12 Best Studio Headphones in 2017
Only a few generations ago, if you wanted to enjoy music you had to go see it performed live. In this digital age we have virtually every recorded performance at our fingertips, but until you find the best studio headphones for your setup.
In order to hear music the way that it’s supposed to be heard, you’ll need a pair of headphones that are made with the care and skill of audio engineers, but with an ergonomic design that makes the headphones an extension of your ears.
In order to find the great studio headphones, you’ll have to venture into the world of audiophiles and engineers, a place that can be intimidating and sometimes overwhelming. We’re going to give you a good start that will show you some of the best offerings on the market, and we’ll let you take it from there.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Studio Headphones Comparison Chart
- The Ultimate Guide to Studio Headphone Shopping
- If You Can’t Wear Them, They’re No Good
- Do You Have a Steady Gig, or Are You Always on the Road?
- Don’t Let the Gear Get in the Way of the Experience
- Top 5 Best Studio Headphones Reviews
- Final Thoughts
Top 12 Studio Headphones Comparison Chart
|Design||Name||One-ear Monitoring?||Jack Size||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone||No||¼-inch
|2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Yes||1/8-inch||4.6|
|3. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone||No||¼-inch
|4. Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone||No||¼-inch
|5. Edifier H840 Audiophile Over-the-ear Headphones||Yes||1/8-inch||4.5|
|6. Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-ear Headphones||No||1/8-inch||4.5|
|7. Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones||Yes||¼-inch
|8. V-MODA Crossfade LP2 Vocal Limited Edition Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone||No||¼-inch
|9. Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones||No||1/8-inch||4.3|
|10. Audio Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Headphones||Yes||¼-inch
|11. AKG Pro Audio K612PRO Reference Studio Headphone||No||¼-inch
|12. Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones||Yes||¼-inch
The Ultimate Guide to Studio Headphone Shopping
Some people want to hear exactly what the Beatles sounded like in the studio, while others want to be able to pick out the second chair viola in the Moscow Philharmonic.
Studio headphones can be a bit of an investment, and we’re sure that you’d rather spend your extra cash on new recordings instead of gambling on another pair of headphones.
We’ve got a couple of things that we think you should keep in mind so that you can make the most of your purchase. Take a look at our list, and if you put these ideas to work, we think that you’ll have the absolute best studio headphones for your personal setup.
If You Can’t Wear Them, They’re No Good
So many people spend time worrying about megahertz and neodymium magnets, but they forget the importance good old-fashioned comfort. If your headphones aren’t, comfortable, or if they don’t fit correctly, you’ll take them off before you ever get to your favorite song.
Adjustability isn’t a luxury, as we all have heads of different shapes and sizes. This is one of the most personal variables, and while we can show you which offerings are more adjustable than others, a proper fit is something you have to discover for yourself.
We will caution you that without a decent fit and an acceptable level of comfort, even the highest of the high-end headphones are bound to disappoint. If you have an electronics or audio store where you can try on different models, we highly recommend that you do so.
Do You Have a Steady Gig, or Are You Always on the Road?
Are you the kind of person who’s going to curl up with a good record and just soak in the sound, or are you looking for a high-end listening experience as you travel about through your day?
Knowing the level of portability that you need is essential to studio headphones. Only a few years ago, wearing over-ear headphones in public was considered a fashion no-no, but today you’ve got a whole fashion centered around these accessories, so the only limitations are your personal preferences.
While smaller doesn’t necessarily mean lighter, having a more compact and portable pair of headphones is essential for travelers or people who just like to travel light. Many headphones are designed to be collapsible for easy storage when not in use.
If you’re going to be relaxing around the house, then maybe weight isn’t much of an issue for you. When you can go big, you can start looking at headphones designed for and by audiophiles.
Don’t Let the Gear Get in the Way of the Experience
Like you, we’re here because we love the music. There’s more than a few options and if you want to get technical, you could spend the rest of your life memorizing specs and obsessing over gold connections and slight variations in millihertz frequencies.
