Mixing and mastering music in your studio requires right gear and if you compromise on audio equipment it could ruin everything. In the industry which depends entirely on the audio quality, you don’t have any choice but to go for the best headphones for mixing and mastering. How to get the best? Well, I’m going to share an ultimate guide of what you should be looking for at the end and how you can choose the right gear for your set-up.
Best Mixing & Mastering Headphones 2020
- BEST VALUE: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphone
- BEST OVERALL: ATH-R70x Mixing Headphone
- BEST OPEN BACK: Sennheiser HD 800 S
- BEST AKG: K701 Mixing Headphone
- BEST CLOSED BACK: Ex-29 Mastering Cans
- BEST BUDGET: Samson SR850
- BEST UNDER 50: Behringer HPS3000
- BEST UNDER 100: TH-MX2 Mastering Headphone
- BEST WIRELESS: Numark Red Wave
|BEST OVERALL 🏆||PREMIUM CHOICE 💎||BEST VALUE 💲|
|NAME||ATH-R70x Mixing Headphone||Sennheiser HD 800 Headphone||Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphone|
|SPECIAL||Best Studio & Best Affordable ✅||Best Open Back & Best Music ✅||Best Budget & Value ✅|
|DRIVERS||45 mm||Dynamic Drivers||45mm|
|Frequency R||5 – 40,000 Hz||4 – 51,000 Hz||5 – 35,000 Hz|
|Impedance||470 Ohms||300 Ohms||250 Ohms|
|Price||Under 400$||Under 2000$||Under 200 (150)$|
1. Best Value: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphone
Ratings: 4.3/5 | Type: Wired
An experienced German company founded in 1924 has developed a wide range of audio equipment including microphones, wireless audio systems, conference systems, and headphones. The DT 990 Pro by beyerdynamic is designed for studio purposes with a decent price range and exclusive options.
The DT 990 Pro is an open-back well-designed sturdy headset. Its relatively compact and comes with a utilitarian design. The earcups are covered with comfortable fabric, and the headband is entirely made up of metallic material with stylish and detachable padding cover.
Moreover, it fits tight on your head, and well padded large ear cups fit comfortably around your ear which minimizes the sound leakage. It doesn’t offer any control system however the breathability of the headset is impressive making it comfortable for extended sessions. Although it has a compact design, still it’s not that portable just like many headsets.
Also, it’s pretty stable and is surely not designed for sports, so it is not suitable for intense physical activities. The cable isn’t detachable and is 3.77 ft long. Moreover it comes in two colors Black and Grey. In the box, you will get 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter, a manual and a carrying pouch along with DT 990 Pro headphones.
DT 990 Pro is a fantastic sounding pair of open-back headphones. It has a well-extended, consistent and excellent bass range with nearly flawless mids. The treble is well-balanced; however, it lacks a bit in terms of sub-bass. The low-bass is -1.94 dB, mid-bass is 0.97 dB and high-bass is 2.05 dB.
Moreover the low-mid is 0.16 dB, mid-mid is -1.47 dB and high-mid is -1.48 dB. In addition low-treble is -1.04 dB, mid-treble is 1.98 dB, high-treble is 2.21 dB.
Furthermore, the frequency response consistency is mediocre with amazing imaging. The soundstage is spacious; meanwhile, the total harmonic distortion is excellent. In terms of Isolation, the headset is not great and is not suitable for noisy environments. Overall the headphone is great with a decent price tag.
|Frequency Response:||5 – 35,000 Hz|
|Maximum IP:||100 mW|
|Cable & Connector:||9.8′ Coiled Cable, 1/8″ Stereo & 1/4″ Adapter|
2. Best Overall: ATH-R70x Mixing Headphone
Ratings: 4.3/5 | Type: Wired
Audio Technica is a worldwide group established in 1962 and produces a wide range of audio equipment including wireless systems, microphones, mixers, and headphones. The company is known for its M series however it still designed a fantastic and high rated product for mixing and mastering purposes known as ATH-R70x.
The headset has a unique design and features a pair of sprung wing support instead of the continuous padded headband which is useful in case it runs hot as they cover less head and coupling between sides is minimized. The utilitarian design, along with the matte black finish, gives it a modern and professional look and its lighter than most of the headphones in the category.
Additionally, the headset comes with a dual-sided cable, which helps in maintaining the left-right orientation. It is comfortable as earpads are well cushioned and are suitable for extended sessions as well. Its a well-designed headset but there is always room for improvement, and especially at this price point it seems a bit less in terms of design. In the box, you will get dual-sided straight cable along with protective carrying pouch and headset.
