In this article, we take a look at the top 13 closed-back headphones priced below $200 and 300$.
Having closed-back headphones has a lot of advantages when it comes to tracking and mixing. Closed-back headphones prevent the sound from your headphone from leaking into the microphone. Another advantage is that you are isolated from external noise from the environment. You can easily focus on tracking and mixing with these headphones.
Do Closed-Back Headphones Sound Better?
Closed-back doesn’t necessarily sound better, the same way open-back headphones also aren’t superior to closed-back headphones. The advantage of closed-back headphones is that you are isolated when mixing your tracks.
Open-back headphones, meanwhile, let you take advantage of the ambient noise for you to be able to mix and even master the songs, like putting the recording in different environments.
Are Closed-Back Headphones Good for Recording?
Closed-back headphones are recommended for recording compared to open-back headphones. As these don’t bleed into the microphone, closed-back headphones reduce, if not eliminate, any phase issues that arise from bleeding.
Another reason to consider closed-back headphones is the isolation. Open-back headphones will have sound bleeding into the headphones, which can be a problem if you’re recording to a click track with other noise in the tracking or control room. Closed-back headphones eliminate that bleed-in so that you can concentrate on your work.
Are Closed-Back Headphones Good for Music Production, Mixing & Mastering?
Yes as these headphones provide a good amount of isolation to help you hear your mix. Isolation is one important element for producing music, and by shutting off the sound, you can track, mix and master your music without excess sounds that can tamper with your hearing.
Open-backed headphones are also good for mixing and mastering, as these headphones try to emulate how your speakers would sound, but at lower volumes. Using open-back headphones helps you simulate different scenarios for your tracks.
13 Best Cheap Closed-Back Headphones 2023
1. Rode NTH-100 (Best Rated)
The Rode NTH-100 closed-back headphones are a new entry in the market and made for those looking for a budget pair of studio headphones. For a company’s first venture into headphones, it sure studied the market and tried to offer alternatives to often pains of users.
Priced at around $150, these headphones offer a comfortable fit, thanks to their memory foam pads. If you wear glasses, wearing headphones won’t be a problem anymore, as the earpads will adapt to your ears, including the glasses you wear.
These headphones are also lightweight, which makes them comfortable to wear for long hours, whether mixing or listening for pleasure. Each NTH-100 also comes with a carrying case, should you need to take them with you outside your studio.
- Detachable Cables
Any studio headphones with detachable cable will always be notable, precisely for the feature to swap out cables as needed. By default, the cables you get with the NTH-100 are around 2.4 meters long. If you need a longer cable to swap for tracking or plan to sit on your desk to mix a song, just swap out the cable for a more appropriate length.
- Memory Foam
The Rode NTH-100 is a very comfortable pair of headphones, thanks to the Alcantara-covered memory foam. The headphones are also adjustable, so they can be made to fit any head size. In addition, with the FitLok, you can lock your headphones in place so that you don’t need to adjust them every time you wear them.
- Input Jacks on both sides
The option to plug the NTH-100 on either side of the headphones gives it additional flexibility. You can reduce damage to the cables or simply adapt to where your audio interface is located.
- Carrying case included
Every purchase of the NTH-100 comes with a carrying pouch designed to protect your headphones from scratches inside your bag. While it’s not designed to cushion it from falls, the pouch still provides ample protection from movement inside your bag.
Character & Sound:
The Rode NTH-100 has a sound profile that is well-balanced and clear. It has a good amount of bass, mids, and highs, and the sound demonstrates this clarity. The NTH-100 features custom-matched drivers that deliver an accurate frequency response perfect for dialing tones during tracking or mixing.
In addition, the headphone does a good job of blocking out external noise and has a good soundstage.
What stands out the most with the NTH-100 are the memory foam earcups. Because it uses memory foam, it easily conforms to the shape of your ears. In addition, if you wear eyeglasses, the memory foam also adapts to your spectacles for a more comfortable fit.
Another good feature is the FitLock, which allows you to lock your headbands in place, so you don’t have to keep adjusting your headphones every time you wear them. Locking the headphones makes them more plug-and-play, or plug-and-wear, in this case.
While these headphones are good for tracking and mixing, some users have observed an inconsistent bass frequency. Those mixing music heavy on the bass, such as EDM and hip hop, might pose a problem with these headphones. But like any other mix you do, it’s best to test them with other speakers and headphones, aside from the NTH-100.
Another thing observed by users of the NTH-100 is the distortion when the volume is set to high. Therefore, you need to be mindful of the output volume of the signal delivered to your headphones. If your audio interface does not have a headphone output independent of the monitor volume, consider using a headphone amp to help attenuate the signals.
