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What makes the best headphones for music production? Of course, production and mixing headphones need excellent sound quality, but simply sounding good is just the beginning of a great pair of studio headphones. They also need to have a flat frequency response curve to ensure accurate monitoring for critical listening sessions.
Comfortable headphones can make a big difference for all audio professionals, artists, sound engineers, and producers working long hours in the studio. The ideal pair of headphones with the right ohms for production should also have sound isolation for your studio; if you work in noisy environments, you might want closed-back headphones with less sound leakage. Finally, the best headphones for production should have excellent comfort and an ergonomic design.
If you’re a music writer or recording artist about to go into the studio for cowrites or production, you may want to consider a pair of headphones suitable for professional use. You can also check out the Nu Force Air Dac uWireless system for seamless audio transmission. The right headphones can accurately represent what a mix or track sounds like. Consumer headphones, on the contrary, may have an uneven frequency response that boosts the highs or bass frequencies to sound more powerful.
You might also consider a new pair of studio headphones if you recently got a new audio interface, sampler, mixing board, or other audio equipment. Regular, “casual listening” headphones rarely have an XLR cable connection and are less-than-ideal, whereas great production and mixing headphones ensure accurate sound when mixing and adjusting audio levels.
Keep reading to learn more about the best headphones for music production and how to choose the perfect headphones for all your audio needs.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features comfortable padding and an excellent soundstage that makes mastering a track or producing music a breeze. Additionally, users will love the two-sided cord that allows this unit to connect to music equipment or a PC.
The OneOdio Pro-10 headphones are an excellent pick for users looking for comfortable headphones for music production or enjoying numerous entertainment options. This model features a double-sided audio cable that can attach to 3.5mm and 6.35mm connections. This means that users can take these headphones to their guitar amplifier from their PC. While this model doesn’t feature volume adjustment, users will love the onboard mic and pause button to take calls.
In addition to a two-sided audio cable and an onboard microphone, the OneOdio Pro-10 headphones deliver a versatile unit that works across music equipment and the latest game systems. This model lets users share music with the additional audio jack, and the audio cable is long enough to keep users comfortable while listening to or watching their favorite shows. Lastly, users will love the thick-padded ear cushions that deliver passive noise cancellation while remaining comfortable.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features a removable audio cord and a folding design so users can take this headset on the go. Additionally, this unit delivers an impressive soundscape thanks to the passive noise isolation and 45mm drivers that let users hear every detail.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones are an impressive pick for users needing professional-grade headphones for mixing a track or listening to their favorite tunes. This model features a detachable audio cable and a folding design that makes it easy to carry or wear around the neck. Additionally, the thick ear cups offer impressive noise isolation so users can hear their media without interruptions. While the bass levels aren’t awe-inspiring, the 45mm large-aperture drivers deliver fantastic clarity where it matters.
In addition to an impressive audio driver and a portable design, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones offer excellent positional awareness for games and movies. The circumaural design easily fits over the ear and provides decent breathability to users listening for hours. Additionally, this model offers a high-grade, adjustable headband that keeps users comfortable thanks to the even weight distribution. Lastly, the 90-degree swiveling ear cups offer one-ear noise monitoring and allow people to stay aware while walking the streets.
Award: BEST FOR MUSIC PROS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features an over-ear design and padding to provide a comfortable headset for long listening sessions or performing onstage. Additionally, the long audio cable and amp adapter make this an excellent choice for music pros who like to perform.
The Sony MDR7506 headphones are an excellent pick for users looking for a comfortable headset that will stay comfortable and lightweight over long practice or listening sessions. Users can perform or practice without feeling restricted, thanks to the long cord and amp adapter. Additionally, this model features a folding design and carrying bag that makes it easy to bring to a gig. While the high tones aren’t booming, this headset presents a balanced EQ and an impressive soundscape.
In addition to an amp adapter and a long audio cable, the Sony MDR7506 headphones deliver 40mm drivers for detailed sounds in music or a user’s favorite streaming media. This model offers an over-ear design with thick ear pads so users can enjoy passive noise isolation that will leave them engrossed in the music. Additionally, users will love the accordion-style wire that helps keep the audio cable manageable for active music production.
Award: BEST FOR CASUAL LISTENING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features wire-free operation and incredibly long battery life so users can listen while working remote or taking their morning commute. Additionally, the pads offer sound isolation for immersive listening sessions while developing music or listening for pleasure.
