If you are a musician or a music enthusiast, grabbing the best pair of studio headphones can just be as imperative as investing in a good bed; you are aware that you will be using it every day and if you spend a decent amount it will last you many years. Nevertheless, it is important to note that just because certain headphone brands and models are labeled as ‘studio’ doesn’t automatically make them the best.
You will really need to dig deep into the basics while answering questions such as what exactly do you need them for, how do you intend to use them, how much do they cost, and what other users have to say about it.
Basically, studio headphones are designed to give a natural, effective and detailed distribution of frequency. They are able to create high volume levels with a balanced audio result for each ear and can be used for both handlings all the way to the most challenging studio routines.
These headphones are primarily used for two purposes in music making: mixing and recording. During recording, high-quality studio headphones can actually stop the sound coming out from the guide track and prevent it from leaking in the microphone and spoiling the music that was recorded.
A lot of audiophiles like to combine their studio headphones with headphone amps to enhance the sound quality. The outstandingly conforming features and robust construction of studio headphones make them the ideal choice for many users, whether you are making beats, recording, mastering and mixing, or simply listening for fun.
What to Look For In a Pair of Studio Headphones?
When shopping for the best studio headphones for the purposes of mixing and recording, there are a few factors that you should value over other.
It is critical to ensure your headphones have components that will be useful since many brands make a huge deal about features that are really just fluff.
Here are a few things you should look for first:
Large headphones with isolation –You need to make sure the ‘earmuffs’ cover your entire ear and offer you adequate isolation from the external noise. Even a lower key studio can sometimes become a noisy place, and in such as a case you do not really want to hear anything but your music.
Outstanding pressure compromise/padding –If you intend to use the headphones for the purpose of studio monitoring, chances are you will be wearing them for extended periods of time as you record, mix, splice and adjust.
Low-quality headphones can strain your ears, and cause headaches owing to insufficient padding and extra pressured headband elements. The best studio headphones don’t only sound great, but they are also comfortable enough to be worn all day.
Crispy clear, untinted, genuine sound –The quality of the sound should be ‘neutral’ for it to mix properly. Non-studio headphones usually tend to be ‘colored’, which means they are designed to perform better depending on specific music genres.
You should invest in a pair of studio headphones that covers a diverse range of music types and styles so the neutral tuning is perfect.
How to Choose the Best Studio Headphones?
Even though we will be looking at studio headphones under $200, there is a huge difference in headphones with a price tag of $50 while others that stop right at $200. The real question is: how much money are you ready to spend? More features come with a pricier tag.
Open-back VS closed-back VS semi-open
A large percentage of studio headphones are closed-back (which makes them better for leisure listening, sound isolation and recording), some are open-ear and best for mastering and mixing, whereas others fall right in the middle as ‘semi-open.’
Open-back headphones use a transducer that is fixed in a space away from the head and come with a foam-filled enclosure that is normally ventilated using holes or slots. Open-back headphones don’t color the sound as much as closed backed ones since they allow some sound in from the outside, instead of totally isolating the sound in the ear. This also means the headphones offer a more natural sound to the user.
On the other hand, closed-back headphones tend to create overall higher sound levels because they are designed to keep the sounds in, isolating the music. They can also feature superior bass reproduction since the low end is confined within the cup of the headphones and doesn’t escape.
The majority of studio headphones come in black because most customers prefer that color. However, if you look around a little, you will come across brands that offer some cool aesthetics that may sway your choice.
Electric blue, red and green are also becoming quite popular these days. However, this is strictly a matter of preference and has nothing to do with how the headphones perform.
Many studio headphones come with extra converters, cables, or even protective cases. If these are important to you then you should definitely go for it.
Best Studio Headphones Under $200 – Our Top Picks!
To pursue your hobby or career in music, you don’t have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to get started with high-quality equipment. Take a look at the best studio headphones that you can buy under $200.
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Studio Monitor Headphones Review
The ATH-M50x Studio Monitor Headphones is the most praised by many audio experts and professional audio reviewers. The headset features large noise isolating ear cups with excellent A-T construction and an unparalleled sound quality that is specially designed for critical audio experts. They deliver precision-based audio with an amazing comfort level, making them the best option for long wearing sessions while in the studio or on-the-go.
The contoured ear cups shut tight and offer solid sound isolation, and are quite comfortable on the ears with minimal pain and sound bleed. The material is pro-grade, which makes it long-lasting and comfortable at the same time. The headphones can be collapsed and ear cups are foldable for maximum convenience and space saving. You can also find some decent color choices with the ATH-M50x Studio Monitor Headphones.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Features
- Critically acclaimed audio performance praised by best audio critics and engineers
- 45 mm large drivers with copper-clad aluminum and earth magnets wire coils
- Outstanding clarity throughout an extended range of frequency, with deep, precise bass response.
