10 Best Headphones for Music Production: What You Need to Know

Which headphones are the best headphones for music production can be a difficult topic to tackle. In this roundup review, we will discuss some of the best headphones for music production and what you need to know before buying your next pair.

best headphones for music production

There are so many different types of headphones and the market is saturated with options. In this article, we’ll cover 10 different types of headphones and talk about their strengths and weaknesses so that you can find the perfect match for your needs!

Top Picks

Here are our top picks for the best headphones for music production.

Audio Technica ATH M50X

Best Overall – Best Headphones for Music Production

For a great all-around option, the Audio Technica ATH M50X’s are probably the best headphones you can buy. These headphones have been used by professionals and amateurs alike because they provide an excellent mix of audio quality as well as comfort to wear over long periods of time.

If you’re looking for isolation from outside noise then these aren’t going to be your top pick but if sound accuracy is what you need, look no further! We will get into the details later in this article.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Best for Mixing – Best Headphones for Music Production

Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro is another excellent option if you’re looking to upgrade your current set of headphones. These offer a great mix between sound quality and comfort, while also providing a super accurate frequency spectrum that is vital for making the right mixing decisions.

Differing from the ATH M50X’s, these are open-back headphones which means that they offer a much more natural and accurate sound. This is great for studio applications where you need to hear every single detail in the audio without any coloration or effects coming through from your headphones.

Another benefit of these being open back is that it allows air into the headphone cup, meaning that there’s no chance of overheating while wearing them! This makes them an excellent choice if you’re looking to wear headphones for many hours at a time. These are also incredibly comfortable due to their soft ear pads and adjustable headband design – perfect for long listening sessions!

Top 5 Best Closed-back Headphones for Music Production

We have chosen 5 of the best closed-back headphones on the market today. These are powerful workhorses in any studio setup. Perfect for tracking vocals and instruments, as well as getting an accurate mix.

Audio Technica ATH M50X

The ATH M50X is a very popular headphone for music production. It has been on the market since the beginning of 2012 and it continues to dominate Best Sellers in its category even today!

The main reason for the ATH M50X being on the top of this list is the fact that they are so accurate in the frequency spectrum. These headphones have the flattest response of any others in the class.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

This means you can trust the mix on these as it will be true to how your tracks sound in real life. Furthermore, they don’t hype any particular frequency range above others – what you hear is mostly only what’s there.

That’s why these headphones are such great all-around headphones for music production. The closed-back design makes them perfect for tracking and the flat response makes them great for mixing.

The design of the ear cups and the headband is also notable on these cans.  The ear cups are designed to rest around the ears and are on a swivel. This makes it easy to fit your head. They are super comfortable for long sessions.

If you have the money for only one pair of headphones then the ATH50X by Audio Technica is our first choice.

Sony MDR7506 Professional

Another great option for the best closed-back headphones for music production is the Sony MDR7506.  They are perfectly designed for tracking and some moderate mixing.

They also come with a coiled detachable cable, which keeps you from stepping on it accidentally or ripping it out of your interface. They are foldable which makes them very easy for stashing in a backpack.

The Sony MDR7506 has a very accurate frequency response in comparison to others on the market. Perfect for checking your mixes when you need to get a clear and accurate idea of what is going on.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

They are extremely well built.  Which is surprising at this price point. The earcups are comfortable and the sound isolation is great.

The Sony MDR7506 is a great low-budget entry into the world of studio-quality headphones.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

If you’re willing to spend a little more, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO studio headphones might be what you need. With their closed-back design and powerful sound quality, they provide an incredibly accurate representation of your mix – crucial for those who want to work with high-quality audio files or record instruments such as vocals and guitar amps at home.

They are also surprisingly great in the sub-bass frequencies. This makes them perfect for those who are producing bass-heavy genres like EDM. They are a bit colored in the high-frequency range but it is not out of control. 

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

There are several versions of this product available, with the most important difference being their impedance. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 32 Ohm is the version you’ll want to go for if your sound card or interface has an output impedance lower than 150 Ohms. If not, opt for one of the higher-impedance variants instead.

All in all the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is one of the best headphones for music production. Definitely worth spending the time testing them out.

Sennheiser HD280 PRO

The Sennheiser HD280 PRO is one of the most popular headphones for music production. They are closed-back and come with an attached coiled cable that is a bit on the short side at just under six feet.

They have a slightly V-shaped frequency response similar to Audio Technica ATH M50x which makes them suitable for bass-heavy genres like EDM.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

In terms of comfort, they have large pleather ear pads wrapped around plastic ear cups that can get hot after hours of use but overall their ergonomics are good enough if you avoid wearing them for long periods. It is always good practice to take breaks when doing any kind of music production though, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

The HD280 has a “high ambient noise attenuation” that is designed to block out ambient noise from the environment. This is a great feature for getting into those hard to hear issues in your mix. 

