11 Best Headphones For Mixing and Mastering
Headphones are an important part of any music producer’s toolkit. Unlike monitor speakers, the sound won’t be colored by the room’s acoustics. But there are more advantages!
Mixing headphones can reveal even the smallest details in your mix. They allow you to hear your tracks clearly and make critical decisions while sculpting your mix to perfection!
Today we review the best headphones for mixing and mastering! Whether you’re an experienced producer or just starting out, these headphones will give you the quality and clarity you need to make your music professionally polished.
Let’s dive right in!
Before we start, our top picks are evaluated based on the following factors:
- Comfort (weight, clamping Force, padding, etc.): You should be able to wear them over extensive periods.
- Frequency response curve: They should be able to reproduce your tracks without overemphasizing or attenuating frequencies.
- Impedance: They should have a high enough impedance to be able to deliver superb sound reproduction.
- Sensitivity: They should be able to deliver high-quality sound without distortion
Based on these, I found the Sennheiser HD 600 to be the best headphones for mixing and mastering.
They have a wide frequency response and high sensitivity. You’ll be able to hear even the smallest details in your audio.
Furthermore, they also have a comfortable, open-back design that won’t fatigue your ears after long mixing sessions.
Frankly, the Sennheiser HD 600 should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a top-notch pair of reference headphones to use when mixing and mastering.
Read our full review below!
At a Glance: Our Pick of The Best Mixing Headphones
- Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 600
- Runner-up: Audio-Technica ATH R70x
- Best Value: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
- Best Premium Pick: Shure SRH1840
- Best Budget Pick: Sony MDR-7506
- Best For Beginners: Audio-Technica ATH M40x
- Best Closed-back: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
- Best Comfort: AKG K701
- Best Wireless Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Best under $200: Sennheiser HD 560 S
- Best under $100: AKG K245
Sennheiser HD 600 – Best Overall
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 12 – 40,500 Hz | Impedance: 300 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 42 mm | Weight: 9.17 oz (260g)
Sennheiser is a company that needs no introduction. For decades, they have been at the forefront of innovation in the audio industry.
The Sennheiser HD 600 headphones are no exception. These cans are designed for mixing and provide a neutral response that is perfect for producers who want to hear even the slightest nuances in their music.
Furthermore, the HD 600 is comfortable to wear for long durations, and the detachable cable can easily be replaced if it ever gets damaged.
But that’s not all.
Each part of the headphones is replaceable. If something breaks, you can simply replace that part instead of having to buy a new pair of headphones.
Speaking of durability, the HD 600 is built like a tank. The premium plastic build is of high quality and it’s not as flimsy as it can be on competing headphones such as the AKG K701 or the Beyerdynamic DT880.
So how do they sound?
The sound quality is impeccable and they provide a clear and accurate representation of what is being played back.
This is beneficial while mixing and mastering because it allows you to hear your tracks uncolored, without any attenuated or enhanced frequencies.
There is nothing such as an entirely flat frequency response. It always will be some minor enhancements and reductions of frequencies across the spectrum.
With that being said, the HD 600 has a slight mid-bass enhancement at 100 Hz.
Furthermore, the low-end is smooth with a nice roll-off at 80 Hz, and the warm midrange delivers an engaging vibrance. The high frequencies are smooth without a lack of energy.
Overall, the Sennheiser HD 600 headphones are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a pair of mixing headphones that will provide them with years of trouble-free use.
- Neutral frequency response suitable for critical listening
- Built with replaceable parts
- Comfortable earpads allow for long-time mixing sessions
- Slight mid-bass enhancement at 100 Hz
Audio-Technica ATH R70x – Runner-up
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 5 – 40,000 Hz | Impedance: 470 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 45 mm | Weight: 7.41 oz (210g)
Audio-Technica’s flagship open-back model, the ATH-R70x, is one of the most accurate and transparent headphones available.
Its wide frequency response and spacious soundstage provide an immersive listening experience, while its comfortable design and build quality make it a great choice for long listening sessions.
Besides, the high impedance rating of 470 ohms makes them ideal for use with professional audio equipment, as they can handle high levels of output without distortion.
