Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering are a must for anyone who works with audio. When precision is key, you need clear, natural-sounding earphones to get that studio-quality sound. Choosing the right pair of headphones can be daunting, but fear not! We’ll explain what to look for and give you our take on the best studio headphones on the market! We’ve included a range of headphones from ultra-budget to high-end in our picks, so no matter what, you should be able to find something to suit your needs!
- SHOULD I BE MIXING & MASTERING ON HEADPHONES?
- WHAT ARE CLOSED AND OPEN HEADPHONES, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
- Which are Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering?
- Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering
- Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
- Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering Shure SRH440
- Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering Sony MDR-7506
- Frequent Questions on Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering
SHOULD I BE MIXING & MASTERING ON HEADPHONES?
While you can mix and master with headphones, it’s not ideal and shouldn’t be done if it can be avoided. Headphones do not accurately reproduce an acoustic listening environment and can be biased in certain frequency ranges. It can hinder your ability to make informed decisions and, as a result, reduce the quality of your mixing and mastering.
Tools like SoundID Reference and CLA NX help emulate room environments and flatten headphone frequency response curves. Still, nothing beats a good studio monitor setup with a properly treated room.
Headphone mixing and mastering is something Grammy Award-winning engineers do, so it can be done if you know your headphones well and can listen to the mix or mastering on multiple systems.
So don’t worry. If you don’t have access to a fancy studio, you can get professional sound masters on your headphones. They will sound better if made in a properly treated studio but will go against the charts.
WHAT ARE CLOSED AND OPEN HEADPHONES, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Open-back headphones control air to pass through the headphones, stopping sound reflections and resonance build-up. It makes natural and clear sounds. Closed-back headphones do not allow air to pass through or sound to escape. It helps in noisy environments but can cause resonance and amplification in the mid and low frequencies.
Open headphones have advantages and disadvantages, as do closed headphones.
Open-back headphones give you a much wider, fuller sound and a more natural listening experience. Open ears are usually less susceptible to ear fatigue due to the lack of back pressure. However, sound leakage and isolation are a big downside to open-back headphones, so you will only wear them in quiet places.
Closed-back headphones are much less susceptible to external interference and sound leakage. Isolation creates a more intimate sound, often with more energy in the lower frequencies. Back pressure from closed headphones can also cause listening fatigue over long periods of use.
Which are Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering?
Here are the 3 Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering :
Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
- Over the ear
- Open back
- Impedance: 250 ohms
- Frequency response: 5Hz – 35kHz
- Weight: 364g
- Price: $130
Our favorite Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering are the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones for mixing and mastering. They deliver an impressively clean and transparent sound, perfect for mixing and mastering. The open-back design means you’ll get a lush and wide soundstage with these too.
In addition, the DT 990 Pros have a balanced and natural sound, which is perfect for mixing and mastering because you don’t want any EQ color to affect your decisions. It may make them sound worse than your regular listening headphones, but that’s because your everyday headphones have a large equalization curve to improve your listening experience.
When I first used headphones with a flat EQ curve, I initially thought they were worse; however, the flatter they sound, the more accuracy you’ll get.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is one of the most comfortable headphones ever. The replaceable velour ear cushions are super soft, and wearing them for hours is no problem. The headband is also well-padded with soft foam and is fully adjustable.
We have a pair and have never felt uncomfortable wearing them; the material on the ear cups feels like velvet and is much better than those sweaty leather ear cups.
- Transparent and spacious sound
- Extremely comfortable
- High-quality construction
- Open back, so it’s not good in noisy environments
Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering Shure SRH440
- Price: Check Amazon!
- Type: closed back
- Fit: Circumaural
- Impedance: 44 ohms.
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
- Frequency response: 10 Hz to 22 kHz
- Material: plastic, leather
- Headband: Minimal padding
- Color: black, red, blue
- Accessories: 1/4″ adapter, leather carrying case
The 440 is another Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering in the entry-level price range. It’s more neutral than a 7506 and sounds less harsh in the highs, with an almost flat mid. The Raised Bass Rack might not be ideal for mixing, but it’s manageable.Metal571 was kind enough to loan them to me for a demo a few years back, and I enjoyed them for the most part. They are incredibly flat and a perfect mixing solution.
- Mix/staple reference.
- Excellent sound insulation.
- It is generally preferred for a flat, even response.
- Bright in the treble but not harsh. The best aspect of this, perhaps.
- It folds up nicely for portability.
- Detachable cord. A straight cable can also be purchased separately.
- The bass is tight, precise, and clean.
- Replaceable ear cups.
- Construction and comfort are missing.
- The ear pads will get hot and sweaty after a while. They are big enough but need to be deeper. But they are replaceable.
- There is almost no headband padding.
Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering Sony MDR-7506
- Over the ear
- Back closure
- Impedance: 63 ohms
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 20kHz
- Weight: 230g
- Price: $95
The Best studio headphones for mixing and mastering Sony MDR-7506 are practically everywhere in modern music studios. Released in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 is still strong today, with no sign of being updated or replaced.
Sony’s MDR-7506s are flat, transparent, light, and well-balanced, so it’s no wonder engineers worldwide love them.
They emphasize the mids and highs, so you’ll be able to get peak detail just with them. The bass will be a little lacking, so if you’re mixing them, ensure you don’t add too much. As mentioned earlier in this article, SoundID (or similar software) will greatly help when mixing on the Sony MDR-7506.
Priced under $100, the MDR-7506 are the perfect budget headphones for you to get some professional audio work done.
Comfort and construction
The comfort and build of the MDR-7506 are nothing to brag about; it’s in the middle, no matter how you look at it.
The Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering are made of imitation leather material, which sweats and wears out over time. They’re light, though, weighing just 230g without the cable, so you won’t have trouble mixing them for hours.
The non-detachable cable and relatively slim build mean you’ll only use them in the studio. That said, the MDR-7506s are built to last. The headset is made to repair, not replace, so that everything can be easily removed, unscrewed, and replaced.
- Transparent and balanced sound
- Wonderful spiral cable
- Durable and versatile
- Easy to repair
- Cheap materials
- Average sound quality
- Earmuffs prone to cracking
Frequent Questions on Best Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering
Do headphones matter for mixing?
You may be fine going from monitoring to mastering with just headphones. It takes a lot of familiarity with your pair to get results that translate, but it’s doable.
Are open headphones better for mixing?
Open-back headphones give you a wider soundstage, making layer pans and levels easy. While not as accurate as using studio monitors, spatial awareness makes panel decisions translate better.
Why you shouldn’t mix with headphones
Headphones tend to have less consistent left-to-right spacing, so panning decisions may need to be more accurate regarding where you want some items placed. Some open-back headphones have a wide sound that resembles studio monitor behavior. However, this only sometimes equates to accurate location and perception of sound. It’s important to reference your mixes on the speakers when you can.
How loud should headphones be for mixing?
There is no single volume in which to mix. It is good to listen at all volume levels to consider the Fletcher-Munson frequency curve. Chris Lorde-Alge often mixes at low levels with his speakers to better feel the real impact of some elements. It can also be done with headphones.
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