If you’re going to mix music in your studio, you’ll need the right gear, ideally, the best headphones for mixing.
Generally, mixing should be done through a monitor, but when circumstances don’t simply allow, you can use a headphone.
The best headphones for mixing are excellent at exposing the tiny details that you might fail to identify on speakers due to interference.
Headphones for mixing are also quite handy, especially if you’re mixing in an apartment where constant noise may not be appreciated.
But like any electronic products, the market is over-saturated with headphones, and this makes choosing the ideal headphone for mixing a challenge.
While you might be tempted to go for the most expensive microphone, what really matters is considering what is best for your mixing.
It’s for that reason I've outlined the top 5 headphones for mixing in the market.
I've also included a comprehensive headphone buying guide, which hopefully, will allow you to make a more informed decision in your next purchase.
Quick Comparison Table & Our Pick!
This as you would expect from us is an EPIC post so grab a coffee before you start and see how we cut through every product and review it with precision. IF YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME and need to know the results of our reviews , CHECK THE RESULTS TABLE BELOW!
10 Hz – 39800 Hz
5 – 35,000 Hz
Other Great Recommendations
20 Hz to 35,000
Top 5 Headphones for Mixing in The Market for The Money
AKG K 701 - Editor’s Choice
The AKG K 701 is a classic, top of the line headphone for monitoring, mixing, and professional use.
These headphones are nothing short of excellence, so long as you fit their right demographic.
Generally, the AKG K 701 is an ideal option for anyone in search of a comfortable open-back headphone for long sedentary sessions such as mixing or even making a simple audiophile.
Features and Benefits
I’ve to admit were a bit concerned with the plastic construction; true, plastic doesn’t always radiate premium.
But here’s the thing:
Weight and aesthetics don’t always translate to quality. If anything, knock-off manufacturers tend to make their products weighty, to sell them a “quality build” to unsuspecting customers.
Though I would have preferred a metallic construction, AKG Acoustics are veterans in this space, and the fact they used plastic is to K701’s advantage.
At 235g, these headphones are definitely among the lightest in the market, and it goes a long way to enhance the overall comfort.
Comfort is the name of the game with the K701, and the lightweight build is just but the beginning.
The headphones come with a self-adjusting leather headband, and I find the amount of pressure exerted by the ear-cups rather minimal.
Now, while the low clamping force will allow the headphones to stay on your head without slipping off, they do require a rather static approach. By this, I mean they're rather unusable for the rigorous motion because they'll fall right off.
Nonetheless, the comfort features on the K701 will leave you with a headphone that you can use for hours on end without pain or sweating.
Open-Back Ear Cups
So far, I know gamers are already enticed by the features on the K701, but unfortunately, this audio equipment is only suitable for a niche audience, and even not suitable for all audiophiles.
This is largely because of the open ear cups, which tend to place the noise-cancellation features in the back seat.
But, this is not a problem for the mixing enthusiasts because they'll get to hear everything louder than a whisper and will let everyone else hear what you're listening to.
Sound quality is always where the money is at, and unsurprisingly, K701 doesn’t disappoint.
I think it would have best to describe the K701 as "Hi-Fi" headphones because they boast of a full frequency range with decent bass.
For the mixing enthusiasts, however, they’ll be impressed by the crystal clear high and smooth lows that make these headphones a suitable option for a whole range of genres from classical to metal.
Unfortunately, I would discourage you from using it for the modern, bass-heavy genres given they have a 300 hour break time.
But aside from that, the clarity is simply on another level, and the overall analytical capabilities are nothing short of astounding.
To give you an idea of what K170 delivers, each note is distinct, and the headphone will allow you to hear even the slightest recording error, two of the most desirable features of a mixing headphone.
The asking price for K170 is a tad high, but not unreasonable, for such a fine example of mid-range studio headphones.
However, the plastic construction makes the fear of breaking them down accidentally very real.
- Great sound
- Audio clarity and detail
- Tad expensive
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Headphone - Best Value
Normally, good sound quality means that you’ll be spending a little more than you want. Just look at the K701 we reviewed earlier.
