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10 Best Headphones for Mixing in 2023

Last updated: 3 weeks ago
9 min read

Clarity and exceptional fidelity are among the best features to look for when mixing. Find what headphones are best for the job.

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Rating Price Back design Connection Foldable More info
Sennheiser HD 400 PRO Best overall
Sennheiser HD 400 PRO
4.4
Under $250
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
Sennheiser HD 600 Runner-up
Sennheiser-HD-600-s
4.8
Under $400
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
4.8
Under $350
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
4.3
Under $500
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
AKG K702 Best soundstage
AKG K702
4.4
Under $270
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
Sennheiser HD 560 S Best under $200
Sennheiser HD 560 S
4.7
Under $200
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO Great under $200
Beyerdynamic DT 880
4.4
Under $200
Semi-open
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross
AKG K245 Best under $100
AKG K245
4.5
Under $100
Open-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
checkmarkcheckmark
Sony MDR-7506 Great under $100
Sony MDR-7506
4.8
Under $100
Closed-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
checkmarkcheckmark
AKG K371 Best for Harman tuning
AKG K371
4.3
Under $150
Closed-back
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
checkmarkcheckmark

A good pair of headphones is totally subjective based on what you are using it for.

If you don’t have great headphones fit for mixing music, you won’t be producing to a professional standard. You may be missing a lot of fine details when mastering vocals or a backing track.

Our list of studio headphones for mixing is designed to suit different budgets, too. While there is an element of ‘you get what you pay for, some budget options are still pretty great, as we will explore.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Related:

    Best studio headphones

    Best audiophile headphones

    Best Headphones for Mixing

    1. Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

    1st-place OVERALL BEST HEADPHONES FOR MIXING
    Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

    HD 400 PRO are a perfect pair designed specifically to mix, with an accurate sound and good bass extension for mixing low frequencies.

    They’re a bit high in price, but so is their sound of high quality.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 6-38.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 120 Ohm | Weight: 8.4 oz (240g) | Cable lenght: 5.9 ft (1.8m) & 9.8 ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Neutral sound quality
    • Lightweight & comfortable design
    • Two detachable cables included
    • No carrying case for the price

    For around $250, you get reliable sound with good bass extension, which is rare in open-back studio headphones.

    There’s still some energy in the treble to reveal tiny details, which should help create a spotless mix while avoiding sibilance.

    Due to the open design, sound leakage is the thing with HD 400 PRO. However, that isn’t a problem when mixing in the studio. Quite the contrary, an open back helps to enlarge the stereo image.

    As for the headphones, they’re fully made of plastic, with a metal piece making the headband more flexible and sturdier.

    Velour earpads help with breathability and create soft contact with your skin. Much like the cable, they can be replaced when damaged.

    2. Sennheiser HD 600

    2nd-place RUNNER-UP HEADPHONES FOR MIXING
    Sennheiser HD 600

    Best open-back headphones for mixing.

    These Sennheiser over-ear headphones are amazingly clear and provide an industry standard for those who are serious about their mixing.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 300 Ohm | Weight: 9.17 oz (260g) | Cable lenght: 9.8 feet (3m) | Features: /
    • Reference for neutral sound
    • Lifelike vocal rendition
    • Comfortable fit with velour earpads
    • Durable construction that is fully repairable
    • Needs an amp for optimal performance
    • Small soundstage

    Expect clear and distortion-free audio quality. Sennheiser is a market leader in the price range chosen as the option by many music professionals in the audio world. These are great for serious musicians and music producers.

    These reference headphones are best suited to a studio engineer who takes mixing seriously. Their high fidelity and flat response make them perfect for working on professional mixes.

    Also, the frequency response is ideal for mixing any type of music, and there is no need to worry about an unbalanced sound.

    The spatial sound that comes with a good set of open-backs is another bonus.

    Because of their big ear cups and velour ear pads, they are extremely comfortable. Also, they come with a hard case for easier transport.

    These high-end headphones work optimally only when you use them with an amp (300 Ohms of impedance).

    3. Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

    Audio Technica ATH-R70x

    Most perfectly neutral headphones Audio-Technica makes.

    The R70x are a very high-quality pair of headphones. They’re featherlight and have a cool design.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 6.3mm & 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 45mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 470 Ohm | Weight: 7.4 oz (210 g) | Cable length: 9.8ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Detailed, neutral frequency response
    • Lightweight, comfortable design
    • Don't fit users with smaller heads

    These are Audio-Technica’s attempt to make their own HD 600, achieving excellent neutral frequency response. R70x have a smooth, airy audio quality with tight bass frequencies and lush treble.

