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The 7 Best Studio Headphones For Mixing And Recording - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated May 13, 2024 at 12:39 pm
Best Headphones For Studio

If you need a pair of headphones for use in a studio, finding the right option 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, many sound engineers may prefer more spacious and immersive open-back headphones for mixing as they can be more comfortable after a long day in the studio. Many of the best studio headphones also often have a coiled cable to give you enough range to move around your studio.

We've tested over 785 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.

  1. Best Closed-Back Studio Headphones

    The best studio headphones with a closed-back design are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Closed-back headphones are well-suited for recording audio, as their design helps block out some background noise, so you can still monitor your audio without completely tuning out what's happening around you. They also leak less audio than open-backs, which is great for live sessions. However, they still bleed some audio at high 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. These popular wired over-ears are well-known within the recording community. Despite their relatively low price point, they provide amazing value and feel surprisingly well-built and durable. 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. They're comfortable, and their ear cups can swivel.

    You can also find the popular Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO at this price point; they're a viable alternative with minor differences. They're similarly comfortable but have a wider, more spacious passive soundstage. They also have an analytical sound profile, which can help highlight imperfections in your audio. However, this sound can be fatiguing over time.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Studio Headphones

    For something a little more wallet-friendly, try the Sony MDR-7506. These retro over-ears have been a studio mainstay thanks to their well-balanced sound and closed-back design, which helps lower the risk of your audio bleeding into a recording. Although they have a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom to their sound, it doesn't overwhelm vocals and lead instruments, as the mid-range is very flat. They also deliver audio consistently across reseats and have a decent leakage performance, which is good if you're monitoring audio at a reasonable volume. Unfortunately, they struggle to block out ambient noise like background chatter.

    Their coiled audio cable helps prevent tangles if you like to move around the studio. However, manufacturers tend to make cuts to build quality at this price point. Unlike the more expensive Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, the Sony headphones' audio cable isn't detachable, so if it gets damaged, you'll need to replace the entire unit, unless you're handy with a soldering iron and can perform repairs. Their build also feels cheap despite having metal and plastic parts, so they can make a creaking sound when you put them on your head. However, they offer a well-balanced sound suitable for recording. Because they were originally designed with repairs in mind, they have screws so you can remove and replace parts more easily than on most modern headphones, even if they don't feel premium.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Closed-Back Studio Headphones

    Prime Day Deal: The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x has dropped in price by $42 at

    If you're on a tight budget or need several pairs of headphones and want an affordable option, it's worth considering the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X. These headphones aren't as well-built as the Sony MDR-7506, but they offer good sound at a lower price. They look similar to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but have a more plasticky design with a thinner metal frame and exposed cables.

    Their sound lacks a bit of low bass for closed-back headphones, but they offer a flat, neutral mid-range response that reproduces voices and instruments clearly and accurately. However, their significant treble roll-off makes sibilants like cymbals and S and T sound dull and lispy. Still, they have consistent audio delivery, so you're more likely to hear the same sound across reseats, and they have a decently comfortable fit for long hours in the studio. If you're dealing with a tight budget or buying a few pairs of headphones in bulk for tracking in a studio, they're decent performers.

    See our review

  4. Best Open-Back Studio Headphones

    If you prefer open-backs, then the Sennheiser HD 800 S are worth considering. Compared to closed-back headphones, which are better for recording, open-backs are a solid choice for mixing. Thanks to their design, audio leaves the ear cups and interacts with the environment around you, helping create a more immersive and natural soundstage. While the Sennheiser are the best open-back headphones, they come with a hefty price tag, meaning they won't be for everyone. You'll also need a powerful amp to drive them, so if you don't already have one, this can be an additional cost.

    These premium open-back headphones have a very neutral sound profile, with an accurate mid-range response that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound clear and accurate. Their treble response is also very well-balanced without being piercing or harsh. Like most open-back headphones, they struggle to reproduce the thump and rumble of low bass. Their audio cable is detachable, and they come with one extra in the box, along with a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter.

    They also have a sturdy, high-end build and a very comfortable fit. Unfortunately, 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. The equally high-end HiFiMan Arya Stealth Magnet Version don't suffer from this problem and have a deeper bass extension, but their planar magnetic drivers make them bulkier and heavier. That said, they're still worth considering for mixing.

    See our review

  5. Best Mid-Range Open-Back Studio Headphones

    Are you looking for something more affordable? Take a look at the HiFiMan Edition XS. These use planar magnetic drivers to help them create an immersive, open, and natural-seeming soundstage well-suited for mixing and mastering. Still, their performance is similar to HiFiMan's pricier models if you want more affordable planar magnetics. They have a neutral sound profile that makes them well-suited for various genres. They lack some low bass, like all open-back headphones, but the rest of the range is well-balanced, so your audio has punch. Voices and instruments sound clear, detailed, and bright.