The main selling point of the NTH-100 is its users’ comfort. And with its memory foam earpads, these headphones are best for those looking for a comfortable pair, especially when wearing eyeglasses. In addition, the FitLok system gives you the most adaptive headphones your head can wear.
2. Sennheiser HD-300 Pro
The Sennheiser HD-300 Pro are closed-back, over-ear headphones designed for professional monitoring and mixing. These headphones have a frequency response of 8-25,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 104 dB.
With a sound pressure level of up to 123 dB, the HD-300 Pro can deliver accurate sounds even when used at high volumes. These headphones are also lightweight, making them comfortable to use, even for extended periods.
The HD-300 Pro headphones are made with high-quality materials and are very well-built. The headphones are designed to be durable and last for many years. They are a great option for those looking for high-quality headphones for mixing and monitoring, even when on the road.
- Swivel Earcups
If you need to lay your headphones on the desk, you can securely do so with the swiveling earcups. By laying them flat on the table, the HD-300 Pro gets to rest with less risk of slipping. The swivel design also reduces pressure on the earcups, which means fewer damage chances.
- Easy to carry
The HD-300 Pro is easy to take along for fieldwork. If you’re into sound design and plan to record ambient sounds for a project, these headphones are a good choice, as they come with a detachable cable, and the headphones fold easily. These headphones also come with a carrying case.
- Passive Noise Reduction
The HD-300 Pro features passive attenuation of ambient noise. The closed circumaural design can limit the noise to up to 32 dB, which should still let you hear people in the room, but still hear what you’re listening to on your headphones.
- Semi-coiled cable
The semi-coiled cable included with the HD-300 Pro gives the cable additional noise reduction from structure-borne noise. If you are based in an environment with a lot of vibrations, the coiled end of the cable helps reduce the noise that comes from these settings.
Character & Sound:
The HD-300 Pro does represent the sound as it’s recorded, plug-ins and all. So if you’re looking for raw recording sounds, many users recommend these headphones for this purpose.
With the high sound pressure level, the HD-300 Pro is also good for outdoor settings, especially when doing mixes for live sound. You can easily increase volume and match what goes to the monitors of the artists without compromising the quality of what you hear.
The high sound pressure level of the HD-300 Pro allows it to produce sound without distorting at high volumes. That means you can use it in loud environments to make finishing touches to a mix while relaxing at a coffee shop or waiting for your flight.
Another thing worth noting with the HD-300 Pro is the comfort. According to users who swear by these headphones, the earcups are padded and comfortable enough to wear for long periods. In addition, it makes a good companion for trips, in case you only have room for a pair of headphones in your bag.
While the HD-300 Pro can be comfortable to wear for long periods, some users also find them too tight on the head.You may need to stretch them a little if they’re too tight for your liking.
But note that stretching may cause some loss in the passive attenuation, as the tightness contributes to the enclosed sound.
Good For: The HD-300 Pro is best for anyone looking to use headphones at high volumes without distortion. The high sound pressure of these headphones makes it also ideal for anyone mixing hard rock and metal music, as the sound remains faithful to what is recorded and processed by the plug-ins.
3. AKG K-361
The AKG K-361 headphones are a great choice for those looking for a quality pair of headphones that will provide them with clear, accurate sound.
These headphones are comfortable to wear and have a wide frequency response, making them ideal for listening to recordings or even leisure use. The K-361 also has a detachable cable, so you can easily take them on the go.
The K-361 comes in two variants: one wired and a Bluetooth version. The only difference between the two is the wireless connectivity.
- Metal reinforced
The K-361 boasts metal reinforcement that ensures the durability of the headphones. In addition, you can stretch the headband further to get a comfortable fit with metal reinforcement.
- Titanium-coated drivers
The K-361 uses titanium coated 50mm drivers to improve sound quality and durability. Using titanium-coated drivers gives these headphones a more durable surface that is less likely to scratch or wear down over time. Likewise, the titanium-coated drivers also offer a more polished look to your headphones.
- Slow Retention Foam
The foam in these headphones is designed to slowly expand once pressed on your ears, providing a more comfortable, snug fit that won’t cause any discomfort. Additionally, the slow-retention foam helps to reduce noise leakage.
- Detachable cables
Each K-361 comes with a 3-meter and 1.2-meter cable. You can swap them when tracking away from the desk or use the shorter cable for mixing after every session. Likewise, if you need a specific cable length, you can easily swap them and plug them into the K-361.
Character & Sound:
No doubt, the wide frequency response of the K-361 allows you to hear how each frequency reacts in the mix. You can easily point out what frequency needs boosting and which need to be tamed in the mix. In addition, the titanium-coated drivers play a significant role in the sound quality.
