Best Headphones for Mixing & MasteringOct 29, 2021
Mixing with a bad pair of headphones is like fishing with a bad rod—it will make the job more difficult. Whether it misleads you into believing your track needs a boost/cut in some areas or doesn’t allow you to hear that high-end “pop” on the left side, a pair of headphones can truly make or break a solid mix.
Like most things in music production, the “right” pair of headphones is really a matter of preference and price point. There are several solid models that will help you achieve the results you want.
As a starting point, the four brands I recommend are:
All of these brands are very well-known in the world of music production. For a lower price point, Audio-Technica tends to be my favourite, and for higher end models, Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic are stand-outs.
The three most popular choices at the $100 level are the Sony MDR-7506, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and Sennheiser HD280. These are all solid choices if you’re just starting out and with a closed-back, they also work great for recording!
The Sony MDR-7506 is lightweight, a bit brighter in the high-end and has less sound isolation than the other two.
The Sennheiser HD280 is on the darker side, with a pronounced low-mid range heavy, and has great noise cancellation.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is warm sounding with a recessed mid-range.
If you want noise-cancellation and are also using the headphones for recording, a closed-back is ideal. However, I prefer open-back headphones because they allow a more natural sound and allow your ears to breathe a little.
My favourite pairs of mid-priced open-back headphones are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 (all their “DT” line is solid) and the Sennheiser HD 600 (all their “HD” line is solid)
The Beyerdynamic DT990 is great for a neutral sound and an accurate bass.
The Sennheiser HD600 is darker and has better treble accuracy. If you want something even more high-end, check out the rest of Beyerdynamic’s DT models and Sennheiser’s HD models.
What’s perhaps even more important than having the top-of-the-line pair is to know your headphones.
If you’re aware that your AudioTechnica’s have a dramatic bass boost and keep that in mind as your mixing, you’re much better off than someone who doesn’t know a thing about the headphones they own, in comparison to other sound systems.
My advice would be compare as many brands as you can and pick the one that’s right for you.
If you're also interested in learning more about monitors and what speakers you can buy then you can check out this youtube video: