Anyone who has spent time creating, producing, recording, or mixing music will tell you that having the right pair of studio headphones is essential. Studio headphones are available at a variety of price points, but we wanted to find products that would appeal to veteran users, yet still be economical enough for all budgets. We found 8 pairs that truly fit the bill. These are our picks for the best studio headphones under $100.
Best Studio Headphones Under $100: Our Top Picks Reviewed
1. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
The Sennheiser HD 280 PRO topped our list as the best studio headphones under $100. They have swivel mounted, large, padded ear cups that do an excellent job at blocking ambient noise. With excellent isolation, clean bass sounds, and flat frequency, the quality here rivals that of much more expensive headphones, thus making them a great choice for production/mixing, and other studio work.
The headphones have a collapsible design and well padded ear cups that swivel for maximum comfort and easier transport. They are lightweight and comfortable, allowing for extended hours of use without headphone fatigue. The only potential negative with the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones is the cable. The 9.8’ coiled cable is non-detachable. The unit comes with a carrying bag and a ¼” (6.3mm) connector adaptor.
- Style: Closed back, circumaural
- Impedance: 64 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 117 dB
- Frequency response: 8 Hz – 25,000 Hz
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
We liked the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones almost as much as the Sennheiser model. They are an excellent choice for production work, as well as sampling, and recording. With flat frequency and accurate bass sounds, smooth mid range and treble, these headphones are a solid choice.
With 44mm drivers, the padded ear cups fit fully over the ear and provide significant isolation, though some ambient sound will leak through. The comfortable ear cup padding and relative light weight of the unit allow the user long range comfort with little fatigue, even over several hours of use. The ear pads swivel 90°, making them convenient for use by DJs, producers, as well as anyone needing to multitask in the studio. The headphones come with 2 different cables, a 9.8’ straight cable as well as a coiled cable, ¼”screw on adaptor, and carrying case.
- Style: Closed back, circumaural
- Impedance: 35 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 98 dB
- Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 24,000 Hz
3. Shure SRH440
Next on our list of the best studio headphones for under $100 is the Shure SRH440 model. These are a solid choice for studio headphones, as they provide a rich, clear and very accurate sound from bass, mid-range, and higher. The SRH440 headphones have 44 mm drivers and a closed back, over-the-ear style that blocks the majority of ambient noise. The headband portion is slightly padded for comfort, but we did notice some slight fatigue after extended wear.
These headphones are a little bulky when compared to other models, but the ear cups do fold in for storage. They come with a ¼” (6.3mm) adapter, a detachable coiled cable, and large carrying pouch. All in all, the Shure SRH440 headphones are a solid choice and while they may not have the bells and whistles included in higher priced models, you will get solid performance and accurate sound with this product.
- Style: Closed-back, Circumaural
- Impedance: 44 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 105 dB
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 22,000 Hz
4. PreSonus HD9
The PreSonus HD9 is another solid choice of studio headphones. This model has 45mm drivers in a closed-back, circumaural style that isolates sound extremely well. The ear cups rotate 180° in either direction, allowing the user some flexibility if multitasking, or when using outside of a studio setting. The bass sounds are very clear and accurate, and overall the headphones produce a rich quality sound.
The headphones are well padded and comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. THey headband itself is adjustable with a wide range for fit. The unit comes with a 10’ straight cable, a ⅛” to ¼” adapter, as well as a storage bag. This PreSonus HD9 have earned their place as one of the best studio headphones under $100.
- Style: Closed-back, circumaural
- Impedance: 40 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 96 dB
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 26,000 Hz
5. Status Audio CB-1
As we continue down our list of the best studio headphones under $100, our next choice is the Status Audio CB-1. This particular set of headphones has been an industry standard in the studio for quite some time. With a closed-back, over-the-ear style headset with well padded, 55mm drivers, these headphones do an excellent job at blocking the surrounding sounds, making them a great choice for recording, as well as mixing and mastering audio files. They provide a solid, accurate sound throughout the scale, including rich bass sounds.
