TOP 12 Best Studio Monitor Headphones

Are you searching for the right studio monitor headphones that provide the best sound quality yet still have a timeless design? Look no further than our list of the Top 12 Studio Monitor Headphones.

The TOP 12 best headphones for studio monitoring have been carefully researched and tested. Headphones for studio monitoring need to provide a strong dynamic clarity and balanced frequency response. 

Often headphones can distort at crucial frequencies and put a mix out of balance. Sound reproduction with great studio monitoring headphones is incredibly important. The mix should remain the same over the course of a long studio session. At the same time, hours spent in the studio mean that your headphones should sit comfortably on your head and not tire your ears.

INTRODUCING THE TOP 12 Studio Monitor Headphones

This list has been carefully sourced through research and intensive testing by music producers to reveal the top 12 best studio monitor headphones.

Best Studio Monitoring Headphones

Good studio monitor headphones for mixing

Impeccable design

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Rarely will you find good studio monitor headphones that provide a sound quality as impressive as these open-back Audeze LCD 2’s.

These headphones deliver warm bass, dynamic mids and bright highs all thanks to planar magnetic technology. What does this technology do? It gives a low-distortion sound that nuances and enriches any music that’s pumped through them. The sloped premium lambskin leather ear cups are dense and sturdy, and they provide premium comfort for hours of focussed production and mastering. Their 10 – 5000 Hz frequency response gives any musical style a true depth and clarity, while the impeccable build will make a believer out of even the most casual of listeners.

The Audeze LCD 2’s are more than the ones to watch for audiophiles, producers and casual music lovers alike. These headphones will be popping up on the best studio monitor headphones reviews lists for a long time to come, and for good reason!

SPECS Pros Cons
Open back, circumaural design Impeccable design Incredibly high price point
Silver white or blue design Crystal clear sound Heavy for travel
Transparency mode and active noise cancellation Comfortable for long periods Sound isolation can tire the ears
20-hours battery life Impressive surround sound experience Underwhelming battery life


Sennheiser HD650

Sennheiser have made a legacy of headphones for decades. The open back design gives your mix airiness and space in the studio, whilst the 10 Hz to 41 Khz frequency response allows you to hear each detail in the monitoring process. These babies are designed for detail. From the quietest of synths to the loudest of snare drum cracks, the hours of studio sessions will fly by. These headphones are a staple in the top studios across the world. And for good reason. The large diaphragm design and sturdy ear pads are designed for long and comfortable mixing sessions. A bold dynamic range, immense clarity and precision make the Senneheiser HD 650’s the go-to studio monitor headphones for professional, fluid mentoring and studio engineering. We are incredibly confident in Sennheiser. 

SPECS Pros Cons
10 – 41000 Hz frequency response High and low range are impeccable Little to no sound isolation
300 Ohms Impedance Natural balance of frequency content Overwhelming price tag
Large open back design Durable and lightweight Mid range lacks in presence

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Rarely do entry-level planar headphones make it to the top 10 studio monitor headphones review like this one. When you put on a pair of studio monitor headphones, you need to feel an immediate sense of stereo space and dynamic clarity. From unboxing the sturdy packaging, sitting those oversized soft cushions on your ears, putting the 25 – 35000 Hz frequency response through its paces, the HE400i’s astound at every turn. When we’re studio monitoring at critical moments, we need to be sure that our gear can provide the warmth and broadness we need. And again, the HIFIMAN HE400i’s deliver. Thanks to carefully engineered acoustic sensitivity, these headphones pack a punch way above what we first expected. And yeah, they might pack a punch, but they also give your ears hours of painless listening. Something we all know is crucial in critical listening periods in the studio. We are not disappointed, and neither will you be.

