Top 20 Best Studio Headphones of 2019 - Buying Guide and Reviews

Are you looking for the best studio headphones available for the money? If so, we’ve prepared something very special for you – a broad list of open and closed back good studio headphones spread across different price point categories. If you know what you are looking for, jump straight to our reviews in the list below. If not, check out our buying guide to get informed before you buy. Without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.

Generally:

  • Best Studio Headphones for Mixing: Open Back
  • Best Studio Headphones for Recording: Closed back

Here are the top 12 best studio headphones of 2019:

Model Name

Type

Sound Quality

Good for

Price

More Info

Closed back

Unparalleled

Studio, critical listening

$$$$$

Closed back

Extremely high

Studio, critical listening

$$$$$

Closed back

Very high

Studio, critical listening

$$$

Closed back

Extremely high

Studio, critical listening

$$$$

Closed back

Very high

Critical listening

$$$

Closed back

Very high

Studio, critical listening

$$$

Closed back

High

Studio, critical listening

$$$$

Closed back

Beyond average

Studio, critical listening, casual listening

$$

Closed back

High

Studio, critical listening

$$$

Closed back

Beyond average

Studio, critical listening

$$

Closed back

Beyond average

Studio, critical listening

$$

Open back

Unparalleled

Studio, critical listening, casual listening

$$$$$

Open back

Very high

Studio, critical listening, casual listening

$$$

Open back

Very high

Studio, critical listening

$$$$

Open back

High

Studio

$$$$

Open back

High

Studio, critical listening

$$$

Open back

Very high

Studio, critical listening

$$$

Open back

High

Studio, critical listening

$$

Open back

High

Studio, critical listening, casual listening

$$

Open back

Beyond average

Studio, casual listening, commuting, travel, gaming

$$


Best Closed Back Studio Headphones 2019

Let’s open our review of the best studio headphones with one of Sennheiser’s models. We’re looking at HD 820 – a professional set of cans that, frankly, do cost quite a bit, although we’re here to show you that they’re actually worth the buck.

First and foremost, these cans pack Gorilla glass reinforcement which help reflect the sound towards the sound absorbing chambers, which basically negates the usual drawbacks closed-back headphones have (massive sound recoil and somewhat over-the-top reverberations).

On top of that, the classy outlook these phones sport is pretty much everything you’d expect from Sennheiser, but the reason why we decided to open up our review with such an expensive model is because they’re exceptionally comfortable to wear and offer premium sound quality.

Atop the fact that they come supplied with exceptionally plushy materials, they don’t weigh much at all (360 grams, to be precise). The cups are smartly shaped so as to ensure long term comfort, reducing the overall clamping pressure meanwhile.

As for the sound, a full, pristine clear, rich tone is the least you should expect. These cans were specifically made for studio work, and rest assured, nothing short of audiophile quality will greet you should you opt for them.

If you are looking for the best set of professional studio headphones, these are a great pick.

Pros:

  • Phenomenal sound quality – Sennheiser is famous for making top-sounding cans, but they simply outdid themselves with this model
  • Specifically tailored for studio work – Gorilla glass reinforcement negates most drawbacks of the closed-back design, which makes critical listening even easier and more efficient
  • Outstanding bass response – huge, deep bass sound which remains in the cups due to the specific design
  • Durable and classy – The HD 820 was built to last and to look the part

Cons

  • Costs a fortune – these headphones are among the most expensive on the market, though they’re worth the buck

Though Audeze is not as famous as some other brands you’ll come across in our review, rest assured that their LCD-2 headphone set is more than capable of fulfilling your needs for critical listening and studio work.

Basically, these headphones are remarkably well-built, they come supplied with a very special 100mm driver which delivers a stunningly strong bass, but even so the overall feel of the sound is rather balanced.

One of the most obvious benefits LCD-2 brings to the table is the neutral sound signature coupled with a breathtaking soundstage, making it absolutely perfect for sound engineers, producers, and musicians.

Though they’re very comfortable to use, they are rather bulky, and perhaps somewhat heavier than average. That’s easily compensated for with low overall clamping pressure and a remarkably simple design.

One other thing we should note is that these headphones aren’t exactly versatile. The tremendous bass output might feel a bit overwhelming to some people, and due to their design it might be hard for you to actually enjoy in your music if you use them for travel or commuting.

So, all things considered, you can expect some great bass, awesome overall sound quality, durability is on point too, and if you don’t mind the bulkiness, you’ll certainly find LCD 2 studio headphones as attractive, to say the very least.

Pros:

  • Great studio sound quality – 100mm drivers deliver a rich, yet balanced sound which doesn’t lack in any particular sphere of performance
  • Decently comfortable design – though studio headphones aren’t exactly built for comfort, these cans do however feel rather plushy
  • Deep bass – encompassing bass response and overall pretty impressive lows are LCD 2’s forte
  • Robust construction – It’s safe to say that these headphones were built to withstand quite some punishment

Cons

  • Poor sound isolation – the soundstage is just too powerful for LCD 2 to contain all the sound within
  • Not exactly versatile – though perfect for studio work, these cans aren’t as good for commuting, travel, and similar situations

Moving on to another big gun on the shed – we’re looking at Shure’s SRH1540, one of their finest professional studio headphone models, and we all know that this brand rocks an impressively large catalogue of premium quality cans.

