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Best Studio Headphones For Mixing 2024: 12 Pairs For Pro Prods!!

What headphones do mixing engineers use? What Should I look for in studio headphones?

Be you a mix engineer or producer, the best studio headphones should be a priority.

And we don’t just say that because they help you look the part. Fact remains that as a producer, your headphones (much like your Studio Monitors) are your first point of reference when composing your music or adjusting your mix. In other words, these nifty little devices influence virtually all of your creative decisions. So to ‘make do’ with a set of cheap studio headphones is (in many ways) shooting yourself in the foot.

That’s because not all headphones are intended to be used in the same way. In fact, no two pairs are alike, hence why when it comes to buying a pair of studio headphones, you need to do your research. Reason being that while some are the ‘go-to’ for critical listening, others will be more suited to casual use – i.e. getting inside the ears of your listener. Heck, there’s even some that try and juggle the two! Mix this up however, and you could easily end up making your entire production process 10 times harder (gulp).

So don’t just dismiss your studio headphones as being an flamboyant accessory. They’re not! Yes, other gear like Audio Interfaces & Vocal Microphones are probably more ‘essential’, but when it comes to getting the best out of your sound, your studio headphones play a BIG part. Exactly why we’ve reviewed a whopping 14 pairs of the best studio headphones for mixing & mastering + spelled out their perks and downfalls.

After something specific about the best studio headphones? Or just curious as to what headphones are used by studio engineers in 2024? Use the menu below to find all the answers you need in 1 click…

reviews of the best mixing headphones

When it comes to studio headphones for mixing and mastering, you need to remember that an honest sound (however ugly it may be) is kudos! Even though many pairs of headphones may give you a more ‘attractive’ sound, with thumping low end and tapered off highs, that actually makes it harder for you to achieve a well-balanced mix. So much so that investing in the right pair of studio headphones, is for any producer, beat-maker or mix engineer, a complete ‘must’. Don’t debate it!

So without further ado, here’s our complete rundown of the best studio headphones you can get your hands on today…


1: Mackie MC-450 luxury mixing headphones

After a pair of open-back professional mixing headphones? Answer “yes”, and the Mackie MC-450s are certainly worth checking out. And we don’t say so just ‘because’ – these headphones seriously caught us off guard. You see, don’t be fooled (by the price) into thinking that the Mackies aren’t anything to write home about… they are! In fact, as far as mixing headphones go, the 450s are very much the underdog.

Large claim we know, especially considering that a decade or so back, Mackie’s reputation was ‘questionable’ to say the least. Nevertheless, it’s one we think these headphones justify. Just listen to how they sound… the mid range is crisp and well defined, while thesub region is ever so slightly recessed. Not overly recessed, but just enough not to overpowering. The trebles on these headphones are light and airy too.

So much so that the overall sound is incredibly flat and revealing – i.e. the 450s are a great honest mixing headphone for spotting inconsistencies in your mix. Impressive from a 42mm driver!! We’re particularly fans of the separation you get between sounds. With these headphones, you can really distinguish each instrument in your mix, as the 450s imitate studio monitors super well. In fact, we’d even say their sound is wider that that you get on the Sennheiser HD600!

While in terms of comfort, the 450s are no slouch either. The headband and ear cups are covered in perforated leather and hold their shape really well. Not to mention the amount of clamp force, which we’d describe as a pleasant go-between. While it’s strong enough to be stable, it’s not so strong that your head feels like it’s wedged inside an industrial crusher.

In fact (for the price), we found it hard to find fault. Yes, the design of the MC-450s isn’t ‘out there’, but when it comes to the best studio headphones for mixing, we think you’ll be hard pushed to find better. Well done Mackie!

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • The mids & trebles are crisp & well balanced. So much so that we’d say they stack up to those you find in headphones priced substantially higher.
  • The build on these MC-450 headphones is exceptional. The use of leather and metal makes them feel strong, but equally luxurious!
  • There’s strong separation in-between sounds. You can depict every instrument in your mix with these headphones!
music producer with headphones on in a music studio

2: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 wireless bluetooth headphones

If your budget for a pair of studio headphones is near limitless, then STOP – forget doing any more research & take a serious look at the Beoplay H95s. A pair of studio-quality headphones that (we’ll be honest) surpass every expectation imaginable. No – seriously, they’re ‘that’ good! Let’s just say that anyone who buys a pair of these, will soon be putting their Sennheisers up for sale.

