To properly mix, you need to hear sound to its fullest. You need a pair of headphone that will not only relay the richest, broadest range of sounds but will also block out or cancel surrounding ambient noise.
One size fits all does not work with headphones, and headphone design and type are important. Choosing a set of opened-back and closed back headphones is a must for anyone in the business of mixing or mastering. Finally, while earbuds are great for jamming out to your favorite tunes or while on a jog or taking the subway to work, they have no place in the studio. The best headphones for mixing are over-the-ear only.
How to Find the Best Headphones for Mixing
You need a certain type of build for even frequency and sound distribution, as discussed over-ear headphones are the type for the job. But the market is so saturated with the so-called best headphones for mixing how do I choose?
First off, for mixing, you will want to select headphone of the opened-back variety. The reason behind this has to do with sound resonance and sound accumulation. As sound is delivered from the headphone to your ear, some of it, a tiny amount, is going to dissipate. With closed-back headphones, it is exactly the opposite: sound pools and collects.
Think of a stream. The majority of the water flows naturally along the streambed from one spot to another, but there will always be a little bit of water that escapes or evaporates. It is the same with sound, and only with the opened-back style headphones that escaping bit of sound can evaporate. With the closed-back phone, it collects, creating a sort of echoing, reverberating effect, a possibly causing to hear ghost artifacts that are not really there.
For those of you who count yourselves as being upright and sitting the right way, the proper indication for closed backed headphones is to use them while recording. They are perfect for isolating sound the musician is hearing, and they help ensure leakage won’t occur and be picked up by the recording microphone. It also helps the musician keep his or her focus sharp, blocking out unwanted noise distractions
Whether they are called mixing headphone or studio headphones, you can now make an informed decision about both open-backed and closed-back models, and this will, no doubt help you to decipher which pair of headphones are the best mixing headphones for you.
Top 10 Headphones for Mixing and Studio Use
There are so many gosh darn headphones out there it almost a dizzying prospect to think to put a list of the best of them together. But we have scoured reviews, looked at customer and professional comments, considered cost, materials, and manufacturer reputation, and discuss add-in in order to compile a list of the top 10 best headphones for mixing that we think is pretty good.
We must admit, however, that you may be tempted to go for more than one of this option, and that is not a bad idea. Each set has its own idiosyncrasies and will fit your head slightly different than others. As will so many things in life, experimentation is key.
- Patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm for sparkling highs and accurate bass response
- Comfortable, specially shaped 3D-form ear pads for perfect fit
- Padded genuine-leather headband, individually tested and numbered
AKG music equipment was founded in AKG, founded in 1947, and, in 1949, the company came out with its first set of open-backed headphones. Now under the Harman Internation Industries sound umbrella (who you might remember from those Harmon-Kardon speakers attached to your computer).
Their K701 headphone offers a slew of features, and they better, as the cost is going to hurt a little at just under 225 bucks. Just remember, you are getting a frequency response of 10 – 39.8 kHz with an impedance of 62 ohms.
You’re also getting a set of headphones with replaceable earpads and an adjustable genuine leather headband, as well as a two-layer molded diaphragm and flat-wire voice coil. And, finally, the 3.00 m cable comes with a 3.5 mm gold plated connector and a 6.3 mm adapter.
Plus, the company is reportedly mentioned twice in Dan Brown novels, has close associations with the MLS, and has been the winner of a Technical Grammy, so there is sound architecture supporting that $ price tag. Moreover, the headphones are reportedly really good at relaying accurate sound with an even frequency distribution.
- 40 mm neodymium drivers deliver superior acoustic performance for an expansive soundstage with clear, extended highs and...
- Closed-back, circumaural design rests comfortably over the ears and reduces background noise. Ergonomic dual-frame,...
- Lightweight construction featuring aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke and carbon fiber cap for enhanced durability....
Closely resembling their open-backed brethren, these closed-back headphones feature high-quality sound on the inside and an elegance pair of ear covers on the outside. Maybe the most attractive pair of studio headphones on our list, they also come with an array of features, including 40 mm neodymium drivers for superior acoustic sound performance and an ergonomic dual-frame, padded headband that is lightweight and adjustable
Plus, you’ll find an aluminum alloy yoke and a carbon fiber cap for increased durability as well as a steel driver frame that eliminates internal resonance and produces a rich, full sound. Moreover, you’ll find an impedance of 46 and a frequency range of 5-25 kHz. But all this beauty and technology is going to cost you something in return, and you can buy the headphones on Amazon for about $.
- Specially designed acoustic silk ensures precision damping over the entire frequency range and helps to reduce THD to an...
- Improved frequency response is 10 - 39,500 Hz (-10 dB)
- Hand-selected matched driver elements; Highly optimised magnet systems for minimum harmonic and intermodulation...
The Sennheiser HD 650 studio headphones are available on Amazon for about $366, and these headphones really are a marvel of modern engineering. Sennheiser has been in the sound business for over 70 years, and sound equipment is all they do. Their headphones tend to offer a rich, full sound in large part because that is constructed with top-quality acoustic silk.
With a frequency range of between 10 - 39,500 Hz, you also get an impedance of 300 Ohms. Lightweight aluminum voice coils add to an even frequency distribution, it’s the go-to for most professionals. If you can afford them, these things are monstrous. It is additionally recommended that you buy a headphone amplifier for this beastly set of headphones as they will lick up every bit of juice that you can throw at them
- Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO - 250 Ohm Semi-Open Studio Headphones (Limited Edition)
- Comfortable fit due to rugged, adjustable, soft padded (leatherette) headband construction, and velours earpads.
