Finding the Best Studio Headphones

Last Edited: June 16, 2017 by

finding-the-best-studio-headphones

Welcome to our guide to the best studio headphones where we have carefully curated the most acclaimed headphones around based on scores, user reviews and overall performance.

While a lot of audiophiles have a deep preference for a solid set of studio monitors or bookshelf speakers to listen to beats, a lot of fellow audio enthusiasts live in apartments where noise simply is not as tolerated as much as we would like. Partners and grumpy neighbors alike need to be considered. Here at HeadphoneNinja we have sourced what we believe are some of the top studio headphones out there at the moment based on positive reviews from fellow music enthusiasts and their general opinions on the performances of the selected headphones. Studio headphones generally have an incredibly flat frequency response in order to give a true sound to music, allowing you to hear only what is there – nothing more, nothing less. They also tend to be a tad pricier than normal normal headphones as they are generally for referencing purposes in studios, allowing producers and sound engineers maximum clarity in their mixes in order to get the best end result. Just a warning, if you plan on listening to music that is less than 256kb or music that is badly mixed on these, it will sound terrible.

Best Budget Studio Headphones

Sony MDRV6 

Sony MDRV6 studio heaphones

The Sony MDRV6 is a well priced studio headphone that offers a very flat frequency response that is not uncommon with studio monitoring headphones.  The Neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers offer an incredibly detailed sound, pushing maximum conductivity and therefore means one will have a significantly cleaner sound with little to no noise. The bass goes as low as 5Hz and the the mids and treble responses are said to be clean and crisp. One noticeable consistency in reports is how users kept referring to how comfortable these are. The oval shaped earcups (which are apparently incredibly soft) are said to surround the ears, not applying any pressure on the ears themselves. They also fold up quite nicely and come with a slimline carrying case, making these easily portable. On top of its solid build, it comes with a 2-year warranty in case anything goes wrong. The Sony MDRV6 is a well priced pair of headphones that offer an incredibly flat sound and studio quality experience.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Well balanced sound
  • Punchy bass
  • Decent noise isolation

Cons

  • Not mobile friendly

Summary

The Sony MDRV6 is a great sounding pair of headphones that offer a punchy bass and an overall well balanced sound. It is however not mobile-friendly.

Sony MDRV6
$77.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:42 UTC) Details

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x

Audio-Technica-ATH-M30X-Studio-headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-M30X headphones are a really popular headphone and an apparent excellent successor to the M20X (which is also an incredibly popular headphone set). Before we get started on the review, please be aware that the Audio-Technica ATH-M30Xs are superior in audio performance and comfort and their overall build is sturdier. But for these reasons they are also way pricier. The M30X’s are said to put out a solid performance for their price. Their 40mm drivers produce a great bass response and their mids and highs are clean and clear. They have a sensitivity of 96db and have an impedance of 47 ohms, meaning these will work fine with on the go audio sources such as phones and mp3 players. Their overall design is attractive and they are said to be really comfortable and lightweight, meaning one can wear them for long hours without feeling like your head is cramped. For the price the Audio-Technica ATH-M30X’s go for, they really do deliver on the audio front. As mentioned, the M50Xs do outperform these, but they are also more costly. The M30X set is definitely recommended for those on lower budget, as most reviews have pointed out that these easily outperform the competitors.

Pros

  • Rich and clean sound
  • Accurate bass
  • Portability
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • 'L' and 'R' inside of headband

Summary

The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x offers a rich and clean sound with an accurate bass response. Their 'L' and 'R' are on the inside of the headband which can become a bit annoying, they are a well priced pair of headphones that deliver a full sound.

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x
$69.00
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from BHPhotoVideo.com
(as of 04-04-2016 11:08 UTC) Details

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Audio-Technica-ATH-M50x-studio headphonesThe Audio-Technica ATH-M50X studio headphones are actually quite incredible. They are very well built with a super sturdy design, suggesting that they are durable and will stand the test of time. The well padded earcups are able to swivel on two axis, allowing them to fold flat for storage purposes. They weigh in at just under 10 ounces, making them quite heavy, but it goes completely unnoticed when they are on your head, as these over-the-ear headphones with their closed back design are remarkably comfortable. Users have mentioned that they are able to wear them for long hours without that strangling, head squashing feeling one gets from some headphones. The sound quality is said to be excellent, crisp, but the highs aren’t particularly bright, warm mid frequencies and an accurate and tight bass response. Check out CNet’s review on the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X, they had nothing but good things to say about these, with the only bad thing being that there was no built-in microphone for taking audio calls. Studio monitor headphones generally are made for studio use, however, so it is completely understandable. The Audio Technica ATH-M50X are an excellent pair of studio headphones. They are according to CNet, “the best-sounding pairs you’ll find for less than $200” and according to all the positive Amazon responses, it is not that difficult to see why.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Accurate bass
  • Clean overall sound