That’s because these headphones really do bring the WOW factor. Even unboxing them feels like a rehearsed piece of theatre. The plush metal travel case you get with these B&O headphones is super lux! Then there’s the headphones themselves, which feature a genuine leather headband and are made mostly of polished metal! Aside from being magnetic (yes – magnetic!), the ear cups also made of lambskin and are sized perfectly for big & small ears.

As for features, well – there’s that many we’ll just list them. The Beoplay H95 gives you: Bluetooth, built-in Google assistant, adjustable noise cancellation & volume controls, intuitive play/skip features, 38 hours of battery life, a built-in microphone for telephone calls & of course, that sound! In fact, that’s the whole reason you buy these headphones, as in the sound department they run rings around even the best from Austrian Audio and Sennheiser! Their clarity is phenomenal.

Experience a movie or your favourite playlist through the Beoplay H95s, and it’s almost like you’re listening to something completely new, especially with the noise cancellation dialled up to full. The bass is super punchy and the mids are beyond crisp! So much so that you can really easily pick out subtle nuances and layers to the sound that you perhaps didn’t hear before.

All of which from a mixing and mastering perspective, makes these headphones almost like a secret weapon. While they’re by no means the flattest headphones you can buy, in terms of detail, nothing else comes close. For picking apart the layers of your mix & building a 3D sound, these are certainly a step in the right direction. Get a mix sounding good on a pair of these & you can pretty much call it a job well done.

Yes, they’re pricy at over £500. But when consider these are actually 2 headphones in one (critical + casual), that price suddenly seems a lot more reasonable. In fact, take into account the superb build quality and all the extra functionality you get with the H95s, and we’d even go as far as to say that (for the level of engineering & design), they’re a downright bargain.

And nope – (disclaimer) Bang & Olufsen haven’t bribed us to say that. They’ve simply converted a bunch of Seinheiser fanatics into hardcore B&O fanboys. Guess they really do know their stuff.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • The titanium drivers on the Beoplay H95 make these some of the clearest & most detailed sounding headphones you can buy! No debate – end of story.
  • The build is faultless! Everything from their comfort, right down to the B&O etching on the metal cups is sublime!
  • The control you get integrated into these headphones is insane. Adjusting the volume and level of noise cancellation is done by metal rings around each ear cup. Ear cups that we may add are also touch sensitive!!

3: Austrian Audio – Hi-X65 open back studio headphones

After being mildly impressed, but by no means ‘wowed’ by Austrian Audio’s Hi-X55 headphones, we were intrigued to see how the Hi-X65 could improve. And oh, how they have. So much so that we’d even be tempted right now to label them ‘the’ best studio headphones for mixing you can buy. That’s because when in comparison with other headphones (even those from the likes of Sennheiser), the Hi-X65s are in a different league. Bold claim we know, but here’s why.

Space. The amount of it you get with these headphones is truly astonishing. Wear these, and as a producer you can almost feel each individual element in your mix and get a 3D sense of where it sits. We’d even go as far as to say that these headphones almost have a panoramic feel. As for the sound itself, these headphones are incredibly detailed. The mid range is especially forward. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the low end is also nice and extended too – it feel very subby! Not to mention those snappy transients.

And being open-back headphones, the Hi-X65s work super well for monitoring too. In fact, with them on it’s like you have a pair of studio monitors in the room with you. So for any prod with a small setup or who likes producing ‘on the go’, these are ideal! They’re comfortable too. Unlike a lot of headphones at this price-point, they don’t pincer your head like it’s in a vice grip. They’re firm, but not uncomfortable. So as far as long sessions go, they’re well suited.

Now of course, some will say their sound (just like other Austrian Audio headphones) is a tad bright. In fact, some of you may agree. Going from a pair of Seinheisers to the Hi-X65s can be quite a shock. However, give your ears 5-10 minutes to adjust and you may well be due a rethink We did, as the brightness actually helped us to depict the high end that bit better. Something that from a mixing perspective is actually really useful.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • For any mix engineer or sound designer, these are sensational! The stereo filed is SO wide!
  • These headphones are built like tanks. We all know the Austrians are sticklers for quality & the Hi-X65s are no exception!!
  • The unboxing experience is one of the best you’ll get with a pair of studio headphones!
producer & music artist sharing a pair of mixing headphones

4: Sony MDR-7506 professional studio headphones

Well done. You’ve stumbled across the industry standard for studio headphones: the Sony MDR 7506. A set of cans that (if you’re a producer on a tight budget) are all the ‘headphone’ that you need. Sounds quite contradictory when you consider just how bland these headphones look. We won’t try glam it up – they scream “GENERIC” to the rooftops. However if you ask us, that’s what makes the Sony MDR 7506 so great.

