The Best Studio Monitor Headphones: When it Comes to Monitoring and Sound Quality, There Really Is No Comparison

This article will cover what studio headphones are, which ones to choose, and other studio-related subjects. Many best lists are often redundant, but this article is different because it contains only the best monitor headphones by reputable brands that we & many music professionals recommend. Whether you're buying your first pair of professional headphones or trying to replace an old pair, this article will help in making your decision.

What is a studio monitor headphone?

Studio monitor headphones are specialized headphones for professionals who need to hear microscopic details in the sound. These are the headphones for you if you work in music engineering, mixing, or mastering.

You can use full-size over-ear studio headphones or in-ear monitors, depending on personal preference. When buying these headphones, the main thing to remember is that you want to ensure that they are comfortable enough to wear for extended periods and don’t color or distort your music while you’re recording. The frequency response, impedance, and total harmonic distortion of your headphones will determine how accurately you can hear the details in your mix and what level of distortion is present.

Headphone manufacturers tend to use a few different terms when talking about what they call their headphones. In general, however, the terms’ monitor’ and ‘studio’ are the most often used. The term ‘monitor’ is widely used as it describes the design of the headphones as being for listening purposes only – you’re not going to be mixing or mastering music using these headphones.

The term ‘studio’ is more specific and refers to the audio quality of the headphones and their intended application. In this context, a studio headphone is one that has been designed specifically for studio use. This means that the headphones won’t be as capable as full-size headphones when it comes to mixing and mastering music, but the sound quality will be analytical and detailed to spot mistakes in your recording.

How do you choose the best monitor headphones?

It’s a question that comes up a lot, and it turns out there are a few things to keep in mind.

Choose a monitor headphone with a linear sound response

Most studio monitors have a flat response curve, meaning they respond to inputs from all frequencies equally. When listening to an instrument through these headphones, you don’t want it to sound harsh or bright, but you also want the audio to be clear and accurate. Headphones that are too bright or airy have a high-frequency emphasis that sounds unnatural.

However, a warm sound is a sound signature that emphasizes lower frequencies to create a full, rich sound. Although this sound is very pleasing and can work well for certain genres, it will remove the harshness of the mid and upper frequencies and cause an instrument to become muddy or indistinct.

The best sound signature for studio monitoring is a flat one, meaning that the frequencies reproduced are exactly the same as in the original recording. Sound engineers benefit greatly from monitor headphones that match all the frequencies in the recording with consistent sound reproduction across all frequencies.

To find a good balance, look for headphones that have a neutral response curve. Any deviations from this response curve will be noticeable. The evenly balanced response ensures that all instruments are represented equally, providing an accurate representation of the music as it was recorded. Some people may still prefer to have a warmer sound from their monitors. In that case, the best option would be to use headphones that have an overall flat frequency response but aren’t designed for studio use.

Depending on what you prefer, you may want something with a little more bass or a wider range of frequencies. It all depends on your personal preference. You can always look for closed-back studio headphones as those should have a more natural sound and emphasize the low and mid frequencies. In contrast, open-back headphones are best for when you want your music to sound more open and airy but are not ideal for recording but rather for mixing purposes.

Keep in mind, though, that flat sound response isn’t the only reason a headphone is good for studio applications. To be up to the task, a studio monitor must reproduce incredibly detailed sounds with great accuracy and consistency across the entire audio spectrum, so you can hear the music as it was recorded.

Choose studio headphones with a cable length that suits your needs

Generally, studio headphones have a cable that is about 4 feet long. However, some headphones have longer cables so the user can move in the studio and work comfortable. Some users prefer to use long cables, while others find that shorter ones are more convenient for their work habits. The choice is ultimately up to the user’s personal preferences.

Many studio monitors also come with a detachable cable option so you can replace it with an alternate one if your main cable breaks or becomes damaged over time. If you’re a casual music producer and don’t plan on using the best audio equipment, upgrading your headphone’s cable is not an investment worth making. Of course, it can improve the sound quality, but the change is so small that it won’t make a substantial difference.

Studio headsets must be comfortable to wear

A studio headset should be comfortable. You’ll be wearing these headphones for hours at a time, so they should stay comfortable even if you have an over-the-ear open-back studio headset which is much lighter than closed-back versions.

The best way to find the most comfortable and effective headphones is to try them on and make sure they fit. The reason for this is simple: everyone has different-sized ears, and no two sets of headphones will fit the same person the same way. Another way is to make sure the headphone’s weight is on the lower side (less than 250 – 300 grams) and evenly balanced on your head. You can also look for a headphone with a generous leatherette or soft ear padding.

You can also look for studio headphones with replaceable ear pads to last for years. The earpads are the most exposed part of headphones, so they’re usually the first ones to break. When they get hot or sweaty and become uncomfortable to use, you can replace them easily. Replaceable ear pads may not be common in studio headphones, but they are a feature that can be very useful for audio engineers, recording artists, or music producers who spend a significant amount of time in the studio and want a refreshing feeling from their headphones. It’s not a must-have feature, so don’t go too crazy on this one.

