Top 10 Best Studio Headphones For Music Production

Come here to find the best studio headphones for music production, all designed to help professionals produce their tracks to the highest standards.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: June 28, 2021

The best studio headphones for music production will go a long way toward showing off your talent and advancing your music-producing career.

For the best recording, mixing performance, there are three important factors of studio headphones you should pay attention to:

  • Build & Comfort: your headphones should have a durable design and a comfortable fit.
  • Sound Quality: professionals usually prefer neutral and wide frequency responses.
  • Accessories: they should have enough accessories to work with other equipment as well.

But this is easier said than done. It can be an overwhelming decision when you have to swim through an ocean brimming with old and new options at various price ranges. For that reason, we will help you get your hands on the best headphones for your needs.

In-Depth Reviews Of The Best Studio Headphones For Music Production

Here is a quick breakdown of all kinds of options on today’s studio monitoring headphone market. It'll help you steer clear of unsuitable choices and get to the right cans faster.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 9/10
  • Sound Quality: 9/10
  • Accessories: 8/10

Best Overall: Top All-Around Choice

The Japanese manufacturer Audio-Technica has been in the business of making professional audio equipment for a long time. But it's not until the ATH-M50x that it became a popular name among audiophiles.

This best-selling model is embraced by not just professionals but also the wider public. From forums for enthusiasts to Youtube videos, you can find it everywhere. And it ticks all the boxes when it comes to headphones for music production.

Build & Comfort

One of the main reasons behind the tremendous popularity of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x studio headphones is their indestructible build quality.

Audio-Technica has made this design for rough handling, just like other equipment from this company. Though made of entirely plastic, the ATH-M50x doesn't feel cheap at all. Instead, this heavy-duty look signifies that it will hold up to repeated use pretty well over its lifetime.

The single detachable cable connects to a reinforced plug, while the thick ear cups can rotate on two axes. So you can adjust to them to find the best fit.

They're not as comfortable as headphones with velour padding, but the ATH-M50x pair is more versatile regarding getting the most comfortable fit.

With a 0.625-pound weight with cables, these headphones are not the most lightweight, but they feel nice to wear, even over a long session.

Sound Quality

Soundwise, these Audio-Technica reference headphones are a real blessing. It's hard to fault their excellent dynamic range, expansive soundstage, spacious stereo imaging, and accurate tonal balance.

Audio Technica has said there is no major difference between the ATH-M50x and the original ATH-M50, but we see some improvement.

All the treble, midrange, and bass sounds are clearer with more details. It's similar, but not the same as the slightly cloudy and veiled sound of the ATH-M50.

Accessories

These wired headphones come with two detachable cables, all of which have a 3.5mm jack at the end. One is a 3.9-foot straight cable, and one is a coiled cable that you can stretch up to 9.8 feet.

Problems With These Headphones

It's impossible to overlook that the ATH-M50x lacks a cable with a controller. It's reasonable to expect the included cords to have a remote control or an integrated microphone, but disappointedly, they don't.

In its FAQ page, Audio-Technica explains the absence of an in-line microphone is that “there is currently no known adapter available that would accommodate either operation.”

Advice From Experts and Users

If you're looking for an all-around pair of studio monitors to edit, mix, and create music, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is simply too good for a general recommendation.

But remember that they don't provide any noise cancellation ability for noisy environments or wireless connectivity. Additionally, if you prefer a more balanced or neutral sound signature, similar ATH-M40X headphones might be a better choice.

Sony MDR-7506 

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 8/10
  • Sound Quality: 9/10
  • Accessories: 8/10

Best Overall: Runner-Up Pick

Unlike the ATH-M50x, the MDR-7506 has been a favorite for sound engineers, producers, and other professionals for a long time. Sony introduced these awesome headphones way back in 1991, and they have never lost their reputation as an industry-standard product.

Build & Comfort

With their long history, we don't have many reasons to question their long-term durability.

The build is mostly plastic but doesn't feel flimsy at all. Additionally, the metal outer ear pads can last several years with ease, a claim that has been backed up by many users over the years.

The extension sliders are metal as well, allowing you to adjust the headband back to either side. The headband and ear pads aren't as heavily padded as newer headphones.

But the moderate head-clamping pressure makes sure the Sony MDR-7506 is comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.

