In this article, we will look at some of the best studio headphones out there for both listening recreationally and professionally in the studio. This article will provide you with studio headphone reviews of the best headphones for music production in 2021.
Here are the best studio headphones 2021:
- Sennheiser HD 558
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
- Sony MDR-Z1R
- Shure SRH840
- Sony MDR-7506
- AKG K240 MkII
- KRK KNS 6400
- AKG K712 PRO
- Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO
- Shure SRH940
1. Sennheiser HD 558
Perfect headphones for mixing
The Sennheiser HD 558 headphones are a great high-end choice that are still fairly affordable if you are wanting to purchase a great-quality pair of headphones for use in the studio or for use during live performances.
The HD 558 headphones are open-back headphones that go over your ears. They do not isolate audio, and instead they allow audio to pass through the ear cups. The HD 558 headphones are equipped with EAR (Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology and also one size fits all.
EAR technology ensures that what you are hearing is very accurate, and it also reduces any resonance and distortion that might be coming through in order to prevent a negative listening experience, thanks to the specially designed Duofol diaphragms.
Focusing more on the design, the Sennheiser HD 558s have an internal Surround Reflector. The Surround Reflector generates an extended spatial sound field, which makes them great for both listening to music as well as recording, mixing, or even mastering in the studio.
There are also neodymium ferrous magnet systems in these headphones to provide you with a brilliant dynamic response, so these headphones won’t make your audio sound compressed or squashed in any way. Aluminum voice coils also help with retaining dynamic accuracy and allow the headphones to be extremely efficient.
The HD 558s are extremely comfortable and have velour ear pads and a velour cushioned headband that makes them easy to wear for a long time without hurting your head or around your ears.
The frequency response range of the headphones is from 15 Hz to 28 kHz, which is an impressively wide range. You’ll have no problem listening to sub frequencies, general low end, and sparkling high end with frequencies that give off airiness with these headphones. They are extremely high-quality.
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The HD 558 open-back headphones from Sennheiser are easily proven to be one of the best pairs of open-back studio headphones. They are very high-quality in terms of sound, design, and wearability, but also don’t cost a ton of money. They are reasonably priced for a pair of professional studio grade headphones.
I would recommend them to anyone who wants a pair of headphones that will last quite a while, are comfortable, and extremely accurate in terms of audio reproduction. Out of all the headphones on this list, they are the best studio headphones.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
A popular monitoring choice
If you are in the market for some best-selling closed-back headphones that sound great for the money, try the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x studio headphones. The M50x model is the highest-quality model from the M series.
The ATH-M50xs feature neodymium magnet drivers that deliver a very accurate and transparent frequency response and tons of detail, as well as copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. The frequency response range of the headphones is 15 Hz to 28 kHz, so you will be able to hear sub frequencies, plenty of mid-range frequencies, as well as airy high end.
Being closed-back headphones, the M50xs keep audio isolated around your ears and prevent it from leaking out. This makes them especially useful for recording, as they do not allow audio to pass through the ear cups like open-back headphones do.
The downside to closed-back headphones is that pressure is created from the audio inside, which allows for a build up of low-end frequencies, which can give you a false representation of low-end frequencies. Open-back headphones may not have this issue due to there not being a cover over the area behind the driver, but they’re not as good for recording due to audio leaking out.
The M50xs are over-ear headphones and offer a fair amount of noise cancelling abilities due to this design. The M50xs are extremely comfortable, made with professional grade materials to ensure that you will have an enjoyable experience wearing the headphones. They are cushioned on the headband as well as on the ear cups, and they don’t irritate your skin during or after long periods of wearing them.
Another great feature of these headphones is that they are collapsible, and the ear cups also swivel. They also have a detachable cord and come with both a straight cord and a coiled cord. Overall, the sound of these headphones is extremely balanced and accurate, and they are tuned to have a very flat response. They are an amazing pair and are a great value.
