Best Studio Headphones: The Ultimate Buyer&039s Guide | 2022 🎧

so… are studio headphones really necessary, or will any old headphones do?

This is a very common question people have when they start recording at home.

Reading: Studio headphone comparison

so here’s the short answer:

recording studios use 2 very specific types of headphones for 2 very specific purposes.


  1. closed back headphones, used for recording tracks
  2. open back headphones, used for mixing

And if you’re currently looking for a good pair of either, in this post I’ll show you the best options in the next two sections:

  • the 6 best closed-back headphones for recording tracks
  • the 7 best open-back headphones for mixing

the 6 best closed studio headphones

When recording tracks in the studio, the main concern with a good pair of closed-back headphones is that they offer maximum sound isolation…

so musicians can monitor the headphone mix as they play…

without sound entering the live mic and ruining the shot.

among the best models currently on the market…

These are the 6 best that I recommend:

1. sennheiser hd280 pro

you’ve probably heard of it before…

Because the sennheiser hd280 pro is commonly known in recording circles as the industry standard in closed-back headphones.

Now I’ll be the first to admit…

  • They aren’t particularly glamorous, and…
  • There are no special features to brag about

but what they can brag about is the fact that they are easily the most popular studio headphones in the world.

And while they may not have the best sound you’ve ever heard…they serve their purpose well.

for both beginners and advanced studios, I highly recommend them.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

for those who don’t like the hd280, it’s most likely because they’re fiercely loyal to these instead…

2. sony mdr-7506

/The closest competitor, and perhaps the only real competitor, to the hd280 is…

the legendary sony mdr-7506.

compared to hd280:

  • they are just as affordable
  • they are just as durable
  • as they provide so much insulation

and some people give them a slight edge overall… I’m one of them.

Having used both, I find the mdr-7506 to be marginally better in both comfort and sound quality. And after reviewing the reviews, I found others who also agreed.

but seeing as they’re both so popular, and some musicians are picky about their headphones…

It might be a good idea to have a few of each on hand, to keep everyone happy.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

Now, for 90% of the people reading this, I recommend stopping here and choosing one of the first two options on the list.

for those who still want more, let’s continue…

3. extreme isolation ex-29

the extreme isolation ex-29 is a unique pair of headphones designed with a specific goal in mind:

maximum acoustic insulation.

designed by a drummer and intended for drummers…

These earphones rival the isolation of many industrial grade hearing protectors!

Oddly, when you read the specs, they are only rated at 29db noise attenuation. It’s an impressive number, yes…

but there are plenty of other headsets with numbers just as high, if not better.

However, from both personal experience and user reviews, it’s obvious that the ex29 isolates sound better than any of them.

the explanation?

Well, according to product descriptions, most headphones measure attenuation at a single frequency. but the ex-29 measures the average attenuation over a wide range of frequencies.

And as we all know, low frequencies are much more difficult to block than high frequencies.

While I agree they’re ugly as hell, if maximum sound isolation is your #1 priority…

I recommend you check them out.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h)

Here’s my personal favourite…

4. beyerdynamic dt770 pro

So far on the list, all the headphones we’ve seen cost around $100.

but the beyerdynamic dt770 pro, which costs more than double…

offers some significant improvements in overall quality.

in terms of comfort, sound quality and style

These headphones easily outperform the previous 3.

In terms of soundproofing and durability…they are about the same.

So the question is… is it worth the extra cost?

See also: IFi hip-dac 2 review | What Hi-Fi?

well, in my opinion, the dt770 pro offers the perfect compromise between luxury features and an affordable price. That’s why they’re my #1 favorite headphones on this list.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/thomann)

A similar model that I also recommend is the beyerdynamic dt770m.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/thomann)

Designed specifically for drummers, they offer 35db of noise attenuation, which is the highest of any studio headphone I’ve found. check them out.

now for the last two selections i kept the really fancy stuff.

starting with…

5. professional focal listening

with closed headphones cheaper

It always seems like optimal sound quality takes a backseat to more important features, right?

but for those who can afford it… why not have both?

well, with focal listening professionals, that’s exactly what you get:

  • everything you’d expect from a closed-back pair of headphones…
  • with sound quality that rivals many high-end open-back models

A clever feature of these headphones is the memory foam padding, which comfortably molds to the head, sealing off any open spaces.

that way… internal noises stay in and external noises stay out.

check them out. I suspect you’ll be impressed.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

Now, for the final article, I saved the most “elegant” option of all…

6. shure srh1540

much like the standard open back design…

the shure srh-1540 is perhaps as close as you could get to reference quality sound in a pair of closed back headphones .

from a design point of view…they are without a doubt the most beautiful pair on the list by far.

Somehow, just by looking at them, you can tell how ridiculously comfortable they are.

Now I could tell you about its many cool features and accessories. but as I’m sure you’ll agree, the only real question worth answering is…

Do they really sound as amazing as they look?

according to their reviews, everything points to yes. many are not written by studio musicians, but by audiophile geeks. And when it comes to high-end sound, these guys really know their stuff.

would you recommend it as a first choice for a recording studio? of course not.

but if someone specifically asked me for the best of the best…

I would certainly point you in the direction of the shure srh-1540.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

Now that we’ve covered all the best closed options, let’s move on to the next section of this post where I reveal…

the 7 best open studio headphones

The unfortunate side effect of closed headphones is:

  • as isolation increases…
  • sound quality often decreases.

which is fine for tracking, as isolation is clearly the highest priority.

However, there are two situations where sound quality takes precedence over isolation:

  1. when you’re recording an instrument that doesn’t require a microphone, such as an electronic drum kit or keyboard.
  2. when you’re mixing .

