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What are the BEST Studio Headphones for MIXING & RECORDING in 2020?

What are the BEST Studio Headphones for MIXING & RECORDING!?
26th February, 2020
What are the BEST Studio Headphones for MIXING & RECORDING in 2020?

Whether you’re recording, mixing, or mastering, Studio Headphones play an important role in the music-making process. Delivering a super-accurate frequency response for your mix, as well as sound isolation during recording. But with so many options at your fingertips, it can be hard to choose the right one. Yet alone know exactly which type of studio headphones are going to be the best for your application. So we’ve put together the ultimate 2020 beginners guide; giving you a top 10 list of the best studio headphones whether you’re mixing, mastering, or recording.

  • Studio Headphones vs HiFi Headphones?
  • Open or Closed Back?
  • Comfortability
  • The top 10 best studio headphone picks
    • Sennheiser HD280 PRO – Top Pick
    • AKG K52 – Best Under $100
    • Shure SRH840
    • AKG K240 – Best Semi-Open Headphones
    • Audio Technica ATHM50X
    • Samson SR850
    • Mackie MC-450 – Premium Open-Back
    • Sony MDR7506
    • Beyerdynamic DT990
    • Behringer HPS3000 – Cheapest Option

Studio Headphones vs HiFi Headphones

The main factor separating your everyday HiFi headphones with a set of studio headphones is the frequency response. HiFi headphones typically boost a variety of frequencies in order to accentuate the bass and make the songs sound louder and fuller. Whereas studio headphones generally feature a super-accurate frequency response, allowing you to hear every nuance and aspect of your mix. Therefore, having a good set of studio headphones is just as important as any other piece of gear in your studio.

Not to mention, they offer a perfect solution for those sessions when playing through your studio monitors just isn’t an option. While also preventing ear fatigue that can result from hours of listening through your speakers. As well as providing a fresh perspective to that mix you’ve spent hours working on. Essentially, giving you another set of ears.

So whether you’re a beginner producer or an experienced DJ; at DJ City we stock a wide range of headphones to suit your needs. Offering solutions that not only isolate noise but allow you to hear your overall mix, as well as feeling comfortable and natural. Giving you an ideal choice if you’re looking for audio engineering headphones. Stocking studio headphones and headphones for DJs from some of the industry’s most trusted and reliable brands. Including AIAIAI, Sennheiser, Behringer, V-Moda, and more; we’re sure to have a set of headphones to last you many years of gigs and heavy-use!

Open or Closed Back?

When it comes to studio headphones, there are two main types of headphone builds that separate one from another. These are, closed-back and open-back designs. The distinction between the two relates to the part of the headphones covering the area behind the driver.
Closed-back headphones are generally preferred if you’re recording in the studio. While open-back designs are the preferred style for long mixing and mastering sessions.

Closed-Back Headphones

Closed Back headphones are designed to prevent sound from escaping. So if you’re looking for a set of closed-back headphones, the main thing you want to look for is maximum sound isolation. Ideal when you’re recording vocals or podcasts, it’s important to use closed-back headphones for monitoring your audio. Not only does it allow you to hear your backing track, but it also allows you to monitor your recordings for static, loudness, and other issues. Closed-Back headphones ensure you can perform your recording tasks effectively; all without having unwanted sound bleed into your microphone and potentially ruin your recording!

The downside to closed-back headphones is the fact they typically trap pressure inside; which can inaccurately boost frequencies. Something that’s often desirable to casual listeners, although it can be counterproductive when mixing.

Open-Back Headphones

Open-Back headphones, on the other hand, are more commonly used for critical listening, mixing, and mastering situations. Generally offering more of a wide and accurate frequency response, with the trade-off of having slightly less isolation. But allow you to have an incredibly reliable reference, and hear every nuance and aspect of your mix. Having a pair of open-back studio headphones is perfect for those times when it’s just not appropriate to blast music through your speakers. They’re also an excellent solution for reducing ear fatigue created by long listening sessions.

