12 Best Studio Headphones Under $100 in 2018
If you’re a musician on a budget, then shipping for studio headphones means finding a balance between quality and price. Pros know this style of headphone is generally not cheap, which made things tough as we wanted to offer up the widest selection possible at this price point.
Our experts will share some of the best studio headphones under $100 here in this guide. We feature both Open and Closed-back models, and while some provide a few more extras out of the box, other manufacturers are more focused on quality over quantity.
Top 12 Studio Headphones Under $100 Chart
|Design||Name||Style||Replaceable Cable||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Status Audio CB-1 Closed Back Studio Monitor Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.8|
|2. AudioMX HS-5S Studio Monitor Headphones||Open-Back||No||4.6|
|3. Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones||Closed-Back||No||4.6|
|4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.5|
|5. AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones||Open-Back||Yes||4.5|
|6. LASMEX L-85 Professional DJ Hi-fi Stereo Headphones||Open-Back||Yes||4.5|
|7. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Closed-Back||No||4.5|
|8. OneOdio Adapter-free DJ Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.3|
|9. LyxPro HAS-30 Closed Back Over-Ear Professional Recording Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.3|
|10. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone||Closed-Back||No||4.3|
|11. Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.2|
|12. KRK KNS6400 Studio Headphones||Closed-Back||No||4.2|
While this type of headphone is for studio use, you do not have to be a professional to own a pair. Even the best studio headphones under $100 can have outstanding sound quality although the fit and comfort level may not be what you will find from top-tier models. If you plan on being in the studio for hours on end, comfort should be one of the first things on your mind.
Whether you are going Open or Closed-back, pay attention the materials the cups are made from and if they will sit on your ear of fit around them. Most of our picks are over-ear, but still may not be the best fit depending on the size of your head. Some of these will let you adjust the size across the top while others are fixed or “one size fits all” in a sense.
Everyone has a different style, and some may want to look like a million bucks while producing tracks in a studio. Well, we can’t help you with that as we are not talking about that type of style. Instead, we’re going to focus on Open and Closed-back headphones, the two most common types of headphones found in studios today.
- Closed-Back Headphones – This style of headphone is the most prevalent on the planet. The cups are “closed” at the back which creates a seal that keeps sound in. They are what you will want for recording tracks whether in the studio or at home.
- Open-Back Headphones – If you a see a pair of headphones with grills on the back of the cup or slots, there is a good chance it’s an open-back headphone. DJs and music mixers are going to appreciate these considering they allow ambient sound in, which allows you to listen in to things around you.
Cables & Cups
Next to the drivers powering your headphones, the cables are arguably the second most important component. In this class, you can usually get headphones with cables that detach, which is important for several reasons. If they become damaged or frayed with use, you can replace them, so you do not need to buy a whole new set of headphones. Some will also allow you to change up the tone or give you extra functionality.
As for those cups, while we mentioned the fit, you also need to think about the materials used in the construction. Vinyl or other slick materials can cause your head to sweat while foam cups are soft and allow your head to breathe a little more. Unlike the cables, you cannot switch out the cups although some companies may sell replacements if they become worn with time.
Top 5 Best Studio Headphones Under $100 Reviews
Some of the best studio headphones under $100 are from Status Audio. These are the CB-1 Studio Monitor Headphones, which are of the closed back variety. Designed for the studio, these bad boys are perfect for long nights recording tracks and are quite portable to boot.
The Status Audio headphones collapse for storage when not in use, which is handy if you have a small home studio and need every inch you can spare for your gear. These headphones are neutral in the sense that they hit the entire spectrum but are not “bass heavy” which makes them suitable for many styles of music. The 50mm drivers can handle a frequency range of 15 – 30kHz with an impedance of 32 ohms. They are relatively light at 13.2 ounces and will sit comfortably on the head for most folks.
