If you’re looking for studio headphones for music production and are stuck for ideas, this top 10 includes the best headphone brands in terms of open back, closed back, and semi-open back headphones in the year 2023.
Everyone from audio engineers to musicians requires quality headphones for their workouts and everyday work. Most commonly, they are used for tracking and mixing songs throughout the audio production process. Unfortunately, studio monitor speakers are a luxury that not everyone can afford. So the next best thing is a high-quality set of headphones designed for the recording studio.
There are headphone manufacturers who cater exclusively to the professional audio market, those that produce headphones with a middle ground between professional and consumer quality, and those that cater exclusively to consumers. When compared to consumer-grade headphones, professional audio headphones often feature significant improvements. The aesthetics aren’t their main priority; instead, sound quality is.
Let’s track down the best studio headphone brands of 2023.
Top 10 Studio Headphones Brands (Open-Back, Closed-Back, Semi-Open)
The ideal acoustic environment is something we should all strive for. Although it may seem impossible, Audeze has made this their top priority. Many people thought their first headset, the LCD-2, was excellent. Moon Audio first showed us a prototype at CanJam Chicago.
Like Steve Jobs, Audeze was born in a garage where its founders toiled away at odd hours and on weekends. As of 2008, Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson had founded Audeze. Beginning in a garage, the LCD series of headphones became an industry standard in planar magnetic driver technology.
After Alexander left in 2015 to start Rosson Audio Design, Sankar was promoted to CEO. Sankar is an expert in his field, having earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from USC. He worked on developing various ground-breaking products for the digital cinema industry before joining Audeze full-time in 2013.
At now, Audeze headphones are manufactured and distributed from their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California, USA. A pioneer in planar magnetic technology and audio fidelity, Audeze has been making waves since its first pair of headphones, the LCD-2, in 2009.
Reviewers widely praised the LCD-2. But, of course, that wasn’t all they did. The LCD-3, the latest generation from Audeze, was released in 2012 with several ergonomic enhancements over its predecessor.
The standard LCD-X and the closed-back LCD-XC were introduced the following year; compared to the LCD-2 and LCD-3, the X and XC sound more modern and progressive. The Audeze LCD-4, the company’s third iteration of its flagship LCD series, debuted in 2016 as a reference premium cans. The LCD-4 continues to be a go-to reference headset for many.
Claim To Fame:
A decade-long legacy that started with the original LCD-2 continues with the LCD Origins planar magnetic headphones. These high-end headphones do a great job of conveying your favorite music’s emotion and complexity. To ensure that every pair of Audeze headphones meets high standards, they are designed and made by hand in the United States.
They use gorgeous wood rings perfectly matched in grain and hue to complement the sound. At its foundation, Audeze is a technological enterprise. They’ve pushed the boundaries of the headphone market with their LCD Origins planar magnetic advancements.
The LCD-2 was the first of its kind, and it served as an inspiration for the more advanced variants here as well. The diaphragm in all of Audeze’s planar magnetic headphones is unique since it is fragile, which is a must for this type of headphone. As a result, the speed with which the diaphragm can move back in and out, dragging and pushing air around it to make sound, is proportional to its weight and strength.
- Open Back (LCD-24)
The Audeze LCD-24 is a significant improvement from previous open-back headphones. The LCD-24 was developed to be a more refined and improved version of the LCD-4 by decreasing its weight and magnet count. As a result, the LCD-24’s diaphragm is more expansive, allowing faster response times, excellent dynamic range, and reduced distortion.
LCD-24 headphones are a continuation of the LCD series, so they look and feel familiar, but they are lighter and more comfortable thanks to technological advancements. Compared to similar planar magnetic headphones, the LCD-24 requires less power.
The impedance is between a quarter and a half of that of the best planar magnetic headphones currently available. In turn, this minimizes distortion at the headlamp and improves sound quality.
- Closed Back (LCD-2)
Adding to the LCD-2’s already impressive sound quality, the LCD-2 Closed-Back headphones provide the same clean, authentic listening experience as their planar magnetic headphones while also isolating the listener from outside noise. With the LCD-2 Closed-Back, you may have a secluded, high-impact, and fully immersing listening experience.
The LCD-2 Closed-Back has a shallow distortion level, a very high dynamic range, and a modern and elegant appearance. It has a deep and controlled bass that can be incredibly robust when called for or remarkably precise and nuanced.
In addition, the new LCD-2 headphones include a lightweight suspension headband, crystal-infused nylon rings, and contoured memory foam earpads to ensure a pleasant listening experience.
- Semi-Open Back (iSine 20)
The iSine 20 is an upgrade over the iSine 10 due to its longer Uniforce voice coil, which results in better bass, clarity, and imaging. With absolutely no audible distortion, your music will sound more intimate.
When you factor in the Cipher Lightning cable’s amplifier and digital signal processor, no other in-ear headphones can compare to it. In addition, the iSine uses great LCD planar technology and superior industrial design to recreate a live concert’s immersive, realistic soundstage in your home.
Sennheiser electrical is an independently owned German audio company that creates a wide variety of quality products, including mics, headphones, and headsets. Sennheiser was split into two distinct companies, one catering to consumers and the other to top professionals in the audio industry.