The ATH-270x feature several innovative design elements.
Perhaps most notable is the 3D wing support system which provides a secure and comfortable fit even during extended wear.
The ear cups themselves are made from lightweight materials and sit snuggly against the head, further enhancing the listening experience.
Now let’s talk about sound quality.
The ATH R70x has a wide frequency response that extends from 5Hz all the way up to 40kHz. I found the high-end frequencies to be extremely crisp, and suitable for reference listening.
Moreover, the mid-range is well balanced, and the low end has good extension without being boomy.
However, they are not without their flaws.
I have larger ears and the earcups are on the smaller side of the spectrum. Instead of completely covering my ears, I had a clamping pressure ON them.
This won’t be an issue if you have normal-sized ears. Still, I wish Audio-Technica included a second pair of larger earcups, similar to the Beyerdynamic DT 1770.
Additionally, the high impedance makes them less ideal as consumer-graded headphones. They’re designed for studio use and deliver the best sound when paired with a headphone amp or an audio interface.
- Well-balanced sound
- Lightweight design
- High impedance rating of 470 ohms
- Affordable without sacrificing any quality
- Best used with a headphone amp or an audio interface with some built-in amplification
- The build is not as robust as other similarly priced headphones
- Small earcups
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro – Best Value
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Frequency Response: 5 – 35.000 Hz | Impedance: 250 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 45 mm | Weight: 9.52 oz (270g)
If you’re looking for a pair of tough-as-nails headphones that will withstand the rigors of professional use, look no further than the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro.
Unlike the Audio-Technica ATH R70x, these ‘phones are built like a tank. The robust metal frame and the soft velour padding protect your ears from fatigue.
I really appreciate the velour padding – it’s much more breathable compared to leather and helps to prevent sweat build-up. Furthermore, the fabric allows air to pass through which gives them a more natural sound.
The sound quality is also excellent, with clear highs and punchy bass that will please even the most discerning listener.
The DT 770 Pro shine in the mid-range frequencies. They deliver presence and clarity without sounding harsh or sibilant.
So what about the downsides?
As with other models from Beyerdynamic, there is a pretty significant emphasis on the higher frequencies. This could be somewhat mitigated by using an equalizer to squash the overemphasis by 10 dB at 10-18 kHz.
In addition, the DT 770 Pro features a 2.9 m cable.
I found this to be excessive as you normally sit right in front of your laptop while mixing. On the other hand, this is an excellent length if you’re using them in a recording studio.
In short, if you need a dependable pair of headphones for demanding applications, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro should be at the top of your list.
- Built like a tank
- You can swap ear pads with other headphones on the DT series
- Despite its rugged construction, the DT770 Pro is surprisingly comfortable to wear for long periods
- Bulky and heavy construction
- Unnecessarily long cable
- Strong emphasis on high frequencies
Shure SRH1840 – Best Premium Pick
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 10-30.000 Hz | Impedance: 65 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 40 mm | Weight: 9.45 oz (268 g)
When it comes to professional-grade headphones, the Shure SRH1840s are in a class of their own.
With their superior sound quality and comfortable fit, they’re perfect for anyone who wants to take their music listening experience to the next level.
Although they come with a hefty price tag, the SRH1840s are definitely worth the investment. Why? They offer superior sound quality across the frequency spectrum.
This world-class audio reproduction delivers a well-defined bass, along with a rich mid-range with tons of presence. Additionally, the clear transients are crisp without harshness.
The result is a truly exceptional listening experience that will satisfy even the most demanding audiophile.
Even if they’re designed for referencing, I did find the sound characteristics to be quite musical.
Rather than dry or sterile, the SRH1840s have a spacious, airy sound that is well suited for consumer-grade listening as well.
In addition, they’re extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods, making them ideal for long studio sessions or marathon listening sessions.
They offer just enough clamping force to keep them secure on your head. Still, they won’t leave you with a sore head after wearing them for hours on end.
Also, the breathable velour padding means that you won’t have to worry about sweat build-up
To sum things up, Shure SRH1840 are a great option if you’re looking for a top-of-the-line pair of referencing headphones that will take your critical listening and mixing applications to the next level.
