- Looking for the best headphones to record vocals?
- Check out our top picks for closed-back headphones for all budgets
- Also, see the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Music Production
Everyone needs a reliable pair of studio headphones to record vocals. The good news is the online market boasts a range of headphones you can consider.
The bad news is it takes a lot of research to find the perfect headset within your means. No sweat. We’ve got you covered.
There are three things to look out for when you purchase the best headphones for vocal recording:
Simply put, you want headphones without ‘bleed,’ that aren’t too colored, and are comfortable enough to wear for long hours.
This eliminates open-back designs and consumer-centric headphones with hyped responses or skull-rattling bass, and Bluetooth headsets aren’t ideal either, due to lag and connection issues.
That means wired closed-back headphones are ideal to track vocals. In this roundup, we will look at the best headphones for recording vocals.
Lastly, headphones for recording vocals don’t need a flat frequency response. A little coloration is fine and sometimes desirable.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve handpicked seven outstanding headphones for music producers and project studios.
What Are The Best Headphones For Recording Vocals?
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is our top pick for recording vocals. These internet-famous cans are stylish, efficient, and cost-effective – the ultimate all-round headphones.
The Sony MDR-7506 – the ol’ industry standard – is a great choice for modest budgets. It edges out the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO, another trusty workhorse, by a very small margin.
Budgets notwithstanding, consider the Shure SRH1540 for its remarkable build quality, expansive sound stage, and rich sound. It’s our premium pick among closed-back headphones.
Here are the seven best high-quality studio headphones for recording vocals, tracking instruments, and monitoring performances:
- Audio Technica ATH-M50x (Our Pick)
- Sony MDR-7506 (Best Value)
- Shure SRH1540 (Premium Option)
- Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO
- Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
- KRK KNS 8400
- Focal Listen Professional
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range, with deep, accurate bass response.
- Great sound
- Strong build quality
- Super flat frequency response
Audio Technica ATH-M50x has dominated the best-selling lists for years. From critical listening to studio use, this headset is a solid all-around performer.
It strikes a superlative balance with comfort, sound, and pricing. It’s the best set of headphones to record vocals for under $150.
- Closed-back Dynamic Studio Headset
- 45 mm drivers with neodymium magnet
- 15 to 28kHz frequency response
- CCAW Voice Coil
- Weight: 285 grams without cable
The ATH-M50X is available in three color options: white, black, and purple. The headphones are made from plastic yet feel robust.
The lightweight design and folding ear cups make them portable. They ship with a 6.35 mm screw-on adapter and a protective carry pouch.
The M50x has 180-degree swivel ear cups and a detachable cable. It ships with 3 cables – 1.2m and 3m straight, and 1.2-3m coiled.
This gives you options to swap cables as per your needs. You can opt for the ATH-M50xBT, which is the Bluetooth version, but this version can result in lag or latency.
The bulky design, although comfy, can trap heat and cause sweating in warm/hot environments. However, there are no comfort issues if you wear them for extended periods with timely breaks.
The ATH-M50x can work well for recording vocals as it sounds warm and balanced with minimal sound leakage.
The passive isolation is reasonable but won’t block out bandmates, and the frequency response is sufficient; the high frequencies sound pleasing to the ear.
The sound is not strictly neutral, but it sophisticatedly enhances the listening experience while monitoring vocals. The lows are somewhat enhanced and the mid-range is well defined.
Tracks sound full-bodied and it’s easy to differentiate the layers and textures in the sound stage.
For the money, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x can find a spot in every studio. Various rankings and reviews proclaim they are the best closed-back headphones in the price bracket.
We concur, eagerly waiting for a new version with more high-end sparkle. Until then, the ATH-M50x is a fantastic choice for music producers who need over-ears for recording vocals.
2. Sony MDR-7506
The Sony MDR-7506s are exceptionally affordable headphones that give you studio-quality sound and impressive sound isolation.
- Good sound isolation and quality
- Sturdy and reliable build quality
- Padded earpieces make them very comfortable
Too much has been written and said about the Sony MDR-7506. These tried ‘n tested cans have been the go-to headphones for audio professionals for studio work and field recordings.
They are cost-effective and deliver great audio quality. For the price, the MDR-7506 can be a frugal option for vocal recording and mixing.