The consumer division produced products like headphones and home theater speakers. On the other hand, the professional audio sector manufactures tools for use in venues as diverse as nightclubs, theaters, recording studios, television and film sound stages, and even virtual reality.
The founder of the company, Fritz Sennheiser, was a realist. This trait served him well in the business world. The young man gave up on his childhood aspiration of being a landscape gardener in the early 1930s when the challenge faced of deciding between two potential careers. He reasoned that the need for such services would be minimal during an economic downturn.
Thus, Sennheiser pursued his second option and studied to become an electrical engineer. He majored in wave technology at the Technical University’s Heinrich-Hertz-Institute in Berlin, the country’s preeminent radio research facility at the time. In the early 1970s, Sennheiser had already become a household name because of its professional microphones and headsets.
When Japanese consumer electronics companies began flooding the global market with new, low-priced audio equipment, Sennheiser stuck to its philosophy of developing inventive new items of high quality in its existing niche markets that enabled better profit margins.
However, the corporation began to increase the number of its authorized dealers and sales branches throughout Europe and other parts of the world to ensure its continued expansion. Upon request from Lufthansa, the German airline Sennheiser released the “NoiseGuard” headset for pilots in 1988.
Many of the world’s airlines began using the NoiseGuard system after they found it to reduce the amount of background noise pilots significantly experience while in the cockpit. Sennheiser later refined the technique for use in their hearing aids.
Sennheiser spent most of the 1990s perfecting their radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) based wireless technologies for microphones, headphones, transmission systems, high-end hi-fi systems, and consumer electronics. Sennheiser also introduced a new invention in the year 2000 called “AudioBeam” technology.
Claim To Fame:
When Sennheiser released the HD414 in 1968, it was the first pair of dynamic stereo headphones with an “open” design. Sennheiser experimented with a revolutionary headset design in the 1960s, and their efforts bore fruit in the form of the HD414, patented in 1967.
Before this advancement, headsets contained a closed capsule that muffled the user’s surroundings. According to the results of the trials, a more realistic perception of the environment’s acoustics was achieved by using an open design that allowed for that kind of noise.
However, the market for such headsets seemed quite restricted, as portable audio devices like Walkman tape players were still just in the research pipeline of the world’s consumer electronics giants. However, HD414’s commercial success was so substantial that the manufacturer needed to respond to it for years.
Selecting a headset from Sennheiser’s extensive catalog might be daunting because the company is one of only a handful of audio monoliths. Nevertheless, Sennheiser headphones are durable and typically perform above their price category, despite not having the sexiest model names compared to the competition.
Picking the best Sennheiser headphones, though, can be a challenge. Sennheiser makes some excellent headphones that are a cut above the rest of the brand’s offerings. It would help if you also considered your preferences and needs while shopping for the best Sennheiser headphones. It will matter greatly how you like the sound, how comfortable you are, and how much you can afford.
- Open-Back (Sennheiser HD 800 S)
Sennheiser HD 800 S is the most impressive of Sennheiser’s high-end headphones. However, you’ll need an amp to get the most out of these headphones, which can be an added expense if you don’t already have one. Open-back headphones are more expensive, but they produce a more immersive listening experience by making it seem like the sound emanates from around you rather than just your ears.
Their sound features a bit of extra high bass to add warmth to mixes without overwhelming voices and lead instruments, but they still lack the low bass of most other open-back headphones. The headphones are well-constructed and offer a snug, comfortable fit, making them an excellent option for those who listen to music for long periods. However, the ear cups are too big if you have a minimal head.
- Closed Back (Sennheiser HD 280 Pro)
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is the most significant budget headphones you can get if you’re an audiophile on a budget. These are closed-back headphones, less frequent among audiophile headphones but more prevalent at this price point. However, this also implies that their passive soundstage will be less expansive and enveloping than the Sennheiser HD 560Ss.
Because of its ability to dampen mid-range sounds like ambient chatter while still allowing for a respectable leakage performance, this design is also advantageous for consumers who wish to listen to live recordings.
They’re not overly boomy or warm but do an excellent job reproducing low frequencies. Instruments and vocals are in the mix but are muffled and lack energy. In addition, the tightness of the headband can become irritating after prolonged wear.
Beyerdynamic is a well-respected brand in the headphone industry. One of the most recognized and respected manufacturers of headphones around. They’ve been making audio equipment for nearly a century, perfecting their craft so their customers can get the most bang for their buck.
As a result, they have grown to become one of the world’s leading producers of audio technology. Innovations have come from within this corporation due to its need to differentiate itself from competitors in its industry.
The founder’s life before he established the “Elektrotechnische Fabrik Eugen Beyer” in Berlin in 1924 is inspiring. Russia’s royal family was on vacation in Berlin when World War I broke out. They had to abandon their possessions and the possibility of ever going back to Russia.
The Beyers fled to Sweden for a while, returning to Berlin in 1921. After enrolling at the Technische Universität Berlin, Eugen Beyer did not waste time getting his education. He saw his destiny in bringing sound to the movies that came out of Berlin’s cinematic revolution in the 1920s.
A cinema without sound is like a meal without seasoning. He reasoned that making his movie loudspeakers was the next obvious step, so he set out to do it. Sometimes you have to go your way, as the adage goes, and that was the case here.