Consider the intended purpose of your studio monitor headphones.

Let’s say that you play bass with your band, and you want to record your instrument. The best headphones for the studio will allow you to hear the tone of your instrument accurately so that you can record it properly.

With a pair of headphones with a warm sound signature, however, your sound will be too muddy; it won’t match the other instruments in the band. If you buy a studio headset that has a balanced and flat response in the lower end of the audio spectrum, it’s going to be easier to listen to your instrument just the way it is.

There are many different types of headphones designed for specific purposes. Musical headphones are great for musicians to listen to their tunes while practicing, but even these have different purposes. In the end, do try several options until you find the ones that work well for you! The best studio headphones depend on your personal preferences.

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How do I determine the naturalness and accuracy of the sound?

We talked about the linearity of the sound response and some common sound signatures found in studio headphones. Now, let’s list a few factors that determine how natural or accurate your headphones sound will be and what type of studio headphones are the best for you, depending on the situation.

Frequency Response

The frequency range and the response curve can be a useful indicator that helps you determine how natural or accurate your headphones are. If you use headphones that have a flat response curve, the sound may appear unnatural, but it’s the audio content in its purest form.

Studio headphones sound less natural to the untrained ear, especially compared to headphones with an evenly balanced response curve or more pleasant sound signatures. The same thing applies to closed-back and open-back headphone types. You have to take into account your particular situation and how you plan to use the headphones.

Flat or linear frequency response doesn’t imply the sound will be detailed and clear. The sound will likely be a little more boring because there is no emphasis on any particular part of the audio spectrum. In most cases, the headphones with a flat sound response play the sound as it was recorded. Still, sound elements like definition, spatiality, texture, dynamics, tonality, and other aspects are required to reach a studio-grade sound quality for a studio headphone.

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

To make sure your studio headphones don’t distort the sound, check the headphones’ Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) value. Anything below 0.1% is great for a studio headphone.

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) measures the number of undesired harmonics present in an electronic signal. THD is measured as a percentage, and the lower it is, the less noise you will hear. For example, if THD were 10%, there are 10% more undesired harmonics in the signal than desired.

When THD is high, the headphone has a higher distortion level than it should have with the given frequency response specifications. In other words, a high THD means that the sound is not cleanly reproduced. Since this is a critical factor for studio monitoring, you should buy headphones with the lowest THD possible.

Impedance

Impedance is a measure of the electrical resistance that the driver or other electrical component presents to the signal flow. When ohms are high, it creates a high voltage across the amplifier when the headphones are plugged in. In other words, setting up an impedance mismatch can lead to dangerous situations for you and your gear because your amp may blow up when you plug in headphones with too high an impedance rating. Too low an impedance rating could end up causing a lack of sound output because it’s too low for the volume load.

The higher the impedance, the better headphones will handle the reproduction of audio frequencies. Headphones with low impedance are subject to sound degradation regardless of how well they’re made and which material they’re constructed from.

Most studio headphones have an impedance of around 32Ω – Audio-Technica M50X’s impedance is around that value (38-Ohms). If you pick a pair of headphones with higher impedance, you will require more power to drive them. Still, the distortion will be much lower, say Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 250 Ohms or Sennheiser HD 660 S. While studio headphones such as Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80 Ohms and AKG K702 (62 Ohms) are considered to have medium impedance.

You should also take into account that impedance and sensitivity don’t always show a direct correlation. For example, a low-sensitivity studio headphone could have a high impedance, while a high-sensitivity headphone could have a low average impedance. On the other hand, you can also see high sensitivity studio headphones with a low impedance rating which is very beneficial for low-power systems; For example, Shure SRH 240 126 db/V SPL with a 39-Ohm impedance or Meze 99 Neo 124 db/V SPL with a 20-Ohm impedance.

In the end, the best impedance will depend on your needs. High impedance headphones are viable for use if you’re using studio monitors with an amplifier; they’ll work great with low power requirements.

Note: The examples used above are high-quality studio headphones that can perform well in studio applications for their impedance category.

Drivers

Another factor is the drivers in your headphones. Some types of drivers are better than others at reproducing low-frequency sounds. Some drivers may also distort when producing very deep sounds, such as an organ or bass drum, so it’s best to find headphones with a wide range of frequency responses and good low-distortion drivers. For example, studio monitors with a range from 5Hz to 35kHz will play all types of music in their best form and allow a great reproduction of instruments in the higher frequency range.

Drivers Size & Material

The impact of the drivers is also a factor. The larger the driver, the better chance you have of producing a great, natural sound. Studio monitors with larger drivers might be more expensive, but they tend to have a fuller sound that reproduces low tones much better for those who listen to it.

The standard size for a studio monitor’s driver is 40 – 50mm, and for a consumer-type headphone, the typical driver size is 40 mm.

Also, be aware that other factors contribute to the naturalness of the sound, namely, speaker materials and construction type, which can affect how much air is moved by the drivers and how efficiently they reproduce sound.

