The Best Studio Headphones under $50

The Best Studio Headphones under $50

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There's no mystery the music industry is massive, a statement which is further backed by the claims of "Indie US creators which earned a total of $6.8bn online in 2018." With the right studio equipment, you can wade into a segment of this industry too.​

Every day, indie music artists emerge onto the stage. Music producers such as ApasheMISSIOUnlike Pluto or The Glitch Mob were once little as well, and they all started with minimum equipment. But today, you have a head start by proceeding to the store and buying only the most reliable and effective studio headphones for making music.

The subject of tracking and mixing always arises among eager to become music composers. In the beginning, you might want to consider the most affordable studio equipment and perhaps get suggestions regarding a quality set of headphones for monitoring and mixing. Because of the ongoing demand for such information and questions on this subject, we decided to create an exclusive list of the best studio headphones under $50 to help you.

We've compiled a List of Top Rated Studio Headphones in 2021

Whether you are an indie music creator or just want to venture with a new hobby, the headphones presented in this article are suitable for studio monitoring, DJing, critical listening and even casual listening.

Don’t have time to read? Here is a summary:

  1. Audio-Technica ATH-M20X – Our best overall studio headphone under $50 with quality craftsmanship and analytical sound.
  2. Shure SRH240 – The best studio monitor headphone over $50 in terms of sound performance, convenience and reliability.
  3. AKG K240 Studio – The best semi-open studio headphones over $50 with wide soundstage and fantastic instrumental playback.
  4. AKG K92 – The best lightweight studio headphones under $50 for mixing and monitoring with detailed and accurate vocal and acoustic reproduction.
  5. Presonus HD7 – A great value semi-open model with deep, powerful bass and the widest frequency response range in its class.

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M20x - Best Overall

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 15 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 47 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm Neodymium | Weight: 190g | Sensitivity: 96 dB

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Review

The ATH-M20x is one of the best performing, affordable over-the-ear professional studio headphones for little under $50 which earned a lot of points for its cool looking black sleek design as well as its neutral sound and the thought-out ergonomics which make it comfortable for thorough audio monitoring sessions.

Although they are more intended for beginners, the over-ears are mainly conceived for studio environments and home recording, but not limited to audio mixing for music creators within a tight budget. They are characterized by a clear and impeccable audio playback, which was expected from a great studio product from Audio Technica. The precise sound is a characteristic specific to monitoring headphones which is usually not found in the basic consumer headphone even at higher prices than ATH-M20x.

As a matter of sound quality, the lower end of the audio spectrum, the bass, feels kind of flat and low, however the mid range is pleasingly vivid for a good cheap studio headphone purposed for monitoring and mixing. The vocals and melodies are properly introduced, sometimes lacking a bit of warmth in the lower end, but overall the good sound resolution and clarity sustain a positive argument for a top quality studio headphones.

Besides sound quality, the headphones have a superior build compared to other studio headphones in the same price range. Its robust build and high-quality materials have the upperhand in this scenario which ensures long-lasting use. The foldable, yet very flexible M20x are not constructed wholly with plastic, but also aluminum slider, and it comes with a 3 m hard wired cable, a 6.3 mm snap-on adapter, and a user manual.

Specifications

  • Robust build with quality materials
  • Comfortable for long sessions

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Budget Version:

2. Shure SRH240 - Best Performance

The Shure SRH240 is a professional-grade headset that’s ideal for listening to music on any equipment. It’s the junior model in Shure’s professional headphone series and is perfect for listening to music from portable players, smartphones, and other applications.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 38 Ohms | Maximum input power: 500 mW (at 1 kHz) | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm | Weight: 238g (without cable) | Sensitivity: 107 dB

Shure SRH240 Review

Shure has traditionally specialized in studio microphones. Not too long ago, the company began marketing a line of studio headsets bearing the SRH (Studio Reference Headphones) series. To date, many music artists have used the high-end Shure series for professional purposes. Yet few are familiar with the Shure SRH240 studio headphones, which cost about $50. Is it a reliable model for entering the studio? We think so, and with good reason.

The headphones have a very balanced, and even frequency response, which is essential for recording and listening to music at home or in the studio. The bass is not too loud, and the upper bass is not emphasized, which would have affected the lower midrange and midrange frequencies. For this reason, the Shure SRH240 headphones have absolutely no trouble helping you locate the sound source of instruments and the original sound of the recording. The lower bass makes the studio headphones less effective for recording tracks with bass but more effective for balanced, vocal-driven songs.

