There are thousands of headphones out there, so you would think looking for the best music production headphones would narrow the search, right? Nope, there are still tons of options when it comes to the best professional studio headphones. Fortunately, we’ve decided to take the time to narrow it down for you.
Top 14 Headphones for Music Production
1. Focal Listen
Focal Listen Pro closed-back headphones are great all-purpose headphones that perform great in the studio, and it’s not often you find a French brand. They live up to their name—they’re great for listening and producing (I know “Pro” probably stands for professional, but why not both?).
These headphones have comfortable memory foam earpads. Unfortunately, they also have a silicon-lined headband, which tends to attract sweat. Nonetheless, these are amazing headphones that deliver powerful and clear audio. They have 40mm Mylar titanium drivers and a frequency range of 5-22,000 Hz. They have a neutral bass, clear mids, and smooth highs.
Sample Customer Review… Sooo since this is the most expensive pair of headphones I ever bought I can honestly say I’m not disappointed at all. I’ve owned plenty of headphones but not at this price range and I don’t consider myself an audiophile BUT I do know trash audio when I hear it (yeah I’m looking at you AirPods) most people think boomy bass and bright highs are quality headphones but I’d disagree. These headphones have such a natural sound to them and the vocals are so clean and clear, the soundstage is impressive, the range of these headphones is great. Bass is there but it’s not trying to replicate the sound of a subwoofer like the beats headphones try so hard to do. I haven’t noticed any distortion on the iPhone 6s so that’s a plus. One thing to note is if you don’t have a quality source for your music then results will vary think of these like a white car it will show dirty audio if it’s there. Noise isolation is great tho I will say the sound leakage is definitely there so keep that in mind if you’re around people. The comfort is pretty average to me but I have thick hair so it could be different for you.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Audio-Technica is one of the most respected audio technology companies out there. They make a variety of professional studio headphones, but the M50x has established itself as a critically acclaimed, closed-back, and circumaural headphone. These headphones are the best music production headphones for all-around use, from commuting to the studio.
M50x headphones deliver crisp, well-balanced audio. They have 45mm large-aperture drivers and copper-clad aluminum voice coils. Their large service area delivers deep bass frequencies and they have a decent transient response. These headphones are also comfortable, with rotating ear cups and professional-grade padding. They are also available in wired and wireless versions.
Sample Customer Review… As someone who has owned countless sets of cans and really demands good sound quality out of my headphones, I have to say these are the best. I currently own the ATH-30’s and although they are good, they simply don’t match the ATH-M50x. I can hear so many more of the music’s nuances. The bass is more clear, the definition of movies through my iPad Pro is amazing. I love the neutral reference of the headphone and that it doesn’t color the sound like Beats or Sony. For a little over 100 bucks, you cannot find anything comparable. Sure, they might get outmatched by a set that is 3 or 4 times the price, but could you really justify paying that much for a likely dead heat in sound quality? Maybe if true monitoring in a professional studio were the case, maybe. Other than that I cannot think of a better set for the common listener. The headset is comfortable and fits nicely over my ears. The folding action of the cans is also nice. I wish the carrying bag was bigger and the fact that you must use the included cables (nope, your 1/8″ cables will not work). If you want a killer set of cans and you want the best sound quality and style does not hurt your feelings these are for you.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
3. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
Beyerdynamic is one of my favorite audio companies and they had multiple contenders for this list of the best music production headphones. Their products are innovative (often made in collaboration with Tesla), well-crafted, and high-quality. The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 headphones are fairly high-end, open-backed headphones equipped with 45mm Tesla high-flux neodymium drivers. They have a frequency response of 5-40,000 Hz, contributing to their pristine sound performance.
These headphones even come with two pairs of earpads, each made from different acoustic fabrics and woven textiles or velour. The amazing quality of Beyerdynamic headphones normally makes them a bit heavier, but this is well-balanced in this specific set of cans because they are open-backed.
