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Best Professional Studio Headphones of 2022


A growing number of audiophiles and consumers are gravitating to studio headphones for their neutrality and long-term durability. Expensive headphones remain out of reach for most of the population, but studio quality headphones remain far more affordable. Whether these are being used for mixing, mastering, or by performers during recording sessions — they represent what pro audio professionals are hearing when they create our favorite music.

The tuning almost always favors a more neutral tonal balance and presentation; in some cases the exact opposite of what consumers have become accustomed to hearing when listening to music over headphones. We have tested a number of “studio” headphones in 2022 and these made the cut.

Best Budget Studio Headphones

Shure SRH440A

Shure SRH440A

The Shure SRH440A is the latest iteration of Shure’s classic studio closed back headphone. The Shure MV7 Microphone and SRH440A headphones are used by most of the eCoustics team for our podcast sessions and for good reason.

The $99 retail price made them affordable and when you factor in the replaceable ear pads and polymer construction, the Shure SRH440A have proven to be durable to take on the road with us to trade shows and a lot of abuse in our home studios.

The overall comfort levels are quite good and the closed-back design provides enough passive isolation to keep unwanted background noise out of production and mixing work.

The overall consensus is that the SRH440A offer a very balanced presentation with good clarity and very little coloration in the midrange and treble. The headphone also responds well to the use of EQ and allows users to find the right balance for reach recording sessions.

When you factor in the build quality, comfort, sound quality, and passive isolation — the $99 Shure SRH440A are the right inexpensive headphone for those looking for a reliable headphone for podcasting and music listening on the desktop.

Pros: Inexpensive, good clarity and detail, durable

Cons: Plastic construction, closed back design limits soundstage, can get warm on ears after a long session.

Where to buy$99 at Amazon

Best Value Studio Headphones

Neumann NDH 30

Neumann NDH 30

The engineers at Neumann know a few things about the importance of reference-quality microphones; their products have been used on some of the most important historical addresses and music recordings of the past 90 years. That level of expertise now applies to studio headphones as well.

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At $649, the Neumann NDH 30 are significantly more expensive than the Shure SRH440A, but there really is that much of a difference between the two headphones. The all-metal construction promises many years of use and we were more than just a little impressed with the folding hinges that make these one of the most compact studio headphones available. Neumann created headphones that are super comfortable on your head for long recording and mixing sessions and the open-back design creates a substantially larger sounding soundstage than anything else in the category.

Is there really that much more resolution and detail retrieval? You will immediately notice spatial cues and inner detail that other lesser designs obscure and that makes all the difference for professionals.

The tuning on the NDH 30 is very linear with no coloration of its own to speak of and can actually sound a bit harsh at times as it exposes any flaw in a recording. The level of sonic neutrality will make them too brutally honest for some listeners and a valuable listening tool for those who really do need to hear everything.

Pros: Extremely revealing, solid construction, very linear sounding sonic signature

Cons: Can be a bit harsh or flat with poor recordings, expensive

Where to buy$649 at Amazon

Best High-End Studio Headphones

Audeze MM-500

Audeze MM-500

If you want the best — prepare to pay for it.

When Audeze announced its collaboration with Manny Marroquin, a lot of engineering and mixing professionals wanted the chance to have a listen to the MM-500 headphones. Audeze has created a lot of capital in a short period of time in the studio world with its planar magnetic headphones, but had they gone too far with the $1,700 MM-500s?

These are possibly the best mastering headphones currently available and there is a growing waiting list for the product. What really stands out is the level of resolution and clarity that even the Neumann doesn’t deliver — and they are really great studio headphones.

The instrument separation is superb and these reference quality studio headphones lock everything in its proper place with layers of detail and texture. Audeze have gone the extra mile with the construction quality and only used premium parts throughout.

The best studio headphone we’ve heard from anyone in a long time.

Pros:  Build quality, clarity, detail, instrument and stereo separation is world class

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Cons: Expensive

Where to buy: $1,699 at | Amazon | Crutchfield

Related Reading

  • Best Audiophile Over-Ear Headphones (coming soon)


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