- Clear and articulate sound
- Can reproduce a wide range of frequencies with accuracy and detail
- Lightweight and robust in design
- The hefty price tag
Sony MDR-7506 – Best Budget Pick
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Frequency Response: 10 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 24 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 40 mm | Weight: 8.11 oz (230 g)
When it comes to professional-grade headphones, the Sony MDR-7506 is a classic.
Released in the early 90s, the MDR-7506 has been used by everyone from music producers to sound engineers to podcasters. And for good reason: the MDR-7506 is comfortable, has a wide frequency response, and is rugged enough to withstand years of use.
30+ years later – they still hold up.
The first thing you’ll notice about the MDR-7506 is its slim design. This sets them apart from other studio headphones with larger earcups and more padding.
Even so, the MDR-750 is comfortable to wear for extensive periods.
The metal extension sliders allow you to adjust the size of the headphones, making them a great fit on both large and small heads.
Besides, the foldable design makes them easy to carry around when commuting or traveling. It’s fair to say that they’re a great option for music producers on the go!
So, what about sound characteristics?
These headphones have a wide frequency response, meaning they can reproduce a wide range of frequencies accurately. The result is a sonic signature that is clear and detailed.
From deep bass notes to high-pitched melodies, you’ll be able to hear everything clearly with these headphones.
I really enjoy the bass as it’s not overly exaggerated and provides a smooth, yet deep sound. The mids and highs are detailed, so you can hear the instrumentations in your tracks clearly.
However, I did find the vocal reproduction to lack some clarity compared to some other mixing headphones like the HD 600 and the ATH-M50x.
Still, those models are doubled in price, and the audio quality of the MDR-7506 is pretty darn good at this price range.
Overall, Sony’s MDR-7506 is your best bet if you’re looking for a good pair of mixing headphones at an extremely affordable price.
- Neutral audio reproduction
- Offers an incredible value
- The coiled cable ensures a tangle-free mixing session
- Somewhat flimsy build
- The fake leather pads feel a bit cheap
Audio-Technica ATH M40x – Best For Beginners
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Frequency Response: 15 – 24.000 Hz | Impedance: 35 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 40 mm | Weight: 8.5 oz (240 g)
Audio-Technica is a well-known audio company that produces high-quality audio gear, and the ATH M40x headphones are no exception. They’re designed to be used as professional studio monitoring, and they deliver clear accurate sound.
Let’s start by discussing their design!
The ATH M40x has a comfortable, over-ear design that is perfect for long listening sessions. In addition, the ear cups rotate and swivel to provide a snug fit, and the headband is adjustable to ensure a comfortable, customized fit. Even if they’re pretty light, they feel rugged and should be able to stand up to years of use.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of synthetic ear pads. How come? They retain heat and can get quite hot and sweaty when mixing for long periods.
Still, you won’t find any mixing headphones with leather or velour pads at this price point.
So how does the ATH M40x sound?
The frequency response isn’t exactly flat, and the headphones emphasize treble notes more than Sennheiser’s HD 600. Still, they deliver crispness without sounding too bright.
Moreover, there is a noticeable dip in the midrange frequencies that you might want to even out with an EQ.
The reproduction of low-end frequencies is smooth, and it won’t drown the other instruments in your mix.
Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH M40x is an excellent choice for mixing engineers who don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for a high-quality pair of studio headphones.
They offer clear sound reproduction and a comfortable fit, all at a very reasonable price.
- Sturdy build
- The adjustable headband ensures a customizable fit
- Fairly priced
- Emphasizes high-frequency sounds
- The included soft fabric pouch isn’t very protective
- No additional controls
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro – Best Closed-back
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Frequency Response: 5 – 40.000 Hz | Impedance: 250 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 45 mm | Weight: 13.7 oz (388 g)
If you’re looking for a pair of studio-class reference headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro is a great option.
These closed-back headphones have a wide soundstage and are very comfortable to wear, even for long mixing sessions.
They’re not the most subtle headphones on the market. In fact, their appearance is bulky and they weigh 13.7 oz (388 g). Besides, the aluminum housing and adjustable support bars make them feel secure and stable, even when you’re moving around.
