Monitoring and mixing music can be tricky. Using studio monitors will let you listen to your mixes in the most natural and comfortable way, but the question lies in how much accuracy.
This is where studio headphones come help. While only very premium studio monitors can help monitor the tiny details, less expensive headphones can help you monitor the smallest details from background noise, offensive frequencies, to subtle volume changes, which you may miss if you’re monitoring with regular speakers or cheaper studio monitors.
For audio engineers, music producers and artists on a tight budget, using headphones will get the job done if you’re just starting out.
Although I’ll never advise you to mix and master with headphones alone, having a pair of transparent-sounding cans will be a reliable addition to help you make better mixes.
Closed-back vs. Open-back – Which One Should You Choose?
The two types of commonly used headphones in studios; closed-back and open-back headphones. Closed-back headphones are completely sealed around the back which enables noise cancellation from the outside and vice-versa, while open-back or semi-open ones aren’t sealed but lets you hear music more naturally.
When it comes to choosing which type is right for you, it will be good to consider these factors:
- If you’re using it to track music while recording, choose a closed-back headphone. You don’t want sound leakage from your cans to be recorded by the microphone.
- Casual listening or for mixing and mastering? Then an open-back or semi-open headphones might fit the job better, as they are usually more natural sounding. It also gives you a more pleasurable listening experience, which means you’ll be able to work longer on them.
Pros and Cons of Trying to Mix and Master on Headphones
No matter the type of headphones you use, there will always be some pros and cons – especially when it comes to mixing and mastering.
Pros for mixing on headphones:
- Gives you better attention to mixing detail.
- Monitoring subtle details in volume, pitch, distortion, noise, etc.
- More affordable than buying a pair of studio monitors – especially if you’re just starting your studio.
- Faster ear fatigue with long mixing sessions.
- Unnatural way of hearing music which might influence how your mixes translate on other playback devices.
Now that you have a background of what to expect as well as other factors to consider, here is a list of headphones that are worth buying in 2019:
Starting with one of the most high-end studio headphones, the Sennheiser HD 650 (open back) is on the higher end but could be worth your money. Besides the elegant titanium-silver finish, it is known to produce a balanced, transparent & spatial sound, specially optimized for high-resolution monitoring. You’ll find that it’s a favorite among mixing and mastering engineers.
When it comes to the sound, the bass is smooth while the mids and highs are clear enough to give you a balanced reference. Remember that this one is an open-back headphone, so people around you can hear what you’re listening to. That aside, rest assured that The Sennheiser HD 650 is one of the most comfortable studio monitor headphones around.
- High-end studio headphones, popular among audio engineers and audiophiles.
- Smooth bass, clear mids, and highs.
- Open-back type which is suitable for mixing and mastering, but not suggested for recording sessions.
Another open-back favorite used by many home studio producers and engineers, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro gives you a transparent sound, with an impressive soundstage, good bass response, and detailed clarity. Priced at $220, this pair comes in a durable design made with smooth memory foam earpads for comfortability and a sturdy metal headband.
Though sturdy, I wouldn’t recommend frequent traveling with this pair of headphones because it has many parts made of plastic, plus it doens’t come with a decent travel case or pouch. For stationary use in your studio, no doubt it’s a studio headphone with a transparent and natural sound.
- Go-to choice for comfortability and sound.
- Perfect for detailed audio editing and mixing.
3 – Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Another big player for studio headphones comes from Audio Technica. One of the best-selling headphones online, the ATH-M50X is chosen by many because of its sound clarity in the mids and highs. You’ll find that the ATH-M50 also gives you that deep and accurate bass response.
Several extra key features that make it stand out, especially for DJ’s include a 90-degree swiveling ear cup design with 3 detachable cables – making it perfect for on the road usage and touring.
- Popular for its great balanced sound.
- Long-lasting design with replaceable cups and cables.
- Closed-back headphones which are perfect for recording, tracking, and DJ-ing.
4 – Sony MDR 7506
The Sony MDR 7506 has been around since 1991. Popular for monitoring and tracking, these pair of headphones translate different frequency responses with clarity while producing a neutral, flat sound. As with most studio headphones, it also comes standard with a ¼ inch adapter, a foldable design and a decent headphone bag for storage. you can try this headphones on ps4 remote play mac as it was previously known as best headphone to generate awesome gaming experience on ps4 remote play apk.
These closed-back headphones might get a little uncomfortable after a long listening session, so don’t forget to take a break every now and then. However, with its price of $128, the Sony MDR 7506 gives you great monitoring and a great value for your money.
- Has been around for quite some time now, praised for its neutral sound signature and durability.
- You can trust a headphone that has been tried and tested through the years!
- Closed-back headphones perfect for recording, mixing and mastering.
- Can get uncomfortable when used for long listening sessions.
5 – Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
Different from its open-back cousin, DT 990 Pro, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is a nice closed-back studio headphone for recording, mixing and mastering. Available in 3 different impedances (30, 80, and 250 ohms), where you can choose to go with the model with higher impedance if you’re only going to monitoring in your studio. The high impedance models have better sound clarity, better bass definition, and a bigger soundstage.
However, if you travel a lot, getting the lower impedance headphones would make better sense – since even portable devices like your smartphone would be able to amp it.
However, generally, all three models sound good and are well-suited for mixing and mastering work at the studio. It’s ear pads are also replaceable and amazingly comfortable.
- Popular among music producers and audio engineers.
- Known for its comfortability and sound accuracy.
- Closed-back headphones perfect for recording, mixing and mastering.
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