Top 7 Best Studio Headphones Under $500

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

PRODUCT

FEATURES

PRODUCT

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PRODUCT

FEATURES

Shure-SRH1840-300x300

AR RATING 98/100

  • Light and durable frame design.
  • Feature great set of drivers.
Shure-SRH1540-300x300

AR RATING 97/100

  • A light yet reliable frame perfect for professional use.
  • Great set of drivers in a closed back configuration.
beyerdynamic-DT-1770-PRO-Studio-300x300
  • Design that is both attractive and utilitarian.
  • Great padding and good comfort overall.
Sony-MDR-V700DJ-300x300

AR RATING 94/100

  • Great levels of comfort even after prolonged use.
  • Impressive pair of drivers which pack a mean punch.
AKG-Pro-Audio-K712-PRO-300x300

AR RATING 94/100

  • That simple AKG frame with its looks and comfort.
  • One of the best ear pads in the industry.
Sennheiser-HD-6-Mix-300x300

AR RATING 92/100

  • Simple but comfortable frame design which also looks great.
  • Great set of hardware which ensures plenty of headroom.
Phonon-Subtonic-Monitor-Basic-Headphones-Smb-02-300x300
  • Simple design that is pretty reliable.
  • Great padding all around including the headband.
Shure-SRH1840-300x300

AR RATING 98/100

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.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Light and durable frame design.
  • check
    Feature great set of drivers.
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    Impressive sound quality, transparency and overall resolution.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    A bit more padding on the frame would've been great.
Shure-SRH1540-300x300

AR RATING 97/100

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.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    A light yet reliable frame perfect for professional use.
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    Great set of drivers in a closed back configuration.
  • check
    Impressive accuracy and detail across the frequency range.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Lack of padding on the headband portion of the frame.
beyerdynamic-DT-1770-PRO-Studio-300x300

AR RATING 95/100

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.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Design that is both attractive and utilitarian.
  • check
    Great padding and good comfort overal.
  • check
    Impressive levels of transparency and clarity.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Too much exposed cabling in our opinion.
Sony-MDR-V700DJ-300x300

AR RATING 94/100

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.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great levels of comfort even after prolonged use.
  • check
    Impressive pair of drivers which pack a mean punch.
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    Clarity and transparency which makes them quite competitive.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Too much silver plastics and odd swivel design.
AKG-Pro-Audio-K712-PRO-300x300

AR RATING 94/100

This 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.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    That simple AKG frame with its looks and comfort.
  • check
    One of the best ear pads in the industry.
  • check
    Impressive hardware and overall performance.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Fairly proprietary cable design is a bit limiting.
Sennheiser-HD-6-Mix-300x300

AR RATING 92/100

This 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.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Simple but comfortable frame design which also looks great.
  • check
    Great set of hardware which ensures plenty of headroom.
  • check
    Good, flat sound perfect for studio use and mixing.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    These come across as fairly bulky.
Phonon-Subtonic-Monitor-Basic-Headphones-Smb-02-300x300

AR RATING 91/100

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.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Simple design that is pretty reliable.
  • check
    Great padding all around including the headband.
  • check
    Good performance with plenty of transparency

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Ear pads lack depth and could use some improvement.

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

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.

Hardware

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.

Different Designs

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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