The big ear cups mean that they’re comfortable to wear for long periods. Sure, the heavy design can wear on your neck but it didn’t bother me.
Additionally, the package includes two sets of swappable ear cups (velour, and leather).
What about the sonic signature?
Overall, the DT 1770 Pro’s have a neutral sound signature.
What struck me the first was the excellent bass response. It’s not overblown and has just the right amount of punch.
Surprisingly, there are no over-emphasizes of the higher low-end frequencies. This prevents the low-end to get boomy as on other similarly priced headphones.
Moreover, The treble is crisp, without being harsh. The mids are clear and present, without sounding muddy or congested.
All in all, these features give the DT 1770 Pro a slightly warm sound that I find well-balanced and detailed.
Overall, the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro is an excellent choice for those looking to get into high-quality audio without spending a fortune. They offer great comfort, superb sound quality, and a wide soundstage that will bring your music to life.
- Superb low-end reproduction
- Provides a wider soundstage than other closed-back headphones
- Offer tons of value at this price range
- A real heavyweight at 13.7 oz (388 g)
- The clamping force is a bit excessive if you have a bigger head
AKG K701 – Best Comfort
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 10 – 39.800 Hz | Impedance: 62 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 50 mm | Weight: 8.3 oz (235 g)
When it comes to over-ear, open-back headphones, the AKG K701s are often hailed as some of the best in the business. And for good reason too – they boast an expansive and detailed soundscape that is perfect for audiophiles and music lovers alike.
The AKG K701 are certainly a sight to behold. They are large and bulky, but that is to be expected with over-ear headphones.
The ear cups are well-padded and incredibly comfortable, even after hours of usage. In fact, they are among the most comfortable headphones I’ve tested!
Why? Because of their pillow-liked ear pads, minimal pressure, and lightweight design.
Even after hours of wear, the K701s never felt uncomfortable. And because they’re so light, they don’t put any unnecessary strain on your head or neck.
If you’re looking for a comfortable pair of headphones to use for long stretches, the AKG K701s are a great option.
As far as sound quality goes, the AKG K701 does not disappoint.
For starters, they have a very accurate sound reproduction. This means that you’ll be able to hear all the details in your music, whether it’s the subtle nuances of a piano melody or the thundering bass of an EDM track.
- Unmatched comfort
- Transparent sound
- The linear midrange reproduction
- Somewhat sharp high-frequency reproduction
Bose QuietComfort 35 II – Best Wireless Headphones
Although wireless headphones shouldn’t be your top choice when mixing, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is an exception for those who value a cordless setup.
One of the best features of these headphones is the noise-canceling technology.
They do an excellent job of blocking out unwanted noise, so you can focus on your music. The battery life is also impressive, lasting up to 20 hours on a single charge.
The QuietComfort 35 II is well-designed and comfortable to wear for long sessions.
Truth be told, they sound great for a pair of BlueTooth headphones. The sound is rich and detailed which makes music and movies sound more immersive.
The frequency response isn’t exactly flat and it’s more in line with consumer headphones, rather than professional-graded.
It’s only a minor enhancement in the low-end, but it doesn’t sound boomy or muddy. The mid-range is clear with a lot of presence, making vocals sound full and crisp.
What really separates the QuietComfort 35 II from a pair of reference headphones is the significant spike in the treble frequencies. It doesn’t add any harshness but it’s something to be aware of if you decide to use these as mixing headphones.
Lastly, the soundstage is decent but it doesn’t compare to the Sennheiser’s HD 600 or Audio-Technica’s ATH R70x. It’s a little more congested and feels slightly narrower.
- Impressive noise cancellation
- Extremely comfortable
- Customizable controls
- The frequency response curve isn’t flat
Sennheiser HD 560 S – Best under $200
Quick Specs – Type: On-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 6 – 38.000 Hz | Impedance: 120 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 38 mm | Weight: 8.46 oz (240 g)
When it comes to audio quality, few brands can compete with Sennheiser. The German company has been making high-end headphones for decades, and the HD 560 S is no exception.