These are a great upgrade from the previous model that was loved its fans for years.

Neumann NDH 20

For the money, you can’t do better than the Neumann NDH 20. It has a sturdy construction that makes it feel expensive and will stand up to rigorous use in a recording studio.

These are some of the best closed-back headphones on the market today and designed with longevity as well as great performance in mind.

The ear cups have excellent padding which makes them comfortable enough to wear even after hours of continuous use without discomfort or fatigue getting in the way of production time.

In addition, they feature an advanced Duofol transducer system for detailed, accurate reproduction from the low end all the way through high frequencies giving powerful bass output and exceptional mid and high-frequency translation.

The Neumann NDH 20 is perfectly suited for tracking as well as excelling in mixing. These headphones are truly the best of both worlds.

Best Open-back Headphones for Music Production

When you want to dive into mixing on headphones, open-back headphones are what you need. We’ve chosen 5 of the best open-back headphones for music production.

Open-back headphones allow the sound to pass through from one side of the headphone cups with a back vent. Open-back headphones will create an expansive stereo image, giving you a more natural listening experience that allows you to accurately mix your tracks and hear every element as it was intended by the artist.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro are one of the best sounding studio headphones you can buy. With an impedance of 250 ohms, these open-back headphones offer a wide dynamic range and will provide accurate listening without distortion.

The DT990s have a very flat response which is very honest and transparent. Perfect for making critical mixing decisions. There is a small spike at around 8kHz but it is not something that damages your mixes.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

Beyerdynamic DT990s have large, comfortable velour earpads that will fit most listeners. Soft and flexible headband easily adjusts to any size head. Overall they are extremely comfortable even for long sessions.

Beyerdynamic DT990s are an industry standard. They have been widely used by professionals for 20 years and still hold up today. Best of all, they’re quite affordable for the quality you get.

Sennheiser HD 650

The HD 650s are high-end luxury headphones. They look and feel amazing with the metal finish and comfortable plush ear cups.  Best of all the sound is open, detailed with tight bass.

Like the DT990s, the HD 650s have a very flat response across the spectrum.  This means they’re not going to color the sound in any way. This gives a very transparent and neutral listening experience, perfect if you want your mix to translate well on other devices.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

The downside to these headphones is that they are much more expensive than the DT990. 

If you’re looking for an amazing pair of open-back headphones that will give you a flat, true sound then these are definitely your best option at this price point.  The high build quality, luxury styling and stunning sound quality make these a perfect package.

Audio Technica ATH-R70x

If you have a good budget then you need to take a listen to the Audio Technica ATH-R70x. These headphones are next level.  Not only is the build quality top-notch, but the frequency response is one of the most accurate across the spectrum.

These headphones are designed for long sessions. The ear pads have breathable fabric and the head strap is self-adjusting which alleviates a lot of pressure placed on your head.  They have a unique “wing” design for the head strap.

They are completely designed for critical listening, from extremely low frequencies to very high frequencies.

If you are looking for high-end headphones that won’t break the bank, then these need to be on your list. 

Shure SRH1440

One of the first things you notice with the Shure SRH1440s is the exceptional build quality. They have a tough build, as well as exceptional sound quality and comfortability. They offer an excellent feature set that offers great value for money overall.

They are equipped with 40mm Neodymium drivers which gives these headphones the ability to reproduce sounds from 5Hz to 20kHz.

The bass is really tight and honest, and the mids are very clear and upfront. This gives you a great stage for vocal production. The highs are slightly boosted so keep that in mind as you are mixing.

The open-back design gives them a really wide sound stage which rivals studio monitors.

They also come with detachable cables, which adds to their overall value. They are very comfortable and lightweight, making them an excellent choice for long sessions in the studio. Included in the box is a spare set of ear cups which is a huge win.

The only drawback we could find was that since they have a larger frame than most other headphones out there right now it might look weird if you’re wearing them outside of the house due to how big they are compared to what people wear nowadays. For professional usage, this is not really an issue.

AKG K701

Last but not least is the AKG K701 Open-Back headphones.  These headphones are definitely on the pricier side, but they have a lot to offer. They’re very comfortable and provide great sound quality with an open-back design that allows your ears to breathe. The frequency range is good for hip hop producers as well as EDM artists because you can hear all of those incredibly sharp synth notes as well as good reproduction of bass.

photo courtesy of RTINGS.com

The look and feel of these headphones are of boutique level.  They look and feel very luxurious with the soft velour ear pads and leather strap. They’re also remarkably lightweight which is great for long studio sessions, especially if you like to take them off every once in a while (which I recommend).

