Podcasts have surged in popularity over the last few years. According to a recent report by Wondery (an audio network) and comScore, nearly 20% of adults in the United States between the age of 18 and 49 listen to podcasts at least once a month. Podcast popularity reached unprecedented levels with the release of genre-defining podcast called Serial and since its release the industry has not looked back. 

So are you a podcast fan? I definitely am. Or you may be a podcast producer. If you are, then you must have a simple question:

Do I need expensive or fancy headphones for making the most of my podcast listening or recording experience?

You will be glad to know that the answer to that question is no. However, that does not mean that any outdated or old pair will do the job. A great pair of headphones can make a substantial difference to your podcast listening experience.

It is important to keep in mind that best podcast headphones combine realistic sound with a comfortable fit that you can wear for hours at a reasonable price. Shopping for podcast headphones is different compared to shopping for regular headphones. This is because you will be listening mostly to spoken voice instead of music and it is probable that you will be wearing them for longer time periods hopefully in a quiet room.

There are 3 main types of podcast

  • Interview shows (solo monologue or co-hosted)
  • Documentary style
  • Audio drama.

Interview shows are generally produced in mono, which means the sound you hear is almost the same in both ears. This audio tends to be less complex, making it easier to set a consistent volume level. A mono show that is entirely composed of spoken words allows the producer to set much lower bitrates.

On the other hand, documentary or audio drama-style shows are more complex. They use a combination of sound effects, music and ambience and are produced in stereo, which means that you will be able to hear subtle differences between what you hear in each ear.

These sound features play a part in determining which headphones are good for podcasts.

Best Podcast Headphones Criteria

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

What is their Accuracy (Frequency Response)?

Sound reproduction is the most important consideration when choosing podcast headphones. It is vital that the recorded sound mirrors what you hear. A majority of consumer headphones are developed with music listening in mind and tend to enhance certain frequencies.

While this makes music listening great, a more accurate audio reproduction is required in the case of podcasts. This phenomenon is called flat frequency response. Professional headphones labeled monitor or studio typically do a good job at maintaining this flat frequency response.

Are they Comfortable?

This factor must never be overlooked, especially for podcast headphones. You may end up getting a pair having nearly all the qualities of an ideal headphone, but if it is not comfortable it is as good as useless.

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

Podcast producers usually spend marathon sessions recording and editing their podcasts, while avid listeners devour many episodes in one go.

Therefore, comfortable podcast headphones are a must.

What’s a Sound Leak?

Sound leakage from your headphones can pose recording problems or simple annoyances for nearby people.

In case you record solo, sound leakage would only be problematic when you are simultaneously playing and recording sounds.

In other cases, any minor sound leak from a professional podcast headphone will be so quiet that it will not trigger the risk of feedback loop.

However, sound leak could turn out to be a major concern if you are recording with co-hosts, whether, in the studio or remotely and especially if you produce a double-ender.

The other person’s voice leak may creep into your audio track and in case the real audio is not in perfect alignment, this will produce a subtle echo or may be something more mystic.

How good is the Sound Isolation?

In contrast to sound leaking out of your headphones, sound isolation means how well your headphones perform in terms of blocking noise coming into your ears.

Although the ideal situation may be to keep your door closed and block outside sounds during your recording and editing sessions, this will not be practical in all situations (especially if your computer is noisy).

This is where a good podcast headphone comes in handy as it isolates different sounds and helps you in figure out whether the noise you are hearing (like the noise of an overhead fan) is in your recording or not.

For podcasting, we highly recommend avoiding active noise cancellation. This will result in the headphone capturing external sounds, inverting your sound, which will lead to sound cancellation, which can do strange things with your co-hosts’ audio.

The Best Podcast Headphones – Our Top 5 Picks

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M70x Review

Audio-Technica makes some of the finest sounding headphones and Audio-Technica ATH-M70x is the cream of the crop for podcasting purposes. These are a pair of drier and thinner sounding headphones that have a flat balance. Therefore, they are the best contenders for getting you closer to hearing your own voice precisely the way it sounds compared to any other headphone brand on the market.

These headphones are also quite comfortable which makes them a good choice to wear for long periods of time. They have large cups that go over your ears instead of pressing on them. In comparison to other models, they are nice and flexible especially built with metal expanders to fit almost any head size. In addition, each cup can swivel a complete 90 degrees, which enables 1 ear listening. You can also choose from 3 chord options (1.5 m, 3 m and 3 m coiled), which means the chord will not hamper your podcasting experience.

Audio-Technica ATH-M70x renders an exceptionally clean, ultra-detailed listen that is impeccable for podcast editing where your priority is to ensure the absolute best sound possible. These are highly recommended for podcasting purposes.