These headphones are designed for reference listening and have a very accurate sound reproduction. They are also very relaxed to wear and have a well-built and sturdy construction.
The HD 560 S headphones have a very neutral and balanced sound signature with an expansive frequency response.
The bass is tight and punchy without getting boomy. Moreover, the did-frequencies are transparent and the vocal reproductions get incredibly detailed and present. Also, the highs are smooth and extended without chiming too bright.
Honestly, I didn’t expect such a wide soundstage. All in all, it’s what makes these headphones such a great option for reference listening or critical listening.
So what about the downsides?
One downside is the clamping force. This can be uncomfortable for some users, especially if worn for a longer duration.
Additionally, the ear cups on open-back headphones are not very well-sealed. The result? There are a lot of sound leakages which means that your music will be heard by bystanders.
On the other hand, you probably won’t open up a mixing session in a library or another quiet public place.
Finally, the bass response on the HD 560S easily gets boomy. This can result in an overall muddy-sounding experience that can be overwhelming at times.
Still, the Sennheiser HD 560 S headphones are an excellent choice for anyone looking for an inexpensive high-quality pair of reference headphones.
- Balanced sound profile
- Impressive stereo imaging
- Affordable audiophile headphones
- Somewhat boomy low-end response
- Might have too much clamping force for some users
AKG K245 – Best under $100
Quick Specs – Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Frequency Response: 15 – 25.000 Hz | Impedance: 32 Ω | Driver type: Dynamic | Driver Diameter: 50 mm | Weight: 10.4 oz (295 g)
When it comes to headphones, AKG is a name that always comes to mind. The company has been in business for over 70 years, and they have a reputation for making high-quality products. The K245 headphones are no exception.
The AKG K245 will provide both style and substance. With their sleek, minimalist design, they’re the most elegant option here.
But it’s not all about looks; these headphones also pack a serious punch when it comes to sound quality.
The K245s have a wide frequency response range, from 15 Hz – 25 kHz. This assures that you’ll be able to hear all the fragments in your music, whether it’s the subtlety of the high frequencies or the thump of the low bass notes.
In addition, these pairs also have a remarkably low impedance rating of 32 ohms, meaning they’ll work well with a variety of different devices.
How do they feel?
The build quality of the K245 feels solid and durable, which is reassuring considering their relatively affordable price tag.
Furthermore, these innovative headphones feature two folding joint mechanisms that allow them to be folded up 180 degrees vertically, making them extremely easy to transport and store.
The sound profile of the K245s is accurate across the entire frequency range. The bass is tight and punchy, while the mids are natural and clear. The highs are detailed and extended without sounding intimidating or artificial.
However, I did find the representation of the upper high frequencies a bit mild. They’re not as bright and sibilant as on the more expensive model AKG K812.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be aware of when mixing.
- Detachable spiral cable
- Sleek and timeless design
- Satisfying and dynamic low-end response
- The attenuation of the upper high frequencies leads to an uncritical representation of sibilants
Buying Guide – Choosing The Best Mixing Headphones
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Headphones
When it comes to mixing audio, having the most neutral sound quality is of the utmost importance.
Open-back headphones allow for a more natural sound? Why? They don’t constrict the sound waves as closed-back headphones do.
This gives you a truer representation of the frequencies you’re hearing, making it easier to mix with accuracy.
Even so, below is a breakdown of both headphone enclosures!
Open-back headphones have acoustic vents built into their ear cups. These vents allow air to flow in and out, which helps to create a more natural and realistic soundscape.
This type of headphone enclosure is typically used by audio engineers and music producers. As mentioned above, they provide a wider soundstage and greater detail than closed-back headphones.
While open-back headphones offer many benefits, they also have some drawbacks.
First, the open-back design tends to leak sound. If you’re trying to keep your music to yourself, they’re not the best choice.
Consequently, they also don’t do as well at blocking out external noise. If you’re trying to use them in a noisy environment, you might not be able to hear your music as well.
On the other hand, closed-back headphones seal the ear cup around the ear, providing isolation from external noise.
This design also helps to prevent sound from leaking out of the headphones, which can be distracting to others nearby.