Dynamic Drivers

Most professional studio headphones will use dynamic drivers, even the popular reference headphone Sennheiser HD 800 has 56 mm dynamic drivers, and that’s not a bad thing. It shows that you don’t need fancy studio headphones with electrostatic or planar drivers even though the best studio monitor headphones are often chosen for their spaciousness, enabling musicians to hear more of the ambient space around them. Headphones with a spacious sound and large soundstage allow audio engineers to pinpoint problems with acoustics or the sound of an instrument during recording sessions.

Studio headphones with dynamic drivers we recommend:

Most professional studio headphones will use dynamic drivers, even the popular reference headphone Sennheiser HD 800 has 56 mm dynamic drivers, and that’s not a bad thing. It shows that you don’t need fancy studio headphones with electrostatic or planar drivers even though the best studio monitor headphones are often chosen for their spaciousness, enabling musicians to hear more of the ambient space around them. Headphones with a spacious sound and large soundstage allow audio engineers to pinpoint problems with acoustics or the sound of an instrument during recording sessions.

Sennheiser HD 800 - Best open-back studio headphones with a bright sound signature

Sennheiser HD 800 has an open-back design which means it can be used in studios for mixing tracks and mastering. These headphones have a good soundstage and substantial depth, making them perfect for mixing, mastering, and critical listening. It also features not only large dynamic drivers but also a wide frequency response.

We recommend Sennheiser HD 800 rather than Sennheiser HD 800S because the former has a more linear bass response while the latter has a warmer sound signature and higher THD. Even though their frequency response is equal (4-51000 Hz), the HD 800 is better suited for studio use. Despite its high price tag, the Sennheiser HD 800 doesn’t have the best soundstage for an open-back, which is wide but not glorious, and the overall sound signature is a little bright to your ears.

Sennheiser HD 660 S - Best value open-back headphones for studio

The Sennheiser HD 660 S is one of the best studio headphones for mixing and mastering. It has a well-balanced sound signature with great instrument separation and soundstage. It is very efficient, so it can accurately reproduce the sounds of instruments and vocals without generating too much noise. The headphone’s frequency response has a good balance between the low and high notes and a smooth coherence of bass and treble.

You’ll find that some people love this dynamic reference headphone system more than others, especially if they want open-back headphones that offer a spacious and accurate sound. This headphone has a good sound that supports all genres of music, and it has an open design that allows for excellent clarity and instrument separation. When looking at the frequency range, you will notice its 9 Hz to 41 kHz frequency response, which is beneficial for accurately capturing a wide range of frequencies.

In terms of how it sounds, the Sennheiser HD 660 S is outstanding, offering a very balanced and detailed headphone, perfect for studio use. Its bass might not be as powerful as other headphones considering it has an open design, but that doesn’t mean that it misses out on detail or accuracy. You can use the Sennheiser HD 660S reference headphones to mix and master your tracks, as it has good clarity and a good analytical sound.

ATH-M50X or MDR-7506 - Best Budget Closed-Back Studio Headphones

The ATH-M50X is one of the best affordable studio monitor headphones for recording and mastering. It has an average soundstage with clear audio reproduction. With its 38-ohm impedance and careful attention to detail, the ATH-M50X is suitable for studio monitoring applications or headphones for high-quality audio production without requiring amplification.

This model sports a compact and comfortable design that’s perfect for the studio. The price is fairly affordable, and despite not having the best soundstage, it slightly emphasizes lower frequencies and a very natural sound for most recording applications. These headphones can be used with a wide range of studio equipment. The bass response is great, and the headphone is comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time without sacrificing on audio quality.

The ATH-M50X is very detailed even at low volumes meaning that you can spend less time fiddling with your settings just to get the right sound out of your acoustic instrument. Considering all its qualities, it’s not hard to justify its price tag compared to other similar monitor headphones.

With over 15,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating, Sony MDR-7506 is a professional studio headphone just as popular as the ATH-M50X. It is more affordable, but the soundstage is just as average as M50X, sufficient for mixing and mastering. It has well-defined basses, which means that you can mix music with heavier basslines. The sound signature is neutral and very detailed. Still, it’s just not as analytical and revealing as the ATH-M50X, which is also a better value for money. However, the MDR-7506 is known to be a great budget studio headphone under $100 and highly reliable since it has been on the market for far longer and used more thoroughly.

Balanced Armature Drivers

If you use in-ear monitors, the best type of drivers for studio use are balanced armature. IEMs with balanced armature drivers will deliver a flat and clean sound. A balanced armature driver is an audio engine that has a small, lightweight, and robust design. It is mainly built for IEMs (in-ear monitors) due to its ability to produce high-quality sound with no distortion. The way they work is by sending a signal through the coil of the magnet to generate an electric current, which creates a magnetic field in the opposite direction.

In-ear monitors can have multiple balanced armature drivers, each responsible for a different frequency range in the audio spectrum. It has a complex but elegant design that allows it to be small in size while still robust enough for studio use. Balanced armature drivers are also known as BA drivers. They are popularly used in studio monitor headphones mainly because they can deliver excellent audio with no distortion. Therefore, you can reliably use In-ear Monitors with BA drivers.

