Skip to main content

Best Headphones for Mixing

Last updated: 6 months ago
9 min read

HeadphonesAddict is user supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

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

Rating Price Back design Connection Foldable More info
Sennheiser HD 600 Best overall
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
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro Best closed-back
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
4.3
Under $600
Closed-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
Samson SR850 Best cheap
Samson SR850 wired headphones
4.5
Under $50
Semi-open
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
crosscross

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.

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 600

    1st-place Best overall
    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

    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 a serious musician and music producer.

    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-back headphones 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).

    2. Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

    2nd-place Runner-up
    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 sound
    • 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 (600 ohms), so you need a powerful audio interface to drive them properly.

    3. Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

    trophy Best closed-back
    Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

    Headphones designed to have an accurate sound with deep bass for mixing low frequencies

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

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 6.3mm & 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 250 Ohm | Weight: 13.7 oz (388g) | Cable length: 9.7ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Detailed sound
    • Controlled bass response
    • Comfortable fit
    • Can get a bit sibilant

    They deliver a very detailed sound across the frequency response, with tight, controlled bass performance.

    They’re less sibilant at higher volumes than some other Beyerdynamic headphones, which is why you can use them for casual listening, too.

    These are premium headphones with great build quality that should survive a harsh studio environment. They come with a robust, hard shell carrying case.

    Velour earpads are nicely padded and super comfy so that you don’t have to worry about aching ears.

    The cable is detachable and of good quality but uses a special connector. They’re fairly easy to drive, albeit plugging them into a headphone amp is still the best choice.

    4. AKG K702

    trophy Best soundstage
    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. 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 high-end.

    It comes with detachable cables fitting both 3.5mm and 6.3mm connections. The ear pads are both comfortable and replaceable for 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.

    5. Sennheiser HD 560 S

    dollar Best 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 audio 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 amp.

    6. Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO

    trophy Great under $200
    Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO wired headphones

    Best open-back 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 suitable 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 engineers swear by using these to mix vocals.

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

    7. AKG K245

    dollar Best under $100
    AKG K245

    Best mixing headphones under $100

    A successor to the beloved K240, with better technical performance and foldable design.

    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 similarly analytical to the K240, but it goes further in terms of technicalities. 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.

    8. Sony MDR-7506

    trophy Great under $100
    Sony MDR 7506 wired headphones

    Fantastic headphones for mixing under $100

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

    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 a nicely clear mids. However, they can be a bit harsh in the 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.

    Sony MDR-7506 review

    9. AKG K371

    trophy Best for 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.

    10. Samson SR850

    dollar Best cheap
    Samson SR850 construction

    Best mixing headphones that you can get at a reasonable price

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-30.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Semi-open | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 9.7 oz (276g) | Cable length: 98.4 inch (2.5m) | Features: /
    • Fantastic sound for the price
    • Lightweight construction
    • Decent durability
    • 6.3mm adapter included in the box
    • Price
    • All-plastic construction feels cheap
    • Below average comfort and fit
    • Bad noise isolation

    There aren’t many audio consumer products like this in a headphone market today. Neodymium drivers produce a very dynamic sound with good, punchy bass and natural frequency response.

    Treble frequencies are slightly more pronounced, giving them a brighter sound signature. The soundstage is also quite big, but it doesn’t hurt the overall stereo image.

    You can also find them among best studio headphones.

    They’re made entirely from plastic, with even headband and earpads feel slightly harder to the touch. Not a very stylish design.

    Thankfully, because their clamping force is relatively light, you should find these comfortable. If you want to improve the overall comfort, try out some AKG earpads since they rock a similar size.

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

    Samson SR850 review

    Honorable Mentions

    AKG K240 Studio: If you are looking for a 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

    Sennheiser HD 280 PRO: A good choice for a reference headphone with studio-quality sound. Sennheiser HD280 Pro are also very easy to drive, so you don’t need a separate headphone amplifier. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO review

    Superlux HD 668B: 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 track during shows. (Check HD 668B price)

    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro: 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)

    Shure SHR1840: Open-back headphones with a reference point neutral sound quality that is suitable for studio recording. Aluminum alloy makes Shure SRH1840 pair of mixing headphones very lightweight and comfy. (Check SRH1840 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 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 the 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 cancel out the 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.

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published.