But now and then, you're likely to find a headphone that costs too much, yet, it delivers great sound.
This is one of those times.
Sure, Beyerdynamic DT 990 might not be the most appealing cans, but they’ve everything you need to treat to ears to a spa every day you put them on.
Features and Benefits
As we had mentioned in the introduction, the build quality on these headphones won't be winning any beauty contest.
However, I love their themed-black profile, which is a plus in my book because whether I plan to use them for professional use or casual mixing, they don’t look out of place.
Unfortunately, like the K701, they’re designed almost from plastic, save for the metal band suspending the ear cups.
Sure, I find them flexible, and I had not issued flexing them at relatively regular angles, but if you throw them or sit on them in the wrong way, I would bet they wouldn't come out fine.
Further, this isn’t helped because the hinges prevent folding them for portability.
So, yes, though I love this audio equipment for its flexibility, and great color scheme, I almost feel that I should always have to babysit them at times.
The design-build on the Beyerdynamic might be a deal-breaker, but that is made up for but the exceptional comfort.
These headphones are comfortable to wear; this largely because of the memory foam padding wrapped in velour that makes them feel plush.
Further, these headphones rely on the clamping force to stay on your head, but I love how the large ear-pads help in the overall distribution of the headphones over my head.
Though I find the headband pressing a little bit on the top of my head, it didn't cause any discomfort.
Sound quality is where these headphones excel, and though the performance won't blow you away, it's impressive, especially remembering the price you've to pay.
Generally, the DT990 Pro has plenty of sound resemblance with the DT 990 Premium and DT770, and it’s not a surprise since they’ve a similar acoustic design.
The premium model has the edge over the pro because it delivers a softer, slightly looser feel.
However, I prefer the smoother feel on the Pro, and if you’re a mixing enthusiast who’s always engaged in critical listening, the Pro would probably be a better bet.
The same quality sound performance is also evident on the sound output, and unlike a majority of headphones with thumping bass, DT 990 Pro has crisp and clear mids. This way, users find it easy to identify each vocal part, and they'll no longer have to complain about the imbalances between the treble and bass.
However, the major sound element that separates this model from other headphones is the stereo sound experience. Also, known as the 3D sound experience, this feature is essential in music production and mixing.
It's designed in such a way that it'll pick even the slightest movement of an instrument while music is being played, resulting in delicate and texture sound experience.
The build quality of the DT990 leaves a lot to be desired, and we believe these headphones would do better with solid metal construction.
Even so, with their price tag, I wouldn't complain about them. If anything, it would be a challenge not to recommend them to anyone who prioritizes clean and precise sound.
- Incredible sound quality
- Flimsy construction
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x - Best Budget
Audio-Technica is generally famed for making premium audiophile-grade headphones, and the ATH-M20x is one of the audio equipment, but for those on a budget.
This audio tool is an upgrade to the popular ATH-M20, and it was launched recently alongside with the upgrades to the entire ATH series.
Despite the budget-tag, this headphone is designed to produce flat sounds, and in many cases, they’re used as reference headphones to judge the sound quality of other audio devices.
Features and Benefits
For a long time, the build quality on the M series has always been the strength of these headphones, but of course, being the cheapest option in the series, the M20 exhibits a little more weakness.
For example, the body on the M20 is constructed from plastic, and so, when you compare it with its bigger siblings, you’re likely to feel the flimsiness.
Yet, they feel robust, and generally, they’re well put together, especially when you compare them with models in its class.
However they lack the folding ability and a carry case, and so I don't consider them ideal for traveling
Generally, the build quality is okay for this model, and the plastic feels fine, and the leatherette doesn't feel cheap, either.
The comfort on the M20x is truly impressive, and though it weighs 190g, it doesn’t make it less comfortable.
Though I find the padding on top of the headband, a little bit stiff, they hold weight exceptionally well.
The ear cups are further enlarged, and wide enough to fit perfectly around the average size ears.
Generally, M20x doesn’t skimp on comfort by any means, and it easy to listen to music for extended periods without feeling fatigued.