One of the best things about these headphones is that they’re outfitted with a set of relatively ordinary features, for as long as the term ‘ordinary’ relates to Shure’s technologies. The 40mm neodymium drivers are quite common, but even so they deliver exceptional performance and a balanced soundstage.

The circumaural design of these cans make them feel exceptionally comfortable, even by a long shot, and what’s exceptionally surprising is that they’re small, yet very durable. The frame’s made of high-quality steel materials and it’s vented for improved sound isolation.

Pros:

  • Great set of features – 40mm drivers, steel frame, and other hardware pieces supplied to these cans are all of exceptional quality
  • Durable and robust – Shure’s SRH1540 headphones are made of aircraft grade aluminium and steel materials, making them both light and sturdy
  • Great natural sound isolation – the vented headband complements the isolation qualities of the cups

Cons

  • Potential problems with cable – though the cans are robust, the same can’t be said for the cable

Frankly, Focal’s ‘Spirit’ is not the ‘best’ headphone set available for the money, but it’s certainly one of the most valuable options in the highest price point category for those who have saved up some cash, but not enough for premium models such as Audeze’s LCD 2 or Sennheiser’s HD 820.

Firstly, let’s talk about the comfort these headphones offer. Basically, they’re outfitted with earpads filled with memory foam, the headband is richly padded, and the base material of the entire construction is anodised aluminium – overall, that means that they look stylish, feel great, and suffer the wearer a moderate level of clamping pressure.

Just like previous model we’ve reviewed, the ‘Spirit’ comes outfitted with 40mm drivers. This particular driver unit is relatively common, as it delivers a balanced soundstage without compromising much in any particular sphere of performance.

What’s also great about them is that they’re compact, decently light, and very flexible. Unlike most studio headphones you’ll come across, these cans are actually versatile enough to be used in any other scenario, including travel, commuting, gaming, and such.

So, everything up to this point sounds relatively great – what’s the catch? The drawback is that these headphones don’t have any, but they don’t really excel in any sphere either. That means that they have everything you’d want or need, but they won’t offer you as great sound emission as HD 820, or SRH1540’s bass and such.

Pros:

  • Solid soundstage – rich, deep bass, heavy trebles, awesome mids, and bright and chirpy highs
  • Flexible lightweight design – these cans can swivel and are made of remarkably light materials, making them decently compact
  • Versatile – can be used in any particular scenario, unlike most studio headphones
  • Great sound isolation – only a small portion of the sound gets in or out

Cons

  • Jack-of-all-trades – no real drawbacks apart from the fact that these cans don’t really excel in any particular sphere of performance

Best Closed Back Studio Headphones under $200

The first headphones in our ‘under $200’ section are ATH A550Z, and unsurprisingly, they come from a titan brand called Audio Technica. The ATH A550Z is a great example of how studio headphones need not compromise for great sound quality – the neutral sound signature can still bring life and vividness to detail.

Let’s start off by saying that these cans look absolutely stunning. The oversized cups put up a low level of clamping pressure, but the reason why it’s actually so low is due to the Double air-damping system technology. Namely, not only is the overall fatigue reduced, the ambient sound reduction is enhanced meanwhile.

As for the reason why these headphones provide such a great sound is because they’re outfitted with 53mm drivers and CCAW voice coils. The bass feels ultra deep, the mids are pretty clear, and the highs don’t sparkle up with unnecessary brightness.

The headband is adjustable, so atop of being comfortable to wear, the ATH A550Z headphones are also rather compact. So, is there any flaws you should be worried about? Well, there’s a potential drawback hiding in the sound signature.

Namely, most studio headphones pack ‘neutral’ sound signature, whereas this particular model feels a bit warmer. That means that critical listening might feel a bit ‘biased’ to some people, but they’re still awesome all things considered.

Pros:

  • Minimal clamping pressure – the special double air-damping system makes the level of clamping pressure barely noticeable
  • Superb bass output – the DAD system also improves the bass resonance and emission, making it robust and decently clear
  • Strong drivers – these headphones are outfitted with 53mm drivers with CCAW voice coils
  • Remarkably comfortable – the ATH A550Z uses the 3D wing-support system to provide unparalleled comfortability

Cons

  • Warm sound signature – not ‘neutral’ like with the vast majority of good studio headphones

We’ve seen Focal’s ‘Spirit’, and now we’re going to ‘Listen’ to what this relatively cheaper model from this brand can do for studio engineers and musicians.

In a nutshell, these headphones sound massive, but they’re not the most comfortable cans you’ll get to use. They’re characterized with a robust build, very strong bass response, smooth trebles, and plenty of detail in sound in general.

Though we did mention that they’re not extremely comfortable per se, the headband is very flexible, which is certainly a big plus. The ear cups are finished with brushed chrome so as to provide an extra level of sturdiness.