You see, the fact these headphones have kept pretty much the same design for over 3 decades brings down manufacturing costs & therefore, allows them to be truly cheap mixing headphones. A market which to present, they dominate. You’ll struggle to find better for less! Yes, they won’t be dubbed ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ in a hurry, but that’s the whole point. The MDRs aren’t meant to be a fashion statement (cough) B&O. They’re made with one thing in mind: sound.

Take a listen to the Sony MDRs, and you’ll soon hear that they’re not intended for recreational use. The bass is deep, yet nowhere near as prominent as you find with other more casual headphones. The mids and highs are what really zing out. The trebles are incredibly crisp and the mids are very natural and detailed. All-in-all the sound of the MDR 7506 is really well balanced, allowing you to really get a sense of where everything is in your mix.

It also makes these headphones ideal for critical listening. If you’re wanting to flag up inconsistencies, then look no further. The MDRs are arguable the best studio headphones for mixing to date, hence why they’re known as an industry standard. Speaking of standards, the build you get with an MDR 7506 is pretty decent considering the price. Yes, they’re made entirely of plastic and yes, the pleather ear cups leave a lot to be desired. But in terms of durability, the MDRs are dependable – they’re built like tanks.

The pleather also does a surprisingly good job at isolating your ears from noise too. So while these may not be the most ‘rad’ pair of headphones you can buy, as studio headphones they more than fulfil their purpose. Moral of the story: don’t judge on appearances. Do so and you may miss out on something great.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • The 40mm drivers do a superb job of creating a well balanced sound that makes these soem of the best mixing headphones for critical listening.
  • 3 decades old & virtually unchanged, yet they’re still the king of budget studio headphones. You can’t beat the MDR 7506 on value.
  • The pleather ear cups are a bit basic, but you can buy genuine leather replacements with memory foam!!

5: Etymotic ER4-SR studio reference earbuds

It’s fair to say that while studio headphones are incredibly popular, not everyone’s a fan. For some headphones are too bulky and obnoxious, whereas for others too much of the sound escapes into the surrounding room. Hardly ideal if you’re wanting to crank up the volume in a library or coffee shop. In which case, a pair of studio earbuds could well be a better choice.

Ask us and we’d say some of the best are the monitoring earbuds by Etymotic – the ER4-SRs. That’s because (to put it bluntly), these studio quality earbuds put your Beats & Air-Pods to shame!! From a monitoring perspective, they’re FAR more suited to production and critical listening. In fact, they’re designed purely around accuracy, which makes their sound as honest (if not more) than a good chunk of full-size studio headphones. And yet, it’s not like for that sound, they cost a lot either.

Upon first listen you’ll probably notice that, in comparison to other more casual options, the level of bass on the ER4-SR is less frontal. By that we mean that the bass on these is punchy, but not overpowering. The mids are crisp and well-pronounced, while the highs are remarkably detailed too. In fact, we’d even go as far as to say that this is the best treble that we’ve ever experienced in a pair of earbuds. It’s not rolled back at all. Neither are there any spikes. So much so that the overall sound of these headphones remains flat, but spacious. It’s therefore pretty easy to spot well-masted song with these earbuds… they’re brutally honest.

Part of which is down to their cone-shaped design, which means these headphones sit nice and deep in your ear. Put it this way, they certainly won’t fall out in a hurry! So as you’d imagine, in terms of sound isolation, the ER4-SRs are superb! Very few frequencies find their way out of these earbuds and into the surrounding room. Useful to know if you’re after an honest sound even at high volume.

And yes, their deep fitment does take some getting used to. However once you become accustomed, these earphones are pretty darn comfortable, even for long sessions. So much so that if you’re after a set of studio earbuds that tick the monitoring boxes, yet don’t SCREAM it to the rest of the world, then a pair of Etymotic ER4-SRs could well be all you need. Does this make them the best studi headphones you can buy? Perhaps – yes.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • For earbuds, the sound quality is outstanding! The only other earphones we can think of that even come close are the Audio Technica ATH-E70.
  • The build is excellent on these earbuds – it’s aluminium! Plus, the cable has literally no memory!
  • Despite them being earbuds, the sound is spacious & well-rounded. In fact, these earbuds put many full-size monitoring headphones to shame!!
pair of studio headphones resting on a desk

6: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO studio reference headphones

Beydynamic Beyedynamic Beyerdynamic has a reputation for not only having one of the funniest names in audio, but also for manufacturing some of the best studio headphones money can buy. So as you’d expect, their DT 1770 Pro headphones for the most part, follow this trend. For closed-back headphones, these sound sensational. What makes them stand out is how aggressive and detailed they are in comparison to other studio-orientated headphones.

