Looking to invest in a good pair of headphones for voice recording? Looking to add more gear to your home studio? We know its an incredibly crowded market out there with numerous models to choose from. So here’s a timesaver:
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are a great set choice for recording vocals. These headphones offer
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 10 models that are more than worthy of your consideration. We’ll explain everything you’ll need to know about buying the perfect headphone for recording.
They’ll each have their specific pros and cons, which will help you make a more informed decision when choosing your next pair of professional studio 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
- KRK KNS 8400
- LyxPro HAS-10
How we chose the best headphones for recording vocals
Usually, higher-end headphones are needed for music production such as recording and mixing. The recent proliferation of high-quality, low-cost headphones has disrupted the headphone market and changed the way consumers think about pricing. In the past, headphones were generally seen as a luxury item, and the price tag reflected that. However, new companies are offering high-quality headphones at much lower prices, making them more accessible to a wider range of consumers. This has led to a reconsideration of what is considered “high-end” and has opened up the market to a whole new group of customers.
Sweetened vs. Flat Frequency Response
Every studio headphone on the market 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 tracking vocals, frequencies in the sound shouldn’t be emphasized too much as the vocals should be true to what’s being recorded similar to headphones for recording voiceovers. 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 one set of headphones
for multiple hours can be quite uncomfortable when used for recording long sessions.
Larger ear cups provide a solid fit that allows good sound isolation. The fabric paddings 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.
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 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 for vocal recording are made with strong materials for transit. Which leads to our next point….
Before you invest in the best set of quality headphones, you want to make sure it offers the best material and strength. Unfortunately, stronger materials usually come with a heavier weight. Many lightweight 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 monitor headphones for vocals, 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 high-end headphone will deliver longer cables 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 home recording.
Should you wear headphones when recording vocals?
Some singers prefer to listen back to their vocals using a pair of studio headphones, as it allows them to hear their own voice more clearly and stay in tune with the music. We see many singers only wear one side of the headphones to help them hear themselves naturally, while also hearing themselves in the monitor with the other ear. This can help the singer feel more grounded and comfortable during a recording session, but can cause some noise bleeding into the microphone
Others find that wearing headphones makes them feel claustrophobic in their recording environment and prefer to record without them. We often don’t suggest that because the music that should be played in the headphones are now being picked up by the microphone. If wearing closed-back headphones are too uncomfortable, we suggest wearing in-ear monitors instead as it’s less obtrusive and feels more naturally in the ears. We recommend the Shure SE215 for the perfect in-ear monitors.
What kind of headphones are best for recording vocals?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best studio headphones for recording vocals will vary depending on the specific needs of the vocalist. However, some general tips that can be followed include choosing headphones that have a flat frequency response and that are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the headphones do not leak sound, as this can interfere with the recording process.
How much should I spend on studio headphones?
The right pair of headphones for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of music you produce, the quality of sound you need, and your budget. In general, however, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $1,000 on a good pair of studio headphones.
If you’re a singer that is looking to use your headphones for your recording jobs or if you plan on mixing professionally as well , then your budget should be a little higher to get the best quality sound. On the other hand, if you’re an enthusiast that is just starting out, we recommend headphones that aren’t too expensive but gets the job done.
Also, what kind of music do you plan on listening to? Every headphone has a different sound profile that can be quite different from each other. Some studio headphones focuses more on bass, others look for a more netural sound. If you are looking for high-end studio headphones that will provide great sound quality, you will need to spend a bit more money. However, if you are on a tight budget or are simply looking for a decent pair of headphones for general listening, you can get away with spending less with these.
Should I get open-back headphones or closed-back headphones for recording vocals?
Closed-back Studio Headphones Are Ideal
For any recording, sound isolation is extremely important to prevent sounds from passing through either direction. That’s why closed back headphones would be the best type of headphones for recording vocals. The best closed-back headphones can effectively seal sounds around the ear while providing a nice comfortable fit for long tracking vocals.
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, this headphone 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 ATH-M50x also can rotate up to 90 degrees for easy, one ear monitoring. One of my favorite feature is that these studio headphones is one of the most portable ones in the market. It can conveniently fold up and collapse to save space or take on the go. So if you’re looking for a good set of headphones for mobile recording, the quality of these headphones would make the ATH-M50x a great selection.
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 studio headphone one of the best of it’s class. It’s built sturdy and can last a long time making the ATH-M50x 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 designed for long listening due to it’s lightweight design. It has a nice folding mechanism which provides good portability.
The closed ear padding perfect for vocal monitoring due to it’s ability to isolate sound very well. You can record vocals without mic bleed coming from these headphones. One disadvantage with that would be the heat that it creates though the padding material when wearing it for an extended period of time.
The MDR-7506 sounds very neutral and balanced when you listen to your recording tracks. 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 recording studio freely.
The Sony MDR-7506 is a strong contender in our list of top headphone for recording vocals. They also get an extra shout out for being great mixing headphones too. 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. It definitely doesn’t disappoint.
They feature cushioned memory foam on the headband. The Alcantara ear pads are very soft and provide exceptional sound isolation. Due to the SRH-1540s being made from aluminum alloy and carbon fiber, the construction is solid and it does not feel particularly heavy. The sound is full and dynamic as well.
You’ll also be able to hear all the subtle textures from any high quality audio when you’re working in the studio. 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
- High price
- 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 headphone amplifiers. For studio vocal recordings, 80 ohms would be the recommended choice.
Also, the DT 770 PRO studio headphones feature one of the best sounding ones in the market. It 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 Beyerdynamic 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 DT 770 PRO also feature velour ear pads 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 neutral sound
- Cable is not removable
AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII
The AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII has one of the nicest sound reproductions in the market. It features a fully enclosed, tight sealed design that provides low signal bleeding during recording. 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 K271 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 K271 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. These headphones designed 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 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
KRK KNS 8400
The KRK KNS 8400 is known to be an extremely affordable pair of studio monitors that offer high versatility. But while the performance is great for the price, many people tend make the KNS 8400 and afterthought and go for more established brands. However, we think they are definitely worth considering; especially if you pair them with KRK monitors like these.
The KNS 8400 features a very flat frequency response making it a great monitor headphone but not a consumer one. So if you’re looking to use these for leisure, it wouldn’t be the best choice.
Regarding the strength of the KNS 8400, the build is almost all plastic, except from the headband adjustment mechanism on the side, which includes steel rails. The ear cups can rotate 90 degrees which makes it great for storing or folding flat on-the-go.
One really cool feature that sets these KRK’s apart from many others is the dedicated volume remote attached to the cable which also serves as a cable extension. If you like the cable with volume controls attached to it and is something you’d commonly use, we recommend you to try out the KNS 8400.
- Comfortable in it’s class
- Handy volume control on the cable
- Soft earpads for a long comfortable fit
- Flat frequency response making them fit for mixing
- Low on bass, very neutral and flat sound
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 the best of both worlds between quality and price.
- 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 over-ear design 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 use headphones for different sound profiles during their sessions. Each will have their own wants and needs that will help with their listening and recording experience. Whether you’re buying the best closed back headphones for a professional studio or a home studio, it all comes down to your own preferences.
Try them out and see for yourself what ultimately suits your style.