Sound Quality

The way they sound is the main reason the Sony MDR-7506 has earned its reputation among audio professionals.

People who expect a bass-heavy pair of headphones with a flat frequency response will be disappointed. Instead, Sony has focused on the details of the mid and high ranges to help reveal the harshness that might go unnoticed on other unneutral headphones.

This balanced approach makes the MDR-7506 a great choice for recording music, as any little detail arising in the sound will be revealed effortlessly. Every sound range is accurate and sounds great, lively, and crisp.

Accessories

The extended 9.8-foot cable is incredibly handy in a studio. It will give you plenty of freedom to move around while tracking instruments and vocals. It has a 6.3mm adapter and a gold-plated 3.3mm plug as well.

Problems With These Headphones

Like the ATH-M50x, the main turnoff of these studio monitoring headphones is the lack of an in-line controller or microphone. Again, it's fine for working in a studio, but as portable headphones for portable players or smartphones, the MDR-7506 can be a real hassle.

Advice From Experts and Users

Whether these studio monitor headphones from Sony fit the bill is totally up to your use. There are better choices if you intend to use them to enjoy music, work out, or travel.

But as far as professional studio headphones are concerned, the MDR-7506 offers a solid solution. After all those years, it still got it.

beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in Black. Closed Construction

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 9/10
  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Accessories: 6/10

Best Overall: Long-Term Comfort

Many music producers have to sit in the studio, working on their next songs with a pair of headphones over an extended period.

This listening experience rarely goes easy on the ears, leading to discomfort and irritation. If comfort is your primary concern, grab the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro.

Build & Comfort

We have very few complaints about the solid design of these studio headphones. The heavily padded headband and the soft velour ear pads mean the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro will still be a joy to wear even after several hours.

They have an over-ear design, which puts the ear cup around your ears, not directly on them. As a result, not only do the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones offer excellent isolation, but they are also more comfortable than the common on-ear headphone design.

Like most models on this list, these ear cups are made of hard plastic, but they feel pretty sturdy. Alongside the logo saying “DT 770 Pro” is the impedance rating of the version you have bought (beyerdynamic offers three choices: 32, 80, and 250 Ohms).

Sound Quality

The sound coming out of the beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro is way above everything you can expect at this price range. Slap a DAC/amplifier on them, and you will understand this.

As these studio headphones are designed for studio work, everything sounds incredibly balanced and neutral. They don't favor any detail over others, giving all of them equal clarity and weight. Thus, even in the most chaotic songs, it'll still be easy for you to pick out all the detailed sounds.

Accessories

The beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones use the same straight 3.5mm TRS-pin connector as other wired models.

There is also a 6.3mm adapter in the box to help you work with other equipment’s audio interfaces. The robust cable is flexible at 9.8 feet long, preventing users from breaking it in just a few months.

Problems With These Headphones

Even the 80-Ohm version needs a good dedicated headphone amplifier to drive it. You will see a huge drop in sound quality when trying to run it with your laptop or phone without any external equipment.

Many users have also expressed their frustration over the lack of a removable cable.

Advice From Experts and Users

Don't get this pair of studio headphones if you want a detachable cord. While a computer or smartphone works, they don't sound the same as with a good DAC or amplifier. You will need to pair them with proper equipment to achieve their full potential.

Sennheiser HD 820

SENNHEISER HD 820 Over-the-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 8/10
  • Sound Quality: 9/10
  • Accessories: 9/10

Best Overall: High-end Model

Sennheiser is always a popular name when audiophiles want an “endgame” product for their needs, whether for travel, casual listening, wireless headphones, or studio works.

The price tag of the HD 820 surely has put off most (if not all) non-enthusiasts. But for producers, sound engineers, and other professionals, it's a top-notch option.

Build & Comfort

Everything about these flagship headphones from Sennheiser deserves praise. The design is gorgeous, with curved Gorilla glass showing off the elegant 58mm driver.

Perhaps Sennheiser did it on purpose because this German manufacturer is so proud of this premium driver, a constant feature on their high-end products since 2009.

The HD 820 headphones are incredibly comfortable. They are light enough for hours-long sessions, and the earpads are even plusher than their predecessors.

Sound Quality

Like other models from the HD series, the HD 820 sticks closely to Sennheiser's famous sonic signature. After giving them some time to burn in, you will be greeted with a balanced, crispy sound.

