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When you’re laying down some sweet new beats, you want to be certain that what you hear in the studio is what’s going down on “tape”.
For that, you need monitoring cans that can live up to your expectations, when you’re mixing and recording, you have to be able to rely on their sound reproduction profile.
And to help you out, we’ve tested over 50 pairs of headphones to come up with our list of the best studio headphones for mixing and recording.
With more than 60 years in the business of headphones, Grado Labs are high-end specialists.
These cans took their whole team 2 years to design and develop and their sonic character is simply the best.
1. The widest soundstage you’re going to get with headphones
2. A very unique and desired response profile that really shines
3. The construction is incredibly high-quality and they’ll last for years
1. Out of our budget range and probably for many of you too
2. The ear cups could be a bit more comfortable
3. They’re a bit heavier than our usual headphones
1. Did we mention how cheap these headphones are? Because they are.
2. They come with a fairly lengthy cord for most situations.
3. They’re very compact and can be stored easily.
1. They get warm on your ears pretty quickly.
2. They’re not the most comfortable of headphones in our tests.
3. The cable is not detachable which means it’s a pain to replace.
We love these Beyerdynamic cans for mixing with and they have a very rich bass, clear mids and the highs are soaring too!
They offer an excellent frequency response range that covers nearly every use.
1. You can replace any part of these headphones when you need to
2. They offer a very wide response range
3. Their tonal balance is excellent and very accurate too
1. That headband is one of the stiffest things we’ve tested
2. The ear pads are not replaceable which is very irksome
3. Needs an amplifier for the best results
Sennheiser’s budget offerings are really good even though they’re a bit on the heavy side at 16 ounces.
The noise isolation and frequency response are very, very good though particularly at this price.
1. Great value for money and backed by a strong brand
2. The sound quality is everything you’d expect from Sennheiser
3. They’re built to last and are very high quality
1. Not built for large heads and they can squeeze very tightly, indeed
2. Not the loudest of headphones in our tests
3. The cord is much more bulky than we’d like
If you’re looking for super light cans that are built to last then you can’t go wrong with these Shure open-back headphones.
They are very good for mastering as you can avoid the low-end pressure of closed-back headphones.
1. Very detailed highs, and a superb bass tone combined with a clear midrange
2. One of the lightest pairs of headphones that we’ve ever tested
3. They use Kevlar to make these, they’re built to last
1. They’re not great for isolating sound – don’t use these for live work
2. Some users say that they felt the earpads weren’t the best but this wasn’t an issue for us
3. Quite expensive compared to some other options in our tests
These light headphones are a good budget choice and they are also built to last, we found the sound quality to be quite acceptable.
The only thing that we wish is that the hard case came in the box and not as a purchasable extra.
1. Very nice price point
2. Easy to fold up and put away
3. A detachable cable is great news for those who like to repair equipment rather than replace
1. The sound separation could be better
2. The plastic on the ear cups might flake over time depending on your usage level
3. The initial “clamping” effect is hard but it does ease off over time
These post-production cans offer a wonderful 5-40 KHz frequency range which is all you can really ask for in a set of studio headphones.
They’re one of the most durable sets of headphones we tested too.
1. Three cables and all the adapters needed come in the box
2. The heavy cushioning on the headband and padded ear cups are super comfy
3. The frequency response really can compete with some of the most expensive headsets on the market
1. The bass frequencies can build up and thus they sometimes deliver an exaggerated bass response
2. Some users say that they managed to snap the plastic frame easily when in use
3. Not ideal for small heads as they don’t clamp tightly enough
With 29 decibels of isolation you won’t need to worry about the backing tracks bleeding out into your mics.
However, these are heavy cans which grip very tightly which is going to mean you’ll either love or hate them.
1. Sound isolation is excellent and particularly at this price point
2. They offer a nearly flat EQ profile (with a little bass enhancement)
3. Drummers absolutely love them as they protect you from high room volume
1. Might be too tight and heavy for some users to find comfortable
2. They feel a bit cheap and plasticky given the price
3. The left and right channels aren’t labelled
If you like your gear old-school then you’re going to love these AKG headphones which are among the most accurate when it comes to acoustic reproduction.
They work best with an amplifier though.
1. The ear pads are among the most comfortable in our tests
2. The sound reproduction is incredibly accurate
3. The old school aesthetic appeal really works for us
1. The ear pads could be a little softer, you feel them after a few hours of use
2. You really need a headphone amplifier to get the best out of them
3. The soldering isn’t the best quality and can come undone
You’ll need a decent budget for these as they’re not for casual recording. However, they are made from airplane-grade aluminum and are super lightweight.
Our only complaint is the bass is a bit light.
1. Incredible reproduction of mid and high tones
2. Very lightweight and comfortable to use for long periods of time
3. Built to last
1. A bit light on the bass end of things
2. Work best with a headphone amplifier
3. More expensive than most of our other options (but worth it)
Whatever you’re laying down or mixing, these headphones have got you covered to ensure that you have the best possible sound profile.
Of course, if you’re looking for headphones for more casual use around the home then you might want to check out these bone conduction headphones, instead.