Best Music Mixing Headphones (Top 5 For 2024)

Hey there! Welcome to my round-up review of the best music mixing headphones available right now.

I’ve spent endless hours figuring out which headphones I believe are best suited to music mixing and mastering.

I’ve mostly thought about the sound quality, the build/durability, comfort, as well as the price.

Without a doubt, these five are the pick of the pack!

If you’re ready to get going…let’s crack on!  

best music mixing headphones in black text on green and yellow diagonally split background

My Top Music Mixing Headphones

If you’re tight for time and just want to get straight into which are my very best music mixing headphones…

…here are my top 5, without the finer details:

Best But Expensive
Our #2 Top Pick
Our #3 Top Pick
  • These Sennheiser’s are the pick of the pack for studio work. They give a true display of how everything actually sounds, and how the recording will translate to speakers.

  • $299.95
Best Runner-Up
  • These DT 900’s are ideal for mixing, great for mastering, and equally perfect for just sitting back and enjoying your favourite music.

  • $230.00
Best of the Rest
  • Tough, affordable, great looking…with good, if not totally true sound because they have a bit of bass-bump. Great if you love thumping bass, not so great if you work on acoustic tracks.

  • $149.00
Best But Expensive

Excellent natural and neutral sound. These Sennheiser headphones reproduce vocals and instruments with beautiful precision. If you've got a budget to burn, go ahead and treat yourself.

$1,389.81
Our #2 Top Pick

German engineering at its finest. These headphones deliver outstanding sound quality, perfect comfort and amazing durability.

$529.00
Our #3 Top Pick

These Sennheiser’s are the pick of the pack for studio work. They give a true display of how everything actually sounds, and how the recording will translate to speakers.

$299.95
Best Runner-Up

These DT 900’s are ideal for mixing, great for mastering, and equally perfect for just sitting back and enjoying your favourite music.

$230.00
Best of the Rest

Tough, affordable, great looking…with good, if not totally true sound because they have a bit of bass-bump. Great if you love thumping bass, not so great if you work on acoustic tracks.

$149.00
05/28/2024 11:17 am GMT
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And now here they all are with the detail… 

#1. Sennheiser HD 800S

Okay, don’t worry, I know we’re getting the ball rolling here with a seriously pricey set of headphones…

…but this isn’t how we’re going to roll with all our other recommendations.

These Sennheiser’s are seriously expensive, but they are also totally awesome music mixing headphones.

The Sennheiser HD 800S are pretty much the pinnacle of open-back, over-ear headphones for mixing and mastering…well, in my humble opinion anyway!

Their unique Ring Radiator design isn’t just tech talk…it delivers a beautifully detailed and expansive soundstage with pinpoint imaging.

With a mind-bending frequency response from 4 Hz to 51 kHz every note is crystal clear, from the deepest bass to the highest treble.

This is a headphone that marries sound-quality, outstanding durability and absolute luxury.

The stainless-steel headband and microfiber ear pads can be worn all day long without a second thought.

And the large, open earcups aren’t just for show; they deliver maximum comfort for longer mixing sessions.

If you’ve heard about treble peaks in the HD800, don’t worry, this has not carried over into the HD800S, which sees them smoothed out completely, making the highs crisp but not harsh.

For audiophiles, music lovers, and studio workers, the HD800S is a masterpiece of sound engineering and comfort, making it a contender for anyone who takes their listening seriously…

…and who also has a couple of thousand bucks to spare of course!

What You’ll Love About these Sennheiser’s:
  • Excellent natural and neutral sound – A true representation of the music, making these headphones great for studio use.  
  • Outstanding instrument separation – The separation with these headphones is taken to absolute precision.
  • Neutral bass response – A very neutral bass, pretty much like bass should be. 
  • Beautifully balanced – All the frequencies play nicely together. You won’t hear any one sound beating any other down.
  • Wide frequency response –  I mean, it’s beyond wide; it’s more of a chasm.
  • Top-level build quality – I can’t imagine these breaking anytime in the next ten years or so. 
  • Comfortable – Like all Sennyheiser’s they tend to feel a little tight at first, but once you’ve worn them in they are really comfortable.
What You Won’t Love:
  • Pretty chunky – Definitely not the sleekest pair of cans out there.
  • Very expensive – Certainly the price will put them beyond the reach of most people.

Sennheiser HD 800 S

Sennheiser HD 800 S

  • Driver Type: Dynamic Drivers 
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 51,000Hz
  • Headphone Type: Open-back, Over-ear
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/V
  • Impedance: 300 Ω
  • Weight: 330g
  • Cable Length: 3m

#2. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

These Beyerdynamic’s are another beautifully engineered set of cans.

And coming in at somewhere in the region of $1k less than the Senny’s above, they look a bit of a steal…but they are still pretty pricey!

With the DT 1990 PRO, your soundstage is wide and accurate…every instrument is placed just right, and the detail is crystal clear.

At the heart of these headphones is the Tesla driver technology, offering up a sound that’s balanced, neutral, and natural. From the deepest bass to the crispest highs, every nuance is there to hear.

