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. Studio headphones also require an instantaneous response, so latency is very important. While some wireless headphones may have low enough latency for mixing and mastering, you'll want the zero-latency response of wired headphones for recording purposes. The best wired studio headphones often have a coiled cable to give you enough range to move around your studio.
We've tested over 575 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 AKG K371 are the best studio headphones for recording that we've tested. These comfortable over-ears have a closed-back design, so you can listen to your mix without worrying about it leaking into your recording. They also come with three different cables included a long, coiled cable to give you a bit more mobility.
They have a balanced and neutral sound profile. Their bass accuracy is outstanding and flat and shouldn't overwhelm the rest of your mix. The mid-range produces clear, present, and detailed vocals and lead instruments. Although they're a bit underemphasized in the treble range, they still deliver an overall decent performance in these frequencies. They also have overall decent build quality, and the earcups can fold up so that you can take them with you on-the-go.
Unfortunately, the ear cups don't form a very tight seal around your ears, which can result in inconsistent bass and treble delivery. Their closed-back design also makes their soundstage seem closed-off, so they may not be the best choice if you plan to mix audio. However, if you're planning to only use them for recording, they offer a balanced sound profile, low leakage performance, and a couple of cable options.
If you're looking for an in-ear monitor or if you want to reduce audio leakage, take a look at the TIN Audio T3. While they're not as comfortable as the AKG K371, and their sound profile is less neutral, the TIN have an in-ear design that doesn't leak very much audio. Thanks to this design, they also deliver bass and treble more consistently and they can block out a good amount of background noise. They're more portable and well-built too. Their braided audio cable is detachable, so it's easy to replace if it gets damaged. Unfortunately, their in-ear fit also results in a closed-off, small, and unnatural soundstage, which doesn't sound as immersive as the AKG. Some users may also find their bass-heavy sound profile a bit overwhelming.
If you're looking for headphones with a larger passive soundstage and a more neutral sound profile, try the AKG. However, consider the TIN if you're looking for in-ears that leak less audio and that feel better built.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for mixing that we've tested. These very well-built open-back headphones can create an open and large soundstage that sounds natural, which is well-suited for mixing audio. Their spacious ear cups and suede-like padding also ensure a comfortable listening experience.
Thanks to their very well-balanced mid-range, vocals, and lead instruments sound clear, accurate, and detailed in your mixes. Their treble accuracy is also great, and although it's a little underemphasized across the range, the response is quite flat. They're also made from premium build materials and feel high-end overall. They come with a 1/4" TRS cable so that you can connect to a mixer or amplifier as well as a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter.
Like many other open-back headphones, they lack low-bass, so tracks lack a bit of thump and rumble. Their open-back design also makes them more prone to audio leakage, which can bother others around you. That said, they deliver a balanced sound profile and a spacious soundstage, making them suitable for mixing audio.
If you're looking for headphones that can reproduce more low-bass, consider the HiFiMan Arya. While they're not as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, and they don't come with an extra audio cable, The HiFiMan have a planar magnetic transducer that helps reproduce a more neutral bass response. Overall, they have a very neutral sound profile as well as a large and immersive soundstage. They also have a comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long days at the studio without feeling too much fatigue. While they don't feel as premium as the Sennheiser, they still have a great build quality that seems sturdy and durable. However, due to their open-back design, they leak a lot of audio, which could become an annoyance to those around you.
Check out the Sennheiser if you prioritize a wider, more spacious passive soundstage. However, try the HiFiMan if you're looking for more extended low-bass from your headphones.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are the best wireless studio headphones that we've tested. Although most people usually use wired headphones in a studio, some may prefer a wireless design so they can move more freely when mixing and mastering tracks. However, most wireless headphones use Bluetooth, which can have very high audio lag. These offer a good counter to this concern as they use non-Bluetooth wireless technology via their transmitter base to help ensure low latency.
Once you take the time to properly fit them to your head, they have a fairly neutral sound profile that's suitable for a variety of audio genres. If you need to tweak their sound, their companion software offers a graphic EQ and presets, so you can adjust them to your needs. They also have a comfortable, ski-band headband design with spacious and well-padded ear cups, and they come with two swappable batteries. Each battery has a continuous playback time of over 15 hours, and you can recharge the one you're not using by placing it directly inside the transmitter base.
Unfortunately, even though they have a closed-back design, they leak a bit of audio. They also have really inconsistent bass and treble delivery. On the upside, once you take the time to adjust their fit, you should be able to achieve a more consistent frequency response. While they may not be the first choice for professionals looking to record or mix audio, the SteelSeries can be a suitable choice for those looking for a wireless design with low latency and a fairly neutral sound profile.
The best studio headphones at a budget price point that we've tested are the Superlux HD 681. Despite their budget-friendly price, these over-ears have a very well-balanced sound profile, with full-bodied, present, and clear vocals and lead instrumentals as well as a relatively deep and extended bass range, so they should suit a wide mix of musical genres.
They're also quite comfortable, courtesy of their lightweight design and spacious ear cups that should accommodate a wide variety of head and ear shapes, so you shouldn't experience too much discomfort, even during extended listening sessions. They deliver audio quite consistently and have an expansive, speaker-like soundstage.
Unfortunately, their all-plastic construction feels quite cheap and flimsy, which isn't entirely surprising given their price. They also don't use a detachable audio cable, so if it gets damaged, the entire unit would need to be replaced. Otherwise, if you're looking for cheap headphones with a large soundstage and well-balanced sound profile, these are a great choice.
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.
Feb 08, 2021: We've verified the text for accuracy and ensured the products' availability. We haven't changed any of our recommendations.
Dec 22, 2020: Replaced Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO with Sennheiser HD 560S. Added HifiMan ANANDA-BT Wireless, Philips Fidelio X3, and Philips SHP9600 to 'Notable Mentions'.
Oct 26, 2020: Minor updates to the text for accuracy and clarity.
Jul 28, 2020: Added Philips Fidelio X2HR to 'Notable Mentions'.
Feb 12, 2020: Complete article overhaul to better pinpoint the differences in studio headphones.
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.