Take a listen and you’ll see that the bass has a real warmth to it. The mids have a real presence to them too, plus a good amount of natural timbre. Yet they do retain a bit of that low-end hotness. In terms of bass response, these studio headphones also score highly, especially with low sub-bass frequencies. And as for the trebles, they’re quite a lot less harsh than those on other Beyerdynamic headphones.

Not a bad thing as means the overall sound of these cans is virtually flat. Safe to say if a mix is too bass-heavy or bright, these headphones will let you know. Even if you lower the volume, they’ll be equally as critical. Instrumental separation is also superb on the 1770 PROs. You can really get a 3D perspective as to where every instrument is in your mix. The only slight (not issue) but observation that we made, is that the sound can change depending on what type of ear pads you use.

As standard, Beyerdynamic include 2 sets of pads for the ear cups: velour & leather (another perk). Opt for the leather and you should notice slight increase in clarity, in terms of both the sub bass and mid range. Handy tip that! and it’s not just the sound that’s well balanced. The weight of these headphones is nicely distributed too.

These headphones are also some of the best built that you’ll find. Their all-metal build is a real step up from the standard DT 1770 – that ‘PRO’ name isn’t just a gimmick! Combine this with their hardshell carry case (another nice addition) and for a studio headphone, the Beyerdynamic is certainly one to bear in mind.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • In terms of honesty, the DT 1770 PROs are hard to beat. Turn these right down and they’ll still be a s critical.
  • The build is all metal & quality on a whole is exceptional. At 388g, these are a very sturdy piece of kit!
  • There’s a LOT of extras with these studio headphones: a hardshell carry case, 2 sets of ear pads etc.

7: Audio-Technica ATH-R70X mixing headphones

When Audio Technica announced they were going to manufacture their first ever full-sized open-back headphones for mixing, we were skeptical. Let’s just say that (for us), Audio Technika headphones of the past have being very much ‘hit and miss’. However, we’re pleased to say that with the ATH-R70X they’ve scored a great big hit.

We have to say, when it comes to design, Audio Technica have pushed the boat out. So not only is the ATH-R70X incredibly light @ just 210g, but they’re also super comfortable to wear. The wing headband design makes these phones almost cup your head, opposed to just resting on it. A feature we really like as it allows for more movement in your head + you don’t mess up your hair-do!

The pads on these Audio Technica headphones are soft on the ears too. Long sessions in the studio shouldn’t be an issue. Speaking of which, if you don’t have access to studio monitors but want to feel like you do, then the ATH-R70X could be up your street. With these headphones being open-back, you feel far more immersed in the sound, as you don’t get any of the noise reverberations that you would with a closed-back. And as for the sound itself – well…

It sounds clear and natural – these headphones have a proper good balance to them. All of which makes the ATH-R70X a great critical headphone. The mid range & top end are nice and open too, so vocals especially, sound clear and crisp. And as for the low end, it’s actually quite difficult to tell these headphones apart from the Sennheiser HD600. We couldn’t. Plus, the stereo field on these is also extremely wide. Safe to say if you’re after the best studio headphones for mixing, the ATH-R70X has to be on your shortlist.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • They use carbon fibre to improve rigidity & transcient response!!
  • For mixing headphones, these are incredibly light – just 210g! So light that you often forget you’re even wearing them.
  • As far as critical listenimng goes, the R70X has an incredibly detailed sound!
mix engineers listening back to their mix & making small changes

8: Audeze LCD-2 Classic planar magnetic headphones

If comfort is what you look for in a pair of studio headphones, then relax – Audeze have you covered. In fact, we’d not hesitate to claim that these are some of (if not ‘the’) most comfortable studio headphones you can buy. In the ‘pad department’, the LCD-2Cs are incredibly plush!

Compare the memory foam used to that on cheap studio headphones, and you can soon see why for long sessions, the LCD-2Cs are a clear favourite. Their cups are incredibly deep, as is the way they perch on your head. So much so that the comfort of the LCD 2Cs feels very much like a main focus, opposed to an afterthought. However, it’s not like all this comfort is a compromise; these headphones sound pretty rad too!

We’d say the easiest way to describe their sound would be soft, but attentive. These are very much an enjoyable headphone, yet in terms of imaging, they don’t disappoint. There’s not one aspect of the sound that overpowers the rest. The mids are alive, present and actually quite forward. Vocals in particular have a nice kick to them. The treble is smooth, but not lacking in delivery. And as for the bass, that’s got a good punch to it as well.

