Headphones for audio production need a few major qualities to improve their functions, features, their ability to cancel noise, and their modern technology conveniences such as voice activation and control.
Comparing these features can be difficult when you’re dealing with not only the major brands but the diverse models they offer.
This review series and buying guide are designed to give you the inside track on the best headphones to buy for audio production in 2020.
We’ll go over the key features of the 5 major models we like and then compare them by criteria in a buying guide to help you determine which will best suit your needs.
Even if you don’t want the models we list, you can still use the guide to work through your own choices and compare their aptitudes against your needs in audio production.
Reviews of the Best Headphones for Audio Production
These reviews of the 5 best headphones for audio production include their major features as well as any possible drawbacks they may have.
Audio-Technica is one of the most critically acclaimed names in studio monitor headphones and the ATH-M50x tops our list for the same reasons that people have been buying them professionally for years.
Audio engineers and pro reviewers agree that these professional studio monitor headphones are some of the best that money can buy.
The extended frequency range of the ATH-M50x headphones gives them industry-leading clarity in both accurate bass response and the higher registers.
Audio-Technica has circumaural design earcups that completely cover your ears and provide professional sound isolation for mixing and design even in a noisy environment. This makes them perfect tools for a busy engineer or a club DJ.
These premium headphones though have something the cheaper models don’t, which is a 90-degree swiveling mechanism on the earcups that provide efficient ear monitoring. The earpads and headband were also ambitiously comfortable compared to the price.
The detachable 45-millimeter proprietary cable fits into a large aperture driver for optimal sound delivery. Rare earth magnets and copper-aluminum wire voice coils promote professional sound quality and clarity.
Though the price is premium, there are more expensive models on the market with lesser quality.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x studio monitor headphones are recommended by audio professionals everywhere and we see no reason to dispute them.
Superior sound quality and clarity, as well as an extended frequency bass range
Proprietary aperture drivers, 45-millimeter
90-degree swiveling earcups for maximum sound isolation
Comfortable pads and headband
These headphones are built for audio monitoring and production; some users have noted that they can become uncomfortable when used for casual purposes like gaming
Audio-Technica tops our list as the best studio headphones in general, and they’re coming back for a top budget pick.
For their winning designs in both engineering and features, offering premium sound cancelation, ideal aesthetic construction, and the perfect physical technology to maximize the quality and efficiency of your sound production in 2020 without breaking the bank.
Audio-Technica designs their headphones specifically for audio engineering, both tracking and mixing.
If you know anything about sound design headphones, you know that they usually aren’t wireless – the 40-millimeter drivers on the ATH-M20x studio monitor headphones are copper class aluminum wire voice coils for the best possible sound quality. They’re tuned to enhance low-frequency performance for more accurate mixing.
The aesthetic design is also top-notch, with contoured earcups that provide perfect isolation and cancelation in even noisy environments, ideal for both sound production and being a DJ.
Those who are into tracking, mixing, or design know the conveniences of a single-side cable exit, which the Audio-Technica has in a magnet neodymium slot.
For audio production headphones on a budget, look no further than Audio-Technica.
Rare earth magnet drivers with copper-aluminum wire voice coils
Contoured earcup design (circumaural) for premium sound isolation/cancelation
Single-side cable exit with 40-millimeter drivers
The 3-meter cord may be too long for some, depending on the workstation setup
The Bluetooth 5.0 of the Status Audio BT headphones supports two phones, tablets, or computers. Compatible devices include those made by Mac, PC, Android, and Personal Media Players Pixel.
Being wireless, you also need to consider the battery life on these headphones.
Thankfully, the Status Audio BT headphones last 30 hours on one charge, making these headphones the ideal companion for sound producers traveling long distances.
They charge by USB in just over an hour. These features make the Status Audio wireless headphones our pick for the best Bluetooth-enabled headphones for audio production available in 2020.
Convenient Bluetooth technology compatible with most smartphones and tablets
Modern, minimalist design aesthetic
30-hour battery life on a 1-hour charge
Quality bass range
The plastic frame and headband aren’t as durable as some of the more expensive models
Here are the main categories of features that should be compared between these headphone models.
By shopping with this list in mind, you can make sure to buy exactly what you need.
The sound quality is stellar on the headphones we listed, but not everything on the market is made equally.
When you’re shopping, look for things like the decibel limit, bass range quality, and other technical-specific features and compare the models for their specs.
Construction will set some of these models apart, with price factoring heavily into the material quality of the headband and frame, as well as the cord.
Some have stiffer cords made of rarer metals and others have budget plastic constructions that might save you money but may cost you durability.
Earcups are another significant aspect of construction, with some of the models listed providing professional-level sound isolation by covering your whole ear, which is what you want from audio production headphones.
Construction also factors into the aesthetic design of the headphones, with some favoring flashy branded designs and others being sleeker and more minimalistic.
This can affect practical use as well as preference, however, since some models are slimmer and more foldable for use in travel.
Cost is a measurable response to your preferences depending on your needs. From our top premium pick, down to our budget pick, both by Audio-Technica, you should be able to find audio production headphones that work with your budget.
Some of these headphones have special features, which could make or break them in terms of your preferences.
Some are easier to take on the go, including the completely wireless Bluetooth versions that can connect with smartphones and tablets and are ideal for mixing music on a plane ride.
Other more expensive models have swiveling earcups such as our top Audio-Technica pick, and others have built-in buttons.
The length of the cord also factors in here, with some providing too much or too little compared to the needs of your workspace.
Since these features can’t be compared to each other numerically, you need to know what special features are a priority for you before you start looking so you can match the audio production headphones to your specific needs.
Audio production requires subtle and effective tools. Comparing headphone brands and models can be complicated if you don’t know the standard of comparison.
This review series and buying guide are designed to help you sort it out by comparing the main features of the different models available, including their construction, aesthetics, and cost.
Our top pick for headphones for audio producers and mixers is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones.
They have superior material construction, including the earcups, headband, and lead wires, and industry-leading professional sound quality. The earpieces have leading sound isolation tech, giving you the ability to mix and design sound on a professional level for a consumer-grade price.
Though you might buy different models depending on whether your needs involve travel, wireless functions, or a specific millimeter driver, the models listed in this review guide should serve you well so long as you know enough to compare their construction and functions to your needs as an audio producer in 2020.