The Top Headphones for Music Production and Recording

Daniel Mwangi
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The Top Headphones for Music Production and Recording.

Whether you're a music producer, audio engineer, podcaster, or musician, having a great pair of studio headphones is essential for mixing, mastering, tracking, and critical listening. With so many options on the market, choosing the right headphones can be overwhelming. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover the top studio headphones for music production and recording.

How to Choose the Best Studio Headphones

When selecting headphones for professional studio use, there are several key factors to consider:

Sound Quality

This is the most important consideration. Studio headphones need to provide accurate, balanced sound so you can make precise mixing and mastering decisions. Key specs to look for include:

  • Frequency response: The

    When it comes to manufacturing high-performance studio headphones ideal for critical listening, Audio-Technica stands among the most trusted brands. Renowned for superb quality and value across diverse price segments, Audio-Technica offers excellent listening tools accessible for any budget.

    In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of Audio-Technica’s best studio headphones and reveal their key features, audio capabilities, and overall value. We’ll also provide tips on selecting the right Audio-Technica headphones to suit your critical listening needs and budget.

    Why Choose Audio-Technica Headphones?

    Founded in Japan in 1962, Audio-Technica has spent decades honing their expertise in transducer technology and audio reproduction. Here are some of the reasons why Audio-Technica is an excellent choice for studio headphones:

    • Sound Quality - Optimized drivers and sound-isolating designs deliver detailed, accurate audio critical for mixing and editing.
    • Comfort - Well-padded over-ear models and lightweight on-ear options ensure both short and long-term listening comfort.
    • Durability - Robust build quality and high-grade components allow Audio-Technica headphones to withstand repeated studio use.
    • Noise Isolation - Many models like the ATH-M50x provide impressive passive noise reduction for undisrupted listening.
    • Value - From affordable entry-level to high-end premium headphones, Audio-Technica offers excellent performance per dollar.

    Now let’s take a closer look at some of the best studio headphones across the Audio-Technica line-up.

    Audio-Technica ATH-M20x

    Key Features:

    • Closed-back design
    • 40mm drivers
    • In-line controls
    • Affordable price

    The ATH-M20x represent an inexpensive introduction to the critically acclaimed M-Series headphones from Audio-Technica. While abandoning premium materials in favor of cost savings, the ATH-M20x retain the excellent sonic qualities of the line.

    The 40mm drivers may be smaller than pricier models but still reproduce clean audio with accurate mids and smooth highs. The extended 15-22 kHz frequency response provides satisfying musical detail. The closed-back design delivers respectable passive noise reduction for focused listening.

    Weighing just 6.7 oz., the ATH-M20x maintain wearing comfort over hours in the studio. The permanently attached cable allows easy cuing via the in-line controls. If your budget is extremely tight yet you want capable closed-back headphones, the ATH-M20x deserve strong consideration.

    Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

    Key Features:

    • Closed-back design
    • Pro-grade build quality
    • Detachable cables
    • Balanced sound

    The ATH-M40x represent a significant step up from the entry-level M20x, providing robust pro-grade headphones that can handle years of regular studio use. Their accurate audio reproduction and excellent isolation make them a go-to choice for engineers and producers.

    Utilizing large 45mm drivers and quality Japanese components, the ATH-M40x deliver impressive clarity across the spectrum. The midrange stands out with its transparency and detail. The bass provides taut low-end punch when called for by your mixes.

    The M40x demonstrate their professional design through traits like the collapsible construction, 90-degree swiveling earcups, and easily replaceable parts. Whether tracking, mixing, or location recording, the M40x are built to excel.

    While not the most high-fidelity headphones available, the sub-$100 ATH-M40x outclass competitors at this approachable price point. For budget-minded individuals wanting great performance for the money, the M40x absolutely satisfy.

    Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    Key Features:

    • Closed-back design
    • Highly customizable
    • Exceptional clarity
    • Detachable cables

    The ATH-M50x represent Audio-Technica’s most popular headphones combining audio excellence, robust construction, and affordable pricing. Used by everyone from home studio owners to top artists in commercial studios, the ATH-M50x are highly revered.

    Equipped with ample 45mm drivers and carefully tuned, the ATH-M50x deliver impressive clarity throughout the extended frequency range. The bass is satisfyingly punchy while the midrange shines with detail perfect for assessing mixes.

    Outstanding isolation makes the ATH-M50x ideal for use in noisy environments like live recording scenarios. The secure fit and plush padding keep the M50x comfortable over extended sessions.

    With a collapsible design, detachable cables, and choice of earpads, the ATH-M50x offer plenty of customization for different applications. Given their quality and reasonable price, the ATH-M50x should top any shortlist when shopping for closed-back studio headphones.

    Audio-Technica ATH-M70x

    Key Features:

    • Closed-back design
    • Carbon composite build
    • Wider frequency response
    • Increased sound isolation

    Serving as the new flagship of the M-Series line, the ATH-M70x takes studio headphone performance to another level. With several audio enhancements and a durable carbon composite construction, the M70x satisfies advanced users.

    Notably, the M70x utilize larger 47mm drivers specially tuned to extend the frequency range beyond even the ATH-M50x. You get enhanced low-frequency impact and detailed treble reproduction.

    The carbon composite materials including the earcups, yokes, and headband reduce resonance for purer sound. Improved isolation thanks to the premium earpads allows you to access finer details at lower volumes.

    Given their professional pedigree and superb performance rivaling far more expensive headphones, the relatively affordable ATH-M70x offer outstanding value. If you demand no-compromise studio headphones but don’t require luxury branding, the M70x make a compelling case.

    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

    Key Features:

    • Open-back design
    • High-resolution audio
    • Dual-sided detachable cables
    • Carbon composite build

    With the 70-Series, Audio-Technica introduced their first open-back headphones tailored for critical listening applications like mixing and editing. The flagship ATH-R70x demonstrate this dedication to reference-grade performance.

    The precisely positioned transducers and acoustically transparent housings provide an accurate, natural soundstage perfect for assessing stereo imaging and space. The carbon composite construction results in little distracting resonance.

    While the open-back design prevents sound isolation, it allows the R70x to reproduce astounding levels of detail and resolution in the studio. The dual-sided detachable cables permit easy switching between portable and home use.

    For studio professionals and discerning listeners seeking accurate open-back headphones without the prohibitively high cost of luxury brands, the R70x represent an outstanding option worthy of consideration.

    Key Considerations When Choosing Studio Headphones

    Selecting the ideal Audio-Technica headphones involves prioritizing a few key factors:

    • Sound Quality - Seek headphones with flat, accurate reproduction. This allows you to make mix decisions based on the purest signal.
    • Type - Closed-back models like the ATH-M50x block sound leakage/intrusion. Open-back designs like the R70x provide a spacious soundstage.
    • Comfort - Over-ear padding prevents ear fatigue over hours. Lighter on-ear models can be worn comfortably for extended periods.
    • Noise Isolation - Closed-back headphones isolate distracting ambient noise. Open-back models allow environmental bleed.
    • Budget - Audio-Technica offers excellent studio headphones from very affordable like the ATH-M20x to premium models like the ATH-R70x.

    Matching Headphones to Your Audio Needs

    Mixing and Mastering

    For mixing and mastering, open-back models like the ATH-R70x allow you to carefully assess stereo imaging and space. Their neutral sound ensures balancing decisions reflect the source audio.

    Tracking and Monitoring

    When tracking and recording, closed-back headphones like the ATH-M40x or ATH-M50x let you monitor takes and overdubs in loud environments by blocking external noise.

    Casual Listening

    For relaxed listening and reviewing music choices, the ATH-M50x provide excellent sound quality with enhanced low end that exposes nuance without fatigue over long sessions.