However, the highlight for us was the soundstage, whcih with the LCD-2Cs is incredibly wide. Listen to these headphones and everything feels grand and airy, almost like you’re in large concert venue. For classical music in particular, they’re a dream. So much so that we’d even say that on sound, these are very hard to tell apart from the Audeze LCD X – this headphone’s more pricy cousin.

In which case, if you’re after a well-built, comfortable pair of headphones, that give you both the clarity you need for mixing, as well as the softness of a casual headphone – why buy anything else?!

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • These headphones sound sensational. They’re detailed and full, yet not so critical that you can’t use them casually.
  • Even though they clock in at 600g, the weight is distributed well, so there’s little chance of neck fatigue.
  • Even the cable on these headphones is lux! It’s braided with an aluminium cover shielding the join between the two wires. Very classy!

9: Shure SRH 1540 Professional premium mixing headphones

Shure do some great microphones, so you’d imagine that their headphones (also being sound orientated) would be equally as impressive. And in the case you’re an engineer, you’re not wrong. That’s because while the Shure SRH 1540s aren’t in any way the best headphones for listening to music or casually playing games, when it comes to critical listening, they hit the spot.

Out of all the headphones on this list, these are some of (if not ‘the’) flattest you’ll find. The whole sound you get with these headphones is very neutral. The bass has good punch and the vocals appear full too. The soundstage is nice and wide too. By no means as wide as you’ll find with the Austrian Audio, but it’s certainly up there. However, the real stand out feature of these studio headphones has to be the build. Now that is sensational.

While other pairs of headphones in this price range fall back on plastic, the 1540s uses a mix of aluminium & kevlar! All of which means that these headphones don’t only feel solid and long-lasting, but they’re also incredibly lightweight too. If there was such thing as a ‘weight: quality’ ratio, the 1540s would for Shure take the gold medal (see what we did there?). We’re particular fans of the deep ear cups you get with these headphones. Good news, as it means that even those with the largest ears shouldn’t have their ears pressed up against the drivers.

In fact, the only real downside of these headphones from a mixing POV is their flexibility. Now, just to be clear, the top band does flex really well and there’s a lot of adjustability in terms of the length. It’s more portability which for many prods could be the ‘make or break’. Unlike virtually all the studio headphones at this price-point, the 1540s do not fold or rotate. In other words, if you’re an on the go producer, you cannot reduce their footprint to get them in your travel bag.

Does that disqualify them from being the best studio headphones out there? We’ll leave you to answer that…

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • As far as reference headphones go, you’ll struggle to find a flatter sound. Call them a mix engineer’s dream.
  • Those HUGE ear cups are super soft & comfy! That memory foam really does its job.
  • Yes, they’re not the most portable, but they’re built to last. Materials used include aluminium & kevlar!
referencing headphones

10: Yamaha HPH-MT8 foldable Studio Headphones

Yamaha are known for a lot of musical instruments, yet their studio headphones remain quite under the radar. Although, after testing out their MT8s, we’re not entirely sure why. These are hands down some of the best all round mixing headphones – period. Don’t believe us? Check the price…

You see, as far as critical listening goes, the Yamaha MT8s are ideal. Their whole sound remains really quite neutral, especially the bass. Something that means the highs and mids don’t get lost. Neither does their detail, which is another reason why the MT8s are stand-out mixing headphones. On vocals, they sound sublime!! Those who work with female vocalists will LOVE these headphones!

So much so that we’d say they’re at least on par with the Sennheiser HD600. An old-school pair of headphones that many mix engineers still swear by. And as for comfort factor, these headphones don’t do bad either. Considering their price, plus the fact there’s no memory foam, they don’t feel uncomfortable. The ear cushions especially, which are made of a smooth synth leather. Far softer you get on the cheaper MT5 models. However, they’re also our main bugbear.

That’s because with them being that soft, your ear can end up sinking all the way into the headphones. So much so that they often rest on the driver. Not great, but it’s nothing a replacement pair of ear-cups can’t solve. And believe us, that’s a worthy investment, as these headphones do not disappoint when it comes to sound, both when mixing and relaxing in your swanky Producer Chair. For the money, these are tough to beat.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • The sound of the MT8 headphones is really quite neutral & flat. All of which makes critical listening with these headphones, a breeze!
  • For what they are, these headphones are unbelievably cheap!!
  • Yamaha build some of the best Grand Pianos in the business, so naturally these headphones don’t feel cheap.

