Best Studio Headphones 2020 (Buying Guide)

Whether you’re a musician, a studio engineer, a DJ, a podcaster, or a voice-over artist, you can enjoy high-fidelity monitoring of your work with a pair of these headphones. Ranging from budget-tier to audiophile-category models, our top picks add balanced and clean acoustics and authentic sound reproduction. Studio headphones (or monitor headphones) are used by professional audio engineers when they are mixing and acquire their tracks. The adduce: unlike regular headphones, which bump up the bass and extend or “sweeten” the sound, the best studio headphones really deliver flatter sound, so you can hear a track at its authentic form. With a wide and flat frequency feedback, studio headphones bring smooth, unaltered sound that’s consistent across all levels (highs, lows, mids) from start to finish. They also bring a wider spectrum of sound, so you can pick out all the little parts and specifics in a song that you might not have otherwise heard.

The best studio headphones will also provide a high level of noise isolation that works in a couple of ways. The earpads should be large sufficient to fit over your ears, to act as a “suction” of sorts to block out extrinsic noise, but to also avert the music you’re hearing from drifting out.



1. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

The Sennheiser HD 280’s are among one of the favored headphones by budget-minded studio users and audiophiles. These headphones are not suited for everyday hearing. If you want a general-purpose headphone you can use every day, We would suggest you check out our other options below. The HD 280 Pro is a great headphone that shines in the studio.

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is built entirely out of plastics. However, like most Sennheiser headphones I have tried, it is very sturdy and feels high grade. The size of the earcups is huge and, combined with the plain black color, gives this headphone a very utilitarian style. The huge earcups have a nice, which makes the headphone fit properly without any discomfort. Overall, the build quality. One minor issue we had was with the cord. It is not detachable. However, the cable is long, and its quality is quite good.

The earpads protein has leather around them. They are soft and deep, which really improves isolation and comfort. The headband is mostly plastic. However, there are pads at the center of the headband that is lightly padded to improve comfort.

For a recording headphone, after the sound quality, we know the comfort of a headphone is a vital design element. With long sessions mixing, mastering, or recording in the studio, a comfortable headphone is good to have. The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is not mainly an uncomfortable headphone. The large and deep earpads are great. The clamp of the headphone is huge at first; however, after using the headphone for a while, the clamp has become bearable. After one hour of use, you can feel the headphones start to get a bit uncomfortable.

The isolation of the headphones is good. This is probably because of the large earcups, deep earpads, and a strong clamping force. Though the isolation is good, it will be at the expense of a strong clamp, and your ears are going to be warm after a while.

The bass is excellent, well extended, punchy, and at no point does it interfere with other frequencies. The midrange is a little dull, but they work pretty well with all music. The treble is clear, and instrument separation is good. Overall, nothing in the frequency response is overemphasized at all. The soundstage is present, and it is wide for a closed-back headphone.



2. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro has been around for several years now. The headphone has gained popularity and found itself in many studios. The DT 770 Pro has many features a person would prefer in a studio monitor headphone. It is closed-back, has an over-ear design, and a good reputation for the Beyerdynamic brand. There are very few headphones at this price range that can match this headphone.

Beyerdynamic headphones have a good reputation when it comes to built- quality, and The DT 770 Pro is no exception. The headphone is well built and feels very solid yet lightweight. The earcups are made of thick plastic that feels very high quality. The earcups are big, but the design of the headphone makes them look great even when worn in public. The headband is made of solid steel bands and a removable leatherette on top of it held by button clips. The earcup yokes are attached to the headband by a solid piece of plastic fastened by screws. This allows the earcup to more up and down when adjusting the size. The overall build is great, and this is made better by the ability to replace every part of the headphone, except for the cable, which is non-replaceable.

The DT 770 Pro is a very comfortable pair of headphones. This largely due to the big earcups that go around your ears as opposed to pressing on them. The ear pads feature velour pads, which are soft and amazing. You can wear this for very long sessions without fatigue. The clamping force is also good, and the headband sits on top without causing pain spots. However, like most closed headphones, they will get a little warm, especially when used in a warmer environment without taking breaks.

The isolation of the DT 770 Pro is also a great factor of the headphone. It is not quite like IEMs, but they do a good job of keeping out noise and keeping music inside. The DT 770 is hardly a recommended headphone for portable use. However, if you are looking for isolation without portability, we would recommend this headphone.

Before going into the sound, it is important to note that a headphone amplifier is required to run the DT 770 Pro and get the best sound. A good desktop amplifier or amplified sound card with plenty of power is good.


3. Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Sennheiser HD 800 was first introduced in 2009. The headphone gained popularity and was recognized as one of the best headphones in the world. The Sennheiser HD 800 is compared to the best of headphones in the electrostatic and planar magnetic category. The Sennheiser HD 800 S is the “successor,” which most claim is a fix the treble of the original Sennheiser HD 800.

The overall build of the HD 800 S is very solid, with no weakness to point out. The HD 800 S is mostly made out of plastic and also features metal parts. The plastic feels high grade, but at the fortune, you spend on the HD 800 S, we expected something more premium than mostly plastic. However, according to Sennheiser, the materials used are the ones that give the HD800S the best sound. Nonetheless, the headphone feels very sturdy, but we feel you should take care of it like a baby. The earcups are big with wide earpad openings that make them very comfortable. The headband is comprised of an aluminum plate on top, plastics, and padding on the bottom.