If you’re looking for sound isolation as well as the luxury of high-fidelity sound; it is achievable with well-engineered open-back headphones. However, it’s a luxury that you have to be willing to pay for. With all that being said, there are some great “semi open-back” options such as the AKG K240 that are not only affordable but offer a well-balanced sound and enough isolation for your recording.

Comfortability

Another thing to consider when buying a pair of studio headphones is their comfortability. Whether you’re doing a lengthy podcast, performing vocals in the booth, or simply mixing in the studio. You’ve probably already worked out that there are times where you’re going to be wearing your headphones for several hours. With that in mind, there’s nothing worse than having itchy, sore or irritated ears thanks to uncomfortable headphones. So it’s important to look for a set of headphones that offer a great source of padding, and one that doesn’t collect sweat. Because the last thing you want is to end up with itchy and sweaty ears while you’re performing critical mixing tasks.

You also don’t want a pair of studio headphones that are too heavy or don’t fit your head. It’s always good to go for something that’s adjustable so you can move things around if you do experience discomfort!

So, what are the best studio headphones?

Like most other things, and especially when it comes to DJ and Studio Equipment, you get what you pay for. But, assuming you’re not swimming in endless amounts of money, we’re keeping this list based around the more affordable studio headphones.

With all that said and done, let’s move on to what you came here for; the best studio headphones in 2020.

Sennheiser HD280 PRO (Closed-Back) Top Pick


PROS:

  • Renowned Sennheiser Quality
  • Affordable for all
  • Sound Isolation

CONS:

  • Cable isn’t detachable

Our top pick when it comes to studio headphones is the Sennheiser HD280PRO. Sporting a closed-back design, the HD280 PRO’s give you a rugged and comfortable set of studio headphones that are not only ideal for monitoring. But also suited to recording and tracking, thanks to its sound-isolating design. Widely respected as one of the best in the world of headphones, it’s no surprise that Sennheiser takes out the number one spot here.

The HD280 Pro’s are cost-effective, reliable, and rugged. All while giving you the accurate frequency response you need to dive deep into your mixes and take complete control over your sound. Then, when it comes to recording your podcast, or vocals for your next song; you can be sure that you won’t experience any part of your mix bleeding into your microphone. So you’ll end up with crystal clear, and sharp recordings!

Features:

  • Rugged, comfortable headphones with user-replaceable parts
  • Designed for both DJs and professional monitoring applications.
  • Includes a single-sided coiled cable, with 3.5 mm mini-jack with locking 1/4″ adapter
  • Space saving design features collapsible, rotating earcups
  • Up to 32 dB noise attenuation
  • Closed, dynamic stereo headphones
  • Accurate, linear sound reproduction for critical monitoring applications
  • Optimum impedance ensures universal compatibility
  • Neodymium magnets for high maximum SPL
  • Comfortable for long mix sessions

SHOP: Sennheiser HD280 PRO


AKG K52 Best Under $100

PROS:

  • Budget Option
  • Looks Great
  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent Sound Isolation
  • Fit all head sizes

CONS:

  • Wouldnt recommend for critical mastering applications
Next up on the list is our best pick if you’re looking for something under the 100 dollar mark! The AKG K52 closed-back studio headphones feature large earcups that enclose your ears and offer the perfect listening experience. While the professional-grade 40mm drivers deliver a wide frequency range and an accurate sound. Allowing you to hear even the most subtle nuances.What’s more, the K52 features a self-adjusting headband with a lightweight design that will keep you comfortable throughout long listening sessions. Sporting breathable and lightweight ear pads that encircle your ears rather than putting pressure on them. All while delivering exceptional sound quality, wherever you are.

Above all, the AKG K52’s are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a sub 100 dollar pair of headphones. Offering a solution that sounds, feels, and looks great! Ideal whether you’re recording a podcast, recording in the booth, or mixing!