Sample Customer Review… These things are awesome, did tons of research before going after these, and can say, I’m floored by their sound. Worth every penny, easily. I first highly recommend you get the “Dekoni Audio Replacement Ear Pads Compatible with Beyerdynamic DT Series Headphones (Hybrid)” Make sure it is the Hybrid version. First, there is no such thing as the perfect Headphone never not at any price. So these have just a tinge of slight highs ONLY on a few songs and the Base could use a tad bit of help with the OEM pads, but some of you would love them even with either of the OEM pads on it. Just like I did, but after I put on those Dekoni Hybrids, WOW, no turning back on the sound, not at all, comfort is about the same maybe a tad better but the few areas it could be helped WOW these pads get it done in spades for these Cans, and now there are near flawless, so I will say those pads are 5* as well without a doubt. You also need to be using an amp at 250ohms, but if your even looking at these you know this, but just for a newbie, who might not, there it is. Pretty much anything benefit’s from being AMP’d but definitely any set of Cans above 80ohms or more need to AMP’d or your just wasting your time and money on them, and truly doing them a disservice as well, don’t be that guy. If these are on your list and anywhere near your price range, then just do yourself a favor and stop wasting your time and pull the trigger, and if they are a bit out of your price range, then look for a good pair on Open Box special or possible barely used (If you can find them), or be patient and save, and get these, cause nothing even comes close, definitely not for the price, that is for sure.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
4. Sennheiser HD 599
The Sennheiser HD599 comes from a brand that rarely, if ever, disappoints. They are open-back headphones with exposed dynamic drivers. Their comfortable, velour earpads feature Sennheiser’s E.A.R. (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology. These are some of the best music production headphones for comfort.
As expected from Sennheiser, the HD599’s are built with premium components inside and out. They have a frequency range of 12-38,500 Hz and an impedance of 50 ohms. They come with two TRS cables, in 3.5mm and ¼ inches, so you can avoid dealing with messy adapters.
Sample Customer Review… At first, I thought that these were not that great of headphones. They didn’t feel as comfortable as I thought and the audio didn’t sound worth spending 200$ (roughly) for. BUT after getting an EQ I was able to tune them to fit the sound I love, and I can easily say these are the best headphones I’ve ever had, much better than my M40X’s. They have a surprisingly good amount of base considering they are open-back headphones, but it does not drown out any sound. The earpads took a day or two to get used to, and now I can’t take them off because they are so comfy. I can wear these for hours and my ears refuse to hurt. These are also the only headphones I’ve ever worn out in public. They have a really nice style, and I don’t play my music very loud so the open back idea isn’t bad for me in public. If you are looking for a comfortable pair of headphones with some good bass that you can wear for hours, I’d definitely recommend these.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
5. KRK KNS 8400
The KRK KNS 8400 boasts a high comfort value for a low price tag. The KRK KNS is durable and well-constructed, offering a listening experience with minimal to no creaking or squeaking. Their lightweight plastic construction allows you to comfortably wear these headphones for long periods of time without experiencing tightness or uncomfortable strain on your ears. These headphones also boast a high sound quality, especially given their low price. These are a great option for anyone looking to prioritize comfort during music production, without having to sacrifice sound quality!
Writing this review after a month of heavy use, I can confidently say these headphones are superb. They’re made primarily for music production, so I was worried they wouldn’t be ideal for listening, but it turns out they’re ideal for both. The sound quality is far beyond what should be expected at this price level. Crystal clear, spacious, with excellent frequency response throughout the spectrum, and all the power you could want. Nothing is lacking, and nothing is overpowering. If overpowering bass is what you want, EQ it up and they’ll deliver. But I never find myself needing any EQ. Comfort-wise, the pressure on the ears is just right. Gentle and plush. The pads fit well around even my large ears. The top of the head pads are nice as well, but a little more firm than I’d prefer. There’s enough pressure on them that they can get a bit uncomfortable after a while, but it’s fine if you reposition them periodically.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
6. Sennheiser HD 25
Sennheiser rarely disappoints, and the HD 25 headphones are yet another exceptional pair of headphones. They are especially iconic for DJs, but they have a variety of functions. They are lightweight, on-ear headphones. Unfortunately, their earpads aren’t very comfortable, but they’re so light that you hardly notice.
The HD 25 headphones are renowned for their excellent sound reproduction and ability to withstand high sound pressure levels. They also come in several models: light, standard, and plus. There is also a stylish limited edition model with yellow earpads.
