15 Best Studio Headphones For Mixing & Recording In 2017

No matter if you are a professional musician or an ordinary person that simply loves quality melodies, we are sure that you will find something for yourself on our list of 15 best studio headphones for mixing and recording.

It is general belief that things like these are used only by DJs, producers, singers and other musicians that make music for living, but that’s actually not true. In our opinion, every person should get opportunity to try a pair of studio headphones and at least once hear his/her favorite song as the musician wanted it to sound.

What are Studio Headphones?

Studio headphones represent special type of headphones originally invented for use in studios for recording and mixing and in radio stations for production and post-production activities. They weren’t invented and designed to be trendy, but to do their job in the best possible way and remain comfortable during many hours of wearing. That has been their main purpose during all these years of their existence, so those who thought differently, definitely got them wrong.

The job that studio headphones do is delivering high-quality, detailed sound to users’ ears. Quality sound in this context has nothing to do with high-end sound or extreme bass-boost. The quality of sound that studio headphones deliver means natural, detailed and real sound with flat frequency response. It is non-colored sound without any additives.

What Types of Studio Headphones are There?

When speaking about types of studio headphones, we can say that they can be either closed-back, open-back or semi-open headphones, but they are always over-ear models. Over-ear headphones are used when users want to hear and feel the music better, to know all the details and all its beauty as well as flaws, but they are also used to increase comfort level because they are designed mostly for professional usage.

Besides that, we can say that there are three types of studio headphones, which are used in different situations and have mainly different purposes, although many people would say that all of them can be used in all situations.

  • Closed-back headphones

Closed-back headphones are commonly used by professionals, but there is also a lot of models made for everyday use that have this exact closed-back design. Closed-back headphones have completely closed front side of the ear cup so that no sound can leak. That is quite handy when listening to something in crowded places, such as metro, at libraries, etc.

Closed-back studio headphones have common purpose. In studios, musicians use these headphones when singing or playing instruments. In these situations, they use microphones and if there were some sound leakage, mics would pick up the sound coming from the headphones and the recording would be ruined. They keep the sound in user’s ears and cut out external noises, so they can hear melodies better.

The downsides of closed-back headphones are sound building up in the cups when working in studios and unawareness of your environment when using them in everyday life.

  • Open-back headphones

This type of headphones delivers more natural sound than closed-back headphones. That’s because the front side of their ear cups is open and it looks like some kind of mesh or grill.

Open-back headphones are very popular, no matter if they are consumer or studio headphones. They are used when users have to or want to be aware of their environment. That can be a good thing when crossing the street or working in an office. Professional musicians also prefer these over closed-back when they have to mix some music. Open-back headphones are better for mixing rather than recording because closed-back headphones often accrue sound (lower bass frequencies) and that can cause some problems in mixing process. Open-back headphones provide clear and flavor-free sound – the exact thing you need when mixing.

Some of the problems you might encounter when using these headphones are sound leakage that might annoy people around you or simply endanger your privacy, but also the lack of noise isolation.

  • Semi-open headphones

Semi-open headphones have been made in order to combine the best features from the previous two types and make one type of headphones that can be used in all situations. Some might say that it is possible, but the truth is their quality varies. Some of them offer little sound leakage and good noise reduction, but it doesn’t mean they are perfect for professional use. They are better for everyday use, because they give users the possibility to focus on their work or the thing they are listening to, and still have some touch with the outside world.

Although you will probably achieve best results by using the type of headphones predicted for certain activity, we can’t deny that there are some excellent pairs of headphones on the market that can be used for everything and deliver great results. Some of those headphones you can find on our list of 15 best studio headphones for mixing and recording. We tried not to forget about all the beginners, who shouldn’t spend insanely big amount of money on their first pair of studio headphones. On this list, they can find some cheaper but quality headphones.

Best Studio Headphones For Mixing & Recording In 2017 – Top 15

Best Studio HeadphonesModelRatingPrice
Sony MDR75064.6$70 - $100
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x4.6$140 - $180
Sennheiser HD 6504.6$350 - $400
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x4.5$80 - $120
Beyerdynamic DT 7704.5$150 - $190
Samson SR8504.5$30 - $50
Sennheiser HD 8004.4$900 - $1100
AKG K 2404.3$60 - $90
AKG K7024.4$200 - $250
Sennheiser HD 2804.3$80 - $120
Beyerdynamic DT 9904.3$120 - $160
AKG Q 7014.1$200 - $350
Shure SRH8404.0$140 - $190
Direct Sound EX-293.7$100 - $150
Focal Spirit3.7$300 - $350

What Makes Studio Headphones Different from Consumer Headphones?

As we have already said, professional studio headphones are invented to deliver natural and neutral sound in order to get the best possible final result – harmony of voices and melody.

The main difference between them and consumer headphones is the way those headphones were made and designed, starting from coiled cables, across the types of drivers used, all the way to the sound quality.

Studio headphones are concentrated on quality and consumer headphones are concentrated on being trendy and making more money, mostly on the looks and bass boost. We can’t say that there’s no bass in the sound that studio headphones deliver. There is and it would be strange if the bass wasn’t present. The problem with consumer headphones is that they are made for specific music genre and manufacturers change the sound with every new released model. They don’t deliver completely natural sound. It is rather colored with bass, treble or something else, while vocals often remain in the background.

Creators of studio headphones make a lot of research in order to find the best possible way to create music and if their creations are expensive, that’s because they have made great effort to create the best possible model. On the other hand, creators of consumer headphones don’t put so much effort into scientific researching; they mostly research the market in order to find the model and the type of sound that can be nicely advertised and sold, and these expenses are covered by big prices.