Comfort is non-negotiable when you’re putting in long shifts in the studio, and the DT 1990 PRO gets it just right.

Plush velour ear pads and an adjustable headband – you can wear these all day without a problem.

And with both analytical and balanced ear pads included, you can shape your sound just how you like it.

In the studio, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO isn’t just another pair of run-of-the-mill headphones, they bring precision, clarity and comfort together, making them a top pick for anyone serious about their sound.

What You’ll Love About these Beyerdynamic’s:
  • Deep and luscious bass – It’s warm and deep but still neutral and natural.
  • Equally natural mids – One of the many reasons why they are great for so many genres of music.
  • True replication – Like the Sennheiser’s above, these are top studio headphones because they give you exactly what was recorded.
  • Replaceable parts – All the bits that studio pros tend to break are fully replaceable.
  • Durable – We’re talking German engineering at its perfect best here.
  • Exceptionally comfortable – Super comfortable from day one. 
What You Won’t Love:
  • Amp needed –  To get the very best out of these cans you will need an amp to drive them on.
  • Difficulty swapping the ear pads – I know I’m getting pretty picky here, but when I swapped the ear pads between the two pairs provided, it took me ages…and I’m pretty familiar with this sort of thing. 

Beyerdynamic DT-1990 PRO

Beyerdynamic DT-1990 PRO

  • Driver Type: Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40,000 Hz
  • Headphone Type: Open-back, Over-ear
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/V
  • Impedance: 250 Ω
  • Weight: 370g
  • Cable Length: 3m straight & 5m coiled

#3. Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser’s are great for studio work…

…because they tell it like it is.

You will find tons of arguments online, with audiophiles arguing that these cans lack bass and lack detail in the mid-range.

Well, if that’s what you’re hearing, that’s how the music was recorded, mixed and mastered.

The HD 600’s are transparent and honest to a fault.

If it’s a poor-quality recording, they won’t make it sound any better. If it’s a high-quality recording, it will sound amazing.

Sure, there is some bass roll-off, but these are open-back cans so that will always happen. 

These Sennheiser’s are brilliant for mixing and mastering because they give you a true display of how everything actually sounds, and how the recording will translate to speakers.

Exactly what the best mixing and mastering headphones should do.

These are exceptional headphones.

What You’ll Love About these Sennheiser’s:
  • Excellent natural and neutral sound – A very true representation of the music, making these headphones superb for studio use.  
  • Outstanding instrument separation – The instrument separation with these cans is precise to the point of perfection.
  • Neutral bass response – They have some roll-off but it’s not much. What you get is a very neutral bass.
  • Beautifully balanced – All the frequencies play perfectly together. You won’t hear any single sound taking over.
  • Easy maintenance – Just about everything that could eventually need replacing is easily replaceable.  
  • Uncomplicated design – Not the most important thing in the world but they do look pretty cool. 
  • Comfortable – All Senny’s feel a bit tight at first, but once you’ve broken them in they are really comfortable.
What You Won’t Love:
  • Neutral bass – The bass is how it should be, but if you’ve got used to the trend in consumer headphones where they’re massively bass-heavy, you may not like these.
  • Tight clamping force – Only until you break them in, but that said, if you have a massive head, they may not be the best choice.

Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser HD 600

  • Driver Type: Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 12Hz – 40,500Hz
  • Headphone Type: Open-back, Over-ear
  • Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/V
  • Impedance: 300 Ω
  • Weight: 260g
  • Cable Length: 3m

#4. Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X

My go-to headphones tend to be Sennheiser’s, I absolutely love them.

But whenever I put on these Beyerdynamic’s, I end up asking myself why don’t I use these DT 900’s more often?

These are top headphones and they come in at what I consider to be a bargain price!

They have a different sound to the Sennheiser’s above. The treble can be a little too sharp for me, but that’s a trade-off as these cans have less bass roll-off than the HD 600’s above.

I would say that the DT 900 PRO X is constructed more as a semi-open-back headphone, which explains why there is less bass roll-off.

These DT 900’s are ideal for mixing, great for mastering, and equally perfect for just sitting back and enjoying some great music.

You’ll have no issues with comfort either, even for prolonged periods of music mixing work. I have an average-sized head, I often wear glasses when working, and I’ve found them to be very comfortable.

These Beyerdynamic’s are a top set of mixing and mastering headphones because they reproduce sound with full authenticity.

What You’ll Love About these Beyerdynamic’s:
  • Beautiful deep bass – Warm and deep but still natural. I think their semi-open-back design gives them an edge here. 
  • Equally beautiful mids – You will be shocked how easily you can pick out lyrics in songs where you’ve previously had no idea what was being sung. 
  • True replication – Like the Sennheiser’s above, these cans make great mixing headphones because they present to you exactly what has been laid down in the studio.
  • Replaceable parts – All the stuff that producers tend to be rough on are fully replaceable. You can even replace the driver on these without any soldering.
  • Built like a tank – I haven’t had my DT 900 PRO X’s all that long, but they do seem to be built to last.
  • Exceptionally comfortable – I’ve kind of got used to needing to break a new pair of headphones in, but these were super comfortable straight out of the box. 
What You Won’t Love:
  • Slightly sharp treble – I’m deliberately trying to find fault here. You’re only likely to pick this up with a super-sharp ear, or some analytics software.
  • Semi-open more than pure open – There is a plastic insert with foam dampening around the inside of the cup, albeit the very centre is open, but that definitely makes these only semi-open. This insert can very easily be removed should you want that fully-open feel…but you’ll lose a little bass. 

