Producing music is a real talent, but it isn’t an impossible thing, especially with the kind of technologies that are available today for anyone to get started if you have an interest. It is also a field that will not see a downward trending curve because people will never stop loving music. This is one of the reasons why the music industry has been seeing tremendous growth as the years are passing by. With that said, this article will cover the best headphones for music production that are necessary for both beginners and professionals.
Best Headphones for Music Production
To begin with, music production is a process that combines a series of steps. It involves creating music by adding lyrics and tunes, recording it, mixing different sounds to make them sound appealing to the listeners, editing and fine-tuning them, and managing them.
Over the years, this process has significantly evolved in every aspect, be it from the technological point of view or about the time it takes to complete the whole production process. From a long, time-consuming undertaking with enormous-sized instruments occupying a large space in the studios to more compact equipment, with a lot of them being software-driven; the process has modernized significantly. Studio or not, all you need are a few good software and the right kind of equipment to get started anywhere. Today, people can even produce music on the go.
Can Beginners Make Music at Home Today?
With music being more widely available to everyone, more people are stepping forward to take up music production as a career. Whether you are a hobbyist or a beginner aspiring to get into the music production industry, you don’t need a professional studio to practice or for creating some fantastic pieces of your own. A beginner can start producing music at home just by understanding some fundamentals and a few basic types of equipment.
Wondering what type of music can you create at home? Well, while you can create any type of music at home if you have the right tools, EDM or Electronic dance music is the most commonly made genre in the home studio if you do not have all the equipment you need. It is also one of the easiest genres to start with as a beginner.
If you are feeling lost and thinking what are the different equipment you need to begin making music, don’t stress out! This whole process may just sound complicated, but the truth is, it isn’t that difficult at all. You do not need too much high-end and complicated equipment to start with anyway. As you gain experience in your production field, you will know exactly what you require to make improvements on different aspects and that is when you can start investing in different instruments to support you.
With that said, a few basic types of equipment that you need to make music at the home studio today are a Laptop or a PC, an external hard disk, a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, and a pair of good quality headphones. This equipment is enough to create the basic foundation. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the headphones department which is the main focus of this article.
Why Headphones Are an Important Part of the Recording?
Headphones have always been an integral part of the recording. Where earlier, they were only used by the sound engineers and music professionals during recording, today they are needed at every phase of a music production process. Right from sound mixing, recording to critical listening, a headphone is something you cannot do away with.
The best studio headphones available for this purpose allow you to be focused on your work by isolating the outside noise or prevent weird sounds from getting registered in the background of your recording. It also helps you to detect minor sounds or sound pops so you can effectively edit them. So, the best mixing headphones of studio-grade can save your work from getting ruined. And don’t worry, you will get some of the best headphones for music production at a pretty reasonable price tag.
If you are just getting started, it might be quite overwhelming to select the right kind of headphones given that there are numerous options available. Every brand out there has its selling point that may seem attractive and why not? They all claim to be the best for studio applications. This makes it even worse if you are to come to a decision, right? Therefore, to make things easier for you, we have compiled below some of the best studio headphones that are perfect for music production at home or in the studio.
Different Types of Headphones
Closed-back headphones are usually large, with an over-ear style that covers the entire ear perfectly and prevents sound leakage as well as outside noise isolation. These headphones find themselves ideal for recording or close monitoring of the audio even at lower volumes.
Open-back headsets, unlike the closed-back counterpart, have a mesh or screen at the back of the open headphones. This makes the sound move freely, making the audio sound more airy and natural. These types of headphones do not offer great sound isolation, therefore, they are used in sound mixing or mastering where little leakage will not make any difference.
Semi-open back creates a balance between the open and closed back ones. They give an airy sound along with decent noise isolation. These headphones are usually preferred by those who look for a good balance of both the previous types of headphones. They can be used in production, mixing, mastering, or editing. They are also more comfortable to the ears.
Best Headphones for Music Production: List of the Best Headphones for Making Beats
Inarguably, studio headphones are one of those tools without which a music production cannot be successful. Your laptop speaker or a small speaker can probably do the job, but it cannot give you that amount of accuracy as a studio-grade headphone can. These professional headphones are also slightly more refined and versatile than that regular ones. They are particularly geared for sound mixing, mastering, and editing functionalities in the studio.
While the regular consumer headphones feature emphasized frequencies, especially the bass and the treble, studio headphones have a rather flat frequency. This means they deliver a neutral or unbiased sound, so you can get the original audio recording in a clearer and amplified way.
In the list below we will cover a mix of all these three types of headphones from different brands and across different price ranges so you have an option to choose what works best for you. Let’s get started:
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X: (Overall Best Headphones for Music Production)
With Audio-Technica ATH-M50X, you get everything that you expect the best studio headphones to have. Right from accuracy to design to reasonable pricing, there is a good balance of all the factors that makes this an ideal option to go for.