It might be worthwhile to mention that these headphones come outfitted with 40 mm titanium drivers (as opposed to the ‘conventional’ neodymium). That means that they’re specifically built to provide the best level of sound possible, and that’s precisely what you should expect.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s a very special reason why these cans bear the name ‘Listen’. Basically, Focal engineers intended these headphones for critical listening, they’ve made sure that the soundstage provides as much detail as possible.

Pros:

  • Durable construction – Focal’s Listen was built from remarkably robust materials
  • Huge bass – superb clamping pressure level and a massive bass which remains within the cups, what better way to enjoy your music?
  • Plenty of detail in sound – pristine clear, vibrant soundstage delivers all the details you’d otherwise miss
  • Excellent for critical listening – these cans are ideally used by sound engineers and musicians

Cons

  • Moderately comfortable – although they’re not ‘tough’ to wear per se, there are more comfortable cans to be had in the same price range

Let’s close this section with one of Beyerdynamic’s models. We’ve taken a gander at DT 770 Pro, and suffice to say, these cans pack a major bang for the buck. Although not the most ‘mobile’ set of cans due to a non removable cable, the DT 770 Pro headphones offer premium comfort, awesome sound quality fit for an audiophile, and great performance as far as recording and monitoring goes. They are also a terrific noise cancelling studio headphone.

Although the brand didn’t use any groundbreaking ambient noise isolation technologies, the ‘bleed’ is minimal, if present at all. What they did use, however, is an innovative transducer which significantly enhances the bass output.

The robust construction is certainly a major addition to the plethora of benefits DT 770 pro already offers – these cans are definitely made to last, and you’ll be able to use them for years, if not decades, guaranteed.

Pros:

  • Great bass response – Beyerdynamic introduced an innovative, exquisite transducer which substantially increases the bass feel
  • Solid ambient noise isolation – Minimal audio bleed is the least you should expect from DT 770 Pro
  • Fairly durable – These cans are made of exceptionally strong materials and pack a steel reinforced headband
  • Superior comfort rating – the soft earcups feel so gentle that they can’t even begin to compare to those similarly priced cans come supplied with

Cons

  • Non removable cable – if it was either removable or any longer, there wouldn’t be any problems at all

Best Budget Closed Back Studio Headphones under $100

1. Lyx Pro HAS-10 - Best Budget Studio Headphones (Closed Back)

Lyx Pro is one of the bigger names in the headphone industry. Though not as renowned as Sony or Audio Technica, they’ve made quite a few premium-quality headphone sets, and HAS-10 is one of their more affordable models.

In essence, these cans come supplied with exceptionally strong magnet system which provides great response across the entire soundstage.

The telescopic ‘arms’ on these headphones mean that they’re very flexible, and better yet, the cups are even rotatable. Speaking of which, the earpads on HAS-10 are made of exceptionally comfortable leather materials, but the clamping pressure might make you feel a bit on edge at times.

Overall, LyxPro Has-10 cans are the best cheap studio headphones (closed back), they’re not as flimsy as most similar headphones in the price range, and they offer the convenience of flexibility. The only notable drawback is that the noise reduction isn’t all too great, as some sound will still leak out.

The bottom line is that you’ll have to search far and wide in order to find a more valuable set of cans for the buck – they sound pretty amazing, there’s even some extra bass for DJs to play around, and they’re certainly good enough for studio work if you don’t have the buck for more expensive models.

Pros:

  • Professional quality made cheap – HAS-10 headphones sound rather ‘professional’ judging by the standards of the price range they’re in
  • Powerful magnets – the hardware these cans come supplied with is top-grade, providing a dynamic, exquisite soundstage
  • Comfortable to wear – the leather headband and earpads feel gentle and plushy
  • Flexible design – the telescopic arms and the earcups are both rotatable

Cons

  • Mediocre ambient noise reduction – some noise will leak out at times

Next up is one of Sony’s more affordable models. Here we’re looking at the MDRV6, a neat set of cans that’s perfect for studio engineers who are just starting out and lack the cash for boutique models.

In essence, one of the best things about these headphones is the soundstage. It’s powered by 40mm neodymium driver which delivers highly detailed sound atop the solid bass response. Even though you might find a better sounding headphones in the price range, these are pretty reliable when it comes to critical listening.

The frequency of response is pretty wide, spanning from 5 Hz to 30 kHz – that means that the soundstage we just talked about delivers every bit of detail perfectly (for the price, of course).

Now, even though the ear cups are rather big, they’re incredibly comfortable and put up only a small level of clamping pressure. Long term fatigue is unavoidable, though.

So, basically, the reason why you should consider these cans is because they sound good, feel good, and don’t cost a fortune.

The only problem people seem to have noticed about the MDRV6 is the durability. Namely, these headphones aren’t as robust as most models we’ve reviewed so far.

