The TOP 13 Headphones for Mixing & Mastering & Music Production

Tired of mixing and mastering with headphones that disappoint in sound quality and design? Check out our Top 13 Mixing, Mastering and Music Production Headphones of 2022!

The TOP 13 best headphones for mixing, mastering and music production have been researched, tried and tested by trusted users to bring you the best the market has to offer.

Headphones for mixing music need impeccable frequency response, comfort and durable design for long hours of focussed, critical listening. 

There is nothing worse than ending a day of mixing and mastering to find that your headphones simply didn’t provide the faithful reproduction, spatial balance or dynamic range that you imagined. You also won’t be invited to produce that band, master that DJ’s mix or collaborate with that dance music duo without the right equipment.

INTRODUCING THE TOP 13 Headphones for Mixing and Mastering and Music Production!

Each of these headphones have been tirelessly researched, sourced and tested by producers and musicians to bring you the best the market has to offer for all your music production needs..

Best Premium Headphones

Best Hyped Headphones for Mixing and Mastering

Wide Frequency Response Range Headphones

Sony MDR7506

Classic, crisp, powerful sound? Unrivalled comfort? Forward thinking, yet timeless design? Impossible, you say! Not with the Sony MDR7506 headphones. These headphones don’t just stand the test of time. They are industry leading, dynamic closed back professional mixing headphones. They are a staple in the studios of Grammy award winning musicians and producers around the world for over a decade. The MDR7506’s have set the standard of what a top-end headphone should provide as the best headphones for mixing and mastering. Boasting a frequency response of 10-20Khz, the beautifully crafted 40mm drivers work luscious mastering magic on your ears for hours, without any discomfort or any loss of quality or dynamic strength. The foldable but durable frame is  made of hard plastic and metal. This attention to detail  gives the MDR7506’s a rugged and stylish look. But, most impressively, the careful build of the MDR7506’s makes them the easiest of all mixing and mastering headphones to transport. For the master producer on the go, these infinitely repairable headphones are on this list for a very good reason.

SPECS Pros Cons
40mm Drivers Crisp, detailed sound No water or sweat resistance
226.7 Grams Weight Affordable price Cable is slightly too heavy
63 Ohms Impedence Great 10-20Khz Frequency Response Sound isolation could be stronger

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Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone

Headphones for mixing music usually come with a higher price for a very simple reason – better acoustic design means infinitely better sounding music. Are you a high fidelity listener who wants both acoustic and design mastery in your headphones? If so, look no further than the Sennheiser HD600’s.  The open back design is designed specifically to allow hours of mixing and mastering on that tricky, unbalanced music mix. Hours, even days might pass before you even notice your ears getting tired! With a monstrous frequency response of 12-40.5 Khz, create and balance earth shattering bass lines with luscious high melodies effortlessly.  The moment you put these headphones on, they feel like they’ve disappeared all thanks to the durable,  lightweight plastic casing and soft foam headband. It is rare that headphones can be described as pleasurable and enjoyable to wear. With tight, present high’s, responsive mids and silky deep lows,you’ll be addicted to the HD600’s the moment you press play on your favourite mixing and mastering project.

SPECS Pros Cons
42mm Drivers / 38 mm Diaphragm Sharp and clear high and mid range frequencies Poor noise isolation
12 – 40500 Hz Very low harmonic distortion (0.01%) Headband lacks design and ruggedness
Open-back design Lightweight and smooth design Quiet low frequencies

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Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

Sennheiser can almost never be faulted for their legacy of headphones, rarely being ignored as the best headphones for mixing music. The HD 650’s could easily be labelled as a flagship headphone for critical, precise and masterful music production. These babies have made themselves a bedrock of headphone hype – leading the mastering and mixing sessions of the top productions studios from New York to London, Paris to Hong Kong.  The wide open back design allows you to focus in on the sharpest and quietest of hi-hat or snare cracks, while the large diaphragm shape fills your head with smooth and deep bass. You simply won’t miss out on any detail  thanks to the HD600’s 10 Hz to 41 Khz frequency response. It doesn’t just end with acoustical design. Engineered to gently hug those keen musical ears, the all black, sleek shiny design will go unnoticed by fellow DJ’s and producers. Having run these headphones through the most challenging of tracks, we can confidently and unashamedly say that the Sennheiser HD650’s deserve a top place as the one of the most hyped mixing and mastering headphones around. 