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The ATH-M50xs from Audio-Technica are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to have a reliable, extremely comfortable yet affordable pair of studio headphones. They are some of the best closed-back studio headphones and very popular among producers. They are one of my personal favorites and I absolutely recommend them.
3. Sony MDR-Z1R
For extreme audiophiles
For being the most expensive headphones on this list, the Sony MDR-Z1R premium studio headphones certainly will not let you down in any way. The MDR-Z1R headphones are an audiophile-quality headphone with superior sound and quality you can feel when you wear them. The Sony MDR-Z1R headphones combine new technology with the finest craftsmanship, providing listeners with an amazing experience.
The MDR-Z1Rs are an over the ear, sealed headphone. These things sound incredible, and produce an extremely accurate audio response with a high-fidelity driver. The newly developed diaphragm with a magnesium dome and a liquid crystal polymer edge enables you to playback audio with up to 120 kHz in frequency.
The frequency response range of the MDR-Z1Rs is from an insane 4 Hz to 120 kHz. These frequencies are essentially indistinguishable to the human ear, so I personally find that much of a range to be a bit excessive, but if you really want a great experience, with these headphones you’ll surely get that with that frequency response range.
A special acoustic filter controls air resistance and gets rid of any reverberations from the movement of the driver, in turn only enabling clear, crisp frequencies to get through. Resonance free housing helps to filter out unnecessary frequencies, leaving you with the ultimate playback performance.
The overall listening experience with these headphones allows for you to soak in every little detail of audio, making for a precise, captivating experience.
The headphone headband is made with beta titanium, which is a material that orthodontic braces and glasses frames are made from. It’s an incredibly durable and elastic material, and Sony claims that you can bend the headband (although you shouldn’t do that) of the MDR-Z1Rs and it will bend back. The headband extends down to fit your head properly with aluminum headband arms that smoothly click into place.
The ear pads are made from sheepskin and are ergonomically designed for encase your ears to create almost a seal, to prevent audio from leaking out and also to deliver rich low end. The ear pads are very soft and cushiony, thanks to memory foam, to provide you with extreme comfort while listening.
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The Sony MDR-Z1R headphones may be expensive, but they are absolutely worth it if you enjoy listening to music and want a breath of fresh air every time you hit the play button. They are superbly accurate and transparent and have an extensive range of frequencies which makes them great for mixing and mastering.
If you have the money to shell out for a pair of these headphones, I recommend that you do it with some strong consideration first.
4. Shure SRH840
Reliability and precision
Shure is a very reliable company, and their headphones continue to uphold this standard. The Shure SRH840 headphones are a closed-back model that goes over your ears. They have very precise sound and are optimized for both recording and critical listening.
The SRH840s have a very precisely tailored frequency response with neodymium drivers that give you a ton of accuracy when it comes to a frequency response, as well as helping you to avoid fatigue when listening. The SRH840s are also extremely comfortable and durable.
They have a frequency response range of 5 Hz to 25 kHz, which easily rivals the audiophile-quality Sony MDR-Z1R headphones, and they deliver rich bass, clear mid-range, and soaring highs. The audio is quite accurate however it is not as transparent as other headphones.
The headphone cups of the SRH840s themselves are quite large, but they are also padded and fit nicely over the ears without causing irritation. I will say that these headphones may cause issues with those who wear glasses, as they fit pretty snugly.
The headband is adjustable and the ear cups fold up under the headband to allow for them to be put into a storage bag for traveling or storage. They are very durable but the headband is not flexible and should not be stretched as it is known to snap under pressure.
The SRH840s also have a cord that is detachable, again, to help with portability.
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The SRH840 headphones from Shure are a reliable pair of studio-quality headphones that allow for a comfortable experience while recording, mixing, or mastering in the studio or on the go. They are amazing quality for the price and are a pair that I personally enjoy using in the studio or even for live mixing at concert venues. I recommend them for anyone who wants an excellent high-end option without spending a ton of money.