SPECS Pros Cons
20-35000 Hz Frequency Response Sound is neutral and rich Headband feels cheap
1.5m cable Extremely comfortable Cables break easily
Circumaural open-back design Understated design Expensive

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AKG K371

Enter the king of affordable studio monitoring headphones. The AKG K371’s are just one of the monstrously well made studio referencing monitor headphones offered by AKG. But these headphones stand out as a rival for headphones at least 5 times the price. We searched and searched for great studio monitor headphones for mixing, and somehow, we found them and more in the K371’s! These headphones are sharply aimed at both slick design and balanced studio monitoring and mixing, boasting an acoustic design that injects life and energy into any style, any mix, any session experience. Usually, studio monitor headphones aren’t designed for equal comfort and design, acoustical precision and dynamic range. The AKG K371’s, simply put, have outdone themselves. The ones to watch as the best studio monitor headphones, these headphones pack style, sonic energy and clarity into a shockingly affordable package. 

SPECS Pros Cons
Close-back, oval design Can’t believe the price for such a great quality sound Sound leakage gets worse over time
Detachable cabling Comfrortable and portable Isolation could be better
300g Ear pads are easy to replace High’s can distort
5 – 4000Hz Frequency response

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Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones

These headphones are so regularly on top 10 lists of the best studio monitoring headphones, it is impossible not to run them through their paces.  The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro’s are built with studio precision, dynamic width and professionalism at their core. And the company behind them? Well, when they’re known for creating the most accurate and powerful studio monitoring headphones in the world, we take notes. The low’s have a depth even the most critical of listeners won’t be able to find the bottom of! A 5-40 Khz frequency response wipes the floor with most challenging mixing sessions. And you won’t be able to get enough of the sharpness and clarity that backs up that width of frequency response! These headphones are simply mythical in how they take on any musical style at any dynamic in the referencing and monitoring studio environments. Mythical in the engineering community. Mythical in the mastering and monitoring community. Mythical even to the wizards who made them.

SPECS Pros Cons
5 – 40000 Hz Stunning clarity Price could be slightly lower
Open, circumaural design Almost impossible to feel discomfort High frequency can become too harsh
Straight and coiled 3mm audio cables Exciting and dynamic sound reproduction Design feels a little dull

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Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X

Another pair of Beyerdynamic headphones that were made in a secret vault run by dark magicians of sound – DT 700 Pro X’s produce a sonic quality that we could swear is clearer than reality itself.  Sometimes, headphones like these come around and not only change the game for studio monitoring, they completely recalibrate the playing field. The shimmering quality of the high frequencies feels like a ray of sunshine in the ears of the studio engineer. When needing powerful headphones for studio monitoring, we’re looking not only for precision of sound but immense comfort for extended studio listening sessions. The DT 700’s ear cushions provide exactly what we were looking for.  And those plush soft gray cushions are made even more comfortable by the sturdy leather head frame. As a legend of headphone design for years, Beyerdynamic could have cheapened the quality and cut corners in sonic design with cheaper models. No, not here. Not ever. The Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X studio monitor headphones continue to make believers of the most cynical of studio engineers. Trust us, that’s all you need to know.

SPECS Pros Cons
Neutral frequency response Unrivalled comfort of ear pads The price is far higher than similar models
47,8 Ohms Impedance Stunning clarity  Build could be more sturdy
5 – 40000 Hz Frequency response Stylish and sexy design Could feel lighter on the head
Over-ear, closed-back

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Austrian Audio Hi-X65

When a new headphone company is founded by ex employees of one of the top 5 audio companies in the world, you should sit up and take notice. Austrian Audio, founded by ex-AKG exployees, is already reaching the top spots on studio monitor headphones review lists across the globe. There is absolutely no surprise why. With a slick but chunky design, these babies will never fall off your head and won’t tire the ears. Nor will they even take a scratch when dropped in the studio through sheer sonic excitement. As for dynamics, the Hi-X65’s have got your covered for monitoring and referencing the trickiest of studio mixes, allowing the volume to be raised high before distorting or crackling. With such a high technical capability built in, supported by an ice cool, rugged design and highly astute dynamic balancing, the Austrian Audio Hi-X65’s are easily a worthy contender for the best studio monitoring headphones.