Considering the wide frequency of these headphones, the K-361 is suited for almost any genre and is also good for podcast editing. They are also a good option for leisure, such as watching a movie or listening to your favorite tracks on your preferred music platform.
The titanium coating on the drivers gives the K-361 an added layer of protection and sound quality. As a result, you can hear recordings more accurately, which can help you improve how you mix or process tracks.
Another feature worth noting is the slow retention foam’s comfort. The foam helps reduce discomfort from wearing headphones for long periods.
The first thing you will notice with the design is that these headphones are not foldable. While they come with a carrying case, the non-collapsible design makes it harder and bulkier to take on the road for any recording projects you may have outside your studio.
Another thing worth looking at is the price. While it is not as expensive as other headphones in this article, the lack of standard features, such as folding earcups, can be a dealbreaker, considering other headphones within or below this price range are foldable.
These headphones are best for use within your studio due to their bulky and non-collapsible design. They’re also good for those who need one headphone that you can use to track away from the desk and then mix on the desk, using the different cable lengths available.
4. Yamaha HPH-MT8
The Yamaha HPH-MT8 headphones are a great choice for those who want high-quality sound without spending much money. The sound quality is clear and detailed, and the bass is deep and impactful.
The HPH-MT8 does a good job of blocking ambient noise, which helps in a live application. In addition, these headphones provide versatility in application, making them a good tool to have in the studio or on the stage.
These headphones offer great comfort and stay in place well.
- CCAW Neodymium Drivers
The HPH-MT8 features 45 mm CCAW neodymium drivers that recreate a 15 Hz – 28 kHz audible spectrum. With this frequency response, these headphones are versatile enough for recording and mixing various genres.
- Circumaural Design
These headphones come with a circumaural design that surrounds the outer ear, providing isolation from external noise. Because of the isolation the HPH-MT8 offers, you can minimize the bleed from the headphones when recording, especially when doing vocal takes on a condenser microphone.
- Designed for Studio and Live use
The Yamaha HPH-MT8 is a great choice for either the stage or studio. Its lightweight design and comfortable ear cups make it easy to wear for long periods, and its clear sound makes it ideal for monitoring your performance. In addition, thanks to the circumaural design, you can hear well, even when checking a mix in a live situation.
- Cushioned headband and earcups
The HPH-MT8 is designed to be comfortable for long listening sessions. They have a cushioned headband and ear cups and can be adjusted to fit various head sizes. These headphones also grab your head without exerting much pressure for a good fit.
Character & Sound:
The HPH-MT8 has a good flat response that’s ideal for capturing your tone when recording. An accurate representation of your sound is essential for good recordings. If you’re looking to ensure that you sound good right from the start, the HPH-MT8 does the job well.
Another thing to note is how you can easily mix with these headphones without worrying about sound entering. You can use these in louder settings, and there won’t be much sound bleeding into the headphones.
One thing to love about the Yamaha HPH-MT8 is the closed-back design that helps to isolate sound and prevents audio bleed-through. Sound isolation is critical when tracking using a condenser microphone, which is known to pick up the faintest sounds made in the studio.
The Yamaha HPH-MT8 has a wide frequency response that captures all the nuances of your music. Furthermore, with its dynamic range, you can easily reproduce very quiet and very loud sounds, thanks to the high-quality drivers that Yamaha used in the HPH-MT8.
While the HPH-MT8 were also designed to be used in live situations, unfortunately, these headphones are not foldable, so they may take up more space when traveling. There are also limited adjustments available on the headphones, which can be limiting for certain head shapes and sizes.
Considering these headphones were also designed for use during a live situation, it would have helped if the HPH-MT8 came with a tougher protective case and not just a drawstring pouch. It need not be a hard shell case but something decent enough to prevent the breaking of plastic parts.
Good For: The HPH-MT8 is perfect for musicians tracking with condenser microphones frequently, such as those using acoustic guitars. It’s also good for singers who want to prevent headphone bleed when recording vocals, especially with loud songs.
5. Audio-Technica ATH-M50 X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 X are professional studio monitor headphones that offer exceptional sound quality and comfort. These headphones feature large 40mm drivers with neodymium magnets and copper-clad aluminum voice coils that provide accurate, powerful sound.
The earcups are padded with soft, breathable earpads, and the headband is adjustable for a comfortable, customized fit. The ATH-M50 X also comes with a detachable 1.2m coiled cable and a 1.2m straight cable, both with gold-plated mini-plug connectors.
- Rare-Earth Neodymium Magnets
The ATH-M50X uses 45mm, drivers with rare-earth neodymium magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. These drivers offer remarkable dynamic range and low distortion for an outstanding listening experience.
- Swiveling Earcups
If you need to monitor using one ear to compare, the ATH-M50X has swiveling earcups that let you achieve this. There are times that you need to compare a mix with your headphones and your reference speakers. By swiveling an earcup, you can easily hear the difference between both outputs so that you can make adjustments to your tracks.
- Circumaural Design
The ATH-M50X has a circumaural design that contours around the ears for excellent isolation in loud environments. Headphone bleed won’t be a problem with these headphones, as they have enough isolation to minimize any sound coming from the earcups.
- Collapsible Design
If you need to take the ATH-M50X with you, the collapsible design makes it more compact to fit in your bag. And with detachable cables, you don’t need to worry about cables breaking while in transit.
Character & Sound:
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 X offer exceptional sound quality with their large 40mm drivers and neodymium magnets. In addition, the copper-clad aluminum voice coils provide accurate, powerful sound.
Many sound engineers swear by these headphones for their sound quality. In addition, the ATH-M50X offers a quality flat response for many professionals without breaking the bank.
Many professionals swear by the ATH-M50X for the flat response it delivers. So if you want to hear the blemishes in your tone, chances are the ATH-M50X can help you find it. It’s because of this flat response that makes these headphones one of the industry standards.
Another plus for the ATH-M50X is the different cables included with the headphones. You can swap out the cables if you need something long for tracking. Or, if you just plan to sit on your desk and record, a shorter cable is available.
Considering the portability the ATH-M50X offers, it could have come with a more sturdy case other than the drawstring pouch that it comes with. However, the case it comes with is good enough to protect it from scratches but not accidental drops that may happen while in transit.
Another thing that Audio Technica could improve with the ATH-M50X is isolation. While there is excellent sound isolation, it isn’t as good as other headphones within the same price. However, it is still good for tracking, although you may have to keep the volume down.
The ATH-M50X is good for sound engineers who work on different genres, considering its flat response. In addition, it can handle different frequencies quite well and will be beneficial in mixing instruments to get a good result.
6. Mackie MC-350
The Mackie MC-350 headphones are great for quality sound with their 50mm drivers, neodymium magnets, and a comfortable, over-ear design. They also have a detachable cable and a carrying case for easy transport.
The Mackie MC-350 headphones are made with high-quality materials and construction. The headphones also feature a comfortable, over-ear design with padded ear cups.
The detachable cable is made with durable, braided construction. It also comes with a sturdy carrying case that makes it ideal for moving around.
- Wide Frequency Response
The Mackie MC-350 features a wide frequency response making these headphones ideal for critical listening. These headphones have a wide frequency response that extends from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, letting you hear all the details in the recording.
- Collapsible Design
These headphones feature a collapsible design that makes them compact for easy transport. You can take these headphones on the road or use them for live applications, monitoring sound, or even DJing.
- Swivel Earcups
The MC-350 features swivel earcups that help you compare playback with your headphones and reference speakers. If you are into DJing, these headphones are also for you, as you can swivel one earcup to help you cue your next song.
- Protective Case
Mackie didn’t scrimp on the protective case of these headphones, and instead of giving you an ordinary drawstring pouch, it gives users a cushioned protective case that can absorb shock. While the case is larger than the usual drawstring pouch, it still doesn’t change the fact that the protection the MC-350 case offers is much more sufficient.
Character & Sound:
The sound quality of the MC-350 is a result of the accurate sound reproduction and wide frequency response. Thanks to the 50 mm drivers, the MC-350 lets you hear your mixes exactly as close as they should be.
Bass frequencies are not overpowering but provide a balance to prominent high and mid frequencies. As a result, it’s not as flat as other studio headphones, but they still make a remarkable sound to work around.
The padded carrying case is a hiatus from the usual drawstring pouches with many headphones in this price range. Instead, it’s designed to take abuse and protect your headphones from scratches and bumps.
Another good thing with the MC-350 is the three different cables that come with it. You can choose long cables for tracking and a short one when you just want to sit on the desk and mix. In addition, one of the cables has a built-in microphone, should you need to jump on video calls.
The mid and high frequencies tend to be a little overpowering. You might have to compensate with the EQ settings of your mix to get the sound right. Luckily, the bass frequencies are not that strong, which can somehow compensate.
The frequency range of the MC-350 is also not as wide, unlike other headphones. For example, the MC-350 can only cover 20 Hz to 20 kHz compared to headphones in the same price range. Other headphones can go from 5 Hz to 35 kHz.
The MC-350 is good for sound engineers who need a pair of headphones while away from the studio. It’s also ideal for DJs who want a relatively neutral sound profile and swivel earcups for monitoring.
7. Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80 Ohm
For those looking for a great choice for professional monitoring and mixing, the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones are a good option. They have a closed-back design that isolates the listener from outside noise and feature comfortable ear pads that make them suitable for long listening sessions.
