Which kind of audio headphones do you use in your home studio? Are they suitable? If you are looking to mix, record or master music on your workstation, you need the best studio headphones. Here is a guide and a review to help choose one that will make your job easier.
Best Studio Headphones
What are Studio Headphones?
You might think that all headphones are the same, but studio headphones were designed for a totally different purpose. They were created for professionalism. This means that studio headphones were designed for delivering crisp sounds and to make sure that the frequency response is flat, which enables you to gain more control of the sound at different levels.
How are they Different from Consumer Headphones?
The difference between studio headphones and consumer headphones lies within the sound they produce. Unlike studio headphones, which have a clear sound with a flat frequency, regular headphones do with a bit of exaggeration beginning with their basses. The sound is tiny, and the compression is a bit excessive. Their primary goal isn’t to give you a clear sound, but a colored one that is passive for music hearing. The sound isn’t transparent, and often, different models have different sounds.
On the other hand, studio headphones should function as a good pair of studio monitors. They should produce a flat and even sound so that as an engineer/producer you can hear exactly what’s in the mix and fix it accordingly.
What to Look for in a Pair of Studio Headphones?
The range of sound produced by a headphone is referred to as the frequency response [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_response]. Our ears can hypothetically (we lose frequencies over time) perceive from 20Hz up to 20kHz, which many earphones cover. At this range, the treble and the bass is accommodated. In practical situations, below this frequency, the sound is felt rather than heard, and above that, nothing is audible.
These numbers do not determine the quality of sound, but depending on the genre of music, you can use them to choose a particular headphone. For instance, if you want lots of basses, you can select one with a low bass frequency.
Accurate/Flat Frequency Response
When a headphone exhibits what is called a flat response, the sound input and output is more accurate. What this means is what goes in or comes out is the same. The flatter the response, the purer the audio. Flat response is necessary where accuracy is desired, but what matters is personal preference and the environment around you.
Closed-Back vs. Open Air
The idea behind the closed back headphones was to get rid of the outside interference. Closed back headphones don’t allow sound to leak in or outside. This way, your concentration is increased. They are notably the best for recording and mixing as they enable you to capture even the more delicate details of your project. They give you a feeling that your music’s source is your head.
On the other hand, the open air headphones have open backs to make sure sound escapes easily either inwards or outwards. These headphones are the best for mixing as they expose you to the real world instead of confining sounds in your head.
Each of these two types of headphones has different features, advantages, and disadvantages that you can read more about here.
There is no point in owning premium headphones that put a strain on your head only minutes when you wear them? The most comfortable ones come with large cups. They apply less pressure to the ears. Weight also determines how comfortable. If you spend lots of time in your studio wearing the headphones, you want to get ones that are lightweight with foam pads integrated. Ensure that the headband doesn’t make you uncomfortable as well. If you don’t prefer the hanging types, you have an option of headphones that are worn on the back.
On-Ear or Over-Ear
On-ear headphones, also known as supra-aural headphones [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones#Supra-aural], are placed on top of the ear. They are ideal for directing the sound into the ear but are not good enough in keeping the noise out. Why would you choose them? They don’t trap heat on your ears compared to the over-ear headphones. They are also highly portable and have good sound quality.
Over-ear headphones are also known as circumaural headphones. They cover the whole ear, and with their large size, you have better bass performance and better volumes. They are more powerful than on-ear headphones and perhaps will always remain the audiophile’s favorite.
What need are you looking to accomplish with the headphones you are looking for? If what you are doing in your studio is tracking, you may need different headphones from those used for monitoring.
Genre of Music
The genre of music also affects the type of headphones you will buy. For example, if you are more into electronic dance kind of music, you might want to consider closed back headphones. But if you are looking to mix or listen to soft music like classics or blues, the open back types are the choice.
Regular or conventional headphones lack bass response. Lack of bass response in headphones in your studio has setbacks. You might end up mixing or recording with a bass that is too hot, or completely flat, no bass at all. You need a pair of studio headphones that allow you to hear the bass when mastering and mixing your music.
The Seinnheisser HD280 Pro are some of the most affordable headphones that promise a flat and balanced sound. They are neutral, and regarding highs, the mids, and the lows, the sound is treated equally. The bass is precise, the signal clear, and there is no hissing. If you want an entry device that is budget friendly, you should get these headphones.
The attenuation is 32dB, which is useful for ensuring that the noise getting through your ears is passive. The frequency response has full coverage to the ear. Being lightweight with the most comfortable ear pads, ideal sound isolation and recording is realized.
The best part of this device is that it features a closed-ear design that molds perfectly on your lobes. The parts are replaceable, which means that every single piece of these headphones can be switched with newer components. This includes the ear pads, the audio cord, and headband padding. As a result, the lifespan is extended by a couple of years.