The sound quality of the headset is impressive as it’s very smooth, polite, and well-balanced. The mids and low mids of R70x are juicy and soft without any complication as everything seems clear and unmuddled depending on the source.
Also, the frequency response consistency is terrific as well as the total harmonic distortion. The soundstage could be improved, and the same is the case with noise leakage. Moreover, the bass and treble of the headset are fantastic. Overall the headset offers a perfect package in the price range.
|Cable Length:||3m Straight Cable|
|Maximum Input Power:||1000 mW|
|Frequency Response:||5 – 40,000 Hz|
|Item Dimensions:||4.9 x 10.2 x 12.8 in|
3. Shure SRH1840 Mixing Headphone
Ratings: 4.5/5 | Type: Wired
Shure is an American company established in 1925 and has been producing a wide range of wireless products including microphones, in-ear monitoring, mixers, and headphones. The SRH-1840 is well priced and a perfect sounding headset.
The headset has a prosaic look and comes with an invaluable price tag. It has a double-entry straight (not coiled) detachable cable which is seven feet long and acts as the medium of connectivity. The headset is not much lightweight but feels comfortable due to the plush velour ear pads which make them cozy fit and comfortable to wear even for extended sessions.
Moreover, the headband is well-padded as well and is flexible, which makes it easy to adjust. It has minimal leakage and excellent breathability. In the box, you will get 7 feet long cable, a 1/4 inch adapter and carrying pouch along with SRH-1840.
The SRH-1840 is regarded as bass-neutral and has amazing sounding capabilities. The bass and upper treble are amazing. You will be immersed in the way SRH-1840 delivers each note with plenty of insight. The frequency response consistency, as well as the total harmonic distortion, are fantastic.
However, the soundstage could be improved, and the same goes for noise isolation. Overall it is a perfect combination but could be improved due to the price tag it comes with.
|Driver:||40 mm Neodymium Drivers|
|Sensitivity:||96 dB at 1 mW|
|Maximum Power Handling:||1000 mW|
|Frequency Response:||10 Hz to 30 kHz|
|Item Dimensions:||10.5 x 6.5 x 11.25 in|
4. Best Open Back – Sennheiser HD 800 S
Ratings: 4.5/5 | Type: Wired
Sennheiser is a German company established in 1945 and is well know for its audio equipment. It produces wide range of headsets, microphones, earphones and headphones. The HD 800 S is a high rated and established headset for mixing purposes.
The HD 800 S is well-crafted, and critical listening focused headphone as depicted via their design. The high-grade plastic and metal are reinforced on large open-back ear cups and headband. The earcups and headband are well-padded and cushioned, making it suitable for longer sessions. It is a bulky headset but sets perfectly on the head due to its design.
Moreover, it delivers a comfortable listening experience due to spacious ear cups, and they don’t push too hard on the ears, which enhances the comfortability of the headset. The spacious open-back ear cups make the headset breathable and maintain the temperature perfectly by not obstructing the air-flow. It has a compact design but is not portable as you can’t fold it like the rest of the mixing headsets.
The build quality is premium with a sturdy metal frame and high-grade plastic. In the box along with HD 800, you will get 1/4″ to 1/8″ adapter, two audio cables, a carrying pouch, and a USB memory drive.
The headset is a great sounding pair with very good, consistent, and punchy bass. The Low-frequency extension is at 47Hz and low-bass is lacking by 3.5dB, which means the headset will be a bit light on rumble and thump. Midbass is under neutral target by 1dB, and it is responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums.
Moreover, the high-bass is over the neutral target by 2dB, which is responsible for warmth and adds a bit of muddiness to the overall sound. The mid-range is excellent and well-balanced. The treble is terrific as the low-treble and mid-treble are flat and within 1dB of a neutral target which ensures that well-balanced reproduction of vocal leads. The frequency response consistency and imaging are impressive. Unlike many other headsets, the soundstage of 800 S is excellent with incredible total harmonic distortion.
However, it lacks in the noise isolation and noise leakage section. All of this makes the headset great for critical listening.
|Contact Pressure:||~ 3.4 N (± 0.3 N)|
|Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):||<0.02% (1 kHz, 100 dB)|
|Sound Pressure Level (SPL):||102 db (1 kHz, 1 Vrm)|
|Frequency Response:||4 – 51,000 Hz (-10 dB)|
|Audio-XLR connector:||6.3mm and XLR4 | 3m Cable|
|Product Dimensions:||10.7 x 5.7 x 13.8 in|
5. Best AKG – K701 Mixing Headphone
Ratings: 3.8/5 | Type: Wired
AKG Acoustics was established in 1947 by Gorike & Plass in Austria, and now it is owned by Samsung Electronics. It produces a wide range of in-ear and over-ear headphones as well as microphones and other electronic equipment. AKG K701 is well-designed headset for mixing and mastering purposes.
