The world of headphones – a huge market that includes general consumers, passionate audiophiles and audio professionals from both in-studio and live sound backgrounds. The studio headphone is an entity in itself and there’s a bunch of choices across brands in different price ranges and different configurations. To enable you to make a decision for your home studio setup, we give you our top selections for 5 affordable studio headphones to invest in.
Before you zero in on which headphones you should pick up, you need to understand the difference between some specifications that you might read while browsing through the variety of products out there. Studio headphones are made to give you a flat frequency response, so you can accurately judge what you are working on or listening to, unlike consumer headphones with extra bass or extra “clarity”.
There are 3 main types of studio headphones –
- Open back
- Semi-open back
- Closed back
We’ve put together this unanimous list which features a combination of all types, in no order of priority. Each selection has been carefully considered for its price bracket, reputation, and utility.
Audio Technica ATH M50x
Even though slightly colored, the Audio Technica ATH M50x is still one of the best affordable and at the same time portable pair of headphones for recording, mixing and referencing. The design of the ear-cups is contoured, isolating ambient sound from coming in and the headphones’ playback from leaking out, hence making it a great choice for recording vocals or any other instruments which require highly attenuated microphone signals. Its slick design, folding capability and detachable cable make it perfect for the touring engineer as well. A real champ of a product, taking into consideration the sound quality as well.
Price (Approx.): $180
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Slightly bigger, design-wise, than its above-mentioned competitor, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is geared up with ear-cups that engulf your entire ear along with soft ear-pads that make it comfortable to wear for a longer period of time, without needing to crank up the level too loud as well. Sound-wise, it’s got a warm texture to it and the isolation is good enough to be used for recording in a home studio setup or taken live on stage as DJ headphones. The only drawback is that the ear-pads tend to wear off really soon if used extensively.
Price (Approx.): $120
Legendary audio stalwarts Shure have their contender in the affordable bracket as well and they don’t compromise on features no matter at what level the product is – beginner, intermediate or professional. Again, like the competitors mentioned earlier, the Shure SRH440A is made for multiple utilities. Whether you want to keep it at home or in a pro studio for the purpose of recording or you want to take it out on the road doing gigs, the combination of the sound (with Enhanced Frequency Response), durability and portability (detachable cable + carrying case) make it a smart choice for an audio professional or music producer, or even if for a regular music listener who wants to enjoy a more detailed sonic experience.
Price (Approx.): $150
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
Slightly closer to higher-end professional studio headphones as can get, the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro captures attention to smallest details and for a closed-back model, is pretty wide in the stereo image it provides. Plus, it gives you clean judgement of lower frequencies without distorting at loud volumes. The drivers are quite large in circumference, so the ear-cups completely engulf your ears and the padding that comes with the DT770 Pro and most Beyerdynamic headphones is extremely velvety soft and extremely comfortable to use for long recording, mixing or listening sessions. Only drawback is that the cable is not detachable and it attaches into just one side of the headphones, so you’ve just got to be a little more careful if you own these.
Price (Approx.): $180
AKG K240 Studio MKII
Quite bulky to look at, the AKG K240 Studio MKII headphones boast of crystal-clear high frequencies which enable you to hear the slightest nuances in the audio you are hearing due to the large drivers, just like their competitor above; which also makes the position of the ear-pads completely around the ears, making them extremely comfortable for long sessions. Unlike most other studio headphones, the K240 Studio MKII’s driver is capable of delivering a powerful low frequency or bass response. Also, unlike most in its category, it has a self-adjusting headband that diffuses the stress of tightening headphones like we normally do and at the same time sits snug in position, adding to the user’s comfort. And the detachable cable is a great feature to increase portability and durability of the cable itself.
Price (Approx.): $160
You’ll find many opinions out there about what headphones are ideal for mixing. The main advantage of open back headphones is that they automatically give you a wider stereo image, as compared to the closed back option, which is better for isolation and while recording instruments, so that the sound of your monitoring doesn’t bleed into the respective microphone.
For budding sound engineers and producers, it’s good to be informed and do your research before purchasing the right cans, to find out whether your priorities and requirements are being met. We hope we’ve helped you make the right decision!
Check out more from our Home Studio Setup series:
All pictures from Amazon India.