Investing in higher end studio equipment is a good way to ensure that your work environment is capable of keeping up with your skill. Despite being one of the smallest pieces of tech you can have in a studio, headphones are by far one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Today we’re going to show you our picks for the top 7 best studio headphones under $500. This price range represents the high class of studio headphones. It’s also a place where you will find numerous models which are easily among the best studio headphones on the market.
Top 7 Best Studio Headphones Under $500:
- Light and durable frame design.
- Feature great set of drivers.
- Impressive sound quality, transparency and overall resolution.
- A bit more padding on the frame would’ve been great.
Shure is one of those names that get mentioned a lot in studios, both amateur and professional ones. Truth be told, they are far better known for their microphones. Even so, Shure knows how to make a good set of headphones. The ones we are looking at today go under the name of Shure SRH1840 and represent a great choice.
As you can probably tell right away, these are open back headphones. Shure’s frame design ensures great reliability and durability although we would have liked to see a bit more padding on the headband. As for the hardware, its two neodymium drivers are just incredible when it comes to transparency of sound. Plus, you also get that massive sound stage.
- A light yet reliable frame perfect for professional use.
- Great set of drivers in a closed back configuration.
- Impressive accuracy and detail across the frequency range.
- Lack of padding on the headband portion of the frame.
After covering the open back set of cans from Shure, it was only logical to include a closed back model as well. The one we have chosen for this list is the Shure SRH1540. Even though these two look similar, they are very much different. Where open back version offers that spatial dimension, the closed back set offers supreme accuracy.
The only real flaw on these is the padding on the frame. Shure uses the same frame design across this entire lineup of headphones, so its not too odd to find the same faults. Performance wise, The SRH1540 is a whole different ball game. Great, flat sound with plenty of accuracy all across the range is what you can expect.
- Design that is both attractive and utilitarian.
- Great padding and good comfort overal.
- mpressive levels of transparency and clarity.
- Too much exposed cabling in our opinion.
Whether you’re trying to get into music production or simply want a good set of headphones for mastering, chances are that beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO Studio will get the job done and then some. Despite their simple, low profile design, these are one of the absolute best studio headphones you can get at the moment. Especially if you appreciate minimalism.
The frame, although simple, is quite utilitarian. You’re looking at plenty of padding and good swivel mounts at a fairly decent weight. The hardware inside comes in form of two 45mm dynamic Tesla drivers which are rated at 250 Ohms of impedance. The performance you get allows you to experience what reference monitoring should really sound like in perfect conditions.
- Great levels of comfort even after prolonged use.
- Impressive pair of drivers which pack a mean punch.
- Clarity and transparency which makes them quite competitive.
- Too much silver plastics and odd swivel design.
Designed primarily for DJ use, Sony MDR-V700DJ definitely doesn’t look nearly as attractive as some of the models on our list.Whether it is Sony’s decision to use a whole bunch of silver plastics or its odd swivel design, these are simply not all that good looking. That’s alright because their sound more than makes up for the aesthetic failures.
Sony MDR-V700DJ feature a beefy frame which is packed with good padding. Looks aside, the frame is quite comfortable and functional. The hardware under those cups comes in form of two 50mm drivers capable of impressive dynamic range performance. The sound is clear, crisp and extremely transparent. On top of that, these are designed to meet strict power handling standards.
- That simple AKG frame with its looks and comfort.
- One of the best ear pads in the industry.
- Impressive hardware and overall performance.
- Fairly proprietary cable design is a bit limiting.
AKG’s K series of headphones need no special introduction. These are by far some of the most popular studio headphones on the market these days. AKG Pro Audio K712 PRO belong to the more elite segment of this lineup. We’re looking at an open back design which looks good but sounds even better. These are definitely among our top suggestions.
If you’re familiar with AKG, you have probably seen their ultra light frame design before.K712 PRO use the same setup. Hardware wise, these are packed with a great set of drivers in an open back configuration, making them pretty spatial in nature. The sound is flat with no tangible bias anywhere in the frequency range. Overall a great set.
