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 headphone in question are best at, so you can pick the right one.
In 2021 there are so many categories available, like noise-cancelling, and BlueTooth. Professional headphones aren’t always in nice lists or sections of manufacturers websites, so here’s a collection we’ve made for 2021.
AKG K271 MKII
AKG is renowned for things like the C414 reference microphone, but in recent times has worked upon the original to create the AKG K271 MkII. Featuring a 30mm driver, these closed-back headphones have a response of 16-28kHz and high noise insulation. Designed with sonic clarity as a focus, they cover a wide range of professional applications such as but not limited to tracking, monitoring, live sound & mixing.
Boasting durability and comfort combined with low signal bleed, meaning you can crank these a bit more than other headphones. Controlling bleed from headphones to microphones is critical if you’re going to be using them in the same environment. Other key features include replaceable earpads, detachable cable, and an auto-muting feature when the headphones are not on your head.
Head to AKG for more info.
Fostex T50RP Mk3
Fostex manufactured and pioneered some of the greatest affordable equipment in the ’80s and continues to achieve that with the T50RP Mk3. A semi-open headphone design succeeded the RPMkIIs, which have been used in studios for 30 years. With a 15-35kHz frequency response, the semi-open design achieves an extended and flatter response and a clearer sound than the MkIIs.
Fostex has continued to implement its orthodynamic driver technology labelled ‘Regular Phase (RP) Technology,’ which essentially means each driver is driven with a more even distribution of force compared to other dynamic headphones. Other features include a reworked design to offer increased comfort, detachable cable, and a sleek black look.
For more info go to Fostex.
Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2
If you’re by chance looking for a set of closed-back cans that reduce outside sound, the Stereo Isolation Headphones V2 by Vic Firth have you covered. Vic Firth is known for their drum sticks, so when they come out with a set of headphones the target market is clear, people who use headphones in noisy environments. Featuring a standard response of 20-20kHz, and a 50mm driver, they offer quite a punch in audio clarity for their pricepoint.
They claim to reduce the outside noise you’re hearing by up to 25dB. Great for drummers who like to play loud, or you’re an engineer/producer who wants a set of headphones for your artists to use that’ll keep their ears safe. The Mk2 boasts a more powerful low end, cleaner mids, clearer highs, and better foam than the MkI.
Details at Vic Firth.
The Sony MDR-7506 is a closed-back staple in the broadcast and recording field since 1991, featuring a 40mm driver and a 10-20kHz response. These headphones have a lightweight, and low profile design, with no compromise on quality. The 7506s have found themselves to be loved among those who weave themselves around sensitive equipment or want a less obtrusive option.
Not only a great-sounding studio headphone but has been used in live sound applications and is very reasonably priced for what they have to offer. Other features include a super comfortable band, carry pouch, and a foldable design.
Head to Sony for all the specs.
If you’ve been a fan of the famous Audio-Technica range, you know models like the M50x have become staggeringly popular in modern studios. Step in the M70x, the current flagship model of closed-back headphones. Featuring a fairly flat frequency response of 5-40kHz, 45mm drivers, and is built solidly with metal components in its housing for heightened durability.
Audio-Technica boasts that the M70xs are ideal for tracking, mixing, monitoring, live sound, DJing, post-production, and mastering. A sleeker designer than its older generation, other features include a more comfortable band than the M50s, detachable cable, and a neat hardshell case to protect them in transit.
For a full rundown head to Audio-Technica.
Neumann has been well regarded in the microphone industry with products such as the famed U47, it’s a no-brainer that their first endeavour into headphones would turn heads. Featuring a frequency response of 5-30kHz and a 38mm driver, these cans are reputed to be flat, having less than 3dB change over the response. These closed-back headphones offer a tight solution to wanting the Neumann loudspeaker quality but smaller and portable.
With an incredibly flat response, these headphones can be used more critically in mixing compared to other closed-back headphones. Other features include detachable cable, folding design, and metal construction for increased durability.
For a full rundown visit Neumann.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
Beyerdynamic has been creating headphones for a long time, if you’ve tried and loved the DT770, the DT990 offers all that in an open back solution. The 990s feature a 5-35kHz response, and electro-static drivers, which work similarly to Fostex’s RP technology.
Boasting ‘Open Diffuse Field’ studio headphones, which put simply means they’re trying to sound like what a speaker would sound like in that space. An overcomplicated way of saying open-back headphones with a better sense of space. Other features include a robust spring steel headband, detachable cable, and soft ear pads.
Visit Beyerdynamic for further info.
Sennheiser HD 650
A big-name brand with a product that made a benchmark, Sennheiser set a standard in listening experiences with the HD 650. This open-back design boasts a high-performance sports car approach to critical listening. Featuring a 10-41kHz response, 42mm driver, and an incredibly flat response.
These are the kinds of cans you reach for in high-end mixing and mastering situations, especially for long periods. A highly musical and non-fatiguing sound that also features, modular parts, stainless steel construction, and a detachable dual-sided impedance-matched cable.
For a full rundown visit Sennheiser.
If you love the M50s but think an open back version could be cool, the R70x is here to save your day. Featuring a 45mm driver and a flat reference style response of 5-40kHz, these are the flagship open design of the AT range, providing a super accurate and open sound.
Robust and lightweight, the R70x has an acoustically transparent housing, a honeycomb-style mesh back, and a simple, elegant frame that is feather-light on the head. Other features include a detachable dual-sided cable, breathable fabric earpads, and a soft storage pouch.
Head to Audio-Technica for more info.
Audeze has been developing some incredible headphones since day one. The LCD-X headphone is their most popular headphone, having found homes among mixing and mastering studios. These open-back headphones feature a 10-50kHz response, Audeze’s ‘Planar Magnetic Drivers’ which work similarly to the aforementioned Fostex headphones.
The planar technology offers an increased sense of detail in transients, which gives these headphones an edge in the mastering field. The combination of ultra-thin diaphragms and powerful magnets in the drivers bringing out transient response even more. Other features include a detachable dual cable, professional carry case with foam and optional software to enhance the experience.
For more info head to Audeze.