Affordable Studio Headphones

Studio headphones differ from “consumer” headphones in some aspects. First of all a studio headphone should not “flatter” the sound and be as true to the source material as possible.

Secondly: performance and functionality trump looks. You don’t want to pay for the looks. They have to be a bit more rugged to withstand daily and constant abuse and they should be able to handle peaks in the audio material. Raw recordings and performances are not compressed as are finished recordings.

The audio cord should be a single cord coming from one “can”. This is especially important to live instrument players like guitarists and bassists. You don’t want to have a lead tangling over your strings/ hands/ instrument.

If you are using a budget audio interface, you should choose a mid to low impedance model. A lot of usb audio interfaces that draw their current from the usb port are unable to drive cans with high impedance effectively. Low impedance headphones will cure that problem.

Good studio headphones are a good alternative to big studio monitors and an acoustically treated room. Chances are that even if you splash a lot of dough on good monitors, your room will destroy the low end response. A good pair of cans can serve as a cross-reference to know what goes on in the lows.


Audio-Technica

Consider me a “fan”. I recently had a chance to try them and to me they sounded very good, especially considering the price.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Headphones

I like:

Circumaural design (no pressure ON the ears, better isolation)

Single side cable

Low Impedance

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

I like:

Circumaural design (no pressure ON the ears, better isolation)

Single side cable

Low Impedance

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

I like:

Circumaural design (no pressure ON the ears, better isolation)

Single side cable

Low Impedance

Removable cable

AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones

Circumaural design (no pressure ON the ears, better isolation)

Single side cable

Low Impedance

Removable cable

Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones (Black)

Circumaural design (no pressure ON the ears, better isolation)

Single side cable

Low Impedance

Removable cable and earpads

Price (not super cheap, but not overly expensive either)

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

Sennheiser has been a household name in (professional) headphones and microphones for years. I owned a pair of cheaper Sennheisers that I used a for a long time. Only gripe I had with them was a bit too much bass. But hey, they only where 50$. the Sennhieser HD 280 Pro is a totally different (and better) product.

What I like:

Replaceable parts: earpads, headband padding, audio cord

Low impedance

Price (not super cheap, but not overly expensive either)

KRK KNS6400 Studio Headphones

What I like:

closed-back around-the-ear design

Replaceable parts

Price


Conclusion:

Again, not an easy choice. I think you cannot go wrong with any of these headphones. Once you hit the 100$ mark however I could be wise to save up a bit more and go for even a slightly better headphone. The choice is yours :-).

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