These are The Best Balanced Armature In-ear Headphones for Studio
Shure SE535-CL

Shure’s SE535-CL is the best in-ear monitor for mixing and mastering. It has good ergonomics and provides a great fit for most people. Although it is quite impressive, the soundstage isn’t too wide, and the clarity between frequency bands is sufficient for mixing and mastering since it has a flat frequency response. They’re designed to be comfortable even though the over-the-ear cable might get in the way at times and sometimes even break from heavy use. On the bright side, Shure’s support is fast and reliable.

The Shure SE535 CL has a set of three balanced armature drivers that deliver a seamless sound transition from high to low notes, which makes the Shure SE535 an excellent choice for studio use, especially when producing music or songs that have multiple instruments playing at once.

The sound it provides is very balanced and accurate, with a wide frequency range. The only downside to these in-ear monitors is that the wires around the ear can be annoying. But apart from that, Shure SE535-CL is the best balanced armature IEM with great sound insulation without sacrificing sound quality.

1More Quad Driver In-ear Headphones - Best Balanced IEMs under $200

Both 1More Triple Driver and 1More Quad Driver are great value for money. They are made to be durable and benefit from one of the most refined manufacturing. They are very reliable and high-quality; the same goes when it comes to sound quality. They can be worn comfortably for extended periods of time, giving you the freedom to focus more on the music you’re creating or mixing.

The Quad Driver has three balanced armature drivers and one diamond-like carbon driver that provides clear sound quality. The balanced armature drivers deliver precision in the low frequency sounds, while the diamond-like carbon driver delivers clear mids and crisp trebles. With its 4-drivers configuration, the 1More Triple Driver offers an overall good sound reproduction. It reproduces vocals and instruments cleanly with no distortion, making it perfect for home use, studio monitoring, and perhaps audiophile listening.

The 1More Triple Driver is a more budget-friendly version of the 1More Quad Driver. Although it has a good price and benefits from the same great manufacturing, we recommend 1More Quad Driver IEMs for the best results.

KZ ZS10 Pro - Best cheapest Balanced Armature IEMs for studio

The KZ ZS10 Pro is the best balanced armature in-ear headphone you can get for less than $50. Great sound quality for this price range. These are not audiophile-grade headphones, but for this price, they are very good. The bass is nice and full, yet not overbearing. Mid-range clarity is decent with a bit of sibilance or harshness in the vocal range. Treble is crisp and clear without the issue of sibilance or harshness of any sort. With a dynamic driver and four balanced armature drivers, these are built to go deep, with a reach down to 7 Hz and as high as 40,000 Hz.

They do not isolate as well as other brands and is slightly too expensive for what it offers. Despite that, they are very pleasant to listen to with a V-shaped sound signature that boosts the bass and treble. What helps these cheap balanced IEMs make it into the studio is that they sound a lot better than many other in-ears. The bass is not bloated, and the highs are not overstated.

Under 100 bucks, you will be hard-pressed to find IEMs with a better value than the KZ ZS10 Pro, especially when they provide a terrific job at isolating outside noise and come with a very high-quality cable.

InEar StageDiver SD-3

StageDiver SD3 IEMs deliver a vivid and detailed sound. The sound is clear; the lows are good enough for drums and bass guitars. The frequency range is not so broad (20 – 18,000 Hz), yet you can tell at first listen that these are amazing. The soundstage left me with images that are all around me and have no real lack of midrange or bass definition. The whole audio resolution is gorgeous with no deficiencies. These headphones really do everything very well, which is what you want from quality music equipment. The biggest problem is that it’s improbable to find these IEMs in America. However, you now know what to buy on your next trip to Europe.

If money is not an issue for you and you want an impeccable pair of balanced armature in-ear monitors, go for StageDiver SD-3. They’re not the most expensive on the market, but they offer better value than even some IEMs under $1000. On the other hand, if you want something that’s on par with StageDiver SD-3, go for Shure 846-CL. They’re similar in terms of sound quality, but $200-$250 more expensive.

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How should you use your studio headphones?

During the mixing process, it’s important to make sure you can hear all your project details equally. If you’re using your headphones to make the final adjustments, you may want to choose a pair with an open-back design. This design will allow for more airiness and better imaging, which gives the music a more live sound. When using headphones for recording, a good closed-back design will help you to hear the overall tone of the music, while a good open-back headphone will add some additional soundstage and dimensionality.

On the other hand, if you’re doing any pre-mixing work or recording, you should use closed-back headphones that are designed specifically for studio use. The sound is narrower and fuller, with an emphasis on bass. Plus, open-back designs allow far too much outside noise that can bother when recording.

If you use your studio headphones for home recording, you can go either way. Closed-back headphones are generally preferred, as they will provide more isolation and they won’t bleed outside noise. However, open-back headphones can give you a certain sound that most people prefer, at least when the recording environment is properly treated. Of course, as with many things, there is a fair bit of flexibility here. Suppose you have a home studio and prefer to have a decent pair of studio headphones for recording. In that case, you can always choose a budget-friendly studio headphone like Audio-Technica ATH-M50X or Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro.