The design of K701 is comfortable bulky but its meant for indoor use only due to the uniqueness. The ear cups are large and well padded moreover the headband strap is auto adjustable to different head sizes and shapes.
Additionally, the suede-like fabric gives headphone premium appeal, and even if you wear the headset for long sessions, it won’t cause any fatigue. The breathability of headphone is incredible; however, it’s not portable like the rest of the headsets in the category.
Furthermore, it has dense ear cups with the mediocre build quality. The headset is certainly not designed for sports or intense activities, that’s why the stability is average. In the box, you’ll get 1/4″ to 1/8″ adapter along with the headset and the cable is 9.77 ft but unfortunately, it’s not detachable.
It’s a perfect sounding pair with decent and consistent bass. The LFE is at 79Hz which is below average as well as the low-bass is lacking by more than 5 dB which is responsible for low-end thump and rumble.
Moreover it has excellent mid-range with low-mid: 0.78 dB, Mid-Mid: -0.77 dBand High-Mid: 1.64 dB. The high-mid shows a bit of boost around 2KHz. The treble is above-average with low-treble being overemphasized by about 3dB.
Furthermore, the frequency response consistency and imaging are fantastic. The average std. deviation is 0.38 dB. The soundstage and total harmonic distortion are mediocre. However, just like SRH-1840, noise isolation and leakage is not good due to the bigger soundstage.
|Fit Style:||Circumaural (Around the Ear)|
|Plug Size:||1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included)|
|Item Dimensions:||11.5 x 9.4 x 6.5 in|
6. Best Closed Back – Ex-29 Master Cans
Ratings: 3.4/5 | Type: Wired
The Direct Sound, LLC is based in Missouri and has developed a wide range of audio equipment including audio parts, microphones, and headphones. However, due to the lack of marketing, its not well-known and is mostly available on Amazon. The Direct Sound Ex-29 Extreme and Ex-29 Plus Extreme are excellent options for mixing and mastering.
In terms of design, the headset is undoubtedly not innovative and seems bulky as well but is indeed comfortable. As you put it on your head, the ear cups cover your ear, which allows it to minimize the leakage and give better performance concerning noise isolation.
Moreover, the combination of black and red inside the ear cups allow you to determine left and right side automatically and you don’t have to check for an indication of R or L on both pieces. It feels solid, but at the same time, the plastic used for manufacturing doesn’t feel premium, which makes it look a bit cheap whatsoever it doesn’t affect the performance. Its certainly not designed for intense activities so the stability is not top notch. It comes in two colors white and black, allowing you to choose what’s best for you. In the box along with the headset, you will get a cord and an adapter as it doesn’t require any battery.
The headset is a perfect sounding pair and was able to stand up to trumpet players volume demands. The top bass is clear and consistent with well-balanced midrange; however, it might get a bit muddy at highs. The frequency response consistency and imaging are excellent.
Furthermore, the ear cups are spacious, allowing the soundstage to be impressive with incredible total harmonic distortion. Due to its design, it also provides maximum noise isolation and has excellent breathability as well. Moreover, if you like it loud, then Ex-29 is the best option for you.
|Driver:||40 mm super high fidelity|
|Sensitivity:||114db at 1KHZ 1mW|
|Rated Input Power::||500mW|
|Maximum Input Power::||max 1W|
|Frequency Response:||20 – 20,000 hz|
|Plug:||Stereo 3.5mm | Screw-on type gold plated 1/4″ adapter|
|Product Dimensions:||15.2 x 15.2 x 11.4 cm|
7. Acoustic Research AR-H1 Headphone
Ratings: N/A | Type: Wired
The brand owned by Audiovox is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts with experience in developing high-end audio equipment. The new planar magnetic headset has surprised many audio enthusiasts due to its features and technology. The AR-H1 model is a premium, well-designed and amazingly performing piece.
The AR-H1 is an open over-ear headphone. The magnetic structure consists of an 86mm rectangular diaphragm with single-sided magnets mounted in-between. The mix of deep bronze and black accents give the headphone a premium look with metallic grills and small randomized equilateral triangles the headset looks fantastic.
Also, the AR logos are inset in the headband end pieces. Build quality along with the materials seem premium. The headband arm ends synthetic materials along with driver baffle plate with a plastic finish. The memory foam and high-quality protein leather makes earpads amazing and on the top earpads are removable and sna[ off with a tug. The cable is five feet long and ends with 2.5mm mono plugs.