    Despite having an open-back design, they don’t have a very three-dimensional sound. Thankfully, the imaging remains strong.

    Since R70x uses primarily aluminum, they feel like you’re wearing nothing. They rest gently on your head, with two wings gently supporting their whole weight.

    Under a metallic mesh, you can clearly see the driver, which is really cool.

    They use plush earpads that feel comfy on your skin, but because ear cups don’t move, they aren’t suitable for users with smaller heads.

    These high-impedance headphones have higher resistance than other headphones (470 ohms), so you need a powerful audio interface to drive them properly.

    4. Shure SRH1840

    Shure SRH1840 wired headphones

    Best mixing headphones from Shure.

    These are premium headphones with an open-back design and have a reference point neutral sound that is suitable for studio recording.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-30.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 65 Ohms | Weight: 11.57 oz (328 g) | Cable lenght: 6.9 ft (2.1m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Clear, natural sound reproduction with lots of details
    • Lightweight design with breathable velour earpads
    • Relatively easy to drive
    • Aluminum build makes them look study & premium
    • Expensive

    Shure’s SRH lineup has become a staple for studio work, with the SRH1840 being the best for mixing and mastering.

    Their open-back design helps to create an airier sound and broader soundstage than regular headphones.

    The bass has good extension and detail, but the midrange is by far the best in terms of accuracy. There’s some added sparkle in the treble, but nothing that would cause sibilance.

    To ensure durability, headphones are made from an aluminum frame and padded with comfy velour earpads that stay comfortable during long mixing sessions.

    Since cables are easily damaged in a studio environment, they are detachable.

    5. AKG K702

    trophy BEST SOUNDSTAGE FOR MIXING
    AKG K702

    Best mixing headphones around $200.

    Here are the first of two over-ear headphones on our list made by AKG. The excellent Austrian design and manufacture make this a good, sturdy alternative to the other products on this list.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 45mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-39.800Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 62 Ohm | Weight: 8.3 oz (235g) | Cable lenght: 9.8 feet (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Flat frequency response
    • Comfortable with velour earpads
    • Earpads and cable could be more durable

    It’s perfect for high-end mixing in a busy studio space. Mids and highs, as well as low-end, are flat and fairly accurate, just what you need for quality production.

    AKG is continuing to push the boundaries. The two-layer diaphragm is a patented design they have included for an improved high-frequency range. This gives a lot of clarity in the treble frequencies.

    It comes with detachable cables fitting both 3.5mm and 6.3mm connections. The ear pads are both comfortable and replaceable when they become worn and tatty.

    They don’t boost the bass, which may not be the best for listening to hardcore trance, but it is perfect to make these some of the best headphones for mixing and mastering.

    There’s also a great AKG K 701 option that was made in collaboration with Quincy Jones, a well-known name in the music-making industry.

    6. Sennheiser HD 560 S

    dollar BEST HEADPHONES FOR MIXING UNDER $200
    Sennheiser HD 560 S

    Best mixing headphones under $200.

    An affordable HD 600 with a bigger soundstage.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 6-38.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 120 Ohm | Weight: 8.46 oz (260g) | Cable length: n/a | Features: E.A.R. tech
    • Exceptional neutral sound
    • Comfortable
    • Big soundstage
    • Velour earpads
    • Detachable cable
    • Can get sibilant at times

    These headphones are an extension of the HD 6xx lineup in terms of sound quality. They have lovely flat sound with a bit brighter treble and a big soundstage.

    HD 560 S are entirely made of plastic, except for the metallic mesh that protects drivers.

    Thanks to that and big earpads, they’re very lightweight and supremely comfortable to wear for extended periods.

    The included cable ends with a 6.3mm jack, with an extra 3.5mm adapter in the box. The cable is also detachable.

    Impedance is moderately high (120 ohms), but you can drive them to loud sound pressure levels with your computer or smartphone. Of course, they will sound better with a proper headphone amp.

    7. Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO

    Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO wired headphones

    Best mastering headphones under $200.

    Beyerdynamic manufactures headphones with crisp sound quality, and for a great soundstage on a relatively reasonable budget, the DT 880 Pro model is a very solid choice.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-35.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Semi-open | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 250 Ohm | Weight: 10.4 oz (295g) | Cable lenght: 9.8 feet (3m) | Features: /
    • Robust build quality
    • Great midrange clarity
    • Big soundstage
    • Close to neutral sound signature
    • Can get sibilant

    Great soundstage with minimal harmonic distortion make them perfect for mixing and mastering. Their flat sound signature makes them a popular model among audiophiles as well.

