Best Studio Headphones

Best Studio Headphones

The Ultimate Podcasters’ Guide

03.14.19 | Podcasting | By: Jacob Bozarth

Best Studio Headphones

When it comes to podcasting there are a few essential tools you absolutely need. One of these things is a great pair of studio headphones for podcasting. A great pair of studio headphones will be useful in all parts of the podcasting process. From reviewing source audio, getting inspiration from other podcasts, recording an interview, recording your voice over, editing your podcast, mixing your podcast, and listening to your podcast once it’s on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, studio headphones are essential!

One question we ask our clients when they sign up for our services is, “What do you review/listen to your podcast on?” The reason for this is so we have an idea as to what their podcast will sound like when they are reviewing their mixed podcast episodes. If you are listening to your podcast on cheap sounding computer speakers then the mix may not translate or sound like it did on our mixing engineers’ pair of studio headphones or nearfield monitors.

With that being said, we have put together and reviewed 14 of the most popular studio headphones for podcasting under $200. In order to make this our “ultimate podcasters guide to studio headphones”, we’ve had 4 of our own in-house engineers review each of these studio headphones in detail. Each engineer rated and reviewed the studio headphones based on design, sound, comfort, isolation, and then an overall rating in order to help you decide which pair of headphones under $200 is the right fit for your needs.

So, let’s dive into the list of best studio headphones for recording and editing your podcast. For your reference, we have also included the frequency response graph for each of the headphones from Sonarworks Reference 4. Sonarworks provides great headphone calibration software that we strongly recommend. To keep our ratings as unbiased and fair, we did not use the sonarworks software when reviewing each of the headphones for this post.

The Contenders: The Best Studio Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 OHM – $179

Sony MDR7506 – $79

Shure SRH440 – $99

Shure SRH840 – $199

Sennheiser HD 280 – $99

Sennheiser HD 598 – $171

KRK KNS 6400 – $99

KRK KNS 8400 – $134

Yamaha HPH-MT5 – $99

Yamaha HPH-MT8 – $199

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x – $99

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x – $149

Samson SR950 – $49

AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones – $119


#1 Pick: Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 OHM

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These are very comfortable to wear, but the eq is a bit bright/unnatural in the upper-mids and there seems to be a lack of low-end clarity and focus. They have a tendency to make the source audio “smoother” to listen to than most of the other studio headphones. They are very light and did we mention comfortable? Overall we all agree that these are the best studio headphones for podcasting under $200. Make sure you get the 80 OHM version of these or you may struggle to find a headphone amp that will give you enough gain for these headphones. The one downfall of these headphones is that they do require more gain from your headphone preamp or output source but don’t let that keep you from getting this great pair of studio headphones.  

Frequency Response Curves

 


2nd Place (Runner Up): Shure SRH840

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones sound like studio headphones that cost a couple hundred more than the price point. They sound fairly natural, balanced, and there is a decent amount of low-end. They are pretty comfortable to wear and seem durable for the price. They do have a lower output than the $100 cheaper 440 model and are a bit larger. For $199, you can’t go wrong with the Shure SRH840’s studio headphones.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


3rd Place (Top Budget Pick): Shure SRH440

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones are comfortable and seem very sturdy for the price. The cord to the headphone does send a vibrating noise to the headphone every time you bump or move the cord. The eq of these headphones seems to be a bit more scooped and less balanced than the $100 more expensive 840 model. Overall these headphones sound great for $100 and are comfortable to listen on for a couple of hours making these our overall #3 pick and #1 budget pick of studio headphones for podcasting under $100 dollars.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


4th Place: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

The low-end in these studio headphones seems very tight, but a little too boosted. Overall they are pretty comfortable and perform well for their price point. They sound crisp, but not in a good way. The upper mids and top end seem to be boosted a bit, which may make your ears fatigued when listening for extended periods. Overall the build quality is pretty good and they are more comfortable than the cheaper M40x model.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


5th Place: Yamaha HPH-MT8

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones are constructed well with an ok design, but not very comfortable to wear for a long time. They have a decent amount of low-end, but an upper mid range harshness that makes them difficult to listen with. Overall they do not have a balanced frequency response and compared to more expensive headphones the top end of these are lacking in clarity and detail. Though these are our number 6 pick, we recommend you read on if you are considering this pair of headphones.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


6th Place: Samson SR950

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones have a surprisingly accurate and natural sounding playback with an expected treble boost. Sonically, they perform pretty well for their price tag. They have a decent amount of extended low-end and the eq overall seems fairly balanced. They do feel a bit cheap, but for the price they sound great. One of our engineers did say that “he can’t wear these for longer than 5 minutes without his head feeling like a squashed grape.”