The company made significant headway quickly, and fresh opportunities appeared in other sectors. For this reason, the earliest forms of the microphone and headphones emerged. The hopes and plans of Mr. Beyer’s younger self rapidly materialized, and so started a tale of prosperity that would last for nearly a century.
Claim To Fame:
Soon after its founding in 1922, Beyerdynamic expanded its product line to include more than simply loudspeakers with the introduction of the DT 48 headphones in 1937. Sound engineers and journalists have used these headphones (the “DT” in the acronym stands for “Dynamic Telephone”) for decades.
These two letters remain the standard designation for PRO headphones until today. As one of the longest-running devices in consumer electronics history, the DT 48 series continued to be manufactured nearly unmodified until 2013.
There’s no denying that Beyerdynamic sells some great headphones; in fact, we venture to claim that any of their headphones costing more than $150 feature superior construction and engineering that easily outclasses the competition.
If you’re looking for headphones, remember that Beyerdynamic is aimed at studios and professionals; thus, their high price tag makes them a tough sell. Many of their flagship models are rather old at this point, and time has taken its toll, so that you may find them for a reasonable price. However, even their earliest offerings continue to function crazily well.
- Open Back (DT 1990 Pro)
You can use them for mixing, monitoring, and mastering because of the sound and precise signals they provide. The frequency response is excellent, the circuitry is well-executed, and the quality of construction is apparent. Tesla’s state-of-the-art drivers perform admirably even at maximum volume, producing the sound of exceptional clarity and detail.
They can produce full-spectrum sound with pristine highs, nuanced mids, and deep lows. The open-back circumaural style provides superior spatial awareness and acute hearing. They have an additional layer of precision-woven fabrics and are finished with a titanium-coated acoustic fabric for longevity.
- Closed Back (DT 1770)
These headphones can be used for essential engineering tasks at the audiophile level. They hold up amazingly well under thunderous, multilayered music. The highs are clear and uncolored, the mids are full of detail and dynamics, and the bass is tighter and more potent than usual, thanks to the enclosure.
They have a contact-pressure optimization design and a 3-layer composite membrane for superior comfort. The headband has been made to be adjustable and durable. It is expertly crafted and incorporates high-tech fabrics for sweat-free, temperature-regulated wear, making it perfect for marathon editing sessions.
- Semi-Open Back (DT 880)
The DT880 Ps is a high-end improvement of the original 880 Edition set, which is still a favorite among consumers even though it has been around for over two decades. This is because their semi-open diffuse-field design creates an atmosphere that is at once open and intimate. A gold-plated stereo jack and Dynamic Tesla-driven speakers make them suitable for high-output audio.
Ear cups with a reflexive bass design reduce bass distortion while amplifying the low end, allowing for more significant bass presence and depth without compromising the rest of the spectrum.
They’re upgraded with a sturdy, adjustable leatherette headband that’s not only comfy to wear but also stands up to repeated use. The ear cushions are, once again, made of velour, a material that allows air to circulate and keeps your ears cool.
In 1949 first AKG headphones were out, and with further advancements coming in the ’50s, such as the first condenser mic, the business was already leaving its mark on the landscape of audio technology. AKG makes a variety of headphones, from in-ear models to on-ear and over-ear headphones, and they all promise high-quality sound.
If you’re in the market for studio-grade headphones, you may choose from various professionally designed models. In addition, closed-back, open-back, and semi-open-back headphones are available to pick the best option for your needs.
AKG microphones and headphones have a lengthy history on tour and in the studio with international musicians ranging from Frank Sinatra to Kayne West. With decades of skill, they are a go-to brand for all your headphone demands.
AKG was founded in 1947 in Vienna by Rudolf Goerike and Ernst Pless, and they immediately became a significant player in the global audio market. AKG is a brand name that has come to represent excellence in audio, a commitment to music as an art form, and a pioneer in the audio equipment industry. At that time, five individuals were engaged in the hand-assembling process.
In 1949, AKG introduced its first-ever headphones. In the 1950s, AKG began releasing a series of revolutionary products, including The D 12, the C 12, and the D 36 were all critical innovations in the history of acoustics. The BBC in London was an early adopter of the now-iconic C 12 mic. The 1960s were pivotal years for AKG’s rise to prominence as a leading producer of audio equipment.
Its audio products, especially the K58 lightweight headphones, were widely utilized at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Despite this, AKG engineers received a warning at the opening ceremony. It delivered the opening statement through an AKG microphone, but the athletes and dignitaries did not hear it.
After many tense minutes, the problem was traced down to a cable connector that had been damaged when water from melting snow had made its way inside. After they fixed the broken piece, the games carried on without a hitch.
Claim To Fame:
The experts at AKG set out to create headphones with a near-linear response, and the result is the AKG K702. Because of this, you will find that using them for mixing is a pleasure. The AKG K702 headphones are top-notch because of their crystal-clear highs and solid bass response. Furthermore, the open-back design allows for adequate ventilation, preventing any feeling of being stifled or trapped.
The audio quality of these top-tier AKG headphones is worthy of use in a professional setting. These headphones have great acoustic drivers that can genuinely bring out the intricacies in the music, and they also have soft ear paddings for extended listening sessions. And because of the headphones’ wide frequency range, you can hear nuances in the music that you hadn’t noticed previously.
