Best Studio Headphones: 3 Top Picks You Need To Know (2018)

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Hey, this is Jason from Behind The Speakers, and in this video you’ll discover my three favorite headphones for home studio owners.

But before we dive in, I also put together a free PDF with my favorite home studio gear – things like audio interfaces, studio monitors, computers, MIDI keyboards, microphones, and a lot more. So if you want to make sure you have the best gear for your home studio, click the link in the description below or up there in the video to download this free PDF right now.

The first pair of headphones I recommend are the Beyerdynamic DT 770’s. These are closed-back headphones, meaning there’s some plastic that surrounds the outer side of the headphone, the part that isn’t facing your ears. And this makes them great for recording and tracking because when you put the headphones on, you don’t hear a lot of the sound kind of bleeding out of the headphones as if you would if you had an open-back pair of headphones.

So when you’re recording or tracking and you have the headphones on and you’re singing along to a backing track, there isn’t as much leakage that gets picked up by the mic. So if you plan on doing a lot of recording or tracking with your headphones I definitely recommend you look into closed-back headphones. They’ll be a lot more useful for you than open-back headphones, and these Beyerdynamics are certainly a great choice.

Now one of the things I like – and also don’t like – about these headphones is that they have a very robust bass response. So they really play back a lot of low end. And in my experience they tend to be a little bit muddy, so especially in the lower midrange there’s just – for my ears – a little bit too much of that energy. You know this is one of those things. No headphone is going to be perfectly flat. And if you’re aware of and you work around it and just pay attention to it, you can certainly make great mixes and do great recordings with these headphones. But just something to be aware of, but they’re certainly not bass-light. So if you’re looking for headphones that have a very robust bass response, the Beyerdynamics are a great choice.

Now the cable on these headphones ends in an eighth-inch plug. That’s the smaller plug, the one that you’ll find on most older iPhones before they switched to the lightning adapter, or CD players if anyone actually uses those anymore. So if you’re, if you’re needing to plug these into an audio interface that has a quarter-inch plug like many of them do – which is the larger of the two – you’ll need an adapter. Luckily the Beyerdynamic headphones ship with this adapter included so you don’t need to go out and buy something else. But just kind of a small thing to note. Depending on, you know, where you’re intending to plug these headphones in you may need to use that adapter.

So my overall take on these headphones is they’re great for people who are doing a lot of recording or tracking and need a pair of headphones that they can kind of pop on that are going to give them good isolation so there’s not a lot of sound that gets picked up in the mic. I think these headphones certainly fit the bill for that.

Now you can pick up the DT 770’s for around 175 bucks, but these are really popular headphones and you’ll find a lot of them on eBay as well. So if you’re willing to kind of wait and watch for a deal, you can usually get them for a whole lot cheaper.

The second pair of headphones I recommend are the Sennheiser HD 600’s. Now these are open-back headphones, so they’re not as isolated as the Beyerdynamics or other closed-back headphones, which actually gives them a flatter frequency response. So they’ll give you a more accurate representation of what’s really going on in your mixes and your tracks. And this makes them a great choice for people who are primarily going to be using headphones for mixing, or people who are not doing as much tracking or recording and just want a pair of headphones that can give them a more accurate reference-grade representation of what’s actually going on in their mixes or recordings.

Now the Sennheisers have a very detailed, balanced soundstage. So they don’t really overhype any specific area of the frequency spectrum. They have a lot less low end than the Beyerdynamics, so if you’re looking for a more accurate representation of the sound then I think these are a great choice. But if you’re looking for something that’s really going to kind of hit you in the chest in terms of the low end, probably not the best choice for you.

Now like the Beyerdynamics, the cable for these headphones ends in an eighth-inch plug. So depending on what you’re plugging them into, you may need an adapter – an eighth-inch to a quarter-inch adapter – luckily that’s also included with the headphones so you’re going to be set either way. You may just need to use that adapter.