5. Sony MDR-7506
Monitoring on a budget
The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are a cheap way to monitor your audio at a high playback quality. The MDR-7506 headphones are one of the most popular choices for a budget pair of headphones and are among some of the highest-rated headphones across many music gear websites. The MDR-7506s are some of the best studio headphones for mixing and mastering.
Being as cheap as they are, you may be surprised to know that they are a pair of headphones with the best value. They sound absolutely amazing, with studio-quality audio reproduction as well as good sound isolation, and it’s easy to wear them for a long period of time without your skin getting irritated.
The MDR-7506s are a more durable pair of headphones and can withstand plenty of rough use and abuse from being used every day in the studio or even on the road. They fold for easy storage and are a little more flexible than other headphones, so they can stand up to being twisted around and bent without breaking if it ends up happening.
The MDR-7506s are a closed-back pair of headphones with over the ear cups. The ear cups are very thick which helps to keep the sound isolated and prevents it from leaking out while recording as well as keeps noise out. These cushiony ear cups are part of the reason why the 7506s offer such a great listening experience for the user.
Getting into the specifics of the headphone build, the Sony MDR-7506 headphones have large 40 mm drivers, gold plated connectors, and an oxygen free copper cord that contributes to the amazing sound you get out of them. The sound of them can be described as balanced, accurate, and transparent. The frequency response range is from 10 Hz to 20 kHz, which is extremely wide and definitely suitable for mixing.
The headphones are fully adjustable, with plenty of flexibility in the design. As mentioned above, the ear cups fold up under the headband to provide for quick and easy storage or for travel purposes. The ear cups swivel, which makes them good for one ear listening in the case of a DJ or a mixing a live performance.
The headband is firm but still flexible, and it remains tight yet comfortable on your head, helping to seal in the audio. You shouldn’t have any issues with the headband snapping due to head size or anything like that, and if you wear glasses they shouldn’t cause a problem either.
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The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are the best headphones for recording due to the extreme audio isolation they provide. They are also some of the most comfortable headphones you can find due to the extremely cushioned ear cups and headband. They are a suitable choice for any home studio, bedroom studio, pro studio, or for DJing. They are ideal for traveling with as well, as long as you don’t mind the long cord.
6. AKG K240 MkII
A good choice for referencing
The AKG K240 MkII headphones are a solid top-quality pair of headphones for comfortable yet accurate use in the studio. The K240 MkII headphones are an on-ear model and have semi-open backs.
Semi-open backed headphones give you the best of both closed-back headphones and open-back headphones. Semi-open headphones isolate sound much better than open-back headphones, but allow more audio leakage than closed-back headphones do. There is no real way to tell whether they are better than open-back headphones, but I would say they are about the same in terms of providing the user with a good listening experience.
The K240s are a great pair for studio monitoring. I would consider them to be one of the best pairs of reference headphones, as they don’t trap low-end frequencies like closed-back headphones do, but also aren’t too open.
The headphones feature a leather and velvet ear pads that are cushioned quite well, as well as a self adjusting headband that provides maximum comfort when wearing it. The ear cups swivel for one ear listening, making the 240s great for DJing as well.
The headphones come with both a straight cable and a coiled cable, and both are great for a variety of different listening applications depending on the situation at hand.
The AKG 240s have a frequency range of 15 Hz to 25 kHz which is definitely wide enough to capture sub frequencies as well as airiness, which continues to prove that they are a great reference headphone. They are very accurate and transparent, and they don’t add any type of coloration, distortion, or anything that may negatively affect your mix. They don’t compromise dynamics or any sonic characteristics.
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The AKG K240 MkII headphones are a great pair of studio monitoring headphones. They serve their purpose and sound balanced and are comfortable to wear. I would not recommend them for recording, as they leak quite a bit of audio, so just stick to mixing and mastering with them. They are ideal for a reference headphone and there is no reason why they should be used for recording because of that.
7. KRK KNS 6400
For seamless monitoring
You may have heard of the KRK Rokit studio monitors. KRK has also come out with some affordable yet great-sounding studio headphones for you to use instead of or alongside studio monitors. The KRK KNS 6400 headphones give you the ability to go back and forth between monitoring through speakers and headphones absolutely seamlessly.
