Studio Gears

Best Home Studio Headphones 2018 – With In-Depth Buying Guide

STUDIO HEADPHONES BUYING GUIDE

Here are the things you need to know before choosing your best studio headphone.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLOSED BACK AND OPEN BACK HEADPHONES

Closed back headphones will isolate you from outside ambient noise, which is called sound isolation. It’s good for recording, because it can prevent the sound bleeding from your headphone to the mic, or when recording drums, you will want to reduce outside noise so that the drummer can hear better. So basically no sound in, and no sound out.

Open back headphones do the opposite way, they don’t isolate you from outside ambient noise, the sound will be more realistic. Normally open back headphones will have better sound quality. It’s good for mixing and mastering when you need critical and accurate sound.

Semi-open headphones are open back headphone, they are between closed back and open back headphone. They got some sound isolation but also allow some sound leakage. It can be used for both recording and mixing.

Ideally, you will want to use closed back headphones for recording and using open back headphones for mixing and mastering, but it doesn’t mean you can only mix your songs with open back headphones, closed back headphones can also do the mixing and mastering job well. But you will not want to use open back headphones for recording, especially for drum recording, it’s such a pain.

WHAT IS IMPEDANCE?

Impedance means how much power your headphone needs to deliver specific volume. Low impedance headphones (less than 25 ohms) require little power, they will work just fine on mobile devices and portable music player. While higher impedance headphones (higher than 25 ohms) can prevent overloading.

If you connect low impedance headphones to high amplifiers, like DJ mixer, there’s a high chance they will be blown out, so you should do some research about the source you are going to connect.

DOES DRIVER SIZE MATTER?

Yes and no, some say the bigger the driver size, the greater the bass sounds, it’s true but not always right. The important thing is, the driver size doesn’t affect the sound quality. So you don’t necessarily have to choose the headphone with bigger driver size.

Now let us focus on the non-tech stuff…

THE FLATTER, THE BETTER

Just like studio monitors, you will want to buy headphones with minimum coloration, so any decisions you made won’t be affected by your headphone’s characters, unless you are using the headphone just for recording, then the thing you need to pay attention to is sound isolation.

THERE’S NO BEST HEADPHONE

You can easily find the headphones with the highest spec and quality, but you need to find the headphone that matches your taste and your purpose. Again, there’s no best headphone, only the best headphone suitable for you.

 

Now let’s dive in…

 CLOSED BACK HEADPHONES

1. Sennheiser HD280 Pro

If you are a beginner and looking for an affordable studio headphone, Sennheiser HD280 Pro is a nice choice. Unlike other studio headphones have cool features, this headphone doesn’t have any special to show you, but the sound is fantastic. For a studio headphone, it’s doing its job really well. That’s the reason why Sennheiser HD280 Pro is so popular, it’s definitely a reliable studio headphone.

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 64 ohms
  • Frequency range : 8 – 25,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: N/A
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

2. Sony MDR-7506

This is another well-known affordable studio headphone. With its flat frequency response, it’s great for mixing and mastering. Many people compare this headphone with Sennheiser HD280 Pro, in my opinion, they are all great headphones, but Sony MDR-7506 sounds a bit better to me, it’s just my opinion, it may be different to you.

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 63 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 20,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 40mm
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

3. Audio-Technica ATH M50X

The Audio-Technica M series also known as the monitor series, it’s designed for music producers and musicians. It delivers critical and accurate sound, you want low, and there’s low, you want high, and there’s high, you can really hear all details throughout the frequency spectrum. Although ATH M50X doesn’t have the flattest response, it’s flat enough for mixing and mastering. For those seeking for a great closed back studio headphone in a relatively low price, I highly recommend this one.

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 38 ohms
  • Frequency range : 15 – 28,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

If you think M50X is too expensive for you, the M series also have M40X, which is cheaper but the sound is not that powerful and the frequency range is narrower. It is still a great studio headphone for music production.

Audio-Technica ATH M40X

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Frequency range : 15 – 24,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 40mm
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

4. Focal Spirit Professional

Here’s one high quality budget studio headphone with studio monitor sound, you can have open back headphone’s sound quality, but also remains the closed back headphone’s sound isolation feature. The memory foam for the earcups and headband gives you more comfortable feel, it’s perfect for long working time. The only downside of Focal Spirit Professional is its relatively high price, if you can’t afford it, you can also choose Audio-Technica M50X which has similar sound performance.

