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 the creator. Also, depending on the studio use, leakage may also be a big deciding factor as well as the durability, comfort, and of course the price of the headphones. The best studio headphones typically do well in all of these regards and may even come with a coiled cable to give you enough range when moving around in your studio without any latency issues.
We've tested more than 367 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best studio headphones to buy in 2019. See also 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 we’ve reviewed so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They sound great and reproduce audio as intended. They have a durable, comfortable design with large ear cups and a padded headband, which makes them perfect for long studio sessions.
Their bass is excellent, providing depth and rumble without being overbearing. Their mid-range is also relatively even and neutral but lends a bit more room to deeper sounds like the punch of kick drums, slightly thinning out vocals and lead instruments. Their treble response is a bit more uneven, but not significantly so, and is still well-balanced enough to reproduce bright and bass-heavy tracks with a high level of audio fidelity, especially given their price. They also come with a couple of cable options, including a coiled cable that can stretch up to 10ft, to accommodate for different studio setups.
They do get a bit heavy with time and are less breathable and stable-fitting than the even better-built Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. They might not feel totally secure on your head if you’re moving around the studio and your ears will get a bit warm after a while. That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are still going to last a very long time and are very good critical listening headphones that are excellent for the studio.
If you’re looking for sturdy, well-built studio headphones that feel ready to take on whatever you throw at them, get the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. Their cable isn’t detachable and it’s only about 4 feet long, which is a bit disappointing considering the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x come with 3 detachable cables running up to 10 feet long, but these headphones have an overall more premium, durable build. They sound great and reproduce audio faithfully.
Unfortunately, they leak quite a bit of sound, which means they’re not ideal to use if you’re recording a podcast or instruments for a new track. However, they’re still a good choice for mixing or mastering. If you actually prefer an open-back design and don’t mind leakage at all, they're definitely worth considering. Overall, they’re both well-built headphones that sound great and provide a solid alternative to the M50x.
If you like the studio design of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and want something that sounds almost as good but are cheaper, then get the Shure SRH 440. They feel slightly less durable than the Audio-Technica, but they’re more comfortable, which is great for long recording or mixing sessions. They have a professional studio look and come with a detachable coiled cable.
They have decent leakage performance, which is important when recording. Since they’re cheaper than the Audio-Technica, they won’t be as painful to replace if they ever do break. You could even get a couple of extra pairs if you often host guest artists in your studio.
Compared to the M50x, these headphones sound a little less balanced, don't have as much bass, and can be a bit sharper on already bright tracks. However, they still sound good overall and reproduce most songs and instrumentals accurately. Like most studio headphones, they’re not ideal for more casual use, but thanks to their great price-to-performance ratio, they may provide better value for some than the M50x.
If you’re drawn to the iconic 90s aesthetic of the Sony MDR line-up and prefer more portable studio headphones, then get the Sony MDR-7506. They’re not as comfortable as the Shure SRH 440 for most people, but they can fold up into an even more compact format which makes them easier to carry around on-the-go. They have slightly over-emphasized bass and treble compared to the Shure, but sound well-balanced overall.
On the downside, they don’t feel like the most durable headphones out there. Although they come with a nice coiled cable, it’s not detachable, so if it breaks, you’ll need to replace the headphones entirely. The cable’s also quite heavy and adds a fair bit of bulk to the headphones. That said, it’s no mystery why these headphones have been the industry standard in audio production for years. They’re portable studio headphones that sound good and are very reasonably priced.
If you’re trying to keep your headphone expenses to a minimum and aren’t concerned about leakage, the best budget studio headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Superlux HD 681. They’re not as well-built as the other options on this list, but they sound great for their price and have a lightweight design that’s comfortable enough to wear for a while.
These headphones sound great. They have a very well-balanced sound with virtually flawless bass and a very flat and even mid-range. Their mid-range is slightly underemphasized, nudging vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix, but this effect is very subtle. Their treble performance is reasonable, but some may find these headphones sound a bit sibilant. That said, they have a surprisingly decent soundstage thanks to their semi-open design, which can be helpful while mixing.
Unfortunately, they feel very cheaply made. They feel a bit more durable than the even cheaper Koss UR-20, but their build still doesn’t inspire much confidence. Their earcup padding is also a bit stiff, which can take some getting used to. If you don’t mind spending a bit more and prefer an entirely open-back design, the better-built and more comfortable Philips SHP9500 may be worth the investment. Their bass performance is less accurate though, so for studio use, the Superlux are a decent choice overall.
If your studio recording setup is particularly noise-sensitive and you’re looking for headphones with very little leakage, get the TIN Audio T3. Their in-ear fit isn’t as comfortable to wear for long periods as some of the over-ear recommendations on this list, but they barely leak any sound at all, even at loud volumes. They reproduce audio fairly accurately and are very well-built for relatively inexpensive in-ear headphones.
Unfortunately, they can sound a bit sibilant, which means that S or T sounds can sound a bit harsh, but not everyone experiences this equally. They come with a sturdy, braided detachable cable and solid metal earbuds, and are all-around decent in-ear headphones for studio use.
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 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.