It's easy to notice anything wrong with your recordings with these headphones. Also, the bass range is present with considerable power and punch and has terrific authority.

Going to higher frequencies, the HD 820 will treat you to articulate, crisp, and full of expression vocals, while the highs have a great balance between refinement and bite. These closed-back cans follow the changing momentum in details but don't dilute your experience and focus too much.

Accessories

If there is one thing the Sennheiser has never wavered on besides its sound quality, it's the cable set included in the box. The HD 820 headphones supply users with two cables, all of which are 9.8 feet long.

One has a standard 6.3mm stereo plug, and one is a balanced cable with a 4.4mm Pentaconn plug.

Problems With These Headphones

You might not need us to tell you the biggest issue with the HD 820: its price. Besides, the design is marred with some minor problems too. For instance, these headphones are quite bulky, so you may need some time to get the best fit.

Advice From Experts and Users

If money is no object and you want to try out closed-back headphones instead of regular open-back designs, the Sennheiser HD 820 has few worthy competitors. But on other occasions, you can get a cheaper alternative and use the extra money to invest in your audio equipment.

AKG K-240 MK II

AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 7/10
  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Accessories: 7/10

Best Overall: Top Semi-Open Design

Closed-back and open-back are not the only designs of headphones. Meeting in the middle of the way are semi-open cans, like the AKG K-240 MKII, which have the best (and the worst) of both worlds.

Build & Comfort

These studio headphones have an all-plastic build from the ear cups to the suspension mechanism. They're less sturdy than metal-reinforced models, but this material choice increases comfort while bringing down the cost.

The “semi-open” status comes from the uniform vents on the ear cups. They don't just give us a throwback but also have some sounding functions, providing better ventilation and more realistic sound at the same time.

They are fairly lightweight and comfortable on the ears. With plenty of padding, the ear cups don't cause any soreness, even after a multi-hour listening session.

Sound Quality

The AKG K-240 MKII is the new benchmark for the audio quality of semi-open studio headphones.

Its drives replicate frequencies in all ranges in an accurate way. If your previous pair of headphones comes from Beats, you may feel the lack of bass.

But it's because Beats headphones have heavily distorted the bassline. The AKG K-240 MKII just attenuates the low-end frequencies to bring them to the most neutral sound and accurate response.

Accessories

These headphones don't come with many cables or even a protective case. The only things you get out of the box are a mini-XLR-to-3.5 cable and a 1.4-inch adapter to connect to an audio interface or a guitar amplifier.

Problems With These Products

The AKG K-240 MKII is not a portable option at all. They aren't stable during physical activities, and the sound isolation is quite poor. If you take them out with you on a flight, both you and the passenger sitting next to you will have an unpleasant time.

Advice From Experts and Users

Music professionals should go for these AKG semi-open headphones if they want to hear what they're playing from moment to moment. Their sound quality is superb given the price. But if you plan to carry your headphones around regularly, it'll be a big no.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 8/10
  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Accessories: 7/10

Best Overall: Open-Back Design

While the ATH-M50x is the most popular closed-back choice from Audio-Technica, the ATH-R70x is simply the king of open-back studio headphones.

Build & Comfort

The ATH-R70x comes with unique sprung wing supports connecting the earpads instead of a padded headband. And this brilliant choice has many benefits.

These supports cover a smaller area over your hand. So if you constantly run a little hot after wearing headphones over a long session, it's a great thing to have. On top of that, there is little coupling between the sides, allowing for better stereo separating.

It's easy to forget that you're wearing such a light pair of headphones, a sensation boosted by the open-back design that keeps you immersed in the room. It enables enjoyable listening and reduces fatigue caused by chunky closed-back headphones.

Sound Quality

Across the entire range of frequencies, the ATH-R70x sounds smooth without harshness or bumps.

The response is full of details and clarity without even the slightest hint of falseness at the low range. Moving up the range, the ATH-R70x gives us unwrinkled sound, allowing producers to clearly hear what's happening.

Accessories

The included cable is typically 9.8 feet long and attached to the ATH-R70x via a proprietary locking mechanism from Audio-Technica. They still deliver great sound when you plug them into a smartphone or computer. But for the best experience, you will need a separate amplifier.