    The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones have a lot of professional properties for studio use.

    As well as 250-ohm impedance making them ideally suited for studio mixing, they are comfortable with a soft headband and sturdy ear cups. The parts are also all replaceable.

    These pair of headphones are clear with flat frequency response, the clarity in the mid-range is excellent, and many sound engineers swear by using these to mix vocals.

    They come with a standard 3.5mm coiled cables, but there is also a 6.3mm adapter included.

    8. AKG K245

    dollar BEST HEADPHONES FOR MIXING UNDER $100
    AKG K245

    Best mixing headphones under $100.

    A successor to the beloved K240, with better technical performance and foldable design at a reasonable price.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 15-25.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 10.4 oz (295g) | Cable lenght: 16.4 feet (5m) | Features: Foldable, detachable cable
    • Great sound quality
    • Foldable design
    • Replaceable cable
    • Treble is a bit too smooth
    • Replacement earpads needed for the best comfort

    The sound is similar to the K240, but it goes further in terms of technicalities and is better for analytical listening.

    Especially in the bass response, which sounds more dynamic and well-defined. The soundstage is modest in size this time around due to the smooth treble.

    They have a very comfortable fit, but it depends on your ear size. Users with smaller ears shouldn’t have any problems, whereas others might experience discomfort. Replacing earpads with bigger, plushier ones should resolve the issue.

    Otherwise, the construction is super lightweight due to mostly plastic build. AKG even made K245 foldable using a unique patented folding headphone design.

    Moreover, the cable is easily replaced if it gets damaged. Note that it uses a mini-XLR port, AKG’s proprietary connection.

    9. Sony MDR-7506

    Sony MDR 7506 wired headphones

    Fantastic headphones for mixing audio under $100.

    Trusted and versatile headphones for critical listening (for detecting errors in the mix).

    Sony MDR-7506 review

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 63 Ohm | Weight: 8.1 oz (229g) | Cable lenght: 9.8 feet (3m) | Features: Foldable
    • Accurate and powerful sound
    • Lightweight & foldable design
    • Long cable good for studio work
    • Decent noise isolation
    • Fits well with larger head sizes
    • Non-detachable cable
    • Foldable design feels a bit flimsy

    They have a well-balanced sound throughout the bass and have nicely clear mids. However, they can be a bit harsh in high frequencies.

    While that isn’t perfect for casual listening, it does bring out details and errors in a recording.

    MDR-7506 are, for many years, a trusted pair of headphones among audio engineers and technicians.

    They aren’t particularly flashy or suited for commuting, primarily due to their long, coiled cable.

    Thankfully, they’re still quite portable, with a foldable ear cup design and included carrying pouch.

    Headphones have a relatively lightweight build and can fit most head sizes. Earpads aren’t the thickest out there but should remain comfy for a couple of hours of use.

    10. AKG K371

    trophy BEST FOR MIXING WITH HARMAN TUNING
    AKG K371 on a DJ table

    Best mastering headphones that are also suitable for commuting.

    One of the best representations of Harman curve tuning in closed-back headphones that plays exceptionally well with all genres.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 8.9oz (255g) | Cable length: 1.2m & 3m | Features: Removable cable, mini-XLR connector, foldable
    • Great sound quality
    • Comfortable earpads
    • Foldable design
    • Good build quality
    • Detachable cable
    • … with proprietary connector
    • Might be too bassy/warm for audio purists

    Since AKG is owned by Samsung and Harman group, it makes sense for their headphones to adopt the Harman house curve.

    This tuning best represents what a natural listening experience sounds like, and none does it better than the K371. AKG added a touch more bottom end to make them more appealing to a wider audience.

    It doesn’t stop there. Build quality is excellent, with metallic construction and a satisfying foldable mechanism. Over-ear design and thick earpads ensure long-lasting comfort.

    One minor annoyance is that while the cable is detachable, it uses a proprietary mini-XLR port (if you’ll even want to buy a new one).

    If you’re more into Bluetooth headphones, the AKG K371BT also exists.

    Honorable Mentions

    AKG K240 Studio

    AKG K240 Studio

    If you are looking for one set of semi-open back cans that do a professional job on a budget, then the AKG K240 Studio headphones are impressive.

    They come in at under $100, which is very affordable for such high quality.