- Closed-back, over-ear Headset
- 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnet
- 10 to 20kHz frequency response
- Straight cable – 2.98 m (9.8 feet)
- Weight: 230 grams
The Sony MDR 7506 headset, as most audio engineers would agree, has become an (unofficial) industry standard for recording, broadcasting, and mixing.
The headphones ship with a storage pouch and gold-plated Unimatch stereo adaptors (3.5 mm and 6.3 mm).
These headphones are lightweight and fold down into a compact shape for storage. The cost-cutting measures are evident in the plastic build, which is far from premium looking. The exposed screws and metal inserts don’t help the cause either.
The headset has a snug fit and chunky frame. The leakage is negligent and the padding makes it comfy enough for long periods of use and the coiled cable is robust but heavy, which is why you won’t see these too often on the subway.
Also, the cable is not detachable, in case that is a dealbreaker.
We recommend replacing the ear cups with aftermarket options, especially if you want better passive isolation.
The frequency response is not the widest, but it is good enough for studio professionals to record vocals reliably.
As for the sound, the MDR-7506 is relatively flat with some bumps in the mids and highs. The audio reproduction is great for recording vocals due to the livened feel with a reasonably good sound stage.
There is a spike in the treble range that can accent the ‘S’ and ‘T’ sounds in vocals and speech.
Pick the Sony MDR-7506 if you want straightforward cans for recording vocals. The build quality isn’t premium and the frills are lacking, but the headphones tick all the boxes to get your money’s worth.
Given how cheap they are, you could easily grab two of these for the same price as other options in our roundup.
3. Shure SRH1540
The Shure SRH1540 premium closed-back headphones will envelop you in comfort and great sound.
- Incredibly lightweight
- Designed for consistency and performance
If you are in the mood to indulge, these ultra-premium cans deliver exquisite sound quality with excellent materials.
The defined mid-range, soaring highs, and exacting sound reproduction can add some sweet-easy to your workflow.
While they cost a pretty penny, these headphones can work for tracking, monitoring for mixing, and recording vocals.
- Closed-back dual-exit headphones
- Premium materials and craftsmanship
- 5 to 25k Hz frequency response
- 40mm neodymium drivers
- 1.83-meter detachable cable
The Shure SRH1540 is an amalgam of clever design, detail-oriented workmanship, and super-modern materials.
The headphones ship with two sets of cables, a zippered carry case, a 6.3mm gold-plated adapter, a replacement dual-exit cable, and an additional pair of Alcantara ear pads.
Everything is plush, durable, and thoughtfully designed for consistency and performance. The ergonomic frame is crafted using carbon fiber and aircraft-grade aluminum alloy.
These ‘dual exit’ headphones feed two separate drivers with a cable split below the chin.
The cables are thick and beefy, coated with hard-wearing rubber. The earpads boast slow-recovery foam, have plentiful padding, and sit comfortably over the ear.
The fit is subjective and some customer reviews mention that the clamping force is slightly loose.
These cans are incredibly lightweight, making them perfect for extended periods of tracking vocals. However, the lightness affects isolation, which may be an issue for performance monitoring.
That said, the SRH1540 has a glorious stereo picture with deep/wide sound staging.
Sound-wise, the headphones have rich detail with subtleties that enhance your listening experience. The soundstage is expansive with low-end warmth and extended highs.
The top-end sounds pristine, allowing transient details to be picked out in a dense mix.
The Shure SRH1540 means business. These closed-back headphones are on the high-end of the price spectrum, but they are capable of sophisticated monitoring and recording tasks.
Expect superb sound quality, exceptional durability, and a bag of goodies (read: accessories) that add to your money’s worth.
4. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
Designed to exceed the demands of the professional environment, the HD 280 Pro boasts extremely robust construction combined with the sound quality, modular design and aggressive noise isolation.
- Perfect for making critical mixing decisions
- Extreme comfort
- Rugged and durable
We’ve picked an old favorite from Sennheiser’s extraordinary range of headphones – the HD 280 Pro. It’s been a longstanding favorite to monitor tracks and record vocals in a studio, and for good reason.
Sure, there are a few tradeoffs, but these evergreen cans are durable, affordable, and offer excellent value for money.
