Best Studio Headphones

The 10 Best Studio Headphones of 2018

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a set of headphones that will replace your old budget ones or if you’re a professional musician who needs to upgrade his cans, studio headphones are always a good choice.

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Today we’re going to talk about the best studio headphones, what they are, what’s the difference between stereo and Hi-Fi headphones, as well as the main benefits of using studio headphones, so if you’re intrigued already, stick around.

What are Studio Headphones For?

Plainly put, most people would assume that studio headphones are headphones used in studio work. What jobs fall into this category?

Playing Music

Studios can be used for any number of things, and having rehearsals is just one of them. Musicians who play in a group seldom use headphones, rather they use ear plugs or ear monitors to hear themselves better, but in this case, it’s imperative that you hear the rest of the band/group.

What we imply by “actual playing” is that studio headphones are great for musicians who practice solo. Be it at home or in a studio, this type of headphones can help you hear what you play better, mainly due to the neutral sound signature.

Recording Music

It’s not impossible to imagine a studio where musicians are supposed to record their music ad hoc. Old-school studio recording techniques usually require only a single overhead microphone and the entire ensemble should play together as if they were having a (more serious) rehearsal.

Now, since we’re living in the age of technology, such obscure means of recording music are not only forgotten but surpassed and re-invented. Usually, all you need is the instrument you want to record and a set of good studio headphones. While it’s quite obvious why you need the former, why is it that you need the latter?

Namely, studio headphones, by default, have a neutral sound signature. What does that mean? It means that every signal transmission happens on a raw level – everything is as is, which figuratively means that you’ll get an accurate amount of lows, mids, and highs, there’s no accentuating unless you want it.

Monitoring Music

Monitoring is usually a job that studio technicians perform. It refers to paying attention to and adjusting the EQ of musician or musicians who are playing or recording in the studio.

Again, let’s see how it was done the old-school way before we explain how and why studio headphones are important.

Basically, every amp has control and setting knobs and switches which define the sound you’ll get from your instrument. The musician (or musicians) who are in a studio will perceive the audio emissions as too strong due to the enclosed space they are in (reverberations and such) while people outside (monitors, studio technicians) would often perceive these signals as too weak.

The old-school way of adjusting these parameters was quite simple. Namely, studio engineers and technicians were professionals and veterans with an advanced sense of hearing who could notice even the smallest details, hence they used to set each and every amp as per the musician’s (or musicians’) preferences.

Nowadays, the situation is not entirely different – engineers and technicians are still required to have a certain degree of skill, but they don’t actually need to be inside the studio room – they can hear everything that’s happening inside with studio headphones. So, just how important are these studio headphones for monitoring?

By using these headphones, the engineers (or producers) can adjust the volume while still preserving the neutral sound signature of what’s going on inside the studio. This, in turn, allows them to have a clear and objective “vantage point” of the situation. Plainly put, studio headphones have made the job a whole lot of easier.

Studio Headphones vs Hi-Fi Headphones – What’s The Difference?

This question is as old as it is complicated. Audiophiles, DJs, professionals, and beginners alike have partaken in finding the answer to “are studio and Hi-Fi headphones one and the same”, and sadly, no party has been able to find a satisfying argument, let alone answer.

In essence, we’ve explained what studio headphones are, so it would be best if we did the same with Hi-Fi headphones.

In general, Hi-Fi stands for “High Fidelity”, which basically means true to form. So, we can conclude that hi-fi headphones are capable of delivering the most accurate sound transmissions when compared to other headphone types. That involves a flat level of frequency response and plenty of ambient noise reduction (otherwise there would be no telling of “fidelity”, let alone “high”).

The truth is, we haven’t been able to find a correct answer ourselves, but the closest we got to was that “studio headphones and hi-fi headphones may refer to the same thing”.

The Main Benefits of Using Studio Headphones

Using studio headphones for the first time is one hell of an experience – you’ll start to notice details that were otherwise completely unfamiliar to you, and that’s just one of the many benefits this type of headphones brings to the table. That being said, let’s discuss some of the most notable benefits of using studio headphones:

You will notice your playing mistakes more easily

Due to the Hi-Fi element present in most studio headphones, you’ll get to hear every single detail exactly as it was intended to be heard.

This is usually a bad thing if you’re mainly interested in casual listening, but it comes extremely handy with studio recordings as you’ll be able to remove the mistakes on the go, rather than wait for someone to notice them after the post-production.

Recording without them would take substantially more time

Recording with regular headphones is possible, true, but you will be forced to redo the tracks over and over until you get everything right. “Standard” headphones lack the accuracy of studio types, and just as we’ve mentioned, you won’t get to hear everything in full detail.

Disadvantages of Studio Headphones

Even though studio headphones have plenty of benefits, there are also a couple of things that can be treated as disadvantages. Such are:

Flat frequency response takes out the enjoyment from casual listening

Let’s see how things go on the opposite end – casual listeners seldom enjoy their music with studio headphones, and why is that? Well, being able to hear everything has a price. Music, to a listener, is about feeling good, but that doesn’t apply to studio technicians and monitors who are regarded as critics.