    AKG K240 review

    Samson SR850

    Samson SR850 construction

    If you are looking for the best budget-friendly option that’s easily driven through a smartphone and sound good, these cheap studio monitors should do the trick.

    Keep in mind these are semi-open, providing you with an airy listening experience while keeping sound leakage to a minimum.

    Samson SR850 review

    Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

    Sennheiser HD 280 PRO wired headphones

    A good choice for a reference headphone with studio-quality sound.

    Sennheiser HD280 Pro closed-back cans offer great isolation and are also very easy to drive, so you don’t need a separate headphone amplifier.

    Sennheiser HD 280 PRO review

    Superlux HD 668B

    Superlux HD668B

    Not everyone is in a position to splash the cash on audio equipment. Superlux HD 668B is one example of how affordable consumer cans can still do an excellent job.

    Headphones sound more suitable for listening to backing tracks during shows.

    Check HD 668B price

    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro wired headphones

    Recording mixing headphones with detailed sound reproduction.

    They come with velour ear cushions for extra comfort and breathability. That’s great for listening for long periods in your pro or home studio environments.

    Check DT 990 Pro price

    Why Are These the Best Headphones for Mixing and Mastering?

    In our selection of headphones, we picked the best models with features you need for mixing and mastering like professionals.

    For music production, you should be looking for headphones that don’t taint the mix.

    So, forget about external noise cancelling or Bluetooth headphones.

    A boost in any frequency will alter the way you mix, and this means that when someone listens on different or better headphones, the mix won’t be as balanced. You may overcompensate for missing frequencies, for instance.

    Other features that can be very helpful include comfort. You will probably need to wear cans for long sessions. Memory foam or other comfortable material around the ears will help with this, especially if you wear glasses.

    Naturally, if you are spending a lot on headphones, you will want something durable, which means they will last and give the best value for money. Treated well, the best headphones can last many years.

    You may also want additional features. Some find replaceable cords useful, and if you are traveling around a lot, you might also want to look out for folding headphones to take out in a bag.

    More on types of headphones

    Should You Choose Open or Closed Back Headphones for Mixing?

    Open-back headphones tend to have a much better sound stage and give a nicer acoustic sound rather than being tight and pressuring your eardrums.

    Closed-backs are more designed to block out external sounds. While this can be very useful for listening in crowded, busy places, they don’t do the best job of reproducing a natural sound.

    Generally, we advise open-back headphones for mixing.

    They give more of a balanced sound which not many of the closed-back options do. It is useful to have sound isolation capabilities, but this isn’t the top priority for mixing (sound leakage is only a bad thing for monitoring/recording).

    How are Headphones For Mixing Different from Recording Headphones?

    Often, in recording studios, most people use closed-back headphones for recording (monitoring). This isolates the sound which is coming from elsewhere (such as other instruments in the room) and gives the audio engineer full control over what audio signal they are sending to the headphones.

    Closed-back design is also less likely to “bleed” audio through to the microphone. It can mean you are recording things like backing tracks from the headphones on what would otherwise be a clean vocal track.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Are headphones good for mixing?

    The best way to mix is to use professional studio speakers since they better represent how sound will behave in a room, on top of offering a good representation of the soundstage.

    However, if you can’t afford a big recording studio or blasting music out loud, headphones are the next best thing. When properly tuned, they can very closely portray what you would otherwise hear with a great pair of speakers.

    What volume should I be mixing at?

    If you’re mixing, you probably spend a lot of time listening to music. Therefore, you must take all precautionary measures to protect your hearing. When you mix sounds, keep the volume as low as 60dB and take regular breaks. Only when reviewing some small EQ changes, raise the volume a bit (up to 90db) to hear the difference.

    What kind of headphones should I use for mixing?

    Use established headphone models with neutral sound signatures like Sennheiser HD 600, AKG K702, and Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO. Cheaper options are Sennheiser HD 400 PRO or HD 560 S and AKG K245.

    1 Comment
    1. Closed back headphones while recording (so there’s little to no leakage for a mic to pick up) and open backed for mixing etc.

      But staying cool on one’s head and comfort are my first criteria.

      Then simply use software like SoundID (no, I don’t work for or get a commission from them) to get to the Harman curve basis of balanced sound to ensure you’re not overcompensating for headphones that are boomy, thin, dull or shrill.

      Remember the Loudness Curve and don’t create your mix while listening too loud – or too soft either!

      Only after that check the mix on your preferred loudspeakers.

      Reply

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