- Closed-back over-ear headphones
- 8 to 25k Hz frequency response
- 64 Ohm impedance and 113 dB SPL
- Coiled cable (1.3 to 3 meters)
- Weight: 285 grams
The Sennheiser HD 280 PRO nearly made it as our pick for the ultimate budget-conscious studio headset.
These no-frills cans may look utilitarian, but they are incredibly durable and comfy. They ship with a carry pouch, a detachable cable, and a ¼ inch adapter.
The build quality of these headphones is robust. The key components are replaceable, which increases the lifespan. The ear cups have a good seal, tight clamping force, and noise isolation that’s ideal for recording vocals.
The rotating ear cups fold flat for storage, but the headphones are a tad too bulky for non-studio use.
The ear-cups are padded lavishly, resulting in a tight seal and respectable background- noise exclusion. The HD 280 Pro won’t cause fatigue after a few hours of use.
However, it can heat up the ears or cause sweating if you don’t take timely breaks. Sound-wise, the ambient noise isolation is excellent and there is little-to-no bleed while recording vocals.
The output is linear with mid-range heavy sound reproduction.
The bass response is thumpy but doesn’t detract from tracking vocals. The mid-range response is particularly great and the treble performance is well-balanced.
The sound stage is wide and you can differentiate instruments as you record and monitor vocals.
The Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones boast excellent pedigree, a clean aesthetic, and countless positive customer reviews.
We recommend these versatile headphones for recording vocals on a budget. They sound balanced, are easy on the pocket, and can double up as a backup mixing headset. They are also pretty good for out-of-studio use.
5. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
The DT 770 PRO headphones remain the top choice for music producers, sound technicians and broadcast users and are a firmly established piece of equipment in studios worldwide.
- Extremely comfortable
- Replaceable ear pads
- Tight bass response
Beyerdynamic has set many a benchmark for detail, transparency, and comfort with exceptional headphones. The DT 770 PRO is undoubtedly a feather in their cap.
Consider this time-tested professional studio headphone; it will not disappoint. It’s durable, super-comfy, and has the requisite sound quality.
For what it’s worth, it’s the one many of us use regularly.
- Closed-back Wired Headphones
- 5 to 35k Hz frequency response
- Non-detachable straight cable – 3 meter
- Strong noise isolation
- Weight: 270 grams (without cable)
The German-made DT 770 PRO reconciles luxury with affordability. It features hard plastic cups, a wide headband with metal parts, and large velour ear pads.
That’s high-wearing comfort at its best. Even the cable is well-protected with a thick layer of rubber.
The headphones have a straight cable with a 3.5mm TRS jack connector. The cable is not removable, but it’s three meters long, which is sufficient for studio use.
The headphones ship with a drawstring storage bag, product manual, and a 6.35 mm jack adapter.
You can use these for hours without breaking a sweat or feeling fatigued. The super cushy ear pads make these headphones perfect for recording vocals and long monitoring periods.
The ear pads don’t trap heat like some of the other headsets with “cost-effective” ear pads.
You can swap or remove them for cleaning and replace them when they wear out. The DT 770 PRO blocks enough outside noise and the passive isolation can keep bandmates at bay.
In terms of sound, the headset can handle whatever your throw at it.
The sound quality is clear and detailed with clean highs and some low-end punch. The impulse response is top-notch and the sounds are crispy and well-defined.
The mega-wide frequency response and neutral listening environment are great for monitoring vocals.
We recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO for aspiring musicians and producers who need reliable cans to record vocals.
Pick the 80 Ω variant for balanced performance and the high impedance 250 Ω variant if you have the gear to drive them, i.e. a headphone amplifier.
Either way, expect excellent value for the money you invest.
6. KRK KNS 8400
KRK has always been focused solely on accurate monitoring. The KNS 8400 headphones, with their ability to reveal exactly what you have on the tracks, are an ideal choice for critical listening.
- Great sound quality
- Value for money
KRK is famous for affordable studio monitors, but they also offer two models of headphones for studio recording and monitoring.
While the performance is great for the price, people tend to gloss over the KNS 8400 and opt for more established headphone brands.
We think they are worth considering; more so if you pair them with KRK monitors.
- Closed-back circumaural headphones
- 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnet
- 5 to 23kHz frequency response
- Detachable OFC cable
- Weight: 247 grams without cable
This all-black pair of headphones with yellow accents is durable and easy to handle.
