Best Headphones For Music Production – Music production Headphones for music production are one of the most essential pieces of music equipment, especially for home studios. But which headphones do music producers use?
Producers tend to spend several hundred dollars on their studio headphones. Of course, you don’t want headphones for music production that break the bank. But you should be willing to spend more than $100 if you’re looking for a pair of studio headphones that will serve you well in the long run, with a few exceptions.
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Studio headphones offer transparent, flat reproduction of your musical projects. With that said, production headphones are more than just a reference tool that serves as an extension to the near field monitor. Larger drivers in speakers create a larger sound field and often give producers better reproduction. Additionally, the stereo field in headphones is often too wide because each ear receives sound from different drivers.
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But studio monitors need a strong acoustic space to sound their best, and not everyone can handle their room to this standard. Therefore, relying more on studio headphones reveals small sonic details that can mask poorly treated rooms. And that’s why we talk about what we think are the best headphones for making music in home studios – the laboratories of independent artists and music producers.
And when you’re trying to decide whether to get open-back or closed-back headphones, you need to know what the purpose of your headphones is. We previously wrote an article to help you do just that.
First, we have a really high quality pair of headphones for music production. Beyerdynamic headphones like the DT 770 Pro outperform many competitors in the same price range, and the brand is number one on our list of the best headphones for music production as a result.
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 are open back headphones with a circumaural ear cup design. That’s why they’re great for mixing in a quiet listening environment rather than performance monitoring. However, the DT 1990 Pro headphones are the open-back version of the DT 1770 Pro closed-back cans that are better suited to monitoring live recordings.
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However, the DT 1990 Pro open-back headphones have a strong build made with advanced components. There’s a lot of metal in their design, for example, like the earcup forks and open-back driver grills. As a result, they are more durable than plastic headphones and feel more professional in use, so don’t expect them to feel light!
Speaking of the driver grills, they have a silver mesh that breaks up the all-black look. And Beyerdynamic made the headband from plush leather that distributes the 370-gram weight of the cans evenly across your head. As for the earpads, they are made of memory foam and wrapped in gray velor. All in all, the DT 1990 Pros make for a comfortable listening experience, but your ears can get a little hot after long sessions because the pad material doesn’t breathe well.
Along with the ear cup construction, the high-flux neodymium driver offers a wide frequency response that performs right out of the box with high-fidelity, flat audio reproduction. The sound stage is deep and gives a realistic representation of your music.
According to the Beyerdynamic tradition, the DT 1990 Pro headphones have a high impedance value. While at 250 ohms, you’ll need an amplifier (as well as an audio interface) if you want to hear your music at optimal volume levels. Note that these studio headphones will lose their magic without some form of amplification.
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On the left ear cup you will find a single mini XLR connector. And Beyerdynamic ships the DT 1990 Pro with two cables: a 3-meter straight cable and a 5-meter spiral cable, both with a 3.5mm mini-jack and a 6.35mm screw-on adapter. In addition, the DT 1990 Pro headphones come with two sets of ear pads in the case. Both an “A” version (with a neutral frequency response) and a “B” version, which gives each bass a slight boost.
The Sennheiser HD 400 Pro open-back circumaural headphones provide a balanced soundstage and comfort during long sessions. What’s more, they are efficient despite weighing only 240g. And you can adjust the headband and bend the velor-padded ear cups slightly to fit the shape of your head, too. As a result, they grip your head comfortably and firmly, and won’t cause fatigue during long sessions or heat up your ears.
Sound naturally leaks from their open-back design at higher volumes, so they’re better suited to mixing in quiet spaces than live monitors. But accurate, neutral and honest reproduction makes these cans a mix of weapons!
The 400 Pro headphones come with two detachable cables (3m and 1.8m) in addition to a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter. The 3 m cable is coiled, while the 1.8 m cable is straight and the connection is in the left ear cup.
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Drivers mimic the triangular monitor listening position by sitting at slight angles to the cups. And the 120 ohm impedance means that these headphones also require a more powerful headphone amplifier that not all audio interfaces provide.
The HD 400 Pro headphones provide a wide frequency response from 6Hz to 38kHz. And even at really high SPLs, the distortion isn’t that noticeable – although we don’t recommend driving the headphones at dangerous SPLs.
To summarize, the HD 400 Pro headphones accurately reproduce bass, mid and treble frequencies with best-in-class stereo separation. They reveal the layers of a mix clearly, and the frequency response itself is very evenly balanced. Their bass response is solid with plenty of extension and no excessive boominess.
Switching between the Audio-Technica ATH-R70x headphones and well-placed studio monitors doesn’t really show a huge jump in reproduction quality. In short, these are some pretty accurate studio headphones! However, the biggest difference is in the high end where the R70x headphones don’t provide as much clarity as the competitors.
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Despite this, the R70x headphones are quite light and comfortable to wear during long sessions. They don’t squeeze your head like other Audio-Technica headphones do, and their open-back circumaural design presents a smooth soundstage with accurate frequency reproduction. There’s no noticeable boost or cut below the high end, so you can expect to hear plenty of detail!
Unwanted sibilance and chaotic mix characteristics are easily detected with these cans, thanks to their precise frequency response. With that said, the response does roll off suddenly between 10-20 kHz, although this won’t cause much of a problem since these are mostly just “air” frequencies. Bass and low mids are even with just the right amount of extension and no hint of boominess.
The M70x is the flagship model in Audio Technica’s M series and it builds on the success of the popular M50 headphones (now M50x).
These closed headphones are aimed at a wide range of monitoring purposes. In contrast to the solid construction of the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones, the Audio Technica M70x rotating circumaural ear cup design allows monitoring and listening in noisy environments in addition to “one-ear-off” use.
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After one listen, you’ll notice that these cans are committed to producing crisp reproduction of instruments and vocals, but also how they lack some low-end response. This might not be a problem if you’re monitoring a live recording, but it is for electronic music producers.
Furthermore, the sound insulation properties of the ear cups are quite poor compared to competitors. But the faux leather earpads are comfortable to wear for long sessions and provide enough isolation for monitoring purposes.
The soundstage of the M70x headphones is pretty impressive for closed-back headphones. However, the frequency response makes the stereo image a bit narrow due to the lack of low-end. In other words, this lack of low end reduces the central anchoring effect that prominent bass provides.
While the bass may be easily compensated for by the lack of lows, you’ll notice any unwanted distortion due to sharp reproduction in the upper harmonics. Despite the gradual roll-off, high-end reproduction is smooth without too much presence in the sibilant range.
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The last pair of headphones on our list are the Sony MDR-7506 headphones. They’re closed-back with a circumaural design that fits just over your ears, they’re light and comfortable to wear for long sessions, and their metal extension sliders have helpful graduated scales which allows you to easily adjust the headband on both sides.
In addition, you can fold the earcups into the headband for easy transport. But be careful of the lightweight plastic the cans are made of before you throw them in your bag! Despite these great ergonomic pros, one feature that can be a little off is the cable. It attaches to either side of the headband and slides out of the ear cup before entering the plastic side housing.
At the smallest headband adjustment, this creates a unique loop of cable that sticks out on either side of the unit. Although not the most fashionable, it will help you if you need to change the cable at any time. The cable itself is 3 meters long