Most studio headphone models are quite expensive for an average consumer

Consumer-grade headphones usually cost approximately $10 to $20. That’s certainly not much, regardless of the depth of your pockets. Studio headphones, on the other hand, cost $100+ on average.

A special form of design leaves way too much room for ear fatigue

Most studio headphones are designed to have bigger ear cups, headbands, and heavier hardware. That also means that they’re not as comfortable to wear for, let’s say, hours. In contrast, it’s not hard to imagine people listening to their music for several hours while traveling, or working in the office.

The 10 Best Studio Headphones:

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

Let’s open up our review of the best studio headphones with a model from one of the most famous manufacturers in the industry – Audio Technica. These guys have earned their salt over the decades with impeccable craftsmanship and unmatched technologies. Their headphones are characterized by exceptionally high-quality sound without compromise or exceptions.

The fact is that one particular model from their assortment stands out from the rest of the bunch. It’s the ATH-M50x. Basically, these headphones are the best you’ll find for the buck, if not the best available altogether.

They look awesome, come in a variety of color variations, and they sport a superb feature outfit. So, if you’re looking to score a set of professional-grade studio headphones, you might as well start your search here.

First impressions:

Anyone who knows a thing or two about studio headphones must have heard about Audio Technica, and the ATH-M50x just happens to be one of their most popular models ever. Our first impressions of these headphones were quite straightforward – we knew we should expect much.

After a couple of sound checks, we’ve figured that the sound is as powerful as it is clear, regardless of the music genre played. After all, the premium 45mm drivers AT outfits to their best headphones are renowned for delivering unparalleled performance.

Features and key specs:

Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x comes available in four color variations. The “black” seems to be the most famous, as it’s elegant and looks professional while the other variations are hipper, or so to speak. The “blue” and “gray metal” have colored ear pads and joints while the “white” is a pure contrast of “black”, being entirely colored in the brightest of colors.

Let’s talk a bit about the frequency range, shall we? Namely, AT technicians have put up a wonderful job by extending the already-great range of the former variations of this model. What’s more, the 45mm drivers deliver ground trembling bass response and an overall balanced soundstage.

The circumaural design is “responsible” for the outstanding comfort rating of these headphones. The pad contour to the wearer’s ears, ensuring a snug fit at all times. To top it all, this form of design also provides exceptional sound isolation, especially in very loud environments. The cups can swivel up to 90 degrees, allowing multiple monitoring options.

What we liked about these headphones:

Truth be told, there’s a lot of things you could like about Audio Technica’s ATH-M50x. Most notably, the sound quality these headphones provide, but apart from that, they sport a huge value for the money, they’re ideal for studio and live performers, plus they look great.

On a side note, the sound isolation ATH M50x supplies are truly something. It can easily match that of a Hi-Fi headphone set.

What we thought could be improved:

There are just a few things that leave room for improvement. Firstly, while the overall construction seems stable and pretty durable, the padding is not as robust. Given proper maintenance and care, it’s safe to assume that weaker joints will remain intact for a couple of years, though.

Secondly, most people claim that these headphones are generally comfortable, but that’s not the case with people with bigger heads. It’s true that the pads can swivel and contour to your ears, but the joints don’t provide enough flexibility in this case.

Price point category and value:

Even though ATH M50x isn’t the most expensive studio headphone set out there, it can hardly pass on as “affordable”. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll need to consider saving up as they belong to the medium bracket of the “expensive” price point category.

Final verdict:

All things considered, Audio Technica’s ATH M50x might be the best studio headphones for the money. They simply have it all, and even though it’s true that they cost a small fortune, they’ll be your favorite companion in the studio room.

2. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

A brief overview of the model:

Next up is Sony studio headphones MDR7506 headphone set. We’ve all heard about Sony, right? The big guys that invented the Play Station? It just so happens that they’re also the leading brand in the electronics department, and most of their merchandise is some high-tech stuff. Let’s see what MDR7506 can offer.

First impressions:

One glance at these headphones was enough – we knew that what we were looking for is the embodiment of quality. These headphones look expensive, and they sure perform in turn. Apart from the beautifully designed long cable, the big earmuffs gave off the impression that MDR7506 are very comfortable to wear.

Sony’s MDR7506 are closed-ear headphones which not only feel very cozy but also negate most of the ambient noise (which is just one of the reasons why they’re so handy in studios).

Features and key specs:

These studio headphones come outfitted with premium-quality neodymium magnets, as well as a set of ultra-powerful 40mm drivers. Combined, these features provide vivid-like, detailed sound performance. As we’ve already mentioned, the MDR7506 are closed-ear headphones with oversized ear cups.