The SRH240 has neodymium drivers that are 40mm in size. That’s not much, but it’s enough at this price, especially considering that the vast majority of professionals, even the most successful in this field, never use larger drivers. The impedance is 38 ohms, so it’s immediately clear that the headphones were designed as universal and portable to work with a large variety of devices.

The soundstage makes a nice impression with its width and even depth. The headphones provide basic information about the location of the musicians, although compared to more sophisticated studio monitoring headphones, their advantages fade. However, not all headphones in higher price categories can boast the ability to build depth into the scene as the Shure SRH240, which, for the record, is a fairly low-priced studio headphone. In any case, the advertising slogan that the SRH240 is the introduction to a series of reference headphones can be considered largely fulfilled.

Certainly, the detail and transparency of the Shure SRH240 are up to par while keeping their price in mind. Sure, they’re inferior in these parameters to the 440, but not by much. Nevertheless, what the Shure 240s do better than the 440s is the way they build the soundstage, with many layers and the singer in the foreground. This is an audiophile-quality that is highly appreciated. That’s what we like about the 240s and why musicians looking for a low-budget studio monitor headphone should consider them.


The Shure SRH240 studio headphones have a 3-year warranty and are fantastic for studio monitoring work. It’s lighter and more comfortable than the Shure SRH440, and it sounds much better than more expensive headphones (we’ve listened to many headphones that cost twice as much) and can even challenge the SRH440 at half the price.

Specifications

  • Cable: 2 m, fixed, oxygen-free copper
  • Connector: 1/8″ (3.5 mm) gold-plated stereo mini-jack
  • Includes 6.3 mm nickel-plated adapter
  • Warranty: 3 years

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
Shure SRH440

Budget Version:

3. AKG K240 Studio - Semi-Open Studio Headphones

The AKG K240 studio headphones offer incredible sound and comfort and are ideal for studio listening. These headphones feature leather and velvet ear pads and a self-adjusting headband for a perfect fit and maximum comfort. These semi-open studio headphones offer a frequency range of 15 Hz to 25 kHz, allowing for very accurate listening while still offering the ability to use one ear only.

Type: Semi-open Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 15 – 25.000 Hz | Impedance: 55 Ohms | Maximum input power: 200 mW | THD (harmonic distortion): < 0.3 | SPL (Sound Pressure Level): 104 dB (SPL/V) | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm | Weight: 240g (without cable)

AKG K240 Studio Review

As expected, we heard the typical sound of semi-open/open headphones. However, there are some interesting features in the sound reproduction of this model. The AKG K240 Studio has a beautiful midrange. The sound is clear and crisp. When you listen to the classics or some of the songs of Zack Hemsey, Hanz Zimmer, or Ludovico Einaudi, you get goosebumps.

The headphones proved their worth in other musical genres, but the weakest side (as in all open/semi-open headphones) was the bass. They are present but not really grasped. Therefore, for producers of electronic and dance music, these studio headphones will not satisfy. However, the headphones are suitable for Chill, Deep House, Lounge, Instrumental, and other styles of music that do not have pronounced dynamics.

During recording, the headphones performed best, reproducing vocals and guitar. The details of the female voices were particularly clear. For such elements of music composition, use the AKG K240 Studio because thanks to the smoothness of the sound and the excellent monitoring, the various errors and artifacts are noticeable.

When you listen to the AKG K-240 Studio, you think – well, they are quite detailed! But when you switch to the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, you realize that there is still much more to be desired. However, the actual price difference between the AKG K-240 Studio and the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 32 Ohm is significant. This is very important because it helps us understand that the K240 is very competent for a studio headphone under $50.

In terms of price, there is also the much cheaper Chinese version of the AKG K-240, the Superlux HD-681, for about $25.00, which offers very good sound for its money. However, we still think it would be wiser to spend full price on the original, which has much better materials and will last much longer than the Chinese copy.

Overall, the AKG K240 Studio is very reliable and durable, with a very smooth and even sound (which is especially appreciated after listening to many headphones with excessive and distorted bass and treble). They are not high impedance, so they are good for listening to audio players and smartphones.

