The Best Headphones for Music Production: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

best headphones for music production

If you’re a music producer or audio engineer, the importance of studio headphones in your production process is undeniable.

But with a plethora of options out there, selecting the perfect pair can be daunting.

That’s why for this guide, we’ve curated the top 10 best headphones for music production to streamline your choice.


Selecting the best studio headphones is pivotal for precise music production. Sennheiser HD 650 is renowned for its neutral sound, while Audio-Technica ATH-M50x offers portability and resilience. Audeze LCD-X stands out with its planar magnetic tech. However, specific requirements should guide your final decision.

The Top 10 Best Headphones for Music Production

Sennheiser HD 650: Best for Neutral Sound Reproduction

Sennheiser HD 650 studio headphone


The Sennheiser HD 650, considered one of the best headphones for music production, is a classic in the world of professional audio audio and is lauded for its uncompromised sound reproduction. Designed for audiophiles and professionals alike, the HD 650 brings a detailed, open, and natural sound profile to the table.

Key Features:

  • Open-back design
  • High-quality titanium/silver finish
  • Hand-selected driver elements
  • Optimized magnet systems for minimized harmonic and intermodulation distortion

What You Might Like:

The HD 650 is a favorite for its neutral sound signature, making it ideal for accurate mixing and mastering. The open-back design ensures a spacious soundstage, offering a very immersive listening experience. The build quality is robust, and the headphones are comfortable for prolonged studio use, which is essential during long studio recording sessions.

What You Might Not Like:

Being open-back, they might not be suitable for recording sessions where sound leakage could be an issue. Additionally, to get the best out of them, pairing with a good headphone amp is recommended, adding to the overall investment.

Price Range:

Mid to high-end.


The Sennheiser HD 650 stands out for its impeccable neutral sound reproduction. While it’s an investment, for those who prioritize audio fidelity and precision in their work, it’s worth every penny. However, potential buyers should be aware of the open-back design’s limitations and the need for a dedicated amp.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro: Ideal for Detailed Listening

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro


The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, often rated among the best headphones for music production, is a staple in many studios worldwide. Renowned for its impressive clarity and detailed sound signature, this open-back headphone offers a well-balanced mix of treble, midrange, and bass frequencies.

Key Features:

  • Open-back design for spacious soundstage
  • Robust spring steel headband ensuring a secure fit
  • Soft, replaceable ear pads for comfort during extended sessions
  • Excellent impulse performance

What You Might Like:

The DT 990 Pro shines when it comes to detailed listening, with its bright trebles and a tight bass response. Its comfort is another significant plus; the plush ear pads make long listening sessions a breeze. The headphone’s transparent sound profile is highly valued by producers and audio engineers for mixing and mastering tasks.

What You Might Not Like:

The treble can be a bit sharp for some users, especially at higher volumes. Like other open-back models, it’s not ideal for environments where audio isolation is necessary. Also, they benefit from a good quality amp for optimal performance.

Price Range:



The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is a top choice for those seeking detailed audio reproduction. While it excels in clarity and detail, potential users should be prepared for its bright sound signature and consider pairing with an amp for the best experience. The comfort and build quality are commendable, making them a reliable pick for professionals.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: Top Choice for Portability and Durability

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x studio headphone


The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, one of the best headphones for music production, is a closed-back headphone that has quickly become a go-to for many professionals and enthusiasts. Famed for its robust build and versatile sound signature, it’s equally at home in the studio as it is on the go.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for good isolation
  • 45 mm large-aperture drivers
  • 90-degree swiveling earcups
  • Detachable cables for various applications

What You Might Like:

The ATH-M50x boasts a balanced sound profile, making it suitable for a wide range of genres. Its portability, enhanced by foldable design and detachable cables, is a huge plus for on-the-move producers. The headphones also provide excellent passive noise isolation, thanks to the closed-back design and plush ear cups.

What You Might Not Like:

While they offer a broad soundstage for closed-back headphones, they can’t match the openness of an open-back design. Some users might find the bass a touch emphasized, which could overshadow subtle details in certain tracks.

