Mixing music is an art that requires skill and precision. As we outlined in our 6 Monitoring Mistakes to Avoid, one of the most important tips for being precise with your mixes is to listen on multiple systems/sources.

Today, we’ll be talking about headphones for mixing in a few different price ranges.

Best Type of Headphones for Mixing:

Before we jump into our favorite headphones, let’s talk about the most important aspect of mixing headphones:  You want them to be Open-Back.

Closed-Back headphones have a tendency to isolate sound and cause a build-up of frequencies, particularly in the low-end. This build-up will cause your mixing to become inaccurate due to the added frequencies not actually found in your mix. Closed-Back headphones have their place, just not for mixing.

This is why we want Open-Back. Think of an Open-Back as a form of ventilation to let the noise out.

Let’s check out our Top 5 Headphones for Mixing!

1. AKG K240 MKII:

To start our list off, we have the AKG K240. These headphones are an amazing pair of budget studio headphones due to their low price and semi-open design.

The Semi-Open design is a hybrid of Open-Back and Closed-Back and shares some of the great characteristics of both. This allows someone on a budget to purchase one set of headphones for multiple uses.

On the comfort side, these headphones are fairly large, but impressively light and come with leather and velvet earpads, so you can change them to your taste (I am really fond of the velvet myself). The headphones fit most people fairly well and actually self-adjust to your head shape.

Overall, the sound response is fairly flat with an impressive amount of low-end clarity. The low-end can sometimes be slightly over-exaggerated, but don’t worry. It’s nothing close to what modern general-use headphones produce.

The AKG K240 pretty much dominates it’s price range and can be obtained for around $80.


2. AKG K701:

Next up on the list is yet another AKG pair. The AKG K701 is for the user looking for a little bit more comfort than the entry-level K240.

When listening and mixing music for extended periods of time, comfort is a very important aspect. The AKG K701 headphones have to be one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. The soft, 3D foam pad shapes to any ear perfectly and sits on your head lightly. I almost forget that I’m wearing headphones with these on. It’s really that comfortable.

Soundwise, the K701s are extremely detailed. You can hear just about anything you’ll need to in your mix, even the slight nuances that many studio monitors might not let shine. The EQ curve is quite flat, but it brings out the highs a little extra bit. The extra brightness in the high-end really helps for hearing any unwanted sounds, but just remember that it is slightly exaggerated up there, and you’ll want to cross-reference with monitors.

These mid-level headphones can be purchased for around $250.


3. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro:

This next one offers some of the best sounds for the money out of any of the ones on this list, the Beyerdynamic DT990.

These headphones have been a favorite among many producers for years, and for a good reason.

The build quality is incredible for its price. While most headphones in this price range feel lightweight and sometimes brittle, the DT990 Pro has a nice heft to them and feel as though they could take a beating.

While not as comfortable as the previously mentioned K701’s, the DT990 Pro has a solid level of comfort and fairly ergonomic design.

The DT990 Pro headphones have a slightly different approach than some of the other headphones on this list. The audible frequency range is very wide, boasting 5-35,000 HZ. The sound itself isn’t perfectly flat, but more of a slight scooped sound, emulating the EQ curve of a mastered track. This is nice for listening to your song up against commercial masters and see how it holds up. It does require you to do some extra A/B checking with monitors to make sure your track is balanced.

These excellent-sounding cans will run you around $180.

DT990 Pro

4. Shure SRH1840:

Now we’re getting to some of the ridiculously good stuff. These next three headphones are unlike anything most people have even listened to before. You would have never thought such amazing sound quality could come from such little speakers.

This next one is the Shure SRH1840.

On the comfort side of things, the SRH1840’s do not disappoint. The ear cups are made of a plush velour, with spongy pads that essentially float around your ears. The headband is lined with a strong metal alloy (with spongy pads) that lightly hugs your head so that there is no movement whatsoever, with no discomfort.

While these aren’t the loudest, most bass-intensive headphones on the market, the EQ curve is essentially perfect for the price range. The headphones have an accurate bass response without any unnecessary punch, the mid-range is pretty much flawlessly smooth, and the highs are crisp and accurate. The overall smoothness is wonderful from low-to-high and manages to keep your sound as accurate as possible, while still providing an enjoyable and non-fatiguing listening experience.

These headphones really handle the upper-mid/low-high range wonderfully, bringing out the nuances of a vocal performance to help with precise editing.

These aren’t cheap at an estimated price point of $500, but there is a reason that these are a favorite among audiophiles around the world.


5. Sennheiser HD 650:

Ah, the Sennheiser HD 650, the point of reference for just about every other headphone.

The HD 650’s cover your frequency spectrum with even distribution and precision. The EQ curve is impressively flat, and it helps to uncover any nuance in your mix that you may be seeking. These are certainly the most sonically accurate headphones we’ve mentioned so far.

Regarding comfort, I don’t find them quite as snug as the SRH1840’s, but most regard these as some of the most comfortable headphones in the world. You can’t really go wrong here.

These wonderful headphones can be bought for around $500, and they are well worth the price tag.

HD 650

6. Sennheiser HD 800

Okay, so I was originally going to do a top 5, but I really couldn’t go without mentioning these super over-the-top headphones. Here are the Sennheiser HD 800‘s.

The HD 800’s are the (very big) step up from the HD 650, and pretty much make every headphone on this list look like a toy.

These headphones are considered to feature some of the most transparent sounding speakers on the planet. There is almost zero coloration happening from the audio source to your ears. Every detail remains and they are delivered to you with amazing comfort and power.

They are absolutely not cheap, and they are aimed at serving the biggest audiophiles and producers around, but if you can afford them, you’ll have some of the best headphones ever created.

These proud headphones will set you back around $1400.

HD 800

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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana

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