The headphone has solid feedback from the users and experts on exceptional performance and sturdy build quality. It has a frequency response of 15 Hz to 28 kHz that offers superior clarity along with crisp and clear bass. The 45 mm large driver gives powerful and accurate audio output and the over-ear, closed-back design performs good noise isolation giving you a better listening experience.
The company has designed these headphones for flat frequency response, but you can feel that there is a slight prominence in the bass response which isn’t that big of a deal. The overall design makes it an all-rounder and one of the best headphones for music production be it editing, mastering, mixing, critical listening, or recording. The headphone has swiveling ear cups that allow single-ear listening for quick monitoring. There are also wires and wireless Bluetooth options available in this model.
You will get the wired pair at a competitive pricing of $277.00.
Some of you who are extremely particular about a neutral sound may find this one having a slight punchy base.
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Open-Back Reference Headphones: (Best Mixing Headphones)
Here’s yet another one from Audio-Technica that is a little higher-end than the previous one listed. Its striking open-back design and ultimate transparent acoustics make it a perfect option for sound mixing. Because of this, the ATH-R70x has been specially designed for use as ‘reference headphones’. These flat response headphones can also be used to test other audio equipment.
Perfect for studio use, and one of the best mixing headphones, the headphone has been ergonomically designed with a floating style headband. This ensures long hours of wearing without giving ear fatigue or exerting pressure on the head. With 45 mm high-efficiency magnetic drivers, the sound delivery is smooth and powerful without extra emphasis on any levels be it low, mids or highs.
The headset has a frequency response of 5 Hz to 40 Khz which is way beyond the human hearing range. This extended range combined with a high impedance of 470 Ohm gives solid audio clarity and lets you hear every minute detailing of the sound so you can effectively edit the recording. However, because of its high impedance, you will need a good headphone amp to connect to for best results.
This pair of studio headphones have a price tag of $349.00 which is slightly higher but with all the features and no potential downside, it is worth every penny.
AKG K240 MKII Semi-Open Back Headphones:(Best Headphones for Making Beats Under $100)
AKG headphones, especially K240 MKII, have been finding themselves in studios and recording houses for quite some time now. Preferred by many musicals composers across the globe, this one has been one of the best headphones for music production.
These over-ear headphones feature a semi-open back that offers dynamic stereo sound, having a balance between both powerful thumping bass and well-defined airy highs. The company patented Varimotion diaphragm that is of 30 mm XXL size offers high-quality sound across all the frequency levels. The headphone has a frequency response of 15 Hz to 25 kHz which means it allows you to hear even the tiniest sound clearly for better monitoring.
With a neutral sound profile and lightweight build, these headphones are a great option for long hours of use while producing music, sound mixing, and monitoring if you want something at an affordable cost. You will get this headset for $84.95 online.
Focal Listen Professional Studio Headphones: (Best Studio Headphones for Versatile Use)
Although not a frequently heard name like some other top brands like Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, or Sony, Focal Listen Professional has a good deal to offer when it comes to studio headphones. The headphones are ergonomically designed for extra comfort and the fit is compact enough to provide efficient noise isolation without causing discomfort to the ears.
When it comes to the sound delivery, it is quite impressive. While many closed-back models develop pretty punchy low frequency owing to their closed nature, this pair of headphones is engineered to keep the sound extremely natural and unbiased at any frequency level. This model has an amazingly extended frequency response of 5 Hz to 22 kHz. The Mylar transducers are 40mm large and have a titanium build that is responsible for crystal, clear audio giving you one of the best listening experiences you would want.
Focal Listen Professional is perfect for all kinds of studio functionalities be it critical listening, mixing, recording, or monitoring. It has a price tag of $299.00.
The only possible disadvantage could be that the headband has a silicone layer which can break a sweat or cause heat.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro: (Best Mixing Headphones)
This model from Beyerdynamic is one of the best mixing headphones available in the market. The headphone has a semi-open design that offers a well-balanced function of both closed and open back making it suitable for all the functions in a production department. This means that the headphone features a transparent and natural sound profile along with solid dynamics through the low to high-frequency levels.
With a wide frequency range of 5 Hz to 35 kHz, an impedance of 250 Ohms, and sound sensitivity of 96 dB, this audio is more popular among sound mixing and mastering professionals. The accurate sound delivery along with a rugged yet comfortable design with plush ear padding makes it one of the best choices for long hours of use. It will not exert excessive pressure on your head or ears unlike some headphones so you can use them without worry.