Price Range:



The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a stellar choice for those seeking a blend of portability, durability, and quality audio. It’s versatile enough for studio work and casual listening, but users should be aware of its slightly pronounced bass.

Sony MDR-7506: Time-Tested Choice for Professionals

Sony MDR7506


A veteran in the professional audio world, the Sony MDR-7506 has been a trusted companion of countless producers and sound engineers for decades. With its closed-back design and detailed sound reproduction, it’s a reliable tool in studio settings.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for sound isolation
  • Large diaphragm 40mm drivers
  • Foldable design for easy storage
  • Gold connectors and OFC cord for reliable and clear signal

What You Might Like:

The MDR-7506 offers a clear and flat response, which is crucial for accurate monitoring in studio applications. Its durability is legendary, with many units lasting years under rigorous use. The headphones are comfortable for extended periods, and their folding mechanism makes them easy to store and transport.

What You Might Not Like:

The non-detachable coiled cord can be cumbersome in some situations, and while its sound is accurate, some users might find it lacks a bit in the low-end punch. Also, its soundstage, while precise, is not as expansive as some of its open-back counterparts.

Price Range:



The Sony MDR-7506 stands as a testament to design longevity in the fast-evolving world of audio gear. While it may lack some modern conveniences, its audio quality, build, and legacy make it a time-tested choice for serious professionals.

AKG K702: Best for Wide Soundstage and Mixing

AKG K702 studio headphone


The AKG K702, consistently ranked among the best headphones for music production, is a favorite among studio professionals It is particularly known for its expansive soundstage and neutral sound signature. An open-back design, the K702 ensures that listeners are treated to a spacious and airy sound that is crucial for critical listening and mixing tasks.

Key Features:

  • Open-back design for a wide soundstage
  • Revolutionary flat-wire voice coil technology
  • Over-ear design with plush ear pads for comfort
  • Self-adjusting headband for an optimal fit

What You Might Like:

The K702’s strength lies in its ability to reproduce tracks with stunning clarity and separation, making it excellent for mixing duties. Its wide soundstage provides an immersive listening experience, letting you pinpoint each instrument’s location in a mix. The headphones are also comfortable for prolonged use, thanks to their over-ear design and self-adjusting headband.

What You Might Not Like:

Being open-back, they’re not the best for sound isolation, making them unsuitable for noisy environments. Some users might find them lacking in the bass department, especially if they’re used to headphones with a more colored sound.

Price Range:

Mid to high-end.


For those who prioritize a wide soundstage and a transparent sound signature, the AKG K702 is a top contender. Especially suited for mixing tasks, these headphones might not be bass-heavy, but their precision and clarity are second to none. Just remember to use them in a controlled environment to truly appreciate their prowess.

Focal Listen Professional: Ideal for Precise Audio Detailing

Focal Listen Professional


The Focal Listen Professional headphones are a testament to Focal’s commitment to delivering pristine audio quality. These closed-back headphones are crafted for professionals who demand precision and detailing in audio reproduction.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for sound isolation
  • Memory foam ear cushions for enhanced comfort
  • 40mm Mylar/titanium drivers for robust sound reproduction
  • Thermosensitive ear cups for optimal fit

What You Might Like:

The Focal Listen Professional shines when it comes to reproducing audio with meticulous detail. Whether it’s the subtle nuances in vocals or the intricate layers in instrumental tracks, these headphones capture it all. The memory foam ear cushions not only provide comfort during long sessions but also aid in sound isolation, ensuring that you hear every detail. The build quality is top-notch, ensuring longevity.

What You Might Not Like:

Despite being closed-back, they might not offer the most expansive soundstage compared to their open-back counterparts. The price tag is also on the higher side, which might not be suitable for those on a tight budget.

Price Range:



The Focal Listen Professional is for those who won’t compromise on audio detailing. While it comes with a premium price tag, the precision and clarity it offers make it a worthy investment for professionals seeking the best in audio reproduction.