11: Pioneer DJ – HDJ-X7 Professional DJ headphones

You’d assume that any headphones emblazoned with the name Pioneer DJ to be a bass-junkie’s dream. However in the case of the HDJ-X7s we don’t actually think that mix engineers would disapprove either. That’s because the HDJ-X7s feel very much like a studio headphone. By that we mean, while they’re dubbed as ‘DJ’ headphones, you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a set of reference headphones. Granted, that’s not their intended purpose, but it’s a role they do a pretty good job of fulfilling.

You see, while you do get a good amount of bass with these headphones, it’s not muddy. Neither are the mids or highs belittled by a humongous booming bass. In fact, the way these headphones are EQed makes them actually quite detailed, especially in the mid range. There’s a good sense of separation too and the soundstage is nice and wide. All of which means that these headphones are anything but fatiguing to listen to. To be honest, we could listen to them for hours on end!

Reason being that when it comes to comfort, the HDJ-X7s excel too. The headband is thickly padded in a nice leather-like material, which runs all the way across (not just in the middle)! The ear cups are also extremely soft too, yet remain supple enough not to concave under the pressure when clamped to your ears. Speaking of which, with these being DJ headphones, the clamping force is nice and tight. Safe to say that these aren’t going to fall off in a hurry!

However, we think their flexibility is their real highlight. Just like the Focal Listen Pros, their headband flexes and bends in virtually every way imaginable, and (according to Pioneer) has been tested over 20,000 times! So much so that these headphones are considered US military grade! And yes, while they’re of course not primarily made for mixing and mastering, if you’re after a set of headphones that function well as an all-rounder (for both casual + critical listening) then these could well be a solid choice.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • These headphones are built like tanks! The headband has been tested 20k times + the use of metal makes these feel super lux!
  • To say they’re DJ headphones, they do a decent job of referencing too! A ‘jack of all trades’, perhaps?
  • Buy the HDJ-X7s and you get a faux leather pouch + a spare pair of ear cups!
close up of the ear cups on a pair of headphones

12: Monolith M1070 reference planar headphones

The M1070 by Monolith is an open-back reference planar headphone that 99% of producers would be happy to own. That being because these headphones primarily focus on sound – an area where they really do excel. Take a listen and you’ll soon see that for a studio headphone, the playback you get from the M1070s is spectacular.

The sound stage is nice and wide (one of the widest on this list) and makes you as a listener, feel like you’re part of something ‘bigger’. The long bass resonance especially, helps to enhance this sensation. We’d liken it to sitting in the middle of a theatre or concert hall. You can really distinguish every part of you mix with these headphones – they really do give you a sense of impact! Call it getting to the heart of your mix. The sound that itself has a lot of texture.

The mids are lush and strong, to the point at which even the most whispery of voices sound clear. The highs are also nice and spacious, although we did find that some of their crispness can be lost when the low-end really kicks in. Speaking of which, the bass on these headphones is superb. It’s detailed, rounded and got a real punch to it that we’d argue makes it become very much 3D. All of which is great for mixing, as these headphones really do immerse you in your sound. For that, we’d liken them a lot to the Audeze LCD-2.

In fact, the only real gripe we have with the Monolith M1070 is the build, which on the surface doesn’t appear to be too shabby. The majority of this headphones is made of metal and the pads + the headband are clad in a nice soft leather. For the most part it feels super solid, however, we did find a weak spot. Fully extend the arms and you’ll quickly realise that the metal they’re made of is very ‘pliable’. In other words, can be bent pretty easily. So if you’re the heavy-handed type, these studio heaphones could be a no go. But with that being said, if you respect and look after your equipment, we don’t see it being a problem.

Why are these the best studio headphones for mixing?

  • The sound of the M1070s is SO intimate & detailed that you can really get a good idea of where everything sits in your mix!!
  • Try find a pair of studio cans with a larger sound stage & you’ll struggle. These headphones really do immerse you in playback!
  • You get a really nice travel case with these studio headphones. One that you’ll need to protect these cans, as (we’ll be honest) they’re not cheap!

As you’ll already know, tracking down the best studio headphones for you, isn’t easy. In fact, it’s most likely the reason you’re reading this blog, because you think music fanatics like us will have a more clear idea. And to large extent we do, but that doesn’t necessarily make whittling down the contenders much easier, especially in 2024 when you’ve SO many options! Therefore, we’d say that when buying a pair of studio headphones, you need to ask yourself a question…

Why am I buying these studio headphones? What’s their purpose? Am I after a headphone purely for critical listening? Or am I searching for a multipurpose set of cans that are both critical & casual?