There’s a 9,8-foot long cord with a gold-plated plug which is, sadly, not detachable. It’s sturdy and very reliable though.

As for the sturdiness of these headphones, they’re pretty robust. Truth be told, there are a few gaps which are flimsy, especially the joints that connect the earcups with the headband, but they’re quite durable overall.

What we liked about these headphones:

Sony’s technologies are top-shelf, and that’s putting it mildly. What we really liked about these headphones the most is the quality performance. Premium features, exceptional drivers and the huge frequency response range are but some of the things that you’ll grow to love about Sony’s MDR7506.

To top it all, they’re not terribly expensive, although it’s quite clear that they’re far from being cheap. Even though this model is corded, the cord is durable and beautiful.

What we thought could be improved:

Let’s talk about the earcups of MDR7506 – what you might and what you might not like about them. Namely, the good thing is that they’re very comfortable and cozy, but we already mentioned that. Now, what you might not like about them is the fact that they get rather warm after a couple of hours of use.

On top of that, you’ll notice that these headphones are adjustable, but you’ll have a tough time finding the correct way to make use of that. Lastly, we did also mention that there are flimsy joints in the construction, so proper maintenance is necessary and required.

Price point category and value:

Let’s be frank, these headphones are in the range of over $100, so it’s pretty obvious that people who simply wish to find a good headphone set would dub them as “expensive”. What’s more, the price point category they belong to is the upper bracket of the “moderately expensive”, but even so, they sport a huge value for the buck.

Final verdict:

Plainly put, these headphones are great. The performance level they boast is through the roof, the soundstage offers a neutral sound signature ideal for studio works and monitoring, and the frequency response range is quite something. Consider them if you want quality, but be prepared to pay top dollar.

3. Sennheiser HD280Pro Headphone

Sennheiser HD280Pro Headphone

A brief overview of the model:

Wherever you hear the word “Sennheiser” you probably think of the old German brand that’s responsible for numerous high-quality electronics.

Rightly so, if we might add, because they graced the market with numerous high-tech sound bars, headphones, monitor systems, and even certain musical instruments.

If you’ve done any research prior to coming to our site, you’ve probably seen their dynamic, lavalier and condensator microphones such as MKE 2PC, ME 2US, and HS 2-5, but we’re here today to discuss one of the finest headphone sets ever made by this brand – the HD280Pro, so let’s get straight to it.

First impressions:

The first thing that came to mind after unboxing Sennheiser’s HD280Pro was “they’re big”. These headphones have a large headband and oversized ear cups, and what’s more, there are pads everywhere so we immediately concluded that they are very cozy and comfortable to wear.

What really amazed us is that these headphones were (and are) incredibly light. Namely, they only weigh approximately 285 grams, so they’re light as a feather. The performance of HD280Pro, on the other hand, is exactly what you’d expect from an electronics titan such as Sennheiser – awesome bass response, huge frequency response, and warm sound reproduction.

Features and key specs:

These headphones are able to negate up to thirty-two decibels of ambient noise due to heavily padded ear cup design. Light and extremely comfortable, the HD280Pro might be the best solution for studio musicians, but live performers will find much use of it for monitoring purposes.

Additionally, the natural sound signature is characterized with warm highs and clearly pronounced bass, and the sound you’ll be getting from them is just a bit brighter in comparison to most boutique level headphones.

What we liked about these headphones:

Premium performance and impeccable sound isolation are the main benefits Sennheiser’s HD280 Pro brings to the table. They might not look like much at first glance, but they offer a lot and lag behind in but a single field of performance – convenience. The EQ is not as straightforward as you’d expect, but we’ll get to it soon enough.

What we thought could be improved:

They’re big, hence they’re bulky. Even though HD280Pro are light headphones, you might experience some fatigue if you use them for hours without pause. There’s another thing – the bass is very pronounced and deep, although the bad thing is that it’s hard to set up with EQ. You’ll need to play around with them for a bit before you get accustomed to the features.

Price point category and value:

Pricey, although they don’t cost an arm and a leg per se. Sennheiser’s HD280 Pro belongs to the same price point category as our last pick (Sony MDR7506). Comparing the two is tricky business, as both are premium-quality headphones, but let’s settle on this – if you’re looking for some of the best studio headphones, you’ll be very satisfied with HD280Pro, and that’s a huge understatement.

Final verdict:

Good for the money, good for the ears, the HD280Pro holds a big promise of quality. These headphones may be just a bit bulkier than you’d want, but the comfort level they offer is unmatched and unparalleled. Performance wise, they can go toe to toe with every high-end and Hi-Fi headphone model, so they’re well worth the money.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-M30X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M30X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

Audio Technica earned their fame by making top quality record players, but that’s not the only thing they’re great at – their engineers excel at making premium-quality headphones as well. We’ve taken a gander at their assortment and picked out ATH-M30x from the bunch – these headphones are decently affordable and pack quite a punch for the buck.

