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Are you looking for a pair of headphones to use for your music productions? So let’s see what are the best studio and home recording headphones for recording, mixing and mastering in 2020.
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The studio headphones are an essential element in any music production studio, be it a home or professional studio. It is therefore essential to understand what the parameters and functions they perform are, to make the best choice depending on the budget.
The purpose and type of headphones are divided into two macro-categories: closed headphones and open headphones.
The closed-ear headphones are a must during any registration. They will therefore be used to record, for example, the voice, acoustic drums, guitar with relative amplifier etc. In choosing this closed cap it will be important to ensure that we have excellent sound insulation, so as not to cause re-entry and minimize harmonic distortion.
The open headphones are instead indicated for the mixing phase (or recordings that do not involve the use of microphones), as they provide an improved sound performance, avoiding that the frequencies “bounce” inside the headphones.
Another non-secondary factor in choosing the best studio headphones is the comfort aspect. Whether you record, mix or play, several hours may pass during which we will wear headphones; It is therefore very important that ergonomics and design make prolonged use comfortable.
Another significant aspect to consider is impedance. Here it is important to specify that for a high impedance the use of a headphone amplifier is required, as otherwise it would lack power, with relative deterioration of the sound quality. Furthermore, higher impedance corresponds to a qualitatively better sound.
Best Studio and Home Recording Headphones 2020
Let’s now see the ranking of the best studio headphones to buy, from high-end models, to cheap headphones for productions in a home studio.
The Beyerdinamic DT 880 PRO are excellent high-end professional studio headphones and the first choice for those looking for a faithful superior quality headset.
The design is taken care of to make the product light and slender. The tilting pavilions ensure greater adaptability, while the soft skin bearings (replaceable) make prolonged use comfortable. The metal headband is sturdy and covered with a soft padding in the part in contact with the head.
The undisputed strength of this studio headphones is, as mentioned, the sound quality. The power is comparable to that of a closed headphones and is sent to the neutral and transparent hearing, without re-modulations or artifacts. This is essential for those who, when mixing with headphones, need to hear the sound as faithful as possible to reality.
The wide frequency spectrum covered allows you to clearly hear all the various areas, from the lowest to the highest frequencies.
Compared to other headphones of the same brand, the DT880 PRO offer a greater three-dimensionality of the sound , thus managing the stereo better, already appreciable even at very low volumes.
What we will hear inside is therefore a faithful and well separated reproduction of the various musical instruments and their frequencies, allowing us to clearly identify where to act at the mix and master level.
If we really have to find a fault with this excellent product, it is that of the heat and sweating that can be experienced during long uses; the velvet of the pavilions is not a breathable material therefore, despite being extremely comfortable and acoustically insulating, it generates heat inside.
The frequency response from 5 to 35k Hz, the high impedance at 250 Ohm and a diffuser field equalizer, make this semi-open studio headphones the best choice for mixing, editing and mastering. The 3 meter coiled cable comes together with the 6.3 mm jack adapter.
The ATH-M50X of Audio Technica, a Japanese company among the most renowned in the field of studio headphones, are an ideal product both for those who mix with headphones , and for simpler but demanding music listeners.
The frequency response of this studio headphones is between 15 and 28k Hz while the impedance is 38 Ohm. The low impedance therefore frees them from the need for a headphone amplifier, as well as making them usable for listening from a mobile phone, iPod, tablet etc. It comes with three cables: the first two smooth 1.2 and 3 meters, while the third 1.2 meters coiled extends to three.
The design is quite simple and the construction materials are well made, robust but pleasant to the touch, as well as soft. The coverage of the ear is total and this is an excellent point in favor, making the sound insulation really excellent.
The sound quality in general is good and balanced, but for very fine ear professionals, they may be less optimal on medium to high frequencies. Overall, the sound performance is still very good.
For the particularly refined listener, the headphones behave very well for genres such as hip hop, rap and rock while it could show gaps on genres such as classical music, jazz and in general those that develop mainly with medium frequencies high.
The Shure SRH840 are a model of studio headphones designed for those who looking for a product for recording and listening to monitors.
The sound quality is perfectly in line with the expectations that the Shure brand generates: they do not disregard the purpose of their use and guarantee a neutral and balanced sound, in all frequencies. The basses are full-bodied and present but do not invade or “absorb” the rest of the scene. The averages are decisive but not predominant, remaining well inserted in the total spectrum. The highs are very defined and sharp.