So, don’t be fooled by the price. There are so many expensive things out there. Their quality differs and you should carefully go through the characteristics of certain products in order to find out which one is the best for you and which one offers real quality, not only shiny bright colors. The following list of 15 best studio headphones for mixing and recording can help you a lot to decide what model you should buy based on your needs, preferences, and budget.

The List of 15 Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Recording


Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones

Approximate Price: $80.00

The first pair of headphones on our list is Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones and we have some serious reasons for that. Besides the fact that Sony has been present on the market for a very long time and that its name is a synonym for quality and great sound, MDR7506 have been rated by numerous musicians as one of the best professional headphones at affordable price and that they have been produced and successfully sold since 1991.

These headphones don’t have distinctive and attractive design like numerous consumer headphones, but they don’t really need one. They are simple and they come in black color, so you can easily match them with other accessories. MDR7506 have specific size of the cups that cause problems for some people. The cups are not typical over-ear cups, but something between that and on-ear cups. For most of users, these headphones are completely comfortable, but some said that their ears hurt after shorter period of wearing these headphones, in spite of thick soft pads. The headband is quite comfortable and stable on the head. Its size is also adjustable to the size of user’s head. MDR7506 have 10-inch long coiled audio cable with 3.5 mm gold-plated connector.

MDR7506 weigh only 8.1 ounces although they have more metal parts than many heavier headphones. There have been some complaints about their durability, but most customers were satisfied. These headphones come with soft carrying case and one 6.3 mm plug adapter, so if you travel a lot, we advise you to buy sturdy carrying case for transporting headphones.

These headphones have 40 mm driver with neodymium magnets, their frequency response is 10-20 kHz, impedance is 63 Ohms (slightly higher than average) and their sensitivity is 106 dB/W/m. If we add to that closed-back racetrack design of ear cups that offer great noise reduction, we get superb sound with good lows, nice mids, and crisp highs. MDR7506 are great no matter what type of music you are listening to; they will send to your ears pleasant natural, real and detailed sound. It is so detailed that these headphones are great not only for recording, but they are often used for mixing, although they aren’t open-back headphones.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Affordable price

Simple design

Movable ear cups, thick pads, and soft comfortable headband

Made mostly from metal

Great natural and detailed sound

Some people have problems with cup size

Audio cable is not detachable


Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Monitor Headphones

Approximate Price: $149.00

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x aren’t the best professional headphones in the world, they are more somewhere in between professional and consumer headphones but many people are satisfied with the quality of the sound they deliver and that’s the most important thing about them.

ATH-M50x come in black and white colors and they come in wired and wireless modes (with the help of Bluetooth adapter that is bought separately). Their design is not stylish at all, it is rather plastic and cheap. However, these are one of the most comfortable over-ear closed-back headphones available on the market. The headband is soft and comfortable and you can also adjust its size to the size of your head. Ear cups have thick soft circumaural pads covered with leather material that lays nicely on your ears and doesn’t make them sore even after many hours of wearing. In addition, ATH-M50x are quite lightweight, although their 10 ounces is more than many other professional headphones.

These headphones come with 3 different detachable audio cables (one straight 1.2 m long cable, one 1.8 m straight cable and one 1.2 m to 3 m coiled cable) and one textile carrying case. Every cable has 3.5 mm connector and the connector that goes into ear cup works in “twist-to-lock” mode. The carrying case is used for transporting headphones and these headphones are perfect for that because the cups can swivel for 90 degrees. However, we would recommend buying hard case, because these headphones do not cost just a few bucks and you shouldn’t risk damaging them.

ATH-M50x are made from plastic mostly and that’s one of the reasons people complain about their durability. One of the things that can be replaced are ear pads and they get worn off very fast.  Many people had bad experience with them because the paint on the pads started to peel off very soon after purchase.

When it comes to sound quality, we have to say it is great. ATH-M50x have deep bass, nice mids and highs and the sound is very natural and detailed, which is perfect for studio activities. ATH-M50x sound like that because of 45 mm drivers, 15-28,000 Hz frequency response, 38-Ohm impedance and sensitivity of 98 dB. The drivers have earth magnets and aluminum coils and the frequency rate is a bit extended, which enables delivering more detailed and accurate sound and every professional musician will appreciate that. Although these headphones don’t use ANC technology, they offer great passive noise reduction, which will definitely be enough to make many users satisfied.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Very comfortable, soft and lightweight

Ear cups can swivel for 90 degrees

Adjustable headband

3 detachable audio cables included in the package

Twist-to-lock mechanism

Great sound quality (natural and extremely detailed sound)

Good passive noise reduction

Unattractive design

Poor construction quality


Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

Approximate Price: $375.00

Sennheiser HD 650 are one of the best full-size open-back models made by Sennheiser. They come in only one color and the titanium-silver finish gives them elegant look. They aren’t too big like some other over-ear headphones; although they weigh 9.1 ounces, they aren’t heavy at all and the size of their ear cups is perfect for nice snug and comfortable fit. On the cups, there are thick soft oval pads adjusted to the shape of human ears and covered in soft velour, which guarantees practically no pressure to your ears and no sweating during many hours of using headphones. The headband is adjustable and it also has thick cushioning that lowers down the amount of pressure to the top of your head. The audio cable is different from the cables that most of studio headphones have. HD 650 have Y-shaped 10-inch long cable so that both ear cups are wired. However, the cable is detachable, which is great because, in case of damaging, you will be able to easily replace it.

HD 650 come with 3.5 mm converter for the original 6.3 mm gold-plated connector that is on the cable. You won’t get any carrying case, so we advise buying one for safe transport.