The headphones have a frequency response of 5 Hz to 35 kHz and a sensitivity of 96 dB. In addition, the DT-770 delivers a good bass response, thanks to the closed-back design.
These headphones come with a 3-meter coiled cable and a 1/4-inch adapter.
- Velour Earpads
The DT-770 uses Velour earpads, a type of velvet fabric that is soft and smooth to the touch. This type of earpad is designed for comfort and extended wear, such as over-ear and on-ear headphones.
- Bass-reflex system
The DT 770 uses a bass-reflex system, which provides a deep, well-defined bass response that is perfect for monitoring. The bass-reflex system can help you get a better sound if you’re listening to bass-heavy tracks.
- Wide Frequency Range
The DT 770 has a wide frequency range from 5 Hz to 35 kHz. You can hear below sub-bass frequencies and beyond the brilliance frequencies with such a range.
Character & Sound:
You can expect a wide frequency range with the DT 770. However, while it does go all the way to 35 kHz, you can also hear some inconsistencies with the bass frequencies, which users equate to the shape of the head of the listener.
In addition, treble frequencies tend to be a little more emphasized. Therefore, like other studio headphones with higher treble frequencies, you may need to compensate with your EQ settings.
The velour earpads of the DT 770 are quite comfortable for the ears. These pads are good at isolating sounds and blocking out external noise. The enclosed design also improves bass frequencies, even with some inconsistencies.
Another thing to like about the DT 770 is its frequency range. Even with the added emphasis on the treble, you can cover other frequency ranges quite well.
The velour pads of the DT 770 are also its weakness, as they can get dirty and stained easily. Velour also tends to absorb sweat and skin oils, making them uncomfortable to wear over long periods.
Another disadvantage of the DT 770 is the non-detachable cable. You need to be extra careful with these cables as breaking them can be a problem. It will be hard to troubleshoot the damage with the cable, and replacing them will be challenging for some people.
The DT 770 is best for studio use or for anyone who intends to keep these headphones in one location. However, the non-detachable cable is likely to break if not properly taken care of during travel.
8. Focal Listen Professional
For those willing to maximize a $300 budget, the Focal Listen is a good choice for high-quality pair of headphones. They feature a comfortable design with even distribution and compatibility with smartphones, tablets, and computers.
The headphones have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Each headphone comes with two oxygen-free copper cables: a 4.5-foot straight cable and a 16-foot coiled cable. There’s also a 1/8 to 1/4-inch plug converter.
- Mylar and Titanium Drivers
The Focal Listen uses mylar and titanium drivers to deliver an exceptional listening experience. The mylar driver provides a wide frequency response for accurate sound reproduction, while the titanium driver adds power and punch to the low end. Together, they provide a well-balanced sound that is perfect for any type of music.
- Smartphone Compatibility
The Focal Listen is also good to use with smartphones and computers, thanks to one of the cables that feature a built-in microphone. In addition, the Focal Listen has a 32-ohm impedance, which works for smartphones, computers, and tablets.
- Comfortable Earpads
The Focal Listen uses a combination of memory foam and microfiber for its earpads. The microfiber lining on the ear cushions helps to keep your ears warm and comfortable, while the memory foam provides support and cushioning for a pleasing listening experience.
- Circumaural Design
The circumaural design allows the Focal Listen to isolate noise for you to monitor accurately. On top of that, the circumaural design prevents bleeds from the headphones so that your microphone doesn’t pick up any sound from the headphones.
Character & Sound:
The Focal Listen features flat and full-range frequency response, making it ideal for studio application. While full-range helps in mixing, the neutral sound profile makes the Focal Listen ideal for critical listening, as all frequencies are at a flat state.
With the circumaural design, you can also expect good sound isolation. You don’t need to worry about mixing with ambient noise in the environment, as the Focal Listen helps you isolate sound from outside so you can focus on the task.
The flat and full range is one of the main selling points of the Focal Listen. If you want to hear every blemish in your sound, these headphones are the way to go. Whether you listen to metal or EDM, you can’t go wrong with these headphones.
Another advantage of the Focal Listen is its carrying case. Unlike the usual drawstring pouch, the Focal Listen comes with a heavily padded case that stores the headphones in a folded form. This case can also hold the cables that come with the headphones.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to these headphones is the price. For one, you can get flat response headphones at a lower price than the Focal Listen. But considering the features you get, the price is worth it.
Considering also what you pay for, it would have been nice if there was a shorter cable you could use when you plug into your audio interface. Plugging a TRRS cable may have issues, which is why a shorter TRS cable would have been welcome, too.
