What Are The Best Headphones For Music Production?
|#1||Audio-Technica ATH-M50x||Click For Price|
|#2||Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO||Click For Price|
|#3||AKG K702||Click For Price|
|#4||Shure SRH840||Click For Price|
|#5||Sennheiser HD280PRO||Click For Price|
No matter whether you’re a seasoned professional or an up and coming artist, picking a pair of headphones for music production can have a profound impact on the final results.
A pair of high quality, reliable headphones are critical for ensuring that the final product sounds exactly how you intended. Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the best options on the market and dissecting exactly what we’ll need to look at when picking the best headphones for music production.
What To Look For When Picking Headphones For Music Production
There’ll be a couple of important things to look out for when picking the right pair of headphones for your music production process. Depending on your budget and exact involvement in the music production process, there’ll be a couple of things you’ll need to consider when making your decision.
Open Back Vs. Closed Back
One of the most important decisions when picking out a pair of headphones for music production is whether or not to pick a pair that is open back or a pair that is closed back.
While all of the suggestions in this list make a great all around pair of headphones for all stages of music production, if you are seeking a high grade commercial quality final result, you may want to consider purchasing a separate pair of open back headphones solely for mixing.
Why exactly? Well, the majority of the headphones that we are suggesting here are closed back.
Closed Back Music Production Headphones
Closed back headphones do a great job of isolating outside noises. The back of the headphone is fully encased blocking any noise from getting mixed in. This makes them a great match for the recording part of the music production process as you’ll be able to hear the pure output of any recorded sound.
While these make great all-around headphones in the music production process, the sound can sometimes be a little too “pure”, however. While we all want to listen to our track back in ideal conditions and believe that that’s now the majority of people will hear it too, it’s worth remembering that the track is likely going to be heard back on a range of headphones and speakers, all of which will vary in quality greatly and in most cases be affected by external ambience.
Open Back Music Production Headphones
Open back headphones let more of the outside noise in. The main benefit of this comes in during the mixing process. By allowing low level external noises to get into your audio track, you can get a better idea of exactly how the track will sound when released into the wild where it will be heard on all speakers big and small.
It’s worth noting, however, that this is a two way street and sound will also bleed from the outside of this style of headphones. If you happen to be listening to a backing track with them at the same time as recording, there is a risk that this could be picked up on the microphone potentially ruining your recording.
If you’ll be responsible solely for the mixing of the track then you should consider checking out our mixing headphone guide. Likewise, if you do have the budget and are looking for a top tier commercial quality audio production, then you should consider having 2 sets of headphones on sound to perfection your recording.
Semi-Open Music Production Headphones
It’s also worth mentioning that there is another category “semi-open back”. We found during our research, however, that while there are a few somewhat decent options available, they just don’t excel in the same ways the dedicated open or closed back headphones do and represent poor value for money compared to owning two separate pairs which excel in their function. If you can’t afford this luxury then you are almost certain to benefit far more from a closed back pair that excels rather than a semi-open back which struggles in both categories.
The next technical aspect of production headphones we’ve paid special attention to is their frequency response.
Normal consumer headphones are often fighting to spice up our listening experience by cherry picking different frequencies and giving them a boost to make the final output sound better. Perhaps the most notable culprit of this is the Beats headphone range, typically known for cranking up the bass frequencies. Play the same track side by side and it’s almost like you’re listening to an entirely different track on a pair of Beats!
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for consumers, it does have its drawbacks during production.
Considering the whole point in the music production process is to make your final track the best it can be, the only way to do this is by hearing it back in its purest, flatest form and then make the necessary adjustments. A flat frequency response will allow you achieve that by presenting the track in its rawest form.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, there’s a couple of things that make the comfort of production headphones different than your average pair.
Considering most aspects of music production can go on for hours at a time, you’ll need a pair that can sit atop your head without the need to constantly adjust them. Some aspect of music production requires a lot of movement (particularly passionate singers come to mind!), so a tight but non-intrusive fit is what we’ll be looking for.
The other thing to consider is the materials used. The majority of cheaper commercial headphones often use cheap, non-reinforced plastic or synthetics. Naturally, these aren’t quite as comfortable or durable as materials like metal, leather and more premium plastics. For this reason we’ll be keeping a special eye on exactly what these headphones are made of and how they feel but rest assured most music production headphones avoid use of these uncomfortable materials!
Our Top Picks In The Best For Headphones For Music Production Category
Our #1 Pick Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
✓ Accurate audio reproduction
✓ Good build quality
✓ Premium Materials
✓ Closed Back
✘ Slight leakage
The M50x, without exaggeration, is perhaps one of the most beloved pair of headphones of the industry. Originally designed for professional use, these headphones quickly found themselves an avid following amongst those looking for high quality daily drivers too. They not only sound really good they also look good strikingly unique.
