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The 7 Best Headphones for Studio - Fall 2018
Reviews

Best Headphones for Studio
288 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

Whether you have a podcast, own a studio or are an up and coming artist, you need a good pair of headphones that will reproduce tracks and audio as intended by its creator. Also, depending on the studio use case, leakage may also be a big deciding factor as well as the durability, comfort, and of course price. The best studio headphones typically do well in all of these aspects and may even come with a coiled cable to give you enough range when moving around in your studio without any latency issues since they are wired.

We've tested more than 248 headphones and below are our top recommendations for studio headphones. See also our recommendations for the best DJ headphones, the best headphones for music and the best audiophile headphones.

  1. Best Studio Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best studio headphones that we have reviewed so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. If you're looking for studio headphones, then you most likely want a pair of headphones with a near neutral frequency response to reproduce the tracks as intended by the sound engineer. You also probably want a durable headset that will last you a couple of years and still won't cost you an arm and a leg to replace if it does get broken. Lastly, you also probably want something comfortable that you can wear for long recording and mixing sessions, and most likely a closed-back over-ear design so you can get the biggest soundstage without the leakage of an open-back model that may seep into your recording. Well, the ATH-M50x check all of those boxes. 

    They're simple and straightforward over-ears with comfortable ear cups that fit well around most ears. They're also built to last, even if they have a mostly plastic design. They have a good, well-balanced sound that does a great job with instruments and vocals and they deliver an exciting bass that sounds great on most tracks.

    However, as expected, since they're studio/critical listening focused headphones, they do not have the most versatile or portable design. They also make your ear quite warm during long recording sessions. On the upside, if you're looking for a good sounding headphone for mixing and recording, the ATH-M50X will be the best option, and they're not too expensive for their level of audio fidelity, which makes them an easy recommendation.

    See our review

  2. Better built alternative: Beyerdynamic DT 770

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want a headphone that sounds as good as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but with a better and even more durable design, then consider the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. The DT770s are a bit more expensive than the ATH M50x. They also sound slightly brighter overall, which may be an issue for mixing or recording bright tracks. They're a bit tight on some heads so they won't be as comfortable for everyone.

    On the upside, they pack quite a bit of bass that actually sounds more balanced than the slightly hyped low-end of the ATH-M50x. They have a better, more durable metal design that feels easily capable of handling the abuse of a studio-like environment. They also have large well-padded ear cups and a sturdy metal headband that you can stretch out a bit to get a better fit on larger head sizes. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 are a bit less practical overall than the ATH-M50x. They don't fold, they come with fewer accessories and their cable is not detachable. However, if you find the M50x a bit too plasticky for your taste, then the DT 770 are a great alternative with an equally good, if not better, sound that some may prefer.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Studio Headphones: Shure SRH440

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the studio design of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and want something that sounds almost as good but cheaper, then get the Shure SHR440. They have a similar design, look and feel to the ATH M50X but are slightly less durable overall. They also sound a little less balanced, don't have as much bass and can be a bit sharper on already bright tracks.

    On the upside, you still get a good sound that will reproduce most songs and instrumentals accurately. They also have a durable enough build quality for most studio use cases and they're a bit more comfortable than the M50x. Also since they are below $100, even if they break, they won't be too expensive to replace and you can get a couple if you often have a lot of artists or hosts in your studio.

    Like most studio headphones, they won't be the ideal choice for more casual use but thanks to their price to performance ratio, they may be a better value for some than the M50x.

    See our review

  4. More portable over-ear alternative: Sony MDR-7506

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the over-ear design of the Shure SRH440 and Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but want something a bit lighter, more portable, with the same level of audio fidelity, then the Sony MDR-7506 might be for you. They are not as comfortable as the SRH 440 or the M50x. Their build quality is also a little lacking. They have a sturdy metal headband and sufficiently dense earcups to survive most drops but they just look a little cheaper compared to the higher recommendations on this list. They also do not have a detachable cable like the Beyerdynamic DT 770.

    On the upside, they have a coiled cable that will stretch to 10ft so you can move around in your studio while mixing and editing without fear of losing audio. They also deliver a good, exciting sound that packs a bit more bass and treble than the Shure and Audio-Technica but this also means they won't be the most neutral and balanced when reproducing tracks. On the other hand, they are more compact than the other over-ear recommendations on this list and they're quite affordable for their sound quality.