Shure SRH1540: Top Pick for Comfort in Long Sessions

Shure SRH1540


The Shure SRH1540, from the renowned brand Shure, is a premium closed-back headphone designed with the comfort of professionals in mind. It merges impeccable audio quality with unparalleled comfort, ideal for those marathon mixing and mastering sessions.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for effective sound isolation
  • Lightweight construction with aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke
  • 40mm neodymium drivers for clear sound reproduction
  • Alcantara ear pads for added comfort and durability

What You Might Like:

One of the SRH1540’s standout features is its comfort. The Alcantara ear pads feel plush and luxurious, reducing ear fatigue during prolonged use. The sound profile is balanced, offering deep bass, clear mids, and crisp highs. Its build is robust, yet it remains surprisingly lightweight, adding to its overall comfort.

What You Might Not Like:

Being on the pricier side, it might not be within everyone’s budget. While the audio is balanced, those looking for an overly bright or bass-heavy signature might want to look elsewhere.

Price Range:



The Shure SRH1540 is a top-tier choice for professionals who prioritize comfort without sacrificing audio quality. While it carries a premium price tag, the comfort and sound fidelity it offers make it an excellent investment for serious audio work.

Neumann NDH 20: Best for Sound Isolation in Noisy Environments

Neumann NDH 20


Neumann, a brand synonymous with high-quality studio microphones, steps into the headphone arena with the NDH 20. These closed-back headphones are meticulously designed to offer superior sound isolation, making them perfect for work in noisy environments.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for maximum sound isolation
  • 38mm drivers with high-gauss neodymium magnets for sound precision
  • Memory foam ear pads for comfort and sound sealing
  • Foldable design for easy portability

What You Might Like:

The NDH 20 excels in sound isolation, ensuring that external noises don’t interfere with your listening experience. Its sound profile is neutral with a slight warmth, ideal for accurate monitoring. The headphones are built to last, with durable construction and premium materials. Comfort is also a standout, thanks to the plush memory foam ear pads.

What You Might Not Like:

Its neutral sound might not appeal to those who prefer a more colored audio profile. Additionally, the premium nature of the brand and the product means it comes with a heftier price tag.

Price Range:



For those working in noisy environments and seeking top-notch sound isolation without compromising on audio quality, the Neumann NDH 20 is a stellar choice. It’s an investment, but its performance justifies the price point for professionals.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro: Ideal for Versatile Applications (Mixing, Recording, Mastering)

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 ohm


The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is a versatile workhorse in the studio headphone realm. Known for its robust build and well-rounded audio profile, it’s a favorite for a range of applications from mixing to mastering.

Key Features:

  • Closed-back design for sound isolation
  • Variety of impedance options (32, 80, 250 ohms)
  • Soft, circumaural ear pads for extended comfort
  • Rugged, adjustable headband construction

What You Might Like:

The DT 770 Pro’s sound is balanced and transparent, making it suitable for a myriad of studio tasks. Its closed-back design offers decent sound isolation, ideal for recording sessions. The headphone is renowned for its comfort, allowing for hours of fatigue-free use. The choice of different impedance levels also allows users to tailor their purchase based on their equipment.

What You Might Not Like:

While the sound is detailed, some users might find the bass slightly emphasized. The attached cable can be a downside for those who prefer detachable options.

Price Range:



The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is a jack-of-all-trades in studio headphones. Its adaptability to different studio tasks, combined with its comfort and sound quality, makes it a solid choice for professionals seeking versatility.

Audeze LCD-X: Best for Planar Magnetic Technology and Depth

Audeze LCD X


The Audeze LCD-X stands out in the crowd, thanks to its state-of-the-art planar magnetic technology. This high-end set of headphone promises a listening experience that’s both expansive and deeply detailed, ideal for discerning professionals.

Key Features:

  • Planar magnetic drivers for superior sound resolution
  • Open back design for a wide soundstage
  • Memory foam ear pads with leather or leather-free options
  • Durable metal construction with a focus on comfort

What You Might Like:

The LCD-X delivers unparalleled depth and detail in its sound, courtesy of its planar magnetic drivers. The bass is tight, mids are lush, and the highs sparkle without being piercing. Its open-back design ensures an immersive listening experience. Despite its robust build, the headphones remain comfortable for long sessions, thanks to the plush ear pads and ergonomic design.

