Best Headphones for Music Production

Music is one of life’s greatest gifts, that’s undeniable. Musicians spend their lives producing masterpieces for us ordinary folk to savour and enjoy.

There are very few things in the world that can take you away in an instant, change your mood, transform your day, and ultimately change your life. There are very few problems that can’t be solved with a good playlist, that’s a fact. 

Getting a pair of headphones that compliments the intricate depths and subtleties of a great song is essential. One of life’s greatest sins is to listen to exceptional music on unexceptional headphones, especially if you are looking to produce music or work in the industry.

Those beautiful low tones that take you on a journey, lost. The clarity of butter-smooth vocals with a cheap tinny reverb as the song reaches the climactic moment of power and emotion. As a music producer, your sole purpose is to listen to all of the sounds exactly as they are, looking out for the issues and fixing them to create a masterpiece.

To do this you need a pair of quality studio headphones, no question. That shallow tinny face creasing crackle as Tom Yorke hits his high notes, making Radiohead sound like a bad wedding band, this just simply isn’t ok.

One more thing to be aware of is that the studio headphones for music production that are mentioned here do not reference headphones per se. Reference headphones for those who are not aware are headphones used in a studio environment used by music and broadcasting professionals.

In this article, we will remedy this problem, so no music will ever be tarnished again. Here we will go through some of the best headphones for music production. We have compiled a list of the best studio headphones for music production. Without further ado here are the best studio headphones out there.

Best Studio Headphones for Music Production

OneOdio Wire Studio Headphones 

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With the OneOdio studio headphones, you can expect clear sound with depth and comfort. The large 50-millimetre speaker unit drivers combined with neodymium magnets offer powerful bass, clear vocals, and crisp high tones.

These studio headphones have a soft material for ultimate ear comfort and sound isolation, with an adjustable headpiece to fit all, headphones that slip off if you move your head too much just isn’t ok!

These headphones also come with a 9.8ft cord so you aren’t always having to figure out ways to get them from your desk to your chair, and they give you plenty of wiggle room! Swivelling ear cups allow you to do one ear monitoring if needed. 

For the price point, these headphones offer exceptional sound quality and dynamic bass. It’s very difficult to notice any difference between these and a far more expensive studio headset. Unfortunately many people think that because of the price point these are low end headphones, but I can assure you thee compete with some of the best high end headphones on the market.

Where you may notice a difference is in the long term use. If you are a professional music producer giving these a constant thrashing then you may well start to see issues compared to the higher-priced headphones. 

One of the few in-ear headphones made for professional use, with sufficient sound isolation to keep the drivers from leaking sound onto studio recording equipment.

Pros

  • Great dynamic bass sound
  • Great head comfort 
  • Exceptional price point sound quality
  • Adjustable earpieces
  • Exceed the sound quality of most other headphones in this price range

Cons

  • Not the best for heavy daily use by professionals
  • Average at highighting the high frquencies

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Best for Professionals -Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

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This is arguably one of the most loved headphones around. Consistently purchased more than any other pair of headphones, the ATH-M50X is a cut above the rest with its professional look complimenting the sound quality.

Music producers and Professionals of the industry turn to these headphones. These particular studio headphones are critically acclaimed by top sound engineers and reviewers around the world. They have 45mm aperture drivers combined with rare earth magnets & copper-clad aluminium wire voice coils. 

These studio headphones offer exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range and incredibly complex base tone response. 

Fully adjustable earcups combined with carefully designed fabric for excellent sound isolation so you won’t be distracted by annoying background noise. This is enhanced by the light plastic build with stylish comfortable padding.

These studio headphones are specifically made for sound monitoring and producing, creating amazing detail from sounds. Bearing this in mind, they are not the best choice for casual listeners looking for something to tick a broader box in terms of what they are being used for. These headphones are specifically designed for audio monitoring and studio production. 

Pros

  • Critically acclaimed by professional sound engineers 
  • Exceptional tone clarity & extended frequency range
  • Great bass tone response 
  • Soft ear pads
  • Extended frequency response

Cons

  • Not the best for casual use – specifically made for monitoring & production

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Best for All-round Listening & Bass-Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless Over-Ear Headphone

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If you are looking for the all-round top of market headphones with insane bass, these are hard to beat, they even beat the beats 😉 Blowing away the market’s biggest competitors across the board, it’s hard to find a negative review about these headphones.

With a personalised sound panel, built-in tile finding technology, crusher base system capable of blowing your hair off, 41-hour battery life for the marathon music fanatics, wireless capability for the late-night room ravers and fully collapsible for ease of storage and travel, they do tick all the boxes for an all-round contender.

As these are all-around and versatile headphones you can find them in many broadcasting and music studios as well.