- Open Back (K712)
Over-ear open standard production headphones built for critical hi-fi listening, mixing, and mastering, the AKG Pro Audio K712 are a popular choice. To do this, they deliver a consistent and neutral sound across the audible spectrum. Their low-end performance has been boosted by 3 dB, resulting in more potent sound imaging and a more accurate and detailed sound overall.
In addition, they offer excellent impulse and treble response because of their flat wire voice coil. K712 headphones have a sound that is both transparent and analytical. These cans provide an acceptable soundstage with distinct high, low, and midrange frequencies.
Through the use of directed imaging, you can pinpoint the exact origin of the sound. However, compared to comparable AKG closed-back headphones, the K712’s bass power needs to improve.
- Closed Back (K92)
The closed-back AKG Pro Audio K92 headphones are ideal for studio-level monitoring, mixing, and mastering. Their frequency response is so well-balanced that it can be used as a reference monitor. The professional 40 mm drivers in them allow for a wide frequency range.
Because of their closed-back construction, they block out a respectable amount of ambient noise. The 3-meter cable is thick enough to prevent tangling and terminates in a 3.5 mm plug, but it also includes a 6.3 mm adaptor for use with a home stereo.
The K92 headphones deliver remarkably crisp and clear audio. They have 40mm drivers of professional quality and an extended frequency response, both of which aid in bringing out the nuances in the music.
- Semi-Open Back (K240)
The semi-open AKG K240 are professional headphones designed for recording studios. They use AKG’s proprietary Varimotion diaphragm in their XXL transducers, which allows for precise response at any volume level and a spacious, three-dimensional sound.
When used with low-output sources, such as laptops, keyboards, and drum machines, its 55-ohm impedance allows for a loud listening experience without sacrificing efficiency. Thanks to their good construction, all-digital audio signals are sent and reproduced without degradation.
The AKG K240’s sound characteristic is analytical and expansive, making them ideal for orchestral and instrumental music thanks to the headphones’ good soundstage.
Focal, with its headquarters in France, is a forerunner in the premium audio industry. For almost 40 years, it has been lauded for its expertise and “Made in France” label. Focal’s ultimate goal is to elevate the act of listening to music to the level of a sacred ritual, where the music itself is revered and the listener’s emotions are stirred.
Because of how they combine modern technology with classic aesthetics to improve hi-fi sound quality and musical appeal. They hope that by doing so, you will be able to access previously unexplored realms of feeling and pleasure in its most unadulterated form.
The seed for Focal’s success was planted in the workshop of a family-run business in Saint-Étienne, France, that specialized in precision mechanics back in 1979. At the time, only Jacques Mahul and another worker were employed to make speaker drivers. Soon, the world over, this hi-fi aficionado and Pink Floyd fan’s inventions would captivate music enthusiasts and audiophiles.
The Focal company mass-produced drivers for use in loudspeakers. JMlab is another company that focuses on producing excellent speakers. The DB 13 was the best-selling model in their first line of speakers. Combined with its double voice coil speaker driver, it changed the game for small bookshelf loudspeakers by allowing them to compete with the volume of much more prominent models.
The company found immediate success and expanded its operations into traditional loudspeakers and high-end kits. Focal expanded into new areas of expertise after initially specializing in audio for the home, the car, and the workplace. The company already had a leg up on the competition with its multimedia loudspeakers. It can also claim to be at the forefront of the modern music-listening trend.
In 2012, Focal released its first set of high-fidelity headphones, Spirit One, making its signature sound more portable. They released Utopia headphones in 2016 after the company had already been operating in this market for four years. Stellia, Clear Mg, and Celeste, a trio of open- and closed-back Hi-Fi headphones that won several awards, were released in the following years.
Claim To Fame:
Focal’s Utopia headphones are the best regarding critical listening, and the company has many more options. When Focal released the Utopia in 2016, it raised the bar for the quality and craftsmanship of the company’s headphones, not just those in the Utopia’s price range.
As a result, the Utopia open-back headphones revolutionized the headphones market. Utopia’s incredible success can be traced mainly to Focal’s usage of beryllium and the company’s history.
Focal isn’t a household name, but audiophiles have certainly heard of it. For some people, such headphones are a fantasy. However, if you’re into high-quality sound, you’ve heard of this French company that’s been making headphones for radio stations since 1979.
Unfortunately, focal is so pricey because it caters only to the high-end market, where it can focus on perfecting the balance between refined aesthetics and exceptional audio reproduction.
- Open Back (Clear Mg)
The Clear Mg is a reworked version of Focal’s popular Clear open-back headphones, featuring the same great chestnut leather and microfiber materials found in the original model as well as a cool honeycomb pattern on the earcups and, as one might expect from the model’s moniker, a 40mm “M”-shaped all-Magnesium full-range driver.
Because of its low impedance of 55 ohms, the Focal Clear Mg can be powered by almost any mobile music player or laptop computer. However, a headphone amplifier is essential for getting the most out of them.
Compared to the conventional aluminum-magnesium driver, the new alloy permits the speaker driver to be lighter and stiffer. This means that the Clear Mg can make sounds across a range of frequencies below and above the range of human hearing.