Audio-Technica ATH-M70x Features

  • It is an M-Series flagship model, perfected for exceptionally accurate sound reproduction and craftily designed using rare metal components that ensure durability
  • Has a set of 45 mm large-aperture drivers equipped with copper-clad aluminum wire coils
  • They have an extensive response, which precisely reproduces extremely high and low frequencies while maintaining ideal balance
  • Circumaural design contour wraps around your ears for impeccable sound isolation in noisy environments
  • Has 90-degree swiveling ear cups that enable one-ear and easy monitoring

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2. Sony MDR7506 Review

Sony MDR7506 is an excellent pair of headphones, which is extensively used and recommended by numerous well-known podcasters in the industry like Cliff Ravenscraft. These headphones produce astounding sound quality and are much better than other brands that cost twice as much. They have a perfect tonal balance, which enables you to listen to numerous nuances in your voice recording and present your voice precisely as it sounds.

They do a better job of detecting any imperfections and flaws in your recordings compared to other headphones. They are also comfortable when compared with other brands in the same price range and have a cup size that fits well on most ears. However, in case you have large ears you may notice they hug your ears a little bit, which can be a tad uncomfortable.

Sony MDR7506 Features

  • Equipped with 40 mm drivers and neodymium magnets that produce detailed and powerful sound
  • Their closed-ear design is very comfortable and offers exceptional reduction of external noises
  • Includes a 0.25 inch adapter and a 9.8 foot gold-plated cord, which is not detachable
  • Easily folds up in a soft case, which is ideal for storage and travel
  • Have a frequency response ranging from 10 Hz to 20 Hz
  • These headphones are ruggedly constructed and have an effective and secure closed-ear design

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3. Grado SR80e Review

Grado SR80e is a pair of headphones that have an open-back design, which is very different compared to headphones we have listed above. Although the open-back design permits some sound leakage, it generally leads to exceptional sound quality when editing. They allow you to hear every little detail in your voice and come extremely close to the original sound of your voice which is immensely crucial for podcast producers.

The build of Grado SR80e may seem a little cheap. They are mostly made of plastic materials and have no padding on the headband. Instead of the regular cups they feature removable foam covers. Although these headphones are comfortable to wear, using them for extended periods of time can make your ears a little hot at times. Overall, this headphone brand has an excellent sound quality and is a good choice for podcasters.

Grado SR80e Features

  • Have an upgraded driver design
  • Equipped with large ear cushions which make listening a comfortable experience
  • Have an adjustable and soft vinyl headband which enhance the listening experience
  • Produce superb sound quality
  • Come with a mini stereo plug and a 0.25 inch adaptor

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4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review

For ensuring variability, we have included Audio-Technica ATH-M50x on this list. It is ideal for those of you who do not want to pay the higher price tag of the newer Audio-Technica ATH-M70x. We have tested this pair of headphones and they are phenomenal. Their flat balance enables you to get very close to literally listening to your own voice precisely and also has the capability to detect impurities in your recording.

They have large cups that easily cover most ears and are very soft in texture. They are an exceptionally comfortable pair of headphones that can be worn consecutively for hours. Again you can also choose from 3 chord options (1.5m, 3m and 4m coiled), which means the chord will not hamper your podcasting experience. The shorter chord is ideal when going portable (like on an airplane), while the longer chord is better when you are using them on a computer.

While they may not be as good as their more recent counterparts, they come very close and if your budget is restricted to a little high, they may just be the ideal headphones for your podcasting needs.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Features

  • Critically acclaimed in terms of their sonic performance by pro audio reviewers and top audio engineers
  • Has a set of 45 mm large-aperture drivers equipped with copper-clad aluminum wire coils
  • Offer superb quality using an extensive frequency range with accurate and deep bass response
  • Circumaural design contour wraps around your ears for impeccable sound isolation in noisy environments
  • Has 90-degree swiveling ear cups that enable one-ear and easy monitoring

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5. Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus Review

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus Review
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus Review

These headphones have managed to attract significant attention because they can be easily customized in terms of both sound and look. They have an excellent feature, which is a port on both ears – the ports allow you to adjust base levels according to your preferences which tune these headphones for just the perfect podcast experience.

Their build quality is also very good making them robust and dependable and they are extremely comfortable. The ear pads are soft, breathable and large which means you are less likely to get hot sweaty ears.

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Features

  • Have a closed design that includes a customizable sound slider
  • Their style is also customizable and you can easily change color of the ear pads, headband etc.
  • Come with a warranty of 2 years if purchased from an authorized beyerdynamic dealer.
  • Made in Germany.

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