These headphones are made from quality plastic and they are rated as very durable, although some users had problems with headband, which is prone to cracking. In case it happens, you will have serious problems with comfort, because the headphones will put much more pressure to your head and their weight won’t be evenly distributed on your head. However, the cracking is not common with these headphones and in most cases, they last for years.

As far as sound is concerned, we must say we weren’t surprised because great sound quality is something you expect from Sennheiser. As you can expect from a pair of professional studio headphones, these offer superb natural, clear and detailed sound. That is mostly because Sennheiser used 40 mm dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets and acoustic silk, which lowers down frequency range and reduces total harmonic distortion (THD) to 0.5% and that is really amazing. Frequency response is extended (10 – 39,500 Hz), sensitivity is 103 dB and impedance 300 Ohms. When you see specifications like these, you can be sure that you have found the right pair of headphones for mixing music in studios. Of course, these can be used also by audiophiles and ordinary people who love real and detailed sound.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Elegant and attractive design

Extremely comfortable headband and circumaural cups

Velour pads for improved comfort

Replaceable audio cable

Excellent natural and detailed sound for both professionals and audiophiles

There were examples of headband cracking after some time


Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Monitor Headphones

Approximate Price: $100.00

ATH-M40x are one of the cheapest professional headphones which quality can easily compete with the quality of much more expensive brands. Audio-Technica didn’t pay enough attention to the design of these headphones, but everything else is quite satisfying.

ATH-M40x come only in black color with silver details on ear cups around AT logo. The design itself is a bit boring and unattractive compared to consumer headphones and even many professional, but that’s not the most important thing when purchasing studio headphones. They have thick cushioning on the headband, which is very comfortable and can also be adjusted to the size and shape of your head. Ear cups are closed and they can swivel for 90 degrees, which makes them easier for wearing and adjusting to your head. Ear cups have thick pads covered in some kind of leather, which lays nicely around ears and doesn’t make them sweat, although you will notice that they do get a bit warm after some time. ATH-M40x are wired headphones with detachable audio cable, connected to the right ear cup. The cable ends with 3.5 mm connector. Headphones weight is approximately 10 ounces.

These headphones come with 6.3 mm plug adapter, one carrying case and two detachable cables. These headphones are made from quality plastic and metal, so they are considered quite robust, but if you travel a lot, consider buying sturdy case, just to make sure your headphones are safe. Straight cable is 9.8 inches long, coiled one 3.9 to 9.8 inches and that one is recommended for studio activities. Besides the fact that the cups can swivel, we discovered that you can easily push them from above and they are ready for transport in their case. Although it can come handy, it often causes problems with joints that crack easily if you don’t take care of your headphones.

When it comes to sound quality, we are completely satisfied with the sound that these headphones deliver. Thanks to 40 mm drivers with earth magnets, copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, extended frequency response of 15 to 25,000 Hz, 55 Ohms impedance and 98 dB sensitivity, ATH-M40x deliver great sound with nice lows, natural and pleasant bass, nice mids with pleasant vocals and crisp highs. These don’t use ANC, but they successfully reduce great part of outside noise so we think that’s quite decent for both listening to music and working in a studio.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Very comfortable

Made for using for many hours straight without any discomfort or pressure to the head

Adjustable headband

Ear cups can swivel for 90 degrees

Two detachable audio cables included in the package

Great natural and detailed sound

Good for audiophiles as well as professionals

Affordable price

Unattractive design

Problems with breaking and cracking on joints


Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Closed Studio Headphone

Approximate Price: $179.00

DT 770 Pro headphones are one of the best studio headphones and they are made by German company Beyerdynamic. There are several versions of this model available on the market. The first version has 32 Ohms impedance and it is great for listening to music, even on a phone. The second version has 250 ohms impedance and they are great for mixing music. We chose the third option and that is the version with 80 Ohms impedance, which is perfect for recording and monitoring.

DT 770 pro come in black and grey colors with matte finish and we have to admit that the grey version looks more elegant and interesting. They are over-ear closed-back headphones, which stay comfortable even after many hours of listening to music or creating it. The headband is adjustable to the size of user’s head and it has thick soft cushioning that makes headphones very comfortable and lowers down the pressure that they put to the head. Ear cups are covered with some material that looks like crocodile skin. They have thick soft pads covered with velour that makes the pads more comfortable and prevents your ears from sweating. Ear pads are circumaural and easily adjustable to user’s ears.

DT 770 Pro 80 Ohms have plastic 9.8 feet long straight audio cable that is not detachable. It ends with 3.5 mm gold-plated connector and in the package, you get one 6.3 mm plug adapter. The cable itself does not look so durable, especially because it is not made from rubber, which is more flexible and durable than plastic. The headband is made from metal, but the rest of headphones is made from plastic. They weigh only 1 pound, which makes them more comfortable and easy for wearing.

DT 770 Pro have really good specifications for a pair of studio headphones. They use dynamic drivers, their frequency response is between 5 and 35,000 Hz and impedance is 80 Ohms. They do not use ANC technology and they passively reduce up to 18 dB of outside noise, which is not so impressive as there are many models with better passive isolation. THS is lowered to 0.2%, which is quite good. They deliver clear and detailed sound with low bass and crisp highs, which is great for studio work.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Attractive design

Extremely comfortable headphones

Adjustable headband

Soft ear pads covered with velour

Great clear and natural sound

Great for professionals and audiophiles

Audio cable made from plastic

Audio cable is not detachable


Samson SR850 Semi-Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones

Approximate Price: $39.00

Samson SR850 is the true example of those headphones that people often buy in order to do use them for many activities and save some money at the same time. They are quite cheap for a pair of studio headphones and they are semi-open, which means they can be used for some recording as well as some mixing and simple quality listening to music. Some professionals wouldn’t agree that these can be used in studios, especially for recording, but we think they are quite decent for audiophiles and people at the beginning of their music career.