    Location Recording

    For recording live concerts and field interviews, portable closed-back headphones like the ATH-M20x allow you to capture clean audio while shutting out crowd noise and distractions.

    Drum Tracking

    When tracking drums, the enhanced low-frequency performance and isolation of the ATH-M70x lets drummers and engineers monitor takes with exceptional detail.

    FAQ About Audio-Technica Headphones

    What are the best Audio-Technica headphones for mixing?

    For mixing, the ATH-R70x open-back headphones deliver neutral, transparent audio representing the most accurate studio headphones from Audio-Technica. The ATH-M70x and ATH-M50x are also great choices.

    Should I get open-back or closed-back headphones?

    Open-back headphones like the R70x are ideal for mixing in quiet environments. Closed-back models like the M50x block ambient noise for tracking and noisy locations. Assess your needs.

    Do Audio-Technica headphones require a headphone amp?

    Most Audio-Technica headphones can be adequately powered from regular audio interfaces and devices. However, a dedicated headphone amp allows models like the R70x and M70x to reach their full dynamic potential.

    How durable are Audio-Technica headphones?

    From entry-level models to premium headphones, Audio-Technica headphones feature solid construction with high-grade components able to easily withstand years of regular studio use.

    Where are Audio-Technica headphones manufactured?

    While founded in Japan, Audio-Technica has factories worldwide including in Taiwan and China. However, their professional headphone lines are still engineered and assembled in Japan.


    Whether on an extremely tight budget or ready to invest in top-tier studio headphones, Audio-Technica has models to satisfy any critical listening needs. Their dedication to accuracy, build quality, innovation and value has made Audio-Technica a trusted brand for audio professionals and enthusiasts.

    For audiophile-grade performance under $500, check out the ATH-R70x open-back headphones or the ATH-M70x closed-back option. If funds are limited, you can’t go wrong with the ATH-M40x or ATH-M50x.

    So take the time to carefully consider your budget, listening environments, and audio applications. Then you can confidently select excellent Audio-Technica studio headphones to match your needs and enjoy their exceptional performance for years.

    range of bass, mids, and treble the headphones can reproduce. A wide frequency range like 5 Hz to 35 kHz allows you to hear the full spectrum.
  • Drivers: The component that produces sound. Larger drivers (40mm+) handle more power and produce richer sound.
  • Impedance: This measures how much power the headphones need. Look for around 25 ohms for studio use.
  • Sensitivity: This measures loudness. 100-110 dB offers powerful volume without distortion.
  • Distortion: Lower total harmonic distortion (under 1%) equals purer sound.
  • Soundstage: The sense of space and depth in the audio. Open-back headphones have the widest soundstage.


You'll be wearing these headphones for long periods, so comfort is vital. Over-ear headphones that surround or rest on your ears are ideal for extended use. Padding on the headband and ear cups prevents irritation. Look for lightweight yet durable materials like metal and high-quality plastic.

Noise Isolation

Blocking external sound allows you to focus on the details. Closed-back headphones isolate sound the best. Open-back models offer natural sound but allow in ambient noise. Noise-cancelling headphones use technology to block distractions.


Your headphones will see a lot of wear and tear in the studio. Look for rugged, all-metal construction and detachable components you can replace if needed. Thick, coiled cables stand up to kinks better than straight cables.


Studio-quality headphones range from around $100 to $400. Consider how often you'll use them and your budget. Pros may want to invest more for critical listening while beginners can find great options under $150.

The 10 Best Studio Headphones for Music Production and Recording

Based on extensive research and real-world testing, here are our top picks for pro studio headphones across different budgets and needs:

1. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

With superb audio quality, comfort, and construction, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are a modern studio staple used by top mixing and mastering engineers.