    Their build quality suffers due to their plastic-heavy construction and flimsy hinges. If you're looking for a pair of open-back cans that feel more durable and feature premium materials, it's worth looking at the Audeze MM-100. These headphones also feature planar magnetic drivers, creating an open and spacious soundstage. However, their sound profile isn't quite as balanced as the HiFiMan, as their treble range is recessed. This can be an advantage if you plan to use them for long mix sessions, as your ears won't become as fatigued over time.

    See our review

  6. Best Lower Mid-Range Open-Back Studio Headphones

    The best lower mid-range open-back studio headphones we've tested are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. These headphones use dynamic drivers, which is more common for cheaper headphones. They don't create a passive soundstage that is as spacious or natural as the HiFiMan Edition XS, but on the plus side, they deliver more bass overall, so your music has more punch and warmth. Their sound profile is excited instead of neutral, which is versatile but might not suit people looking for the most accurate response. Instruments and vocals sound bright but can also be slightly piercing.

    They're heavier than the HiFiMan but have a comfortable fit for most people. They have great overall build quality, but the audio cable isn't detachable, so you must replace or repair the headphones if they get damaged. If you're also considering closed-back headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X are similarly well-built, comfortable, and have a detachable audio cable. Their sound is less boomy, but they have an underemphasized treble response, so instruments and vocals sound somewhat veiled.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Open-Back Studio Headphones

    The Superlux HD 681 are the best budget studio headphones we've tested. At this price point, there are few choices for open-back headphones. Many of them, including the Superlux, have a flimsy, plasticky build quality and don't feel very durable. However, these over-ears are worth considering if you're okay with compromising. They have a semi-open-back design, which leaks less audio than most open-back headphones. It also helps them create a more immersive and spacious-seeming passive soundstage than most closed-back headphones. However, it's less spacious than true open-backs like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO.

    They're comfortable and have a fairly neutral sound profile, so they're suitable for most genres and types of content. They have a flat mid-range response, ensuring that vocals and lead instruments are accurate and clear. While the slightly over-emphasized treble gives them a somewhat sharp sound, some may prefer this for studio work because it helps to highlight details and emphasize the tracks' imperfections. Users with thick hair or who wear glasses may experience a drop in bass, which can break the ear cups' seal on your head.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • AKG K371: The AKG K371 are closed-backs with a pretty neutral sound profile and a great leakage performance, making them a viable alternative to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. However, they aren't as well-built, and they're prone to more inconsistencies in audio delivery. See our review
  • HiFiMan Ananda: The HiFiMan Ananda are open-back, planar magnetic headphones that deliver an exceptional soundstage. However, their sound profile isn't as balanced as the HiFiMan Edition XS, and they're more prone to inconsistencies in their audio delivery, although this is still minor. See our review
  • HiFiMan Sundara 2020: The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are open-back, planar magnetic headphones. They're more comfortable than the HiFiMan Edition XS, but their passive soundstage isn't as immersive, and they're more prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery. See our review
  • Philips Fidelio X2HR: The Philips Fidelio X2HR are well-built open-back headphones with a more immersive soundstage than the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO and a flatter, less bright treble range. However, they lack more low-bass and are bulky, which some users may not like. See our review
  • Philips SHP9600: The Philips SHP9600 are well-built, open-back headphones. While they're more comfortable than the Superlux HD 681 and feature a detachable cable design, their sound profile isn't quite as balanced, and their open-back nature means they struggle to produce low-bass frequencies. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 490 PRO: The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are a worthy set of open-back headphones that weigh less than HiFiMan Edition XS, and they come with two different sets of comfortable ear pads. However, the HiFiMan Edition XS have a more open and immersive passive soundstage. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 560S: The Sennheiser HD 560S are open-backs with a neutral sound and a decent passive soundstage performance. They offer performance similar to the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, but their build is more flimsy. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 13, 2024: The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO have been added as a Notable Mention with some additional text added for context to the Sony MDR-7506 and Audio-Technica ATH-M20x.

  2. Mar 14, 2024: We've checked this article to ensure all the information is accurate and up-to-date, and our picks remain the same.

  3. Jan 19, 2024: We've added the Audeze MM-100 as a comparison for our mid-range open-back pick and checked to ensure all other picks remain in stock.

  4. Nov 22, 2023: The Philips SHP9500 has been discontinued, so we've replaced it with the Philips SHP9600 in the Notable Mentions. We've also updated the text to ensure our top picks are still in stock.

  5. Sep 25, 2023: Made minor updates to the text and checked that the products are in stock.

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 (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.