The M20x might on the low-tier category for headphones, but that doesn't limit its use by professionals.
If anything, the specs sheet for this model is pretty impressive.
For starters, 40mm drivers are rather large, and they operate within a response range of 15-20,000Hz.
But more importantly, the headphone comes with an impedance rating of 47 ohms, which I find quite handy at reducing the buzzing sounds that are normally created by electric signals passing via the headphones.
Finally, the MX20 is as versatile as it can get as it supports a plethora of audio equipment. Unfortunately, however, low-end devices such as smartphones and iPods might not be able to power the headphone to its full capacity.
Audio-Technica is commonly associated with performance and sound quality, and again, for the M20x, you can expect detail and quality.
Whether you’re an audio engineer, DJ, or music producer, M20x will provide you with the distinction in your instruments.
The mids and highs are clear, and even better, the vocals aren’t overpowered by all that.
The perfect option for mixing, the M20x, is an extremely accurate monitor headphone that delivers a nice punchy bass, free from attenuation.
However, what stood out for me is the detailed frequency response, especially considering this audio equipment are entry-level models.
But I’ve to be honest; I didn't like accurate and neutral bass. While I understand this is what mixing individuals are into, I prefer the deep bass because these headphones sound much like listening to a natural experience, where everything is too upfront.
I think the M20 x is worth the money, but if you’re not on a budget, I would advise you to go for a higher-priced option for some better sound quality.
Sure, the M20x doesn't produce some cheap sound that will ruin your experience, but if you're into professional mixing, you will better off with some premium option.
- Not professional sound quality
Samson SR850 might be a surprise option to many because this model is manufactured by Superlux, a little know brand that is on their way up.
There's plenty of resemblance between this model and the premium AKG24, and so much is the similarities that people have gone ahead to claim Samson SR850 is an AKG clone.
That said, we’re not here to make comparisons between these models, but it’s almost impossible not to.
For starters, Samson SR850 can hold their own against the more expensive option when it comes to sound quality.
In some cases, Samson SR850 even does better than the higher range models, but that’s just our opinion.
Features and Benefits
As far as aesthetics go, these headphones come with an attractive design. While there's nothing particularly premium, the overall look is one of sophistication.
The build quality is okay, and like a majority of the options within its class, it designed from plastic.
However, I prefer not to throw them a lot into my backpack because they're not foldable and tend to break easily.
One plus side of the plastic construction is that these headphones are incredibly light, and so, they won’t exert much pressure on your head.
Though the headband isn’t padded, it’s conveniently self-adjusting, and it comes with a leatherette piece that fits the head nicely.
Another notably comfort-promoting element is the velour cushioned ear pad that is soft to the touch, and less likely to bug you after a few hours of wear.
The only knock with the earpad is they come with a narrow circular shape, and so, they won't exactly from around your ears.
But apart from that, everything else is super-incredible on these headphones.
Sound is probably the most crucial element on a mixing headphone, and fortunately, Samson doesn’t disappoint.
For starters, the headphone is bassy, though not as bassy as I prefer. However, with its smooth mid and super-clear highs and vocals, the Samson SR850 makes up for a solid pair of casual music listening, mixing, and monitoring.
The output is also well-balanced, and the vocals are great on this headphone; I find them clear, crisp, and well balanced.
The highs are equally impressive, and on the Samson SR850, they’re quite transparent and nicely detailed. When in use, they’re free from any sibilance and provide an all-around tight listening experience that would serve anyone listening well.
While the open design does not rank up when it comes to producing airy sounds, we liked the semi-open design on the Samson SR850.
It provides the perfect balance between the closed and open model, and when in use, it delivers a nice open sound, which is more like an outdoor amphitheater, only that the sound is close and personal.
It provides a great intimate sound, which is further complemented by the air feel, making the headphones a solid option for individuals mixing or gamers as they give you the feel like you're there.
Obviously, at this price point, there's a lot of plastic used in the construction, and while the build is impressive, it's not as robust as some pairs in the higher price ranges.