Samson SR850 are designed in a way that reminds us of AKG models. They come in only black color, but their design always draws attention. The headband is self-adjusting and although it doesn’t have cushioning like other studio headphones, it is surprisingly comfortable. Ear cups are semi-open and they have round shape just like the pads that are soft and covered with velour, which protects ears from sweating. Some people find this shape bad because their ears can’t snug into the hole and there is always some empty space between ears and pads. SR850 use 8.3-inch long straight non-detachable audio cable with 3.5 mm gold-plated plug.

These headphones come in a really modest packaging without any extras. There’s no even carrying case, only one 6.3 mm plug adapter. Samson SR850 are made mostly from plastic and some material that looks like sturdy faux leather. We can’t say that they are durable, so be careful when using and transporting them (it is recommended to get a sturdy carrying case) in order to extend their life.

One of the things that you wouldn’t expect from cheap headphones like these is such a good sound. SR850 have 50 mm drivers with earth magnets, their frequency response goes from 10 to 30,000 Hz and they have 32 Ohms impedance. These headphones surprise professionals with their sound quality. The bass is low, cleared and detailed, but also punchy. The sound is crisp and accurate like on some much more expensive models. Bear in mind that, although they can be used with phones, tablets, iPods etc., they are semi-open headphones that leak a lot of sound and don’t reduce outside noise. That’s the main reason why you should think twice before you put them on your head and enter a bus, go to your office or something like that. These are meant for indoor use.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Great price for the quality you get

Good for mixing and listening

Great choice for beginners and audiophiles

Self-adjusting headband

Soft velour pads

Extremely comfortable / no pressure to user’s head

Sound quality can compete with sound quality of much more expensive headphones

Not so durable

SR850 leak sound

There’s no noise reduction


Sennheiser HD 800 Reference Dynamic Headphone

Approximate Price: $1000.00

At the very beginning, we have to warn you that Sennheiser HD 800 aren’t headphones for everyone. Starting from the price, across the sound and necessity to find the right amplifier, you should really think twice if you want these or not. However, we must say they are exceptional headphones that give you very special experience of music and comfort. These were made in Germany and each driver and pair of headphones were tested several times in order to provide extreme quality and reliability.

Let’s start from design. We must say that we don’t think these headphones are pretty, but they do have interesting design, which is improved in comparison to other Sennheiser models. HD 800 are full-size open-back headphones predicted mostly for professional use. They are available in grey/silver color combination. You must be aware that these headphones are bigger than usual. They have bigger drivers than others and they weigh 11.7 ounces. The headband has thick and soft padding that can be easily removed and put back, but also replaced in case you need it. Its size is adjustable. Ear cups are big and they can swivel in order to create better fit. Ear pads don’t have usual round or oval shape. They are spacious and we are sure that there’s more chance you will find them too big than too small. The pads are covered with microfiber and the inside of the pads with removable cloth that can be washed, or replaced. These headphones are wired on both cups and they have Y-shaped cable with 6.3 mm connector.

HD 800 come with two cables. Both of them are 10.7 inches long and both of them are straight and Y-shaped. One of them is 4-pin XLR balanced audio cable and the second one is 6.3 mm TRS audio cable. One of the things you might need but you don’t get it in the packaging is 3.5 mm plug adapter, so you might want to buy it separately. However, you will get one USB memory drive and one carrying bag that is quite flimsy for such an expensive pair of headphones. If you decide to spend so much money on headphones, don’t be cheap and lazy and buy them sturdy case.

These headphones are mostly made from metal materials and that’s why they are so heavy. However, the weight is perfectly distributed and they don’t seem so heavy at all and the clamping force is just like it should be. HD 800 are very sturdy and durable headphones and they will definitely last for many years, but take care of them because joints are made from plastic and they might be prone to damage.

Although we could write a novel describing the sound of HD 800, we will try to emphasize only the most important things. HD 800 have probably the biggest drivers in headphone industry. They have 56 mm and they are positioned on stainless steel surface on the ear cups but at specific angle. That’s the main reason why the cups are so big; if they were smaller there would be no space for drivers so big. These drivers perfectly mimic the sound that produce large home or studio speakers, even the sound of live music you can hear on concerts. Frequency response is 4-51,000 Hz, impedance is 300 Ohms and THD is less than 0.02%. HD 800 aren’t expensive because they have powerful bass or because they are stylish. They are expensive because they give you great opportunity to feel the true natural sound, no matter what genre it is.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Durable headphones made from metal

Extremely comfortable and spacious

Soft microfiber pads

Replaceable paddings

Detachable cable

Perfect natural sound

No 3.5 mm plug adapter included

Plastic joints

Really expensive

It is difficult to find the right AMP for these headphones


AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones

Approximate Price: $69.00

AKG K 240 is an incredible pair of headphones that offer way more than you would expect from 70-dollar headphones. They come in black color and we think they have very interesting and attractive design. K 240 are semi-open full-back headphones and that type of headphones is produced in order to combine all the good characteristic from both closed and open headphones, but you should be aware that these are more like open headphones, especially when it comes to leaking.

The headband is thin and flat, and it doesn’t have any padding, but it is self-adjusting and it really doesn’t make any pressure to your head as the headphones are quite light (approximately 8.5 ounces). Ear cups are circumaural and there are relatively thick pads that are really soft, but some find them quite shallow because their ears can touch the inside of the pads. The pads are soft and comfortable, but your ears will definitely get sweaty after hours of wearing because they are covered with some cheap leather, although it’s not so alarming.