Pros

  • Mind rattling sensory crusher base technology
  • 41-hour battery life 
  • Personal Sound customization via Skullcandy App
  • Wireless & Wired
  • Can also be used for enjoyable listening
  • Neutral frequency response
  • Super comfortable and can be used on a daily basis

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Best Closed-back Technology-AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII

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Designed for live and studio use, these studio headphones have advanced closed-back technology for ultimate sound isolation, allowing you to get lost in the wonderful world of music. They are perfect for stage and studio performance eliminating any background noise.

Whilst I do not completely agree, some refer to the AKG Pro as the industry standard headphones in this category, particularly if you are using a home studio.

They incorporate an extremely comfortable design with thick pads and a self-adjusting headband to fit all sizes and to allow any position on the head for those spending hours in the studio.

The intuitive auto-mute option mutes your headphones when you take them off for that extra bit of magic.

These studio headphones come complete with a 3-meter cable and a 5-meter coiled cable allowing you to move around relatively easily. 

The AKG K271 MKIIs let you record instruments and vocals in the studio without any unwanted spill or bleed. These headphones are also built to last with rigorous testing to ensure a long-lasting product for its price point. The MKIIs are guaranteed to be a key part of your studio setup. 

If you are after headphones with good collapsibility then there are better options out there, and when being worn around the neck the earcups face upwards which I know can be annoying for some of you out there as it can be uncomfortable. 

Pros

  • Advanced closed-back technology 
  • Exceptional sound quality for vocals & instruments
  • Auto mute technology
  • Great for studio work and DJing

Cons

  • Not the best for collapsibility 
  • Ear cups face up when worn around the neck

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No.1 Best seller and Best for a Long Life- beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones

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Probably the most professional headphones on the list, these studio headphones are definitely on the more expensive side, but they are built to last, designed by Germans with no detail overlooked. The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 headphones will be part of your collection for a lifetime.

These are often described as an accurate representation of premium sound quality and excellent premuim level headphones.

These studio headphones combine decades of expertise in headphone technology with the latest Tesla driver technology in an open-back design. With their high resolution and perfectly balanced sound, these headphones set the bar at a whole new level.

High-quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship, this is a true investment. With a genius open-back technology, the high-resolution Tesla drivers create a full, dynamic and extremely organic masterpiece of transcendent sound.

The carefully optimized sound reproduction makes the DT 1990 Pro headphones a versatile competitor for mixing and mastering, as well as critical and detailed sound engineering.

The one downside for many will be the price, but in this case, you are paying for extreme quality and workmanship. A truely one of a kind design and a great choice.

Pros

  • Built to last for a lifetime
  • wide frequency response
  • Tesla driver technology 
  • flat frequency response with high resolution and perfectly balanced sound
  • Natural and transparent sounding sound stage,

Cons

  • High price point 

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Buyers Guide

Generally speaking, your mixes will generally be enhanced by finetuning and altering them through as many mediums as possible including laptop speakers, your car and studio monitors. However here we will talk about studio headphones that can be used in home studios and professional recording studios.

Characteristics that make consumer headphones sound good are not useful for studio headphones. Flat frequency response is preferable when recording and mixing. Studio headphones are designed for neutrality, with a fairly flat response across the entire frequency spectrum.

Studio headphones are great for when you need to fade songs and listen to music without interfering with others in the studio. If however, you have the whole studio to yourself then you should consider getting some studio monitors.

Quality studio headphones provide a clear, and accurate reflection of the stereo image, which can often identify any problems with your mix.

Buying the right music production headphones isn’t the easiest task. There are so many options out there all providing different perks. Scrolling through endless audio descriptions can be quite intimidating, especially if you aren’t that clued up on all the technical lingo, it’s easy to glaze over and get lost.

It is a case of what is the right fit for you, all of the music production headphones listed here are excellent headphones all for slightly different reasons. Below I will outline some key factors to look into before clicking the buy button on your headphones of choice. 

Something that is not specifically mentioned here is impedance. low impedance ranges between 2 to 16 ohms. Low impedance headphones for example tend to be louder than high impedance headphones.  If you get high impedance headphones, you may want to get a dedicated headphone amp to improve the headphone performance.

Open or Closed Back

This is a big factor for many. The difference between open and closed back is very self-explanatory. To make the right choice it’s very dependent on where you will be using your music production headphones and how much background noise you anticipate coming into contact with.

There are semi open back headphones that are out in the market, but we will not be dealing with those in this peace.

Open-back headphones allow air to flow through the back of the headphones, allowing a more natural feel and some say a more real feel for the music you’re listening to. Open-back headphones are great for critical listening, mixing and mastering high-quality audio files and at home listening with little background noise.

However, if there is noise around you, due to the open backed design nature, they are not good at cancelling out noise. They also ‘leak’ sound so people around you will be able to hear your guilty pleasures like S Club 7, if you aren’t ashamed of this then no worries! But if you are…. closed-back headphones may be better to keep your secret safe.

If you have a very quiet space with no distracting background noise there is a strong argument for open-back headphones being the better option as they create a very clear sound and are used by many professionals for critical listening. In fact, if you have mixing sessions, open-back headphones tend to be much more accurate and suitable for this.