They also tend to have a more focused sound with enhanced bass response, making them great for gaming or watching movies.
Closed-back headphones are not without their disadvantages.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that they can adversely affect the frequency response of the audio. Since the closed-back design traps sound waves inside the ear cups, the sound can become muddy and less clear.
Unfortunately, sound waves are not the only thing to get trapped inside the ear cups. The closed-back design is unbreathable and traps heat and moisture, which can make your ears hot and sweaty.
When it comes to headphones, there are a few key specifications that you should keep in mind when evaluating options. Let’s talk about these specs and what they describe!
Frequency response is a measure of how well the headphones can reproduce different frequencies. This is especially vital when it comes to reference/mixing headphones.
You want to be able to hear all frequencies evenly, without any colorization.
Headphones with a good frequency response will be able to accurately reproduce low, mid, and high frequencies. So how should you evaluate the frequency response?
By looking at the frequency response curve!
This curve displays how well a pair of headphones can reproduce different frequencies of sound.
The horizontal axis represents frequency, while the vertical axis represents amplitude.
A flat response means that all frequencies are reproduced at the same level, while a peak or dip in the curve indicates that certain frequencies are overemphasized or attenuated.
Some headphones are designed to emphasize certain frequencies. For example, bass-heavy headphones such as Beats by Dre have an increased low-frequency response. This can make music sound “punchier” or more exciting.
You could take an entire class about impedance!
But in short, impedance is a measure of resistance to the flow of electrical current. On headphones, it’s a measure of how much the driver (the part that produces sound) resists the current from your music player (usually your audio interface)
Higher-impedance headphones require more power to produce the same volume as lower-impedance headphones.
So what does that means?
It means they’re not well suited for use with portable music players like smartphones, which have limited battery life and output power.
As a rule of thumb, high-impedance headphones such as Audio-Technica’s ATH R70x (over 50-80 ohms) will need an audio interface or amplifier to work properly.
Even if you need additional equipment when using high-impedance headphones, it’s still worth considering!
Higher impedance equals better sound quality. That’s because it allows the headphone manufacturer to use thicker wire for the voice coil, which results in less energy loss and more satisfactory sound reproduction.
Sensitivity is a measure of how much an electrical signal must be amplified for the user to hear it.
This is important because it can dictate how loud or quiet the headphones will be. A higher dB rating means that less amplification is needed, while a lower dB rating means that more amplification is needed.
Headphones with a high sensitivity rating are typically better at handling low-level signals.
Consequently, they don’t require as much amplification to reach the same level as headphones with a lower sensitivity rating.
As such, high-sensitivity headphones are often used in situations where there is background noise, such as on an airplane or in a noisy office.
Low-sensitivity headphones such as the Audio-Technica ATH R70x are highly sought after for mixing and mastering.
They can deliver high-quality sound without distortion.
High-sensitivity headphones are much harsher and will cause ear fatigue which is a common issue when mixing with headphones.
The drivers are the small speakers that actually produce the sound. Simply put, they convert electrical signals into audible sound waves. They are typically made of plastic, metal, or another durable material.
When talking about headphones, there are two types of driver configurations: dynamic and magnetic.
Magnetic drivers are preferred when mixing because of their more immersive sound. However, they come with a hefty price tag and are the far bulkier alternative.
Here is a breakdown of each driver type!
A dynamic driver is a type of speaker driver that uses a cone or diaphragm to produce sound.
The cone or diaphragm is attached to a voice coil, which is then surrounded by a magnet.
When an audio signal is applied to the voice coil, it creates a magnetic field that interacts with the permanent magnet, causing the cone or diaphragm to move and produce sound.
Dynamic drivers are the most popular configuration on consumer-grade headphones and reference headphones. Why?
Because they are very efficient at converting electrical energy into sound energy. They are also relatively simple and rugged, which makes them well-suited for use in consumer-grade headphones.
Dynamic drivers are generally more efficient than other types of speaker drivers, and they can also handle higher power levels without distorting the sound.
Magnetic drivers utilize a thin membrane suspended between two magnets. When a current is passed through the magnets, the membrane vibrates and produces sound.
Planar magnetic headphones are considered to be superior to traditional moving-coil headphones.