These headphones are particularly rugged and can handle significant wear and tear, but are built to remain comfortable for the user. The ear cups are overstuffed and very comfortable, and the headband itself is easy to adjust, and nicely padded. The headphones are foldable for easy transport, and come with a 9.8’ cable, ¼ in (6.3mm) adapter and carrying bag.
- Style: Closed-back, circumaural
- Impedance: 34 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 119 dB
- Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz
6. Sony MDR 7506
Next on our list is the Sony MDR 7506 Professional Studio Headphones. Sony products have been a mainstay in music studios everywhere for many years, as their products are solid quality and high performance. These headphones are no exception. The closed back design provides excellent sound isolation, with virtually no noise leakage, except at very high volumes. These headphones are an excellent choice for both production as well as recording. The sound quality with the MDR 7506 headphones is excellent. Through the entire register, the sounds are very crisp and clear.
The Sony MDR 7506 headphones are lightweight with swivel mounts that allow the user to use one-sided when necessary, a fully adjustable headband with light padding that reduces fatigue and remains comfortable and well fitting over many hours of wear. The unit comes with coiled 9.8’ cable, ¼” (6.3mm) adaptor, and a soft carrying case.
Style: Closed-back, circumaural
Impedance: 63 Ohms
Sensitivity: 104 dB
Frequency: 10 Hz to 20,000 Hz
7. Beyerdynamic DT240 PRO
Next up on our quest to find the best studio headphones under $100 is the Beyerdynamic DT240 PRO studio headphones. Out of all of the headphones we rated, the Beyerdynamics are probably the most comfortable overall. They are very lightweight with minimal bulk, and remain
comfortable after many hours of wear. The sound quality is excellent, with flat frequency, allowing for rich bass, clear and accurate sound, as well as excellent noise isolation due to their ergonomic, closed-back, circumaural style ear cups.
The Beyerdynamic DT240 headphones are built with a metal headband, as well as aluminum yokes, providing some extra protection against wear and tear over time. The ear cups fold out flat for easier storage and transport. The headphones come with a ¼” (6.3mm) adaptor, coiled cable and carrier bag.
Style: Closed-back, circumaural
Impedance: 34 Ohms
Sensitivity: 119 dB
Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz
8. CAD Audio Sessions MH510
The final pair on our list of the best studio headphones under $100 is the CAD Audio Sessions MH510. The CAD Audio Sessions MH510 are a solid performer in budget headsets. The sound quality is very good, with clear bass, and vivid midrange and treble, with overall performance that rivals much more expensive headphones. The closed-back, circumaural style ear cups provide decent sound isolation. These headphones also come with an optional set of velvet ear pads, which can be switched out from the basic leatherette style. Both are comfortable, but there seems to be some sound bleed with the velvet that you want to be aware of when working in a studio session
The MH510 headphones are solidly built, but they are slightly heavier than some of the other models we reviewed. This can cause some fatigue after extended wear, so we would suggest an occasional break when using these headphones for long periods of time. Also, these headphones are large in size and aren’t quite as portable as some of the other foldable and collapsible models. The headphones come with both a coiled and straight cable as well as the aforementioned velvet and leatherette ear pads. The adapter adjusts from 3.5mm to ¼”.
Things to Consider When Shopping for Studio Headphones
When choosing the best studio headphones under $100, there are several factors we used to make our selections.
Sound quality is obviously one of the most important aspects when selecting studio headphones. Ideally we were looking for flat frequency response, which is important because the flat response equates to sound accuracy. Thus, what we are hearing through the headphones is an accurate representation of the notes, sounds, and quality of the music itself. Also when considering sound quality, we were looking for crisp, clear sounds, full bass, vivid midrange and treble, with no distortion. The best quality studio headphones are going to provide flat frequency response, and clear sound at both low and high volumes.