  • Provides reference-monitor accuracy
  • Wide 18Hz – 20kHz frequency response
  • Large earcups ensures perfect fit
  • Closed-back design maximizes isolation
  • Supplied with a 2.5m cable

SHOP: AKG K52

Shure SRH840 Great Option for Recording


PROS:

  • Excellent Clarity
  • High build quality
  • Detachable Cable
  • Includes replacement ear pads

CONS:

  • On the heavier side
  • Big
The Shure SRH840 is another pair of closed-back studio headphones. Sporting a circumaural design, the SRH840’s sit comfortably over your ears while reducing background noise. As well as ensuring no unwanted noise bleeds through to your microphone while you’re recording. The SRH840 also has a wide and padded headband that offers an ergonomic fit. Providing you with next-level comfort over extended periods of time. Not only that, the SRH840 boasts a precisely tailored frequency response that delivers rich bass, clear mi-range, and extended highs. On top of that, the SRH840 has a unique, collapsible design and comes with an included carry bag.

Features:

  • Precisely tailored frequency response delivers rich bass, clear mid-range and extended highs.
  • Wide, padded headband provides ergonomic fit for superior comfort over extended periods
  • Closed-back, circumaural design rests comfortably over the ears and reduces background noise
  • Collapsible design for easy storage and portability.
  • Legendary Shure quality to withstand the rigors of everyday use
  • Bayonet Clip securely locks cable into ear cup
  • Replaceable ear cup pads included ensuring long product life
  • 3m (10ft) coiled detachable cable provides plenty of length and easy storage and replacement
  • Carrying bag protects headphones when on the go or not in use

SHOP: SHURE SRH840


AKG K240 Best Versatile Choice

PROS:

  • Versatile
  • High build quality
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Detailed sound

CONS:

  • Slight sound leakage during recording
The AKG K240 MKIIs are the go-to choice if you’re looking for a versatile pair of headphones for both mixing and recording. Especially ideal if you’re a beginner and sticking to a budget, there’s no safer option than the K240. Sporting a semi-open design, the K240s are essentially a hybrid of both open and closed-back models. So if you’re looking for a one-stop headphone purchase, you can’t go past a set of these cans.There’s a reason that AKG headphones are featured on almost every “Top headphone” list on the web. Featuring advanced Varimotion 30mm XXL transducers; the K240’s deliver solid low end, accurate mids, and crystal clear highs. On top of that, the over-ear design means the ear pads envelop your ears nicely. Making the K240’s an extremely comfortable set of headphones that will dramatically reduce ear fatigue. All while minimizing sound leakage as well as blocking external noise.

Adding to its feature set, the K240 cable can be replaced and comes with an assortment of choices for your desired application. As well as 1/4″ adapters so you can use them with not only your professional gear, but also your phone and portable devices.

Features

  • Dynamic, around-ear, semi-open headphones
  • Includes leatherette and velvet earpads
  • Detachable 10′ straight cable and 16′ coiled cable included
  • 15Hz-25kHz frequency range
  • 200mW maximum input power

SHOP: AKG K240 MKII


Audio Technica ATH-M50X

PROS:

  • Great level of sound isolation
  • Fairly accurate frequency response for closed-back headphones
  • Interchangeable cables suit all applications

CONS:

  • Tight-fitting design that can get uncomfortable after long periods
  • Bass/low end levels tend to differ and can be misleading during mixing
  • Heavy design, and leather earpads can leave you sweaty after long sessions
If you’re around pro audio circles, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name Audio Technica. Synonymous with delivering audiophile quality sound and high-fidelity audio, the ATH-M50X is by far the most popular set of studio headphones from Audio Technica. Sporting the same coveted signature that was seen on the original ATH-M50. However, it now includes an additional 3 interchangeable cables. Powered by 45mm large-aperture drivers that also feature rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. Resulting in a pure, and accurate listening experience.Delivering accurate audio, and outstanding comfort; the ATH-M50X is a closed-back pair of headphones that does the job whether you’re recording, mixing, or on the go. With the contoured earcups providing a great level of sound isolation with minimal bleed. Above all, there’s a reason you’ll find review after review with nothing but good things to say about these headphones. A long time favourite for producers and engineers!