First impressions:

It’s fairly hard to find a good headphone model that looks and performs the part. This particular model just happened to be one of them. Everything about ATH-M30x revolves around quality, starting from the aesthetic part, the technology used, the price and ending up with powerful performance.

Suffice to say, our first impressions of the M30x were one-sided – they appear to be comfortable for everyone due to the special circumaural design which basically contours to the user’s ears. They’re also very compact and easy to store as they’re collapsible.

Features and key specs:

Just like some of our previous picks, ATH-M30x sports 40mm drivers which deliver ultra-strong bass and bright, warm sound. The overall soundstage is fairly balanced while the sound signature is as natural as possible, which is just one of the reasons why most studio musicians rely on Audio Technica.

We’ve already mentioned other key specs, like the collapsible circumaural design, but there’s one more thing that might intrigue you about them – they were specifically tuned by AT engineers to deliver exceptional sound detail and mid-range definition.

What we liked about these headphones:

Few brands could hope of matching Audio Technica’s inventiveness, so it’s only obvious that the sound quality of ATH-M30x is the first thing we liked about them. Although the sound isolation leaves room for improvement, the heavy-duty drivers and copper-clad voice coils deliver glass-shattering bass.

The collapsible design, on the other hand, is not something you’ll see in most headphones in the price range – it allows you to safely and easily store them while you’re not using them. Lastly, we really liked the price.

What we thought could be improved:

Mediocre sound isolation due to thin ear cup pads is the only thing we thought could be improved. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that most headphones in the price range offer a bit of extra punch in this field.

Price point category and value:

One of the best things about Audio Technica’s ATH-M30x is that they come relatively cheap – it goes without saying that their price to value ratio is enormous, as this model comes on top of the food chain in the corresponding price point category.

Final verdict:

Audio Technica’s ATH-M30x is substantially cheaper than most studio headphone models we’ve reviewed so far, so if you’re on a tight budget, they appear to be the best solution. In fact, even if you do have the money for more expensive models, taking these headphones in consideration shouldn’t be crossed out as an option.

5. Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

It’s time to add another great headphone model into the fray- this time we’re reviewing Studio 3 wireless headphones by Beats, a renowned brand which has plenty of premium quality products in the electronics department.

Plainly put, Beats studio headphones are perfect for people who value aesthetics, as Studio3 looks absolutely exquisite. It performs exceptionally well and is considered as studio-grade headphone set.

First impressions:

“A beautiful headphone set” was the first thing that came to mind after unboxing Beats’ Studio3 headphones. We also noticed that it didn’t have any cables – these are the first wireless headphones in our review.

Apart from looking great, we were wondering when the battery will give in, but after looking up the manual we’ve found that you’ll be able to use it for full 22 hours. That’s massive, even for a boutique level professional studio headphone set. Let’s discuss its performance in the section below, shall we?

Features and key specs:

First of all, there are numerous color variations at your disposal. The classy “matte black” is good for anyone anytime, but the other, more vivid color options are all but ordinary.

“Blue” looks very cool, the “Grey” color option has two gold-plated inserts on the sides of the headband (the same goes for “Pink”) while the daredevil “Red” has silver inserts. There’s a total of four other color options, including “White”, “Crystal Blue”, “Defiant Black-Red” and “Desert Sand”.

The noise cancellation capabilities of Studio3 are described as “Active and adaptive”. That means that you’ll be able to toggle this feature on and off as you see fit, but the “adaptive” part is not so self-explanatory. Namely, this technology blocks ambient noises in a more efficient way when compared to classic outside noise reduction technologies.

Another great tech piece is the real-time sound calibration feature – this ensures top-grade performance at all times, as each song you listen to will have a different pre-set EQ (which you can, of course, change if it doesn’t suit you at the moment).

Last, but not least, we did mention that the battery life-time of these headphones is great – it lasts up to full 22 hours and require but a simple 10-min charge to juice up some 3 extra hours of play.

What we liked about these headphones:

We liked everything but the price – apart from looking beautiful, these headphones are available in a plethora of color options. What’s more, due to premium technologies onboard, Studio3 performs amazingly well. The battery lasts long and gets back online in mere minutes, so that’s a huge plus.

Lastly, these headphones are wireless, so anyone looking for this type of convenience for their studio should definitely consider them.

What we thought could be improved:

The only real problem with Beats’ Studio3 is the price – they belong to the medium bracket of the “boutique” price point category, so it’s safe to say that they cost an arm and a leg. Of course, professional studio musicians who don’t pay too much heed for how much a quality product costs will definitely find them as valuable.

Price point category and value:

Like we just mentioned, Studio3 wireless headphones are very, very expensive. They’re not for casual listening (even though they’d perform exceptionally great), as most of the features onboard aim to help studio musicians monitor their tracks and record them more easily.

Final verdict:

If you have the cash, Beats’ Studio3 seems like the best choice. With all-around performance, great design, long battery lifetime, and exquisite outlook, it’s safe to say that this is the ultimate headphone set for the buck.

6. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

The name’s not too catchy, let’s admit it, but Beyerdynamic is actually quite famous among musicians. Did you know that they were around for almost a century? Namely, this brand was founded in 1924 in Germany, and it’s easy to notice that certain technologies they used resemble Sennheiser, who is from the same country.

These guys are world-class leaders in headphones, headset, microphones, and conference technology departments, and you really should expect quite a lot from them. Today we will be talking about their DT 990 Pro – an over-ear studio headphone set that you’ll absolutely love if you’re looking for quality.

First impressions:

Open design headphones usually don’t look like much, but that’s not exactly the case with DT 990 Pro. They might not look all too exquisite per se, but these headphones are quite something, not falling too far behind in terms of aesthetics when compared to most models we’ve reviewed thus far.

Before we even got to the actual listening part, we were thrilled by the comfort the ear cups provide. Never you mind the coziness, as DT 990 Pro is also as sturdy as can be. Of course, the joints that connect the headband to the cups are made of plastic, so that was a bit of a bummer.

Overall, our first impressions of these headphones were entirely positive. These headphones are practical, robust, excel in numerous fields of performance, and they don’t cost a small fortune (although they’re not that cheap either).

Features and key specs:

In essence, DT 990 Pro feature an open over-ear design. They’re exceptionally comfortable due to soft velour cups which are both replaceable and easy to adjust. The German-quality craftsmanship is apparent, so you’ll have nothing to fear in regard to durability – Beyerdynamic’s DT 990 Pro is sturdy as they make them.

Though they’re not wireless, these headphones feature a very long and practical cable of three meters. Lastly, the frequency response spans from 5 to 35000 Hertz.

What we liked about these headphones:

We mainly liked the practicality and functionality of these headphones. The bass is very clear and pronounced, the mids are strong, and the highs are pretty crispy – even so, the sound signature of DT 990 Pro is neutral.

Furthermore, we think these headphones are pretty robust. Durable headphones are always a good choice for studio musicians, especially since most models don’t come exactly cheap.

Lastly, you’ll have a hard time finding a more comfortable headphone set. The valor ear cups are very cozy to wear and ensure a pleasurable listening experience at all times.

What we thought could be improved:

The ear cups are swiveling, but you’ll notice some crackling sounds in the left cup when you do so. That’s not a terrible issue, let alone a deal breaker, but you should know about it. Additionally, the small size of these headphones makes them impractical to wear around the neck.

Lastly, the cable isn’t detachable and it’s pretty heavy. On the upside, it’s long and if you don’t like its weight you could always cut it and solder it.

Price point category and value:

Although not ridiculously expensive, Beyerdynamic’s DT 990 pro is pretty valuable for the money. They belong to the moderate bracket of the “expensive” price point category and are some of the finest studio headphones over $100.

Final verdict:

Great for the money, although there are certain things that leave for improvement. Beyerdynamic’s DT 990 Pro is very practical and robust, the soundstage is great, and you’re going to love the bass, that much is guaranteed.

7. LyxPro HAS-30 Closed Back Over-Ear Headphones

LyxPro HAS-30 Closed Back Over-Ear Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

LyxPro hasn’t been on the market for long as Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic (let alone Sony or other notable brands), but they’ve deserved the attention they’ve been getting recently. This brand deals with premium-quality microphones, headphones and speakers. We’ve picked out the HAS-30 from their assortment for our review of the best studio headphones.

The HAS-30 is the newest edition from the HAS series (previous editions were HAS-10 and HAS-15), and it’s safe to say that LyxPro engineers have taken the feedback from their customers very seriously.

Namely, the HAS-10 was rather too small for most people while the HAS-15 weren’t so durable, but these minor flaws were taken care of with the HAS-30. Let’s see what these headphones bring to the table.

First impressions:

Sennheiser’s HD280Pro was a big set of headphones, but it just so happens that LyxPro HAS-30 is even bigger. Our first impression of these headphones is that they might be too heavy for standard studio usage, but after a couple of minutes of listening to various tracks, we’ve decided to run a full performance check.

Features and key specs:

In terms of practicality, HAS-30 passed with flying colors. The foldable design provides easy storage, as well as simple means to carry it. Furthermore, these headphones are corded, but you’ll get two adjustable and removable cables, as well as a 3,5mm to 0.25-inch adapter for free.

The headband is made of ultra robust and decently comfortable leather material while the earcups are sized just right. Just like the cable, the cups are also removable and replaceable.

Quality hardware and powerful drivers ensure top-shelf performance and promise a well-balanced soundstage with a neutral sound signature, so you can get your expectations pretty high regarding the sound quality.

What we liked about these headphones:

HAS-30 is comfortable to wear, they promise a lot in terms of audio quality, and they’re very practical, but what we liked the most about them is the price.