- Circumaural design contours surrounding the ears for high-quality sound isolation in noisy areas
- 90 degrees revolving ear cups for better, single-ear monitoring, pro-grade headband and earpad material offers more comfort and durability.
- Detachable cable
2. Sony MDR7506 Review
The Sony MDR7506 is the perfect option if you are financially restricted. The headset has a solid built, is reliable and durable and is designed to offer excellent sound quality and functionality. They can practically be used in any application (except for professional mastering and mixing). The closed-ear design of the headset has rapidly popularized in professional recording and home studios.
The foldable, well-constructed design features 40 mm driver units with gold connectors for both leisure and studio use. The comfort factor is highly advanced and will not give users much pain thanks to sufficient cushioning for enhanced comfort. The headset also comprises of a stereo ‘unimatch plug’ that can be utilized in ¼ and 1/8 inch applications and also comes with a soft protective casing for storage or traveling.
The sound quality is excellent and very detailed, with nice lows, decent mids, and crisp highs.
Sony MDR7506 Features
- 40 mm drivers and Neodymium magnets for a detailed and powerful sound
- A closed-ear design that offers maximum comfort and excellent external noise cancellation
- A non-detachable 9.8-foot cable that ends in a gold-plated plug
- Comes with a ¼ inch adapter
- Features a foldable design for added convenience and space-saving
- Frequency response level of 10 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
- Large, foldable, diaphragm headphones bring a rugged construction along with a safe, highly efficient closed-back design.
3. KRK KNS8400 Studio Headphones Review
Probably the most underrated pair of headphones, the KRK KNS8400 Studio Headphones stays true to the standards of KRK’s first-class studio monitors. They make use of the latest technology in acoustic memory foam, which is what makes these headphones incredibly awesome. This series of headphones by KRK is known to be the best when it comes to noise cancellation and sound reproduction.
They also have a natural, more accurate and wide frequency response, are comfortable to wear, come with a detachable cable and rotating ear cups, have a very low distortion, and replaceable head and head cushions.
However, this headset does not bring a strong bass sound, crisp high frequencies, and good mids. This is because these headphones are meant for recording and mixing, which means that adding extra bass could probably make them muddy in the low-end.
KRK KNS8400 Features
- A detachable in-line volume control
- The current reference quality frequency response for circumaural dynamic closed-back headphones.
- Recently developed headphone acoustical system that brings to the table a new level of performance for the very first time.
- Makes use of the latest acoustic memory foam tech to ensure a high-quality performance in both isolation and reproduction.
4. Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Acoustically Open Headphones Review
The Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 are open-back dynamic headphones perfect for studio use due to its design and features; it offers an outstanding sound reproduction to attain the high-quality audio result.
It comes with a rugged construction with a spring steel headband for a comfortable and precise fit. You will not have to worry about the headband dropping even when you’re in the car or walking.
The headset comes with an open diffuse-field studio with 250 ohms. In addition to that, they are super lightweight and come with a drawstring bag for added convenience when roaming around with them.
Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Features
- The headphones come with a single-sided coiled cord and 250-ohm drivers
- Open, diffuse-field studio headphones
- Outstanding sound reproduction
- Comfortable to wear due to their rugged design and a cushioned, adjustable headband construction with soft velour ear cushions
- Manufacturer warranty of 2 years, provided the headphones are bought from an authorized dealer
5. AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII Channel Studio Headphones Review
The AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII is an ingeniously designed pro studio headphone that comes with a sealed construction for very low signal bleeding when recording musical instruments or vocals, thus eliminating the problem of the unwanted spilling. The headset is closed-back for the highest level of noise insulation and great sound reproduction.
The headphones come with a switch in the headband that shuts the audio as soon as the headset is taken off. Actually, the headphones are designed to automatically mute in absence of pressure on the headband. This feature comes in very handy in a studio or live environment.
Even though the sound quality of the AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII is incredible, the same cannot be said for their design. The construction looks kind of tacky and some users experienced problems with the wires that became worn out too fast.
In conclusion, the headphones are a great option for recording music because they offer crisp high frequencies and amazing high mids with a general sparking sound. If you wear them properly, you can make the most out of these headphones. You will need some time before you finally become used to them, especially if you have a smaller head.
AKG Pro Audio K271 Features
- Over-ear design that ensures optimum wearing comfort for extended periods of time
- Latest closed technology for high levels of noise cancellation and excellent sound reproduction.
- A self-adjusting headband that allows maximum convenience and optimum fit
- Sealed design with a minimum level of signal bleeding for instrumental and vocal recordings to avoid any unwanted spill
- An auto-mute feature that shuts off the audio when the headphones are taken off.