- Closed Back (Celestee)
The Celestee headphones are a reworked version of Focal’s original large-sized closed-back headphones. The goal was to design an isolating headphone that maintained the sound quality of earlier versions by emulating their construction and using similar materials. Flexibility in the movement was a primary design goal for the Celestee.
They have a low impedance of 35 Ohms so you may run them off your computer or mobile device. Thanks to their closed-back construction, these headphones will keep any ambient noise at bay. The Celestee had to live up to Focal’s standards and improve upon those of the Elegia, Focal’s first audiophile circum-aural closed-back headphones.
Though it shares similarities with the Focal Elegia in driver and dome construction, Celestee has been fine-tuned to focus more on bass.
Sony is one of those omnipresent corporations; over time, no household will be without at least one Sony product, as the company meets every conceivable technological requirement. They are also a pioneer in noise cancellation with their hi-res headphones and are active participants in the headphone market.
Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was founded in 1946 with a capital of 190,000 yen and around 20 employees. Masaru Ibuka, the firm’s founder, said he wanted to create the company to build the “ideal factory,” which values freedom and openness and uses technology in other Japanese cultures.
Sony’s continual introduction of numerous “Japan’s first” and “world’s first” items exemplifies the company’s pioneering spirit and commitment to “do what has never been done before.” Sony introduced the Walkman, the first portable music player, in 1979 and sold it with a pair of headphones called MDL-3L2.
This category ushered in a sea change in people’s listening habits by facilitating the portability of musical content and using lightweight headphones. The Walkman name has expanded from its original use with portable music cassette players to include several digital audio and video players and even some discontinued models of mobile phones produced initially by Sony Ericsson.
In 1995, Sony introduced the MDR-NC10, its first noise-canceling headphones. The MDR-NC500D was the company’s first digital noise-canceling headphones, released in 2008, and the MDR-1000X was its first wireless noise-canceling headphones, released in 2016.
Claim To Fame:
Since there are so many options, it is reasonable to assume that many of the finest headphones today are produced by Sony. However, the wide variety of design, make, and price options might be overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are several Sony headphones that, in terms of sound quality and performance, will leave you speechless.
For example, the Sony WF-1000XM4 earphones are among the most excellent true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2023. Sony’s over-ear headphones are the same way. The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, for example, are one of many Sony over-ear versions that excel in noise cancellation, sound quality, and wireless convenience.
Sony has been making great audio equipment for years, and their headphones have become the standard issue. Besides producing wireless headphones, earbuds, and wired over-ear headphones, the brand is also among the finest in the industry when it comes to the latter.
Sony is well-known for making a wide variety of headphones, from cheap earbuds for the occasional commuter to high-end headphones with the excellent sound quality for serious music lovers. Sony is sure to have the perfect headset for your needs.
- Open Back (LinkBuds Truly Wireless)
Unlike traditional earphones, the Sony LinkBuds Truly Wireless is built to let outside noise in. The plastic ring is worn around the ear and contains a cutout to let you hear ambient noise. Features like automated volume control, simulated surround sound, and “Wide Area Tap,” which lets you register inputs by tapping in front of rather than on the earphones themselves, are the tip of the iceberg.
However, some people may find that they need to be more secure and comfortable because of the form of their ears, and this is because they don’t fit everyone the same way. In addition, they lack rumble, punch, and body in your audio because of their open design, which is why you can’t use them for music.
- Closed Back (MDR-7506)
These aren’t your everyday, on-the-go headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, so save your money if you’re looking for a pair of wireless over-ears for the gym or the commute. But for years, their well-balanced sound has made them the standard in studios for mixing and recording.
Mixes have crisp, precise, and detailed vocals and main instruments. They provide a stable sound quality across reseats, and you can use the included adapter to hook up to an amplifier or mixer immediately. They work well for podcasting and other audio recording applications because they lose so little sound.
They’re lightweight and snug, making them ideal for extended recording sessions. You may collapse them to take up less room in your backpack when not in use. However, they have a flimsy appearance and feel of construction, making frequent damage more likely.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 wireless headphones are some of the most well-known studio headphones in existence, and as such, you have likely heard of them if you are involved in the audio world. There are few names in the audio industry with the same level of credibility as Audio-Technica.
Studio headphones made by the Japanese firm are sure to receive high marks from professionals and amateurs alike. Professionals are drawn to the brand like a swarm of cats to a can of tuna because Audio-Technica consistently prioritizes performance and durability in its high-end audio equipment.
Hideo Matsushita started Audio-Technica in a one-story Tokyo rental home with a million yen in capital and three employees in 1962. The AT-1 was the first product released by the business. It was a moving-magnet cartridge that was supposed to revolutionize audio quality by implanting a diamond needle into a phonograph’s pipe without breaking the cantilever.
The designer said he frequently worked until midnight, only stopping to get ramen from the shop across the street for dinner. By this point, Audio-Technica envisioned itself as a one-stop shop for sound-related things. The AT-VM35F cartridge allowed wideband play beyond 45kHz for four-channel records, demonstrating progress in magnetic tape head technology and four-channel sound.
It’s far higher than the industry standard top-end. While advancements were made to stereo headphones beginning in the 1960s, it was in the debut of the AT-700 series in the mid-1970s that the results were noticeable.