One downside of these headphones that we need to mention is their low impedance; it’s only 62 ohms. For some, this might not be an issue but there are many headphone amps out there built specifically for DJ equipment or home stereos so they may have trouble powering up these bad boys. Be sure you check your amp before buying the AKG K701 headphones.

Buyers Guide to Finding the Best Headphones for Music Production

When buying headphones for music production there are certain features that will make or break them. You must consider things like frequency response, sound isolation (or leakage), comfort and build quality before making any purchase. Here I’ve provided an overview of what you should look out for when purchasing new cans.

What are studio headphones?

What makes studio headphones different from consumer headphones is that they are made for accuracy. While some consumer headphones are made to enhance the sound, studio headphones do not alter any of the frequencies. They seek to be as flat a response as possible so that you can make proper mixing decisions that will translate across different devices.

Studio Headphones are also made to be durable to keep functioning in high-use studio environments. They are also made for comfort for those long mixing and tracking sessions.

So, let’s look at the different types of studio headphones there are and what applications each type is best suited for.

Closed-Back Headphones

First, we have closed-back headphones. The first advantage is that because closed-back options isolate against sound leakage, these will work well in a recording environment where you want to block out any unwanted noise from seeping into your mics while tracking vocals or instruments.

The isolation also works the other way. They block out a lot of the ambient noise and make it easier to hear the details, even at lower volumes.  This makes them great for mixing down tracks if you work in a noisy environment.

Another advantage is that they often deliver punchier bass frequencies because the drivers are located closer to your eardrums than with open-back headphones (for this same reason, though closed back can be very unforgiving when it comes to poorly produced music).

Best use: tracking vocals and instruments, and detailed listening of tracks.

Open-Back Headphones

Open-Back Headphones are the opposite of closed back. They have a large mesh-covered ear cup that allows air to pass through. This creates a sense of space that allows for a more natural listening experience.

Open-back headphones are generally more accurate in their reproduction of frequencies as well as the reproduction of the stereo field. As such, they are more widely used for mixing and mastering.

With open-back headphones, there is virtually no sound isolation because it’s hard to block out ambient sounds when they’re not physically blocked by a solid object (like with closed backs).

Best use: Mixing and Mastering

Semi Open-Back Headphones

Semi Open-Back headphones try to strike a balance between the two.  They are more closed-back than open-back, but they don’t completely isolate you from the outside world.

They do provide some airflow which gives them a little more of a sense of space. They also focus the sound a little more than the open-back headphones.

All in all, semi-open headphones don’t really cut it. By trying to achieve both things, they actually become very below average in both.

Frequency Response

The frequency response is the range of frequencies that the headphones accurately reproduce the sound for.  This is measured in Hertz (Hz). The human ear can hear frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz.

As said earlier, studio headphones that are made for music production are made to reproduce the frequencies as flat as possible.

If you are looking to track a lot of vocals or instruments and maybe do some light mixing, then finding the flattest response isn’t the most important factor. But if you are mixing and mastering your tracks on headphones you need to have the most honest translation possible of all the frequencies you are mixing.

Sound Isolation

When you are recording audio, isolation is key. You don’t want any unwanted bleed from the headphones to go to the mic. This is why closed-back are best for recording. They provide isolation that makes sure that everything you are recording comes through crystal clear.

Open-back headphones aren’t great for this because they let sound in and out, which can interfere with the bleed from mics when recording vocals or instruments. However, if you are mixing your tracks on open-back headphones then sound isolation is not your issue. You actually want the sound to pass through freely to give you a sense of space.

Comfort

Headphones for music production are made with comfort in mind. At least the good ones are.  They are typically made with cushioned ear cups and headbands.

Size matters when it comes to comfort too. If the headphones you choose are bulky or heavy then they will end up hurting your ears after a while. Make sure that the size of them is adjustable for best results, especially if you’re going to be wearing these all day long at work on a computer.

If possible try out different brands/models before buying because some may place pressure in certain spots on your head where others do not bother you as much over time.

Build Quality

Lastly, you want to think about the durability of your headphones. Most studio headphones are not inexpensive, therefore it is important to note how durable they are. Are the materials strong?  Are they able to withstand repeated use and possibly being chucked around in the studio?

You are buying a set of headphones that you will most likely have for a long time. 

Do not forget to pick up a headphone stand as well. It makes it easier for you to grab your headphones and get started on production quickly.

The Verdict

Our choice for the best headphones for Music Production are the Audio Technica ATH M50X for recording and monitoring, and the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro for mixing and mastering.

If you want to learn more about mixing check out our article about Mixing Tips. For some information about mastering see our article on Audio Mastering.