Specifications

  • 99.99% OFC copper cable, 3 m (10 ft) cable with 3.5 mm (1/8″) stereo connector
  • Gold-plated 6.3 mm (1/4″) jack adapter

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
AKG K 240 MK II

Budget Version:

4. AKG K92 - Lightweight Studio Headphones

The AKG K92 are closed-back headphones with a sleek black and gold design. They feature a comfortable design and a low weight, which makes them very comfortable. In the tonal balance, the AKG K92 gives some preference to the lower end of the spectrum; otherwise, their sound can be described as intelligible, natural, and of very high quality, considering the budget category. Despite its professional status, the AKG K92 does not require a powerful amplifier and works with any portable audio equipment.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 16 – 22.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm |Maximum input power: 200mW | Weight: 200g | SPL (Sound Pressure Level): 113dB

AKG K92 Review

The K92 model leads AKG’s trio of inexpensive studio headphones distinguished by their stylish combination of black with gold elements. The cushioned ear cups do a good job of isolating outside noise. Large synthetic leather-covered earpads completely cover your ears.

The main benefit of these headphones is their clear, balanced, and detailed sound with good soundstage. The scene comes out well, and the headphones can be used for monitoring. Thanks to the detailed sound reproduction, we could hear all the imperfections of sound and singers when listening to Indie music. If audio monitoring is your job as a sound engineer, these headphones are a must.

As far as drawbacks go, the only problem we have with the AKG K92 budget studio headphones is that, even though the headphones are closed-back type and designed for recording studios, if you turn up the volume, the music leaks out and can affect your recording. However, the experience is not flawed when monitoring your music. Perhaps if the manufacturer had improved the noise isolation, it would have affected the sound quality, making it be less voluminous, so the choice was intentional. Of course, for the same reason, the K92 headphones are not for everyone, and do not have the same level of sound detail as Shure SRH240, but will suit people who need reliable cheap studio headphones for tracking.

The reproduction of the AKG K92 pleases with the careful and natural delivery of timbres, whose clarity and resolution do not suffer from high volume. The tonal balance of the AKG K92 is shifted towards the bass. As a result, music is better conveyed in the lower half of the sound spectrum, while the upper half is darkened. The playback style does not affect the clarity of the upper frequencies, which remains quite good, but reduces the brightness and articulation of the high frequencies.


The headphones reproduce well the vocal and instrumental parts, and displays large choirs and orchestras with good separation. In rock music, they can energetically reproduce drums and bass guitar. In classical and jazz music, strings, violin, brass, and percussion are reproduced accurately and intelligibly. The studio headphones have great value, can be used to record various musical genres, and come with a 24-month warranty.

Specifications

  • Large 40mm drivers with a wide frequency response of 16 – 22,000 Hz.
  • Comfortable, self-adjusting headband
  • Gold-plated 3.5mm jack with 6.3mm screw-in adapter included
  • Replaceable leatherette ear cushions

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
AKG K-240 Studio

Budget Version:
AKG K-72

5. Presonus HD7 - Runner-up

The Presonus HD7 impresses me first of all with its acoustic performance and its wide frequency response (10 Hz – 30 kHz). Its semi-open construction, 50 mm drivers, neodymium magnets, and leather earpads are only part of what this headset has to offer. The absence of any sound coloration and the wide frequency response allows for a greater variety of sounds, which is essential in tracking recordings. Another advantage is the low value of the parameter responsible for harmonic distortion, which naturally affects the quality of the sound.

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Type: Semi-open Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 10 – 30.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Input Power: 300 mW | SPL (Sound Pressure Level): 98 dB (SPL/V) | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm | Weight: 222g

Presonus HD7 Review

The powerful bass and neutral midrange perfectly complement the clear highs. However, the biggest surprise was the price as we did not expect to buy a headphone with such good features at such a low price, confidently competing with more expensive models. It also has a very detailed sound and a neutral tonal balance with a wide bass range, allowing you to accurately analyze your music recordings’ quality. Unless you’re dealing with truly professional gear, the Presonus HD7 monitor headphones are the best bet, at barely over $50.

The ear cups are made of leather and have soft padding. The design and materials make the headphones comfortable to wear, and their low weight, combined with their resistance to mechanical stress, makes them easy to carry. While the headphones are worth the attention, they do have one small drawback: the earcup material, with prolonged use, is very sweaty, so you might get uncomfortable over time.

Nevertheless, the Presonus HD7 is a fantastic budget monitor headset with a pretty good sound for its price. The semi-open construction of the Presonus HD7 is good for recording and monitoring but best for mixing. They play very clear, look solid, have a long cable and screw-on adapter, a gold-plated plug, and 50mm drivers for good bass reproduction.


The PreSonus HD-7 headphones are more than reasonably priced with all the obvious qualities, making them an excellent buy for fans of quality, balanced sound – music lovers and professionals alike. This is an excellent example of modern headphones suitable for listening to all kinds of music that you can buy on Amazon.