The Soundcore AK-A3025011 headphones are a superb choice for users needing top-notch sound quality with the freedom of wireless Bluetooth connectivity. Thanks to the over-ear design and active noise cancelation, this model is perfect for staying focused at work or playing mobile games. Additionally, this unit delivers memory foam cushions and an adjustable headband that ensures users stay comfortable while wearing these headphones. While this model still uses micro-USB charging, users will love the 40-hour battery life for long music sessions.
In addition to extended battery life and wireless connectivity, the Soundcore AK-A3025011 headphones feature Hi-Rees audio thanks to the custom oversized 40mm dynamic drivers that produce rich audio experiences across multiple media sources. Additionally, this model can reduce ambient noise by 90% due to the four built-in microphones that work to block low and high frequencies like traffic or children actively. Lastly, users will love the powerful BassUp technology that automatically strengthens bass-heavy sounds.
Award: BEST FOR COMFORTABLE LISTENING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features an impressive amount of padding to offer a headset that’s ideal for long listening sessions or competing in today’s top games. Thanks to the excellent padding and design, users will enjoy a rich soundscape and decent noise isolation.
The Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 280 Pro headphones are an excellent pick for users concerned with comfort and reliability while listening to their music or building a track of their own. This model features thick padding on the adjustable headband and a comfortable over-ear design that promotes passive noise isolation. Additionally, this headset delivers a long cord to keep users from feeling constricted while performing or mixing sounds. While the headband is initially tough to adjust, this unit can keep up with complex music or gaming sessions.
In addition to a comfortable headband and good noise isolation, the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 280 Pro headphones feature impressive sound reproduction when sound accuracy is vital. This model delivers deep lows and a distinct mid and high range for music players or producers that want top-quality audio. Additionally, these headphones have a folding and space-saving design so users can travel to gigs or enjoy their morning commute while listening to high-quality music.
Award: BEST FOR MAKING BEATS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features a striking design and an impressive soundscape for users needing high-fidelity sound for producing beats or listening for inspiration. Additionally, this model features multiple connection types so users can listen to and utilize pro-level equipment.
The Neumann NDH 20 headphones are an impressive pick for users looking to mix their next track or listen to today’s top tunes for inspiration. This model features a long audio cable and an amp adapter so users can actively mix or perform without feeling restricted by wires. Additionally, this headset delivers comfortable over-ear padding for passive noise isolation and breathable comfort for long listening sessions. While this model doesn’t feature inline controls, users will love the durable cable that can disconnect from the unit.
In addition to a removable cable and an included amp adapter, the Neumann NDH 20 headphones offer an incredibly portable unit for listening on the go or neatly packing in a bag. This model features a folding design and two removable cables to make it simple to pack into a music bag. Additionally, the mechanical construction delivers a durable and flexible headband that is easy to adjust. Lastly, users will love the 38mm drivers that provide crystal-clear audio and spatial awareness in the latest games.
Generally, a pair of headphones for music production is any high-quality set of headphones designed for professional audio work. Typically of a circumaural headphone type with an on-ear or over-the-ear design rather than earbuds, production headphones can use a closed-back or open-backed design. Most producers tend to use closed-back studio headphones for better sound isolation.
One thing that sets any great production headphones apart is their sound quality. They should have faithful, balanced sound reproduction to function as a good pair of studio monitors. The accurate response over the entire frequency range allows an audio engineer, mixer, or producer to understand exactly how a given track will sound.
Compared to general-purpose and budget headphones, production headphones have higher-quality speakers and more specialized audio quality components, such as dynamic drivers and woofers.
Headphones for sound design, recording, mixing, and production also tend to have more features for passive noise reduction and rely less on electronic active noise cancelation. Noise cancelation can work well for travel headphones but isn’t always suitable for the studio environment.
The semi-open headphone design may work well for studio and production headphones, though it’s rare for casual listening and travel headphones. Semi-open back models may offer more natural sound quality, with a lower sound pressure level than pure closed-back cans.
Professional headphones tend to have more ergonomic designs and more comfort-oriented features, such as a padded or adjustable headband, which help maintain a comfortable listening environment for longer sessions.
Professional studio headphones are more likely to offer high impedance models than consumer-grade headphones. High-impedance headphones work best with higher-voltage audio sources, such as a studio soundboard or mixer. They may require a dedicated headphone amplifier for use with weaker sources.