K 240 come in a simple packaging, so don’t expect anything luxurious. There are just headphones, 10-feet straight cable made from almost 100 % oxygen-free cooper, which ends with 3.5 mm gold-plated connector, and one 6.3 mm gold-plated plug adapter. The cable is detachable and it can be easily replaced, just like the pads, so if the pads get worn off and the cable breaks, you can quickly buy spare ones.

These headphones are rather plastic and although the manufacturer claims that they are predicted to be used and transported in severe conditions, we advise you to take care of them and buy some good sturdy case.

When it comes to sound, we were surprised that so cheap headphones can produce such a great sound. We admit that the bass is flatter than on other professional headphones and it is not so deep, but it is quite pleasant, as well as the mids, highs, and vocals, which are really clear. The sound is so great because of 30 mm dynamic drivers, frequency response that goes from 15 to 25,000 Hz, 55 Ohms impedance and 91 dB sensitivity. According to the manufacturer, the level of distortion (THD) is less than 0.3%. You should bear in mind that these headphones leak a lot of sound and, although they are great for studio work or indoor listening, you shouldn’t wear them in crowded places.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Attractive and interesting design

Great for mixing and indoor listening

Great natural and detailed sound

Durable

Extremely lightweight and comfortable

Self-adjusting headband

Detachable audio cable

Leak a lot of sound

Ear pads can make your ears sweaty after some time


AKG Pro Audio K702 Channel Studio Headphones

Approximate Price: $222.00

AKG K 702 is one more of the AKG great headphones for relatively decent price. This time the price is higher, especially in comparison to K 240, but they are worth every penny. They are actually the same as K 701, but K 702 have slightly improved design and better solution for audio cable.

AKG K 702 come in only one color; to us, it looks like black, but it is really very dark blue. They have attractive and recognizable design, just like other AKG models. The self-adjusting headband is a bit different than the headband that K 701 have, and that’s because 702 have some kind of soft bumps on the bottom of the headband. The bums are there to increase comfort level, but some people actually find it uncomfortable, because the bumps on the ends of the headband can press your head and cause discomfort, but it is not really such a problem. Ear cups have open over-ear circumaural design and the ear pads are quite soft and comfortable, especially because of the velour that covers them. The pads are big enough for perfect snug and long listening without any pressure.

These headphones come in a simple package. You will get 10 feet long detachable straight cable and one 6.3 mm plug adapter for regular 3.5 mm connector on the end of the cable. The cable is made from oxygen-free cooper and the good thing is that it is detachable, so you can easily replace it. It also has secure lock, so you can detach it only if you press the small button near the plug. The headphones are made from plastic mostly and the headband is made from real leather. The bad thing is that the joints that connect the cups and the headband are plastic and they can break after some time, so be careful with that.

AKG K 702 have extraordinary sound for the price you pay. If you choose these headphones over some more expensive and famous models, we are sure you won’t regret. They have 45 mm drivers, frequency response is 10 – 39,800 Hz; impedance is 62 Ohms and sensitivity 105 dB. They have perfect sound for mixing in studios. They offer punchy bass, nice clear mids and highs and vocals are surprisingly clear; the sound is natural and detailed in general. You might want to get an amplifier with these, but if you currently don’t have money, you can connect them to an ordinary player anyway. They might not show their best, but they will sound just fine. We advise you to bear in mind that these are open-back headphones, which means they are not recommended for outdoor using because of bad sound isolation as well as sound leaking.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Attractive design

Leather headband

Velour ear pads

Great natural and detailed sound

Great for audiophiles as well as professionals

Relatively comfortable (bumps on the headband can cause problems)

Detachable cable

Plastic hinges

No carrying bag included


Sennheiser HD 280 PRO Headphones

Approximate Price: $100.00

Sennheiser HD 280 are one of the best studio closed-back over-ear headphones on the market. They are made mostly for recording (which implies closed design), but they are often used for many studio activities as well as everyday listening to music by audiophiles. Their performance has been rated extremely well in all of these situations.

HD 280 Pro don’t have stylish design but they are extremely comfortable headphones and that’s something you can conclude just by looking them. These headphones are foldable, which means they are easier for transporting in a carrying case. Ear cups can swivel, which ensures easier adjusting to user’s ears. Ear pads are thick and soft. They have circumaural shape and they adjust easily to your ears and make them comfortable and sweat free during long periods of listening/recording/mixing. The headband also has thick padding and its size is adjustable. Pads on ear cups and headband are replaceable, which is good because if they wear off you can take them off and buy other pads instead of buying new pair of headphones. HD 280 Pro have coiled audio cable (3.3 – 9.8 feet long), which can also be replaced.

These headphones come only with one 6.3 mm plug adapter because the original connector on the cable is 3.5 mm. HD 280 Pro are mostly made of plastic, they weigh approximately 10 ounces and they are quite light, which increases the level of comfort they offer to their users.

When it comes to sound quality, it is really respectable, as it can be expected from a pair of Sennheiser headphones. They have dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets. Their frequency response is between 8 and 25,000 Hz, impedance is 64 ohms and they have sensitivity of 113 dB. The manufacturer has managed to lower down THD to only 0.1 % and although they are closed-back headphones, they don’t use ANC, but they passively reduce up to 32 dB of outside noise, which is really good for professional headphones because they let some outside noise to enter your ears in order to create more natural sound. These have precise bass, highs are hissing free and sound is clear and detailed.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Very comfortable headphones

Ear cups can swivel

Adjustable headband

Replaceable pads on ear cups and the headband, as well as audio cable

Lightweight headphones

Great sound quality (natural, clear and detailed sound)

Great for both professionals and audiophiles

Durable headphones

Unattractive design

Made from plastic


Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Open Studio Headphone

Approximate Price: $144.00

One more product made by Beyerdynamic is on our list. Previously we reviewed DT 770. Those were closed-back headphones, which are better choice for recording and now we are presenting DT 990 Pro –open-back model of headphones, perfect for mixing, editing, and critical listening.