Specifications

  • 50mm dynamic drivers, neodymium magnet
  • Cable length 2.5 meters, 3.5 mm mini-jack plug
  • Plastic enclosure & Leather ear pads

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
Presonus HD9 (closed-back)

Budget Version:

6. AKG K-72 - Bang for the buck

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 16 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm | Weight: 200g | Sensitivity: 112 dB

AKG K-72 Review

With the same motto of “black design is awesome”, the beautiful looking matte black AKG K72 is one of the cheapest closed-back, monitoring headphones with over-ear earcups under $50. With a weight of 200 grams, it uses the AKG typical self-adjusting headband, which provides a snug fit and exemplary level of comfort. A folding mechanism or something alike is not provided, but that’s the price of premium comfort in this case.

The low-priced studio headphones have a relatively low impendance (32 Ohms) for a proper set of cans for monitoring, which is satisfactory for best audio reproduction among mobile devices thus making them a great pair of recording headphones for music producers – It also has a nominal load capacity of 200mW. The “112 dB SPL/V” sound pressure is suitable to the purpose of these portable monitor headphones, which is definitely more than adequate.

As all studio monitoring headphones, the AKG K72s are designed to offer a wide range of frequencies (16 – 20000 Hz) to be able to hear the most detailed musical notes with the highest accuracy which is favorable for the correct reproduction of ones music. In addition, the sound response is flatter than most headphones for monitoring; also, it manages to reproduce the sound in the low range and treble well. Ultimately, regardless the extremely affordable price tag, AKG’s K72 is more suitable for home use or less professional works. Therefore, it’s not as adequate for monitoring as our first pick, Audio Technica ATH-M20X.

Specifications

  • 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) to 6.3 mm (1/4 inch) screw-on adapter
  • Robust design and comfy
  • Extremely high value
  • Wide and fairly precise sound

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
AKG K-240 Studio

Budget Version:
AKG K-52

7. Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi - Cheap Bluetooth Studio Monitors

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 40 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 50 mm | Weight: 237g | Sensitivity: 100 dB

Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi Review

Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi is another one of those great mixing headphones with Bluetooth at a low price that won’t fade away rapidly from the scene. Its lack of wired cable is much liked by DJs and everybody who loves convenience more than anything while still retaining the best sound accuracy across the whole audio spectrum – While the sound quality is present through the wireless feature, a 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the bottom of the left earcup ready for use for even higher clarity and accurate sound reproduction.

The over-the-ears DJ style studio headphones offer excellent sound reproduction with the 50mm drivers which provide a good full range of frequencies: the low frequencies are very ahead as well as the midrange; although the highs feel well-balanced everything remains balanced, accurate, and boomy which is the most suitable sound profile for a DJ.

In the end, while they can be used in the studio for audio monitoring, the Monoprice 8323 Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style bestows with one of the lightest construction, surprising detail and impressive sound signature as one of the best headphones for DJs.

Specifications

  • Sleek design and comfortable fit
  • Great for all-around situations
  • Beautifully balanced with Bluetooth
  • Best bassy DJ headphones

Alternatives:

Upgrade:

Budget Version:

 

8. OneOdio Pro 10

With about a decade of experience, OneOdio is no longer a start-up, but it’s not particularly well-known either. The OneOdio Pro 10 is designed to be an inexpensive DJ and studio headset for entry-level DJs, and it fulfills that purpose relatively well. Two plug-in cables (3.5 and 6.3mm) are included in the delivery package, the cups can be rotated, and the sound is impressive for the price.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 50 mm | Weight: 240g | Sensitivity: 110 dB

OneOdio Pro 10 Review

The materials used to create these budget studio DJ headphones are rather basic, plastic and leather on the ear cups and headband. The headphones are comfortable, and therefore convenient to wear but can’t compare to the K92 in this regard. The OneOdio Studio Pro 10 is incredibly compact and also folds up. The ear cups have a 90-degree swivel mechanism, so they are positioned like DJ headphones. It’s convenient to carry in a backpack and even in large jacket pockets.

Each earphone has a 3.5mm and 6.35mm audio jack, respectively. While the 3.5 jack connects to headphones, the 1/4″ jack can connect to a microphone, amplifier, mixing console, or guitar. What else, you can likewise connect two devices at once and listen to them simultaneously without loss of sound quality, although the quality of music depends on the sound source. The headphones hold up quite well at maximum volume, without distortion, and, unlike the AKG K92, they isolate well and don’t leak sound.