Namely, there are just a couple of models that could hope of matching the performance of this exemplary headphone set in the price range, not to mention that it’s very, very cheap. On another note, these headphones are made of very durable and robust materials.

What we thought could be improved:

Truth be told, there were two things that HAS-30 lacks, even though they’re considered as budget headphones. Firstly, they’re rather bulky. The brand states that you won’t have any troubles with the ear fatigue as the cups are comfortable, but the bulky design means that they’re a bit heavier than most standard studio headphones.

Apart from that, the bass is a bit too strong for comfort. If you’re planning on recording and monitoring heavy metal or hard rock music this will be a pro actually, but if not, you’ll get too much bass from these headphones.

Price point category and value:

LyxPro’s HAS-30 are budget studio headphones, and they cost only half as much as most models we’ve reviewed in the sections above. They do a major bang for the buck, and you should definitely consider them if you’re low on cash.

Final verdict:

Moneywise, HAS-30 is a perfect choice for fresh studio musicians and technicians. Otherwise, saving up some extra $50 will mean a big difference. Nevertheless, these headphones perform extraordinarily great in comparison to most models in the price range. You should definitely consider them if you crave a little bit of extra bass.

8. Status Audio CB-1 Closed-Back Studio Monitor Headphones

Status Audio CB-1 Closed Back Studio Monitor Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

Status Audio is another underdog in our review, but we’ve made sure to pick out their most famous model from the bunch – the CB-1. These studio headphones look great, they sport a rather authentic design, and they’re generally pretty awesome for a mid-priced headphone set.

First impressions:

Truth be told, we didn’t expect too much from these headphones, but they’ve gotten quite a few reviews and are currently ranked high on online marketplaces such as Amazon and BestBuy, so we’ve decided to give them a shot.

The first thing most people will notice about CB-1 is the delicate, unique look. The ear cups are pretty big, but you can tell even from a distance that they’ll block out the ambient noise from your listening experience with ease.

To top it all, the brand describes the ear pads as “ergonomic”, and we completely agree – the fatigue kicked in only after a couple of hours of listening to music.

Features and key specs:

CB-1 come outfitted with 50mm drivers – they’re bigger than “standard” 40mm ones most brands use, hence they provide a little extra punch while keeping the sound signature clear and neutral. On top of that, the soundstage is pretty basic – everything’s where it’s supposed to be. The bass is quite okay, mids and highs aren’t as pronounced but they’re present.

Let’s get back to the “ergonomic” design we mentioned earlier. Status Audio’s CB-1 packs ergonomic pads on the ear cups which prevent ear fatigue while reducing ambient noise, which is just some of the reasons why these headphones are perfect for studio work.

What’s more, they’re foldable, or better yet, “collapsible”. You can pack them up and easily store or carry them from place to place.

What we liked about these headphones:

The design is great and the performance off the charts – that much is certain, at least for as long as we’re in the mid-range headphone category. Status Audio’s CB-1 aren’t pricey, which is definitely a big plus considering that there are a couple of things that leave room for improvement.

If we’re looking for a couple of words that would best fit the description of these headphones, they’d be “practical, convenient, and decently powerful for the money”.

What we thought could be improved:

While they are comfortable, these headphones aren’t exactly durable. They are foldable, true, but without proper maintenance and care you’ll end up with a broken headphone set.

Price point category and value:

In essence, the Status Audio’s CB-1 headphones are a bit more expensive than the HAS-30 model we just reviewed, but they’re still cheaper than most high-end models at the top of our selection. They belong to the upper bracket of the mid-price point category and hold a big value for the money.

Final verdict:

They’re phenomenal, even if you’re not looking for budget or mid-priced headphones. CB-01 does the job for the cash, and in fact, they’re better than most models in the range. It’s true, however, that they could use a bit of extra reinforcement regarding the durability, but treat them well and they’ll serve you well.

9. Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones

Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

Let’s get back to the old guns – Shure’s SRH440 stands for professional grade studio headphones. You’ve surely heard about this brand already – they’re leaders in the microphone and electronics industry, and their technologies are widely recognized, but in case you haven’t, Shure is an American audio electronics company established some 90 years ago.

The SRH440 headphones are specifically engineered to best suit studio work and monitoring, so you’ve definitely come to the right place if you’re searching for some.

First impressions:

Basically, most professionals are well aware of the fact that Shure seldom makes “bad” electronics. In fact, even their “lowest” models are well beyond average. The SRH440 is a great example of Shure’s mid-range studio headphone set, and we were right when we assumed that it will be a killer.

The cable is coiled and detachable, so that was pretty nice. The circumaural closed-back design is collapsible, so there were no problems concerning compactness and storage. Now, the point where SRH440 bought us was when we figured that it came with several complementary features.

Namely, the bundle contained a convenient carry bag, a threaded gold plated adapter, and a plain user’s guide.