    See our review

  5. Comfortable earbud alternative: Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If your studio environment is very sensitive to noise and leakage and you also find that over-ear designs are not very breathable, then consider the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear. They will not be the ideal choice if you have a lot of artists, guests or hosts that cycle through your studio sharing the headphones. They also do not have the build quality or durability of the over-ears on this list and they won't sound as spacious or as detailed as some of our top recommendations.

    On the other hand, if you need a headphone that you can mix or edit with and don't want the leakage of what you're listening to bleed into the track recording, then they're a great choice. If you need something compact enough to have on you at all times so you can make some last minute adjustment on your laptop while you're on the go, then they're also a great choice. They won't be the ideal headphones for studio use but their decently balanced sound, compact and comfortable earbud design that you can wear for hours, and very low leakage, mean they may be the perfect option for some.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Studio Headphones: Superlux HD 681

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you need a budget headphone for your studio and sound quality is the most important aspect, then get the Superlux HD 681; they're the best headphones for recording in this price range. Since they have a semi-open design, they won't be the ideal choice for more noise sensitive recording environments. They also look and feel like budget headphones and they are not the most comfortable headphones on this list.

    However, for their price point, they deliver a sound quality that is very hard to beat. They have a deep and powerful bass, a fairly neutral mid-range that does a good job with instruments and vocals and their treble is a little pronounced, making them sound exciting overall but also a bit sharp. Also, since they are so affordable, they're a good choice if you have a podcast with multiple hosts and lots of guests since you can always have a few pairs lying for the same price as one Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    Unfortunately, as somewhat expected for their budget price, they do not have the sturdiest design so they may not last as long as the M50x. Also, the semi-open design can be quite limiting depending on the studio use case. On the upside, they are one of best-measuring headphones and they are below $50.

    See our review

  7. Budget in-ear alternative: KZ AS-10

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Balanced Armature

    If you want a headphone as compact as the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear and prefer an in-ear design for their even better isolation performance, then the KZ AS-10 are a good choice. Unlike the other recommendations on this list, they do no have the most balanced sound, and since they are in-ears, they won't be as comfortable for long recording sessions. They're also a bit less durable overall than most of the over-ears although they do come with a detachable cable, which is nice in case you accidentally snap it while moving around in your studio.

    Like the SoundTrue, they are a pretty niche recommendation for this use case. They're a personal headset that you won't be sharing with other guests or artist, but the benefits you get from the better isolation performance of in-ears may be worth it for some. They're also very affordable, and like all the other recommendation on this list, they are wired which is great since they won't have any latency for recording.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Audio-Technica ATH-M70x. A decent alternative to the M50x if you want a sound a bit more focused on instruments and vocals. May not be worth the value See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 820. Excellent high-end design and best soundstage for a closed back headphone. Exceedingly expensive and won't be the best value for this use case. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 598 Cs. A comfortable closed-back variant of the HD598. Good sound and a good alternative to the DT 770 but not as well built. See our review
  • Sony MDR-1A. A comfortable and well-built headphone with a good sound for critical listening. A bit pricey for what they have to offer. See our review
  • 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. One of the best sounding in-ear headphones. Slightly pricier than the AS10 and not as comfortable as the SoundTrue Ultra in-ear. See our review
  • BRAINWAVZ HM5. Good sounding and well-balanced headphones but slightly cheap-looking and bulky cumbersome design. See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless. A stylish wireless over-ear that can also be used wired for studio use. Low leakage, comfortable design and decently neutral sound but short cable and too much latency when wireless. See our review
  • Sony MDR-7520. A more premium variant of the Sony MDR-7506; excellent build quality but very pricey for this use case. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. A cheaper alternative to the M50X. Similar sound but worse design and comfort. See our review
  • Logitech G433. A gaming headset with a neutral sound and a detachable mic. Slightly inconsistent with the bass range and not ideal for this use case. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II. A well rounded all around noise-canceling headset with a good sound. Too much latency when wireless and not the ideal choice for a studio use case. See our review

All Reviews

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 (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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 all our reviews for headphones. 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.

 

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