Problems With These Headphones

The small earpads of the ATH-R70x can be a real hassle if you have relatively large ears. When this is the case, the pads will touch both the top and bottom of your ears, which is not exactly a comfortable fit.

Advice From Experts and Users

A lovely balance between sound quality and comfort (if you get the right size) is what sets these open-back headphones apart. They are a fun and amazing experiment if you want something new instead of standard closed-back studio headphones.

Samson SR850

Samson Technologies SR850 Semi Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 7/10
  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Accessories: 7/10

Best Overall: Affordable Semi-Open Design

The AKG K-240 MKII, our semi-open choice, isn't an expensive pair of headphones in the context of professional work. But if you're just starting and need an even more reasonable price, just grab the Samson SR850.

Build & Comfort

At this price range, you have every reason to doubt the build quality of the SR850. But worry not. These plastic headphones will go through many months of use easily.

They are not the best thing to wear during extended sessions. But with proper adjustments, you won't feel uncomfortable and disturbed by them.

Sound Quality

Despite its cheap price, the Samson SR850 does its job pretty well. The bass frequencies aren’t too punchy, but it's there, and the mids are plenty as well.

These semi-open headphones also give a decent sense of depth with good stereo imaging. It's not mind-blowing as you can expect from a premium model, but it's certainly enough for beginners to get a good grasp of music production.

Accessories

Besides the headphones and the manuals, the only thing in the box is the 1/4-inch adapter. It's hard to blame Samson for this lack of cables and other accessories with the affordable price they're asking for.

Problems With These Headphones

The high frequencies are the weakest point across the range these headphones produce. We found that they are too forward and bright at times, leading to sibilance and making them too fatiguing over a long session.

Advice From Experts and Users

Within this price range, it's hard to find any better model with the same balanced, wide frequency responses. However, audiophiles and professionals with a larger budget should pass over it.

Sennheiser HD 200

Sennheiser HD 200 Professional Monitoring Headphone

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 7/10
  • Sound Quality: 7/10
  • Accessories: 7/10

Best Overall: Affordable Closed-Back Pick

Another budget pair, but this time around, it's a great alternative to premium closed-back studio headphones.

Build & Comfort

It's hard to deny that the HD 200 feels much cheaper than its higher-end cousins. The entire build is light and easy to bend, an impression we usually associate with inexpensive airplane headsets.

Despite this unimpressive look, these budget headphones are pretty tough and can go through a decent amount of abuse before breaking.

They are comfortable enough to wear in a home studio, too. On the plus side of the ledger, this all-plastic construction won't strain your neck after many hours.

Sound Quality

What can we expect from low-end headphones from Sennheiser? Certainly not the most impressive quality. But you have to commend Sennheiser for the competent sound output they have managed to produce with the HD 200.

The vocals and instruments aren't as explicit as premium models but still have a good level of clarity. There are still plenty of details without any mushy strokes, while the tonal performance is acceptable across the wide frequency range.

Accessories

There is no in-line remote control or microphone. The single-sided cable is 6.6 feet long, which you can not remove from the ear cups. But the bright side is that it includes a 1/4-inch adapter in the box.

Problems With These Headphones

Noise isolation is almost not present in the HD 200. Despite the closed-back design, these headphones do little to stop external noises. It also would’ve helped if the sound dynamics were better, so the output wasn't so flat.

Advice From Experts and Users

The Sennheiser HD 200 is surprisingly great for its value. It's far from perfect, but there aren't many competent closed-back headphones for studio works like them out there for a limited budget.

Sennheiser HD 25

Sennheiser Pro Audio Sennheiser HD 25 Professional DJ Headphone

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 7/10
  • Sound Quality: 9/10
  • Accessories: 7/10

Best Overall: For Producer/DJ

You can find the Sennheiser HD 25 in DJ booths across the world. It's the go-to choice for performing, but if you want to make music with it, it's not a bad idea either.

Build & Comfort

These headphones are famous for their stability when you're sitting idly. It comes from the classic on-ear design, meaning that the ear cups surround your ears instead of sitting right on top of them.

Since these headphones are relatively compact, this makes them super light on your ears. The slim but firm headband maintains enough tension to make the HD 25 sit tightly on your head and prevent sound leakage.

Sound Quality

The Sennheiser HD 25 will reward you with a spectacular transient response, clear audio reproduction, and a great stereo image.