What are the best headphones for mixing and mastering?

In order to find the best studio headphones for mixing and mastering, consider buying a headphone that can reproduce both high and low frequencies accurately. The best studio monitor headphones that we recommended here have this capability. In addition to this, look for headphones that have a flat frequency response since they will help you get accurate results during mixing and mastering sessions.

The best studio headphones for mixing tracks are the Audio-Technica ATH-R70X, Sennheiser HD 800, AKG K 210 MKII Semi-Open, and Sennheiser HD 559 (best open-back studio headphones under $100).

Open-back headphones will offer you the best spacious and lifelike sound for mixing.

Open backs make it easier to make accurate mixing decisions during sessions.

The air passing through the headphones will also allow your ears to breathe a bit and will usually be more comfortable for long sessions than closed-backs. In fact, open-back headphones are some of the best mixing headphones to use as a reference because they will allow you to hear every subtle detail of your mix and offer. The different sounds you hear will be clearer, more accurate, and allow you to do more of your mixing in-place without stopping to make adjustments.

Barely audible sounds, like the brush of a cymbal, won’t be lost due to the layer of air that can leak out between your ears and your studio monitors. And being able to pinpoint these tiny details will help you keep your recordings true to their original sound at all times. Many professional studios have several sets of studio monitors, so they can start working on tracks immediately after tracking them with headphones to know exactly where they stand.

On the other hand, closed-back models are good for tracking because they are great at isolating the sound of the instrument or voice. You won’t need to stop jamming out on your guitar to make sure it sounds good enough.

For those who want general-purpose studio headphones, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro or Audio-Technica ATH M-Series are the go-to. Both are great for tracking as well as mixing and mastering. The best cheap studio headphones for someone on a budget are the Audio-Technica ATH M20X which are capable of producing an accurate mix of your track even if you don’t get the most accurate sound reproduction.

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Are studio monitor headphones suitable for listening to music at home?

Studio headphones are great for listening to music and make any action more enjoyable. Most of them have extremely high sound quality, which makes it easier to listen to music. However, studio headphones can also sound boring due to their flat sound response and lack of coloration. Studio headphones and studio monitors usually have great stereo separation as well as great imaging. With the right equalization, you will certainly make your music pleasurable to listen to and still enjoy the plethora of details and sounds that your music contains. Studio headphones also give you great comfort and good sound at the same time.

Even without any adjustments, studio headphones reproduce music that is more accurate than regular consumer headphones.

Some of the best-sounding studio headphones for personal use are:

Sennheiser HD 660 S - Best Value

Sennheiser HD 660 S is probably the most beautiful-sounding open-back headphone for audiophiles that is high-value and well-priced. The HD 660 S provides a clear, detailed, realistic sound with strong bass, accurate mids, and well-defined treble. The Sennheiser HD 660 S is definitely a good choice for studio monitoring, but it will also work fine as an everyday headphone for music listening as long as you can pair it with a decent headphone amp.

AKG K 701 - Most Comfortable Studio Headphones

AKG K-701 has a touch of soft late-night cafe music in its sound, which can be useful for post-production or for mixing. With these headphones, you can hear the location of objects in a mix and make appropriate adjustments to them. If you love to hear every note in a song, the AKG K701 headphone is your perfect pair. K 701 also has great accuracy in reproduction for use in mastering. But as home listening headphones, your AKG K701 allows you to enjoy a richer sound for all entertainment purposes.

Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 32 Ohm - Best Studio Headphones for Smartphone and Laptop Users

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 32 Ohm is known for its flat, neutral sound signature. It is designed to be used in the studio for mixing and mastering, but it works well as a home listening headphone as well. The vocal reproduction of this headphone sounds natural, clear, and forward. The mids are also clear with a good soundstage for music playback but may also sound harsh due to their forward positioning. Regarding comfort and overall user experience, DT-770 Pro 32-Ohm has lightly padded earcups that deliver good comfort for longer periods of use and a praise-worthy manufacturing quality.

Shure SRH840 - Cheap Studio Headphones with Detailed Playback

The American company Shure offers one of the best studio headphones suitable for amateurs and professionals in Hollywood, California, US. That is because Shure SRH-840 headphones deliver clear and detailed sound with very high-quality bass. The dynamic, realistic sound from these closed-back studio headphones is good excellent for listening to your favorite music in the comfort of your home. The same traits also make the Shure SRH 840 a good choice as a professional studio headphone.