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


7th Place: Sennheiser HD 598

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones are not the most comfortable headphones, but they aren’t the worst. The overall sound seems almost “plastic-y” and muffled, but the eq on these headphones is not terrible. They seem to be made of very cheap plastic. They do lack a bit in their low-end response. We all agree that these headphones underperform for their price.

Frequency Response Curves


8th Place: KRK KNS 8400

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

The eq on these headphones doesn’t sound natural. The bass sounds kind of hollow but boosted. They are made of a lightweight plastic, but are not comfortable to wear. We hope our negative KRK review doesn’t keep you from purchasing a pair of nearfield KRK monitors, but until they improve the quality of your headphones, your money is spent better elsewhere.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


9th Place: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones have an unnatural frequency response. The mids sound scooped, the low-end seems oddly boosted, and the top end is missing in clarity and detail. These headphones do seem pretty durable with a solid construction, but that’s about the only positive thing we can say.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Heaphones


10th Place: Sony MDR7506

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones are classics. We found them comfortable and light but with an unnatural frequency response. They are a little cheap in their design and are kind of flimsy. They actually perform fairly well and are easy to listen with. They don’t have the best low-end or smoothest top end performance, but they definitely hold their own against more expensive headphones. They don’t have the best isolation but with a high output, they can be great to track dialog in the field. One of our engineers said “These things look like they crawled out of a 1970’s dive bar sound booth. They should come with cigarette burns and a drink ticket.”

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Heaphones


11th Place: AKG K 240 MK II Studio Headphones

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones don’t have a ton of extension in the low or high end, making the midrange sound a bit odd. Despite the unnatural sound, they are fairly balanced. They are very comfortable and lightweight. The detachable cord is very nice, making these headphones very portable.

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


12th Place: Sennheiser HD 280

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones are not comfortable to wear but do have pretty good isolation. They seem to have pronounced mids and the low-end lacks clarity. The top end response is not great with an expected treble boost. One of our engineers said, “Literally feels like a crab is clamped on my head.”

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


13th Place: Yamaha HPH-MT5

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

These headphones have a pretty good construction and feel to them, but aren’t very comfortable for long listening periods. While listening back to some dialog references we noticed that these headphones accentuated a fair amount of hiss in the recordings that shouldn’t be as prevalent. They are also missing some important low midrange, giving them an overall harsh sound. One of our engineers said, “Feels very cheap. The kind of headphones you pull out for the unexpected extra guest.”

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones

14th Place: KRK KNS 6400

Best Studio Headphones

Summary/Thoughts

Like the 8400’s they are made out of cheap plastic that seems easily breakable. However, they do sound ok for the $99 price tag. They have a unnatural bass boost with a little top end air and clarity, but other than that they seem to perform fairly well handling different types of music and dialog. They do have a small ear hole and one of our engineers said, “Feels like a toy.”

Frequency Response Curves

Best Studio Headphones


Conclusion

Interested in seeing the each of our engineers detailed ratings? You can find that here. While there are hundreds of studio headphones out there, we hope this post helps you narrow down the list and make an informed decision. Have some additions to our list or got some feedback you’d like for us to hear? If you want to talk to our team to pick our brains on this idea, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to check out our site, drop us an email or set up a call with a team member.


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By: Jacob Bozarth

As President & CEO of Resonate Recordings, Jacob leads the team & oversees all sales & marketing initiatives. Jacob can be found recording, producing, & mixing podcasts when he is not spending time with his family. Jacob & his family live in Louisville, KY.