Along with a comfortable, durable design, and excellent sound quality, any headphone for music production needs accurate reproduction of sounds across the frequency range. Unlike cheap headphones and gaming models, headphones for music producers require honest sound and flat response for critical listening.
Professional studio headphones connect to an audio source via wired or wireless connection and translate the signal into sound waves using speaker components that fit into the ear cup. Music production headphones often connect to sources with higher signal strength, such as mixing boards, samplers, and other professional audio equipment. They may need a dedicated headphone amplifier to work with lower-voltage sources.
To achieve the audio quality and extended frequency response needed for music production, these types of headphones often include magnetic drivers, sometimes using rare-earth magnets like neodymium. More expensive headphones for producers may also employ silk tweeters for a more faithful treble response.
As with audiophile headphones, headphones for podcasting, recording, and audio production typically use an over-the-ear design, with padded earcups that go all the way around the ear, enabling excellent isolation compared to earbud headphones.
Closed-back designs are popular for production work since they isolate the listener from external noises. Some producers prefer open-back headphones or headphones with a semi-open design. Semi-open and open-back headphones allow air movement through the earpieces, making them more like hi-fi speakers. This type of headphone works well in soundproofed studios and vocal booths where a wide soundstage and excellent transient response are more important than blocking external noises.
If you’re a music producer, musical arranger, or recording artist working on new music, a solid pair of headphones can make a big difference in the studio. Cheap earbuds can distort audio levels with digital acoustic treatment. Therefore, not just any pair of cans will do for musicians, composers, and electronic music producers. You might want a new pair of studio headphones to listen to your mixes and make sure the levels sound right.
You might also consider a new set of headphones if you’ve upgraded to a new mixing board or audio interface. Depending on the equipment you’re using, you might need headphones that can accept higher-voltage audio signals via XLR cable. High-impedance headphones deliver improved quality and typically have a more rugged design.
If you’ve built out a home studio with soundproofing and acoustics, you might find it a good time to consider a set of open-back studio headphones. This type of headphones tends to offer enjoyable listening and an expansive soundstage.
Newer magnetic drivers allow studio and audiophile headphones to produce a wider soundscape and more transparent sound. Compared to older production headphones, newer models can offer more detailed sound and more accurate frequency response across a wide range. Modern on-ear headphones for musicians also perform better in loud environments. They also tend to suffer less distortion and can produce accurate sound at lower volume levels.
Unlike most cheap earbud headphones for travel, most studio models have at least decent build quality and benefit from a solid design. They generally last at least three to five years, whereas the average wireless earbud set lasts only two years.
Over-the-ear headphones with a detachable cable tend to hold up to routine use very well, but they can show wear and tear on moving parts such as hinges. Models with a collapsible design are convenient to store but have more moving parts. These headphones’ other frequent wear items include faux leather headbands and foam earpieces.
The battery can also wear out over time on some types of headphones. Wireless studio headphones usually have lithium-ion batteries that can go around 1000 charge cycles before losing a noticeable drop in capacity.
Experts suggest storing headsets and over-ear headphones on a well-made headphone stand with a durable design. Features like a detachable cable can make some audiophile headphones more serviceable and thus last longer. Keeping headphones away from excessive heat, moisture, and dust can also help increase their lifespan.
Various factors can help you choose the best type of headphones for your music production and recording needs. You’ll want to consider the type of audio equipment you’re using and the acoustics of the spaces where you’ll be listening. The type of music and the recording process are also important factors in determining the best professional studio headphones in a given price range.
The noise levels in your environment can play a significant role in determining the right set of headphones. If your home studio has a fair amount of noise, excellent isolation may be a priority. On the contrary, open-back cans may provide a more enjoyable listening experience in a soundproofed studio.
The right sensitivity in headphones helps make the most of your audio gear. If you use sound equipment with higher-voltage audio output, you’ll need the right headphones to match your sources.
Your taste is, of course, also an important factor. You’ll want to consider whether you prefer a soft leather headband or adjustable steel headband and the level of padding you want. Experts recommend a solid design and ergonomic earcups that make for comfortable headphones over longer recording sessions.
The type of music you’re producing can also be a factor. Electronic dance music, dub, techno, and house music may call for powerful bass response. In contrast, vocal production and recording strings may call for different frequency response priorities in a set of headphones.