Sennheiser HD 800 S - Best High-end Studio Headphones

The Sennheiser HD 800 S is a high-end open back headphone with a spacious soundstage and an excellent, bright sound signature and natural tonality. The sound is reproduced with accuracy and has great transparency in the treble range, but for the fans of classical music, the instruments in the high frequencies and high-pitched voices will sound a bit aggressive and harsh. In the mid-range, the vocals are reproduced with the highest accuracy and power, and sound absolutely charming. With the Sennheiser HD 800 S, you get to hear your music in a completely new way thanks to its neutral sound and extremely detailed sound that can be used for both music and audio mixing.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT - Studio headphones with Bluetooth

The ATH-M50XBT features Bluetooth technology and is one of the best versatile studio headphones. It is lightweight and has an adjustable headband that can fit any head size comfortably. Moreover, ATH-M50X-BT delivers a clear sound with an average soundstage and good bass feeling. It comes with Bluetooth connectivity, and the design of this headphone is simple and elegant. Every aspect of this great all-around studio headphone makes it perfect for wearing around town or traveling without losing your sense of style, and even for recording music and enjoying your Spotify playlist at home.

Superlux HD-681 - Best Cheap Option

For budget users, Superlux HD-681 is a good choice. It is a semi-open studio headphone with decent and balanced bass. The highs aren’t very defined but neither too bright, while the mid and low frequencies are pretty good. One can say that it has a neutral and balanced sound reproduction. For a studio headphone built very cheaply, the Superlux HD-681 delivers a surprisingly good sound, making it a worthy choice for people who want to listen to music. It has a good sound quality among its price range, but nothing like the K701 from AKG or DT-770 Pro (32-Ohms version).

Can Regular Headphones be used as Monitor Headphones?

Regular headphones can be used as monitor headphones. Monitor headphones are studio-quality, high-fidelity models of headphones designed specifically for professional musicians and recording artists. One of the most important features is the soundstage, which allows musicians to hear each instrument in its proper position in 3-D space. Besides soundstage, another important aspect of a monitor headphone in sound accuracy. Monitor headphones mostly have a flat frequency response and accurate reproduction, which makes them ideal for mixing and mastering. And perhaps the most important selling point of monitor headphones for hard-working people is that they are comfortable and can be used for longer periods of time without causing fatigue.

What makes a headphone suitable for studio use?

For a standard headphone to fit into the studio environment, the sound has to reveal the recording as it was intended. This means the headphones need to be high-quality and able to reproduce sound accurately.

In the studio, musicians typically use a reference sound system known as a “reference monitor.” In addition to the reference monitor, musicians also need a headphone amp. There are two types of headphone amps: active and passive. Active headphone amps, or “amps,” will bring out the purest sound from your headphones, while passive headphone amps will boost the volume of your music for a more powerful listening experience. Passive headphone amps typically cost more than their active counterparts, but it’s worth the investment if you like listening to your music at high volume levels.

For monitoring purposes, monitor headphones should typically not be “closed back.” As a direct comparison to closed-back monitor headphones, open-back monitor headphones are often considered superior by some professional musicians and production music artists. Closed back headphones have a tight seal around the ear that prevents sound from escaping, enhances the bass, and doesn’t have a wide soundstage.

Conclusion

In the end, yes, you can use regular or audiophile headphones for monitoring. In fact, you can use a basic pair of in-ear headphones as a reference monitor with skewed frequency response. But if you really want to get the most out of your listening experience, then consider purchasing a higher-end pair of studio headphones that will comfortably fit into your monitoring regimen.

What it's like listening to music on studio headphones?

Studio headphones emphasize the purest sound of your music and the accurate reproduction of the artists’ intentions. There are many price ranges of studio headphones on the market today, and some are very expensive, some are very cheap.

The best thing about studio headphones is, you get more quality for your money on the monitor headphones than you do with the regular full-size headphone. The sound of a good-quality studio headphone is clear but not too harsh or too bright. You get to enjoy the right tone of your favorite artists’ voices or instruments. And perhaps the most important feature of studio monitors is that they are designed with a wide soundstage, which allows you to hear all the instruments in their proper position in 3D space.

Because monitor headphones have higher quality sound reproduction capabilities than mainstream headphones, it is more likely that you will notice a clearer distinction between different instruments. With regular headphones, you may have trouble distinguishing between different sound channels, but with monitor headphone’s it’s easy to appreciate each instrument more clearly.

And if you decide to buy a studio headphone to enjoy your music differently, there are various studio headphones for that. For example, listening to classical or jazz may benefit from using open-backed studio monitors, while listening to electronic or pop music would be more suitable for close-backed ones due to the improvement in the bass.

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Answer & Questions Regarding Studio Monitor Headphones

Should I look for studio headphones with good noise isolation?

Sound insulation is also important. Over-the-ear headphones with closed back design do a good job of keeping outside noise out if you want to record songs. If you were recording in a busy or loud room, you wouldn’t want sound leaking out to mingle with the sound you are trying to capture.

On the other hand, if there was too much noise leakage, your recording would be drowned out, and you would miss some very important sounds.

Should I look for closed-back or open-back studio headphones?

Most studio headphones are closed back. Open-back headphones rely on the physics of sound to create a natural, spacious sound. They do this by letting ambient sound in and out, which means you won’t use them in a recording studio. Closed-back headphones isolate sounds by having more of an enclosure around the ears, which is why they’re ideally suited for studio use.

Should I look for studio headphones with a flat frequency response?

The flat frequency response is great for some purposes, but some users may find that they have a difficult time enjoying the music. Fortunately, that’s not what you do in the studio. The flat frequency response is great for those that know a lot about aural skills and on how to listen to music properly.

Meanwhile, a flat or linear frequency response curve isn’t everything. Still, if you cannot find a reference headphone with a flat sound signature, it is better to go with ones that have a slight boost on the lower frequencies.

What's a reference monitor headphone?

A reference monitor headphone is a very high-end studio monitor headphone that has been specifically designed to match the frequency range, sound characteristics, and sonic structure of the original audio source.

On a reference monitor headphone, you can “hear” the recording exactly as it will sound on a speaker system. They allow you to make mixing and mastering decisions and hear the results immediately, making them ideal studio headphones for professional use.

Are there any other things I should look out for when buying a pair of studio monitor headphones?

If you’re going to be using your headphone for mixing, it’s important to have a flat response curve. The frequency response of these types of headphones is designed to match the natural sound of recorded music.

An irregular curve will throw off your mix and mastering, which means it’s worth paying a little extra to get the kind of studio headphones that you’ll be happy with for years to come. It’s almost impossible to find a headphone with a perfectly flat sound response, but ensure that the headphone you’re considering isn’t too far off the mark as this can give your music a muffled, unclear, and inaccurate sound.

Do I need a dual input studio headphone?

A studio headphone with dual input can be a great asset in a professional music studio. It lets the audio engineer listen to the audio source through the headphones while simultaneously listening to the finished mix coming from the speakers. This means that they can quickly and easily make mixing and mastering decisions, which will prevent you from having to keep searching for an echo of your music coming from your speakers so you can see if it’s working or not.

Dual inputs are especially useful for stereo monitoring for this reason. They let you listen to each stereo channel independently, which is very important when making accurate mixing and mastering decisions with any music track.

Dual inputs sound like a good idea, but what's the difference between single and dual input headphones?

Dual input means that the main headphone inputs either have a mini-jack and an RCA jack, or a 1/4 inch jack and a 3.5mm jack. The main difference between a dual input headphone and a single input headphone is that single input headphones have only one input for an audio source, whereas dual input has two inputs. Quite apparent, really.

Which brand of studio headphones is the best?

Sennheiser

If you want to filter out low-quality studio headphones and stick to a reputable brand you can trust, then the best studio headphone brand is Sennheiser. Sennheiser headphones are known to be very comfortable for people who wear them for long sessions. Their padded headband makes wearing them for hours on end comfortable. Their wide frequency response ensures that these headphones can reproduce very low frequencies and provide a good extension in the upper-end of the audio spectrum.

Sennheiser headphones are also known for their highly accurate rendering of different instruments. Their sound clarity is so good that you will be able to hear individual notes on acoustic guitar with no trouble.

When it comes to studio headphone designs, Sennheiser has a huge palette of closed-back and open-back models. You can also use them for all sorts of studio applications, including recording, broadcast applications, video editing, and more. The only downside to the Sennheiser brand of headphones is that their high-end monitor headphones are expensive. Some models can cost up to $1,000 US dollars.

AKG

AKG is a popular brand in the studio headphone industry, and they also have a decent range of headphones. To satisfy all the needs that a recording artist might have, AKG has created many different types of studio headphones for various price points.

The AKG studio headphone line includes professional headphones designed for music production, studio mixing, voice monitoring, and more; DJ headphones, monitoring headphones for home recording, over-ear studio headphones, wireless headphones, and professional IEMs. AKG has literally thought of everything when it comes to providing good sound quality, and the vast majority of their products offer a high-res audio experience.

AKG monitors are as comfortable as Sennheiser studio headphones, great for long sessions. For example, the AKG K701 open-back studio reference headphones have a stunning sound and are lighter and more comfortable than the popular Sennheiser HD 660 S for a very fair price.

Each model type is geared towards different people and listening situations, including heavy noise environments like live concert concerts. Therefore, AKG is one of the best brands to choose from when it comes to studio headphones.

Beyerdynamic

Another top studio headphone brand that can be mentioned is Beyerdynamic. They have a range of studio headphones that are designed for monitoring and mixing in many situations. The sound quality of Beyerdynamic headphones is pretty good, and their durability is another thing that one can rely on.

Beyerdynamic offers a number of studio headphones with an open-back design and closed-back models too. A good first purchase option is the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Headphones with an impedance of 32 Ohms and a 5 – 35,000 Hz frequency response. These headphones are designed for mixing and mastering; they are very comfortable and aren’t very expensive. For around $150 bucks, you can get great sound quality with these Beyerdynamic headphones,

Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica is another top brand that provides good studio headphones. The ATH-M50x professional closed-back headphones are known for their comfortable fit, and they are also accurate when it comes to sound. Like the AKG models, the ATH-M50x is very affordable; however, these headphones use a lot of plastic.