- Clear and crisp sound
- Plastic construction
HIFIMAN HE400S - Best Planar Headphones
If you’ve always desired planar-magnetic headphones, but power requirements and price limitations seem to put a damper on your purchase, then you need to think again.
The guys at Hifiman have discovered an ingenious way of delivering the sonic benefit of planar technology at a reasonable price, and this is evident in the HIFIMAN HE400S.
Features and Benefits
HE400s is a comfortable over-ear design, utilizing a large planner driver that creates an overall larger, yet aesthetically pleasing headphone.
An important design feature to note is that it's open-backed, and so, it exposes the backside of the headphone drivers. This allows the sound to push outwards as opposed to bouncing of the inner casing and returning to your ears.
If you’re seeking comfort, you’ll find it on the HE400s.
Complementing the large planar driver are the subsequent big casings that will comfortably envelop your ear, regardless of your ear size.
The earpads are further fitted with a soft plush padding, which I find thick but equally comfortable when resting on my ears.
The headband also features a self-adjusting mechanism, and this goes a long way at contributing to the overall comfort and ease of wearing these headphones.
The only complaint we had with the comfort element is that they tend to make the ears a bit hot under the padding.
Before we discuss the sound performance of the HE400S, you've to keep in mind that these headphones are open-back, and so, all the outsides sounds are fairly audible even when you're listening to something.
That said, it comes with plenty of desirable acoustic properties. For example, it has a pretty decent bass to its sound. Even though it lacks the necessary thump and rumble that bass lovers like, the kick drums sound refined, and it doesn't sound muddy at all.
When it comes to the mids, the HE400s hits the sweet spot, and it has a defined output without overbearing too much. Unlike the majority of the headphones that mess up in their midrange and end up sounding like a radio, the HE400s handles its business accurately and makes the sound feel balanced and meaty.
- Perfect instrument separation
- Airy soundstage
- Earpads can be itchy
Headphone for Mixing Buying Guide
There’re numerous options to consider when purchasing a headphone for mixing.
And though our list does little to help the cause, you might be torn between several models.
If that's you, no need to worry more because, in the section below, we shall highlight some of the crucial factors you need to consider when purchasing the best headphone for mixing.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing the Best Headphones for Mixing
Comfort is easily neglected when purchasing a headphone.
While your headphones might look cool and even sound great, but if they’re not form-fitting and providing you with the comfort you need, then you’re unlikely to use them.
In an ideal world, we would all take good care of our equipment.
But since we live in the real world, it's not hard to slam, drop, or even sit on our headphones.
It’s for this reason that you need to invest in sturdy audio equipment that isn’t going to break down easily.
For a headphone, audio quality seems obvious enough, but it’s always a good idea to invest in headphones with desirable sound qualities.
Look for those with clarity, good frequency response, and transparency.
Open Back or Closed?
Headphones are often classified based on their physical orientation: open and closed.
Now, if you’re not on a budget, I would advise that you go for both models, but if mixing is your thing, the open-back headphones should serve you well.
Unlike the closed microphones, open-back microphones don't sacrifice on audio quality. Instead, they'll let you experience every bit of sound, and this enhances your mixing sessions.
There are numerous reasons why you would want to get yourself a pair of headphones for mixing.
The most obvious benefit, however, is that they’ll let you experience every sound in your mixing, and enhance the overall output.
And now that we've given you a selection of the top five headphones in the market, alongside a comprehensive buying guide, you should have no issues selecting a unit that will fit your mixing needs.
When mixing in the studio, experts agree that you can not gamble with headphones. This is why we recommend the five options reviewed. Even though all our endorsed headphones will deliver, the most outstanding one is the AKG K 701.
This type is light and comfortable thanks to the plastic construction with soft ear cups. It has a self-adjusting headband for a customized fit; hence they don’t slip off.
Additionally, the headphones boast a full frequency range between 10 Hz – 39800 Hz, which is higher than the reviewed headphones.
Another distinction we found on this headphone is the note where you captivate even the slightest recording errors and eliminate them before releasing your track. This results in audio clarity and unmatched sound detail.