Hence why for the purpose of this review, we’ve come to two conclusions: the best studio headphones for mixing & mastering + the best studio headphones for casual listening. So without further ado, if you’re a mix engineer, we’d recommend considering the…

Mackie MC-450 open back studio headphones (best for mixing & mastering)

Reason being that out of all the headphones on this list, this is the pair that really did take us by surprise. Never in a million years did we expect to be recommending a set of studio headphones made by Mackie, but here we are. And that’s because as far as mixing goes, we think the MC-450s get the balance just right.

They’re flat, but not so flat that they’re uninspiring. The separation they offer in-between sounds is spot on too. A pair of these really does transport you to the heart of your mix. And yet, when compared to other headphones on this list, they’re actually rather reasonably priced. In terms of sound (and in some cases build), we found the Mackies to outshine cans that’re close to double their asking price. Impressive stuff!

Exactly why we dubbed them as “the underdog”, because in many respects, that’s what they are. An underrated pair of open-backs that if you used in a blind test, would no doubtably be mistaken for something more premium. A Seinheiser or expensive variant of Audeze, perhaps. Maybe even a Neumann! Therefore in terms of value for money, we struggled to top the MC-450s; these headphones are potentially proof that ‘brand snobbery’ when it comes to headphones, really doesn’t pay.

* If open-backs aren’t your cup of tea, we’d say the Beyerdymaic 1770 PROs would be you best bet.

However, if you’re after a pair of studio headphones that function well for both critical listening, yet don’t break your ears when it comes to listening casually, you need to check out the…

Audeze LCD-2 Classic planar studio headphones (best all rounders)

We say so because no only are these headphones incredibly plush, but their sound also works well both ways. In terms of critical listening, it’s clear and detailed. The soundstage is super wide, and allows you to really get a feel for the position of every instrument in your mix. Safe to say if a track isn’t mixed well, these headphones will let you know.

And yet, in terms of their sound from a casual perspective, they’re not overly critical, to the point at which you can’t bear to listen to them casually. The Shure SRH 1540 for instance. It’s safe to say that Audeze have done a stellar job of making these headphones multipurpose. However, what really sealed the deal for us is (as far as we can tell), they don’t actually sound that different to the Audeze LCD X – a studio headphone that’s in a complete other price bracket. So just like the Mackies (above), they also represent great value for money.

But with that being said, if you’re not a complete audiophile and are just looking for a pair of studio headphones to ramp up the quality of your setup, none of the picks above would disappoint.

As far as studio headphones go, each one does the job of helping you spot inconsistencies in your mix. The difference is in how they go about it. So really, the challenge is tracking down the best studio headphones for you & your situation. Because in a general sense at least, the ‘best’ studio headphones are very much a fantasy.

You guessed it – even in 2024, they don’t exist.

Enjoy this review of the best studio headphones for mixing & eager for more? Be sure to check out our Reviews Of Audio & Mixing Gear, as well as our in-depth knowledge of Music Production Tech. Recently, we also did a full rundown of the Best Mic Booms + the Most Popular Studio Monitor Controllers, which may also be a good read.

music production studio with lights & underglow

Or, if you’re here purely to read up on studio headphones, keep reading & we’ll answer even more of your burning questions to help you fathom which are the best studio headphones for you & your setup…

While there’s a lot of good headphone brands out there, the best headphone brands really all depend on what your habits are as a listener. Are you an engineer looking to listen critically? Or just after a set of headphones that are more enhanced in the way of sound?

For any mix engineers, a few brands to pay particular attention to would be Focal Listen, Yamaha & Sony. All of whom do a really solid job of making their headphones not only feel comfy to wear, but also sound the part too. For critical listening, these are a great option! Headphones from all 3 of these brands tend to be clear, crisp and quite flat in their overall frequency response.

Whereas, if you’re after more casual listening experience, then the best headphone brands for you would most likely be something like Bose or Beats. Most likely because of their muddy bass, which sounds super, especially when listening to anything bass-heavy. Hip Hop or Dance for instance.

But that’s not to say that studio headphones have to be geared towards critical listening. If you want to jump into your listener’s shoes, then a pair of more casual headphones are a great way of getting a feel for how your mix will sound through headphones with enhanced frequencies.

Mixing engineers use specific studio headphones that are designed specially for critical listening. That’s because unlike a casual listener, a mix engineer isn’t bothered about hearing ‘pretty’ or enhanced sounds. If anything they’re after the opposite.