SPECS Pros Cons
5 – 28000 Hz Frequency response Very comfortable Sound isolation lacked in impact
310g without cable Love the strength of the build The overall sound was flat in comparison to rivals
3m and 1.2 m audio cables  Look as vicious as they sound Mids and lows occasionally distort at high volumes

Sennheiser HD650

Good studio monitor headphones for mixing define the difference between a good, a great and an impeccable studio mix. With proven experience in designing headphones comes infinitely better sounding music. Sennheiser can be trusted to deliver the best studio monitor headphones, time and time again. This we already know. When it comes to high fidelity listening, acoustic design mastery and sturdy build, look no further than the HD650’s. A wide open back, opal design ear cup gives smoothness over hours of mastering and studio monitoring. The moment a mix starts through these headphones, the music comes to life thanks to a wide frequency response and razor sharp clarity across the stereo field. That trusted Sennhesier durable plastic head casing will keep these beauties firmly on your head, making the long hours in the studio feel like weekend walks in the sun. It’s not so common for us to rave about open back studio monitoring headphones. The Sennheiser HD650’s take every new listener completely by surprise. It’s a joy to continually witness such a titan of headphone manufacturing produce great headphones. You will thank Sennheiser. The HD650’s will become your new best friend in the studio.

SPECS Pros Cons
Open-back, opal shaped design Lightweight, effortlessly cool design Basically no sound isolation
12 – 40500 Hz Frequency response The highs and mids are present and tight Quiet bass and low frequencies
38 mm Diaphragm Low harmonic distortion  Plastic feels a little cheap

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Audio Technica ATH R70 X

Audio-Technica is the regular go-to company for high quality studio monitoring headphones. Engineers have been using the company to produce some of the world’s most successful artists for decades now. These headphones are unbelievably comfortable. They have been designed with those long hours of studio listening at the core. Large open back ear cushions keep your ears from becoming tired or sore. The thick headband won’t ever hurt, nor will it slip easily off your head when you’re head banging along to the mix. 

The ATH R70’s open back design focuses the ears whilst allowing adequate air to flow through the mix. With such an ice cool design, vented sturdy head frame and ridiculously present bass frequency response, the R70’s easily top the list of the best studio monitor headphones around today. Just try these headphones out in the studio and you won’t need to look any further for top quality studio reference monitoring headphones. Few other headphones offer such a strong sonic balance, depth of bass, and simply unrivaled comfort for extended periods of work in the studio.

SPECS Pros Cons
5 – 40000 Hz Frequency response Exceptional comfort Cable is fairly limited
Open-back reference design Neutral frequency response Ear cushions can get a little hot
45mm driver Sub bass extension – great bass presence

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AKG K701

When will AKG stop making such easily accessible, high end headphones at such a ridiculously good price? Good studio monitor headphones open up the mix and give a clear image of any musical style. Great studio monitor headphones open up to a flat mix with every detail literally woven into the space. The AKG K701 headphones waver between open and closed back, allowing breath into your studio monitoring whilst focussing your ears on every detail. The headband is thick leather, but somehow disappears on your head the moment you click play in the studio. After at least five hours of monitoring, referencing and mixing, our testers forgot they were wearing these thanks to the lightweight and gentle ear cushions. We’re excited about these refined, flexible and super portable high end studio headphones from AKG. You should be able to.

SPECS Pros Cons
63 Ohms Impedance Comfort and strength of build Sound isolation is a little weak
226.7 Grams Weight Price is the best around Cable is clunky and takes up a lot of space
40mm Drivers Frequency response is impressive Parts of the plastic casing squeak occasionally

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Sony MDR 7506/1

Classic sound with classic comfort. Forward thinking, yet firmly rooted in what makes studio monitoring important. Like a beautiful leather armchair the MDR7506’s are timeless and are easily one of the top 10 studio monitor headphones for mixing. The MDR7506’s continue to  set the expectations of studio monitor headphones. Industry leading, dynamic closed back professional mixing headphones can be very expensive, and can lack the acoustic precision expected at such a high level. Not these headphones. You’ll get studio referencing quality without having to save a penny! Very few studio monitor headphones stand the test of time as the MDR7506’s do. They boast a frequency response of 10-20Khz, foldable durable frames and 40mm drivers. Rugged exposed elements give both strength and aesthetic impact that everybody will instantly notice. Take on and master simply any studio environment with the Sony MDR7506’s. 