Considering all the features the Focal Listen has, these headphones are a good option for anyone who wants a pair of reliable and accurate headphones that can be used in the studio or taken on the road. If you’re the type which brings your own headphones to recording sessions in the studio, it’s also a good choice.
9. Sony MDR-7506
The Sony MDR-7506 is a professional-grade closed-back dynamic stereo headphone. It has a wide frequency response and a comfortable, secure fit.
The headphones are designed for professional monitoring and mixing in the studio, and you can also use them for personal listening. The headphones have a frequency response of 10Hz-20kHz, which covers different spectrums in your EQ.
The MDR-7506 has a 40mm driver and a gold-plated mini-plug connector. In addition, the MDR7506 comes with a carrying case and a 1/4-inch adapter. At less than $100, these headphones offer value for money for their practicality in the studio.
- Low Leakage
The Sony MDR7506 has a closed-back design that gives users a good listening environment while preventing headphone bleed when tracking.
- Portable Design
If you need to take the MDR7506 with you, these headphones fold easily, with durable hinges that will last years of use.
- Wide Frequency Response
The Sony MDR7506 has a frequency response from 10 Hz to 20 kHz. While it’s not the widest, these headphones still deliver well, especially with their flat response. As a result, these headphones are good for reviewing any tracks you’re working on.
- High-quality components
The Sony MDR7506 uses gold connectors and oxygen-free copper cable to ensure the quality of sound delivered to the headphones.
Character & Sound:
One thing worth noting with the MDR7506 is its flat response. While its frequency response isn’t as wide as the Focal Listen, you get balanced and neutral frequencies. As a result, it’s a good option for anyone who wants to tweak mixes.
And because the sound profile is flat, these headphones are also good for tweaking effects processors before a gig. It can be a challenge to know how you sound when your instrument rig hits the PA system, and those using modelers can somehow tweak to get the best sound when using flat response headphones.
The MDR7506 features low leakages when tracking. So, for example, you don’t have to worry about sound leaking into your condenser microphone when tracking acoustic instruments or vocals. By reducing leakages, you can mix your tracks without any risk of out-of-phase signals.
Another reason to get the MDR7506 is its price. It’s important to your clients to have a good pair of headphones for them to track with and still have a consistent sound. So if you’re looking for a pair of good headphones that you can lend to clients without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with the MDR7506.
One downside to the MDR7506 is the non-detachable cable. If the cable breaks on these headphones, it will be a hassle to have these headphones fixed. Nevertheless, these headphones are a good option for indoor or studio use.
It’s also been observed that the MDR7506 doesn’t offer superb noise isolation. So if you’re tracking with these headphones, it’s best to use them inside a tracking room. Likewise, mixing with these headphones when outside a studio can be difficult.
The MDR7506 is a good option for budget-friendly headphones. Considering the price, they’re also a good pair if you’re looking for an extra pair that you can lend to clients.
10. Shure SRH840
The Shure SRH840 is a professional quality closed-back headphone designed for tracking and mixing. The headphone has a circumaural design and comes in two different ear cup sizes to ensure a comfortable fit.
It has 40mm neodymium drivers with a 10Hz–22kHz frequency response. A separate cable with a gold-plated 3.5mm mini-jack connector is also included with the SRH840. A padded headband and a collapsible design make storing easier.
If you’re looking for a pair of closed-back headphones for mixing on a budget, the SRH840 is a great option to consider.
- Premium Shure Drivers
The Shure drivers in these headphones are someone of the best in the business. They can produce a clear and accurate representation of the different frequencies, making them perfect for any music.
- Collapsible Design
If you need to take the headphones on the go, the SRH840 collapses into a more compact form that easily fits into your bag. It also makes a good option for anyone who wants to have a pair of headphones for personal use when recording in a commercial studio.
- Premium Design
The gold accents give the SRH840 a more premium look without adding to the cost. If aesthetics matter to you, then the SRH840 will turn heads with these gold accents.
- Padded headband
The SRH840 has a padded headband that makes these headphones easier to use, even for extended periods. The headband was designed with comfort in mind so that you can keep them on for as long as you need.
Character & Sound:
Some users have noted that the SRH840 has more prominent mid and high frequencies. That might be a problem if you’re mixing metal, as many metal tracks rely on scooped mid frequencies.
The SRH840 also has adequate sound isolation to allow you to record without being distracted by other nuances. This isolation feature comes in handy if you plan to do live recordings in the studio and you want to focus on your playing.
The collapsible design is a good feature on the SRH840 as you can make these headphones your personal pair to take to any recording session. Headphones should be treated as personal equipment, and if you don’t like the idea of using communal headphones, the SRH840 is a good choice.
