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 670 pairs of headphones, and below you'll find our recommendations for studio use. 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 headphones we've tested for studio use 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.
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 10 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 Sony MDR-7506 are the best headphones for recording that we've tested. These headphones have a closed-back design, which helps lower the risk of your audio bleeding into a recording. They also have a decently comfortable fit that's well-built.
These retro over-ears deliver audio consistently across reseats and have a neutral sound profile. Although they have a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom to their sound, it doesn't overwhelm vocals and lead instruments. The mid-range is very flat, so they're accurately reproduced. Their coiled audio cable also helps prevent tangles if you like to move around the studio.
Unfortunately, they struggle to block out ambient noise like ambient chatter. Their build also feels plasticky and cheap, so they can make a creaking sound when you put them on your head. However, if you don't mind their build, they offer a well-balanced sound suitable for recording.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for mixing that we've tested. These premium open-back headphones create an exceptionally wide, spacious, and out-of-head passive soundstage. They have a sturdy, high-end build and a very comfortable fit.
Their sound profile is very neutral, with an accurate mid-range response that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound clear and accurate. Their treble response is also very well-balanced, so instruments are present and detailed without being piercing or harsh. Their audio cable is detachable, and they come with one extra in the box, along with a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter.
Unfortunately, like most open-back headphones, they struggle to reproduce the thump and rumble of low bass. Also, the pin that keeps the hinges together is prone to coming loose over time, which is annoying, and some may prefer a bit less plastic in the build at their price. If you're looking for headphones for mixing with neutral sound and an immersive soundstage, they're worth considering.
The best planar magnetic studio headphones we've tested are the HiFiMan Edition XS. You may prefer planar magnetic headphones if you want an immersive passive soundstage for mixing. They have large drivers that are better able to represent the stereo image, and as a result, their soundstage seems natural, wide, and spacious.
They have a very neutral sound profile, resulting in vocals and lead instruments that sound clear and present. They have an excellent treble response, adding a touch of brightness to sibilants like cymbals without making them piercing. Although they're large in design, they're well-built and reproduce audio consistently across multiple reseats.
Due to their heavy and typically-designed headband, they're not as comfortable as the HiFiMan Arya. Their plastic hinges also feel a bit cheap and seem like they could be prone to damage over time. However, these planar magnetic headphones have a few benefits compared to more common dynamic headphones that are worth checking out, especially if you value passive soundstage.
The Superlux HD 681 are the best budget studio headphones we've tested. These wired over-ear headphones have a semi-open design, which helps them create a more immersive and spacious-seeming passive soundstage than most closed-back headphones. It also means they leak less audio than most open-back headphones.
They're comfortable and have a fairly neutral sound profile, so they're suitable for most genres and types of content. They have a very flat mid-range response, ensuring that vocals and lead instruments are accurate and clear. While the slightly over-emphasized treble gives them a slightly sharp sound, some may prefer this for studio work because it helps to bring out details and emphasize imperfections in tracks.
Unfortunately, they have a flimsy, plasticky build quality and don't feel very durable. Users with thick hair or who wear glasses may also experience a drop in bass since this can break the ear cups' seal on your head. They have fairly consistent audio delivery, and if you're looking for affordable studio headphones, these offer a comfortable fit, well-balanced sound, and an immersive passive soundstage.
May 17, 2022: We removed the TIN Audio T3 from our picks. Also removed the HiFiMan ANANDA-BT Wireless, Shure SRH 440, Philips SHP9600, SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, and Philips Fidelio X3 from Notable Mentions. We replaced the HiFiMan Arya with the HiFiMan Edition XS.
Mar 30, 2022: Added the HiFiMan Edition XS to Notable Mentions.
Jan 28, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations in their categories and that the products are in stock.
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.
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.