SPECS Pros Cons
63 Ohms Impedance Comfort and strength of build Sound isolation is a little weak
226.7 Grams Weight Price is the best around Cable is clunky and takes up a lot of space
40mm Drivers Frequency response is impressive Parts of the plastic casing squeak occasionally

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Focal Clear MG

We love Focal speakers, and seeing the Focal brand move into the headphone world has been a truly exciting journey to experience! Immediately, these headphones are impressive, flexible and dominating in the studio monitoring process. As some of the best studio monitoring headphones being sold today, the Focal Clear MG are clear by name. And wow are they clear by nature! The incredible 5 – 28000 Hz frequency response gives an endlessly wide sense of space of the widest and loudest mix. And the highs and mids are articulated with a crystalline clarity. Boasting a full-range magnesium cone driver unit, these headphones give the feeling of sportiness, sitting somewhere between stiffness and lightness, power and delicacy. If a dedication to dynamic balance and sound separation is what you’re after in studio headphones for monitoring, then be sure to check out the Focal Clear Mg’s. You’ll be nothing but impressed.

SPECS Pros Cons
Circumaural design Stylish and noticeable A lot of sound leakage
1,2 cable with 6.5mm adapter Softness of ear pads Cable could be longer for studio use
5 – 28000 Hz Frequency response Nice, crisp highs and mids Lows are underwhelming

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What are the best Studio Monitor Headphones?

Studio monitor headphones are designed to provide a wide frequency response and clarity,  allowing the important elements of a musical mix to sound neutral and detailed. The industry standard is also expected to be built to last for daily use over a number of years in the studio setting. 

However, it’s not common knowledge that the majority of headphones give an imprecise image of sound in the studio. A number of headphone manufacturers will build their headphones to amplify or focus more on certain parts of the sound field, changing the way that a musical mix will sound and destroying any chance of effectively monitoring sound. This means that producers will have a manipulated idea of a final mix or master. The main goal of well-designed studio monitoring headphones is to faithfully reproduce sonic frequencies and to create a well-balanced stereo image. It is important that good studio monitoring headphones do not create a different acoustic space or sonic character in the process of studio production and monitoring.

For the purposes of studio monitoring, it is of the utmost importance to have comfortable and well-built headphones that will sit comfortably on the ears. This means that the producer can work for long hours without having to take breaks or move their headphones to a more comfortable position. The majority of consumer headphones simply won’t stand up to the needs of the studio monitoring environment. 

So what are the best studio monitoring headphones? If you want your headphones to correctly reproduce the sound of a mix or master, and for the mix to not lose power or crispness, then be sure to look out for a wide frequency response, durable design, and carefully constructed ear cushioning.

Does amplitude sound best on studio monitors or headphones?

Amplitude and volume differ in the studio environment. With studio monitors, or speakers, the sound travels depending on the size and shape of the listening environment. The material of the walls also plays a crucial role in how the sound will travel, and ultimately how balanced or unbalanced the mix will sound to your ears. With headphones, there are no issues of acoustic space to worry about as the sound travels directly into your ears. This means that studio monitoring headphones, as opposed to monitors or speakers, have the ability to provide a clearer and more balanced sound for mixing, mastering and sound production. Whilst most commercially available headphones are not designed to meet the needs of the producer, studio monitoring headphones are designed to give a neutral and balanced frequency response and allow for effective studio monitoring. Monitors alone cannot provide a trustworthy reproduction, even in the most carefully designed studio environments. 


If you want clear, precise sound quality in the studio it’s essential to have a decent pair of headphones designed for the task. Whether you are mixing and mastering The TOP 13 Headphones for Mixing & Mastering & Music Production or monitoring and recording vocals The Ultimate Guide to Buying Headphones for Recording Vocals, the headphones above will deliver the quality and precision you need.

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Paul Goral

I am the founder of North Creek Music and I have a master’s degree in Engineering Acoustics. Sound is my passion. I wanted to start this blog and share my passion with others.

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