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 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 nearly 400 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 tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They provide excellent value for the price thanks to their studio-friendly design and faithful audio reproduction. They have a durable, comfortable design with large ear cups and a padded headband, which makes them perfect for long studio sessions.
They reproduce audio very accurately without too much leakage, so they're a great choice whether you're recording, mixing, or mastering. They also come with three detachable cable options, one of which is coiled and can stretch up to 10 feet to accommodate for different studio setups. This way, if a cable breaks, you won't have to worry about replacing the headphones entirely.
While these headphones reproduce audio very accurately, they do show a bit of variation in the bass range across different users. This means you might find that they pack a stronger punch than someone else if you get a tighter fit and seal than they do. That said, the differences shouldn't be too noticeable. Even if you do find they have a bit more bass than what we measured, they're still very well-balanced and remain the most versatile studio headphones we've tested so far.
If you prefer more portable studio headphones, then get the Sony MDR-7506. Most people don't find them as comfortable as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but they're easier to carry around on-the-go since they fold up into an even more compact format. They place a bit extra emphasis on the deep thump of low-bass and the presence of lead vocals and instruments, which results in a slightly excited sound that many producers enjoy. They may not feel the most durable, especially since their cable isn't detachable, but it's easy to see why they've been the industry standard in audio production for years.
Get the M50x if you're looking for something more durable and comfortable with a more neutral audio reproduction, but if you want a more portable design to carry along with you from studio to studio, then you'll want to consider the MDR-7506.
If you’re looking for open-back studio headphones that feel built to last, then get the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. Their cable isn’t detachable and it’s only about 4 feet long, which is a bit disappointing considering the cable options you get with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but they have less moving parts in their build, which makes them feel sturdier overall. They reproduce audio faithfully with enough bass for accurate mixing; however, their open-back design leaks a lot of sound, which makes them less ideal for studio recording.
Get the Audio-Technica if you need the versatility of a closed-back design, but if you find open-back headphones less fatiguing for long mixing sessions, you'll want to go for the Beyerdynamic.
If your studio recording setup is particularly noise-sensitive and you’re looking for in-ear headphones that leak very little sound, get the 1More Triple Driver. Even at loud volumes, they don't leak very much sound, which is important if you’re recording instruments or vocals with a microphone.
These in-ears reproduce audio very accurately so you can hear what you’re recording as intended. They’re very breathable, so you won’t need to worry about feeling overheated while wearing bulky over-ears and they’re also super portable, which is great if you’re always recording on-the-go.
On the downside, their in-ear fit isn’t as comfortable to wear for as long periods as some of the over-ear recommendations on this list. They also don’t feel as well-built as some of the other in-ears we’ve tested, like the KZ AS10, but their earbuds are less bulky which makes them a bit more comfortable for some people. Overall, they’re decent in-ears for critical listening and are a solid choice if you want something with low leakage for studio recording.
If you need in-ears for studio recording but want something that feels built to last, then get the TIN Audio T3. They’re less comfortable than the 1More Triple Driver, but their cables are detachable so they can be replaced if broken. They also have a more stable ear hook-like fit, so they’re less likely to fall out of your ears while recording. They sound decent overall, but have slightly overemphasized bass and can make sibilants like S or T sounds rather harsh and sharp.
You’ll want the 1More if you prefer a more neutral sound, but if durability is what you’re after, the TIN Audio T3 are a good choice.
Wireless headphones generally aren’t ideal for studio use, but if you’re dead set on a wireless design, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. It may seem odd to get a gaming headset for studio use, but they sound great and have low wireless latency thanks to their base transmitter, which makes them suitable for mixing and mastering.
These headphones have an impressively neutral audio reproduction, which is important when you’re trying to mix a track just right. Their wireless transmitter is easy to set up, so you don’t have to waste too much time pairing them to your devices, and they have a swappable dual battery system which means you’ll be able to use them wirelessly for as long as you want if you always keep one battery charged.
Though 37 ms of latency should be fine for mixing or mastering, it’ll still be too high for most studio recording. Thankfully, you can use these headphones wired with any regular audio cable to eliminate latency when needed. They’re rather bulky for studio use, but if a wireless design is very important to you, they should still serve you fairly well in the studio.
If the idea of a gaming headset doesn’t appeal to you, then the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are the next best option. They don't come with an EQ like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, but they have a more casual design that makes them more versatile if you also want to use them on-the-go and support aptX-LL for lower Bluetooth latency. You’ll likely need to purchase a dedicated Bluetooth adapter since most computers don’t have aptX-LL built-in, and they’ll still have too much latency for recording, but they should be fine for mixing or mastering. They sound very well-balanced overall, but their low-bass is strongly overemphasized, so you’ll want to take that into account in your mixes.
You'll want to go for the Arctis Pro Wireless if you prefer the ease-of-use of added functionality of their dedicated wireless transmitter, but if you want a more casual wireless design and are okay with having to adjust your mixing style a bit and getting a separate Bluetooth adapter, then get the BackBeat Pro 2.
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 UR20, but their build quality still doesn’t inspire much confidence. Their ear cup 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.
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.
10/31/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.