  • Closed-back design provides excellent isolation
  • Velour earpads and padded headband for comfort during long sessions
  • Spatial soundstage gives intimate mixing control
  • Punchy, extended bass and clear mids/highs
  • Available in 32, 80, or 250 ohm models
  • Detachable coiled cable and serviceable parts
  • Made in Germany
  • Price: $159

The DT 770 Pro strike the perfect balance of analytical listening and all-day wearability. They're a versatile classic that delivers professional studio results.

2. Sony MDR-7506

The Sony MDR-7506 have attained legendary status since hitting the market in 1991. Their affordable price, detailed sound, and rugged build make them a top choice for home studios and professionals on a budget.

  • Affordable price belies pro-level performance
  • Clear, accurate sound across the frequency range
  • Comfortable earcups suitable for extended wear
  • Noise isolation blocks ambient noise
  • Coiled cable resists kinks and tangling
  • Folds up for portable use
  • Price: $99

For three decades, the MDR-7506 have proven to be the ultimate bang-for-your-buck studio monitoring headphone. Their continued popularity is a testament to their quality.

3. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

With studio-quality sound and a sleek, stylish design, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x deliver pro performance for under $150.

  • Excellent audio reproduction from deep bass to sparkling highs
  • Circumaural design seals in sound and blocks noise
  • Comfortable for long sessions
  • Modern, closed-back styling
  • Detachable cables (straight or coiled)
  • Available in black, white, blue, and limited editions
  • Price: $149

Thanks to their great balance of technical specs and affordable cost, the ATH-M50x are trusted in studios worldwide as a go-to solution.

4. Sennheiser HD 600

With an open-back design focused purely on incredible sound, the Sennheiser HD 600 are a top audiophile headphone mastering engineers swear by.

  • Open-back for natural, spacious sound
  • Vivid mids and silky smooth treble
  • Accurate, extended bass
  • "Soundstage" gives intimate mixing control
  • Comfortable open design
  • Replaceable components
  • Hand-crafted in Germany
  • Price: $399

For critical listening and analytical mixing decisions, the HD 600 deliver a breathtaking listening experience. Their open-back design makes them less suited for tracking or blocking noise.

5. Shure SRH840

With crystal clear audio and robust construction, the Shure SRH840 provide outstanding monitoring for home studios.

  • Closed-back circumaural design
  • Rich bass and detailed mids/highs
  • Excellent noise isolation
  • Comfortable for extended wear
  • Single-sided detachable coiled cable
  • Rugged build quality
  • Carrying case included
  • Price: $149

With sound rivaling more expensive models, the SRH840 punch above their weight class while remaining comfortable for hours of mixing.

6. AKG K371

The AKG K371 deliver studio-quality audio reproduction at an entry-level price point. Their closed-back design and excellent noise isolation make them ideal for tracking and mixing.

  • Accurate, balanced audio across all frequencies
  • Closed-back circumaural cups block sound leakage
  • Lightweight and comfortable with memory foam pads
  • Excellent noise isolation
  • Detachable cable and transport-friendly folding design
  • Price: $149

For an affordable headphone with surprisingly crisp, balanced sound, the K371 should be on your shortlist.

7. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

A studio staple, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro provide accurate audio monitoring, noise isolation, and rugged construction perfect for recording engineers.

  • Accurate, neutral audio reproduction
  • Closed-back design blocks ambient noise
  • Noise isolation makes tracking easy
  • Extended comfort from padded earcups
  • Robust all-metal construction
  • Single-sided cable
  • Price: $99

If you need an affordable, closed-back headphone built to handle the rigors of studio use, the HD 280 Pro is an excellent choice.

8. Beyerdynamic T1 Gen 3

The Beyerdynamic T1 Gen 3 are open-back headphones purpose-built for critical listening. Their incredible transparency reveals every detail.

  • Open-back design creates spacious, natural audio
  • Vivid mids and sparkling highs
  • Extended, accurate bass response
  • Hand-crafted in Germany
  • Premium materials like steel and leather
  • Price: $1,399

For high-end mastering and mixing where every nuance matters, the T1 Gen 3 provides unmatched fidelity. Their open design makes them less suitable for recording.