Features and key specs:

Shure’s SRH440 might not look like much (meaning that it doesn’t particularly excel in aesthetics), but these headphones are very convenient to use. The circumaural design combined with medium-size ear cups provide plenty of comfort, and that goes even if we disregard the fact that the leather headband is cozy enough as it is.

The soundstage is balanced and the sound signature natural and neutral – perfect for studios as well as live musicians. On top of that, the coiled cable is detachable, so everything about these headphones seems to revolve around user-friendliness and convenience. Furthermore, there’s a bayonet clip that can be used to safely lock the cable into the cups.

What we liked about these headphones:

Primarily, we adored the quality of audio emissions. These headphones emit true high-fidelity sound with plenty of bass and bright highs to contrast it.

On top of that, the gratis goodies came pretty handy – even though the headphones themselves are collapsible, having a little carry bag goes a long way in reference to maintenance. The cable is whole 10-foot large, which is three times greater than in most cases. Last, but certainly not least, Shure’s SRH440 is pretty affordable considering the benefits they bring to the table.

What we thought could be improved:

There are just two things we didn’t like so much about Shure’s SRH440. Firstly, they appear to be heavier than most standard studio headphones, which is not such a big deal unless you use them for extended periods of time.

Secondly, the under cushions of the headband are mediocre at best. Sure, these headphones are comfortable to wear, but there are cozier models to be found in the price range. Other than that, everything checks out.

Price point category and value:

Shure’s SRH440 belong to the upper bracket of the “medium” price range, but they’re more than just worth the buck. The sound, the comfortability, especially the convenience these headphones provide – these are just some of the things that make SRH440 stand out from the rest of the models within the price range.

Final verdict:

“Absolutely fantastic” would be the phrase that could act as a synonym for Shure’s SHR440. These headphones pack a major punch for the money, and they’re not even that expensive. If you are a pro (or at least considering of becoming one) musician or studio technician, you simply got to have these cans in your rec room.

10. AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones

AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones

A brief overview of the model:

Last, but not least, we’ll talk about AKG’s K 240 MK II stereo headphones. This brand is not as famous as Sony, Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic or Shure, but they specialize in making top-shelf studio equipment and gear, so don’t feel dissuaded by their lack of renown.

Essentially, the K 240 MK II are premium-quality studio headphones which pack a pair of oversized ear cups, an ultra comfortable headband, and a superior soundstage (when compared to similar models in the price range, of course).

First impressions:

In most cases, underdog brands lag a bit behind the world-class giants mainly due to the fact that they have to pump up the prices just to avoid being pushed out of the market. Such was the case with K 240 MK II – these headphones might be just a bit more expensive than they should, but even so, we decided to give them a go.

The design of these headphones is spectacular – semi-open technology is not something you see every day, and the brand pitched in a couple of wires on top of the headband as an easier transport solution.

Better yet, these headphones’ headband is self-adjustable, ensuring optimum fit, regardless of the type (or the size) of the wearer’s head. As for the performance, we’ll discuss it in detail in the section below.

Features and key specs:

You’ll notice that the drivers outfitted to this model are substantially smaller than standard ones. We’re talking about Varimotion 30mm transducers. Though smaller and less powerful, they provide a more accurate signal and enhance the dynamic range, ensuring more accurate audio emission at the expense of sheer strength (the bass is, in turn, less pronounced, for example).

The headband is most certainly the prime feature of K 240 MK II. It’s capable of self-adjusting to the wearer’s head, so it’s safe to say that these headphones are among the most comfortable ones on the market.

What we liked about these headphones:

Two things make AKG’s K 240 MK II stand out from the plethora of similarly priced models. First of all, the premium semi-open design which provides decent ambient sound isolation and delivers an accurate bass response. Secondly, the self-adjusting band only adds to the already great level of comfort.

Additionally, there are a couple of wires atop the headband. They can be used to hang your headphones more easily in a studio.

What we thought could be improved:

Now, nearly everything about these headphones is great, but there are only a couple of things that, if done differently could have meant a lot. For instance, the cable is just too long – it tangles pretty easily and adds to the overall weight.

More importantly, the design of these headphones is a bit too bulky for comfort, so you should expect some ear fatigue after a couple of hours. Nothing too substantial though.

Price point category and value:

AKG’s K 240 MK II stereo headphones cost only a couple of bucks more than most of our higher-end picks. That also means that they belong to the upper bracket of the “moderately expensive” price point category. Now, most studio musicians (and technicians) would deem them as valuable, as they sport several exquisite features that are otherwise unavailable.

Final verdict:

If you don’t have troubles trusting an underdog brand, we highly recommend that you give AKG’s K 240 MK II a shot. These headphones pack a massive punch for the cash, as they rack exceptional features and state of the art technologies.

Buying Guide – How to pick the best studio headphones

Okay, now that we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions in regard to studio headphones and seeing what some of the finest models on the actual market are, it’s time to discuss the, perhaps, one of the most crucial things regarding the topic – how do you pick the best studio headphones?