On the upside, most parts of the headphone are replaceable. So, if any part gets damaged, you do not have to invest a huge chunk of money and get a new one, rather, you can service or replace the part needed which will cost you way less. The headphone costs $229.00 which is in the mid-range.
Even though the product boasts about being perfectly suitable for all applications, its half-open mesh may cause a bit of sound leakage. This means that it may not be great for recording purposes.
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO: (Best Headphones for Making Beats for Beginners)
For those who are just beginning to make music at a budget-friendly range to start with, then this one from Sennheiser is the one you need. Even though the product has an affordable price tag, it is packed with all the features that you expect the best studio headphones to have.
The headphone has a lightweight plastic build which may not give you the best appearance or a stylish look, but it is tough and durable for long-term use. With a frequency response of 8 Hz to 25 kHz and a 64 Ohm impedance, it gives you a detailed sound ideal for close monitoring.
Despite having a closed back, the headphone has a warm and neutral sound signature, without any excessive dependency on the bass or the treble. This makes it one of the best headphones for making beats or recording. The headphone has a nominal price tag of $99.00.
Doesn’t have the style factor or a visually appealing look. The earcups are elongated so the fitting may depend on the type of face cut you have.
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 600: (Best Mixing Headphones- Premium)
Here’s a higher-end version from Sennheiser and one of the best mixing headphones that have received numerous positive reviews and recommendations from users and experts across the globe. Right from the sophisticated look to perfect spatial sound and studio-grade features, this pair is capable of making you fall for it.
Packed with neodymium drivers and aluminum voice coils, the headphone provides accurate frequency response and superior sound dynamic that gives an incredible listening experience. The open meshed back allows the sound to travel around freely so you can experience a high-resolution stereo sound perfectly optimized for premium detailed recordings.
Given the hi-fidelity sound profile, and the premium built, the headphone has been a favorite among several sound mixing and mastering professionals worldwide. If you are looking for the best studio headphones under the $300 markup, check this out.
Sony MDR 7506 Professional Headphones: (Best Headphones for Making Beats in Sony)
One of the most popular and the best headphones for music production and beat-making, you will find at least one Sony MDR 7506 in every music or recording studio. The headphone is made with light materials making it a very handy one that can be worn throughout the day.
When it comes to sound, these studio headphones are engineered with large neodymium speaker drivers that deliver outstanding sound. The closed-back design is a perfect noise-isolating feature that makes it ideal for recording or even active listening. While most of the headphones of Sony are pretty bass-boosted with significantly powerful sub-bass, this pair here forms a well-balanced and uniform sound reproduction across all the frequency levels.
They have been a choice of many sound engineers for years now, so when it comes to reliability, it’s Sony after all. It has a pretty competitive pricing of $99.00.
Doesn’t have a great sophisticated look but if that is in your checklist, then you may want to go for Audio-Technica or Beyerdynamic.
Shure SRH1540: (Best Headphones for Making Beats)
These headphones are a premium selection that will give you a combination of outstanding sound quality, durability, and top-notch comfort. The headphone is packed with 40 mm drivers engineered for ultimate acoustics and a broad soundstage. The lows are warm and undistorted whereas the mid-range and the highs are crystal clear and sharp.
The headphones have a dual frame construction- one is the steel driver frame and the other is the center pole piece that vents out the built-in pressure for more accurate and clean acoustics. The headphone has a visually aesthetic appearance and is made ergonomically fit for ultimate comfort. You also get additional replacement ear paddings and a cable, so you can change them when they wear out, which is a huge plus. The ear paddings also do a great job isolating the sound giving you an uninterrupted listening experience, perfect for recording or monitoring.
With a premium price tag of $499.00, this may not be something that everyone would like to invest in. However, if you are looking for a high-end product and do not mind an extended budget, then do keep an eye on this.
KRK KNS 8400 Studio Monitor Headphones: (Best Headphones for Making Beats)
KNS 8400 will be the best headphones for music production that you need if you use separate headphones for making beats. Known for developing audio equipment fit for studio sound, KRK has come up with its headphone series with new state-of-the-art acoustics technology for improved sound.
The headphone has a bright sound profile with an impressive bassline, sculpted mids, and clean highs. There is solid stereo imaging along with extended frequency response (5 Hz to 23 kHz), superior noise isolation which together makes it one of the best headphones for making beats.
The headphone has a sturdy and durable build with a detachable cable having an in-line volume control. You will get this at a price tag of $135.04.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Headphones for Music Production:
Choosing a headphone for music-making is pretty easy. The following factors are necessary to keep in mind before buying the best headphones for music production.
If you’re looking for headphones for your music production project, then you may be needing to wear them for several hours. Getting a headphone that will be comfortable is one of the main things you need to consider. Your headset should have plush ear padding and a padded and adjustable headband.