The bottom line, however, is that they’re worth the buck. The cable’s pretty long, the copper clad voice coils do some real magic when it comes to power handling, and even the ambient noise reduction is awesome in comparison to similarly priced cans.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable to wear – the oversized earcups are filled with exceptionally gentle materials, making them very plushy
  • Good ambient noise reduction – although some of the sound will eventually bleed out from these cans, you’ll at least get to enjoy your music without outside annoyances
  • Awesome soundstage – simply put, these headphones don’t lack in any department as far as the sound goes
  • Detailed sound – the 40mm neodymium drivers provide detailed, rich sound

Cons

  • Low durability – without proper handling, these headphones are bound to get ruined

AKG makes great headphones, that’s pretty much undisputable, but it’s safe to say that their K72 are some of the finest cans you could get for that kind of money. They boast phenomenal value for the money, they’re exceptionally comfortable, but sadly they have somewhat not-so-neutral mids. Let’s delve further into detail, shall we?

First of all, they have the circumaural design and huge ear pads that will easily go over even the largest pairs of ears. That’s also one of the reasons why they feel so comfortable – the huge pads put up as little clamping pressure as possible, and the ambient noise reduction benefits from this as well.

What’s more, the headband frame features two steel bands which can easily be adjusted for additional comfort. So, in a nutshell, these are some comfy cans.

The one thing you might not like so much is the cable, or better yet, the lack of a removable one. It’s very thick and it’s 3 meters long, which means that using these headphones for commuting or travel kind of goes out of the question – the cable’s just too ‘fat’ for pockets.

The soundstage of AKG K72 offers a neutral sound signature, a thumpy bass feel, and pretty bright highs, although the midsection leaves plenty of room for improvement.

So, the final verdict regarding these remarkable phones is as such – they’re among the most comfortable cans out there, they sound terrific, although they’re not overly versatile due to the non-removable cable.

Pros:

  • Phenomenal sound – the neutral sound signature AKG K72 rocks is complemented with a thumpy bass and bright highs
  • Superb comfortability – almost zero clamping pressure and surprisingly plushy earcups mean that you’ll feel as comfortable as possible wearing them
  • Huge value for the buck – although they have their flaws, the K72 headphones offer some benefits that only boutique models provide

Cons

  • Not versatile – they’re meant for studio work, and can be used for commuting and travel, but the extra-thick cable kind of kills the fun in it
  • Poor mids – the mid section of the soundstage appears to be too coloured

Here we have an underdog brand with a model that’s definitely far from being famous. However, there are plenty of reasons why we want to recommend trying TH-MX2 headphones out.

Firstly, they might not be as comfortable as AKG’s K72, but they’re pretty close, being outfitted with large, plush-like ear cups that put up a really weak clamping pressure. The supple materials used in the construction process of these headphones mean that they’ll feel very comfortable and cosy, even by a long shot.

Audio wise, these cans feature a 40mm magnet, which is pretty much a standard nowadays. The soundstage is entirely neutral – the bass is just on point, the treble levels are present but not overly accentuated, and the highs aren’t as aggressive. In small words, TH-MX2 headphones sound great.

The only problem you might have with them is that they come with a non-coiled cable, although you’ll find no real issues considering performance or comfort whatsoever.

These are great recording studio headphones for mixing and you should definitely take a look if you are on a budget.

Pros:

  • Decently balanced soundstage – every aspect of the soundstage feels right on point
  • Very comfortable cans – the TH-MX2 headphones feature oversized earcups made of exceptionally gentle materials
  • Industrial standard drivers – these cans are outfitted with a 40mm driver that packs quite a punch for the buck

Cons

  • Cable isn’t coiled – this somewhat makes them unusable for commuting

We’re opening up our ‘Best open back overall’ section with one of the most amazing sets of headphones ever invented. The fact is that they do cost some eight to ten times more than a standard high-quality set of good studio headphones, but if you’re looking for ‘the best’ cans and don’t mind paying a fortune, then you should most definitely look no further.

It’s not a coincidence that we’ve open up our earlier section of this review with its predecessor – the LCD-2, so if you’ve liked those headphones, then you’re going to love the upgrades this model brings onboard.

The first upgrade can be seen in the brand-new diaphragm – it substantially reduces the already low levels of distortions, the response times are exceptionally fast, and the sound’s resolution is purely staggering in terms of quality.

Further onto the topic of sound quality, it’s safe to say that LCD 3 somewhat redefines what we knew as ‘bass’. It’s huge, thumpy, and as deep as it possibly can be, but what’s more important is that it’s not as overwhelming – there’s just too many details to go around.

Another upgrade is the Audeze’s trademark ‘Fazor Elements’ technology which refines the soundwaves, ensuring pinpoint accuracy during the critical listening.

We don’t even need to mention that cans as expensive such as these feel ridiculously comfortable to wear. In fact, they do excel in every single field of performance possible, with ‘affordability and availability’ being the only exception.

Let’s draw the bottom line – LCD 3 is by far one of the most expensive headphone models, but they will change your studio experience regardless of whether you’re a studio engineer or a musician. They’re a must (at some point) for whoever means business.