The sound response can be described as strong in the bass, with clean highs and well-balanced reproduction of vocal tones. For me, the OneOdio Studio Pro 10s were satisfying and reproduced electronic, dance, country, blues, rock, and other 20th-century music genres brilliantly. They’re clearly more versatile than AKG K240 in playable music but not as balanced and linear, which shows its inclination towards DJs. This model is labeled “studio headphones,” although its sonic response is not as neutral and almost analytical as studio headphones for tracking, but rather has deep, punchy bass, which is more suited to listening to modern music


The only compromise you have to make with the OneOdio Pro 10 DJ headphones is in terms of ergonomic performance. Although the headphones weigh only 240 grams, they’re not incredibly comfortable and enjoyable, according to test results. At least, not over the long term. For those who do short DJ sets and can take a break once an hour, the OneOdio Pro 10 DJ, with its low cost and 24-month warranty, is a definite buy.

Specifications

  • The set comes with two cables: 1. with two jacks, 3.5 and 6.3. 2. with two plugs, 3.5 and 3.5 with a microphone.
  • Detachable cables because the most common problem with cheap headphones is cable breakage.

Alternatives:

Upgrade:

Budget Version:

9. AKG K52

The Austrian company AKG is known worldwide as a reliable and proven manufacturer of audio equipment. Whether for professional or everyday use, the brand’s headphones are highly regarded by fans of high-quality sound. The AKG K52 studio headphones for under $50 have an attractive price for the average consumer, a pleasing appearance, and best of all: excellent sound quality for the price.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 18 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm | Weight: 200g | Sensitivity: 110 dB

AKG K-52 Review

The product is all black with a metal headband painted in a dark tone. The famous design of the AKG headband is known to all. It is very light and strong, and at the same time, very comfortable and self-adjusting to the size of the user’s head. Traditionally, for economy class models, the ear cushions are made of synthetic leather called leatherette. The only drawback is that they wear out quickly. On the bright side, you can replace them with velvet ear pads anytime.

The sound is incredible. The bass is tight, the midrange is soft, and the highs are incredibly smooth. The headphones are not bright in the highs, and the midrange is not loud but intelligible; instruments and voices sound natural, while the bass is in the right quantity. Overall, a linear and balanced reproduction. What’s more, there are headphones three times as expensive as the AKG K52 that can’t play as deeply as these studio headphones. In short, even putting aside the low-cost aspect, the K52 remains one of the most convincing models we tested.

When listening through a stationary desktop amplifier (FiiO K5 Pro), vocals in Blues and Jazz display a beautiful panoramic scene with fantastic stereophony. Electronic music is also fascinating, and this is the musical genre that these headphones handle best in the studio. Obviously, K52 is not quite as good as the famous K240. It has enough resolution, clarity, and a much deeper bass response. On the other hand, the K52 is very similar to the K92 with almost identical sound quality, although it is much cheaper, a massive compliment to AKG’s K52 headphone


Overall, the AKG K-52 headphones are quite interesting, with good sound for their price, and user-friendly. It will be perfect for those who like to listen at home or work in a home studio. For quick monitoring and mastering jobs, we would rather go for the AKG K72 or K92. But if the budget is very tight, you can try your luck with the K52, as it will process tracks with the utmost care and reproduce low notes, which many mid/high-end headphones do not, and also take advantage of the 2-year warranty.

Specifications

  • Large 40mm drivers with a wide frequency response of 18 – 20,000Hz
  • Comfortable, self-adjusting headband
  • Replaceable ear cushions
  • 2.5 m professional-quality cable, 3.5 mm jack connector, 6.3 mm adapter

Alternatives:

Upgrade:
AKG K-72

Budget Version:

10. Superlux HD-681

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 15 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 47 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm Neodymium | Weight: 190g | Sensitivity: 96 dB

Superlux HD-681 Review

The Superlux HD-681 does not sound, nor feel as the previously reviewed studio headphones as they have an open-back design with huge earcups which allows for a broader soundstage feeling and more vivid sound. The semi-open type of design is often used in studios specifically for the better and more authentic sound quality in exchange for the commonly closed-back design sound isolation.

Studio Headphones – Closed-back Vs Open-back Enclosure: The first type, the closed-back design, is the most common enclosure which is used to provide a decent passive sound isolation. A feature which is naturally enhanced by the material and thickness of earpads. Among closed-back headphones, the bass is produced within a closed room and is far heavier and plentyful than the bass evoked by the headphones with open-back design, however, it’s not superior in terms of quality.