As with all Shure products, the design is refined and conveys the feeling of something professional and serious. Therefore, if you hold them in your hand, you will have the impression of handling something well done, solid and cared for.
The sturdiness of the construction materials is felt when wearing them: the weight of 365 g can be perceived when you put on the studio headphones. However, the ergonomics and padding of the headband helps to get used to it fairly quickly.
Among the few negative sides of this excellent product, we indicate the weight, significantly higher than its competitors, as well as the appearance of sweating and heat that occur for the most prolonged uses inside the pavilion.
The frequency response is wide (5-35k Hz), while the impedance is 44 Ohm, making them independent of coupling with an amplifier. They are supplied with a 6.3mm gold-plated screw adapter, a spare bearing kit and a carrying bag. The cable is coiled and is 3 meters long.
There is no expert in the sector who does not know the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio headphones. Anyone would confirm the reliability of the product , both for use aimed at professional music production and for pleasant and engaging listening. For years, professional producers and DJs have therefore relied without fear on the performance of this product.
On the quality of the sound we are talking about a practically flawless studio monitor headphone. The closed design ensures the best sound insulation, positioning the harmonic distortion on a value of 0.1%: practically non-existent.
The frequencies are all balanced very well, although we can notice a slight “push” regarding the bass. However, the general sensation will be a clean and well balanced sound.
The same can be said of comfort and pleasantness in wearing them: the lightness and comfort of the padded coverings will make prolonged use very easy.
The design probably will not be able to find the maximum approval in a younger audience, more tied to the aesthetic trends of the moment and the important dimensions (although the weight is standard), could be bulky on the small heads, but otherwise, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are excellent closed studio headphones.
The frequency response is very broad and oscillates from 8 to 25k Hz. The impedance is 64 Ohm therefore no amplifier is needed. The now renowned use of neodymium magnets provide a high acoustic pressure of 103 db.
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The weight is 268 grams including the cable is coiled and reaches up to three meters; comes with the 6.3mm stereo jack adapter.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are reliable and renowned studio headphones, known for their spatiality and three-dimensional sound.
As for the sound quality, these studio headphones are not unprepared. Of particular note is the response regarding low frequencies, which generally does not happen so frequently in open headphones. The bass can therefore be heard full and full-bodied, without exaggerating.
As for the high frequencies, we can notice a slight accentuation, making them a little more lashing than we would expect, when the volumes rise.
Average behavior is commendable, never annoying and well distributed to all volumes, constantly accompanying the space and the three-dimensionality of the sound.
The design, as well as the other Beyerdynamic studio headphones, are confirmed elegant and professional, always giving that feeling of seriousness to a beautiful and captivating aesthetic. The covering of the pavilions is in velvet thus increasing the level of comfort and making prolonged use pleasant and painless.
Among the less optimal aspects, it should be mentioned that what velvet offers in terms of comfort and softness, it takes away from perspiration.
Another aspect which, if it is not negative, is however to be considered, is that for those looking for a studio headphones that reproduces a completely neutral and unaltered sound, they may not be satisfied with that pinch of loudness in the bass and those highs a little sharper than necessary.
The frequency response ranges from 5 to 35k Hz ; the product is available with 3 different impedances (32, 250, 600 Ohm). The cable is 3 meters long and comes with the 6.3 mm adapter.
It is difficult to find an unprofessional Beyerdynamic product and the DT 770 PROs do not deviate from this trend. Specially designed for professional studio work, both recording and mix, they have a really interesting price.
The design is an aspect of strength of all the products of this brand and is confirmed elegant, solid and robust also on this model of headphones. The weight is not among the lightest, but the covers (detachable and replaceable) and the ergonomics make everything very pleasant, even for longer sessions.
The sound quality is very good overall, unbalanced in favor of the bass. When listening, you feel them very rich and clean, without however noticing a loudness effect that can also be disturbing.
The averages, on the other hand, lack a little brilliance, thus making the most distant and secondary voices perceived. The same applies to stringed musical instruments, where the predominance of medium and high is predominant. The details on the whole are not lost but the emphasis on bass definitely shifts the perception of medium and high back.
The frequency response of the Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO is between 5 and 35k Hz. As for the previous headphones, this too is proposed with 3 impedance values (32, 80 and 250 Ohm). The uncoiled 3 meter cable in the 32 and 80 Ohm version could sometimes be a bit of a hindrance. Obviously the 6.3 mm jack adapter is present.