The comfort of the Sennheiser HD 800 S is great. The headband is made wide, soft, and well-shaped to maximize head contact and distribute the weight of the headphone evenly, thus preventing hotspots. The headband also features a small recessed part in at the center of the padding that allows it to hang without forming indents on the padding. The comfort also extends to the earpads. The microfiber earpads are flat but thick and have the best comfort. They feel perfect on the skin and never get uncomfortable even after long hours of use. The headphone’s clamp is also great and does not press on the head. Overall, Sennheiser did an outstanding job in the comfort of this headphone.

The Sennheiser HD 800 S is an open headphone. So, there is no isolation from noise. Also, whatever you are listening to, everyone else close to you will be able to hear your music. However, the purpose of this headphone is not to block out noise. If you are looking for a passive noise-canceling headphone, see the closed headphones on this list. However, to enjoy the HD800S, you need a silent room with no background noise and probably be alone.

At 300 ohms, the Sennheiser HD 800 S is a power-hungry headphone. It will need sufficient power to drive it to full potential. We would recommend you use a powerful amp you can get your hands on. It is very power-hungry.

The bass is there well extended and detail, but it lacks impact. A comparison to the HD800 and the Sennheiser HD 800 S has seen some improvement. The midrange is clear, full-bodied, and balanced. This gives male vocals quality, and female vocals come out clearly without becoming overbearing. The treble of the HD800 had a spike that made it problematic at times. The Sennheiser HD 800 S seems to have fixed this issue. The treble is natural, clear, and detail retrieval is very good. The quality of sound is impeccable as expected. The soundstage is, no doubt, a strong attribute of the HD800S. It is broad, detailed, expansive, and separation is good. The soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S is as par or even better than most midrange speakers.

The Sennheiser HD 800 S is the best we can think of that you can get close to perfect. For any serious audio professional who need an open-back headphone, the HD800S are the best. They are good for mastering tracks, even where the tiniest of issues need to be heard.


4. Sony MDR 7506

When they first launched into the market, the Sony MDR 7506 has been a favorite among recording engineers and sound professionals. The MDR 7506 is seen as an update of the MDR-V6, which had was in production since 1985. The Sony MDR 7506 is as you’ll see below optimized for professional monitoring.

The build quality of the Sony MDR 7506 is tank-like. Most of the headphone features metal and plastic parts. The headband is made of metal, which is wrapped with pleather around it for improved comfort. The earcups and gimbals are also built with solid metal. Apart from a few parts that feature plastic, most of the headphone is made out of metal. The headphone’s cable is long and terminates with a 3.5mm gold-plated plug. The package includes a 6.3mm adapter that can be screwed to the 3.5mm plug to allow for use with pro gear. The durability of the Sony MDR 7506 is hardly a primary concern, especially for the price. These are built to last.

The MDR 7506, despite the metallic parts, are light headphones. This contributes to the comfort of the headphone. The earpads are soft and covered by pleather. The durability of the earpads seems to be good, and in case they fall apart after some years of use, you can easily buy new ones and replace them. The earpad’s opening is good; however, they are not thickly padded, but they are also not uncomfortable. The headband is also lightly padded, and the clamping force provided is good. The clamp of the Sony MDR 7506 makes them quite comfortable even when used for long sessions.

The headphone is good at Isolating outside noise and also leaks very little to the outside. This makes the Sony MDR 7506 quite good for traveling and studio use. For travel, the headphone also folds into a compact design that can easily fit into a backpack.


5. AKG K 702

From AKG, the ‘K’ series line is one of the long-running headphone offerings from the company. AKG is well established and recognized in the area of audio and headphones. The ‘K’ series comprises some of the best professional headphones for studio engineers, musicians, and DJs alike. The AKG K 702 bears a strong resemblance to the AKG 701, apart from the overall finish and headphone cable, even the sound quality of these headphones is near identical.

The AKG has a decent build quality. The headphone features metal parts in the headband while the earcups have plastic, which seems of good quality. The AKG K 702 headband uses the dual-rod design, which suspends the movable headband on two metal wires. The headband is a hard leather material that sits on top of the head. This headband style, unlike the headband of the K 701, has no bumps, which made the K 701 uncomfortable.

The earpads are thickly padded and covered by velour, which makes them very soft. The earcups are angled, which makes it a hit your ear in a good natural position. The earcups are big and cover the ear ears quite well. The earpads are user-replaceable in case you want to clean them or get new ones. The AKG K 702 also has a removable cable (3-pin to 5.5mm) and also includes a 3.5mm to 6.3mm connector in the package. The left earcup is the one that features the cable connector. The removable cable is one of the major differences between the K 702 and K 701.

The comfort of the headphone is very good. At first, the hard headband material is hard, and the comfort does not last a few hours. However, after using this headphone for a while, the hard leather becomes softer and conforms to the head shape better. Now, they are very comfortable to wear even for long hours. The headband is also self-adjustable and will sit The earpads are very soft, and the because of a good head clamp, they never feel fatiguing after several hours of use.

The AKG K 702 is a fully open-back headphone. Thus, they are not good for portable use. They leak sound out and will also leak noise inside. Though they are good for portable use, the open-back nature of these cans gives good ventilation, which overall improves the comfort.

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