Another nice feature of the SRH840 is the clear frequency spectrum. While there’s a tendency for the mids to be a little more dominant, the overall spectrum is still clear, and you can hear each element of the track well.
The dominant mid frequencies can be problematic when finding each track’s space in the mix. You will need to compensate with EQ plugins to resolve this dominance.
Another thing observed with the SR840 is the discomfort with bigger or wider heads. However, many users have observed that the SRH840 is best used by people with smaller head sizes, as these headphones clamp quite tightly to get their sound isolation.
The SRH840 is good for music producers who often mix with mid and treble-heavy instruments. These include blues and folk music players and producers who play guitar-driven music. Likewise, anyone looking to have a personal pair may also look into these headphones if they want their own pair to bring to recording.
11. Beyerdynamic DT-240 Pro
If the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro is too much for your budget, you can try the DT-240 Pro instead. The DT-240 Pro is a good alternative to the DT-770, sans some fancy features.
You’ll hear the precise audio reproduction you expect: deep bass, vibrant mids, and clean highs. In addition, the DT 240 Pros’ improved isolation reduces background noise and eliminates leaking.
These headphones’ lightweight construction, ergonomic headband, and plush earpads guarantee a secure fit—even during long listening sessions. In addition, these headphones are durable, thanks to their strengthened cable, aluminum yokes, and strong metal headband.
- Powerful Transducers
The DT-240 has strong transducers that deliver rich mids, bright highs, and the precise sonic reproduction you need in a mix. In addition, you can clearly understand each track’s role in the mix because of its neutral sound profile.
- Superior Noise Isolation
When tracking with the DT-240, you get greater isolation to stop leakage and reduce ambient noise. In addition, the isolation it offers makes it easier to concentrate on your recording.
- Lightweight and Comfortable
The DT-240’s lightweight construction, ergonomic headband, and plush ear pads provide a secure fit. As a result, you can wear them for hours without experiencing any discomfort.
- Built to Last
The DT-240 is solidly built, featuring an aluminum yoke, a strong metal headband, and reinforced cable. They can survive regular use and accidental mishandling in the studio, making these headphones a fantastic choice for clients to rent during recording.
Character & Sound:
In general, the DT-240 can be described as flat and slightly colored. It offers a slightly warm tone with a slight increase in the low, mid and low responses. It’s good for tracking or recording demos and also an excellent partner in tweaking your tones on amp modelers when you can’t plug into a powered amplifier.
For something that costs less than $80, the DT-240 delivers neutral sounds quite well. Unfortunately, finding something that costs the same with a similar sound profile will be hard.
The DT-240 carries the same wide frequency response found on the DT-770. As a result, you can expect it to perform well in tracking and mixing your music. Coupled with the same sound isolation, you can use these for recording and mixing for hours.
Another thing worth noting with the DT-240 is the detachable cable. Headphones in this price range often use built-in cables to save on costs. The DT-240 changes that and gives you a detachable cable that you can swap out if you break or need something shorter or longer.
As they say, you get what you pay for, which holds for the DT-240. And unfortunately, you don’t get the same comfort that the DT-770 offers, as these headphones only use ordinary leather pads for their ear cups.
Another thing Beyerdynamic could include next time is a straight cable for tracking. It could sell it as a variant or add a little more to make it part of the bundle.
The DT-240 is best for home studio musicians looking for a budget pair of studio headphones. And considering the price, these headphones are also good for larger recording studios that need extra pairs to lend to clients.
12. Audio-Technica ATH-M30 X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M30X is a budget studio headphone that’s a good alternative to the M50X. They offer a relatively flat response, just like the more expensive versions.
Out of the box, they look quite similar, as they feature almost the same accessories. But getting to the design of the headphones will reveal the difference.
The M30X has a closed-back, over-ear design and features 40mm drivers with neodymium magnets. The headphones have a frequency response of 15Hz-22kHz, like the M50X. With some caveats, these headphones fold for a more compact form, making them also ideal for travel.
- Wide Frequency with Mid Definition
The 40mm drivers of the M30X use copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils and rare-earth neodymium magnets for a 15Hz–22kHz frequency response. These headphones have an excellent midrange definition and are optimized for more detail.
- Collapsible Design
The M30X features a collapsible design that allows space-saving portability without sacrificing sound quality. With its rugged construction and superior sound isolation, the M30X is ideal for use in almost any environment, whether on the go or in the studio.
- Circumaural Design
The circumaural design on the M30X conforms to your ears for isolation in noisy surroundings. So even with a band playing in the background, it can get loud enough to sound clear to the listener.
- Multipurpose Function
The M30X isn’t just for tracking your instruments or vocals. Thanks to its flat response, you can use it for mixing tracks, and it also works for field recording for sound design, using its circumaural design.