• Has perfect noise isolation
• The sound quality is fantastic
• Made of a thick and durable plastic
• Replaceable parts
• Easily folds for portability
• The cable is fixed
• Has an initial clamping, which bothers some users
• They could do more concerning design
This is another pair of headphones that have earned the legendary position in terms of emitting amazing sounds and also by being budget friendly. No portion of the sound produced by these headphones is neither too loud nor too soft, which makes the task of mixing and equalizing nothing but smooth.
Sony MDR 7506 headphones feature a solid construction. The ear cups are made of solid aluminum, the headband under the padding and the adjustment arms having a metal make. It comes with a lot less plastic, which makes them more durable compared to some high-end models made of plastic.
These headphones come with a blast of 106dB. This is more than enough for a closed-ear design, and with the lightweight nature, you can wear them comfortably all day long. The bass is the best if you are looking for some pieces with a good bass, which is equally balanced. It is balanced, tight and a bit of a kick. The headphones are exactly what you want for your home studio.
• Made of metal components for durability
• Comes with a race track ear pad styles
• The sound quality is amazing
• Good noise isolation and reduction
• The ear pads could do with a bit of quality work
• The bass isn’t as heavy as some users wish it to be
• The cable is fixed
The Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro is a set of over-ear headphones with a semi-open design. Its back has a chrome polish with the metal ear forks and band having a black finish. The pair has a great sound with the highs and peaks relatively balanced and flat, but at the low end, there is a bit of disturbance. Nonetheless, you can equalize the sound easily if you desire.
These headphones are a perfect choice for you if you want something that combines the strengths of many types of headphones including the transparent or the open ones. The ear pads are soft and adjustable. The earpieces are sliding; connected with the one-sided cable connection, you can record music, listen and mix with comfort.
The bass is relatively heavy, but if you want to do deep synth basses in your studio, there are other designs out there that have better accuracy and clarity.
• The sound quality is amazing
• Features a solid and durable construction
• The cord is coiled to avoid twisting
• They are comfortable
• The cord is a bit short even though it is stretchy
• Not the best for deep synth headphones
These are probably the best headphones for mixing. The manufacturer, AKG is a favorite in the world of audio with these particular headphones being popular with mixing enthusiasts. The AKG 701 has a good frequency range that lets you hear it all. The sound clarity is precise and high quality.
They feature a flat-wire voice coil technology, which is more low-end, but it allows them to be driven with less power by the amplifiers. The ear pads are so soft, and they perfectly mold around the ear. The headband is adjustable, and the make is leather-like, and to top it up, the headphones are light for maximum comfortability when you are on the move.
Although the sound is extensive, it has an even and balanced spectrum. This renders the treble range beautifully. However, some users find these babies a little low on the bass side. As such, you will have to overcompensate. They are the best choice if you looking for broad and expansive headphones for mixing and recording.
• Have even sounds across the spectrum
• The headphones are comfortable with large ear cups
• Great for mixing purposes
• The construction is solid
• The bass is a bit light
• Doesn’t sit properly on people with large heads
Don’t let the appearance of the design fool you, these headphones are not just any other on the market. The headphones feature a plastic make with solid airplane-grade aluminum alloy. The plastic isn’t heavy, which guarantees portability. This device also comes with a reasonable length of cord necessary for your audio studio and mixer.
The cups are made of aluminum and a carbon fiber construction. It contains small holes that allow them to be breathable and to prevent perspiration as well as overheating. The headband has a protein leather for better durability and comfort. In short, you will find yourself enjoying these headphones better than other models.
Even though the sound quality to many people is subjective, these headphones produce clear, clean and crisps sounds that stay true to model. The back is closed for better concentration and increased depth. Some reviews claim the headphones are inclined towards the bass side. Whether true or not, you should know that Shure SRH1540 brings every aspect of hearing to your ear.
• Highly durable
• Lightweight and super-comfortable
• Has a large soundstage and solid sounds
• The cords are detachable
• Ideal noise isolation
• Not foldable
• The noise isolation is ideal, but not the best
• The ear cups are oval. This might be too big for some users.
While the choice of the best studio headphones for you may depend on several factors, the best overall product from our review is the Sony MDR 7506. It is durable, comes with fantastic sound quality with an amazing flat response. The headphones have an excellent bass response, not too heavy or light, but sufficient for a closed-back design. They are also light and most importantly, you won’t have to blow a fortune to own them, they are affordable.
At the end of the day, it narrows down to you and what you prefer. It is essential that you know your headphones and with this guide and review, you are guaranteed of purchasing one that meets all your needs.