Pros:

  • Unparalleled sound quality – precision, power, and reliability would be the most suitable words to define LCD 3’s performance
  • The very definition of Hi-Fi – LCD 3 delivers the most lifelike sound performance that it takes more than words to explain
  • Classy outlook – apart from providing unmatched performance, these cans also look the part
  • Tremendous value for the money – if you do happen to save up enough money for them, these headphones will become irreplaceable for you

Cons

  • Extremely expensive – Audeze’s LCD 3 headphones are among the most expensive cans on the market

Though it’s hard to top LCD 3’s performance, Sennheiser isn’t just any brand, so if anyone can, they can. We’ve taken a good, close look at their assortment of open back studio headphones and decided that HD 650 deserves the prime spot in this segment.

In terms of design, these cans are fairly impressive. They feature a pair of fairly big and exceptionally comfortable earcups that won’t give you much trouble in terms of ear fatigue by a long shot. The headband is very durable, although it’s not as comfortable as the cups themselves. What’s good about their design is the fact that, though bulky, they don’t weigh too much.

In terms of sound, the HD 650 has an exemplary soundstage characterized with decently big bass, slightly volatile, though crispy highs, and absolutely unmatched mids.

Sadly, these headphones aren’t too portable. Like we’ve mentioned, they’re quite lightweight, but the earcups are big, hence they’re pretty bulky altogether. That doesn’t change anything substantially, though, as most people would use them in studio environment.

Another thing that’s not exceptionally relevant is that the default sound isolation leaves room for improvement. In studio environment, you’ll get to hear everything in pure Hi-FI, although they’re not really good for street use.

Pros:

  • Tremendous soundstage – exceptional mids, great bass, and crispy highs, even the raw signal is awesome
  • Minimal harmonic distortion – one of the main reasons why these headphones are so good for studio work is because they have a fairly low level of distortion in sound
  • Decently affordable for boutique gear – though they do belong to the ‘expensive’ price point category, these headphones are actually cheap by its standards

Cons

  • Mediocre sound isolation – Sennheiser’s HD 650 will bleed audio in open areas

If LCD 3 seems to expensive and you didn’t find what you were looking for in Sennheiser’s HD 650, we present to you another great model from Audeze – the Sine DX headphones.

These cans are designed in a fashion which is fairly similar to LCD 3 – two beautifully elegant cups dangle from a robust, yet flexible headband, both features being comfortable as well as durable. Most global comments about the cups state that people with somewhat bigger ears find Sine’s DX cups as exceptionally comfortable, although the same was said by people with average sized ears.

The cable is decently large, it’s not overly thick or heavy, and it’s good that it’s detachable, making these headphones suitable for travelling and commuting as well.

Sound wise, Sine DX has a fairly balanced soundstage and excels in the mid and high sections (lows are a bit muddy, but grant some extra body to the lowest frequencies).

The main reason why we suggest that you try out Sine XD is because it costs approximately 5 or 6 times less than LCD 3, but it comes supplied with a similar set of technologies, hence benefits and advantages you could reap.

So, the bottom line is that they sound absolutely phenomenal, they’re durable enough to withstand a decade or two of use, they look stylish, and maybe the most important part is – they don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Pros:

  • Superb highs and mids – these sections of the soundstage sound remarkably well and easily compensate for the lack of lows
  • Durable construction – the body of these cans is comprised of hard metal elements which are flexible enough to provide comfort and ensure a nice fit
  • Premium quality technologies – some of the technologies Audeze used in the manufacturing process of these headphones are practically reserved for their boutique level models such as LCD 3

Cons

  • Muddy lows – the lowest frequency section of the Sine DX’s soundstage pales in comparison to the other fragments

Best Open Back Studio Headphones under $200

Our stage opener for the ‘best open back headphones under 200’ section is Monolith’s M565. In a nutshell, these cans look quite old-school and vintage, they sound amazing, and they have a solid bass response. They are also one of the best noise cancelling studio headphones which is great considering they are open-back. They’re not perfect, but they boast a massive value for the buck.

First of all, this is a relatively new set of cans which came out in 2017, and even though they didn’t gain too much fame over the course of the past year, they’re more than worth checking out.

The sound quality is overall great, with the bass and highs being its strongest points – the midrange is also great, although in comparison to other two sections it’s a bit subpar.

Durability of M565 is beyond awesome – it’s clear that these headphones were built from exceptionally strong materials. That also means that they tend to feel a bit uncomfortable after a while.

Another great thing about these headphones is that they’re virtually weightless. They’re also not overly bulky, so it’s pretty easy to conclude that they’re very compact and portable too. As for the sound isolation, you’ll get completely blocked out from the outside world with them, but they do bleed out a portion of sound out.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about the hardware that powers these beauties up. Namely, the M565 comes supplied with a set of planar drivers – these particular driver units are designed to add a little extra bass where the pre-tuning has failed to provide it, and they also clear up the highs quite a bit.

So, the bottom line is that these headphones are of remarkable quality, regardless how you put it. A few ups and downs here and there, but they’re worth the buck.