The frequency reproduction of Superlux HD-681 can be described as a successful hi-fi tuning. The bass goes in-depth and plays with a powerful presence, without being too harsh or interfering with adjacent bands, same goes with the mid range, however the case is not similar with the treble which apparently is rather not that sustainable.

Specifications

  • Extraordinary bass and vocals
  • Rich sound spectrum with crystal clear sound
  • Fairly comfortable and airy
  • Excellent value for a pair of studio headphones for entry-level
Alternatives: Upgrade: Budget Version: Superlux HD-668 B

Bonus: Behringer HPX2000 - Best Studio Headphones Under $20

The Behringer HPX2000 is the best cheapest studio headphone that will impress amateur DJs and music enthusiasts with its high value for the money. Decent sound quality with plenty of basses and beautiful instrumentals. These headphones offer a superb frequency range, very high sensitivity, and a single-ended oxygen-free copper cable. Rotating, folding, round ear cushions, combined with a heavy-duty headband design, ensure exceptional reliability and comfort in use at all times.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Studio Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 64 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm Neodymium | Weight: 308g | Sensitivity: 110 dB

Behringer HPX2000 Review

For recording, the inexpensive Behringer HPX2000 headphones are perfect for amateurs. But for professional analytical listening, their use is a bit controversial, not so good for recording but much better for DJing. We can’t rank them above OneOdio Pro 10 because their sound quality is not that good, but HPX2000 is still better than 80% of the studio headphones under $50 and perhaps the best cheapest studio headphone under $20, which is a huge deal.

The sound quality is above average. It’s nicely reproduced with lots of basses, which is pretty impressive for one of the cheaper studio headphones. But for me, there’s not enough of it, and there’s no sub-bass at all – no bass depth, which isn’t very comforting. The OneOdio Pro 10 or AKG K52 don’t treat us that way, but they don’t cost $10-15 either. The mid-range is fairly balanced with instruments that are conveyed with clarity. Vocals are also well placed in the soundstage, making them clear and intelligible.


Overall, the Behringer HPX 2000 studio headphone is among the cheapest models for home studio use and the best in their class at under $20. It offers good readability of vocals in the mix and instruments. And although the bass parts are a bit weak, there is well-detailed stereophony and a stable, accurate stereo image, as long as you don’t get hung up on the volume and overload the sub-bass frequencies.

Brief Buying Guide

Before buying headphones, you should pay attention to popular models from established manufacturers and consider the strengths and weaknesses of each product. To do this, you need to know what features to look for and what aspects of a headphone are most important for studio work.

Headphone Characteristics to look for

Studio headphones differ by several parameters – impedance, frequency range, sensitivity, maximum sound pressure level, level of harmonic distortion, etc. Although there aren’t countless studio headphones under $50 to choose from to filter them down, it’s best to know and understand the model’s specifications and what values are optimal to get the most out of your money.

We won’t talk about the kind of drivers and other fancy features you won’t find in cheap studio headphones, but only the basics. If you want to get a more in-depth guide check out this article on how to buy a pair of studio headphones.

First, let’s start with the headset enclosure and why you should buy a headset with a specific enclosure depending on your job.

Enclosures:

There are three categories: open, closed, and semi-open (or semi-closed).

  1. Headphones with an open-back enclosure (Best for Mixing & Monitoring) allow the sound to come inside the earcups through small holes in the housing or between the earpiece and the ear. Open-back headphones are not soundproof but allow you to hear the music more broadly. The sound of open studio headphones is suitable for listening to music or stereo mixes. They have a flat frequency response and a wide soundstage, which helps monitor your recordings better than their counterparts with closed-back enclosures.
  2. Closed-back studio headphones (Best for Recording) – a design that completely covers the ear and fits snugly around the head. There are no holes in the housing, and the sound is reproduced in a closed space. It is characterized by high volume because it isolates your hearing from outside noise. It produces a bass range similar to that of studio monitors. Musicians prefer closed-back headphones for recording.
  3. Semi-open studio headphones (Best for DJs, Podcasters, Radio Hosts) combine the best of both worlds. They are small, and the ear cups do not completely cover the ear. This has made them popular with DJs, sound engineers, and radio show hosts.

Frequency range

Frequency range refers to the frequency response a driver can reproduce; 20 to 20,000 Hz is considered standard (the range in which the human ear can hear sound) and is suitable for listening to music and amateur recordings. Professional models have a much wider frequency range, from 10 to 30,000 Hz. Within the $50 budget, Presonus HD7 has the widest frequency response (10 Hz – 30 kHz) on our list of cheap studio headphones, whereas AKG K240 Studio comes second with a frequency range between 15 Hz and 25.000 Hz at slightly over $50. Both headphones are semi-open and; therefore, are better designed for studio monitoring jobs to listen to those very deep and high notes that most monitors cannot reproduce.