The AKG K701WHT have received the approval of many professionals in the sector, for their ability to offer crystal clear listening to all areas of sound.
The frequency response is among the most extensive oscillating between 10 and 39800 Hz. The impedance is 62 Ohm. The reason for the accuracy of the sound is due to the Varimotion diaphragm technology, harmonizing the double membrane and delivering a very wide sound spectrum.
The design is one of those that make you look up. Original and detailed, it presents a predominance of gray color, both of the velvet inside the pavilions, as well as the silvered external part. The headband adopts an elastic system that allows automatic adaptation, with perfect adhesion to the head. The pad completely covers the ear and does not tire the surrounding area.
As for sound quality, it can be safely said that they are among the most balanced and precise headphones on the market. The bass, as usual in open studio headphones, are not particularly predominant, while the mids and highs are surprisingly clear and bright. The contribution in the mixing and mastering phase will therefore be exponential.
The little pronounced emphasis on bass could limit the experience on genres such as hip hop, electronic music and rock, so take this into account if you work mainly with these genres.
The price may lead to doubt that the product can be accompanied by the word “professional”, but in reality, the Sony MDR-7506 are among the best budget studio headphones.
The listening experience is very good and already after a few hours of use, it will be impossible not to fall in love with these cheap studio headphones.
As for the sound quality, if on the one hand you might be a little perplexed on the one hand (as a monitor headphone you would expect a more linear neutrality in the sounds), on the other hand, it will be difficult not to appreciate the general quality.
The intervention on the high frequencies is clearly audible, which are quite pushed and sharp. The lows instead would require a little equalization, as they are present but not enough to balance naturally with the highs. The general experience, however, is very valid.
The design is rather anonymous and when wearing them, you feel a slight pressure on the ears, in the long sessions you could therefore feel some discomfort.
Acoustic insulation is not among the most advanced; in case you have to record instruments and / or voices and then use microphones, this aspect is to be taken into consideration.
The frequency response ranges from 10 to 20k Hz and the impedance stands at 63 Ohm. This excludes the use untied from the amplifier. The cable is 3 meters coiled, supplied with the 6.3 mm adapter.
With this product, AKG wanted to create a link between professionals and amateurs. The sonic performance, ergonomics and build quality make the AKG K240 MK II studio headphones the perfect choice for semi-professional use.
The design takes you back a bit in time, making you think of the first models of semi-open headphones. The elegance and touch of AKG is however tangible, so much so that we can definitely touch something visually pleasing.
The native pavilions are made of eco leather but can be replaced with velvet pads. The bow uses a self-regulating system, adapting to the user’s head. However, however, there is no real coating, leaving the task of leaning on the head to the imitation leather. The predominance of plastic and the extreme lightness do not give the best sensation in terms of impact resistance.
The main monitor use designed for these studio headphones brings the sound performance to be substantially neutral , without particular accents. The 30 mm Varimotion transducer guarantees an extensive range of sound reproduction, without distortion and performing well at low volumes.
Among the less optimal aspects of the AKG K240 MK II, we can mention the construction materials, which betray a certain fragility. The frequency response ranges from 15 to 25k Hz. The impedance is 64 Ohm. The cable can be 3 or 5 m spiral straight. Supplied with 6.3mm adapter.
These Samson SR850 semi-open studio headphones are the perfect compromise for the amateur looking for an inexpensive studio headphones, while benefiting from a slightly higher quality overall ergonomics.
The lows are reproduced beautiful full and powerful, the mids detailed and present, while the highs feel bright and not sharp. The separation of sounds and frequencies therefore occurs, but obviously at the expense of the surrounding environment.
Taking into account that the product does not reach 50$, the way in which the sound remains substantially unchanged is however commendable, taking advantage of a wide range. The low impedance will allow us to appreciate the audio also by connecting them directly to the smartphone, MP3 player, etc.
The design obviously takes into account the low price range, therefore opting for a predominance of plastic as a construction material, and adopting fairly rigid bars for the bow, which make them potentially unbreakable. All this is perfectly in line with the market segment.
Different is the matter for ergonomics instead: the self-adjusting part of the headband fits perfectly to the head almost without pointing it out and the pavilions are made of a velvet-like material, which avoids sweating caused by eco-leather instead.
The frequency response is between 10 and 30k Hz. The impedance of 32 Ohm makes it usable both in the studio and for mobile supports. The cable is 2.5 meters long uncoiled and comes with its 6.3 mm adapter.