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Do you think deciding on a pair of quality transcription headphones is not a huge deal? If your answer is in the affirmative, well, think again. Consider this – you have spent countless hours transcribing an important interview only to discover that the audio quality is migraine-inducing and the voices seem muffled and barely distinguishable. 

And you are left wondering if the interviewer switched on the digital recorder and shoved it in the bottom of her purse. You definitely do not want to end up in that situation. The memory will haunt you forever.

Believe me sometimes finding the right or most suitable pair of transcription headphones can be difficult and contentious. This is mainly because there are many headphones available on the market, but only a few are perfect in terms of your comfort and transcription needs.

As a buyer of transcription headphones you are likely to get overwhelmed by looking at the multitude of products that are available, especially on popular websites like Amazon and eBay.

So are you looking to buy a quality pair of new transcription headphones? Our team has combed through several reviews, conversed with a number of transcriptionists, talked to vendors and completed all the requisite legwork so that we can recommend you highly-rated and most popular transcription headphones that the market has to offer.

Before we start discussing what makes a transcription headphone good, we would like to inform you that transcription headphones come in different forms and types; so it is good to briefly discuss these types as it will make the purchase decision easier for you.

On–Ear vs. Over-Ear Headphones – What Should You Go For?


On-ear headphones, commonly called supra-aural headphones, rests on top of the earlobe. They are great at providing noise rejection and are way more comfortable compared to ear buds. If you tend to perspire a lot, they are a better choice than over-ear headphones. However, they are less comfortable and a tight pair can hurt your earlobes.


Over-ear headphones feature ear-cups that will go over your ears surrounding them with soft padding, which makes them extremely comfortable. But there is a trade-off; they usually do not have good noise rejection which makes transcribing in noisy and loud environments difficult as they let in quite a bit of unwanted sound.

Bluetooth Vs Corded Headphones – What is the Best Option?

Corded headphones use a cord to transmit sound. You just have to plug them into your computer or any other smart device and you are good to go.

On the other hand, Bluetooth headphones are wireless and can be connected to your smartphone.

If your device does not support Bluetooth, get your hands on a USB dongle to enable communication.

Open-back Vs Noise Canceling – What is more Cutting-Edge?

An open-back headphone typically goes over your ear or on the ear and features a perforated back that permits more “noise” to get through. Therefore, they offer little noise isolation and are not ideal for transcription.

In contrast, noise cancellation headphones, as the name suggests, provide active noise cancellation. Although the idea sounds fancy, these headphones are practically terrible. This is because they tend to distort the sound because of their noise canceling mechanism. They too, are not good for transcription.

What are the Criteria for Selecting the Best Transcription Headphones?

There are a couple of key things that are important to keep in mind when purchasing a good pair of transcription headphones. We know that selecting the best headphones is a highly subjective process, but it is advisable to consider the following criteria:

Sound Controls

A majority of transcriptionists like the in-line volume control feature, which is very handy and it is the reason why many headphones have this feature.

Keep in mind that a few transcription headphones enable you to switch between mono and stereo sound. This is a useful option when transcribing an occasional tape.


It is important to point out that most human voice frequencies range between 250 Hz and 2000 Hz. This is called the midrange of sound. And as transcription involves listening to human voices, it is vital to buy a pair of headphones that have a smooth yet pronounced midrange.

In simple words, you should be able to clearly listen to what people are saying in the recording, which is technically called high dialogue intelligibility. This is why even a great pair of music headphones will not do the best job when you are transcribing.


This one is a no-brainer. Buying a comfortable transcription headphone is extremely important. Transcription is a time consuming activity, so it is crucial to ensure your ears do not hurt or feel hot after a bunch of hours.

Believe me you need a pair that reduces ear fatigue. If you wear a good pair of comfortable headphones, you will not even notice you have them on.

When buying transcription headphones ensure they are comfortable not just on your ears, but also on your head.


Unless you are happy replacing your transcription headphones every 6 months, get a pair of headphones that are rugged and well-constructed. Do not go for a pair which has a plastic mold for the headband.

Ideally, consider a pair that comes with replaceable ear-pads and a detachable cord, as most people end up snapping their cords. Remember that durability is an important feature that should not be overlooked.

Cord Length

Many transcriptionists do not like long cords as they can be annoying at times. Chair casters are your cord’s arch enemy and, the longer it is, the more likely you will end up running it over.

But long cords have an upside too; your headphone will not get pulled off when you lean back in your chair or when you stand up.

The Best Transcription Headphones

1. Spectra USB Transcription Headset Review

Spectra USB Transcription Review
Spectra USB Transcription Review

Spectra USB Transcription Headset is considered one of most reliable pair of transcription headphones in the market. They come with a USB connector which enables you to hook them up to your computer or laptop easily. They also have digital volume control which places the brand, this model in particular, on the cutting edge of technology.

