Best Headphones for Monitoring Audio?

Screen shot 2011-02-24 at 11.10.26 PM
find-price-button Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Monitor Headphones

Comment came in asking about what people think might be a good set of Headphones for Monitoring Audio. I thought it would be interesting to hear the different options out there, so phone lines web lines are open, if you've got a favorite pair, leave your comments about Who, Why, and Where can we find them...

[Update] We got some great feedback in the comments about some great Headphones that are used in the industry.

 65 Comments





65 thoughts on “Best Headphones for Monitoring Audio?

  1. Rem

    While it's true that this thread is old, it's also true that there are still so many people out there looking for the best mixing headphones for them. I actually just got my first pair of headphones after reading so many articles and lists of
    the best studio monitoring headphones online
    . I ended up getting the Audio Technica ATH-M50x. At first I thought it was overrated and wouldn't live up to the type, but I was wrong and I'm glad I was. It sounds excellent! I use it everyday and I never tire of the way it sounds. If you don't have it yet, you definitely should go get it.

  2. BobS

    I know this thread is old but I had to chime in. I recently threw my still working Sony 7506 phones in the trash and never looked back. After years of cussing at the dang coiled cable I had enough. It gets caught on every cable that gets near it and constantly is a tangled mess. If they had a straight cabled version I'd use them again. With the coiled cable ill never buy another pair. Using Shure and Beyerdynamic now.

  3. Katie

    bah. Im torn between the Sony MDR-7506, the Beyerdynamic DT 770s and the Sennheiser HD 280's....

    any audiophiles out there to push me toward one pair of cans over the others??

  4. I also agree with the Sony 7506, I used to use them when I was in radio. Good except they can fall off the head a bit easily and the earpads tend to come off and are not easy to get back on. Also make sure not to wrap the cord around the headphones when storing, but gently drop the cord into the included bag...if you dont, the cord will become a stretched, tangled mess instead of a nice coil.

    One reason the AKG headphones beat out the Sony is the fact that the cord is replaceable on the AKG headsets.

  5. Simon

    Considering sound isolation, comfort over many hours and useful tonal response, there is no match for the Sony 7506
    when recording audio for video.

    About 90% of radio people and location sound mixers wear these in my market and wearing something like Dr Dre's would earn you little respect among pros and clients.

    The Sony 7506's also fold up nicely into the provided bag, the 1/4" adapter screws on and stays put. Pro audio gear uses 1/4" almost exclusively.

    They will last quite a while with metal parts where it counts.

    They do tend to accenuate the low end - this is a plus since any boom handling sounds, fridge, plane or traffic noises will be very obvious so you can deal with it. If you can't it always sounds better in post.

    Since they are a near standard, you can get used to them wherever you work and others who want a quick listen to the last take will be used to them.

    These are also excellent on long flights since they have good isolation but without the tight head clamp feel of way over priced/rated Bose models.

    http://www.trewaudio.com/store/product.php?productid=263
    has them and the replacement parts.

    For super loud environments (NASCAR) mixers use these: http://www.trewaudio.com/store/product.php?productid=255&cat=109&page=1

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  7. MDR-7506! Industry standard, every professionnal sound guy know and use them. Good isolation, and wide range. You will heard everything the microphone will pick.

    I am using my set for 10 years now and they are still great. I just had to replace the protective foam one time (available for 10$).

  8. Not sure if most of ya'll are talking about monitoring in studio or in the field. For me, in studio I use a nice big set of open backed AKG K-240, mostly because that's what an audio professor recommended to me when I was in school 6 years ago......but in the field, (and I do mostly live events), I use cheap (around $30) ear buds because the sound quality is certainly good enough to know what you're getting, but it doesn't allow your audio to bleed into the room disturbing guests/audience members, and it doesn't allow outside noise to get in our ear. Nothing isolates like a "marshmallow" earbud, so that's my go-to in the field.

  9. Daniel

    Hey PHugger,

    How about the Etymotic ER6i (Ear Buds) | $99? Are they good enough for sound monitoring?

    Thanks!