Pros:

  • Amazing audio quality – the planar drivers and superb tuning form a wonderful sonic combination
  • Durable – Monolith’s M565 are made of highly robust materials
  • Lightweight design – they’re portable and don’t weigh much, which also makes them suitable for all kinds of purposes aside from studio work

Cons

  • Tend to heat up after a while – you’ll start to experience a certain level of discomfort after using them for hours non stop
  • Audio bleeds – though you’ll get to block the outside noise from coming in, the same can’t be said vice versa

Nearly all Sennheiser headphone models are more than good enough to be titled as some of the ‘best studio headphones’ in either price range. Though HD 598 SR might not look like it, these cans are actually pretty amazing in nearly all performance fields.

First of all, they sport a premium sound isolation technology which most headphones under 200 bucks seem to lack. It’s true that some audio will still bleed outside, but over 90% will remain in for your enjoyment.

The design of these cans is pretty much standard Sennheiser – the cups have a Sennheiser logo on them, they’re made of hard plastic, and they’re medium in size. So, clamping pressure put out is a bit below average, the cups feel comfortable, and the adjustable (and padded) headband only contributes to the overall great fit.

As for the sound, the stage’s pretty balanced, somewhat lacking in the bass department. However, the mids and highs are pretty decent, if not even great.

The bottom line is that these headphones are among Sennheiser’s cheapest models. They’re not perfect, but they’re clearly better than most similarly priced cans. The sound on these is pretty great all things considered, they’re pretty durable and comfortable to wear, although if you are looking for a bass heavy set of headphones, you should continue your search.

Pros:

  • Terrific midrange and highs – these two segments of the soundstage are where Sennheiser HD 598 SR excels the most
  • Classy design – though they did not change anything in a substantial way, Sennheiser cans always look quite amazing
  • Comfortable – frankly, these cans can be worn around for hours without you even noticing anything different

Cons

  • Small bass – the bass response of Sennheiser’s HD 598 SR leaves quite a lot of room for improvement
  • Mediocre portability – they’re big, and they’re bulky, so using them while commuting might not be the brightest idea

AKG’s made quite a few mid-priced headphones, and K702 ‘Reference Class’ is among their best works concerning the studio gear sphere.

In short, these cans feature flat wire voice coils, a set of neodymium magnets, the patented Varimotion diaphragm, and a leather headband. That means that you’ll get a balanced soundstage with a neutral sound signature, plenty of comfort, and then some decently strong bass to play around with should you opt for them.

First things first, the 3-meter cord on these cans feels a bit too tough for convenience, but it’s durable and perfect for studio environment. On top of that, the cups are quite fuzzy and feel very comfortable, just like the band.

They’re also rather light, weighing approximately 10 ounces only. It’s difficult to talk about the sound you’d get with these cans as the audio signature is, well, as neutral as possible – nothing’s overly accentuated, yet nothing is missing too.

Most people define K702’s bass as ‘comfortable’. There’s enough of it, it’s not too overwhelming and best of all – it’s not lacking.

The only thing that could potentially be improved on these cans is the sound isolation. The sheer open-back design means they’ll be some audio leaks along the way, not to mention that the cups aren’t nowhere near big enough to prevent such a thing on their own.

So, all things considered, AKG K702 are great headphones for the money. In fact, if you use them exclusively in a studio, you won’t even notice any flaws whatsoever.

Pros:

  • Neutral sound signature – nothing’s missing, nothing’s over accentuated, it’s practical and very useful for studio works
  • Comfortable bass level – it’s neither too strong or weak, meant to accompany the neutral sound signature
  • Comfortable to wear – these headphones feature fuzzy earcups with very little levels of clamping pressure

Cons

  • Sound leakage – the noise isolation of these cans isn’t exemplary per se

We’re closing down the curtain of this section with another great model from Sennheiser’s assortment, and this time we’re looking at the HD 599. It’s true that these cans appear very similar to most mid-priced Sennheiser models, but they’re a bit more affordable while still offering a great sound and a lightweight design.

We’ve already talked about Sennheiser’s ‘timeless’ design - the HD 599 looks pretty much the same as any model from this generation. There were small cosmetic changes in terms of the band and the cups though, but these were purely aesthetic in nature.

The comfort level of HD 599 headphones is remarkably high due to the low clamping force and ultra plushy oversized earcups. To top it all, they’re also pretty light, though not exactly robust per se.

One of the few issues you might have with these cans is portability – they’re big and not exactly flexible, so carrying them around casually might be a bit of a nuisance.

The second issue is the ambient noise reduction – there are certain features that prevent outside noise from coming in, but none to prevent it from leaking out.

Build quality, as well as stability of HD 599 are pretty awesome. The fit is excellent, and the same can be said about the design of these cans altogether. We did mention that they’re not the sturdiest of headphone sets, but they’re not particularly flimsy either.

As for the sound quality, the lows are a bit better than average, the mid-bass and low-mids are phenomenal, and the highs are a bit too bright for some people, although the entire stage is pretty balanced altogether.