What You Might Not Like:

Being a premium offering, the LCD-X comes with a significant price tag. Its open-back design might not be suitable for all environments, especially where sound leakage could be a concern.

Price Range:



For those who are keen on diving deep into the world of planar magnetic technology and want an unmatched depth in sound, the Audeze LCD-X is a top contender for best headphone for music production. It’s an investment, but for those who prioritize audio quality above all, it’s worth every cent.

Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Headphones for Your Needs

What are Studio Headphones for Music Production?

Studio headphones in music studio

The best headphones for music production are specialized tools designed to provide the utmost clarity, detail, and accuracy in sound. Unlike typical consumer headphones, which might color the sound to make it more appealing for casual listening, headphones for music production aim to reproduce audio as authentically as possible.

This ensures that producers, mixers, and mastering engineers hear every nuance of the sound, enabling them to make informed decisions about adjustments.

Moreover, the design, comfort, and durability are tailored to meet the demands of long studio sessions. Investing in a quality pair is essential for professionals to ensure that the final product translates well across various playback systems.

What Makes a Good Pair of Headphones for Mastering?

A good pair of headphones for mastering offers a flat and neutral sound signature, ensuring unbiased audio reproduction. They provide excellent detail and clarity across all frequency ranges, allowing engineers to detect any imperfections.

Durability, comfort for extended use, and minimal sound coloration are also paramount for precise audio adjustments in mastering.

Difference Between Music Production Headphones and General Headphones

consumer headphones

The best headphones for music production prioritize a flat, neutral sound for accurate audio representation, essential for mixing and mastering.

General consumer based headphones often have colored sound signatures, enhancing bass or treble for a more “pleasing” listening experience.

Additionally, the best studio headphones are built for durability and extended comfort, catering to long production sessions.

The Different Types of Professional Studio Headphones

Type of headphones

Professional studio headphones come in various types, each catering to specific needs:

  1. Closed-Back Headphones: These offer sound isolation, making them ideal for recording sessions where microphone bleed is a concern. They provide strong bass and minimal external noise interference.
  2. Open-Back Headphones: Known for a wide soundstage and natural sound, they’re great for mixing and mastering but lack sound isolation.
  3. Semi-Open Headphones: A middle ground between closed and open designs, they offer a more natural sound while providing some isolation.
  4. On-Ear & Over-Ear: While on-ear headphones sit directly on the ears, over-ear headphones encase the ear, often offering better isolation and comfort.

Choosing the right type depends on the specific task and studio environment.

Factors to Consider When Buying Headphones for Music Production

Technical Specifications

Over-ear vs. on-ear vs. in-ear: benefits and drawbacks

over ear headphones

  • Over-Ear Headphones: These completely encircle the ears, providing excellent sound isolation. They often have larger drivers, resulting in a richer sound profile. Their size makes them comfortable for extended sessions, but they can be bulkier for transport.
  • On-Ear Headphones: Sitting directly on the ears, they’re generally more compact than over-ear models. While they offer moderate sound isolation, they might cause discomfort over prolonged periods due to direct ear pressure.
  • In-Ear Monitors (IEMs): Extremely portable and offering great sound isolation, IEMs are perfect for on-stage performances. However, for studio tasks like mixing, their soundstage might feel limited compared to over-ear models.

In essence, the best headphones for music production are often over-ear due to their comfort and sound profile. On-ear and in-ear options have their unique advantages and applications, however.

On-ear headphones may be great for carrying around when you need to do some audio work on the fly with your laptop. While in-ear headphones (often called “earphones”) offer a different sonic perspective, which can be crucial for mixing.