Headphone sensitivity

Sensitivity is the relationship between the intensity of the sound reproduced and the strength of the input signal. This characteristic, therefore, affects the loudness of the drivers. Modern headphones have a sensitivity of over 90 dB. If the sensitivity is low, the headphone may sound too low.

Impedance

Another parameter that determines the power of a speaker is the “impedance.” This is the resistance, measured in Ohms. For studio models, the impedance should be high to avoid overloading and harmonic distortion. Also, keep in mind that too high an impedance can result in uneven frequency response. For standard headphones, impedance ranges from 32 to 64 ohms, and for professional headphones from 50 to 100 ohms or more, although it’s unlikely to find many studio headphone under $50 with more than 50 ohms. On our list, Behringer HPX2000 and AKG K240 score the highest impedance with 64 and 55 Ohms, respectively.

Weight and Ergonomics

No matter how good your headphones are, if they’re not comfortable, they’ll be a pain to work with. A headphone for studio recording should be light to avoid discomfort when working with them, so when choosing headphones, pay attention to weight and ergonomics. A maximum weight of 250 grams for studio headphones is acceptable. Of course, it can be heavier, but it will also become more challenging to use for long periods. The headband of the headphones should also be adjustable to the size of your head. If you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable cheap studio headphones for tracking and mixing, AKG K92 are the first in line. For studio recording, Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are what we recommend since they have an even sound response and are also comfortable to wear for long recording sets.

Advantages and disadvantages of using cheap studio headphones

Most studio headphones have their good and bad aspects, but products in the lower price range have additional pros and cons that should be addressed.

Pros:

  • The difference in the detail of the music is imperceptible to the normal music listeners
  • Low financial investment
  • High price/quality
  • Cheap components
  • Easily replaceable

Cons:

  • Studio headphones are the cheapest component in the creation of a home/professional studio
  • Compromise on sound quality
  • Poor build quality and longevity
How are Dynamic Headphones Classified

FAQ

1. Are cheap studio headphones good?

Of course, there are different studio models, which can be expensive or very expensive, but there are not many models that fully meet the sound requirements and at the same time cost little money like the AKG K52 or AKG K92. Even people on the Head-Fi forum consider the AKG’s entry-level range of headphones extremely underrated.

The most striking studio headphones on the list is the AKG K240 from Audio-Technica. This model costs just over $50, but the trade-off is tenfold. While some headphones sound better, they also cost more, such as the ATH-M70X or AKG K702, in their $200 to $300 price range.

Cheap studio headphones are not superfluous or necessarily poor quality, although trying to save money by buying cheaper headphones for your home studio is pointless. You may as well buy good quality studio headphones, as their price will not affect the overall budget of your home studio.

But at the same time, it should be noted that even the highest quality studio headphones are not a replacement for studio monitors – they are a complement to them. In any case, the monitors are the primary monitoring system in the studio.

2. Which budget studio headphones are best?

When it comes to quality, you’ll usually find more professional studio headphones at higher prices, although the price isn’t the determining factor of quality a lot of times. For example, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x, Shure SRH240, and AKG K240 Studio are considered affordable, but they’re still incredibly high-quality and reliable headphones that can help artists in most recording situations.

AKG, Audio-Technica, and other brands offer plenty of inexpensive models that perfectly meet the studio work requirements and are excellent performers in the field. The highly-priced studio headphone models can often provide the same sound quality and level of detail as these cheap studio headphones in our article. For example, AKG K240 Studio and Presonus HD7 have a very similar spacious stereo sound and minimal distorsion, while Shure SRH240 studio headphones are lighter with 70 grams, more comfortable and more adequate for portable use (thanks to a lower impedance) than its successor, SRH440, but not as detailed, linear and analytical; so if you have the money, buy the SRH440 because it is better than the SRH240 for the studio.