SPECS Pros Cons
Dynamic, open back design Precision and accuracy of sound reproduction Little to no sound isolation
10 – 41000 Hz Sleek and durable design High price for headphones of this level
300 Ohms Impedance Natural balance across all frequencies Lacking in mid frequency performance

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Shure SRH1840 Professional Open Back Headphones

Even before pressing play in the studio, you can feel that the SRH1840’s pack a powerful punch. These headphones don’t just fit, they wrap around your ears like a soft cushion! These top-end Shure headphones boast a carefully unique circumaural design, meaning that even with an open back design, the cups fit perfectly around any shape or size of ear. What does that mean? It means that sound is spread in a completely balanced and neutral way, leaving you stunned when you experience  one of the most balanced, warm and convincing standards of audio reproduction from any headphones out there. With a compact 10-30Khz frequency response, the dedicated listener will immediately hear how the SRH1840’s are built exclusively for balance. If you’re looking for precision, look no further. If you’re aching to get your ears on truly professional headphones without remortgaging your house, look no further. If you’re after that depth of bass, warmth of mid tone, and silvery high’s, the Shure SRH1840’s are easily near the top of the list as the best headphones for mixing and mastering.

SPECS Pros Cons
Individually matched 40mm drivers Stunning clarity for at home mixing High price
10 – 30000 Hz Well-built and designed audio cabling Overall sound quality varies from model to model
Circumaural fit– sound spreads evenly around the ears Comfortable ear pads Open back leaks a little too much

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Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones

Topping numerous editor’s choice lists of the best headphones for mastering week on week – take a look at the tanks that are the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro’s. The company behind no less than five of the most accurate pairs headphones for mixing and mastering outdo themselves with these top end, precision listening mastering headphones. Note: the frequency range on these headphones is, simply put, scary. Their 5-40 Khz frequency response obliterates the majority of competition – but don’t be fooled, such a wide frequency response doesn’t impact any precision. Quite the opposite – the high’s crack and shine, the low’s are both unfathomably deep and stable. The only risk we can confidently state with these headphones is that taking them off leads to withdrawal. The accuracy these headphones boast has become almost mythical in the music production community. It truly seems  that the DT 1990 Pro’s were conjured in secret vault run by wizard musicians with just one aim – to create a level of sound reproduction that at times feels clearer than reality itself. 

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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KRK KNS 8400 Studio Reference Headphones

It is rare that we express pure excitement about headphones. That is, until we began to explore the unstoppable sound quality of the KRK KNS 8400 studio reference headphones. These headphones don’t just make you feel cool, they make your music cool. These KRK’s deserve no less than an honourable mention as one of the best headphones for mixing and mastering. The compact closed-back design is lightweight and slick, allowing you to throw the 8400’s in your backpack between sessions without worrying about any blemish or damage. With a surprisingly comfortable price range, these headphones boast a frequency response and design of headphones at least double the price. Easily replaceable ear pads mean years and years of balanced mixing and mastering without forking out for new parts. If you’re on the lookout for crisp, dynamic balance from an affordable pair of high end mixing headphones, the KRK 8400 reference headphones simply can’t be beaten for quality, price or build.

SPECS Pros Cons
5 – 23000 Hz Impeccable mid range High’s could be louder
All black durable design Slick, comfortable design Head band feels a little cheap
Closed back Awesome price Closed back can tire the ears after long periods

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Grado Labs PS2000e

With over five decades of sound engineering experience, Grado Labs  have produced perhaps the best headphones for sound separation on the market. And trust us, this is absolutely not an overstatement. Very few headphones give such a realistic,exciting and live reproduction of instruments or synthesisers. The PS2000e’s dynamic open air design, supported by a 5 – 50 KHz frequency response will immerse you in a completely unique sonic environment – it’s almost impossible to notice any difference between sitting behind a computer and sitting in the middle of a band bashing out a chart topper! The Grado Labs PS2000e headphones sit loosely on your head and don’t squeeze your ears, leaving you to focus on mixing and mastering without having to take a break from any production fatigue. Flagship headphones don’t come cheap, but don’t be fooled by the price of the Grado Labs PS2000e’s – this company and their monster headphones mean business. Any discussion of the best headphones for mixing and mastering will shout about these headphones for years to come!

SPECS Pros Cons
5 – 50000 Hz Unrivalled sound separation Price is questionable
Open air design Crisp, balanced overall dynamic High’s become tiring for the ears 
32 Ohms Impedance Beautiful head support Cheap and flimsy packaging

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Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

Sometimes a pair of headphones endlessly pops up in lists of the best headphones for mixing music. It can make you feel like you’re mad not to have bought them ages ago – what is it about these damned DT990 Pro’s that is SO good? Don’t worry – you’re not going mad. Let us briefly guide you through these Beyerdynamic headphones. As comfortable as your favourite pillow, silky soft ear pads. A wide frequency response that suits mixing and mastering electronic music, rock bands, orchestra’s. You name it – the DT990 Pro’s will dominate it in the mixing and mastering process! Ask yourself what it feels like to hear the mids and lows of a mix sounding more crisp than the real thing. As yourself, have you heard of the BEyerdynamic 990 Pro’s. And then ask yourself – why have I not bought these affordable top level beasts yet for my mixing and mastering?!