The choice largely depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Open-back or Closed-back headphones for Music Production

open back headphones vs closed back headphones

  • Open-Back Headphones: These have a perforated ear cup design, allowing air and sound to pass through. This results in a natural and spacious soundstage, making them perfect for critical listening tasks like mixing and mastering. However, they lack sound isolation, making them unsuitable for noisy environments or recording sessions where microphone bleed might occur.
  • Closed-Back Headphones: Offering excellent sound isolation due to their sealed ear cups, these headphones are ideal for recording and working in loud environments. They provide strong bass and clear mids, but the soundstage might feel more confined compared to open-back models.

In summary, when choosing the best headphones for music production, the decision between open and closed-back is crucial. It all depends on the studio environment and the specific tasks at hand. Each has its strengths and potential limitations.

Noise Isolation and Noise Cancellation
  • Noise Isolation: This passive method uses the headphone’s physical design and materials, like thick ear pads, to block out external noise. Essential for recording to prevent microphone bleed and suitable for focused listening in moderately noisy environments.
  • Noise Cancellation: An active method that employs built-in electronics to counteract external sounds. While excellent for eliminating constant ambient noises, it might not always be ideal for studio work, as the noise-canceling process can sometimes alter the sound signature.

For the best headphones for music production, noise isolation is generally the preferred choice. On the other hand, noise cancellation benefits listeners in noisier environments, such as in airports.


Soundstage, a critical aspect when evaluating the best headphones for music production, refers to the perceived spatial aspect of sound, indicating how headphones reproduce the location of instruments within a track.

A broad soundstage allows for better separation and positioning of instruments. Open-back headphones typically offer a wider soundstage, making them ideal for tasks like mixing, where spatial awareness is crucial.



When looking for the best headphones for music production, sensitivity, which measures how loud headphones can get (in dB/mW), is a key factor.

High sensitivity means headphones can produce loud volumes with less power, beneficial for devices with low output. However, too high sensitivity might risk distortion at elevated volumes, so a balanced sensitivity level is crucial for the best studio headphones.

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

THD quantifies the extent to which a headphone might distort the audio signal, especially at high volumes. Lower THD percentages indicate cleaner and more accurate sound reproduction.

For studio headphones, a low THD is crucial, ensuring that the audio remains true to its source without unintended colorations or artifacts.

Frequency Range and Frequency Response

Frequency Range and Frequency Response

Frequency Range indicates the spectrum of sound a headphone can reproduce, from the lowest bass to the highest treble.

Frequency Response, on the other hand, shows how headphones handle different frequencies.

Ideally, studio headphones should have a broad and flat frequency response, ensuring all sound frequencies are represented accurately without undue emphasis or attenuation.


Impedance, measured in ohms, relates to a headphone’s resistance to electrical current. Lower impedance (<30 ohms) is suitable for devices with low power output, like smartphones.

Higher impedance (>100 ohms) often requires dedicated amplifiers for optimal performance. For studio applications, higher impedance headphones are favored for their potential in delivering cleaner sound.

Type of Driver Technology

electrostatic headphones driver

The driver is the headphone’s heart, converting electrical signals into sound. Common types include dynamic drivers (most common, versatile), planar magnetic (offers precise sound, flatter response), and electrostatic (high-end, extremely detailed).

The choice hinges on preference and budget, with each technology bringing its unique sound characteristics and technical demands.

You can learn more about the various types of driver technology here.

Driver Size

The driver size, measured in millimeters, often indicates the diaphragm’s diameter. Larger drivers can produce deeper bass and louder volumes. However, size isn’t the only determinant of sound quality.

While bigger drivers are common in over-ear headphones for a full sound, the material and design also play crucial roles in audio fidelity.

Connectivity & Compatibility
Wired vs. wireless

wireless headphones

Wired headphones are traditionally favored in studio settings for their consistent and lag-free audio transmission. They ensure the purest sound without potential interference or compression.

Wireless headphones, while offering mobility and convenience, might introduce latency or minor sound alterations. For critical listening in music production, wired options are generally recommended.

Connection types

The connection type dictates how headphones interface with equipment. Common types include 3.5mm jacks (suitable for most devices), 6.35mm jacks (often used in professional equipment like mixers and audio interfaces), and XLR connectors (for balanced audio).