Because they can produce a wider range of frequencies with less distortion.
Planar magnetic headphones have been around for decades, but they have only recently become popular due to advances in manufacturing technology.
They’re typically more expensive than traditional headphone types, but their superior sound quality makes them worth the investment for serious audiophiles.
Additionally, size does matter when it comes to headphone drivers. Larger-diameter drivers produce better sound quality than smaller ones.
This is because they can move more air, resulting in better bass response and overall sound quality.
However, some trade-offs come with larger drivers.
They tend to be heavier and bulkier, which can make them uncomfortable to wear. Additionally, they’re generally more expensive than smaller drivers.
If you’re looking for the best possible sound quality from your headphones, go for a pair with large-diameter drivers. Just be prepared to deal with some potential downsides like weight and cost.
It’s worth mentioning that smaller drivers are more commonly found on consumer-graded headphones. Headphones for mixing and mastering have large enough drivers.
Advantages of Mixing on Headphones
In the past, audio engineers would always mix on expensive studio monitors. Nowadays, more and more engineers switch between headphones and speakers while mixing.
Here are some advantages of mixing on headphones:
You can hear all the details of your mix
On studio monitors, you can easily miss some of the smaller details in your mix.
Conversely, headphones allow you to hear everything clearly. This quality is immensely helpful when you’re EQing, compressing, or doing any kind of detailed work on your mix.
You don’t have to worry about how your room will affect the sound
Ideally, you’ll mix your tracks in a room with acoustic treatment.
For most of us, that’s not always the case. The problem is that the room’s acoustics will color the sound in one way or another.
When mixing with headphones, the drivers are so close to your ears, you’re able to hear exactly what’s coming out of your DAW without it being affected by the sound of your room.
Pretty convenient, right?
They offer more portability than studio monitors
If you’re working on a laptop or even just traveling with your gear, it’s much easier to pack a pair of headphones than it is to carry around a pair of studio monitors.
Mixing headphones are less expensive than studio monitors
The most expensive studio monitors can cost you thousands of dollars. Headphones are much cheaper and you can get a pair of quality cans such as the AKG K245 for less than $100.
You won’t disturb the neighbors with your music
You don’t want to be that person who blasts their tunes for the whole world to hear.
That’s why mixing with headphones is a perfect solution – they let you work without disturbing your neighbors (or anyone else, for that matter).
Plus, when you’re not worrying about disturbing others, you can focus more on what you’re doing and get into a flow state more easily – which will result in better mixing overall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Mix and Master With Headphones?
Although monitor speakers are recommended, you can mix and master with headphones. As long as you remember the issues:
First, they exhibit an unnaturally wide stereo image.
In addition, headphones don’t have an as flat frequency response as studio monitors.
Ideally, you would use a combination of headphones and monitors!
Are Open-back Headphones Better For Mixing?
Yes! Open-back headphones are designed so that sound can enter and exit the ear cup freely.
This design results in a more natural and accurate sound than closed-back headphones, which prevent outside noise from entering and trap sound inside the ear cup.
Therefore, you can make more accurate decisions about EQ and other effects.
Are Beats Headphones Good For Mixing?
In short, no. Beats headphones tend to be inaccurate, meaning that the sound you hear might not be exactly what’s being recorded.
This can make it difficult to get a clear picture of what you’re working with.
As an example, they tend to emphasize the low-end frequencies. And when mixing, you might think that your tracks are more bass-heavy than they actually are.
The best headphones for mixing are the ones that provide the user with the most accurate sound reproduction.
They have a relatively flat response across all frequencies. Besides, they should also be comfortable to wear for long spans.
Truth be told, there are many different models out there that meet these criteria. Still, I found the Sennheiser HD 600 to be the clear winner.
Besides the features mentioned above, the HD 600s are built with replaceable parts.
For me, this is a huge selling point. Even if they feature a solid and rugged design, accidents can happen. Chances are good that you can repair the HD 600 at a minimal cost, compared to buying a new pair!
And there you have it – The best headphones for mixing and mastering! If you think another pair of headphones should have made it into this list, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to get my hands on it.