Looking to invest in a good pair of headphones for voice recording? It’s an incredibly crowded market out there with numerous models to choose from. So here’s a timesaver:
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is the best headphones for recording vocals.
In fact, their combination of superb durability, clean sound quality and top-notch sound isolation makes it a great package for hearing yourself in the sound booth. We’re sure the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is going to be the best pick for most people but if you’re looking for more headphone ideas, we’re here to help you further.
We’ve narrowed it down to 7 models that are more than worthy of your consideration. We’ll explain everything you’ll need to know about buying the perfect headphones for your recordings.
They’ll each have their specific pros and cons, which will help you make a more informed decision when choosing your next pair of headphones.
The best headphones at a glance
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
- Sony MDR-7506
- Shure SRH-1540
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
- AKG Pro Audio K271
- Sennheiser HD280PRO
- LyxPro HAS-10
What to Look For When Choosing Headphones for Recording Vocals
Usually, higher-end headphones are needed for music production such as recording and mixing. That being said, there are many new companies changing how high calibre headphones are priced by offering high performance quality with inexpensive pricing.
Closed Back Headphones Are Ideal
For any recording, sound isolation is extremely important to prevent sounds from passing through either direction. That’s why close back headphones are recommended. It can effectively seal sounds around the ear while providing a nice comfortable fit for long recording sessions.
Sweetened vs. Flat Frequency Response
Every headphone will have differences in the sounds even from the same material. This is due to the headphone’s EQ being adjusted to fit a particular sound of the manufacturer.
This is called “Sweetening”.
For recording vocals, frequencies in the sound shouldn’t be emphasized too much as the vocals should be true to what’s being recorded. However, during a session, some artists do want minor adjustments from the audio engineer to feel more comfortable with the way they sound.
Overall, a flat frequency response is preferred so that the engineer can compare and set levels accurately.
Fit & Comfort
Comfort is extremely important when recording for vocals. Wearing headphones for multiple hours can be quite uncomfortable during long recording sessions.
Larger ear cups provide a solid fit that allows good sound isolation. The fabric ear cups are also important as it acts as a softener and padding to the pressure.
Weight can also factor in the comfortability as well. Lighter headphones are more comfortable, especially for long listening sessions. There are many manufactures in the market that offer light headphones without sacrificing sound quality and durability of the headphones.
Typically, portability wouldn’t be an issue as there are small commercial earbuds for that. But if you have a portable setup where you use your laptop for your studio work, portability and size will be something that you’ll have to consider.
Some closed-back headphones have fold-up designs that provide compact spacing and also add protection. Some also include accessories like travel pouches or cases that can further add padding when on-the-go.
Most quality headphones are made with strong materials for transit. Which leads to our next point….
Before you invest in a nice quality headphone, you want to make sure it lasts. Unfortunately, stronger materials usually come with a heavier weight. Many lighter headphones are made with only plastic, which leads to shorter longevity.
If the headphones have a fold-up design, double check the hinges to see if there are any issues. Also look at how thick or thin the cables are. Typically, the thicker the cable, the stronger it is and the longer it can last.
If you are looking to invest in more premium headphones, double-check where you can find replacement parts. You can also find out if you can DIY the repair by finding videos online. Replacing ear pads or a cable is definitely a lot cheaper than buying an entire new set.
For studio recording, a headphone should have a longer cable so it doesn’t restrict the movements of the singer. But being too long can also negatively affect the sound quality. It can introduce noise and lower the overall volume. Tangled cables can also be an issue.
Typically, a good quality headphone will include a shielded cable to provide strength and crush protection. Some manufacturers thankfully include multiple cables for different uses. A shorter cable for everyday listening, and a longer cable for studio recording.
Recommended Headphones for Recording Vocals
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 is adored by top engineers and vocalists for it’s signature clarity and neutral sound. On the surface, it boasts a clean, sturdy design that looks and feels like it will hold extremely well over time. Weighing in at 0.63 lbs (10.1 oz), they’re not extremely light. But with it’s soft, plush padding, singers can enjoy the pleasure of wearing this headphone during long studio sessions. It also pleasantly isolates sounds.
The headphones also can rotate up to 90 degrees for easy, one ear monitoring. It can also conveniently fold up and collapse to save space or take on the go. Regardless of your voice register, the ATH-M50 can provide a nice detailed response with its extended frequency range. It has clean sounding highs and lows and the bass is accurate and deep.
Overall, the style, comfort and sound quality makes this headphone one of the best of it’s class. It’s built sturdy and can last a long time making the ATH-M50 definitely worth it’s value.
- Sturdy build
- Comfortable ear pads
- Nice deep bass
- Not great for mixing
When it comes to audio production, the Sony MDR-7506 is one of the industries leading standards in terms of sound quality, comfort and durability. These headphones are structurally designed for long listening due to it’s lightweight design. It has a nice folding mechanism which provides good portability.
The closed ear padding does a great job isolating sound which reduces any sound bleed coming out from the headphones. Though the padding material creates a lot of heat when wearing it for an extended period of time.
The MDR-7506 sounds very neutral and balanced. It has clear highs and present lows. The bass is clear and easy to hear, though bassheads would prefer more of a heavy and booming sound.
It also comes with a nice long 9.8 foot coiled cord which is handy and allows singers to move around the sound booth freely.
The Sony MDR-7506 is a strong contender in our top headphone list. It provides great value for its price, capable of beating some of the more expensive options out there in the market.