Cons

  • May be too bulky for mobile use

Summary

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a well built headphone that offers a clean overall sound. These are more made for at home use or studio use and are not really suitable for mobile phones.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
$149.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:45 UTC) Details

AKG k271 MKII

AKG-K271-MKII studio headphones

The AKG k271 MKII studio headphones are a great pair of headphones for home or studio use. Although some audiophiles may not be too happy with the accuracy of the bass and the lack of power, many casual listeners did not find problems with the bass and loved the midrange frequency details and the clean high end. The fact these are a closed-back design means that there is very little signal bleeding when one is recording, resulting in little to no spill over. Its self-adjusting headband provides maximum comfort, with users suggesting they can wear these for hours on end without irritation. They come with two cables – one for home use that is 3m long, while the other is a shorter one for people who are on the go, allowing you take them anywhere, anytime. They also come with an auto-mute feature, meaning audio automatically mutes once the MK II’s are removed from your head. Studio users found this a tad annoying however, while at home users thought it was a great addition.  The AKG k271’s are a great pair of headphones that may suffer from some low end bass reproduction, however, the other frequencies are highly praised along with how comfortable these are. These are definitely recommended for at home users or for those who are starting off a home studio.

Pros

  • Comfort
  • decent overall sound quality

Cons

  • Automatic mute when taken off head
  • Bass not very accurate

Summary

The AKG K271 MKII headphones are great for people who enjoy using their headphones for hours on end, as they are comfortable. Their overall sound quality is decent, but may lack in the low end areas. Good for users who do not like bass heavy music.

AKG K271 MKII
$155.34
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:42 UTC) Details

Sennheiser HD 380 PRO

Sennheiser-HD-380-PRO-studio headphones

The Sennheiser brand is very well known for producing professional headphones, and the HD 380 PRO is one of those great headphones. The headphones are well priced and produce a decent audio quality. They are said to have a slight bit of coloration, with the high midrange frequencies being slightly boosted, however this can be adjusted accordingly on an equalizer. Studio headphones are normally characterized by a flat frequency response, so the coloration may put some staunch audiophiles off. It is said to have an increased sound pressure level of 110db which handles demanding volumes and the closed earcups are said to sit comfortably on the ears, especially for those who listen to audio for long periods at a time. They weigh in at 1 pound, making them super lightweight, going almost unnoticed on one’s head. The 2-year warranty on these is an added bonus, making the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro a very affordable and worthwhile purchase.

Pros

  • Portability
  • Decent sound quality
  • Decent sound isolation
  • Great price

Cons

  • Slight coloration

Summary

The Senheisser HD380 headphones offer great sound for the price tag. They unfortunately do not offer an incredibly flat frequency response due to boosted upper-mids, however, they still offer an excellent overall sound.

Sennheiser HD 380 PRO
$149.95
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from BHPhotoVideo.com
(as of 26-11-2016 16:34 UTC) Details

Best Mid-Range Studio Headphones

AKG K712 PRO

AKG-K712 Studio Headphones

The AKG K712 studio headphones offer a really good sound reproduction even though they are a bit on the expensive side. Their deep soundstage and improved bass are said to be fantastic, along with their 105db sensitivity, meaning you would need to pump these quite hard before they distort. They have an impedance of 62 Ohms and their frequency bandwidth ranges from 10Hz – 39800Hz. They are a tad bulky for some, but others loved the looser design, suggesting they sat comfortably on their heads without much fatigue. As mentioned, they are a tad bit on the pricey side, however you get what you paid for with these. They are exceptional in terms of sound, making the AKG K712 PRO a top choice for serious audiophiles who are willing to spend that extra bit of cash.

Pros

  • Comfortable memory foam earcups
  • Great mid and high reproductiom

Cons

  • Slightly loose fit
  • Expensive

Summary

The AKG K712 PRO is a great headphone that offers great comfort around the ears, but it may sit a tad loose around the head. The sound reproduction is great, but at quite a price.