9. V-MODA Crossfade M-100

Blending style and performance, the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 over-ear headphones deliver booming bass and crisp highs perfect for mixing hip-hop or electronic music.

  • Powerful, deep low-end and clean mids/highs
  • Noise-isolating memory foam ear cushions
  • Comfortable padded steel headband
  • Customizable metal shields and plates
  • Detachable audio and speech cables
  • Carrying case included
  • Price: $250

With exotic materials like steel and vegan leather, you'll look as good as you sound mixing with the M-100.

10. Grado SR60e

With an open-back design focused purely on incredible sound quality, the hand-crafted Grado SR60e are a smart budget choice ideal for critical listening.

  • Open-back creates spacious, natural audio
  • Vivid mids and detailed highs
  • Pulsing bass despite smaller drivers
  • Comfortable padded headband
  • Made in Brooklyn, NY
  • Price: $79

For studio engineers seeking accurate, analytical audio reproduction on a budget, the SR60e punch well above their modest price. Their open design limits isolation.

Key Considerations When Choosing Studio Headphones

Here are a few final tips when selecting the best studio headphones for your needs and budget:

  • Match your headphones to how you'll use them—tracking, mixing, mastering, or a combo. Closed-back isolating headphones work best for recording while open-back audiophile headphones excel at analytical mixing. All-purpose headphones can handily switch between roles.
  • Prioritize sound quality over flashy extra features like Bluetooth connectivity or noise cancellation that compromise audio accuracy.
  • Focus on good frequency response spanning 5 Hz to 35 kHz, low distortion under 1%, adequate impedance around 25 ohms, and high sensitivity around 100 to 110 dB.
  • Test headphones personally or read professional reviews to ensure they provide balanced, accurate sound, not hyped bass/treble which skews mixing decisions.
  • Choose durable headphones with detachable cables and replaceable parts you can repair if needed. Metal and high-quality plastic last longer than cheaper materials.
  • Comfort is key—you'll be wearing these headphones for hours at a time. Seek soft padded earcups that won't irritate your ears during extended wear.
  • Buy from brands with a proven track record in studio headphones like Sony, Sennheiser, AKG, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, or Shure.


What headphones do music producers use?

Some of the most popular studio headphones used by top music producers include the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, Sony MDR-7506, Sennheiser HD 600, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, and Shure SRH840.

Are more expensive headphones worth it?

In general, more expensive audiophile headphones in the $300 to $400+ range provide subtle but noticeable improvements in sound quality over more affordable $100 to $200 models. The premium price may be worthwhile for seasoned audio professionals doing critical mastering work where every detail matters.

What impedance headphones should I get?

For music production, lower impedance between 25-80 ohms allows your headphones to reach loud volumes when plugged into audio interfaces, keyboards, and mobile devices that have lower output power. Higher impedance headphones above 100 ohms require more power and are more suited for home listening.

Should I get open-back or closed-back headphones?

Closed-back headphones isolate audio and prevent sound from leaking out, making them ideal for recording musicians and vocalists. Open-back headphones provide a more natural, spacious sound but allow in ambient noise. They excel at analytical mixing and mastering work. For maximum flexibility, consider headphones that can switch between open and closed.

Which headphones are most comfortable?

Key factors that contribute to comfortable long-term wear include over-ear (circumaural) pads that surround without squeezing your ears, ample padding on the headband and earcups, lightweight construction from metal and plastic rather than natural materials, and the ability to replace worn earpads.

What gear do I need to use studio headphones?

To use high-end headphones for professional studio work, you'll need an external digital audio interface or a headphone amplifier/DAC that can provide adequate power and convert digital signals to analog. Quality audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or headphone amps like the JDS Labs Atom Amp unlock the full potential of studio headphones.

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The Best Studio Headphones for Music Production, Mixing and Critical Listening