There is a little wobble and dip around 100-200Hz, resulting in a surprisingly tight and punchy bass given the size of the ear cups.

The top end has a noticeable bump between 6 and 8kHz and a small lift around 10kHz. The result is a detailed treble response without any harshness.

Accessories

Unlike other headphones we have mentioned, the HD 25 has a thin 4.9-foot cable terminated in a gold-plated 3.5mm jack, feeding audio input to the right earcup. This standard cable is slightly short for typical studio works.

Problems With These Headphones

The biggest flaw of the Sennheiser HD 25 is its split-band design. The cable connects the ear cups by sitting between the two halves, making it very prone to damage if you pinch it in the headband.

Advice From Experts and Users

If your job requires a much longer cable, get the Plus version of the HD 25. It comes with a standard 9.8-foot coiled cord.

AKG K371

AKG Pro Audio K371 Over-Ear

Editor’s Ratings

  • Build & Comfort: 8/10
  • Sound Quality: 7/10
  • Accessories: 8/10

Best Overall: Portability

If you travel frequently and don't want to spend money on another investment outside your studio, the AKG K371 is one of the few pairs up to the task.

Build & Comfort

Don't let the price of these middle-tier headphones fool you. The build quality and design are better than it looks at first glance.

The ear cups are praiseworthy because you can rotate them up to 180 degrees for storage and articulate one of them when you need to hear something in the background. It's a godsend for sound mixing and travel alike.

There is a metal bracket extending from the headband. Other parts of the AKG K371 are plastic but surprisingly strong no matter how hard you treat them.

The ear pads have memory foam to make these professional headphones comfortable for both eagle-eyed and bespectacled listeners. But those with larger ears may need to tinkle with them a little to get the proper fit.

Sound Quality

As far as sound quality is concerned, the K371 effortlessly knocks other portable headphones in the same price bracket out of the park.

Its sound signature is amazingly accurate, along with the 200Hz-1.5kHz range, which covers the common frequencies of most music genres. It's easy to recognize the bass notes, while the vocals are clear in different verses.

Accessories

AKG provides users of the K371 a carrying pouch and many cables to work with both consumer and professional equipment. In addition to a standard 9.8-foot cable, you will find another 2.5-foot straight cable and a 9.8 coiled cable to boot.

Problems With These Headphones

The provided storage pouch doesn't give much protection to the headphones and cables. And while it's great to use on the go, the closed-back design of the K371 limits the clarity it produces in a studio.

Advice From Experts and Users

If you don't mind using open-back headphones for travel, there are better options at similar prices like the Grado SR80e and Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro.

How To Find A Quality Pair of Studio Headphones For Music Production

Apart from a few minor points, there aren't many differences between headphones for critical listening and studio models for making music.

Sound Quality

Professionals like sound engineers prefer neutral and accurate responses. For that reason, bass-oriented headphones like products from Beats are impractical to use in a studio. You can ask for a test to see whether the headphones can deliver accurate sound output.

Design

Closed-back headphones won't hurt or irritate your ears as they get surrounded by the ear cups completely. Most studio monitoring headphones go for this design as it's more suited for an extended period.

But it doesn't mean other designs (open-back and semi-open) are out of the question.

As they don't close off your ear completely, open-back headphones can give a more natural sound. At the middle of the road are semi-open models, which are just a mix of closed-back and open-back headphones.

This type of headphones can be both a good or bad choice for making music, depending on how the manufacturer compromises the design.

Comfort

With consumer headphones for casual music listening, you can just put them down when your ears start feeling tiring. But in music production, a pair of comfortable headphones is more crucial.

Typically, studio tasks like tracking, recording, sound design, and mixing require long sessions. If your headphones can't give a comfortable fit, it'll be hard to finish your work with complete attention.

Cables

Most studio headphones come with a cable much longer than what regular models provide. It allows you to sit more comfortably at a decent distance from your instrument.

Many models provide a 9.8-foot cable for good reasons. If the cable is too long (over 15 feet, for example), it may affect the sound quality.

Final Words

Plenty of high-end models can work wonders in a studio, and the guide above will help narrow them down for you.

But if you still find choosing the best studio headphones for music production is too much work, the popular Audio-Technica ATH-M50x won't go wrong with most professionals.

These headphones come with a natural sound signature, solid build quality, and great fit, making them a bliss to wear over long sessions.

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