In this article we’ll look at products from Beyerdynamic, AKG, Sony, and other trusted companies in the audio world.
Some headphone companies create products strictly targeted at the professional audio crowd, some cross over between professional and consumer-grade, and some only deal in the consumer market.
So for this article we’ll be looking at headphones for music production as well as headphones for general music listening.
Best Professional Audio Headphone Brands
Headphones designed for professional audio have some key differences from other markets, sometimes drastically. Their focus is on sound quality, not necessarily on looks. The designs in this category are some of the best headphones in the world, simply because professional audio work demands high quality equipment that you can rely on.
As one of the premier pro audio headphone companies, Beyerdynamic makes some of the best headphones in the world. You’ll find at least one pair in pretty much every pro studio.
They sound fantastic, are well-built, and they offer models that come in all varieties (open, semi-open, and closed) so whatever application you need them for they have something for you.
Audio-Technica’s M50x headphones are practically the industry standard when it comes to closed-back production headphones. They have a very balanced and neutral sound similar to studio monitors, though you will get a slightly exaggerated bass response with them. This is easy to work around, and if anything it stops you from overloading the low end in your tracks just so you can hear it.
The ATH M50x headphones also have an insane frequency range of 15Hz-28kHz! Audio-Technica’s own proprietary drivers provide the most accurate sound reproduction.
They’re great at all phases of the game – tracking, editing, and mixing. These headphones are also collapsable so they can easily fit into your gig bag for convenience. Plus the cable is detachable, so if it gets damaged it can be easily replaced.
Padded earcups make them comfortable for long hours, but be warned that the headphones will outlast the earcups which eventually get flaky and gross from the countless hours spent sweating it out in the studio. This is a small price to pay for perhaps the most reliable and stylish pair of headphones you can buy for music production!
Shure might be most famous for creating some of the best microphones in the business, but they also make some damn good headphones.
After all, a speaker is essentially just a microphone in reverse, right? They have a good price range too, so anyone can find a pair that suits their needs and budget.
They’re closed-back, so they might be slightly better at tracking than mixing. They’re not cheap, but won’t completely break the bank either. Whatever your needs are, these headphones are a solid choice.
Noticing a theme of popular microphone manufacturers also making pro audio headphones?
Sennheiser also offers a range of quality and prices that extends from the top of the audio field to music lovers who prefer the style and quality of studio headphones for everyday music listening.
This comfortable closed-back model is easy on the ears and the top of the head. They sound great and work well in all phases of production.
Audeze are an Orange County, CA-based company specializing in headphones for audiophiles and professional audio engineers. They have an interesting story that dates back to 2008 where the founders of Audeze met with an ex-NASA scientist who had developed an innovative circuit material for spacecraft. This flexible material turned out to be one of the biggest breakthroughs for headphone design.
Their infamous LCD-2 went on to shake up the audio industry with their world’s first planar magnetic, closed-back, and open-back over-ear headphones/in-ears.
They have since put out a range of newer models that improve on the planar magnetic headphone prototype, but it wouldn’t be a complete list without mentioning these infamous cans.
Best Consumer Headphone Brands
Consumer headphones serve a different purpose than professional headphone models. While they can certainly be used in audio and music production, they are more targeted at everyday use.
This could be working out, recreational listening, or even work calls and meetings. But just because they don’t have the “professional” tag doesn’t mean they skip on sound or quality.
The main difference between consumer and pro audio headphones is the frequency response. Studio headphones should have a relatively “flat” response to give you the most balanced perspective on whatever you’re working on.
But consumer headphones designed for casual music listening will generally emphasize the low and high end to sound more “hyped.”
By now, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of the Beats brand. They’re some of the most common headphones in the consumer space.
Created by rap icon Dr. Dre and legendary music executive Jimmy Iovine, their sleek aesthetic and cultural popularity is almost impossible to deny. They have good sound quality, but some feel this isn’t justified by their price point.
When you think of Beats headphones, this is the model that comes to mind. You’ve seen them in countless commercials, others wearing them as they pass by on the street, and athletes using them while they do pre-game warmups.
For Bluetooth headphones, they have a good range and a battery life of almost a full day.
Bose is best known for making great audio products for home theaters, computer speakers, and overall consumer use. They are particularly well known for their noise cancelling technology (which Beats shamelessly ripped off) and they’ve always been at the top of that market.
They also make some popular wireless headphones, great for casual listening that will please even the most selective audiophiles.
There are a lot of Apple wireless Bluetooth headphones to choose from, but it seems like these are the clear favorite. Some pretty next-level engineering went into the design of the AirPods, which is apparent from the moment you first use them.
The coolest feature might be the spatial audio, which gives you truly theatrical soundscapes in two tiny earbuds. They’re water-resistant and easily integrate with your Apple devices. Plus they are a fashion icon – you will look just a bit cooler wearing them compared to any other earbuds.
What are the best headphone brands for music production?
If you are creating music you’ll want to go with the most professional level headphones possible. You can’t go wrong with anything from AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Shure, or Sony.
What are the differences between open, semi-open, closed, and semi-closed back headphones?
The difference really comes down to how they fit around the ear. Closed-back headphones are also referred to as “circumnaural.” These fit tightly around the ear.
This eliminates bleed from the headphones that might get into any hot microphones in proximity. But open-back headphones don’t fit tightly around the ear and some sound is likely to escape.
Check out this article for an in-depth look at the differences.
Who makes the best headphones in the world?
This is an open-ended question. Factors that should affect your buying decisions are your needs, such as professional vs. consumer. Design is also a big deal.
In my personal opinion, it’s AKG. Their models are a little more expensive but the professional sound quality and build is simply outstanding. They run a range of prices too, so you won’t necessarily have to break the bank.