DT 990 Pro come in black and grey color combination and we must mention that their design is really pleasant. It is simple and effective at the same time. These are full-size open-back headphones, made for long listening. Apart from the fact that these are very light headphones (8.8 ounces), they have many other characteristics that increase their comfort level. The headband is covered with thick padding that can be removed and replaced and most customers find it extremely comfortable, but there are some that think it is bumpy and that it puts some pressure on user’s head after some time. Ear cups are big and have circumaural shape. They are opened on the front side and it looks like some kind of grill. Ear pads are thick, spacious, and soft. They are very comfortable especially because they are covered with velour that prevents ears from sweating. Speakers are protected with some kind of cloth that you can see through the grill and it is there to prevent headphones from damaging and getting dirty.

DT 990 Pro have solid construction. The headband is made mostly from metal, which is covered with thick padding. That means these should last for a long time, but the biggest problem are those pieces of plastic that connect the headband to the cups, because they are more likely to break than the headband itself. The cups are also made from plastic, which is not perfect solution, but they do seem quite thick and robust. Audio cable seems durable; it is 9.8 feet long and it is coiled, but it is not detachable, which can be bad in case it breaks. It has 3.5 mm gold-plated connector that comes with 6.3 mm plug adapter and that’s all you will get in the packaging, along with the headphones and one textile carrying bag.

These headphones have exceptional sound for this price range. Beyerdynamic used 45 mm dynamic drivers and extremely lightweight diaphragm in order to ensure great impulse performance. Their frequency response is 5-35,000 Hz; impedance is 250 Ohms, sensitivity 96 dB, and THD 0.2%. Just looking at these specifications, you can realize that they offer great sound, but when you put them on your head, you will be surprised. They are fantastic. They have excellent bass response, practically flawless mids and crisp highs. The sound is really natural, detailed and spacious and we are sure you will be satisfied but bear in mind that these headphones don’t have noise isolation and leak great amount of sound.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Attractive design

Extremely comfortable headphones

Replaceable paddings on the headband

Velour pads on ear cups

Great sound for critical listening/mixing/editing

Durable headphones

Audio cable is prone to breaking

Not detachable audio cable

No sturdy carrying case included


AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference Class Headphones

Approximate Price: $334.00

Q 701 are fancy headphones made by Austrian company in China with signature of famous producer Quincy Jones. Confusing, right? When you see all these references, you ask yourself should you buy them or not. On the one hand, AKG is Austrian company and they have good quality products. One of the proofs of their quality is the signature of Quincy Jones on the headband and we assume that celebrity wouldn’t put his signature on any product. On the other hand, AKG moved their production to China, which confuses all their customers and makes their quality questionable.

Q 701 have interesting design. They are available in lime green color, but those who love less tacky colors can buy these headphones in white or black colors. The ear cups are very big and they have open design so that the front side looks like some kind of mesh. They have 3-d-formed ear velour pads that make these headphones luxurious. Two arches connect two cups. On the arches, there are two plastic strips per side and they hold metal slider on each side and help them move and adjust itself to the side of your head. Because of that, we call these headbands self-adjusting. It is stiff a bit and it has some bumps on the bottom side. They may cause discomfort for some people, but most of users say it is really comfortable. The headphones also weigh less than 9 ounces, which definitely makes them light and comfortable for many hours of wearing.

These headphones are made from different materials. The headband is made from genuine leather and metal. The rest of the headphones is mostly made from plastic, which doesn’t look too durable and it should be, considering the price and the signature. Detachable audio cable, which is almost 100% oxygen-free, is connected to the left ear cup and it can be detached only if you press the small button on the cable. Some customers say that it disconnects easily and that thin wires inside of it break often and then you have to pay for repair. In the package, you will get one more cable, so that you will have one 9.8 ft. and one 19.6 ft. long cable. As both cables have 3.5 mm connectors, you will get also one 6.3 mm plug adapter. However, there’s no carrying case, so you might consider buying one separately.

The sound that AKG Q 701 deliver is actually great. It is not perfect for bass lovers, but these are open-back studio headphones anyway and they are made to deliver natural and real sound. These headphones have 45 mm drivers with neodymium magnets and 2-layer diaphragms; frequency response is 10-39,800 Hz, sensitivity is 105 dB and their impedance is 62 Ohms. You can use them with amplifiers or without them and you will be satisfied with the sound quality. The bass is punchy, but it is not perfect for songs with a lot of bass; the sound is detailed and natural.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Attractive design

Comfortable headband and ear pads

Velour ear pads

Self-adjustable headband

Durable materials (genuine leather, metal)

Two audio cables included in the package

Great natural and detailed sound

No carrying case included

Audio cable can easily break


Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones

Approximate Price: $150.00

If you are looking for a pair of headphones that are professional in every aspect, from the looks to the performance, Shure SRH840 are for you. They come in black color and their design is not the most beautiful on the market, but they are nice and simple, which is enough for studio work and they are mostly made exactly for that. One of the things you should be aware of is that these are not simply over-ear, but truly big headphones and they will be easily noticeable on your head. That means these were not exactly meant for using while walking on the street. They have metal headband covered with thick padding that looks like some kind of mesh. Its size is adjustable and it is soft, but some customers complained that the weight (which is approximately 12 ounces) isn’t evenly distributed and that the headband makes certain pressure on the top of their heads. Ear cups are big, they have closed design and thick foam pads covered with leather material. The circumaural pads are thick enough to reduce great amount of outside noise and they are also replaceable. Ear cups are adjustable and they can fold and swivel for approximately 180 degrees, so these can be easily transported.