SPECS Pros Cons
3m audio cable Active Noise Cancellation Tight on the head after long periods
5 – 35000 Hz  Comfortable ear pads Quite a lot of sound leakage
Rugged metal headband Crisp audio reproduction Not as portable as we’d like

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Audio-Technica ATH-M70x

Audio-Technica isn’t just the choice of top DJ’s and electronic musicians around the world. Visit a top studio anywhere and you’ll see at least one engineer with the ATH–M70’s slung around their neck all day between sessions. Audio-Technica have always been dedicated to building  formidable quality headphones for recording, mixing and mastering. And the ATH M70x’s are no exception. The ATH M70x have a closed back, over-ear design giving you a focus on your mix like no other headphones around. Do you suffer sometimes not being able to hear a balanced, extended frequency range, crystalline high frequencies and deep bass? Take a spin with these achingly cool, beautifully engineered ATH M70x headphones and your struggles will be over! The broad frequency response and stunningly cool design make it no surprise that the ATH–M70x’s are listed everywhere as some of the best headphones for mixing.

SPECS Pros Cons
97 Db Sensitivity Dynamic range Durability of ear pads
280g weight Wide frequency range Too pricey for the quality
5 – 40000 Hz  Punchy bass Plastic feels cheap

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AKG K701

Why would any producer needing to focus on mixing and mastering want open-back headphones, I hear you ask. Well, AKG has your answer – step up, the K701 open-back classic mixing and reference headphones! Undoubtedly one of the best headphones for mixing, their lightweight design, plush ear cushions and ice cool colour scheme have proven enough to convince anyone to buy them, and that’s before even putting them on! But that isn’t all. The 10-39000Hz frequency response and focussed highs and lows give any musical style – from rock to electro, jazz to pounding techno – unrivalled clarity, precision and depth of tone. As with any classic, AKG have left no detail uncovered. A retractable cable for easy transport? A custom leather head mount for comfort and resilience? Responsive high and low frequency? Where do we sign?! The AKG K701’s can’t get enough praise from us! 

SPECS Pros Cons
10 – 39000 Hz  Extremely rugged design Leather head mount can hurt
3D foam ear pads Very comfortable ear pads Can slip off the head easily
Custom design throughout Detailed, precise sound Lacking in bass

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Focal Listen Professional

These headphones give me the shivers! The Focal Listen Professionals aren’t just some of the best headphones for mixing and mastering. No, that wouldn’t be giving them enough credit. These headphones, with both a coiled and straight cable, lightweight ear cushion design and unbelievably tight highs and lows remake the studio experience. Yesterday was an exhausting four hours of pain and struggle to get that mix right. Well, tomorrow is smooth sailing with the LIsten Professionals. We rarely come upon a pair of headphones for mixing, mastering and music production that sound as sharp, deep and cool as they look and feel in the hands. These Focal headphones do exactly what the name suggests – they focus your ears on the only thing that matters – a clear and deep honest faithful reproduction of your mix that doesn’t include any discomfort or tiredness. Want to bring vitality and energy to your mixing and mastering experience? Get on it, and get the Focal Listen Professionals delivered as quickly as you can!

SPECS Pros Cons
Custom close back design Slick design Headphones are noisy when adjusting
5m cable Very detailed highs Middle frequencies can distort
5 – 20000 Hz  Affordable high end model Silicon cushion causes sweating

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Sennheiser HD 200 PRO

What professional studio doesn’t have Sennheiser hangin on the walls, ready to be put to use on the next chart topping master?! The HD 200 Pro headphones give you a closed-back, focussed professional level mix for, wait, what?! For that crazy affordable price?! It seems too good to be true – soft and comfortable ear cushions, outstanding stereo sound reproduction, punch-in-your face bass response and bullet-proof engineering and design. The HD 200 Pro’s were made for the master mixer. THese headphones were built to be some of the best headphones for mixing and mastering. And at this price, you can buy two pairs of these headphones, set up a working studio and still have spare change to splash out on a microphone to get mixing and mastering with the Sennheiser HD 200 Pro headphones!