It’s our recommendation that you put the music first, and find the headphones that let you hear the sounds that really move you. When you’ve done that, you’ve most certainly found the best studio headphones.
Top 5 Best Studio Headphones Reviews
The best thing we can say about Sennheiser’s HD 600 is that it gets out of the way and lets the music do the talking. That sounds like it should be simple, but these headphones were designed and calibrated by studio engineers to provide an exceptional level of sonic clarity.
The aluminum voice coils are driven by neodymium ferrous magnets for a sound that’s about as distortion-free as you’re going to find anywhere. The mesh grills on the exterior of the headphones also provide a bit of sound to escape, rather than capturing it in the headphone to interfere with your listening experience.
Luxurious padding and generous adjustability make them easy to wear, but for users who are more used to Beats by Dre, the size may seem a bit big for everyday travel.
When reviewed by engineers and amateurs alike, Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x receives consistently high praise. These are the updated version of the ATH-M50, and the only real change is the added feature of detachable cables.
Just like its predecessor, this model uses 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils to produce a sonic experience that you won’t get from just any other headphones. The accurate audio that’s produced with these pro-grade speakers is going to be suitable for anything from classical to metal.
The contoured earcups do an excellent job of conforming to your ears to prevent sound bleed, both in and out. For more professional environments, this model also has a swiveling earpiece for one-ear monitoring while you work.
Sony’s MDR7506 employ tech that’s similar to some of the headphones listed above, but at a price that puts them well within reach of any audiophile or casual listener. The arrangement of neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers provide a crisp, clear voice that provides crystal-clear high, easily accessible mid-range tones, and deep, growling bass.
Gold-plated plugs and a 9.8-foot coiled gives you the connection you need for a studio setting, but you can also remove the ¼-inch jack to reveal a headphone jack for your phone or MP3 player.
Not only will get an impressive level of sound and clarity, but the unique design of these headphones fold up into an included carrying case for easy storage. Ample foam padding on each ear and across the headband makes them comfortable, and at less than a pound, you’ll probably forget that you’re wearing them.
If you’re familiar with Sennheiser products, then you’re probably not surprised to see them show up on twice on this list. Up above you may remember us talking about Sennheiser’s HD600 headphones, and the HD650 is based on the same design, but with some notable upgrades.
You have the same neodymium magnets and lightweight aluminum coils as the HD 600, but the 650 is outfitted with a feature called “acoustic silk,” which dampens distortion across the entire acoustic range. This allows you to get an even greater level of clarity from the hand-matched magnets that drive the system.
The physical design of the headphones is essentially the same, from the chassis to the luxurious foam padding. If you are a serious audiophile with a truly experienced ear, we think that you’ll appreciate that difference, but the increased cost is what had us place these headphones at #4 on our list.
If you’re a bang-for-the-buck kind of shopper, then Edifer’s H840 is going to go straight into your win column. This durable pair of headphones has been carefully calibrated to produce a lifelike sound that’s powered by 40mm drivers and neodymium magnets. The lifelike level of the sound is far beyond the price, and while these may come last in our list, it’s definitely an option you should consider.
For an entry-level option, or as a pair of headphones for everyday use, this is going to be your go-to set for anything from gaming to workouts to just listening to music while you work. Each ear also offers 180-degree rotation, giving you the option for one-ear monitoring that’s so essential for DJ’s and studio engineers.
The ergonomic fit and steel-reinforced headband make it a ready choice for anyone who’s going to be wearing these headphones for an extended period.
Don’t be intimidated! All it takes is a little bit of research and a touch of introspection, and you’ll be set up with a great set of headphones for your studio needs.
There are options available for serious audiophiles, gamers, music enthusiasts, or just someone who wants a little more oomph with their sonic experience. We think that once you’ve dipped your toe into the world of high-end headphones, finding the right ones for studio use will be much clearer.