SRH840 are wired headphones and they come with one 9.8-ft long coiled cable, perfect for studio usage. The cable ends with 3.5-mm gold-plated connector, but you will also get one 6.3-mm plug adapter. Besides that, Shure provides one basic textile carrying bag for transporting headphones or their storage when they are not in use and also one pair of spare ear pads, which are a bit flatter than those that are originally on the headphones.

These headphones are mostly made from plastic and they are quite durable, although some customers had problems with broken headband. The headband doesn’t have to be the biggest problem, as the manufacturer left some cables that go from the cups to the headband unprotected and these can be easily damaged, which will leave you with useless headphones, so be very careful with them.

When it comes to sound, we have only positive things to say about its quality. Like we said before, these headphones were made for studio work, for mixing, recording and critical listening. They use 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnets, their impedance is 44 Ohms, their frequency range goes from 5 to 25,000 Hz and the sensitivity is 102 dB. SRH840 deliver balanced not too emphasized bass, great mids, and highs. Their sound is natural and clear, but also so detailed that you will be surprised how many tiny flaws you will be able to discover.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Designed for studio work

 Detachable coiled cable

Replaceable ear pads

Swiveling ear cups

Decently comfortable headphones

Amazing sound

Made of plastic

Some customers experienced problems with durability

Heavier than average (12 ounces)


Direct Sound EX-29 Dynamic Closed Headphones

Approximate Price: $127.00

EX-29 are one of the best studio headphones, especially for recording. They may not look too attractive and pretty, but we don’t think this is really important for any studio work. They don’t have any design, build or performance characteristics that could distract you from your work. They are fully oriented to deliver the best possible sound. They come in black and white colors and they have different appearance from all the other headphones on the market. Their headband is simple but nicely padded and quite soft, which makes the headphones really comfortable and almost pressure free. It can also be easily adjusted to the size of your head by simple pulling of the top of the headband. Ear cups have shape that reminds us of some kind of rectangle. They are completely closed and there are only logo and their name printed on the front side. Ear pads are very soft and comfortable. They are really spacious and they can fit even the biggest ears. The inside of the right ear cup is painted in red and the left one is black, so you don’t have to look for small marks L and R, like with other headphones. They weigh 11.5 ounces and although they seem heavy for wearing for a long time, when you put them on and start playing, you will forget that they are even there. EX-29 are also foldable and can be easily transported as they don’t occupy much space.

EX-29 are wired headphones. They have 9-inch Y-shaped audio cable, which ends with 3.5 mm gold-plated connector. In the packaging, you will get also one 6.3 mm plug adapter. The audio cable can be worn on the front or behind your head, in case you don’t want it to distract you. These headphones are made mostly from plastic, but they seem extremely durable, although there were some cases where the headband was broken. The good news is that almost any part of these headphones can be replaced and ordered from Direct Sound website at reasonable price. They can even be glued. That means these headphones can last forever with some minor investments.

EX-29 are originally made for drummers, but the company has been improving the headphones ever since and now they can be used generally for studio work. They have 40 mm dynamic drivers, frequency response 20-20,000 Hz, impedance is 32 Ohms and sensitivity is 114 dB. These headphones offer quite neutral, natural and detailed sound that is perfect for recording music in studios. They practically don’t leak sound, so that no sound will get to your mic while recording. On the other hand, they reduce the amount of ambient noise. They don’t have real noise canceling technology in order to create more natural sound, but they can reduce up to 36.7 Db at higher frequencies. With so little cons that we could notice while trying these headphones, we can just advise you to buy them, put them on and enjoy creating your music.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Easily distinguished cups

Extremely comfortable headphones

Almost all parts replaceable

Quite durable

Great detailed and natural sound

Perfect for drummers

Not so attractive


Focal Spirit Professional Over-Ear Closed Back Circum-Aural Studio Headphones

Approximate Price: $328.00

Focal Spirit Professional are full-size over-ear closed-back headphones designed specifically for recording and monitoring in studios. Some would even say these are great for mixing too, although these are closed headphones.

These headphones come in black color only and when you first look at them, you might think that they have been standing in the rain, because of design that looks like water drops. The headband is adjustable and it has padding made from memory foam that should make it comfortable. The thickness and the length of the padding aren’t completely satisfying, but it is not so uncomfortable at all. Ear cups are closed and slightly movable and they have thick and soft memory foam pads that isolate you perfectly from sounds around you and help you concentrate on your work. However, the pads are relatively small and we think that only people with smaller ears can feel completely comfortable wearing these headphones. The softness of these pads helps neutralize clamp force that is in this case bigger than average.

Focal Spirit Professional are plastic headphones. The manufacturer claims they are very durable, but we can’t completely agree, because there were some examples of headband cracking, especially near hinges. These headphones are wired and they come with even two cables. The first one is straight and 6ft long and it has microphone, so when you connect this cable to your headphones, you can even use them with your phone and answer calls. The other cable is coiled and it has maximum 15ft length, which is perfect for studio activities. Apart from that, you will get one 6.3 mm plug adapter for regular 3.5 mm connector that both cables have, and one textile carrying bag, which won’t protect your headphones from anything but scratching.