- Simple but comfortable frame design which also looks great.
- Great set of hardware which ensures plenty of headroom.
- Good, flat sound perfect for studio use and mixing.
- These come across as fairly bulky.
his is a high-end bookshelf speaker made by a brand that goes the whole nine yards for every detail. A set like this one gets you impressive sound, great balance and an overall higher level of audio quality. However, that kind of package comes with an adequate price tag.
The build quality feels robust in a way you won’t always find with a bookshelf speaker, and they feel every bit a premium product. A combination of innovative and classic design tropes, they will blend well into any room without drawing unnecessary attention. With performance which is about as good as you’re likely to get from bookshelf speakers, these are a fantastic choice if you are in the market for a top of the range product.
- Simple design that is pretty reliable.
- Great padding all around including the headband.
- Good performance with plenty of transparency.
- Ear pads lack depth and could use some improvement.
Last but not least we would like to show you a set of cans from Phonon. These are not as popular as the rest of the brands on our list, but they sure are capable of holding delivering the necessary performance and then some. What you’re looking at here are basically headphones with a massive bang for the buck value.
What Phonon has done with this set is combine a great driver design with their advanced tuning theory. On paper these should really push the limits of transparency. In reality, they offer a very flat response across the entire range, which makes them very good for monitoring. That makes them more than great in our book especially at this price.
Are $500 Studio Headphones Worth The Investment?
If you do your research regarding studio gear and especially studio headphones, you will come to a conclusion that there are two types of people out there. On one hand you have those who are adamant about getting the most expensive gear they can find, while there are also those who preach that cheaper equipment can be every bit as good as the higher end stuff. If you are just getting into music production you might be left wondering which one of these two groups you should believe?
Here’s the deal. You should choose your equipment based on your needs. That may leave you with a $200 pair of studio headphones or a $500 one. Either way, you will have the necessary gear to get the job done. Now, there is a reason why $500 studio headphones cost as much as they do.
What Features To Expect And Look For In This Price Range?
When you are dropping this kind of money on headphones, chances are that you are expecting more than your average performance. Fortunately for all of us, headphones in this segment of the market definitely do deliver that and then some. However, if you are expecting some super cool features which make no real sense from a music production point of view, you will be disappointed. If you were to put a $100 pair of studio headphones next to a $500 pair, bring a person off the street and ask them to tell you which ones are better, chances are they’d have a hard time answering the question. Despite most of these looking quite awesome, they are all designed to offer best possible raw performance.
Comfort is a big factor when it comes to choosing your studio headphones. Remember, this is a tool you will sometimes have to wear for hours on end. Good padding, light frame designs and overall comfort is imperative. As you can probably tell, all of our picks meet these requirements. The main trick is to figure out which headphones fit your head shape the best. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can do without trying them on.
One of the reasons why higher end headphones cost so much is the hardware different brands choose to put inside these models. You are going to run into much more advanced driver designs which deliver impressive performance all around. Additionally, most of these headphones come with high impedance ratings as well as good power handling capabilities. This means that you might need to invest in an amp, but it also means that you can plug these headphones into any piece of professional studio gear and have them work flawlessly.
Even though we have seen a lot of different designs in the $300 price range, it isn’t until you reach this segment that you start running into truly refined open back, semi open and closed back designs. Each one has its perks, advantages and disadvantages. If you’re interested in learning more about them, check out our headphones guide. What matters the most is that you have quite a few choices in this segment. No matter which type of headphones you are looking for, you will find awesome models that bring some quite interesting solutions to the table. That, among other things discussed above, is the reason why investing in a high end set of cans is more than worth it.
Spending this kind of money on a pair of headphones is a big step for most new producers. However, the performance you get in return is well worth it. On top of that, you are going to end up with a very comfortable tool which will make your daily work so much easier. The models we have chosen for this list are definitely some of the best you can find out there. No matter which one you go with, you won’t be disappointed. All you really have to do is find the model that fits your particular needs and requirements.