6 Top Headphones for Sound Mixing




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There are likely million questions on what, how, where, why you should use monitor speakers or headphones for mixing in church, concerts or mastering in the studio.

The amount of detail that headphones produce can offer sound quality which monitor speakers can’t.

But, on the other hand, with headphones, for example, you will never be able to decide how much bass, reverb, delay, etc is enough. Both have some of advantages and downsides which depend on many things, and that leads to infinite discussion. We will skip that for now and stick with closed-back headphones.

Why closed-back instead of open back headphones for mixing and mastering? The answer is so obvious and very simple – isolation. Closed-back headphones are magnificent for rejecting environmental sounds, and because of that, they offer you complete privacy and mix control even in very noisy conditions. Nothing will distract you while achieving your perfect mix.

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1)Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

These headphones been around since the 80s and a new “version” was released in 2004. The studio that doesn’t have these isn’t the real studio. No offense, but ask any audio designer, audio, mixing and mastering engineer. They will tell you the same thing. For a reasonable price, you’ll get an amazingly rich, accurate, crystal clear audio. They are well built and made to last a long time. DT 770 Pro is indeed suitable to use even for an extended period. Good thing is that the ear-pads don’t press your ears since they are large enough to go around your ears.

Also, most of the parts of it are replaceable. Except one very crucial thing – the cable. Believe it or not, its cable can’t be replaced. That would be a major downside of these amazing studio headphones. They come in three impedance variations 30, 80, 250 ohms and they are not “muddy” headphones. At first sound check, we noticed higher detail accent in range of 3,5khz to 9khz. In that range, cymbals, vocals, hi hats are taking over the place. So, you will be provided with better high frequency control. Isolation is good and because of that bass frequencies are pretty warm but powerful. Also because of the great isolation, you are unlikely to pick up any audio from these headphones if using with a microphone. If you are a music producer or doing live mixing and you have a need for high-quality headphones, these will be the first choice and are among the best headphones around.

Impedance – 32, 80, 250 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 5 – 35.000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 96 dB

Weight – 270 g

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2)AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII

These AKG headphones are the perfect choice for studio use or stage. With these professional closed-back cans you will be provided great features with supreme ambient noise rejection which also reduces headphone’s bleeding. In simple words, its isolation is great and rank up with the best closed headphones! What about comfort? These can’s are equipped with leather (eco-leather) and cloth (velvet) set of ear pads. The leather one will give you the ultimate comfort, but when comes to sweat, cloth ones would be a much better choice. AKG also included two detachable cables, straight (3m) and coiled (5m). You will not feel the lack of mobility while wearing them.

The additional mechanism installed on these headphones is actually a switch which turns the headphones on and off when you put them on or remove from your head. Same as on the most professional reference headphones, almost all the parts on them are replaceable. The only thing that worried us a bit is a bit of lack of bass frequencies. It is just thin. But, on the other hand, the mid and high frequencies are indeed some of the greatest you will ever hear. But anyway, forget about that bass, you’ll definitely enjoy the exceptional sound reproduction you get from AKG K271 MKII.

Impedance – 55 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 16 – 28000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 104 dB

Weight – 240 g

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3)Sony MDR 7506

The Sony MDR-7506 mixing headphones are comfortable, lightweight and they have a simple design. The only downside of their design is that they have some kind of very thin metal frame and because of that they seem very cheap. Same as DT770, no detachable cable gives the impression that they don’t look and feel professional. On the other side, DMR-7506 are an excellent sounding pair of closed-back cans which goes over-ear. They will give you good, and punchy bass, exceptional mids, and crystal clear highs.

Generally speaking, they are quite versatile headphones and suitable for any genre. Anything, from rock to EDM will sound good. But, they do seem to be a bit “colored”. For more neutral, accurate reproduction, we suggest you try the Beyerdynamic DT770 or Audio Technica M50x, which we are going to present in next lines. All in all, if you are not a too demanding user, these pretty affordable headphones will do the job.

Impedance – 63 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 10 – 20000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 106 dB

Weight – 230 g

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4)Sennheiser HD280PRO

The HD 280 Pro are quite affordable, good looking and great sounding headphones for mixing. Their isolation is just amazing and these at low volumes these headphones are quiet, but are still great. The HD 280 Pro are a good fit on your head and because of that, their ear pads can provide a really good seal around ears. But, also, that feature has a downside. Your ears will get very sweaty after a relatively short period of wearing since there is no airflow. Besides that, professional build quality, heavy-duty design, and replaceable cable are all that we looked at. Even though these parts are made mostly from plastic, they still look really cool.

These cans will provide you with deep, punchy but not too heavy bass, good mids, and well-balanced highs. We can say that they are a good all-rounder, suitable for any genre of music. The overall audio quality is good and it won’t disappoint you, but it certainly isn’t Sennheiser’s top model. They are however more affordable than many other models from Sennheiser and are definitely one of the best studio headphones.