And although ideally, mixing is best done on studio monitors…

In today’s world of mobile recording and cheap home studios, mixing with headphones has become an acceptable practice.

As long as… remember to use open-back headphones, which essentially make the opposite trade-off of choosing optimal sound quality at the expense of isolation.

Among the best models on the market, these are the 7 that I recommend:

1. beyerdynamic dt990 pro

since sound quality is top priority with open studio headphones…

It makes sense that the #1 pick on this list is the one that provides the best sound for the lowest price.

In my opinion, that crown belongs to the beyerdynamic dt990 pro.

for a mid-range model…they have everything you could ask for…and more.

Notable features include:

  • an exceptionally wide frequency range (5hz-35khz)
  • a strong bass presence
  • a very comfortable fit

Having used them before, I can personally vouch for your convenience.

nothing is worse than uncomfortable headphones… but these are as comfortable as it gets.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/thomann)

here’s another popular model for the same price…

2. akg k 701 studio headphones

in the past… the old akg k1000 weren’t just the flagship headphones of the akg line…

They were commonly known in audiophile circles as the best studio headphones in the world.

today… the new akg k701 inherits many of the same remarkable qualities…

along with some updated technology as well.

for example:

they are the first to introduce akg’s flat cable coil technology, which compared to the k1000

  • provides better low-end sound and…
  • allows them to be driven by less powerful amplifiers.
  • /li>

You may also be interested in knowing…

the legendary producer, quincy jones, the man with more grammys than anyone in the world… created a special edition of these headphones: the akg q701.

According to him, they have the best sound of any pair of headphones I’ve ever heard. and if it’s good enough for quincy… it’s good enough for us.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

See also: Guide to the Samsung Galaxy S22: Memory, Durability, & More

Now if these last two models were a bit expensive for you, these next two are much cheaper.


3. akg k240 studio headphones

for beginners on a tight budget, there is no safer bet than the akg k240.

a look at these headphones…

and you might be surprised to know they cost less than a hundred dollars.

Another attractive feature is its “semi-open” design , which is essentially a hybrid of the traditional open and closed models.

If you only have enough cash for one purchase and need a pair of headphones suitable for both recording and mixing…

It is one of the few options in this price range that delivers on its promises.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

see also updated version: akg k240 mkii – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

then we have another “semi-open” model even cheaper than the previous one…

4. samson sr850

Never in a million years would you have imagined…

I think a pair of headphones under $50 could deliver studio-quality sound…right?

but review after review confirms it…

the samson sr850 are worth much more than their modest price.

true… you probably won’t hear his name mentioned among gear lovers…

however, the sr850 offer many of the same features as other headphones costing several times as much.

If you’re short on cash, you won’t find a better deal than the sr850.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h)

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived…

high-end models. starting first with…

5. shure srh1840

Have you ever listened to music with good headphones?

If you haven’t, it’s like losing your virginity all over again. there’s nothing like it.

I would never imagine that such a full and clear sound could come from such small speakers.

but once you hear it, you understand how amazing a great pair of headphones can sound.

among the best examples of headphones of this caliber…

we have the shure srh1840.

A standard among audiophiles for years, these headphones are the safest bet for those looking for their first introduction to high-end listening.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h)

Now as popular as the srh1840 are, they pale in comparison to the next few headphones on the list…

6. sennheiser hd 650 studio headphones

if there is a pair of headphones in the world, synonymous with high-end sound…

it is the sennheiser hd 650.

A long time favorite in both audiophile and pro audio circles…

These headphones have perhaps more excellent reviews than any model on this list.

And that’s especially impressive considering they don’t come cheap.

after wearing them for a long time, my favorite feature of these headphones is the ear cups…

Unlike most earbuds that crash against your ears, their extra-large elliptical design and deep padding mean they almost “float” around your ears.

chances are these are the most comfortable headphones you’ll ever wear.

  • click to compare prices – (amazon/b&h/thomann)

Now for the final choice, I’ve saved the grandfather of all studio headphones

7. sennheiser hd 820

in sennheiser’s legendary line of open hd headphones…

There have been many updates over the years.

  • first it was the classic hd600
  • then, as we just saw, the improved hd650
  • then came the hd700
  • and finally, the critically acclaimed flagship hd800

When it was first released, the hd800 was a huge success

its popularity grew so fast that it surpassed that of the classic hd650.

This is why:

Despite its ridiculous price, it still has an impressive number of stellar reviews from satisfied customers.

other than that, it had some technical specifications that set it apart from its competitors, namely:

  • widest frequency available – with the ability to reproduce frequencies between 5hz and 51khz
  • extremely low thdt the total dharmonic distortion h is essentially the measure of how much of the signal output is distorted or modified, which you don’t want. the hd800 has the lowest thd of any headphone.
  • very high impedance, which isn’t necessarily a good thing in and of itself, but you’ll forces you to use a headphone amplifier, which allows you to drive your headphones more accurately.

after upgrading its flagship once with the hd800, sennheiser repeated the feat with an even more improved version, the hd820.

and from reviewers who upgraded from hd600 or hd650

The overwhelming consensus is… the hd820 blows them both out of the water.

if you want the absolutely best there is… I highly recommend them.

  • click to see current price – (amazon/b&h)

Now don’t forget: at 300 Ω, these are very high impedance headphones and you’ll need a decent amp to drive them satisfactorily.

See also: Bluetooth multipoint pairing: What is it and how does it work? – PHIATON

related content:

  • good cheap headphones
  • mix in headphones
  • dj headphones
  • headphone amps
  • isolation pads monitor

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