Type of Headphone:
Studio-grade headphones can be of different types like closed, open, and semi-open back. Choose the type of headphones depending on your application. For example, while a closed-back headphone is ideal for recording, an open-back is more convenient for mastering or sound mixing. Similarly, if you need one for the studio and need a headphone to identify issues like sound pops or hums, then a reference headphone will be more appropriate.
Flat Frequency Response:
To get the most accurate results during the production process, you need to get a headphone that has a neutral, unbiased sound signature rather than a bass boosted one. This will help you figure out every minute imperfections in a recording or the audio, helping you edit your work more precisely. The best studio headphones available out there come with a neutral sound signature.
Headphone Compatibility With the Monitor or the Audio Device:
Before purchasing the headphone, ensure that are top-quality products. This is because if you buy a high-end headphone, but your monitor quality doesn’t match with it, then you will not be able to get a proper mix.
Impedance is the amount of resistance and the higher the impedance, the better is the sound quality. However, if you are looking for headphones to do minor editing work on your mobile or in a smaller system, a low impedance headphone will work just fine. Check out our best editing headphones from here. But, if you are working in a professional or home studio set-up with bigger systems, go for headphones with mid-range impedance (not very high ones). You may need a headphone amp with high impedance headphones for best results.
Additional Information to Set Up Home Studio:
What are the different kinds of software that you need to keep in mind when you want to start producing music at home?
Digital Audio Workstation
One of the main pieces of equipment that you need for music production is a DAW or digital audio workstation. In simple words, a DAW is software where you put together or synchronize all the elements of your music. For a novice in the music-making world, this digital workstation is enough to get started right from the scratch.
There are numerous DAWs available online, while some are free music production software for beginners to start with, some are paid ones. Now, do not get misguided by the absence of a price tag in the free ones because they are pretty impressive tools with great controls allowing you to create what you want. Whether you want to create a song, mix sounds, or edit a pre-existing recording, you can do everything in the free software too. But, yes, the paid ones do have an edge over these with some additional features and extra storage, etc. Since you do not get to see a microphone on most monitor headphones, you might want to consider one of these from our Best Headphones for Zoom Meeting list for your virtual meeting needs.
Some top DAWs available in the market today are GarageProject by Apple, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Logic Pro, Reaper (by Cockos), Ableton Live, PreSonus Studio, and more. Before you get a DAW (whether paid or free), do read up some reviews on them, so you can get the best one available.
Basic Equipment Needed
What are the basic equipment other than headphones that one needs to start producing music? Aside from DAW and headphones, there are a few other basic types of equipment that you will be needing to create music :
Laptop or a Computer
If you need to download a DAW for your project, you cannot do that without a system. Any MAC or Windows system will work but needs to have powerful RAM. Ideally, one with 8 GB and above RAM will function smoothly and fast.
External Hard Disk
You do not want to run out of space once you have created your works right. You will need enough space to save them. Well, a PC can easily have space shortage, especially with all the other files. Always have a separate solid-state hard drive where you can save your work.
Once you gain some experience with music-making, then a few other things that you may require to step up or upgrade your home studio are:
- Audio interface to connect the mics and instruments,
- A microphone to record vocals and instruments,
- Microphone Filters if vocals are your main focus of work,
- Studio Monitors (expensive option but needed if you are working at a professional level)
- Different types of instrument cables.
Coming back to headphones, the best headphones for music production is a personal choice and depends on an individual’s requirement, work, listening preference, etc. there are different choices you can go for but when it comes to the best studio headphones brand, a few names that instantly pop up in the mind are Audio-Technical, AKG and Sennheiser that do a great job no matter what. These headphones are suitable at both intermediate level, or at a professional level, whether you are creating music at home or in a studio. But, before you invest in a good headphone, keep the factors in mind, which will help you pick the best headphones for music production. You might also want to take a look at our Best True Wireless Earbuds article.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
Well, it is true that the higher the headphone costs, the more additional features or conveniences you get, including the sound quality. The reason being, high-end headphones will have better quality internal engineering as well, which adds to the cost. But, if you are a beginner, or starting up a home studio, then a mid-ranged to even a budget-friendly headphone can give you great results. We have listed some of the best headphones for music production under different price ranges but with great reviews.
The studio headphones have a neutral or flat sound signature, unlike the consumer headphones that usually have boosted bass or highlighted treble for louder sound and effects. When you casually listen to music with headphones or need one for making work calls, you expect a good noise-canceling feature to cut off the ambient noise. But in a music production process, there is no requirement for an ANC feature. Only a little amount of noise isolation suffices in this case.
Any studio-grade headphone with a closed-back is ideal for recording. We have listed the best headphones for producing EDM that suits your needs.