The sound is excellent. The bass is accurately represented. The mids are very good too while the high ranges are absolutely on spot. They generally produce a versatile and balanced overall sound good for any genre which you may be producing.
Despite the fact these are predominantly made from plastic, users seem to unanimously agree their comfort far exceeds their competitors. The ear cushions are well padded making them comfortable for long recording sessions. The only downside is that a handful of users have noted they aren’t quite as tight fitting on small heads leading to a minor amount of sound leakage.
The cable is detachable and replaceable, and in fact, they come with 3 cables one coiled cable, one shorter and one longer. This versatility is a very welcome addition since most options usually skimp in this department.
Our #2 Pick Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
✓ Well balanced audio reproduction
✓ Sturdy and durable
✓ Comfortable fit
✓ Closed Back
✘ Non removable cable
The DT 770 pro is another big favorite of the industry. Loved by many up and coming artists for its great sound and performance.
The sound is almost completely flawless. Very good Bass performance, lows are re-produced perfectly well while also providing excellent and accurate mids. However, the treble is not perfect with overemphasized high-treble and a producing a tad inconsistent low-treble, resulting in a bit of a bright and sibilant sound according to some users.
While a few users have claimed they’re a touch too tight, most agree they are comfortable for studio use. The earcups are nicely padded and also covered in a soft plush material. They are removable and replaceable which is quite useful considering their porous material which is susceptible to grime buildup. While they do come with a generous 10ft cable, unfortunately, this isn’t detachable which detracts from their longevity overall.
The overall build quality is great it has a sturdy metal frame and minimal use of sturdy plastic, that should see them last a long time. They also come with a cloth pouch that will protect them from scratches when stored.
Our #3 Pick AKG K702
✓ Great sound
✓ Very comfortable
✓ Nice materials and good built quality
✓ Open Back
✘ Comes with no accessories
Our next entry is a pair of open back headphones which are great for mixing but also do a pretty great job for all production tasks.
They have put a lot of effort into producing a flat frequency response here which hasn’t gone unnoticed by professionals and audio fanatics alike.
They are ergonomically shaped, thus very comfortable for long sessions. The ear cups are made of a soft velour fabric, the headband is genuine leather and the body is built with sturdy plastic including metal springs. The 10 ft. cord is detachable and can be replaced elongating product life – something which is always a welcome addition. Unfortunately, additional wires an adapters are sold separately for this model, however.
If your primary concern is the final mix, then these may prove to be the perfect compromise. Producing great accurate sound with minimal sound leakage, users are generally very happy with these headphones.
Our #4 Pick Shure SRH840
✓ Great and accurate sound
✓ Replaceable cable and earpads
✘ Not very light
✘ More metal parts would be better
The SRH840 is not new on the market, being sold for almost over a decade now, yet still managing to remain highly relevant among professional producers.
They have a clear and natural sound. The bass sounds great, although maybe a bit overemphasized according to some users, but if you are not using them for mixing it shouldn’t be a problem. The mid-range is very well-tuned, slightly warm on the mid-lows and clean and crisp on the high-mids. The high-end of these headphones are amazing as well providing a great overall neutral sound, that you can not really criticize.
They are quite comfortable over longer times although some people with larger than usual ears found them to be slightly ill-fitting. One of the unfortunate downsides to these headphones, however, is their sheer size and weight. A number of users have noted they become ever so burdensome after a long recording or mixing session.
The build quality is decent, and its clear they were made to last. Even though they’re mostly made of plastic, not metal, the plastic is sturdy and high quality which leaves us without concerns.
Our #5 Pick Sennheiser HD280PRO
✓ Great Sound
✓ Reasonable Price
✘ Non removable Cable
✘ All plastic house
✘ No case
While German brand Sennheiser has become popular in the high end consumer audio lately, its easy to forget their roots lay in professional audio equipment. This is one of their more affordable studio headphone offerings, providing decent performance for a great value
The HD280 Pro have good bass. Mid bass is accurate but the low-bass is a bit overemphasized while the high bass is also lacking a bit. The mids are very decent too providing an even response but constantly performing over the target frequencies on both low and high mids. Treble is good overall providing an even and well-balanced response, however, the low treble is somewhat underrepresented.
They are comfortable over longer sessions too, they stay on firm and won’t fall off easily, but not too tight that would make them uncomfortable. The earcups are well padded but the headband cover could be bit larger.
The build quality is good, unfortunately, though there was no metal used when creating the body, which may affect their overall life cycle depending on how rough you are with them. The cable is not replaceable what is a shame too. For the price point though, they offer a fantastic budget friendly pair of studio headphones.
Given that all the competitors in our list are long established players in the professional audio space, it’s no surprise we struggled to pick out the negatives of each pair. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x however, really pulled out all the stops here to produce a pair of studio headphones that produce amazing, flat audio quality with the comfort and ergonomic design to match.