- Semi-open back design offers unparalleled spaciousness with neutral tone reproduction. Optimum vocal positioning in...
Established in 1924 in Berlin, Germany, Beyerdynamic falls under the GmgH and Co. umbrella, and they manufacture microphones, headphones, and telecom equipment. Their semi-open-backed DT 880 headphones are great studio multitaskers, and they can even be used in non-studio situations.
These studio headphones offer an array of features, including a rugged yet comfortable and adjustable headband, single-sided velour ear pads, a nylon carrying case, and a frequency range 5-35 Hz. Plus, you’ll get a coiled cable with a mini-jack plug and a quarter-inch adapter. The Beyerdynamic name is recognized around the world, and these headphones don’t fall short of that reputation, offering a powerful 250-ohm impedance. With possibly the comfiest earpads on our list, it is also recommended to get an amp for these headphones in order to get the richest sound out of them
- Neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers for powerful, detailed sound
- Closed-ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
- 9.8-foot cord ends in gold-plated plug and it is not deatachable; 1/4-inch adapter included
Sony is pretty legendary in the US for producing quality sound equipment. And the MDR-7506 closed studio headphones are no exception. Both durable and extremely affordable, they offer just as much sound isolation as headphones that cost three times more.
Plus, the MDR offers a broad range of rich sound experiences with an impedance of 63 ohms and an, a frequency range of 10-20 kHz, and a decibel limit of 106 dB. Moreover, at $, they come with a gold plug and adapters.
- Dynamic closed back headphones with closed back drivers
- Straight stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) gold-plated with screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm) gold-plated adapter
- IncrediFlex padded, fully adjustable headband; foldable for storage
The name says it all, and these headphones are extremely good at isolating sound. With an isolating ability that reportedly rivals any safety equipment, these headphones are rated at 29dB of noise attenuation across all frequencies.
Features include a frequency response of between 20 - 20,000 Hz, an impedance of 32 ohms, a super long nine-foot cable, and a gold-plated plug with an adapter. Reportedly used by professional drummers, the headphones are also “Blue Man group approved” and you can pick up a set online for about $.
- Acoustic transparency and ease of use
- Precise and detailed sound reproduction, without distortion
- Excellent isolation and acoustic coupling to the ear
Focal Spirit has managed to produce a pair of headphones that is excellent at blocking sound but also offers rich, full sound as well as the more expensive brands. The proprietary memory foam padding cushions your ear, while molding around your head keeping inside sounds and outside sounds separate.
Reported produced for comfort, with long studio endeavors in mind, other features of these sound-reducing headphones include acoustic transparency and, distortion-free sound, and excellent acoustic coupling. Hold on to your hat, though, because you can expect to pay about $300 for that sound-canceling technology.
- Professional studio reference headphones
- Over-ear design for maximum isolation
- 50mm drivers for exceptional reproduction and wide dynamic range
These cute little guys are so popular that they have earned and Amazon Choice Award and they will only cost about $. But don’t let the cost fool you, these headphones come with a surprisingly deep list of features, including an over the ear design for maximum sound isolation, a frequency response of 10-30 kHz, 50 mm drivers for a rich, dynamic sound, and a self-adjusting headband for a comfortable and secure fit.
Plus, you’ll get an impedance of 32 ohms, and gold-plated plugs and adapters. Hear the highs and the lows with these inexpensive headphones that can masquerade as both mixing and recording headphones.
- Lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Neodymium ferrous magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics
- Sophisticated design, elegantly finished in black and gray
For 286 bucks, you can get a set of Sennheiser’s flagship, classic open-backed headphones. In fact, the HD 600s are so respected and highly-used that they are an icon in the studio and recording industry, and the set offers some pretty interesting innovations, including durable and light aluminum coils, steel magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics, an elegant and comfortable black and gray design, feature plush synthetic fabric ear pads
Moreover, you will find top-quality open mesh (metal) earpiece covers, as well as a Kevlar-reinforced copper cable. Capable of producing 97 dB, the 600s will also handle an impedance of 300 ohms, with a frequency range of 12 - 39000 Hz.
Ever heard of a thousand-dollar pair of headphones? Well, this Sennheiser legendary line of open back HD headphone is an all but flawless attempt at sound listening perfection. Check out the list of groundbreaking features for these headphone classics.
With a frequency range of 6–51,000 Hz and an impedance of 300 ohms, these open-backed headphones offer performance that can’t be touched by others. You’ll also get a contact pressure (a category other headphones don’t even list under) of approx. 3.4 N ± 0.3 N, as well as the proprietary “Ring Radiator transducer,” which the company claims is responsible for producing such rich, sexy sound.
Rounding out the elite list of features, the 40-millimeter aluminum coil is powered by a larger than average magnet structure, and the transducer’s diaphragm hold s two contact points, where it is normal in the headphone industry to usually only have one.
Headphones for Mixing Wrap-up
There you have it. That completes our list of the best headphones for mixing. You have got some open-backed choices as well as some closed back ones, and you also have some semi-opens in there as well. We hope this has given you at least a small idea of what is out there in the vast land of best headphones for mixing.
Just remember, cost usually does mean quality, at least when it comes to studio headphone, and the big names in sound don’t come cheap. That said, however, Sony, Shure, and Sampson do make some decent products, so don’t think you have to commit hundreds of dollars to get good some.
Of course, unless you own a sound recording studio much of this article isn’t going to apply anyway, unless you have some serious cash to burn on the best headphones for mixing.