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Frequency range : 5 – 22,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 40mm
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

CHECK PRICE : AMAZON

5. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro

This one is a less expensive quality studio headphone. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro offers you extremely wide frequency response, from 5 to 35KHz. It also delivers critical and solid sound for music production. With its affordable price and high quality, in my opinion, it might be the best closed back headphone on the list. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro comes with 3 different impedance.

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 32, 80 and 250 ohms
  • Frequency range : 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm

32 Ohm

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80 Ohm

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250 Ohm

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There’s also a Beyerdynamic DT770 M, which has incredible 35dB of noise attenuation, it can minimize bleed and outside noise. It’s ideal for drummer and other who needs ambient noise attenuation.

Beyerdynamic DT-770 M

  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 80 ohms
  • Frequency range : 5 – 30,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

OPEN BACK HEADPHONES

1. Samson SR850

This is the cheapest headphone on our list, you will never guess that a headphone lower than $50 can deliver studio quality, but Samson SR850 nailed it. It’s definitely the best open back headphone in the same price range. It has all need for a beginner, but if you want higher quality, you may need to spend more money.

  • Semi-open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 30,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 50mm
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

2. AKG K240

Here’s another pocket friendly headphone, still a great choice for tight budget. Just like Samson SR850, this is also a semi-open studio headphone, so it can be used for both mixing and recording purpose. With its accurate and flat sound performance, it is the best open back headphone you can find under $100. There’s also an updated version, AKG K240 MKII.

  • Semi-open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 30 ohms
  • Frequency range : 15 – 25,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 30mm
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

AKG K240 MKII

  • Semi-open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 55 ohms
  • Frequency range : 15 – 25,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 30mm
  • Detachable cable
  • Earpads foldable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

3. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro

Another Beyerdynamic headphone, it has done a great job again. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro gives you nice bass and depth sound, it translates the sound really accurate, it can easily do the mixing and mastering job. Not to mention its replaceable velour ear pads give you high wearing comfort. Since we are looking for sound quality in open back headphone, while the price is fairly important, it might be my favorite open back headphone.

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 250 ohms
  • Frequency range : 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

4. AKG K701 & K702

I’m going to introduce two open back studio headphones, AKG K701and K702. The feature that worth to mention is they both have the AKG’s revolutionary flat-wire voice coil technology, it gives them accuracy and sonic improvement, especially in low-end. I like K702 a bit better because it has a detachable cable, the low-end performance is slightly better than K701, and the price is also lower. There’s also a special edition AKG Q701 designed by legendary producer, Quincy Jones. Of course, it has better sound performance.

AKG K701

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 39,800 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm
  • AKG flat-wire voice coil technology

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

AKG K702

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 39,800 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm
  • Detachable cable
  • AKG flat-wire voice coil technology

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

AKG Q701

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 39,800 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 45mm
  • Detachable cable
  • AKG flat-wire voice coil technology

CHECK PRICE : AMAZON

I need to mention another related open back studio headphone, lots of people compare AKG K701 and K702 with AKG K712. I have to say they are all great for mixing and mastering, but K701 and K702 sound colder than K712, listen to music with K712 is more fun than K701 and K702. The bass performance of K712 is better, it has more color, but doesn’t lose its critical and accurate sounding. Regardless its price, I’ll say AKG 712 is better.

AKG K712

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 39,800 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: 40mm
  • Detachable cable
  • AKG flat-wire voice coil technology

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

5. Sennheiser HD 600

OK, this one is a bit expensive, you may think it’s not a “budget” headphone, but I think it’s worth to mention. Sennheiser HD 600 has high-end sound and flattest response in this price range, it’s perfect for mixing and mastering without a doubt. If you have extra money, you definitely need to check this out, or you can also check the improved version Sennheiser HD 650.

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Frequency range : 12 – 40,500 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: N/A
  • Detachable cable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Sennheiser HD 650

  • Open
  • Fit style: Around the Ear
  • Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Frequency range : 10 – 41,000 Hz
  • Plug size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)
  • Driver size: N/A
  • Detachable cable

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

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2 thoughts on “Best Home Studio Headphones 2018 – With In-Depth Buying Guide

  1. Really enjoyed your review and guide on studio headphones. I was interested whether the Sennheisers or the Audio Technicas would be any good for gaming? If they produce very good sound quality I was wondering if they would be good to use for games such as FPS’s or even just generally. What would you say? Or should I stay away from studio headsphones?

    1. Hi Dominik,
      I’m not a gamer, but I think they are good for games as well because they produce a wide range of frequency, that means you can not only hear the sub low but also the high-end sound really well.

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