Next, we considered comfort. Oftentimes studio work entails long hours and extended sessions using headphones. We wanted to ensure that the headphones were comfortable, adjustable for different users, and did not create headphone fatigue, or pain or pressure points, after extended wear.
While the headphones we reviewed are appropriate for professional studio work, such as recording, producing, mixing, or mastering music; we also looked for headphones that could work in other settings, such as TV or radio production, live club/DJ performances, as well as recreational listening.
When selecting the best studio headphones under $100, we also considered build quality. We wanted products that could stand the test of time. We considered the materials used, how the headphones stood up to daily wear and tear, occasional drops, continual use, strain on the cords, as well as other components.
We also wanted to consider the user’s lifestyle. We looked for products that were easily transported from one place to another. We considered whether the units were collapsible, or foldable, whether they were lightweight, and whether they came with a carrying case, or other extra accessories
Studio Headphones Q & A
What is the difference between studio headphones and regular headphones?
Regular headphones that are built for recreational listening will purposely impart some distortions for the purpose of creating a more enjoyable listening experience. They may overemphasize a bass line or soften percussion, because it sounds better to the casual listener. Studio headphones are designed to provide a highly accurate replica of the music, which makes it easier to identify imperfections, or poor sound qualities at very high or low frequencies. Studio headphones also have a larger range of frequencies than regular headphones, and are typically made for long term use, such as 5 – 10 years.
What is the difference between closed-back and open-back headphones?
Closed-back headphones that are completely sealed behind the ear, so that no air or sound can pass from the listener to the surrounding environment. Open-back headphones have small holes between the speaker element and the ear cups. Generally, for casual listening at home, open-back headphones work great, as they allow you to hear your gaming, music, or television show, but still allow for some air flow, so your ears don’t get hot or uncomfortable. Also, open- back headphones allow some transfer of noise in and out. For example, when out jogging, you want to be able to hear a car horn or other noise to alert you of danger. Open-back headphones, provided the volume isn’t too high, would allow you to hear the car horn.
Closed-back headphones are ideal when you want to block out any incoming sounds, and outgoing sounds from your headphones. They are a great choice if you are trying to listen to music on a crowded train, or if you are recording, mixing, or remastering music in a studio setting.
I am not a music professional. Are studio headphones still right for me?
Plenty of non-professional prefer studio headphones. If you simply want to enjoy your music as is, most regular, standard headphones will work just fine. However, many people prefer to hear music as it was made, without the changes and distortions from regular headphones. Studio headphones will give you more of a “live music” feel when you listen vs what you hear with regular headphones. Also, studio headphones allow you to tweak your music in a way that best suits you. With studio headphones and a simple equalizer, you can completely fine tune your own listening experience.
Many people also prefer gaming, and listening to movies, and audiobooks through studio headphones, as they provide a different quality to the sound when compared to regular headphones.
Our Top Pick for Best Studio Headphones Under $100
Over the years, technology has increased dramatically. A decade ago, it would have been much more difficult to find quality, professional level studio equipment at reasonable prices.
During our search for the best studio headphones under $100, we were able to find a number of high quality, professional grade headphones at a great price point. Truly, you can’t go wrong with any of the models we listed above, but if we have to pick a winner, it was the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio headphones. They provided a quality listening experience, with one of the largest frequency response ranges of 8 Hz – 25,000 Hz. That factor, combined with a high impedance of 64 Ohms, as well as the overall sound quality and noise isolation, set the Sennheiser model apart from the rest. We were also impressed with the overall comfort, the collapsible design, and the wearability of these particular headphones. The one downside to this model is the non-detachable cord, as almost every model we reviewed had a detachable option.
Ultimately though, Sennheiser is a high quality product with high quality components, so in the end, we still felt the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is the best option for your money. Though you cannot go wrong with any of the options on our list of best studio headphones under $100.
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