They are made from sturdy plastic with steel rails to adjust the headband. The headset feels comfortable to wear for hours with short breaks, with or without glasses.
The KNS 8400 ships with a 2.5-meter detachable cable, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a carry pouch, and a screw-on 6.35 mm adapter.
These headphones feature dedicated volume control on a separate extension cable, which is a unique and handy add-on.
The memory foam ear cups sport leatherette wrapping and rotate 90-degrees for packing purposes. The speakers feature 40mm, drivers, with neodymium magnets.
At 230g, the KNS 8400 is lightweight, provides good isolation, and is comfortable for long sessions.
Durability isn’t an issue as you can replace the ear pads to extend the life of the headset. As for the sound, the headphones are voiced uniquely, similar to the V6 or other KRK studio monitors.
If you haven’t encountered them, the KRK coloration can be an acquired taste.
These cans may not be right for you if you don’t enjoy the sound of KRK monitors. But if you do, these headphones are accurate enough – sonically speaking – to record vocals.
We think these closed-back headphones work well for recording vocals, tracking instruments, or mixing.
They may not be the best studio headphones, but the sound and build quality are great for the price. The inline volume control on a single-sided detachable cable is also a big plus.
7. Focal Listen Professional
Sleek and stylish, Focal Listen Pro headphones are the long-awaited successors to the Spirit Pros.
- Precise, pleasant, and expansive soundstage
This latest addition to the ‘Professional’ series replaced the Focal Spirit Pros that had some issues with the fit.
However, the new addition has the same versatility with a more comfortable design. Invest in one of these to experience optimal sound quality and supreme comfort.
However, great things come at a great price, roughly $300 in this case.
- Closed-back circumaural Headphones
- 5 to 35k Hz frequency response
- Two detachable cables – 5m coils and 1.2m straight
- Strong noise isolation
- Weight: 280 grams (without cable)
Focal Listen Professional (FLP) are foldable, closed-back headphones in an elegant black-red design.
They ship with a hard-shell case, a Velcro cable tie, two cables (1.4m straight and 5m coiled), as well as 3.5 and 6.35 mm adapters.
The microfiber cushions have memory foam padding and feel great to touch. The silicon padded headband is made of robust but flexible plastic.
The clamping force is firm but comfortable once you adjust it to the optimal size and the earpads and cables are replaceable.
The overall fit is comfortable and provides good isolation. Add to that the lightweight design and you can easily sport these headphones for long hours of mixing and monitoring.
As for the sound, the FLP is a great headset to record vocals.
The headphones have a deep frequency range and are capable of being riotously loud. The soundstage is precise, pleasant, and expansive , especially for a closed-back design.
The sound delivery has loads of clarity and detail and reduces transparent audio across the spectrum.
The lows sound particularly tight and rich. The lower mids are a little bit forward and the highs have a good extension but do not sound piercing to the ear.
The stellar sound isolation ensures tracks won’t bleed from the headphone into the mic when recording vocals.
The Focal Listen Professional Headphones score big on sound, comfort, and isolation.
We view it as an admirable all-around set of headphones for critical listening, mixing, and tracking vocals or other instruments.
The snug fit won’t cause any heat or fatigue issues if you take a breather every few hours and keep listening levels in check.
Should I record vocals with headphones?
You should record vocals with headphones so you can listen to backing tracks clearly for reference.
Headphones allow you to record vocals without mic bleed, which happens when the mic picks up other tracks or instruments.
Therefore, it will be easier to separate vocal tracks and edit them during the mixing process.
Are open-back headphones better for recording vocals?
Generally, closed-back headphones are recommended for recording vocals.
This type of headphones has good isolation and a tight seal that prevents backing tracks from bleeding into the microphone.
Semi-open back and open-back headphones can only be used for recording vocals in specific environments.
They don’t have an airtight seal and create a more natural listening environment for the vocalist/singer. But it can be very tricky to prevent mic bleed.
Which headphone is best for voice recording?
Any circumaural, closed-back headphones with a relatively neutral or accurate response will work for voice recording.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, Sennheiser HD 280 PRO, and Sony MDR7506 are among the best headphones for voice recording.
If you can extend your budget, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is an excellent mid-range headset for studio monitoring and tracking.