Beyerdynamic DT-900 PRO X

Beyerdynamic DT-900 PRO X

  • Driver Type: Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40,000 Hz
  • Headphone Type: Open-back, Over-ear
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/V
  • Impedance: 48 Ω
  • Weight: 345g
  • Cable Length: 3m

#5. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Can you find a better pair of headphones with this level of comfort, quality, and sound for less money?

I doubt it! These Audio-Technica’s represent outstanding value for money.

The ATH-M50X are closed-back cans, so you’ll get more bass than with the Sennheiser’s and the Beyerdynamic’s that we’ve talked about above.

There’s also a bit more bass on top of that. But it’s good quality, tight bass, not flabby and bloated.

Because of the extra bass, these are probably not perfect for all music mixing jobs.

You’re going to need to think about exactly what you’ll be using them for, the type of music you work with, and your listening preferences.

They are durable, affordable, great looking…with good, if not absolutely natural and true sound replication because of the bass.

EDM producers love them, but if you tend to mix and master music that is more acoustic, they might not be the best choice for you

What You’ll Love About these Audio Technica’s:
  • Good sound quality – Good but not perfect as the bass can sometimes be a little too phat.
  • Powerful bass – So a probably solid choice for EDM studio work.
  • Great in loud environments – Not active noise-cancelling headphones, but you will find the sound isolation is very good.
  • Solid build quality – They have a kind of indestructible feel about them
  • Comfortable for studio work – Maybe a little too tight for some but I prefer cans that feel like they’re going to stay on your head. 
What You Won’t Love:
  • Clamping force – I have an average size head and they’re fine, but if your head is on the larger size, they might be too tight.
  • Sibilance – I cannot detect any hissing at all, but there are definitely grumbles online from people claiming they can.

Audio Technica ATH-M50X

Audio Technica ATH-M50X

  • Driver Type: Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 28,000 Hz
  • Headphone Type: Closed-back, Over-ear
  • Sensitivity: 99 dB SPL/V
  • Impedance: 38 Ω
  • Weight: 285g
  • Cable Length: 3m

What’s the Difference Between Mixing and Mastering Headphones and Other Headphones?

A lot of headphones that are made for everyday use and/or gaming etc. have been engineered to have a boost somewhere in the frequency range.

The boost is added to improve the overall listening experience for the majority of users.

It tends to be the bass and treble frequencies that are subjected to this treatment.

I’m sure you’ve already figured out the shortcomings of having boosted frequencies in a set of music mixing headphones.

For mixing and mastering, headphones should simply reflect the music being produced, rather than making it sound better than it is.

A neutral sound provided by a flat response across all the frequencies is what you want for great music mixing headphones.

Take a read of my headphones buying guide if you would like some further info.

What’s the Difference Between Mixing and Mastering Headphones and DJ Headphones?

Some headphones can double up as great music mixing headphones and great DJ headphones.

But there does tend to be a few differences between the two.

DJ’s will almost always go for closed-back cans for the reduction of background noise, while studio pros often prefer open-back.

Studio workers tend to want a neutral frequency response, but DJ’s like more emphasis on the bass, as well as bright highs.

How well they fold for transportation, how malleable they are, tend to be of less concern to studio workers than for DJ’s.

Should You Get Open or Closed-Back Headphones?

It ultimately comes down to your own preferences, how your studio is set-up, the genre of music you work with, and the specific job the headphones are being used for.

But you can probably say that the following are usually true:

Closed-back headphones are better for recording work – If you’re recording either vocals or instruments into a microphone, isolation is a big priority. You don’t want sound spilling out of the headphones back into the microphone.

Open-back headphones tend to be better for monitoring, tracking and mixing work – Isolation is going to take a hit, but you’ll get better sound quality and a truer reflection of the actual sounds you’re working with. 

If all the instruments you work with are electronic and therefore don’t require a microphone, you should be able to make a decision to go for open-back, as you don’t have concerns about recording spill.

Do You Need an Amp or DAC?

Studio headphones do quite often require either an amplifier, or a digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

An amplifier will deliver more power and so should improve the sound of your headphones.

If you see that you’re using the majority of the sound volume scale on your output device, then an amp will easily fix this problem.

DAC’s only tend to be needed if the impedance is causing issues with your volume.

If you’re hearing added noise in your music when listening with good-quality headphones, it’s likely that removing the job of creating the analogue signal from your source device and giving it to a DAC will solve the problem.

If you’ve got headphones with an impedance of over 100 ohms, you probably notice the benefits of adding a DAC.

Feel free to chip into the comments section below if you have something to add.

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