Lastly, in the accessories, you will get 1.2m unbalanced cable along with 6.3mm plug adapter and a soft pouch. The headphone comes with one year repair or replacement warranty.
In terms of performance open type planar magnetic field driver type headphone performs really good. The bass is excellent with well-balanced mids and clear highs. The frequency response consistency is fantastic along with amazing breatheability which comes with well-managed design. The soundstage of the headset is mediocre however the total harmonic distortion is top level.
Moreover, the sound leakage is minimal with incredible isolation levels which help you enjoy your work more even in crowded places. Overall the headset is pretty good with fantastic design, and although it’s worth it in terms of price point, it could be expensive for some consumers if they don’t want to use it to a higher level.
|Magnet Type:||Planar Magnet|
|Frequency Response:||10 Hz – 60 KHz|
|Cable & Connector:||1.2m unbalanced Cable & 6.3mm Adapter|
8. Best Budget – Samson SR850
Ratings: 4.1/5 | Type: Wired
The brand (Samson Tech) isn’t well-known due to poor marketing skills but has been among the top due to low pricing and better quality of products. It also got it to Amazon’s Choice recently due to positive response and feedback. The design is pretty simple, and it offers a great deal of features in a minimal price range. So let’s check out the design and performance along with active features.
The headset is a semi-open-back studio headphone which has similarities with AKG’s headset, but most of it is composed of thin plastic due to the pricing point. The earpads are vinyl and are not suitable for more extended sessions due to breathability complications which lead to sweaty ears.
Meanwhile, the cable is tangle-free and comes with no problems. The headband is adjustable according to the head size of the user, and you won’t have any hearing problems except the temperature one if used for long sessions. The headset is pretty stable but isn’t suitable for exercises. It comes with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter and a user manual.
The users praise the performance of SR850 under the price point. Although there is a difference in sound quality as compared to expensive headsets the price to performance ratio was surprising. The mids of the headset are clear and smooth; meanwhile, the highs are detailed but might feel muddy at some intervals.
Moreover, the soundstage is airy and transparent. Meanwhile, the bass is mediocre. The sound leakage is minimal; however, the isolation is not up to high-quality standards. Overall at the given price tag SR850 is an excellent bargain.
|Magnet Type:||Rare earth magnets|
|Frequency Response:||10Hz – 30KHz|
|Maximum IP:||200 mW|
|Cable & Connector:||1/8″ Stereo plug & 1/4” Adapter|
9. Behringer HPS3000
Ratings: 3.9/5 | Type: Wired
Behringer is a German audio equipment company which produces a wide range of headphones and DJ and studio-based electronics. It was established in 1989, and the Behringer HPS3000 is known for its specs and performance while maintaining the cheap price tag.
The design of HPS3000 is impressive, and they look more expensive than they are, which is something great. Of course, with the price tag, the material isn’t top notch, but it has a premium feel to it. The mostly silver plastic detailing along with black headband gives it a perfect contrast.
Also, the ear cups are oval, providing a better seal and minimizes the sound leakage as well as enhances isolation. It also keeps the air flow in check, making it breathability focused. The headband and ear cups are well-padded and well-cushioned, making headset suitable for extended sessions without fatigue or pain. In the box along with HPS3000, you will get 1/8″ connection as well as 1/4″ adapter.
The HPS3000 doesn’t have power like an expensive pair, but it does the job really good in the price range. The sound output is realistic and clear.
Moreover, the bass is consistent and well balanced. The mids and highs are clear, but highs might get a bit muddy at some instances. Vocals and acoustics are clear, and the overall balance of sound frequencies are pretty good. However the headphones might vibrate at high volumes or powerful bass and seem a little bulky. Overall, with the price tag, it’s a good option. Lastly, it’s considered one of the best headphones under fifty dollars.
|Fit Style:||Circumaural (Around the Ear)|
|Plug:||1/8″ (1/4″ Adapter Included)|
|Item Dimensions:||8.07 x 6.89 x 3.7 in|
10. Tascam TH-MX2 Mastering Headphone
Ratings: 4.1/5 | Type: Wired
Tascam with the slogan of Sound & Thinking has been around since 1971. It has developed a wide range of products starting with recorders and broadcasters in the beginning. Now it’s developing much advanced audio electronics and the TH-MX2 is targeting the market of mixing and mastering.
The headset is cozy and comfortable due to its extra padding on the ear cups, which makes it suitable for extended sessions, and same is the case for the headband. The price tag is impressive, but the headset might feel a bit bulky and unstable due to its design.
The stainless steel framework makes the headset lightweight and durable, however, it might not look premium. The bulky design also allows the sound leakage but on the other hand the air flow keeps it breathable. In the package along with the headset, you will get leatherette bag and 1/8” (3.5mm) to 1/4” (6.3mm) Adapter.
The headset is praised for its flat frequency response that is close to neutral and its also regarded grade for recording vocals and monitoring. The ear cups are spacious, which allows the soundstage to be impressive, but the total harmonic distortion is just average. Overall with the price tag it has, the headset has a lot to offer.
|Maximum input power:||400 mW|
|Cord:||9.8 ft. (3m)|
|Frequency Response:||15 – 22,000 Hz|
|Plug:||Screw-on 1/8″ (3.5mm) to 1/4″ (6.3mm) Adapter|
|Item Dimensions:||7 x 3.5 x 8.5 in|
11. Best Wireless – Numark Red Wave
Ratings: 3.5/5 | Type: Wireless/Wired
Numark is a company which has been focused on developing electronics which especially for mixing purposes and are useful or DJs and musicians. It has been around for more than 40 years and has international offices in major countries. The Red Wave by Numark has been praised for its performance and got significant positive reviews as well.
The design of Red Wave is catchy as it’s been designed for professional use and especially for DJs, so it comes with large drivers and comfortable earcups. It has two connectivity methods for convenience as you can use Bluetooth or it also has a long cord.
The ear cups are well padded and well cushioned, and same is the case with the headband. It makes the headphones suitable for longer sessions as it keeps you away from fatigue. The breathability of the headset is impressive, which helps in protection from sweating. Due to the design, the sound leakage is minimal, and the headset is pretty stable.
In the box you will get quick start guide, carrying case, cable with 1/8-inch connector, 1/4-inch adapter along with the headset.
Usually, the DJ headsets are bass focused with less clarity, but Red Wave has kept both factors in check and performs well. As the bass is consistent and the mids are well-balanced. The highs get muddy at instances but overall seem to be fine.
The thump and rumble are impressive. Moreover, the total harmonic distortion and frequency response consistency are fantastic as well. The soundstage could be improved, and the same is the case with imaging. Overall the headset offers excellent value at a low price.
|Max load:||3500 mW|
|Cord:||1 meter coiled, 3 meters uncoiled|
|Frequency Response:||15 – 22,000 Hz|
|Input sensitivity:||98 +/- 3dB|
|Item Dimensions:||6 x 6.75 x 6 in|
In case you don’t want to go for a mixing headset but want to buy an all-rounder then these 13 Best Studio Headphones are the top recommendations for you. Moreover, you can find great drumming cans here as well.
Is It Better To Mix On Headphones Or Monitors?
For starter engineers, the first question is whether they should mix using studio monitors or go for headphones? Its quite hard to answer this one, as it solely depends on personal preferences. However, its always preferred to go for studio monitors in order to get the best results, but it doesn’t mean headphones are not up to standards. There are headsets with frequencies and features designed to fulfill your requirements in a reasonable price range. Moreover, these cans are easy to carry and portable; all you need is the right one for you. Additionally, you don’t have to be worried about it as I’ve mentioned them in the Comparison Table 💡.
What Type Of Headphones Are Best For Mixing & Monitoring?
When it comes to mixing, you gotta choose your gear wisely. The question most of the people ask is, are open-back headphones better for mixing? Well, the open-backed are designed in such a way that their drivers are exposed to the outside world, which reduces the resonant cavity effect and becomes airy. However, the closed-back is better for recording and mixing even in a noisy environment. Additionally, this could lead to sweaty ears due to enhanced isolation, which is certainly not a good sign for long mixing sessions. So keeping these points in check, you can choose what suits your need from this Comparison Table 💡.
What are the best headphones for mixing?
For mixing and mastering there can be only a few headphones that will work perfectly. Here are some of them;
- Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphone
- ATH-R70x Mixing Headphone
- Shure SRH1840 Mixing Headphone
Can you mix and master on headphones?
Usually, for mixing and mastering monitoring speakers are used but in case if you are looking for mixing and mastering on headphones then it would not be a clear answer for you. As you can or you cannot mix and master on headphones.
Are Sony headphones good for mixing?
Almost yes, sony headphones are not that good for mixing but somehow they can do this job. Although it is not highly recommended to go for sony headphones for mixing.
Are dre beats good for mixing and mastering?
No, dre beats are not good for mixing and mastering and it is highly recommended to not mix with any headphones made by beats by DRE.