You heard your DJ friend talking about Bose headphones, your rapper friend-about Beyerdynamic headphones, different singers on YouTube using Seinnheiser ones, and you don’t know which one is actually worth your money. Well fortunately for you, we did the research on the Top Studio Headphones on a budget for 2020 and we decided on the Philips X2HR Fidelio, Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro and Seinnheiser HD 650. Below you will see what each one brings to the table and the precise features to pay attention to.
These are the Top 3 Studio Headphones for 2020
Philips X2HR Fidelio Studio Headphones – budget-friendly (~$100)
This one may come as a shocker to you, but Philips has consistently put out top quality headphones for a much lower price than its competition for years. This model includes removable ear pads, it boasts an open back design and is officially High-Resolution Audio certified, making it the top option if you’re new to the industry and have yet to test out your skills. The low price is also very convincing and probably the best studio headphones model you can get your hands on for under $120.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Studio Headphones ($190)
Beyerdynamic is not as mainstream as they are absolutely adored by studio engineers and vocalists. The DT 880 Pro model features a semi-open construction type, meaning you can use these headphones both for recording sessions and mixing sessions. They also feature a one-sided cable and highly analytical sound, thus it is THE perfect model for long mixing sessions.
Sennheiser HD 650 Studio Headphones ($400)
These headphones are such a staple in the music industry, that the over 800 reviews and the 4.6 rating on Amazon only add to its already famous reliability. The Sennheiser HD 650 flaunts an impedance of 300 ohms, an open-back construction type, a reputable scalability, meaning it will adapt its sound to the gear you already have. And it will also boost your credibility as a DJ/Producer/Engineer as so so many people are already familiar with the brand.
Why we picked our winner: The Sennheiser HD 650 Headphone
- A model that has served the industry exceptionally well since their very introduction on the market in 2003 (making it almost 20 years of excellence reputation!). The official Seinnheiser website brags with major artists who loyally use their headphones like Alani, Anastacia, Avril Lavigne, Carly Rae Jepsen, Drake, Dylan Scott, Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes;
- Sturdy design and up-to-date materials. Yes, the company has actually adapted its construction materials so that there’s an absolute minimal production waste and it lowers the price for the buyer (for you);
- No sound enhancement. You read that right. You hear in these headphones exactly what you have produced, mixed and mastered. These headphones will offer you the top flat sound you can get if you’re on a budget. If you are used to enhanced bass sound from amateur headphones, bad news for you: it is NOT what everyone else will hear as well. So get your game on, get ready to go pro, and start using ‘real’ sounding headphones. Trust me, you’d rather endure by yourself the pain of an unbalanced bass with deep male vocals than have listeners point it out to your AFTER the release has gone official;
- Studio adapted. Meaning these headphones are primarily built for professional use. They are not made for music lovers or amateurs. They are here to WORK with your gear. Whether you want to use your old monitors or are getting ready for a major upgrade, these headphones will stay by your side and aid you in creating the sound you desire. Tweak the settings accordingly on the amplifier and you’ll hear the same tracks 5 years later as you did when first recording and mixing them;
- Removable cable. In case you didn’t know, you save lots of money in the long run with removable-cable-type of headphones. It will cost you a bit more, but if you go for cheaper built-in cables, when they break, you’re done with the headphones as well. No cable, no music. Whereas removable cable gives you the opportunity to change JUST the cable in case it wears out. The cables start at around $25 and up. Depending on the fiber type, length and brand;
- Lightweight. This feature is highly important as well. It is officially rated as 260 grams by Seinnheiser and 258.9 grams measured by other specialists. In imperial numbers that is 9.130 oz. Have you ever worked with headphones that seemed light and after only an hour your ears start hurting? That’s because they’re not that light after all. And Seinnheiser knows what the demand on the market is and they supply it;
- Adjusted price. Only 5 years ago they were over $500 in any place where found. Now on the other hand, with plenty of competition rising and eco-friendly tendencies, Seinnheiser has fortunately adjusted the price and you can cop these headphones for as little as $315 on discount offers. Generally they run under $400.
Features to look for in a quality studio headphone:
- Neutral Sound. It is pivotal to your mixing skills to use neutral sounding headphones. You don’t want a colored, large sounding headphone when you’re working on complex synthetic beats for example. You want to be able to hear every little hiss, snare, FX, background noise, short breaths, muffled word endings. Whether you’re a DJ and work with instruments only, or you’re a producer and have to deal with lots of vocals, best to have a raw and honest sound representation of what you’re working with.
- Comfort. To each their own. Funny enough though, what may fit your head perfectly fine, may cause pain after half an hour to someone else. Take your time to test out the material of the ear pads, the dynamic of the headband, and the amount of hours or minutes it takes for your head and ears to start getting discomfort. All headphones will hurt you sooner or later, but the difference is in the shape of your own head and how it matches up against the shape of the headphones. Some headphones include ’’weak jaw bone structure adapted’’. It truly is remarkable the huge technological variety we have come to have at our disposal.
- Replaceable parts. You will always save plenty of money in the long run if you go for removable ear pads and removable cable. If you learn to work with a certain type of headphones, you want the flexibility to adjust them to other incoming gear. The less adjustable the headphones are, the higher the risk for you to be unable to pair them up with other equipment parts.
- Accessories. Though of no vital importance, your wallet will thank you. If you have to cough up $500 for the ‘naked’ version of some headphones, add another minimum of $150 to complete it before it’s ready to be used in the studio. Headbands, cushions, ear pads, cables and amplifiers, are all a necessity before even starting your path to a studio engineer or producer. The more accessories the brand offers you with the initial purchase, the more you’re saving.
Here’s a great clip of a concise review of the product
You see, studio headphones are no joke when it comes to making a career out of your passion for music. If you have a home studio, go for the closed-back version of the same headphones described above. If you on the other hand, have a dedicated space for mixing, mastering and a good pair of music monitors, it is best to stick to open-back headphones, like our winner, Seinnheiser HD 650. The latter also boasts a better deep bass response and improved high frequency response.
About Studio Headphones
In general lines, studio headphones are divided in two categories: open-back and closed-back. The open-back headphones are best used in the post-production process, aka the mixing and mastering. The closed-back headphones are fit for recordings. In simple words, closed-back headphones offer a high sound isolation, so the recorded voice doesn’t bounce back in the microphone. Sound leakage will still occur but at a much lower rate if you use closed-back headphones.
The open-back headphones, on the other hand, are perfect for recording instruments that don’t require the presence of a microphone (usually electronic music and synthesizers), and for the mixing process. This type of headphones prioritizes the accuracy of the sound, the overall quality of the music you’re working on. And since we’re talking about studio headphones, we’ve prioritized this specific category in our top 3 selection.