Spectra USB Transcription Headset has ear pieces that will fit easily and comfortably in your ears. The dome -shaped model confirms to nearly all ear shapes. This pair of headphones comes with a shirt clip and a ten foot cord which promotes ease of use and adaptability. And the best part about this headset is that it is a very affordable alternative compared to more expensive headsets and it does not compromise sound quality.

Spectra USB Transcription Features

  • This headphone has a truly digital volume control
  • It features an LED computer connection indicator
  • It has a direct-connect 2.0 USB port which is very useful
  • Comes with a 10-foot cord which provides great flexibility
  • Very lightweight
  • Comes with a pouch for storage and travel

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2. Behringer HPM 1000 Review

Did your eyes pop at that price tag?

Many people are attracted to Behringer HPM 1000 because they are ridiculously cheap. Their ear-cups have a good size and the headband is wide enough to fit most people’s head. They have smooth ear-pads that get softer with regular use and they are also very durable. Because they are inexpensive their headband is made of plastic mold and they do not have a detachable cord.

Given the low price, you would be surprised by how good they sound. They have a heavy bass and good mid and high ranges. These headphones give phenomenal performance for a price that can be easily squeezed into any budget.

Behringer HPM 1000 Features

  • These headphones provide ultra-wide frequency response
  • They have a high dynamic range which is ideal for transcription
  • They come with high-resolution capsules
  • They have a 1/4″ adaptor and a 1/8″ connector
  • Have a single-sided cord

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3. Senal SMH-1000 Review

Senal SMH – 1000 are usually considered by many as one of the best pair of headphones for transcription purposes. Their ear-cups have an appropriate size that snugly fits most ears. The good news is that in case you have large ears, you can go for Senal SMH – 1000 with extra deep ear cushions. Their soft cushions, rounded headband and unique swivel mechanism makes them a very snug and comfortable fit.

In addition this headphone brand is extremely durable and features metal earpiece backs and stainless steel hinges. However, what distinguishes them from other headphones is the detachable cord which is very handy. Moreover, they have 2 cords, one is 10 feet coiled cord and the other is 3 feet straight cord. Their sound is just superb, which makes them a great option for transcription. They are equally good for broadcast, commercial recording and home studios.    

Senal SMH- 1000 Features

  • They have an over-ear circumaural and closed-back design
  • Have a rugged construction which is suitable for studio and field use and have a detachable locking cable design
  • It refines midrange frequencies to reduce ear fatigue  and has an EQ curve for studio use
  • They have a collapsible design which aids easy storage
  • It has ear cushions that are soft and replaceable and a 1/4″ gold-plated adapter
  • Comes with 3 years warranty

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4. Sony MDR 7506 Review

Sony MDR 7506 headphones are simply great for sound monitoring when recording radio, video, film production, electronic news collection and for almost any application where high quality and vibrant sound is necessary. This product is as good as Senal SMH – 1000 especially in terms of sound clarity.

They have a closed-ear design and are extremely popular in home and professional studios which make them great for transcription. They have a rugged design, 40 mm driver units, gold connectors, convenient folding mechanism and a high-quality OFC (oxygen free copper) cord. Sony MDR 7506 offers a great variety of choices whether you are a casual user or a studio professional. It is praised by many broadcasters and professional studios especially because they withstand the toughest situations.

Sony MDR 7506 Features

  • Have 40 mm drivers and neodymium magnets that render detailed and powerful sound
  • Have a closed-ear design that offers great comfort and great reduction of external noise
  • They have a 10 foot cord that has a gold plated plug which is not detachable
  • It has a 0.25 inch adapter
  • Folds easily which makes it handy for travel and storage purposes
  • Has a frequency response rate of 10 Hz to 20 KHz

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5. Philips Speech Deluxe Transcription Headset Review

Philips Speech Deluxe Transcription Headset features a chin style shape and is great in terms of comfort and price. It comes with cables that are 10 feet in length which will never inhibit your movement. This pair of headphones also has a sized speaker that is decently tuned and fixed. It has smooth and soft ear pads.

Philips Speech Deluxe Transcription Headset does a great job at delivering high quality audio. The pair has a very unique design and falls below the chin which provides plenty of room for movement. It has a lightweight build and reduces the chances of having that aching and uncomfortable feeling around the head which can be a nuisance for many people. This model is also quite cheap and will fit in your budget nicely.

Philips Speech Deluxe Transcription Features

  • Specially crafted for digital transcription
  • Has a lightweight and unique under-the-chin style precisely designed to deliver superb sound quality
  • It comes with extremely soft and smooth ear cushions which are very comfortable to wear
  • Features a hanging bracket that is attached to the headset and connects to a monitor
  • Lightweight design enhances comfort especially for prolonged or heavy use
  • Has a gold-plated plug which guarantees an ultra reliable connection

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