Pro Audio

The 10 Best Studio Headphones of 2021

Studio Headphones

Studio headphones come in all shapes and sizes. Wondering which pair is right for you? Here are 10 of the best options in 2021.

The world of professional audio can be daunting, and in particular, studio headphones. Pro audio websites can be full of flashy videos, marketing buzz words, and jargon. It’s important to have an understanding of various applications and what the pair of headphones in question are best at, so you can pick the right one.

Headphones have come an awful long way in recent times and now, alongside monitors, are regarded as integral tools in the music production process (in recording, monitoring, mixing, and even mastering). Let’s check out the very best headphones you can get for all your studio tasks.

AKG K271 MKII

AKG K271 MkII

This Austrian company has made a major impact on both ends of the signal chain in the studio. They’re famous for iconic microphones like the C 414, as well as a range of headphones for mixing and monitoring.

AKG has a ‘family’ sound that tends toward bright and open top end, which makes the K271 MKII a great choice for monitoring in all kinds of situations. With solid construction, lightweight comfort, and the ability to replace the earcups, these headphones could be your best friend in the studio for years to come.

BUY NOW

Fostex TR50RP

Fostex TR50RP

Fostex has enjoyed decades of popularity in the studio for their monitoring headphones, so the TR50RP is the new generation in an established pedigree. But there’s more to these cans than meets the eye.

The TR50RP is a ‘semi-open’ design that offers more of an analytical soundstage, especially when compared to the bass-heavy character of the iconic TR40. The same signature comfort and reliability are present, but with additional versatilty.

BUY NOW

Sony MDR-7506

Sony MDR 7506

This is a familiar sight to anyone who has spent time in the studio, or behind the front-of-house console. And for good reason. The Sony MDR-7506 is a staple of monitoring, for many good reasons.

Though they don’t purport to solve all your studio problems (you wouldn’t reach for these in a long mixing session, for example), they’re accurate enough to be an alternate referencing option, and great for musicians who require monitoring in the live room.

BUY NOW

Shure SRH1540

Shure SRH1540

This American company is no stranger to the studio (or stage for that matter: who hasn’t seen an SM57 against the grill of a guitar cab). But fewer people would be aware of their reputation in headphone-land. The SRH1540 might just surprise you.

Being Shure, these headphones feature unbreakable construction and engineering. But with an expansive sound stage emitting from their 40 mm neodymium drivers, this closed-back design is classier than you might expect.

BUY NOW

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

BeyerDynamic DT990 PRO

Beyerdynamic has a well-earned reputation for making rock-solid studio gear (especially microphones). And if the DT 990 PRO is anything to go by, this reputation has been carried into the headphone realm too.

This open-backed headphone is suitable for a plethora of studio applications and if budget is a concern, you simply won’t find a better pound-for-pound pair of cans out there.

BUY NOW

Sennheiser HD 650

Sennheiser HD 650

A classic of the studio, the Sennheiser HD 650 ticks just about every box. They’re not the cheapest, yet still competitive on price. They’re comfy, accurate, and reliable as you’d expect from this classic brand.

Sennheiser makes a variety of open-backed headphones that come in at various price points. Yet the HD 650 hits that perfect sweet spot of cost, professionalism, and flat-as-a-tack frequency response.

BUY NOW

Neumann NDH 20

Neumann NDH 20

There are few companies that exude trustworthiness like Neumann. Since the dawn of the recording industry, it’s a name that’s synonymous with quality. And yet, they continue to innovate.

Case in point — the new NDH 20 headphones. Though it’s a closed-back design, these cans are intended to be used for analytical listening across all studio tasks and owing to that design, are especially useful in noisy ambient environments.

BUY NOW

Audio Technica ATH-R70X

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Audio Technica is more famous for its closed-back cans, but they make a pretty mean open-backed version too. A company steeped in hi-fi tradition for decades wouldn’t have it any other way.

The ATH-R70X is a great choice for comfortable open-backed listening for pleasure and analysis. They’re unerringly accurate — especially in the top-end — and incredibly lightweight and comfortable over long sessions.

BUY NOW

Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2

Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2

These headphones have a pretty specific purpose in the studio — namely for isolation. And the fact that they come from Vic Firth should give you a clue as to its target market: drummers.

Why? Drummers make the most sound in the studio by far and therefore require more volume than other players for monitoring. It’s much safer for ears, however, to create a tighter seal of isolation, rather than crank up the volume. These cans do the job perfectly.

BUY NOW

Audeze LCD-X

Audeze LCD-X

They cost a pretty penny, but many will tell that the Audeze LCD-X is worth the price. Powered by planar magnetic technology, these headphones are quickly building a reputation as a next-level reference tool for mixing and mastering.

They effortlessly bring out the most microscopic details of a mix across a massive frequency range, provide pinpoint stereo imaging, and are incredibly comfortable.

BUY NOW