Sample Customer Review… My oh my, do these live up to the expectations I had. I bought these mainly as a pair of DJing headphones. I needed something with just a tad more bass, and a good amount of sound isolation. Lightweight, comfortable, and low profile. This definitely is the perfect pair, I’m glad I chose them. The sound quality is wonderful, I’ve come to expect nothing but the best from Seinheiser. The bass does seem just a bit more present than standard flat studio headphones, but I like that as I already have some very flat headphones and monitors and I’d like something to be able to tone my basses properly when producing. They seem ridiculously light for how powerful and functional they are. Though the grasp is firm, I wouldn’t worry it’s not uncomfortable at all, just snug.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
7. Neumann NDH 20
The Neumann NDH 20 is one of the lesser-known products on this list, but that doesn’t mean you should pass over them. If you’ve never heard of Neumann, they’re a part of the Sennheiser group—which means quality. They are a closed-back, circumaural set that combines the quality of Neumann’s award-winning speakers with custom linear sound balance, which keeps audio neutral for editing.
These headphones are well-crafted with 38mm neodymium drivers. They do have an impedance of 150 ohms, so a headphone amp is recommended if you buy these. They have a low-pressure, steel headband that makes these some of the best music production headphones for durability and comfort. They have luxurious earpads and the ear cups fold for storage.
Sample Customer Review… With a product like this, I’d typically want to give it a week or two to make sure I really had enough information to make a clear decision, but on the first night of listening, these immediately overwhelmed caution. The level of nuance and detail retrieval available is amazing. Coming from Sennheiser HD700s, I’m not exactly used to chopped liver. With the same rig (FLAC files into an Apogee Groove DAC/amp), there’s a significant amount of additional information being presented. Is some of this sound isolation? Sure. But some of it is just the hallmark of really great tuning and high-quality production. The soundstage doesn’t feel compressed, as you’ll get on some closed-back cans, and the sound isn’t harsh, sterile, or fatiguing. If you have poor quality sources, though, you’ll hear the distortion, compression, and general audio trash around the edge of the notes. The Neumanns don’t seem at all difficult to drive. You won’t need brutish amp power to have them come alive. They might be just a bit louder at a given volume than the HD700s. Overall, very impressed. Perhaps not quite as comfy as the Sennheiser, by virtue of weight, warmth on the ear, and a bit of clamping force. Good, but not complete sound isolation. Won’t block very loud background sounds, but will distance them. Highly recommended.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
8. PreSonus HD7
Like the Behringer HPX2000, the PreSonus HD7 headphones are a cheaper option. They are also the only semi-open backed headphones on this list, a compromise between the differences of open and closed-backed headphones. These are a little bit more expensive than the Behringer’s, but they are also lightweight and decently durable. They also have a closed-back model and a Bluetooth, ANC model, but these are best for music production. The HPX2000’s have a flexible, wide headband with professional yokes, as well as decent earpads. They also have high-resolution neodymium drivers with precision-tuned acoustic chambers.
Sample Customer Review… I don’t know a lot about technical sound specifications, but these headphones are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. I probably have these on for an average of 6 hours every day (sometimes closer to 10) and they never get uncomfortable. I also wear glasses and they don’t provide any discomfort at all. An initial concern I had was whether sound would leak out of these microphones since they’re semi-open. I personally have had no problems with sound leaking. As soon as I take the headphones off, you can hear the music even with the headphones on the desk (depending on how high your volume is), but when I put them back on people near me say they can’t hear anything. Pretty nifty. Sound-wise… to my untrained ear, they sound great. Definitely flatter than other headphones I have used, though – while this may make bass sound quieter, it’s allowed me to hear parts of songs that I’d never heard before. Very neat. Highly recommend.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
9. Fostex T60RP
These Fostex T60RP closed-back headphones are the coolest looking set on this list, in my opinion. Who wouldn’t want African mahogany ear cups with natural acoustic dampening? This helps eliminate unwanted resonances and interference and complements their Regular Phase diaphragm technology. They also have powerful neodymium drivers and a diaphragm wrapped in a polyimide film. You would think the fancy details would stop at the wooden ear cups, but they also have a comfortable genuine leather headband, and the earpads are leather as well. They also come with both a standard and optical fiber detachable cable, for high-res or fidelity.