There were electret condenser-type headphones like the AT-706 and 705 that were virtually electrostatic but didn’t need a high voltage source, just an impedance-matching adaptor unit, and open, dynamic designs like the AT-702, 701, and 703. In 1977, Audio-Technica produced its first series of dynamic headphones: the ATH-4, ATH-3, and ATH-5.
On the other hand, it highlighted the company’s 15th anniversary with developing and releasing the twin moving-coil MC-type AT-34 stereo cartridge, which successfully competed with the Danish Ortofon’s renowned MC 20. In 1978, Audio-Technica ventured into uncharted territory by releasing eight models of commercial microphones under the AT800 series, ranging from Laveria to shotgun mics.
Claim To Fame:
The first of their W series, they released the all-natural wood ATH-W10VTG headphones in 1996. Throughout the decade of the ’90s, many more W-series models were released. Their W series has won critics and customers with its gorgeous wood grain and genuine sound. Few headphones can match the history of Audio-W Technica’s series.
The ATH-W1000Z is the 11th iteration of a line that debuted in 1996, and like its predecessors, it represents an incremental improvement over its forerunner. Audio-Technica has tried hard to retain the traditional look and feel of previous W products and succeeded.
They have changed little in appearance, but at least they are still noticeable. This design has stayed the same; these headphones are still somewhat bulky and meant for indoor usage. They have a closed back, which keeps outside noise out and the music within where it belongs.
The audio quality and comfort of Audio-Technica headphones are second to none. The powerful acoustic drivers in these cans deliver clear highs, rich mids, and rumbling lows.
Their comprehensive frequency response and ability to pick up on tiny details make them perfect for music enthusiasts and studio engineers. In addition, these headphones are designed to fit snugly around the listener’s ears and provide thick, soft padding for the ears.
- Open Back (ATH-AD700X)
The ATH-AD700X are undoubtedly some of the best headphones, which have been built to produce transparent and responsive sound appropriate for studio usage. The vast 53 mm drivers aid in accurately reproducing the treble and midrange frequencies, and the fast transient response ensures that any changes in volume or pitch are heard immediately.
Their high-efficiency voice coils are bobbin-wound with copper-clad aluminum wire. The open-back design of these headphones allows for music to travel in both directions from the driver, relieving any strain on the eardrums and preventing listener fatigue.
The natural sound creates an environment where listeners may relax and take in sounds from all directions in the stereo field without any distractions. The aluminum honeycomb exterior offers solid protection while adding negligible weight and hardly any coloring to the otherwise transparent sound.
- Closed Back (ATH-M50x)
Regarding professional studio monitoring, the ATH-M50x is among the best headphones Audio-Technica offers. They include massive 45 mm drivers with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils and rare earth magnets. Audio-unique Technica’s driver design is mainly responsible for the high quality of the reproduced sound.
These headphones have a wide frequency and a robust bass response considering their size. The headphones are suitable for usage in noisy areas because of their circumaural design, which completely envelops the ear, and the closed-back design, which provides good sound isolation. As a result of their adaptability, the M50x can be worn for long periods with no discomfort.
Shure may be more known for its mics, but they’ve also invested heavily in the headphones industry. As a result, their headphones are among the best available therefore; it’s only fair that they rank so highly.
In 1925, Chicago was home to Shure, a modest radio manufacturer selling wares via mail-order kits and components. By 1928, Shure had expanded from just Sidney N. Shure’s operation to requiring a larger headquarters to house the company’s burgeoning staff.
As factory-built radios became more affordable and widespread during the Great Depression of 1929–1939, demand for home radio kits dwindled. So, rather than manufacturing its microphones, Shure shifted gears to become a distributor for Ellis Electrical Laboratories. Shure began manufacturing their first authentic microphone after two years of marketing.
The following year, in 1932, they released what would become known as the Model 33N. One of the microphone’s best features was that it was much easier to carry around than other options available at the time due to its compact size and lightweight. Throughout the 1930s, Shure maintained its mic R&D and production, eventually developing groundbreaking wireless products.
Their breakthrough, though, occurred late in the decade. Shure’s in-ear monitor earphones can be purchased with a personal monitor system or separately; in addition to being great for use with in-ear monitors, these headphones are also fabulous for use with portable audio players like MP3 players.
In May 2009, Shure introduced its first set of around-ear headphones. Since then, the company has expanded its product line to meet the needs of listeners with a wide range of preferences, from casual to serious audiophiles.
Shure’s on-ear, foldable headphones with either a semi-open or closed-back design became available in October 2014. Offerings in the Portable, Studio and Audiophile categories are rounded out by a closed-back model with an inbuilt microphone and controller for controlling iOS devices.
Claim To Fame:
The Shure AONIC 50 noise-canceling headset is an elegant answer to the problems of telecommuting and working from home. The large, detachable earpads make the headphones last longer and are easier to keep clean. The ability to dampen ambient noise is superb, as are the device’s practicality and hospitability.
Most consumers roll their eyes when told that headphones cost $200. Shure ups the ante with their high-end active noise canceling (ANC) headphones; the Shure AONIC 50 retails for $299. Don’t let the high price tag dissuade you from giving this headset some severe thought. After using the AONIC 50 for several weeks, it is one of the most comfortable headsets available and would be ideal for long periods of use on the go.