Audio-Technica studio headphones are very accurate and offer good sound quality. Most of the brand’s studio headphones are closed-back. The only open-back reference headphones are ATH-R70x. These headphones are also known for their good sound quality, accurate frequency response, and good comfort.

While the company doesn’t have a large array of headphones like Sennheiser and AKG, they are good enough to consider. Their entry-level studio headphone is ATH-M20x, while their most popular model is ATH-M50x. But for those who want the best out of Audio-Technica, there’s ATH-M70x and R70X (open-back).

Sony

Sony has a long history in electronic products, and their headphones are no exception. Again, like with Audio-Technica, Sony doesn’t have the biggest range of studio headphones. Still, the Sony MDR7506 headphone has been around for quite a while, and they produce very good sound quality for a reasonable price. These headphones have a closed-back design, and they use large 40mm, diameter drivers.

Sony MDRV6

The Sony MDRV6 studio monitor is another good choice; these headphones are known for their lightweight, comfort, and durability while also producing very accurate sound. They are on the higher end of the price range, and many professionals consider them some of the best studio headphones ever made (they are more than 20 years old).

Sony MDR-CD900ST

The MDR-CD900ST studio headphones from Sony are lighter and more comfortable than MDR7506 and MDRV6. Compared to MDR-7506, these are more analytical and offer better sound clarity and detail. The leather earpads on the MDR-CD900ST make it a comfortable option, and the headband padding ensures a good tight fit, just like the MDR-7506 headphone.

Sony MDR7506

Out of all the different models that Sony offers, the MDR7506 is the most accessible and popular studio headphone and the most affordable, offering great value for the money. These headphones are very accurate in reproducing most frequencies and are also durable. The only downside to them is the heavy and long coiled cable and the fact that the frequency range isn’t as wide as that of MDRV6 and MDR-CD900ST (10 Hz – 20 kHz vs. 5 Hz- 30 kHz).

Should you buy an open-back or closed back studio monitor headphone?

Buying a closed-back or an open-back studio headphone is going to be entirely up to the user. There’s no right or wrong decision; it’s just going to depend on what you’re looking for. If you want better sound quality and accuracy, open-backs are the way to go because they provide a wider soundstage, better instrumental separation, detail, and more vivid sound reproduction. If comfortable is another requirement for you and you love listening to music for hours on end, open-back studio headphones will also suit your needs.

Open-back Studio Headphones

For mixing, mastering, and tracking, open-back studio headphones are more accurate; they provide greater soundstage and details, better instrument separation, and more vivid sound reproduction. When you’re tracking your voice, guitars, wind, and percussion instruments, you need accurate sound reproduction, and that’s what open-back headphones do best. Of course, if you’re looking for a better bass response in your studio headphones, then open-back headphones will be your best choice.

Closed-Back Studio Headphones

For greater sound isolation, then closed-back models will be the way to go. They will keep out more background noise, and in some cases, they provide higher quality bass than open-back studio headphones. But they won’t be appropriate for live performance because the sound isolation will prevent you from hearing anything outside of your headphones.

Buy a Pair of Each

One can also opt to buy a pair of both open-back and closed-back studio headphones. For example, having an open-back reference headphone like the AKG K702 or the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is great for home listening, while using closed-back models like Audio Technica ATH M50X or Sony MDR 7506 are useful when you’re in the studio recording tracks.

Or A Pair of Semi-Open Studio Cans

Closed-back and open-back headphones aren’t the only type of studio headphones you will find out there. There’s also semi open-back systems like the AKG Q701, which offers good accuracy for mix monitoring but lacks mid-bass and has overemphasized treble, so it isn’t suitable for Rock, Pop, EDM, or Electronic music very well. Besides that, even though these are semi open-back studio headphones, there is a slight background noise that can be heard, which gets louder when you’re wearing them at very loud volumes.

Regular studio headphones vs. in-ear monitors for studio recording?

The first thing to do is determine what kind of musician you are. For live performance, in-ear monitors will be the best because the sound isolation will prevent you from hearing anything outside your headphones. In addition, singers need to hear themselves, so in-ears are perfect for them.

IEMs are best for singers because they isolate the sound and let them hear themselves better. They’re also great for drummers because they won’t hear anything outside of their headphones as they perform. And for guitarists, IEMs can eliminate background noise as well as other instruments.

For those who simply want to use their headphones as studio monitors, regular studio headphones like Audio-Technica ATH-M20x or AKG K240 Studio will be good enough for them as they provide a good amount of bass and accurate mid-range and treble for instruments and vocals.

In-studio recording, closed-back studio headphones are the best because they will provide a higher degree of accuracy and detail. They will help you to monitor your music accurately. But for those who want a slightly more accurate sound while mixing and mastering their recordings, open-back headphones are their best choice.

Studio headphones are also very useful for DJs too. The best studio headphones for DJs can fold as they will be more portable and convenient than those that don’t. Moreover, a DJ’s headphone needs to be flexible and lightweight. They should also have a very good sound quality with sufficient details and accurate frequency reproduction ability.

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