As for what we and thousands of other buyers consider the best budget studio headphones, here they are:

  1. The ATH-M20X closed-back headphones (Read our review), with their on-ear cups, 40mm neodymium drivers, and extra-large ear cushions that completely cover your ears, making them comfortable to wear, are our best budget studio headphones. You can use these headphones with a variety of amplifiers and even mobile devices – a player or smartphone, but most importantly, they’ll complement your home studio perfectly.
  2. Next, the Shure SRH 240 (Read our review) takes second place in the best budget studio headphones under $50 for its high performance. This model leaves almost nothing to be desired in terms of visual appeal, sound impression, and wearing comfort. Of course, there will be audiophiles who will complain about its sound, but if you limit yourself to headphones strictly in the $50 range, these headphones are a no-brainer. The solid construction also ensures a long life, making the Shure SRH 240 a versatile headset at an unbeatable price.
  3. The AKG K-240 (Read our review) is a dynamic studio headphone with a semi-open design, a rather decent weight of 240 grams, and favorable price. The AKG headphones come with a replaceable 3m cable that connects with a mini-XLR connector and a 3.5mm jack, and a 6.35mm screw adapter. A very good quality sound reproduction with an emphasis on all frequencies is what represents AKG here. The bass is precise, in good amount, and not exaggerated, making the headphones perfect for recording applications. The highs and mids are reproduced cleanly and transparently. Poor playback quality is not present in these headphones.

3. What are the cheapest open-back headphones?

4. Should you spend less than $50 on studio headphones?

If you have opted for headphones that cost less than $50, you can always use the money left over to buy better cables or better-fitting earpads as long as they can be swapped.

Investing in studio equipment is not cheap, as you need to buy a PC, DAW, audio interface, monitors, microphones, etc. And some people can’t afford to buy high-end studio headphones when there are enough other expenses to go around.

If you are not interested in buying a pair of studio headphones for professional reasons, Skip this section.

Budget headphones are not always the highest quality, especially the sub-$50 models, but this is the component that a studio doesn’t rely on too much, since studio monitoring headphones are used either for recording or for monitoring and fine-tuning the recording after using the studio speaker monitors—they are used as complementary devices rather than as primary devices. Besides, we made sure that every model on this list is excellent for studio work and, of course, much better than its more expensive rivals.

5. Are cheap in-ear monitors worth it?

6. Difference between Cheap and Expensive - What to expect

It’s foolish to compare budget studio headphones with high-end models, but these days the standard of entry-level models is pretty darn good. Many of them sound very good for their price and don’t require much power amplification.

When a manufacturer launches an entry-level model, they usually expect you to be able to listen to it even with a laptop, which is what many music producers use when they’re on the go. With high-end models, however, choosing a powerful amplification source often becomes a real headache, especially when most powerful headphone amplifiers are stationary, expensive, and sometimes hard to find.

In terms of sound quality, you probably won’t get the same level of detail, clarity, and definition from entry-level studio headphones as you would with a set of professional studio-grade headphones. Cheap studio headphones may have a linear or flat sound response, but this is not a sure way to identify good quality studio headphones for monitoring your recording or tracking vocals or drums. The sound reproduction still has imperfections at this point, which may not reveal important aspects of the recording, while other cheap studio headphones may sound grainy, dry, or overly bright or have a narrow soundstage with indiscernible instruments.

Nevertheless, despite all their shortcomings, they are still better for the job and offer more professional sound and superior quality than many expensive consumer headphones. Of course, there are exceptions and caveats, but you’ll probably get more bang for your buck by buying a pair of studio headphones designed for professional sound engineers.

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Conclusion

Recording music is not an easy job. Patience, attentiveness, concentration, and the right equipment are important here. In terms of studio audio equipment, plenty of factors influence the quality of your work; microphone type, microphone quality, microphone placement, headphone amplifier, DAC and ADC converters, room isolation, monitors, and your studio monitor headphones. And although the studio headphones are just a part of the whole ensemble, choosing the right headphones for work from a large variety of models is complicated.

Even though there aren’t many studio headphones under $50, several models still don’t make sense buying from a value perspective, which is why we weeded out the poor-performing models and created a list so that you can focus only on the best studio headphones.

This article provides you with plenty of options. All the studio monitor headphones on our top 10 list are excellent products; therefore, there is no way you can go wrong with any of the models we presented you.

  1. Audio-Technica ATH-M20X – Our best overall studio headphone under $50 with quality craftsmanship and analytical sound.
  2. Shure SRH240 – The best studio monitor headphone over $50 in terms of sound performance, convenience and reliability.
  3. AKG K240 Studio – The best semi-open studio headphones over $50 with wide soundstage and fantastic instrumental playback.
  4. AKG K92 – The best lightweight studio headphones under $50 for mixing and monitoring with detailed and accurate vocal and acoustic reproduction.
  5. Presonus HD7 – A great value semi-open model with deep, powerful bass and the widest frequency response range in its class.

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