Features

  • Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
  • Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils
  • Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range, with deep, accurate bass response
  • Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
  • 90° swiveling earcups for easy, one-ear monitoring
  • Professional-grade earpad and headband material delivers more durability and comfort
  • Collapsible for space-saving portability
  • Detachable cables (includes 1.2 m – 3.0 m coiled cable, 3.0 m straight cable and 1.2 m straight cable)
  • Top choice for studio tracking and mixing, as well as DJ monitoring and personal listening

SHOP: Audio Technica ATH-M50X


Samson SR850 Budget Semi-Open

PROS:

  • Detailed Sound
  • Budget Version of the AKG K240
  • Super Comfortable

CONS:

  • Exaggerated bass and treble
  • Budget price = Budget build quality
  • Very slight audio bleed
If you thought the AKG K240’s sounded good, but slightly out of your price range; Samson has come to the rescue. An outstanding set of semi-open headphones, the SR850 is as close as you’ll get to the sound quality of higher-class headphones. If your budget allows, we wouldn’t recommend them over the AKG K240 MKII. However, the value for money can’t be ignored. So if you’re sitting on a tight budget and looking for versatility, these just might be the headphones for you.Offering a fairly accurate and detailed sound, the one place these cans fall short is with its slightly over-emphasized bass and treble. However, if you can get past that fact, they’re almost too good to be true. Allowing just enough bleed so you can take advantage of better stereo imaging and a wider sound stage. While still providing enough isolation to excel with all your recording and tracking needs. They’re also a great set of headphones for casual listening.

Features

  • Ideal for professional recording and hi-fi monitoring
  • Transparent response with airy highs and pronounced depth
  • Over-ear, semi-open-back design with velour cushioning
  • Large 50mm drivers with rare earth magnets
  • Adjustable headband
  • 10Hz–30kHz frequency response
  • 32Ω impedance
  • 1/4″ adapter included

SHOP: SAMSON SR850


Mackie MC-450 Premium New Release

Mackie MC-450 Open-Back Studio Headphones

PROS:

  • Comes in a stylish and heavy-duty hard case
  • High build-quality
  • Amazingly accurate sound
  • Ergonomic and comfortable fit

CONS:

  • Higher Price Point
One of the many exciting products announced by Mackie at the 2020 NAMM Show; the MC-450 is a set of open-back headphones designed to take your studio monitoring to the next level. Thanks to its open-back design, the MC-450 delivers a wide and realistic soundstage. While its 42mm drivers work to deliver exceptional tonal accuracy. So you can be sure that the MC-450’s will handle all your critical mixing and mastering applications.When it comes to its build-quality, the MC-450 really feels like a solid piece of gear. While its adjustable headband, memory foam earpads, and rotatable ear cups ensure a super comfortable and ergonomic fit.

So to top it off, not only do these headphones offer amazingly accurate sound; they come complete with a plethora of great inclusions. Including 3 detachable cables for a variety of uses, and a hard case that’s sure to do a great job of protecting your expensive headphones. The only downside with these headphones is that they come in at a price point reasonably higher than several others we’ve mentioned.

  • Open-back headphones for mixing and focused listening in acoustically treated rooms
  • Mackie’s signature balanced and full studio sound
  • High-headroom, reference-quality 42mm dynamic transducers
  • Open-back design offers a wider soundstage, smooth midrange, and enhanced detail
  • Premium leather adjustable headband and memory foam earpads provide an ergonomic fit for hours of comfort while ensuring optimal low-end performance
  • Rugged design is built to last and meet the demands of professionals in the studio or on location
  • Detachable cables with locking bayonet connectors—9.8′ fabric-jacketed straight cable with 3.5mm TRS mini plug, 4′ coiled cable with 3.5mm TRS mini plug, and 4′ straight cable with 3.5mm TRRS mini plug and in-line remote control and microphone

SHOP: MACKIE MC-450


Beyerdynamic DT990

open back studio headphones beyerdynamic

PROS:

  • Comes in a stylish and heavy-duty hard case
  • High build-quality
  • Amazingly accurate sound
  • Ergonomic and comfortable fit

CONS:

  • Lacking Style
  • Low End Sub-Bass could be improved
The Beyerdynamic DT990 is essentially the open-back version of the also popular, DT770 PRO headphones. Although notably lacking the style found on other studio headphones, the DT990s are an extremely durable and well-built set of cans. Sporting plush velour ear pads, the DT990’s are also a really comfortable pair of headphones and will stand up even after hours in the studio.At around the 200 dollar mark, the DT990’s offer amazing open-back headphone quality for the price. Delivering an extremely balanced frequency range as well as a fairly wide soundstage. They do seem to lack a little bit of sub-bass, although makeup for it with the mids and highs. But, this is something you’d generally expect from an open-back headphone. So you’re unlikely to have any issues performing mixes with any genre.

Above all, a great choice for your studio mixing applications

  • Open diffuse-field studio headphone
  • 250ohms
  • Professional version of the many times awarded DT 990
  • Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
  • Excellent sound reproduction
  • Robust, easy serviceable construction as all parts are replaceable
  • 3.0m coiled cable (single-sided)
  • Includes drawstring bag

All Studio Headphones


Sony MDR7506

PROS:

  • Great quality sound

CONS:

  • Flimsy Build Quality
  • Lacking Style
The Sony MDR7506 is a closed-back, over-ear set of headphones that offer excellent sound quality. Well and truly making up for what they lack in build quality, but still making them a great value set of headphones. Exceeding performance expectations, the MDR7506 delivers crystal clear audio and excellent frequency response. Which is likely what’s made the Sony MDR7506 a staple studio workhorse for several years. As well as making the MDR7506 a regular resident in a number of Top 10 lists.So while they’re not the best built, most-comfortable, or most stylish; the Sony MDR7506 delivers top-notch audio quality and reproduction for a low-cost headphone. Overall, not a bad choice for studio recording and tracking.

Features

  • Headphone Type: Dynamic, Closed-Ear Design
  • Magnet Type: Neodymium
  • Driver Size: 40.0mm
  • Frequency Response: 10-20kHz
  • Impedance: 63 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106 dB/W/m
  • Power Handling: 1000mW
  • Plug Type: Gold, Stereo Unimatch plug 1/4″ & 1/8″

All Studio Headphones


Behringer HPS3000 Cheapest Option

best studio headphones behringer

PROS:

  • Cheap & Affordable

CONS:

  • Not the best sound quality
  • Build quality not amazing

Finally, we’ve got the Behringer HPS3000. These headphones are cheap, dirt cheap. However, while you might expect something unusable for the price. The Behringer HPS3000 delivers surprisingly good sound. Although we wouldn’t recommend them for critical mastering applications; so if you’re on a budget, these are going to help you perform most bedroom mixes at an unbeatable cost.

It also comes with a 1/4″ TRS adapter for the 1/8″ TRS connector, making it compatible with everything from your MP3 player to your mixing console.

Above all, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones to get you started in the studio, for under $50, they’re a great starting point.

Features

  • Ultra-wide frequency response
  • High-definition bass and super-transparent highs
  • Ultra-wide dynamic range
  • High-efficiency cobalt capsule
  • 1/8″ connector plus 1/4″ adapter included
  • Single-sided cord with oxygen-free copper wires
  • Optimized oval-shaped ear cups
  • As well as High-quality components and exceptionally rugged construction ensure long life

SHOP: Behringer HPS3000


Best Studio Headphones – The Final Say

So there you have it, our top 10 picks for the best studio headphones. Keep in mind, this list of choices is aimed at a beginner’s guide for producers, recording artists, and engineers just looking to get into the studio headphone market. So whether you’re looking for closed-back headphones for recording vocals, instruments or podcasts. Or you’re looking for open-back headphones for studio mixing and critical mastering. We’re sure to have an option on this list that’s going to suit your needs and fit nicely in your budget!

READ ON: Best DJ Headphones

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