  10. Im a producer / audio engineer and tried a lot of headphones over the years. You can go wild if you got the cash, but if you're looking for industry standards for a reasonable price go for the Beyer Dynamic DT770 or the DT990

  11. For full sized 'cans' I really like Sennheiser and Beyer Dynamic. My favorites 'In-ears' are Etymotics ER4s. The ER4s are kind of pricey, but they are very comfortable (once you get used to sticking something deep into your ears) especially on hot days. They also have the highest ambient noise reduction of anything out there. The brand name Active Noise canceling cans are only around -15db. The ER4s are around -40db.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Kelly - LOL, i'll send you a $20 dollar Amazon Gift card if you rock those headphones and do a video review! No Joke!

  13. SkunkWorks

    I have a pair Sennheiser HD 280 Pro as well, the ones in your picture.

    I use them for tracking purposes in my home recording studio because of their sound isolation property. Because of that property, be aware that you might not be able to hear much of what's going on around you while wearing them... if that's going to be an issue for you.

    They fit tight, some think that makes thems uncomfortable over extended periods of time, but at least they're not going to fall off your head if you're moving around alot πŸ˜‰

    They have a complete lack of mid bass compared to any higher end "open" design phone, but for what you guys would use them for I don't think that's an issue... just don't try to mix music with them πŸ˜‰ For monitoring they're fine. They have a low impedance so it doesn't take much power to drive them.

    The faux leather on the ear pads will degrade pretty quick... I know lots of guys using these in their studios and I don't know a single one whose this hasn't happened to and it doesn't take long if they get regular use, especially if you sweat alot.

    There are cheaper options for this intended use.

    1/4" and 3.5mm jack with adapter.

  14. George

    I have been using the Sony MDR 7506's ,after a sound director at a movie set suggested them as the best bang for the buck for everything audio related, for about a year now and i have to say im really astonished.I can wear them for hours,they are extremely comfortable,they dont "colour" sound or enhance bass the way my Sennheiser hd 203 used to,i even sound design with them although that is a faulty practice in general.To my pretty mucj untrained ears they sound absolutely "real" and wonderful.
    One thing you should be really aware of if you decide to puschase them online via ebay...There a LOT of imitations around and there are a couple of dead giveaways to spot one,just search online on how to spot imitation/fake 7506's.
    The ebay seller i bought mine listed them for 40USD's and i risked it,but the store shut down before i left feedback.Thankfully the same sound guy in the set had the same one as a backup to monitor audio and we compared them.Thankfully it was the real deal.

  15. Aaron B

    x10 on the Sony MDR-7506. I've been running them for 15 years. Only issue is as they age, the shiny "vinyl" coating on the ear pads flakes off and can stick to your head. Making temporary, but odd looking black birthmarks. haha

  16. I switched over to BeyerDynamic a couple of years ago.

    The sound out of my DT-100s is just fantastic, difficult to beat, but in terms of comfort while still also getting top quality sound, I love my DT-250s and tend to use those much more often.

  17. Daniel

    anybody here old school enough to know/like the good ol' AKG K240 (or any number above) headphones? they are to me the best!But kinda expensive to rake on the road. I've seen sound engineers have them for many years onthe road. also the Grado sr80 or the 225. The Grado headphones are known for their accurate and very flat response, which to me is what you really want to edit, monitor with.

    cheers!

  18. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/49510-REG/Sony_MDR_7506_MDR_7506_Headphone.html

    Sony 7506's are a staple in the video production industry... and they were my favorites before I even worked in the business. They accentuate the highs just a little bit more than some people like, but you really know if your audio is clean or noisy with that boost. Other than that, they're fairly accurate over the rest of the spectrum so you can be sure what you're hearing is what you're recording. I have three pair, one in my audio kit, one in my camera bag, and one in my office... so I'm almost never without them.

  19. Dave

    I’m a big fan of the Sennheiser HD-280’s. A lot of people are still using the standard Sony models like the MDR-7506, but my personal preference are the Sennheisers. They seal out noise pretty well and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. I know of several professional field recordists who have switched to the 280’s because they like the sound better than the Sony's, but the industry is often slow to change and the Sony's are standard. Either way you can't go wrong, and fortunately they are both only about $99, so it's not a ridiculous investment for a good-quality tool.

  20. Dave

    I'm a big fan of the Sennheiser HD-280's. A lot of people are still using the standard Sony models like the MDR-7506, but my personal preference are the Sennheisers. I know of several professional field recordists who have switched to the 280's.