Build Material

The sturdiness of your headphones is, obviously, very important. Now, most brands use different kinds of plastic materials for the core of the construction of their headphones, implementing metal hardware at the joints. Headbands are usually made of leather while the cups are customarily made of foam-like materials.

Headband Material
Look at Materials Used in the Headband

In order to determine the overall durability of the headphone model in question, look at the joints, feel the cups, if the model swivels or sports a collapsible design, feel it out a bit. Crackling sounds are usually a red flag that indicates a flimsy product.

Neutral sound signature

Let’s face it, you won’t even consider studio headphones if they didn’t have a neutral sound signature. We’ve discussed why this is important in the first sections of this article, but let’s talk about how you can recognize the aforementioned quality.

In essence, it’s fairly easy. The sound emissions will appear more direct, more accurate, the sound will also appear just slightly less noisy and, of course, there should be absolutely no distortion whatsoever, even if you’re listening to blackened death metal as an example of the most heavily distorted music sub-genre.

Soundstage/overall performance

The soundstage of your headphones determines the overall quality of sound at different frequencies. Some headphones are bassy, some have brighter highs or crispier mids, but an ideal studio headphone set should have a balanced soundstage. Rest assured, each and every model we’ve recommended to you has one.

How do you know that your headphones have a balanced soundstage? The bass is fairly easy to notice – if the “beats” in the songs you are listening to are too heavy, the headphones are bassy. If the vocals and stringed instruments sound too pronounced, the highs are accentuated while the mids are everything in between.

Price

You should expect to save up at least some $100 before you even think of browsing through any list of the “best studio headphones”. Surely enough, there are models that fit the description which cost half as much, but they are bound to lack some of the qualities a proper model should deliver.

For instance, Status Audio’s CB-1 is a perfect choice for people who are on a tight budget, but these headphones can’t exactly compare to, let’s say Sennheiser’s HD280Pro or Beats’ Studio3. Another perfect example of high-quality studio headphone set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg would be Shure’s SRH440. They aren’t cheap, though, but they do a great deal for the money.

Lastly, we should mention that AKG’s MKII is one of the rare headphone sets that costs a bit more than most underdog brand models. It boasts unique technologies, such as the self-adjustable headband, though, and that’s why it costs a little bit extra.

Speaking of budget models, they’re not necessarily bad per se, but it’s almost a rule that less expensive models sound and perform poorly when pitted against mid-range and boutique level studio headphones.

Comfort rating

Let’s talk a bit about comfort the headphones you want to buy can or should provide. Imagine it this way – “these headphones don’t feel too good to wear. Ouch, they start to feel pretty uncomfortable. Yep, they’re even causing fatigue to my head and ears.” That’s pretty much an obvious train of thought most people get while wearing uncomfortable headphones.

While this is a major issue for consumer grade headphones (since people use them for hours on average), it’s also quite a big deal when we’re talking about studio headphones.

In most cases, you’ll be able to wrap up recording your instrument in a couple of hours, depending on how many songs (or instruments) you intend to record. It’s true that (again, in most cases) you’ll be able to take a break and continue after you’ve freshened up, but is it something we’re missing here?

Recording an instrument requires time, patience, and most importantly, focus. Even the slightest feeling of discomfort could prolong the recording session, which will usually cost you extra. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s imperative that you find a comfortable headphone set.

Ambient/outside noise reduction

Let’s take a step back to a time where you used your old, budget (consumer grade) headphones. Disregard the bad quality of audio transmission, pay no heed to the ugly bass response, and focus on what you were able to hear. The music, of course, was there, right in your head, but were there dogs barking in the background, angry car drivers laying on the horn in the midst of a heavy traffic – sound familiar? That’s where ambient noise reduction comes in.

It’s only normal that a studio room won’t present you with such problems – you’ll be alone with your instrument, so there shouldn’t be any outside interferences, right? Wrong. Even if that particular room has the best isolation in the world, the sheer reverberations from your instrument will bum you out as you record.

Using a set of studio headphones will greatly help with this issue, as you’ll get to hear everything on the most accurate level possible. Again, that’s just one of the many benefits this type of headphones provides.

Conclusion

Okay, let’s wrap things up. We’ve seen what the market has to offer in terms of the best studio headphones, we’ve described what they are, and we’ve done a quick check regarding the things you ought to consider before you start your search, but can we proclaim the victor of our little roundup?

Sadly, even if we were to assemble a team comprised of every single professional musician and technician in the world, there would be no consensus of “which model is the best”. It falls up to you to decide, as the subjective criteria surpasses objectiveness. We hope that you’ve liked our picks and hope you find what you are looking for!

Marko Jovanovic

Marko Jovanovic

Marko is a freelance music journalist from Serbia. As a tech savvy individual and a regular Ultimate-Guitar.com news and feature article writer, he contributes on a wide array of musical topics with at least a pinch of rock 'n' roll always present in his work.

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