 

SPECS Pros Cons
20 – 20000 Hz  Balanced, neutral frequency response Cable is non-detachable
108 DB sound level Comfort and isolation Design is cheap for the price
All black design Overall sound weak for referencing

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ADAM Audio Studio Pro SP-5

ADAM don’t mess around when it comes to sound quality for mixing, mastering and music production. The company is known in the production world as dark wizards of balance, crispness, boldness and punchiness both in their speakers, but more importantly with the Audio Studio Pro SP-5 studio headphones. When two companies collaborate on a pair of headphones like these, all we can say is, watch out. These headphones are simply the most versatile and comfortable headphones for mixing and mastering that have been tested on this list. The high precision audio reproduction and reference-class acoustic response are made only more impacting by the comfort of the ear pads and headband. I only wish it was cold every day so I could wear these headphones like ear muffs! And don’t be put off by the price – in instances like this, it is simply necessary to cough up slightly more to experience the best headphones for mixing and mastering. The Studio Pro SP-5’s are quite simply a blockbuster headphone debut from a company already famed and mystified for its studio monitors and speakers. When a headphone is entirely focussed on sound like with these headphones, your mix and master will only thank you!

SPECS Pros Cons
Closed-back design Incredible spatial imaging Discrete, dull design
Ultrasone S-Logic Plus Technology Semi-rigid transport case and high quality bag Closed back design becomes tiring
8 – 38000 Hz Crisp and detailed sound reproduction High price, could be slightly lower

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FAQs

What are the main types of mixing and mastering headphones?

Closed back, open back and semi-open back are the main types of headphones for studio mixing and mastering. . 

Closed back headphones have solid ear cups that maximise noise isolation and minimise sound leakage. These are perfect for loud environments in which the producer needs to hear the entire mix without distraction. Closed back headphones can  result in heavier overall weight which can lead to tiredness in longer mixing and mastering sessions. The closed back design can also tire the ears and lead to more breaks being taken in working sessions. This design of headphone gives more prominent and focussed bass frequencies with a less natural and spatially balanced feel, something which is not always suitable in the best headphones for mixing and mastering.

Open back headphones have a fully open design. They typically feature some type of grille or vent system that allows air to pass through the ear cups, leading to less fatigue and unnatural isolation, and also a broader soundstage. The open back design however maximises sound leakage and minimises noise isolation. Because of the open back design, these headphones tend to be lighter and less clunky, meaning that the wearer will be able to use the headphones for far longer periods without tiredness or physical discomfort. The downside is the sound leakage you will experience in any distracting environment, making these unsuitable for mixing and mastering in sonically busy environments.

The semi-open back headphones are an attempt to balance both open and closed approaches to headphone design. They are essentially open back headphones with half of the vent system covered. This allows a small amount of ambient noise to enter into the cups. Also, it allows for some sound to escape, lessening the isolating effect of closed back earphones. This style of headphone can be used for mixing and mastering, and in many cases is great for both silent and sonically active external environments.

Are studio headphones necessary?

It is very difficult to mix and master to a suitable level without using dedicated studio, reference, mixing or mastering headphones. 

Studio headphones are designed to provide adequate noise isolation or to allow the necessary sound to escape, a neutral and detailed sonic reproduction and are built to endure years of regular use. This, amongst a few other factors, define the set industry standard that all mixing and mastering headphones are expected to meet. That industry standard is, at its core, to provide accurate, detailed and faithful sound reproduction and response to changes and manipulation. Did you know that the majority of consumer headphones give a false frequency response? By this, many manufacturers will change the way that certain frequencies are balanced in order to suggest a more punchy bass or crisper high frequency in the final mix of a song. This means that many listeners of carefully produced songs are not in fact hearing the final mix or master, but a manipulated version of it. This is the primary goal of mixing and mastering headphones –  to faithfully reproduce the original sound and dynamic balance of a mix, or, simply, to provide complete acoustic accuracy. Not to suggest a different acoustic space or character to a song or audio track.

Finally, the fit and design are very important for mixing and mastering. For recording purposes it is important to have comfortable and sturdy headphones that will support the producer over hours of use in the studio, along with months and years of travel between studio sessions. The majority of consumer headphones simply won’t stand up to the needs of the studio, mixing or mastering environment. 

So are studio headphones necessary? If you want your headphones to faithfully reproduce what you are mixing and mastering, and for the final mix to sound powerful, crisp and energetic, and to not become tired after only an hour or two of working, then yes, absolutely. 

The Final Check…

This list contains the best the market has to offer when it comes to mixing and mastering headphones for music production. Investing in one of these sets of headphones means precision, accuracy, power and punch day after day, track after track!

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