Mix engineers favour those headphones with an honest sound. By that we mean headphones that have a reasonably flat frequency response. So while the average consumer may say that your more casual headphones (a pair of Beats for instance) are the best headphones out there, producers and mix engineers would disagree.

Reason being that most ‘easy listening’ types of headphones have a lot of low end boost and generally don’t have a flat frequency response. Thus making the task of highlighting any flaws in their mixes even more tricky. Whereas, with a pair of headphones that have a reasonably flat frequency response, a producer can far more easily perfect their mixes and iron out any creases.

All of which means that when the record is released, it’s favoured by the likes of Radio Stations, Spotify and listeners themselves.

If you’re a producer or mix engineer, then yes – JBLs are better than Beats for critical listening. And that’s despite most JBL headphones being around half the price of the equivalent set of Beats.

Reason being that Beats headphones are pitched at a completely different market to those made by JBL. You can tell pretty easily by the brand. The whole Beats brand is FAR more mainstream, as a pair of Beats are designed to appeal to the everyday Joe. Whereas JBL is somewhat more specialist; unless your a music fanatic, there’s a good chance you haven’t even heard of them. All of which is a big clue as to their sound…

With Beats being a more mainstream brand, the sound is far more coloured. In other words, the frequency response is anything but flat. Wear a pair of Beats and within a couple of minutes you’ll realise just how much low end grunt these things really have. Whereas with your JBLs, the bass is far more punchy and the overall sound is more accurate in relation to the original recording.

Then again, JBL are the brains behind some of the Best Studio Monitors, so really that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Nope – not at all.

Mixing with headphones is actually quite smart if you ask us. Yes, they do have a wide stereo image and an absence of crossfeed between your ears, but if you can look hear past that, then a pair of studio headphones actually work really well.

You see, while a studio monitors do give you a more accurate sound, if you’re in a noisy place, they’re little use. Yet, trying to mix in a noisy studio is no problem if you’ve got a decent pair of headphones. What’s more, studio monitors are also prone to room reflections, hence all the tech that goes into them to try and minimise it. Therefore, if you’re production space isn’t all that big or not acoustically treated, then a pair of studio headphones may well be your best bet.

Plus, studio headphones are portable too. Try and take a 8 inch monitor to a caffe and chances are you’ll earn yourself a lot of funny looks. Not to mention, probably get thrown out. A dilemma that a pair of good headphones can solve almost instantly. So be you sipping a Latte or enduring a lengthy train journey, you can use your time wisely and zone in to your most recent project.

For any workflow-aholic, studio heaphones are a ‘must’!

While there’s a fair few differences between studio and regular headphones, here’s just a few to consider…

  • Design – This is probably the easiest way to spot the difference between studio headphones and a regular pair for easy listening. You see, while studio headphones are quite sensible and subdued in terms of design, your regular headphones tend to be more weird and wacky. So much so that you could call regular headphones more of a fashion statement than a serious piece of kit.
  • Frequency & sound – Listen to these two types of headphones and you should immediately be able to tell the difference by their sound. Studio headphones are more crisp and focus on clarity. Whereas your average easy listening pair give off a more coloured and rich sound. Great if you’re all about the listening experience, but not so good if you’re a producer wanting to do a spurt of critical listening.

While you can use either open or closed back headphones when mixing, we’d say that open-backs are your best bet.

That’s because the fact that the sound can escape and means that they generally achieve a more honest sound. All of which is crucial when mixing. What’s more, open-backs are also more comfortable to wear as they allow your ears to breathe that bit better. Meaning that if you’ve got a long session ahead of you, open-backs would be the way to go.

However, open back headphones aren’t always ideal. If you’re out ‘on the go’ they can prove to be a bit noisy. Listen to them in a park or in a coffee shop and you’ll most likely feel pairs of eyes burrowing into the back of your head. let’s just say that closed back headphones would be quieter.

So really it all depends on your situation. Ask us and you should keep a pair of open-backs in your studio & a pair closed-backs nestled in your backpack. That way you’re like a Boy Scout – always prepared.

To learn more about the difference between these 2 types of studio headphones, be sure to jump into this short video…

YouTube video

Much as you’d expect, Dr Dre can be found in a studio sporting a pair of his Beats headphones.

However, whether he uses these for mixing is another matter. Ask us & that probably isn’t the case, as Dre’s Beats are very heavy on the bass; a pair of Beats are designed for easy listening. So for mixing & mastering audio, they’d likely not be the best pick.

Our guess is that he’d use headphones made by Sony, as his go-to mic (according to an interview with Scratch magazine) is the Sony C-800G.