Pros:

  • Superb studio headphones – excellent for studio engineers and session musicians due to the neutral sound signature
  • Comfortable and relatively durable – such a combination is rare, so it’s safe to say that they’re also very valuable for the money
  • Lightweight design – these cans weigh only 10 ounces approximately
  • Superb soundstage – the soundstage of these cans boasts excellent bass and midsection

Cons

  • Highs too bright – the only segment of the soundstage where HD 599 could suffer some improvements is the high section
  • Not compact – though they are light, they’re also rather bulky and not overly flexible

Best Budget Open Back Studio Headphones under $100

While LyxPro’s HAS-10 is one of the best budget closed-back headphone sets out there, the OEH-10 is its open back counterpart which boasts a similar value for the money. Great sound quality, a solidly durable and flexible design paired with decent sound isolation is the least you should expect here.

In essence, these cans feature swiveling ear muffs with leather cushioning – they’re flexible, comfortable for several hours, and decently robust. If you don’t like the leather, you can change it with foam pads which are supplied with the bundle.

One of the things that you might not like is the smaller cable – it’s only 8 feet long (as opposed to standard 10 feet cables), but it doesn’t matter much in studio workings, that just means that commuting, travel, and casual listening might come a bit harder.

The soundstage is pretty good – the highs are clear and bright, mids are punchy, though the lows could use some reinforcement.

Overall, one of the biggest advantages these headphones offer is affordability. They’re one of the best cheap studio headphones made by a reputable brand, so if you’re pretty low on cash, you might want to consider them.

Pros:

  • Great sound for the money – the soundstage is surprisingly balanced considering that these are some of the cheapest headphones with some quality behind them
  • Very flexible – the ear cups can swivel up to 90 degrees, and they’re also fairly easy to adjust
  • Superb comfortability – the leather cushions are very gentle on the skin, although if you don’t like how they feel, you can change them with foam pads

Cons

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Another, and last model from Sennheiser we’re reviewing is HD 559. These headphones look pretty much the same as any other Sennheiser model, but they most vital difference between this one and the other ones we’ve reviewed is simple – this one comes at a very cheap price.

First of all, the sheer design of these cans is decent. The HD 559 headphones are made of lightweight, yet decently durable plastic materials, but also they’re adorned with velour padding around the pads and the headband. In short, durability is fine, and the same can be said about the comfort these cans provide.

As for the soundstage, the lows are simply incredible for a cheap pair of phones such as HD 559. There’s plenty of bass resonance, although its emissions are put out in a controlled fashion. The mids are slightly compressed, although you’ll get a clear signal even despite that. The high section might not be HD 559’s forte, but they’re decently bright, even for critical listening.

So, to put things into perspective, Sennheiser’s HD 559 might not be your average studio headphones – they don’t offer the neutral sound signature as expected, but they do compromise for it with overall balance in the soundstage and controlled sound emissions. They’re also durable and comfortable enough for a 4-5 hour session after which a certain amount of fatigue will kick in.

Pros:

  • Superb sound for the money – being cheap as HD 559 doesn’t mean that these cans will sound like garbage, it’s quite the opposite
  • Controlled sound – the soundstage isn’t exactly balanced, but the sound emissions come out in a controlled fashion
  • Comfortable and durable – the headband and the cups are reinforced with exceptionally plushy materials for additional comfort
  • Great value – cheap as they are, these headphones are more than just worth the consideration, as the stocks are running out rapidly

Cons

  • Emphasized sound signature – not really perfect for studio work, but with some tweaks it will do the job

In truth, Ghostek’s Cannon is not what we’d call a ‘convenient studio headphone set’. First of all, these are wireless studio headphones, although they do feature a 3,5mm aux line cable, which means that you can wire them if you want to. Secondly – they come with gratis features, which is always great.

Speaking of which, with Cannon you’ll also get an easy carry pouch completely free of charge. The cans themselves aren’t necessarily too bulky or heavy, but the pouch enhances the portability significantly.

They’re made of hardened plastic which is quite flexible, but sadly pretty flimsy as well. Comfortability could’ve also used a bit of a boost, but the cups are big and put up a low clamping pressure to compensate for the tight headband.

Sound-wise, the Cannon is indeed a piece of artillery. The bass is powerful and deep, the mids are quite alright, although the highs are a bit too bright.

One of the best things about these cans is that you’ll be able to control what’s happening with a few simply pushes of buttons – the multi functional keys allow you to turn these phones on and off, accept and reject calls, and to pause and play your tracks. That also means that they’re versatile enough to be used for casual listening, commuting, travel, and such.

Pros:

  • Good sound for the buck – overall, the soundstage is balanced and the bass relatively deep and thumpy
  • Comes with a gratis feature – you’ll get a complementary easy carry bag for free
  • Versatile due to wireless design – these are Bluetooth cans that can be used in virtually any situation

Cons

  • Not overly durable – treat them with care and they’ll last, otherwise hardly
  • Moderate comfort rating – the cups are fairly comfortable, although the headband doesn’t feel so great

Studio Headphones Buying Guide

What are the best studio headphones for mixing?

Basically, the answer to this question could also apply to ‘which Sennheiser headphones are best for studio work’. Though debatable, most studio engineers prefer Sennheiser cans because of several reasons.

Firstly, most models from this brand offer a completely neutral sound signature, making it easy to ‘listen with some criticism’ to what you’ve put up in the mix.

