Headphones come in all kinds of styles; there are gaming headsets, consumer headphones, and studio headphones, just to name a few. However, out of all the types of headphones, studio headphones are known for their premium quality – and their premium price. This begs the question: are studio headphones worth it? The answer depends on you.
What are studio headphones?
First, it’s important to understand what exactly studio headphones are, and what makes them different from other types of headphones. There is a reason behind their relatively high price, after all.
Studio headphones are, as the name suggests, marketed towards audio professionals, and people who rely on a solid pair of headphones to do their jobs. Because of this, the priorities of audio professionals are reflected in the features studio headphones possess.
Possibly the biggest reason for getting a pair of studio headphones is the sound quality. One of the things that sets studio headphones apart from the rest is that they’re designed to output clean, accurate sound. Believe it or not, most regular headphones actually distort audio, whether it’s on purpose or not, since they prioritize having audio that sounds good and loud over audio that is accurate. However, studio headphones are designed to keep the audio as accurately as possible.
Another feature pros come to expect from studio headphones is good isolation. After all, if you’re recording audio, you can’t have sound from the headphones themselves leaking into your mic. It’s because of this that nearly all studio headphones are over-ear, meaning they completely cover and surround each ear, as opposed to on-ear or in-ear headphones. These headphones value having good isolation, meaning the sound from the headphones stays in the headphones, and the sound from the outside stays outside.
Studio headphones are function over form. While regular consumer headsets are designed to be stylish when worn, studio headphones are only made to get the job done. The build of a good pair of studio headphones is designed to be sturdy and comfortable, so that they’re good for long recording sessions and will last for years without breaking. Big pads and sturdy cable entry points will take precedence over stylish color options and Bluetooth.
Finally, the elephant in the room – the price. The premium sound quality and build of studio headphones ensure that they usually can be found significantly more expensive than your average pair of headphones. But this price is justified. Studio headphones aren’t just for everyone, and they are priced accordingly.
So, are studio headphones worth it for me?
Now that we’ve discussed what exactly sets studio headphones apart from the rest, now we can talk about whether or not they’re really worth it. As with every niche product, however, for some people, they are priceless, while for others they are a complete waste of money. You have to ask yourself a few questions before deciding whether or not you fall closer to the former group or the latter.
Do you use audio in a professional setting?
This should obviously be the first thing you ask yourself. Industry standards exist, so if you find yourself saying “yes” to this question, then you might not even have a choice. However, even if the answer is “no,” the question doesn’t end there. Are these headphones only for music consumption, or are you interested in recording audio as part of a hobby or for a personal project? If the answer to this question is “yes,” then studio headphones may be worth it for you.
Do you value quality or convenience more?
In order to achieve the highest possible sound quality, studio headphones compromise on a lot of other features that many consumers will miss. For example, wireless options, stylish colors, and boosted bass will be absent from nearly all studio headphones. Make sure you’re ok with sacrificing these before you consider buying a pair of studio headphones.
How long do you want your headphones to last?
Obviously, it would be nice if headphones just lasted forever, but realistically this is definitely not the case. Headphones can be fragile, and wear and tear can get to them easily as the years pass by. If it’s important to you that your headphones last at least 5 years, it may be worth spending the extra money on a nice pair of studio headphones, as they are built for durability, even when thrown around countless times. Most regular headphones just won’t hold up as well for that long.
In conclusion, whether or not studio headphones are worth it really depends on how much you value quality, and how much you’re willing to compromise to get it. If you can easily say that sound quality and build quality are everything, then just go for it, man. You’re the exact person that studio headphones are made for. They’re not just for pros.
However, not all studio headphones come at a premium price point. If you think you may enjoy a pair of studio headphones and want an entry-level option, check out our 10 best studio headphones under $50 and see if any of them have what you’re looking for.
Written by Zev Ross