  21. Dan

    I've been using these headphones for a while! They are great and cheap Sennheiser hd202

    Newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826106306&cm_re=sennheiser_hd_202-_-26-106-306-_-Product

  22. Halldor

    I like monitoring my Zoom H1 with my Sennheiser RS 160. They are cordless with batteries that last for a long time. The sender is really small and uses two AA batteries so I can place the H1 with the sender where ever I want to as long as it isn't over 20 meters away. πŸ™‚

  23. jameszvideo

    I personally opt for the Sennheiser HD25-1 II
    .

    Pros:
    - Nice definition throughout the frequency spectrum
    - When I wear them I almost only hear what's coming from the headphones; not the surroundings, (this enables you to monitor with relativ low volume; your ears will thank you in the long run), but
    - Is also able to deliver nice volume
    - Durable*

    Neutral:
    - Price

    Cons:
    - *The cable, or to be more specific: the connection from where the cable goes into the earpiece is very sh*tty. You'll need to fix this after a while

  24. I use these

    Quietheadphones.com/product/ex-25/

    They work like a charm.
    I bought them for my recording studio. I usually use them with drummers.

  25. J Toha

    One vote for Sennheiser HD 202.

    Lightweight, quite rugged constructions and comfortable to wear for extended period of time. For music, I hear many layers of instruments that I've never noticed before when using external speakers. Haven't taken it much for outdoor shoot, but I'm a firm believer it does more than a decent job at it.

    Mark 2 version is coming out, so must have had some improvements. I bought the previous version for just under $20. Check it out!

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/751924-REG/Sennheiser_HD202_II_HD_202_II_Closed_Back_Around_Ear.html

  26. Tom

    Sony MDR-7506. They're the professional industry standard set of cans. They sound pretty good, and have good sound isolating ability. They retail for around $100 give or take a bit. So they're not too expensive but they're not cheap either. You're getting quality for your money, if any part of them brakes you can replace that part through Sony's repair service. The most important thing is that sound guys learn how things sound when wearing these headphones. If you work with other people they're great to have around.

    If you want to save money I'd recommend the Sennheiser HD 202. I've seen them selling for around $20-30 and there is nothing wrong with them. They'll do just fine while you save up for better equipment.

  27. I used to work in radio station and really loved Roland RH-200 High audio and built quality, coiled cable, metal 1/4 jack with screwable 3/4 jack adapter. I'm planing to pick up ones myself for monitoring purpose.

    Sony mdr-v6 looks similar in design. However i haven't tried them.

  28. Dave

    Iv got ACS T15's...

    Hearingprotection.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=115

    They are great as they are small - really comfortable to wear - and as they are custom molded I get a great isolation so I know whats being recorded not what I can hear ambiently.

    Also have some Sennheiser HD 202 cans that are nice.

  29. Just up my ally, I love headphones and have a ton of them.

    for monitoring audio on location for minimal cost it's hard not to look at the sennheiser hd 280 pro (the same from the blog picture). They aren't as comfortable as I'd like and the sound is.... good for the price.

    My next choice would be the beyerdynamic DT 770 pro. It's a rock solid set of cans that are really comfortable. The open air design (still closed back) actually helps them sound a lot fuller and more true than comparable headphones.

    and when money is no object, some Grado ps1000's with a tube amp. Or a good set of electrostatic headphones. As a practical point neither would be durable enough to take out on shoots anyway.

    I know sony makes some decent stuff for monitoring, but I haven't used their stuff enough to give my thoughts.

    Basically for the Cheesy Cam crowd, pick up some HD 280's and be done

  30. Serge

    Monster Beats by Dr. Dre and Power Beats too.
    seems every music artist is having a cookie cutter version named after they such as the Justin Beiber edition, the P-Diddy ones too but the pro edition Monster and Power are no gimmicks.

    Every Major DJ uses them and Seen a couple of behind the scenes where Yoyo Ma is using them in his recording sessions, a lot of people are.

    Here is a review
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D5IxpbJltA

    And here is a couple of recording artist (Paris Hilton?? shes everywhere beats me, no pun intended)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd3Kg8o5Rc0&feature=related

  31. I've got the Sony MDR 7560, as I found out by some googling that they're supposed to be really good for cameramen on a budget. They've been great so far, they do sound a bit flat if you use them to listen to music, but that's a good thing when monitoring sound for video. Wearing comfort is really good too, even with glasses on.

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