Getting into recording music requires quite a bit of gear. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a whole lot of money in order to start. Headphones are easily one of the most important pieces of gear you can have in a studio. They are your window into your work. Today we will show you our top 9 best studio headphones under $50. Despite being affordable, some of these are easily among the best studio headphones on the market. Once we go over our picks, we will talk about what makes these good and what to look for.
Top 7 Best Studio Headphones Under $50 :
One of the most widespread misconceptions about the budget range is that you can’t find solid headphones. Rockville PRO-M50 disprove that. These are easily one of the best affordable headphones you can get. Best of all, you get all of the essentials and then some. PRO-M50 come with a detachable cable, extra ear pads and a nice protective hard case.
The headphones themselves feature plenty of padding in all the right places. Their design is fairly simple, which is great. Hardware wise, you are looking at 40mm drivers which offer pretty flat and accurate sound for the money. Frequency response range spans from 10Hz to 25kHz. Usually we’re wary of such estimates, but in this case it sounds about right.
Yamaha is one of those brands who need little to no introduction when it comes to headphones. In terms of budget studio solutions, they offer a variety of models. One that we wanted to show you is the Yamaha RH50A. These are interesting in a sense that you get a lot of bang for your buck. They are quite efficient.
The only real downside is the wacky looking frame. Other than that you are looking at good hardware, good sound quality and plenty of transparency in the budget range. These come with a detachable cable which is always a plus, as well as a whole bunch of padding in all the right places. Comfort is not an issue with these.
If there is one name that is definitely popular in the music production industry, it is PreSonus. They make everything from audio interfaces to speakers. Studio headphones also fall into their spectrum of products and they make some pretty awesome models. Case in point PreSonus HD7. These are semi open and feature an awesome set of hardware and great looks.
The frame is a skeleton type with no actual padding but a floating strap. From a comfort point of view this design has been proven to work. The hardware itself comes in form of neodymium drivers capable of offering quite a flat sound. With a bit of EQ ironing work you can get quite a lot of out of these.
Here’s a pretty interesting set of headphones. IDANCE FDJ500 were created as a cheap way for DJs to get a good sense of what’s going on. Hence the swivel cups and a pretty flashy, gold exterior. If you can get past that, and that might be hard for some, you are left with a pretty decent set of cans overall.
The main reason why we included theses on our short list is the fact that they are among the few that come with 50mm drivers. Then there’s the wide frequency response range of 15Hz – 20kHz which actually feels correct and a rather transparent tone. These are not as flat as we’d like, but there’s plenty of headroom for fixing that.
Superlux is a brand from China that has rocked the market with their cheap headphones. So much so that some of their model give the more expensive AKGs and Sennheisers a good run for their money. HD669 is a model designed for studio use. These are fully closed and features a great set of drivers that have plenty of potential.
While the actual performance of Superlux HD669 is punching way above its weight class, it is worth mentioning some of its few but important drawbacks. Out of those, the absolute worst one are the ear pads. If you plan on using these for any extended period of time, we strongly suggest aftermarket velour ear pads. These make a huge difference.
As we start moving to the cheaper models in the entry level segment, we start running into headphones such as Neewer NW-3000. These pretty much define what bang for the buck means. Truth be told Neewer didn’t focus on much else other than performance. Design is about as average as it gets and the same can be said about aesthetics.
The key here is that you are getting a design that has been proven to work. NW-3000 pack a set of 45mm large aperature drivers capable of quite a bit of detail. The transparency is there but it definitely needs some work in form of EQ. One interesting thing is that these arrive with a small, portable headphone rack included.
Tascam’s TH-MX2 headphones are designed to offer a good entry level package to new music producers. The idea was to give the beginners a suitable tool which would be highly affordable yet good enough to learn the ropes on. For the most part that is exactly what TH-MX2 offer. They’re neither the best out there nor are they the worst.
The whole package comes down to two pretty awesome 40mm drivers being packed into a standard frame. The padding is plentiful but limiting in terms of comfort. These are not something you would want to wear for more than a few hours at a time. Performance wise, you are looking at great sound and decent transparency. Overall, not that bad.
Affordable Studio Headphones - Are They Worth It?
Starting is hard no matter what line of work we are talking about. When it comes to music production, many beginners are just overwhelmed bu the amount of gear they need to put together in order to have a functional music production setup. A huge part of that rig is monitoring. If you are not able to monitor your mix, chances are that it won’t sound good in the end.
Monitoring is done in two ways. You have your monitoring speakers and studio headphones. Contrary to popular belief, these two are not mutually exclusive. If you want the best possible mix out there, you will have to use both the speakers and the headphones. The deal with headphones is that they tend to get quite expensive. Because of that, many are wondering whether affordable headphones are even worth it? The short answer is yes. A cheap set of headphones is going to do you more good than none. It is as simple as that. You absolutely don’t need a $500 set to get started.
What To Look For In Affordable Studio Headphones?
While this segment of the market is getting increasingly competitive, there will be some limitations. With that said, we can name a few features you might want to look out for. The first thing is a detachable cable. Cables are the first thing to fail on most headphones. Being able to get rid of the broken cable and plug in a new one is a sure fire way of making sure that you’ll have working headphones at all times.
Good frame design is also pretty important. Comfort means a great deal when you have to spend numerous hours with your cans on. Look for something that is well padded. Going for extra padding is a safe way to approach buying affordable headphones. Always has been and always will be.
In terms of actual performance, you are going to run into a whole lot of similarity across the range. There are outliers but most headphones will offer a decent amount of transparency. In a perfect world you would look for a flat response across the range. Unfortunately that is something reserved for much more expensive headphones. Think $200 range and higher. However, budget headphones can still sound great, especially if you iron them out with a decent EQ map.
What To Stay Away From?
One mistake many beginners make is trying to force commercial headphones into a studio role. It doesn’t work that way. Your Beats won’t do you any good in the mixing stage. The main reason for this is the fact that most commercial headphones come with a boosted low end. You can’t mix music when your low end is off the hook. Instead, you need something that gives you an even representation across the frequency range. Stay away from commercial headphones. Once you are done with your track and you have rendered the final product, that is when a good set of commercial cans can really tell you if you’ve nailed the mix or not. Until such time, the cheapest possible set of studio headphones will offer much more value than the most expensive set of commercial headphones. Same goes for speakers as well.
As you can see, getting into music production on a budget can be affordable. It all comes down to understanding what your options are and knowing the limitations of your gear. As a beginner your ears won’t be accustomed to fine details. In other words, you won’t notice the limitations of cheap headphones too much. As you develop your skill, your senses will evolve as well. Then you can really benefit from a higher end set of headphones. Models we have chosen for this list are pretty much as good as it gets for this kind of money. The list is definitely diverse so chances are you will find something that fits your needs.