These aren’t what we could consider “cheap” headphones as they come in towards the top of our list when it comes to price. That’s why it is unfortunate they don’t come with a carrying case, the only real negative in our eyes. You will get two detachable cables however and a 1/4” stereo adapter.
Our first two choices can be used by anyone in any studio setting, but these are for folks that enjoy mixing beats. The AudioMX HS-5S Headphones are open-back, so while sound can leak out, you can also hear what’s going on around including tracks as you lay down the beats.
These open-back beauties have large grills on the outside of each cup and allow you to use only a single ear. The cups swivel 110-degrees which is crucial for mixing, and while they look large, they drivers are actually only 42mm. The cups are super comfy and thickly padded with medium density foam. On the off chance you have a mishap, AudioMX is kicking in an extra set for free. Other technical details of interest for the HS-5S include an oxygen-free cable, an impedance of 55 ohms and they can cover the frequency range of 15 – 30,000Hz.
The HS-5S are open-back headphones that won’t break the bank and will look good on your head. The padded top band provides additional comfort, but the wires are attached to both cups. That’s not going to work for some, so keep that in mind if you need replacement cables or a bit more freedom from your setup.
It doesn’t matter if you need a great pair of headphones for your PlayStation, PC or home stereo, Sony has something for you. That includes consumers in the market for a solid pair of studio headphones. Well, you’ll get just that from the Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones, which are setup with CCAW wiring.
CCAW stands for Copper Clad Aluminum Wire, and while we can’t attest to its prowess firsthand, Sony claims it allows for more movement in the diaphragm. The drivers clock in at 40mm with a frequency range of 5 – 30,000Hz. They will cover the full audio spectrum, or enough of it for most folks, and have an impedance of 63 ohms. Like many modern headphones, these will fold up, so they are portable even if they look a bit retro in the style department. They will be comfortable however thanks to a wide headband and soft padding around the cups.
Unfortunately, the only downside to these headphones happens to be a big one. You cannot detach the cable on this particular model although it’s only attached to one cup, not two. While it may be a deal breaker if you want wireless or swappable cables, the Sony MDRV6 Headphones are still worth your time if cables are not a concern.
Audio-Technica produces a broad range of affordable monitoring headphones and is the only company to make our list numerous times. We went for the ATH-M40x headphones, which are their top models in this class and well worth your time.
If you are in the market for headphones with large comfortable cups that block out the outside world, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the ATH-M54x. As you can see, the inner part of the cup is quite large, so these will sit “over” anyone’s ear while the thickly padded cups ensure you stay comfortable.
Those cups also swivel 90-degrees out and 15-degrees “in” while the cable detaches. As for the actual audio, the 40mm drivers are a bit smaller than some but cover 15 – 24,000Hz with a sensitivity of 98 dB. The impedance is listed at 35 ohms, and they have a maximum input power of 1,600mW at 1kHz.
There’s a lot to love about these headphones, and you will get some goodies out of the box as well. The ATH-M50x Pro Studio Monitor Headphones will come with solid carrying pouch, three detachable cables (one coiled) and a 1/4” screw on adapter.
If you thought Sony’s headphones looked a little old-fashioned, you just hadn’t found your way to our 5th pick. The AKG K240’s are Studio Headphones that look like they came from the Golden Age of Radio but deliver the sound quality you would expect today.
The AKG K240’s are “Pro” grade headphones built for studio usage. The have a semi open-back design, which isn’t quite a full grill, but slotted with circular cutouts which allow the sound out. The company installed XXL transducers into the vented enclosure for a solid sound that covers everything from the lows to the highs. We will not delve into all the technical specifications, but the two you’ll want to note are the frequency range set at 15 – 25,000Hz and the impedance which is listed at 55 ohms.
Despite their classic style, the K240’s sound fantastic and are a great option for producers that need quality but are not quite ready for some of the beefier, more expensive models. These to come with detachable cables sporting gold-plated plugs, and while they can’t fold, they are quite durable and built to last against whether you are traveling or sitting in your home studio.