy. Added the Superlux HD 688B and the AKG K371 to Notable Mentions.
Jun 07, 2021: Replaced the Superlux HD 681 with the Superlux HD 668B as the HD 681 are currently unavailable at this price point.
Apr 08, 2021: Replaced the Sennheiser HD 560S with the HiFiMan Arya as the HiFiMan represent a better value to users. Checked the accuracy and availability of our picks to ensure that we're still selecting the best products for your needs.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best studio headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of our reviews for headphones that are good for neutral sound. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.