- Foldable design
- Long Cable
- Gets hot when wearing for a long time
The Shure SRH-1540 is our premium recommendation on the list. At this price, you’ll be looking for quality at the highest level.
The SRH-1540 definitely doesn’t disappoint.
The headphones are cushioned with memory foam on the headband. The Alcantara ear cups are very soft and provide exceptional sound isolation. Due to the SRH-1540s being made from aluminum alloy and carbon fiber, construction is solid and it does not feel particularly heavy.
The sound is full and dynamic. You’ll be able to hear all the subtle textures from any high quality audio. The high and mids are natural sounding and the bass is detailed and present without being astoundingly overpowering.
It also includes 2 high quality, detachable cables with an additional pair of ear cups as well. The only gripe would be that both cables are only 6 ft long. Cables of different lengths would be nice. One being shorter for mobile use, and another longer cable for studio recording.
Overall, If you’re looking to invest in an all-round set of headphones to record vocals, mixing and listening to high quality music, you’ll be more than satisfied with the Shure SRH-1540.
- Extremely comfortable
- Tight, musical bass with excellent extension
- Tremendous detail
- Natural, Open midrange
- Included cables are the same length
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO provides different options for users specific for their use. It comes with 3 choices: 32 ohms for everyday use, 80 ohms for mixing and recording and 250 ohms for high power amplifiers.
For studio vocal recordings, 80 ohms would be the recommended choice.
The DT 770 Pro offers a clear and neutral sound with a wide frequency response.The bass is highly accurate and not outstandingly boosted. The prominent level of detail coming from the headphones allows singers to hear every nuance in their vocals. In addition, it produces a decent flat response which is good for tracking and mixing.
The headphones also feature velour ear cups which allows for a comfortable fit during long recording sessions. You can also change the rounded band covering the headphone if it ever wears out or becomes damaged.
In the DT 770 Pro packaging, it comes with a long sturdy cable although it would be much more useful if it were removable.
- Priced reasonably
- Built very study
- Clean balance and neutrality
- Cable is not removable
AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII
The AKG Pro Audio K270 MKII has one of the best sound reproductions in the market. It features a fully enclosed, tight sealed design that provides low signal bleeding into studio microphones. It also has a self-adjusting headband which provides a snug fit for all head sizes. The soft padding and the over-ear design makes it easy to wear for long periods of time.
In the headband, there is a handy auto-mute switch that mutes the audio as you take the headphones off.
The K270 sounds exactly as a good recording headphone should. The highs are extended without feeling too hard. The mids are smooth and warm. The lows are accurate and intense without being too overbearing. Overall the sound is remarkably accurate and flat which is perfect for vocal recording.
In the box it comes with replaceable ear pads which is a nice touch by AKG. For portability, this wouldn’t be the recommended choice because it isn’t foldable.
If you’re looking for really comfortable headphone, with quality sound which you can use in the studio, the AKG Pro K270 MKII would be a great option for you.
- Auto mute feature
- Reasonably priced
- Sealed Design for Low Headphone Bleed
- Self-adjusting headband
- Accurate sound
- Not foldable
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
With the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, you’re looking at a truly priced-to-value pair of headphones. It’s no-frills, modern design focuses on providing sound performance, build and comfort. The headphone is built entirely out of plastic, but it still has a sturdy and durable feel to it.
The ear cups provide a likeable snugness for your ears, making it comfortable to listen on for long hours. It’s very portable since the ear cups can collapse and fold into the headband. In terms of isolation, it does a good job at blocking outside noise from coming in or going out.
The HD 280 Pro sounds terrific as well. The bass is well balanced and clean without sounding too aggressive. The high and mids are precise and detailed. Overall, the sound is accurate and true to the sound.
The included cables have a strong, thick feel to it. Unfortunately, they are not detachable like some of the others on our list like the ATH-M50 or the Beyerdynamic DT 770.
Design-wise, these are not the most stylish headphones compared to others on the list, but with all it’s positive features, it makes a great purchase for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option.
- Accurate, linear sound reproduction
- Soft earpads for a comfortable fit
- Quality sound isolation
- Thick quality cables
- Cables are not detachable
Although LynxPro is not a powerhouse brand in the industry, it has produced one of the best selling headphones in the market. The distinguished LyxPro HAS-10 is strong and economically friendly.
It features a simple looking design that simply just does the job. The product contains a stainless steel skeleton which provides a sturdy and durable feel to it. The ear cups are soft and comfortable while providing good isolation. It also has a 90 degree swivel which is perfect for one eared monitoring.
The sound is favourable but it requires a bit of tweaking with the EQ. The highs and mids are a little flat but have a nice punch to them on the bottom. Some adjustments to the EQ are expected but shouldn’t be a deal breaker due to the budget price.
As a whole, are they just as good or better than other expensive brands? Undeniably not. But we recommend them for anyone looking for a value without breaking the bank.
- Great price
- Quality build
- Plain looking design
- EQ requires a bit of tweaking
Which Headphone is Best for You?
Now that we’ve mentioned our top picks, it’s time for you to decide! If you find a pair that you think might be best for recording vocals, buy them and try it out!
Our choice is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. It’s clean sound quality, industry sound isolation and quality build makes it a fantastic headphone for singers.
The beauty of sound is that the experience is going to be somewhat different person-to-person. Each singer is going to have their own wants and needs that helps with their listening and recording experience. It all comes down to your own preferences.
Try them out and see for yourself what ultimately suits your style.