Impedance – 64 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 8 – 25000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 113 dB

Weight – 285 g

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5)AKG Pro Audio K77

AKG K77 is an extremely lightweight (190g only) and inexpensive pair of studio or live stage monitoring headphones. If you are on a tight budget, these semi-open back headphones cans could be a good choice and are among the best cheap studio monitor headphones. At least, if that encourages you, you’ll have a warranty covering 2 years. That means that you will have written guarantee promising to repair or replace them if necessary in that period.  People that need a neutral headphone with enough detail and defined bass response should be reasonably satisfied with this pair of headphones. Why did we say reasonably? If you are considering top quality audio, you may want to look at other models first, but at more cost.

Also, the build quality of the AKG K77 headphones is one of the weakest points. You can feel the cheap plastic, however not many users mention them breaking very often. Its ear-pad covers are made out of a cheap nylon-like (really fake leather) material which doesn’t offer the best noise cancelling. For a more professional, accurate audio and well-built headphones, you’ll have to be prepared to spend more money, however, for the price the AKG Pro Audio K77s  are not bad.

Impedance – 32 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 18 – 20000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 112 dB

Weight – 190 g

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6)Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

This is a pair of headphones that is more than worth mentioning. The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is promoted as monitor headphones, yet ATH M50x is a perfect allrounder, excellent for many applications. They are especially good for monitoring because due to the nice design that enables the ear cups to be rotated 90-degrees, which allows you single-ear monitoring. With Neodymium drivers, which provide extended frequency response they are among the best studio headphones for mixing too. The over-ear design with leather ear pads offers outstanding isolation for live performance in a concert hall or church auditorium. They look pretty good too and leave a positive impression at first glance.

Their weight is just right, not too heavy, not too light. On these headphones, you’ll be able to detachable the cable. Provided with the headphones are a 3m coiled cable, a 3m and 1.2m straight cable, all included in the price. Also, you’ll get a soft carrying pouch which is useful when you’re traveling. We can say that they have a pretty good neutral frequency reproduction, but with a slight emphasis on bass frequencies that you probably wouldn’t on more high-end studio headphones. However, these are still a great buy.

Impedance – 38 (Ω)

Frequency Response – 15 – 24000 Hz

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 98 dB

Weight – 240 g

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What to look for before buying monitoring headphones


We don’t know what to point out first, with sealed monitor headphones, everything is important. Since we assume, you are going to wear them for many hours, you should pay attention to the material around the ear and are they comfortable enough. Over-ear headphones are much more comfortable than on-ear and in-ear models, so that will be a good start. Do not let design and looks sway you to get another, less comfortable pair of headphones. When it comes to material, you should stop for a minute and think about it. The material is one of the main factors when choosing the right pair for you, and they are usually made from leather, vinyl, or cloth. There are some serious upsides and downsides for each material. For example, if you are going to use leather for an extended time, your ears might get sweaty and you will feel like they are burning. Also, after some time, like a couple of months, small pieces of leather may start to fall off the cover. Also, do not ignore headphones weight, for obvious reasons.

Frequency response and sound quality

Another very important thing and maybe the first one on the list for the best studio headphones is frequency response. That may be one of the first things we look at when we check the specifications of certain headphones. You need to make sure that the one you choose doesn’t favor certain frequencies. They need to be “accurate” as much as possible. You don’t want a colored sound. You don’t need that sweet bass and treble since it will provide you with the wrong audio picture. All you need for proper mix is a flat sound. Since every human being hears differently there is a question on what is accurate. Take a listen to your favorite music, the music you know the best. With accurate headphones, you’ll be able to hear everything and even some details you didn’t notice before.

Connectivity, durability and replaceable parts

We will also not disregard these three significant details. You need a long enough quality cable and quality connector. If you tend to spend some big money on your monitor headphones you may want them to last long, right? Make sure the cable is solid and flexible, and that circle which goes around the head (headband) is made of strong and reliable material. Replaceable material which goes around ears is a must whether it is made of leather, vinyl or cloth! After few years, and many hours of usage, your headphones can be in very bad condition. You will be grateful if the manufacturer of your headphones offers replacement parts for your model.

Impedance (Ω) and sensitivity

Stereo headphone impedance is measured in ohms (Ω). It tells you how much power they require to achieve a good listening volume. In other words, if you buy headphones with larger number of ohms, you’ll probably need a headphone amp to power them. But, no worries, that is just for 100< ohms headphones. On the other hand, that means that you may want to be able to use it on your smartphone for example. Why impedance is matters? Higher impedance number on headphones means that they can handle electrical signals which makes them produce the audio with more accuracy and clarity. Sensitivity is somehow related to impedance. It is a measure, in dB (decibels), of how loud particular headphones can produce the sound at a given power level. You can also notice that sensitivity is mentioned as Efficiency, or (SPL) Sound Pressure Level.

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Why do I have static noise in my headphones?

Static noise in headphones can occur in a variety of situations, but some things to check are connections, volume, dirt, audio driver and interference.

Why do I have buzzing in my headphones?

Buzzing in headphones can be caused by a loose connection, a dry joint, dirt or interference.

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