Some high-end studio headphones may also use proprietary connections. It’s essential to ensure compatibility with your studio gear when choosing the connection type.

Compatibility with equipment

headphone audio equipment compatibility

It’s vital to ensure that headphones are compatible with your studio equipment. Consider the device’s output (analog or digital), required impedance, and connection type.

Some headphones, especially high-impedance models, might demand dedicated amplifiers for optimal performance. Always check the headphones’ specifications against your gear to guarantee a seamless integration and optimal sound fidelity.

Comfort & Durability

Materials to look for and avoid

For comfort and longevity, seek headphones with memory foam ear pads, breathable materials, and sturdy metal or high-quality plastic constructions.

Leather or leatherette can offer good isolation but might get warm. Avoid cheap plastics, which can break easily, and non-breathable materials that can cause discomfort during prolonged sessions.

Budget Considerations

Studio headphone Price range

What to expect in different price ranges

Entry-level headphones ($50-$100) offer basic sound quality and build. Mid-range ($100-$500) brings improved audio fidelity, comfort, and durability. High-end (>$500) provides premium materials, advanced driver technologies, and exceptional sound precision.

While pricier headphones often offer superior quality, there are value-for-money options in each range for discerning buyers.

How Much Should You Spend on Studio Headphones?

Your budget for the best headphones for music production should align with your needs and professional demands. Beginners or hobbyists might start with mid-range options. Professionals seeking precision should invest in high-end models.

While quality often correlates with price, it’s crucial to prioritize sound fidelity, comfort, and durability over brand or aesthetics alone.

Brand Reputation & Warranty

Trusted brands often guarantee consistency, quality, and durability. Investing in reputable brands can ensure you’re getting a reliable product backed by solid customer support.

Additionally, a comprehensive warranty is essential, protecting against manufacturing defects and offering peace of mind. Over time, this can lead to cost savings and fewer headaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

What headphones do most producers use?

Most producers opt for reputable brands known for accuracy and durability, such as Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, and AKG. The specific model often depends on personal preference and the task at hand, like mixing, mastering, or recording.

Do music producers use headphones?

Yes, music producers frequently use headphones, especially during detailed editing, mixing, or when monitors aren’t available. They provide a close listening experience, revealing intricate details.

Do you need good headphones for music production?

Absolutely. Good headphones offer accurate sound reproduction, ensuring that the music sounds consistent across various playback systems. They’re essential for making informed decisions during production.

Are Headphones for Music Production Worth Buying?

Yes, investing in quality headphones specifically designed for music production ensures accurate sound representation and can greatly improve the quality of the final product.

Are they the best headphones for mixing?

While studio monitors are traditionally favored for mixing due to their spatial sound representation, high-quality open-back headphones can also provide an accurate and detailed soundstage suitable for mixing.

Why is the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X considered the best set of studio headphones?

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X (hypothetical model for this exercise) is lauded for its precise sound reproduction, comfort, and durability. Its balanced sound profile and high-quality construction make it a favorite among professionals.

Are wireless headphones suitable for music production?

While wireless headphones offer convenience, they may introduce latency or minor sound alterations due to compression. For critical listening and production tasks, wired headphones are typically preferred for their consistency and lag-free audio transmission.

How do I maintain and clean my headphones?

To maintain headphones, store them in a protective case, avoid extreme temperatures, and handle with care. Cleaning involves gently wiping ear pads with a soft cloth, occasionally using a mild solution for deep cleaning, and using a soft brush to remove debris from crevices. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.


Choosing the best headphones for music production is a fusion of art and science. Whether you’re a budding producer or an industry veteran, the importance of reliable headphones cannot be overstated. They’re not just tools but extensions of your ears, crucial for creating, editing, and finalizing musical masterpieces.

By considering factors like technical specifications, comfort, budget, and brand reputation, you can find the perfect pair that aligns with your needs.

As the world of music continually evolves, so does headphone technology. Stay informed, trust your ears, and never compromise on sound quality. After all, in the realm of music production, it’s the details that elevate a track from good to extraordinary.