But the cool thing about these headphones is that the cable is actually detachable and replaceable. So a lot of the times you’ll find after owning headphones for a couple of years, sometimes the cable gets frayed or sometimes it even breaks. Well in this case you don’t have to actually buy a whole new pair of headphones. You can just buy a new cable and save yourself a whole lot of money. So that’s one of the things I really like about these headphones.

So my overall take on the HD 600’s is that they’re a great choice for anyone who’s going to be primarily listening, not recording or tracking. So mixing engineers, sample-based producers, people who aren’t going to be doing a lot of recording with a microphone, these are a great choice. They’re just going to give you a very balanced, accurate representation of what’s going on in your tracks. And they certainly are one of my first choices as a mixer primarily.

So you can pick up a pair of these for around 3 to 400 dollars. They are more expensive than the Beyerdynamics but they’re certainly a great choice. And if you’re willing to hunt around on eBay or sometimes even Craigslist, you can usually find them a lot cheaper.

My third choice for headphones is the Etymotic HF5’s. Now these are in-ear headphones, meaning you actually put them in your ear canals. So it’s kind of weird if you’ve never put these on before. You kind of like, you pull your ear up and kind of slide them in. So they’re a little bit different than any other pair of headphones you’ve probably tried before, but these headphones are really awesome. They have a very balanced, flat frequency response. And one of the cool things about these headphones is because they go into the ear canal, they actually have incredible noise reduction. So when you have these headphones in, you really can’t hear what’s going on outside. And this allows you to listen to things at quieter levels, especially if there’s a whole lot going on around you, if you really want to focus in on what’s going on with the music, these can be a fantastic choice.

Now again, these headphones are known for having a very flat frequency response. I find them extremely accurate. They’re certainly not flattering, but again, if you’re looking for a reference-grade headphone that’s really going to give you an accurate representation of what’s going on in your music, these would be one of my first choices.

Now these headphones also end with an eighth-inch plug, but an adapter is not included with these headphones. So if you need to plug them into an interface that has a quarter-inch input or output, you’re going to need to buy one of those adapters – the eighth-inch to quarter-inch. They’re super cheap, just something to be aware of though before you place your order.

So my general take on these headphones is that they’re a great choice for general listening, actually my headphones of choice for going to the gym or working out or just being on the go. And also as a secondary reference point for mixers or just people who are producing their tracks and want an accurate, uncolored representation of what their music actually sounds like, these are a fantastic choice.

For people who are doing recording or tracking, they may be a little bit odd because when you have those in-ears in your ear you’re not really hearing a lot of the sound that’s kind of going on outside you. And so it can be kind of unsettling because if you’re singing for example you’re not really able to hear your own voice except if you, you know, feed it through the headphones. So just be aware of that, it may or may not work depending on, you know, you and just what you’re comfortable with. Wouldn’t be my first choice for people who are doing a ton of recording or tracking, but you know, you can certainly make them work. And I think if you can they would be a great choice.

So you can pick up the HF5’s for around a hundred bucks, they’re really affordable. These are not as popular as the other two headphones I mentioned so you may or may not be able to find them used on eBay or Craigslist. Probably wouldn’t want to buy them used anyways because they’ve been stuck in somebody else’s ear canals, probably not my cup of tea. So I would just recommend picking up a pair of them new, but again great pair of headphones. I’ve used them for years and highly recommend them.

Now if you’re ready to dive deeper, don’t forget to download my free home studio gear guide which includes my recommendations for studio monitors, audio interfaces, MIDI keyboards, microphones, and a whole lot more. So click the link in the description below or up there in the video to download this free guide right now.

Now before you go, leave a comment below this video and let me know – do you currently own a pair of headphones? If so, which ones are they? I’d love to hear from you, so leave your answer in the comments section below.

Thanks so much for watching, and you can check out more gear recommendations right here on my YouTube channel or at BehindTheSpeakers.com.

About Jason Moss

Jason is an LA-based mixer and the founder of Behind The Speakers. He's a graduate of New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. His how-to articles have been featured in leading industry publications by Berklee, TuneCore, SonicScoop, The Pro Audio Files, and Disc Makers.