Ditch Those Earbuds: Top Headphones for Audio Recording & Editing

Ah, the Apple Earbud. They’re portable, cute, and come with every iPhone Apple sells. They’re the easy option for listening to your favorite tunes on the go, but there is one thing that they should NEVER be used for: AUDIO MIXING

For creating quality audio production, you will need to invest in a good pair of studio headphones. These headphones differ from your average Beats by Dre, giving you an accurate idea of what you are listening to (AKA no built-in bass boosters or other doodads to interfere with the naturally occuring frequencies of the track). While studio headphones won’t replace your need for a solid set of reference monitors for mixing, they can come in handy when you need to deal with small details in a track or mix in a otherwise noisy room (Kornienkov, 2014).

Now that you’re ready to abandon those easily-tangled earbuds and upgrade to some more serious hardware, your next question is probably this: What studio headphones should I get?

This decision is going to be determined by two factors:
-Which are you primarily doing: recording, or mixing?
-What is your budget?

If you’re recording more often, buy Closed Back Headphones

Closed back headphones are a recording engineer’s delight. These headphones keep sounds from leaking out during a recording session and potentially ruining an otherwise killer take. A pair of these babies will give you the ultimate sound isolation you need laying down great sounding audio tracks.

Buying on a budget? Try…

Sony MDR-7506
Price: $79.99 (Amazon)
The Reviews Are In: “The Sony MDR7506 are quite famous (we still have our pair after 10 years or so) and have stood the test of time. They’re rated highly for the overall solid build, have great mid-range performance and great sounding bass..we still have our MDR’s lying around here in the office and trust us, they’ve definitely stood the test of time now.” 

Able to splurge? Try…

Shure SRH-1540
Price: $499 (Amazon)
The Reviews Are In: “The Shure SRH-1540 is perhaps the closest you could ever come to reference quality sound in a pair of closed back headphones…Somehow, you can tell just by looking at them how ridiculously comfortable they are..if someone specifically asked me for the BEST of the BEST, I would no-doubt point them in the direction of the Shure SRH-1540.”

If you’re mixing more often, buy Open Back Headphones

Sadly, what goes up must come down. This includes your studio headphone: the more isolation your headphones allow you, the worse the sound quality will be. Open back headphones have…well, a more open back, leading to less isolation. Therefore, they are perfect for the mixing process of your project.

Buying on a budget? Try…

AKG K240
Price: $59 (Amazon)
The Reviews Are In: “For beginners on a tight budget, there’s no safer bet than the AKG K240…If you only have enough cash for one purchase, and you need a set of headphones suitable for BOTH recording and mixing…It’s one of the few options in this price range that delivers on its promises.”

Able to splurge? Try…

Sennheiser HD 650
Price: $366.99 (Amazon)
The Reviews Are In: “If there is one pair of headphones in the World synonymous with high-end sound…It’s the Sennheiser HD 650. A long time favorite in both audiophile, and pro audio circles…Chances are, they’re the most comfortable headphones you will ever wear.”

Did I leave your ride or die pair of headphones off of my list? Let me know in the comments which pair of studio headphones are your personal favorite!


E-Home Recording Studio. “The Ultimate Guide to Studio Headphones for Home Recording”. Retrieved from here
Kornienkov, A. 2014, Feb 4. “What is the difference between studio and regular headphones?” Retrieved from here

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