KRK sought to solve the problem of headphones sounding different than the monitors you mixed on, which is why the KNS 6400s were made to sound exactly like the KRK studio monitors. The KNS 6400s are closed-back, over the ear headphones with a frequency range of 10 Hz to 22 kHz.
The 6400s are extremely accurate, with a natural and wide frequency response range. The high end can be described as silky and detailed, and the low end is extended and very defined to make sure that the bass is accurately reproduced. The wide dynamic range provides a large amount of detail in your mix, making it clear and keeping it distortion free.
The KNS 6400s are very comfortable, with memory foam padded ear cups and headband, as well as replaceable parts which include a detachable copper cable.
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If you use KRK monitors and want headphones that will allow you to seamlessly go back and forth between the two, definitely purchase the KRK KNS 6400 headphones. They are a great set of headphones and well worth the purchase.
8. AKG K712 PRO
Top-end monitoring headphones
The AKG K712 PRO headphones are a medium-priced budget option for mastering and reference. The K712 PROs are open-back, over the ear headphones that are extremely comfortable and sound great.
Thanks to high-quality materials, they have an extended frequency response and a deep soundstage. They give you a more natural, monitor-like listening experience than what closed-back headphones can give you. The frequency response range is 10 Hz to 39.8 kHz and overall they have a very transparent, accurate sound.
The AKG K712 PROs are very lightweight, comfortable, and are adjustable. They have cushioned over-ear ear pads and a leather headband.
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The K712 PROs from AKG are a good referencing choice if you want to spend in the mid to high price range. They are extremely high-quality, sound fantastic, and are super lightweight. I would recommend them for anyone who is into music production.
9. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO
A good pair for mixing and mastering
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones make mixing and mastering easy. They are an open-back pair of headphones, ideal for mixing and mastering, and feature innovative Tesla drivers.
Being some of the best headphones for music production, the DT 1990s come with 2 sets of ear pads, one for analytical listening and another for more balanced listening.
The headband is padded as well. Two cables (straight and coiled) are also included. The headphones are very rugged and durable, and have a very wide frequency response range of 5 Hz to 40 kHz. The sound of the headphones can be described as providing powerful low end, detailed mids, and smooth highs.
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The DT 1990 PRO headphones from Beyerdynamic are an amazing reference choice for monitoring. If you’re really into audio and need a reliable, accurate pair for referencing, mixing and mastering in the studio, these will fit your workflow quite well.
10. Shure SRH940
Affordable audiophile headphones
The SRH940 headphones are another solid pair of closed-back headphones from Shure that you will definitely love. They are both very comfortable as well as accurate, and are definitely a quality pair.
They offer a smooth response over the frequency spectrum, and provide tight bass with a clear mid range and smooth high end thanks to the neodymium drivers. The frequency response range is absolutely giant for a pair of headphones at this price point (5 Hz to 30 kHz), and to me that makes it well worth purchasing.
The design makes them very easy to wear over long periods of time, as they have cushioned velour ear pads and a segmented, cushioned headband. They are a sturdy pair of headphones, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying they would be okay if they got bent. While it is adjustable, the material looks as if it would snap if the headband was stretched too far.
The SRH940 headphones are a lightweight collapsible pair and the ear cups fold up under the headband to pack away easily for storage and traveling. They also come with a detachable cable for that purpose.
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If you want an audiophile-quality pair of headphones that are some of the best headphones for a home studio, try the Shure SRH940 pair. They are made from high-end materials and it definitely shows when using them. They sound great and feel great. I recommend them for any home or pro studio.
These top 10 studio headphones are well worth checking out and I strongly encourage you to do so. If you have any music stores near you, see if you can demo some of these headphones to see if the studio headphone reviews here match up with the amazing, high-end quality of these studio headphones.
Be sure to keep up with us for more reviews on top-rated headphones and other music gear you need in your professional or home studio.