For years, Shure has been a go-to brand for musicians and music lovers, thanks to its consistent recognition as an industry leader and multiple accolades for its good sound, comfortable design, and timeless durability.
Despite Shure’s longstanding dominance of the mid-priced headphone market, their newest offering is affordable enough to keep a few extra bucks in your wallet. Not only do these headphones excel at reproducing a wide variety of musical styles, but active noise cancellation does not negatively affect the sound like it does with specific other models.
- Open Back (SRH1840)
The Shure SRH1840 are open-back headphones designed for professional use. These headphones would be fabulous as studio monitors due to their clear highs, deep bass, and exceptional accuracy. In addition, open-backs provide a more immersive listening experience than closed-back headphones, with a more natural, speaker-like soundstage.
Since this is the case, the SRH1840s are well-suited for monitoring, mastering, and critical listening. Moreover, the headphones’ adaptability and comfort will win you over. The last thing you need is a headache in the studio for hours.
- Closed Back (SRH1540)
You can check off almost any audiophile’s wish list with the Shure SRH1540; it’s a high-end, closed-back headphone. Not only do these headphones produce excellent sound, but their depth is also impressive. Feeling the improved audio performance, with every clear note and the highs stretched out, is an experience you won’t forget.
The performance stands out from the competition thanks to its rich, warm bass notes and deep lows. These over-the-ear headphones not only block out ambient noise but also generate a sound of exceptional quality. Thanks to its high level of isolation, your music will play uninterrupted. They’re also foldable, so you can store them away in case when you’re not using them.
- Semi-Open Back (SRH144)
These headphones cost only $39, but they look and sound like much more costly models. Despite its recent release, which focuses more on greater bass if that’s your thing, this one prioritizes crisp high-mids and bright highs, yet it still has plenty of basses and doesn’t distort even at top volumes.
The only significant negative is the need for a remote control or a microphone for mobile devices. Nevertheless, the SRH144 are the best headphones for under forty dollars since they sound better than options costing twice as much.
Unfortunately, it’s only offered in black, although it borrows several design cues from other Beats products, like the brushed metal look of the plastic headband. The on-ear cushions are padded and perforated leather, with a pop of green from the cloth hiding behind the openings.
9. Austrian Audio
After AKG went out of business, Austrian Audio came into the market as a genuine newcomer. Established in 2017, the company’s mission is to shake up the industry with its skill in making superior instruments. Despite being a young company, they boast 350 years of engineering experience and promise to roll out a slew of new offerings shortly.
Vienna, Austria, is commonly referred to as the “City of Music” because of the abundance of world-renowned classical composers who once called the city home, including Beethoven and Mozart. Since the 16th century, Vienna has been a hub for musical innovation; in 2017, a new firm called “Austrian Audio” was founded. Its products have since challenged many established players in the audio market.
In addition to microphones, Austrian Audio is known for its innovations in acoustics, transducers, noise cancellation, measurement instruments, and the aviation and telecommunications industries. However, there is much more behind the scenes of microphones made by Austrian Audio than initially meets the eye. The Hi-X65, Hi-X55, and Hi-X50 headphones feature the company’s patented Hi-X drivers.
The brand-new 44mm Hi-X driver is equipped with a ring magnet system, a proprietary technology developed in-house and used in previous models of the company’s award-winning headphones. It has the highest magnetic field strength and best airflow of any device in its category.
Using a copper-clad aluminum voice coil and a ring magnet construction, the membrane and voice coil sitting atop it can move or change direction more quickly, resulting in a better impulse reaction that is greatly sought after in modern and classical music creation.
Claim To Fame:
The Hi-X55’s style makes them ideal for essential monitoring duties like mixing and producing when accuracy and precision are paramount. They provide full ear coverage for comfort, but bigger headphones also mean more oversized headphones.
The Hi- X55’s tuning and proprietary “wobble-free,” high-excursion driver ensure a flat frequency response from 5Hz to 28kHz and no distortion thanks to the driver’s carefully chosen 44mm diaphragm size.
The hi-X Headphone line-up includes six different headphones, each with a unique set of bells and whistles. However, they all share the same slow-retention memory foam earpads, foldable aluminum hinges, and a 44mm high-excursion driver design.
The Hi-X50, Hi-X55, Hi-X60, and Hi-X65 are all made in Austria, as are their designs and engineering. In addition, the new 44mm Hi-X drivers were explicitly developed for this line of headphones, achieving an ideal compromise between air movement and the cancellation of unpleasant resonances.
- Open Back (Hi-X65)
These are the pinnacle of headphones technology. The open-back design and high-excursion 44 mm driver produce a realistic, expansive soundstage with excellent stereo imaging and virtually little distortion. When done professionally, mixing and mastering may reveal the music’s intricacies. They’re also great for people who prefer to listen to great sound in an appropriate environment.
The Hi-X65s’ premium memory foam ear pads provide extra comfort and isolation, which provide a complete seal around the ear. Even if you wear glasses, they’re made to be as comfortable as possible over long listening sessions.
Of course, it would help if you had a quiet, distraction-free listening environment to get the most out of them, as open-back headphones cannot block ambient noise. To get a similar degree of performance from a closed-back set of headphones, such as those you could use for remote mixing or monitoring while tracking, consider the Hi-X55s.