Open-back headphones don’t exaggerate bass frequencies as closed-back headphones do.

Closed-back headphones offer excellent noise isolation and do a great job of minimizing sound leakage. They cut out background noise and allow you to get fully immersed in the music. If you are travelling in noisy places or are surrounded by screaming children then closed back is the way to go.

Lower frequencies may sound louder and less natural in closed-back headphones due to the sealed back. Closed-back headphones are great for casual listening, commuting, listening at the office and recording audio.

It’s worth mentioning that closed-back headphones aren’t great for working out. They don’t disperse heat around the head and ears well due to a lack of airflow. 

Wireless or Wired

Oh, the good old wired or wireless debate. Again, there are valid reasons for both. If being able to move around freely is essential for you then obviously wireless is something to strongly consider.

If you will be working out a lot or simply just don’t like having to untangle wires daily, wireless may be the one for you. The first thing to point out is that wireless and wired headphones receive different audio file signals.

Wired headphones receive a higher quality signal, they receive an analogue signal whilst wireless headphones receive a Bluetooth digital signal which can’t handle as much data. Therefore wired headphones offer better sound quality. Another perk of wired headphones is that they require no charging and are cheaper too. 

The real perks of wireless are the freedom they give you and the compatibility to connect with all sorts of devices wherever you go, but this comes at a higher price. But if you are in one place and listening critically to music as a producer, then wired headphones offer better sound quality. 

Adjustable Headband & Ear Cups  

Something to look for is a pair of headphones with good adjustability and comfort, especially if you will be listening to music for long periods. You don’t want headphones that are constantly slipping off your head or making your ears and head sore after some time listening.

Looking into the comfort offered in the fabric of the earcups and headband is important. Also, the rotation of the earcups is worth considering too. Some offer different rotation options, some of which may be more or less comfortable depending on your preferences. 

Durability

The durability of your headphones is very important in determining their life expectancy. If you are looking for your headphones to be part of your collection for many years to come then looking into build quality and materials used is very important.

Obviously, this usually comes with a slightly higher price point so it depends on what your priorities are. Things like the fabric of the earcups wearing out quickly and internals becoming tired if being used heavily. 

Sound Quality

This seems like a very obvious one but it’s not quite as simple as you think, it’s not just about amazing sound quality, different headphones offer different emphasis to what you are listening to… but people have very different preferences on what sound quality they want from their headphones. There are many different categories of audio quality that people look into, below are some of the most common.

  • Bass-heavy, strong emphasis on the lower ranges to get that deep, mind-bending bass, this is a very popular emphasis for people. 
  • V-shaped, with a strong emphasis on the bass and treble to produce a more alive and dynamic sound throughout the different frequencies. 
  • Flat, a balanced and neutral sound with all the frequencies being balanced, nothing coming through stronger than the other. 

Again, this is a personal preference and depends on what you will be using your headphones for. 

Size

Are you one of those bulky headphones kind of people who think the bigger the better? Or are you the minimalist that likes a streamlined pair of headphones to blend in like a natural extension of your head?

Size is something worth considering before buying. It also makes a difference to how they feel on your head, naturally the bigger the headphones the heavier they will feel which may annoy you after long periods, but maybe offer more durability. On the other hand, the smaller headphones may lack durability but be better for long sessions. 

Over the ear or on the ear headphones

Over-ear headphones go over your ears… As a result, you’ll hear less background noise, which is great in loud environments like aeroplanes or public places. The ear cups are bigger. What’s nice about over-ear headphones is they don’t press on your ears, they’re more comfortable for marathon listening sessions. 

As you’d expect..on-ear headphones rest on your ears. They’re smaller and lighter, making them easier to travel around with and tuck into small spaces. Background noise is more present, making you more aware of your surroundings, which can be a good and bad thing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of headphones is best for music production? 

If we are talking about production and more creative ventures, there are a few things required in your headphones worth considering.

There are several headphones on the market which claim to be ideal for studio production but it’s important to do your research and find out what is important and what is simply a sales pitch. Different brands and models offer different perks and audio profiles, so figuring out exactly what you want is the first step. 

And ultimately it depends on your set up and the level of performance that you need.

Are open back or closed back better for production?

This is very dependent on your surroundings, whilst open back offers better clarity and natural sound valued by producers, they also allow external noise to muddy the sound due to the open nature.

If you have a quiet studio then open back could be the way to go as they are excellent for detailed sound monitoring.

If you are surrounded by noise then you may struggle with open back headphones as they allow ambient sound in and they also ‘leak’ sound for others to hear.

Closed-back headphones offer excellent noise isolation for an immersed experience cutting out all ambient sound. However, the audio profile isn’t as accurate due to low tones being amplified in the closed space causing ‘bounce back’ and ‘sound resonance’ in some cases.   

Last update on 2022-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API