Sample Customer Review… Well, I will start this review by saying…this is the best-sounding headphone I have ever heard. And I have tried a lot of headphones. Remember that audio is a very personal thing and that what I find awesome it might be just good to you. In any case, there are two things about this headphone that to me they do better than any other headphone I have tried and those two things are the imaging and highs. The imaging on this headphone is super amazingly precise. There’s so much clarity and resolution. There’s a song that before using this headphone, in certain parts of the music I thought that only one singer was singing. With this headphone, I can clearly hear other singers behind the usual one and I can clearly hear women voices and men voices singing behind. For me, that was a nice revelation. In gaming, the super-precise imaging has helped me a lot with footsteps and the enemies coming from different places. The highs are sweet, ok maybe that’s not a good description but to me, they are sweet to my ears. The highs are sweet, clear, detailed. The mids are awesome too. The voice clarity of this headphone is amazing. There’s so much texture and resolution and clarity in the mids that…ufff i have no words to describe it. The low end is, to me, perfect. If you like a crazy amount of bass look for another headphone because this one is very very detailed and controlled with the low end. The bass is perfect to me, very tight and impactful. Everything about the sound is just awesome.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
10. Audio-Technica ATH-A990Z
Another impressive option from Audio-Technica is the ATH-A990Z, a closed-back set ideal for detailed and critical track monitoring. The headphones have large diaphragms with high-res audio, and they feature OFC bobbin-wound voice coils with aluminum housings. They have a top-tier transient response and have a wide frequency range. They also have a double air damping system that helps low-end production stay distortion-free and powerful.
They aren’t just high-performance, but they’re also practical. They have a cloth-wrapped, long cord that prevents tangling. They also have 3D wing support with a flexible headband, allowing for good circulation. The earpads are built with premium cushions. Audio-Technica headphones are always a good purchase, and they make many of the best music production headphones.
Sample Customer Review… These are excellent for the price. I purchased these to listen to music and play some games. Music sounds excellent. Bass is present, but not overpowering, mids are good and treble is pushed back just enough to not be harsh. These are great for acoustic music, but I had no problem listening to heavier music with them. I downloaded an equalizer and added a touch of bass for when I’m playing games. Games sound really good, but I also have a pair of Monolith M1060 open-backs and those are absolutely amazing for positional audio in FPS games as well as providing enough bass for explosions in games. These do positional audio decently. They are also closed back so the sound stage is narrow compared to an open back variant. Overall I have no complaints for the price I paid. I had no issues with comfort aside from the pads being a tad bit too small for my ears. I ordered a pair of replacement Brainwavz pads and also plan on modifying the attached wire. Just too long for my use and gets annoying. The 3d wing system works well with my head, but be aware that it may not work for everyone.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
11. Shure SRH1440
Shure is another lesser-known brand with decades of history. They’re based out of Chicago and they sell a variety of high-quality products. Even so, their reputation is largely grounded in the quality of their best music production headphones, just like the SRH1440.
These open-back professional production headphones are equipped with 40mm neodymium drivers that offer rich dynamic and powerful bass. The open-backed cups increase the depth of the sound and create a natural soundscape. They have a Kevlar-reinforced, oxygen-free copper cable. They also have a steel-framed, adjustable headband. These would be really hard to break (but still treat them with care).
Sample Customer Review… Now that the price has come down on these wonderful headphones, I decided to purchase the SRH1440. I am so glad I did. I have owned good headphones from Koss. These headphones have such a unique design that I had to get them. Plus, the quality of their sound is awesome! They come with extra ear pads and cord. That was a great bonus. They are an open-back design. I like it, If I need to hear something other than my music I just turn down the volume and I don’t have to take them off to hear things. I think they are the best-looking headphones on the market today. They are so comfortable. I give them 5 stars and thanks to Amazon for the best place to buy the products I really like and can’t get at a store in my city.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
12. Nuraphone Wireless Headphones
The Nura Nuraphone wireless headphones use an innovative system to adapt and create a totally unique hearing profile to fit each user so that no two customers will hear through these headphones exactly the same. With their specialized approach, the Nuraphone offers a vivid, clear, and completely personalized sound every time, perfect for anyone who wants to hear every bit of nuance in a song. These headphones are also lightweight and easy to carry, and their Bluetooth compatibility means that you won’t have to worry about annoying wires. The Nuraphone wireless headphones are perfect for anyone looking for something exceptional.
Wow, I am blown away at the immersive experience that this headphone offers! You can literally feel every inch of deep bass in your ears. The depth of bass qualify is beyond excellent!! I gotta say these headphones are 100 % for bassheads who enjoy thumping subwoofer sound. Overall quality of the sound is amazing for $300-400 range headphones! Compared to Sony XM3 ,XM4, and Bose Q35, it’s well past the limit! If you like Bass this one is for you. One issue I have is after 1 hr use listening to very heavy loud music my ears got uncomfortable. I’m gonna use different size ear tips to see if it helps. Noise-canceling quality is better or about the same as Bose and Sony, it’s top-notch stuff.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
13. Behringer HPX2000
The Behringer HPX2000 headphones are one of the best models in their price range. They are also the most affordable option on this list, which is perfect for someone on a budget. Are these going to compare to some Sennheiser’s? No, but they still perform quite well for such a low cost. They feature high-resolution audio, thanks to a cobalt capsule design and decent transducers.