AKG K712 PRO
$625.00$338.50
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:42 UTC) Details

Shure SRH1540

Shure-SRH1540-studio headphonesShure SRH1540 studio headphones are beasts in terms of performance. They are said to have an excellent bass that is not overwhelming in anyway, but instead it maintains an excellent control. The mids are silky smooth and the highs are crisp, but not overly bright. They are said to have an awesome soundstage and their instrument separation is incredible. Users were skeptical of the price that these go for, however, you will get your money’s worth, as these are giants in terms of performance. They have two 40 mm neodymium drivers that are responsible for the acoustic goodness delivered by these and their aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke and carbon fiber cap makes these both durable and lightweight. Users have pointed out these are really comfortable and one can easily wear these all day without any irritation. This is thanks to the ergonomic dual-frame and great padding on the earcups. The cable it comes with is 6-ft long, which is plenty for the home environment. The Shure SRH1540 studio headphones are an excellent choice for serious audiophiles.

Pros

  • Maximum comfort
  • Solid build
  • Great instrument separation and soundstage
  • Great overall sound performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Vocals sound distant

Summary

The Shure SRH1540 is an excellent pair of studio headphones that offer a great overall sound. They may be a bit pricey, but with that price comes exceptional performance.

Shure SRH1540
$499.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:42 UTC) Details

Best High End Studio Headphones

We thought it necessary to add a few high end studio headphones that have caught the attention of serious audio enthusiasts who had no real issue spending a $1000 plus on a pair of cans. The following headphones are deadly in their delivery, administering a dose of saturated sonic heroine that is bound to reduce most to a fetal position from pure audible ecstasy. Be prepared to spend most of you life savings however. But then again, we have yet to meet a music enthusiast who is seen as ‘logical’ for spending ridiculous sums of money on gear that most would find completely unnecessary.

Sennheiser HD800

Sennheiser-HD-800-studio headphones

There is not much to be said about the Sennheiser HD800. The sonic magic delivered by these is unmatched and at the price that these go for, you would certainly hope so. They have incredible detail in their sound delivery and are incredibly comfortable, allowing one endless hours of unhindered listening. Their nominal impedance is 300 Ohms while their frequency range goes from 4 – 51, 000 Hz. These are incredibly neutral in their sound, meaning you will literally only hear what is there. Their overall clarity means that you will hear sounds and instruments in a mix you have never noticed before. These are for at home or studio use and are not suitable for mp3 players. You will definitely not regret investing in these.

Pros

  • Incredible soundstage
  • Incredible neutrality
  • Incredible detail and clarity
  • Incredibly comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive

Summary

The Sennheiser HD800 is remarkeble. Definitely a contender for the best headphones out there. Although expensive, you are paying for an incredibly well engineered headphone set.

Sennheiser HD 800
$1013.47$1013.33
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:38 UTC) Details

Fostex TH900

Fostex TH900 studio headphone

The Fostex TH900 is a true beast. This high fidelity headphone set will set you back quite a bit financially, but this is an investment that won’t disappoint. They are not only visually impressive, with the housing made from Japanese Cherry Birch, but is said to deliver a solid audio experience. Reviewers point to the fact that these deliver a super clean kick and bass that may be a tad bit too much for some, but it doesn’t in any way bleed into other frequencies. The midrange detail is slightly colored, delivering vocals that are enjoyable and that retain their tonality. The high end is said to be super clean and sparkly, but it can be a tad piercing for some users. The soundstage these deliver are excellent. The instruments sound incredibly well placed and sound well layered in their space, pointing to excellent imaging. Due to the potentially booming bass and slightly colored mids, these will be better suited for electronic genres. They have an impedance of 25 ohms and a sensitivity of 100db and their reproduction frequency ranges from 5Hz – 45kHz. Although pricey, the Fostex TH900 is an excellent choice for serious music listeners who are willing to shell out a bit of cash.

Pros

  • Full bodied bass
  • Incredibly detailed
  • Aesthetically pleasing

Cons

  • Slightly colored
  • treble may be too sharp

Summary

The Fostex TH900 is a beautiful pair of headphones that delivers an incredible audio experience. The audio is however slightly colored and the treble a tad bright, but this barely factored into the overall experiences of users.

Fostex TH900
$1049.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 26-07-2017 21:42 UTC) Details

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