Character & Sound:
One thing to note about the M30X is its wide frequency range. You can hear different parts of the spectrum quite well, and you can tweak each element accordingly. For a budget headphone, the M30X is a good choice for beginners.
Now, the M30X isn’t totally flat, as it tends to accentuate the midrange. That isn’t bad and works for midrange instruments, such as guitars. However, you’ll have to compensate a little with the EQ during mixing.
The M30X offers a relatively flat response at a low price. However, if you’re after the Audio Technica name, you can’t go wrong with the M30X, as it carries the same quality. In addition, you get a good frequency range at its price.
Another strong point of the M30X is its portability. It collapses easily to fit inside your bag. There’s also a carrying case for these headphones to protect them from scratches.
One thing that sets these headphones apart from the M50X is the non-detachable cable. Having a detachable cable will allow you to protect it from damage upon impact. A non-detachable cable won’t be easy to repair should it break.
A detachable cable would be much welcome, as the built-in cable measures around 3 meters long. That should not be a problem if you’re tracking away from the desk, but it can be a problem when sitting on your desk, as the slack can cause tangles and damage.
The M30X is good for home studio producers looking for a budget pair of studio headphones. They’re also great for guitar players who want to take advantage of the slight increase in mid frequencies.
13. AKG K-271 MKII
The AKG K271 MKII headphones have outstanding sound quality and comfort, making them perfect for live monitoring and recording applications without breaking the bank.
The K271 MKII headphones’ superb sound will appeal to those who prefer effective, dynamic listening. Its 16Hz–28kHz frequency range and single-ear capabilities provide excellent live and studio monitoring.
These headphones have earpads made of leatherette and velvet for a perfect fit and maximum comfort. In addition, the K271 MK II has two cables: a 16′ coiled cable and a detachable 10′ straight cable.
- Wide Frequency Range
The AKG K271 features a 16Hz-28kHz frequency range and high SPL capability, making them ideal for tracking and mixing at high volumes. In addition, these headphones do a good job capturing the upper frequencies, going beyond the brilliance spectrum.
- Comfortable Fit
You can choose between leatherette and velvet pads to wear these headphones for prolonged use. Choose which material is more comfortable, and you’ll be using these headphones for long sessions.
- Mute Switch
The K271 MKII has a built-in mute switch if you need to mute sound quickly. Instead of turning down the volume on your mixer or audio interface, you activate the switch if you need to talk to someone. That way, you get to preserve your volume settings.
Character & Sound:
The K271 MKII has a fairly flat response that’s good for tracking your instruments. However, for its price, it doesn’t have a frequency as wide as competitors at the same price or lower. As a result, it might not be ideal for mixing but still depends on the material you’re processing.
One of the things that’s notable with these headphones is how they capture the higher frequencies. Therefore, these headphones would work best in capturing less bassy instruments, such as guitars, flutes, and cymbals.
One advantage of the K271 MKII is how it focuses on comfort. Including two sets of earpads allows you to choose which is more comfortable for your ears. Supported by the leatherette band, these headphones are good to have on for extended periods.
Another advantage is the mute switch. You get to preserve the volume level of your headphone or interface in case you need to turn off the sound to converse with someone. In addition, the built-in mute switch will help you get by if you don’t have monitor controllers for your headphones.
One thing that disappoints with these headphones is the lack of a collapsible design. As a result, taking these headphones with you will add extra bulk to your pack, which can cause damage in the long run. In addition, the free pouch can only do so much in providing protection.
Another disadvantage is the mini-XLR connection of the cables. While it is good that these headphones have a detachable cable, replacing these cables can be a problem in case you break them. You’ll have to find a specialized cable maker with mini XLR plugs in stock to make a replacement.
These headphones are great for anyone who needs an extra pair of headphones in the studio to track bandmates or clients. However, they’re not exactly ideal for mixing. Hence it’s best to use them for tracking purposes.
There are a lot of budget closed-back studio headphones in the market today that can do the job. The available options from retailers won’t limit you, and you’ll be able to find something that fits the bill.
Now each pair of headphones has its respective strengths and weaknesses. But if there had to be a top pick, the Focal Listen would be on the top of the list, given its features. On the other hand, if these headphones are too much, a good alternative would be the Rode NTH-100, given its comfort, and the Audio-Technica ATH M50X, which offers good features for its price.
Now, you might have your needs, which may not be catered to by these recommendations. That’s why it would be good personally try these headphones at the nearest dealer and see which fits your usage best.
John Narciso is a guitar player and music technology hobbyist. He loves exploring guitar effects processors in pedal and plugin format and free music applications. His music preferences tend to be diverse, listening to genres spanning from metal to alternative rock and a little hip-hop.