- Close Back (Hi-X50)
Those who seek a smaller, lighter, and more portable package will like the Hi-On-ear X50’s design, which will appeal to touring artists, DJs, and live sound engineers. The on-ear layout allows for smaller ear cups, reducing the overall footprint and making these headphones more portable.
To accommodate users in less-than-ideal locations, such as on stage, side stage, or at FOH, or users who would rather listen to music without analyzing its tonal balance, the Hi-X50 has been adjusted with a modest emphasis on the low-end.
The on-ear design of the Hi-X50s ensures a snug fit on the user’s head and ears, making them ideal for a leaping DJ or a head-banging FOH engineer. Moreover, the Hi-X50s excel at tracking since their bass response is more motivating. The Hi-X50s may be the best headphones for individuals seeking a lightweight, ‘vibey,’ yet accurate pair to monitor difficult conditions.
Every year, the Neumanns put more effort into improving their property. Despite being late to the headphone game, they have already garnered the attention of at least one major music producer. They debuted in 2019 with three models of premium headphones and aimed to expand rapidly in this industry.
On October 1898, the company’s founder, Georg Neumann, was born, and his professional education was sponsored by the Berlin company Mix & Genest. After that, he was a part of a team at AEG that conducted experiments to improve amplifiers’ efficiency. Eugen Reisz led this research facility, and soon after, he started his own business and hired Georg Neumann.
Carbon microphones were widely employed for recording purposes during that period. Neumann microphones are used in studio productions by innumerable audio engineers and internationally renowned musicians. Find customers for these Berlin-made luxury goods by starting with a list of your favorite bands, regardless of their genre or generation.
Since 2010, Neumann has brought its knowledge of electro-acoustic transducer technologies to the studio monitoring industry, promising its clients the best possible solutions for their needs in television and radio broadcasting, recording, and audio production.
Both the 75th and 80th anniversaries of the corporation were celebrated in Berlin, where the company’s development, marketing, sales, and service departments remain to this day. The world premiere of the first Neumann headphones is in the early months of 2019.
Neumann’s NDH 20 closed-back headphones provide all the features you’d expect from a good Neumann product: superior isolation, a well-balanced sound picture, and superb resolution.
Claim To Fame:
You can anticipate the same linear frequency response, robust stereo imaging, and great resolution from the NDH 20 closed-back studio headphones as you would benefit from any Neumann monitor. In addition, the NDH 20 headphones are the ideal choice for any crucial monitoring or mixing activity, regardless of ambient noise levels, thanks to their circumaural memory foam ear pads.
Unfortunately, the performance of many closed-back designs is hampered by annoying mid-band resonances, making them unfit for important mix decisions. However, like Neumann’s other lauded studio loudspeakers, the NDH 20s provide pinpoint accuracy devoid of artifacts caused by mechanical means.
Even though they haven’t been there for very long in the headphone market, we couldn’t uncover any all-encompassing solutions; they offer three distinct models of headphones, one of which is a sequel to the original NDH 20.
- Open Back (NDH 30)
The NDH 30 are circumaural, open-back headphones with exceptional detail resolution, high-precision stereo imagery, and pinpoint localization. As a result of its better transient response and linear soundstage, it is ideal for use in the most exacting audio post-production tasks, such as mixing and mastering.
The NDH 30 was designed to deliver the reference quality of a Neumann studio monitoring setup, fully calibrated using MA 1, to anybody, wherever, in a lightweight, compact headphone.
Concurrently, the NDH 30 establishes its standard for audio reproduction in headphones, an increasingly important factor in the market. The NDH 30 is the go-to for mixing and mastering because of its great audio. Highly suitable for precise editing because of its exceptional long-term comfort.
- Closed Back (NDH 20 Black Edition)
If you’re looking for a closed-back headphone with the superior isolation, meticulously controlled audio image, and top-notch clarity you’d expect from Neumann, go no further than the NDH 20. So, the NDH 20 is excellent for tracking and mixing in noisy settings.
Ear cushions made of circumaural memory foam provide superior long-term comfort. There’s also the new Black Edition to consider. The NDH 20 produces a main, well-balanced sound image comparable to Neumann’s famed studio loudspeakers.
At the same time, many rival closed-back headphones are plagued with ugly resonances in the mid-band, making it difficult to come to reliable mix judgments. Superior sonics paired with enormous memory ears padding makes the NDH 20 a joy to wear for long times without fatigue.
There is no definitive answer to the question of which is the greatest brand of headphones; these days, most manufacturers produce at least good earbuds and headphones. Even when serving similar customers, each organization has its quirks and procedures. However, few names in particular stick out from the crowd.
Knowing what to look for in a new set of headphones can be confusing. It would help if you first considered how much money you have available. After all, if you’re only an occasional listener on the hunt for a cheap way to pass the time on your morning commute, there’s no use in spending your next month’s rent on an audiophile-quality system.
Although they are studio headphones and are primarily used for music creation, the Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X is the ideal compromise between audiophiles and casual listeners due to their high quality and wide range of applications. You won’t even notice they’re on your ears after wearing them for hours, making them ideal for uses where comfort is paramount, like streaming and podcasting, and gaming, where they prove exceptionally effective.
If you’ve been setting your sights on what you want from a new pair of headphones, this top will help you find the right pair, especially now that you know about the brand.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age. Read more…