They have moderately comfortable earpads, as well as a flexible construction that fits most head shapes. My favorite thing about these headphones is that even though they’re cheap, they are fairly comfortable and durable. They are German-engineered, which might explain how they manage to offer decent quality at such a low price.
Sample Customer Review… I got these for recording. I am in a band & I record demo vocals for the writing process. Needed something that sounded good. I bought these despite it saying they were for DJs because Behringer makes good products for cheap prices & I noticed they were selling what looked like the same headphones for studio recording/monitoring for more money. Turns out the back says they are in fact for recording as well. So, I tested them & I dig them. They fit very well and sound great.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
14. Pioneer HRM-7
The Pioneer HRM-7 headphones look large and heavy, but they’re one of the most comfortable and lightweight options on this list, coming in at just 330 grams, or 11.6 ounces. These are the first professional studio headphones from Pioneer, and they exceeded expectations.
They have an undistorted dynamic range. The mid-range sounds perfect in these headphones, and the bass is very controlled. It has a wonderful soundstage that reminds me of a cavern. The HRM-7 studio headphones are one of the best music production headphones for all-around sound quality, and they are comfortable for long hours of wear.
Sample Customer Review… Awesome sound that has the ability to produce exactly the audio you are listening to. These cans do not add anything or subtract anything to the audio. I bought these for home use. A word of warning for other home users, I would class them as delicate in construction. Buy a headphone mounting solution for when not in use. If you look after them they will give you immense pleasure.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
If you’re new to music production, read this buying guide so you can make an informed decision. There are three big differences between most of the best music production headphones: open-back vs. closed-back, impedance, and comfort. Sound quality will also vary between headphones, but you will generally get what you pay for.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back
The biggest difference studio headphones have is open-backed or closed-backed earcups. Open-backed headphones are usually lighter and more comfortable, and they create a natural, echo-free sound that is exceptionally clear. However, open-backed headphones are more susceptible to damage, so you have to treat them with care (especially because they are typically more expensive than closed-back).
Closed-back headphones prevent audio spill, which is important if you are recording close to a microphone with loud monitoring. They also are less fragile than open-backed headphones. Unfortunately, closed-back headphones can get uncomfortable faster than open-backed because they aren’t as breathable and lightweight. They do double as great commuting headphones, though, and are much more common.
Semi-open-backed headphones also exist if you are searching for a compromise between the two. Ideally, you would have both an open-backed and closed-back pair of headphones. If you can’t afford this, or just don’t need both options, semi-open-backed headphones are worth looking into.
Another important factor to consider when searching for the best music production headphones is impedance. Good “impedance matching” is essential for getting the right headphones for your equipment. Higher impedance headphones need higher signal levels to deliver the same output as low-impedance headphones. In a nutshell, this means that typically higher impedance headphones are more “professional,” and lower impedance headphones are more common.
Neither higher nor lower impedance is necessarily bad, but it can be depending on your setup. High impedance headphones are best suited for, say, a band recording setup with multiple sets of headphones involved. Low impedance headphones are plugged directly into the source. If you are just recording on your own, low impedance headphones should be just fine, and vice versa.
Last, but not least, is comfort. The recording process can take hours, so you don’t want to be sweaty, sore, and miserable. Lighter headphones are preferable for most people, as is adequate cushioning. It’s also worth thinking about which fabrics would feel best for long hours (velour, woven textile, leather, etc.). Open-backed headphones are nice because they’re more breathable, but they are usually more expensive.
Whether you prefer open-backed or closed-backed headphones, or even semi-closed, this list had something for you. Hopefully, the headphones you choose will last you the long hours of a recording studio without giving you a sore neck or a sweaty head. Admittedly, this list didn’t have any headphones over $1000. This is because almost any pair of headphones at that price range is going to be well worth your money. However, there are a lot of awful or overpriced headphones in the $10-1000 range, so we thought it was important to point out the best music production headphones.
Written by Dawson Graham and Dylan Kellum
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