We’re going to go with a model we’ve already reviewed – the Sennheiser’s HD 650. If you’ve missed the review, make sure to browse a few sections back and check it out while we discuss the criteria used before crowning this model as the ‘best studio headphones for mixing’.

Clear sound due to neutral sound signature

It’s completely true that critical listening is oftentimes less pleasurable than casual listening – you don’t get those goosebumps, those butterflies in your stomach when the soundstage emphasizes one segment or the other. Nevertheless, for studio work, you’ll absolutely need a neutral sounding cans, and HD 650 is a good example of such.

If the opposite were to happen, and you picked a bass heavy, or mid heavy set of headphones, your ‘judgement’ in terms of mixing will get slightly biased and subjective.

Sound isolation

The issue of sound isolation is a two way street. Basically, both hearing outside noise and emitting noise back into the environment is bad for studio work. However, the latter is of little importance when you’re mixing.

So, basically, you’ll need a set of headphones which are capable of ‘shutting down’ everything around you.

Strong soundstage

Though you’ll need a neutral sounding headphones, the soundstage needs to compensate for the ‘lack’ of vibes and groove. Headphones are tuned prior to releasing onto the market, and each model comes with a different soundstage.

You’ll need a pair of cans that transmit every segment of sound well throughout the three types of frequencies.

The reason why Sennheiser HD 650 is so good here is because it’s frequency range spans from 10 Hz to 39,5 kHz. That means that the lows are really low and deep, whereas the highs are very high in contrast.

Comfortable fit with low clamping pressure

Studio engineers work long hours indeed, so if you’re looking for a decent set of headphones for mixing, you’ll absolutely need a set that doesn’t put up a lot of clamping pressure and feels comfortable meanwhile.

Usually, the bigger the cups, the lower the clamping pressure is, and luckily, Sennheiser’s HD 650 has a pair of huge earcups. That resolves the ‘clamping’ issue, but what about comfort?

Well, this model excels in that section as well. Both the headband and the cups are padded with extra plushy materials, so you’ll be able to use them for an entire day without too much fatigue along the way.

What are the best pro studio headphones?

Professional studio headphones differ from ‘mixing headphones’ in one simple way – they need to be more versatile, as they are intended to be used for a broader set of jobs.

We’ve picked Audeze’s LCD-3 as our ‘best pro studio headphone’ pick since they’re, by far, among the most versatile headphones you could imagine.

Basically, the term ‘person’ in ‘professional studio person’ is interchangeable. It can be filled in with musician, sound engineer, technician, support, and similar titles, or so to speak. That being said, having a set of professional cans will help you fulfil all of these roles without having to purchase a separate set for each one.

So, why is LCD 3 so good for professional studio workers? It delivers unmatched, unparalleled sound quality and is regarded as one of the best Hi-Fi studio headphone sets for one. Every single aspect of the soundstage simply brims with quality, and there’s no mistaking it – you’ll need these headphones in order to hear certain bassy parts or back vocals which were purposefully kept low.

The same criteria we used when we evaluated Sennheiser’s HD 650 was used here as well, with several new additions:

Versatility

The word ‘versatile’ is an oxymoron when placed in a same sentence with ‘studio headphones’. Nevertheless, professional studio cans can be versatile, and LCD 3 is a fine example of that.

They offer a huge level of sound isolation which means that they’ll be equally usable and valuable in the hands (or on the ears) of a musician or a sound engineer.

As a matter of fact, the exceptional sound quality, regardless of the sound being neutral, means that they can easily be used for casual listening too. It’s safe to say that you’ll be able to kick up your audiophile status up a notch after sporting a pair of these.

Price

Though this is not the most important factor ever, the price plays a certain role as well. As if by default, professional studio headphones cost way more than standard studio headphones.

Needless to say, Audeze’s LCD 3 costs approximately 5-10 times more than a regular set of studio cans, but the reason why they’re worth it is because they have it all – a durable construction, unparalleled soundstage, groundbreaking bass, and phenomenal ambient noise reduction.

Which Beats headphones are the best for recording studio?

This is a straightforward question which asks for a straightforward answer – the best Beats headphones for recording in a studio are Beat’s Mixr.

They were specifically designed for DJs and studio engineers since they provide a phenomenal, balanced soundstage, come with swivelling earcups, and they look incredibly stylish along the way.

The only problem with these headphones is that they put up quite a lot of clamping force. They’re comfortable by default, but after several hours of using them, you’ll feel a bit fatigued.

Final Words

There are a couple of things you need to know before you even get to the part of choosing the headphones. There are two basic types – open, and closed back. Each of these types provides a different set of benefits and comes with different drawbacks.

Open back headphones are ideal for listening to your music at home and critical listening, although they’re bad at blocking ambient noise and listening to music in places where there are people since they bleed a lot of audio out.

Closed back headphones, on the other hand, are better for commuting and casual listening, but they’re also great for studio jobs such as recording and mixing. The only bad thing is that they’re usually less comfortable to wear due to the heat buildup. With this in mind, take a look at our selection of the best studio headphones in 2019 – we wish you good luck in finding the best ones for you!

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