Focal Spirit have one thing they can be proud of and that’s sound quality. We agree that for this price, you should get more comfortable and more durable headphones, but when it comes to sound, these are one of the best. They have 40 mm drivers with light neodymium magnets, their impedance is 32 Ohms, frequency response goes from 5 to 22,000 Hz and their sensitivity is 102dB. According to the manufacturer, THD is only 0.3%. We will just say that you must try them in order to feel it. They deliver great neutral and natural sound. It is extremely clear and perfect for editing and critical listening, because you will get the opportunity to hear all the flaws of certain melody. With these headphones, your favorite song definitely won’t sound the same.

Focal Spirit also offer great noise reduction and don’t leak sound, so you can freely use them for casual listening while traveling, walking etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Interesting design

Two detachable cables included in the packaging

Great sound quality

Great headphones for professional and casual use

There’s mic on the straight cable

Detachable audio cables

Great sound isolation

Problems with durability and cracking of hinges

Not perfectly comfortable headphones

Big clamping force


How to Find the Best Pair of Studio Headphones for Mixing and Recording?

Choosing studio headphones is even harder than finding the right pair of consumer headphones. Especially if you’re buying headphones for making music, not for simple listening. In these situations, you have to pay attention to more features than usual, because the product of your work depends partly on headphones you picked and you will be estimated based on that product.

This is the reason why we decided to mention some of the most important characteristics that you should pay attention to when buying studio headphones.

  • Purpose

When buying studio headphones, the most important thing is to pick the model based on what you need headphones for. People buy these for recording, mixing or listening. They are often trying to find one model that covers all those needs. It is not impossible, and many modern studio headphones can do everything, but professional musicians do prefer to have at least two models; one for mixing and the other for recording.

If you need headphones for mixing music, we suggest you get a pair of open-back headphones. They will give you the best possible results because they release some of the sound through the cups and prevent sound from building-up.

If you need headphones for recording, the best option is to buy closed-back headphones. They are perfect because they don’t leak sound and none of it will get to the mic. They partially reduce ambient noise, so you will be able to concentrate on your work because you will be able to hear every single detail of the song.

In case you are buying studio headphones for listening, you can choose between these options depending on places and situations you will be using them. If you want to use headphones at home, you can practically buy whatever you want, but if you are going to use them while commuting or at work, open-back headphones are not the best choice because of leaking and no sound isolation. You can always buy semi-open headphones, of course, and try to cover all up with one model.

  • Durability

Durability is one of the most important factors when buying any headphones. No matter if you’re buying studio headphones for work or listening, they have to be durable and last for a long time. Headphones are often found in strange places such as floor, or in beds because some people love to listen to music before they fall asleep. There’s great chance you will somehow lay or step on them, pull the audio cable accidentally when moving from one spot to another and you certainly don’t want them to crack or fall apart immediately.

  • Frequency response/sound quality

The meaning of the term “sound quality” is not the same when buying professional and consumer headphones. The quality of sound on studio headphones depends on the frequency response. It has to be flat and deliver pure, natural sound without any flavors, colorings or additives. If you can’t hear how certain song really sounds like, then you don’t have professional headphones.

  • Impedance

Impedance is really important when buying studio headphones. It is measured in Ohms and the bigger the impedance is, the power needed to supply the headphones is bigger. Modern technology has enabled creating studio headphones that don’t require serious power supply for work, which means you can connect them to your phone, tablet or player and listen to music without any problems.

Impedance dictates whether you are going to need an amplifier or not. Amplifiers are used to increase signal power (its amplitude). They are often used when bands are recording something. They have to use headphones and hear the same thing at the same time. Amplifiers are there to enable each of them to adjust the volume to their needs. Bear in mind that amplifiers should have 8th quarter of impedance your headphones have. If it’s much more or less than that, you will get some distortions of the sound.

  • Sensitivity

Sensitivity is measured in decibels per volt. It defines how effective your headphones are when transforming electrical signal into sound. Depending on the sensitivity of your headphones, you will hear the slightest details of the sound. Some use amplifiers to enable really high volume, but it is proven that anything higher than 100 dB or even 85 dB can damage your hearing, although many companies recommend and produce headphones with sensitivity up to 120 dB.

  • Drivers

Drivers are small loudspeakers that convert electrical signal into sound and they are placed in ear cups. They are made of magnets, voice coils and diaphragms and their size is measured in mm. The point is, the bigger the driver, the greater sound you will get.

  • Comfort

Comfort is something you should never forget, no matter what you are buying. Studio headphones are usually worn for many hours straight. That’s why it is so important to pay attention to the size of cups, the pressure that cups and headband put to your head and of course to the thickness of cushioning on the cups and the headband. Also, it is really important to check the length of audio cable and if it is replaceable. In case something happens, you would like to be able to easily change audio cable, ear pads or some other parts.

  • Budget

People usually think that price represents quality. In the list of 15 best studio headphones for mixing and recording, we have proven they are wrong. Price depends on the manufacturer and his desire to get more money but also depends on marketing. We don’t think you should always buy the most expensive product, because it doesn’t have to mean that it has the best quality. Especially if you are at the beginning of your career or you’re buying studio headphones just to hear how music sound and feels in reality. In those cases, there is plenty of models for $100 or less that will do just fine.

Why Do I Need Studio Headphones?

As we have already said, if you haven’t heard your favorite song on studio headphones, consider that you haven’t really heard it. Studio headphones reveal the true nature of music, they send to your ears natural sound without any colors that manufacturers of consumer headphones use, and that’s something every professional musician should aim to, but they are also not so bad to have even if you are not musician. Above all that, studio headphones are definitely more comfortable than other headphones, exactly because they are made to be worn for long periods of time.

We are sure that we have intrigued you with all this writing and that you would like to at least try some studio headphones, just to see how they sound. Scroll up and find our list of 15 best studio headphones for mixing and recording and you will find something for you, no matter if you are musician or simply music lover.

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