Headphones for mixing

Wondering if people can recommend headphones that aren’t silly expensive, that was good sound for mixing and mastering on the road ( Obviously speakers are ideal) but to get a good feedback so that I don’t have to make massive adjustments when I’m back in my studio :slight_smile:

First, I would always recommend open-back headphones in the “Studio Reference” category if you are going to use them for mixing and mastering, and also because they are less hurting on your ears when using them for longer sessions.

It’s hard to beat the Sennheiser HD Reference Studio Headphones in my opinion. Not silly expensive, but not cheap either.


I like the Beyerdynamic DT-770 (closed) and DT-990 (open) models. They sound surprisingly similar, so the 770’s make a great compromise if you need to shut out noise, or avoid leaking sound into microphones, but the 990’s sound more natural and detailed, so I prefer those whenever I can use them.

EDIT: Oh, and they’re incredibly comfortable for long sessions; big over-ear cups with soft velour pads. (On 80 ohm and up versions. The 32 ohm ones differ in a bunch of ways, including different pads, and I don’t think they’re intended for studio use at all.)

That said, nothing in this price range seems particularly linear or “uncolored.” I’ve calibrated my speaker rig with Sonarworks Reference 4, and I also find that the included “average” profiles for these headphones help quite a bit. You can also buy calibrated headphones (including these models), or send headphones in for calibration, if you want the full <1 dB precision. They have a less expensive “Headphone edition” as well, without the speaker calibration features.

So. The best headphones I have ever worked with are Audeze LCD-3’s. Like most other planar magnetic headphones, they sound like really, really great speakers. They know those are great too - they go for US$1945. If that’s a bit much, the LCD-2’s are $995 and excellent. The phones I have at home are Hifiman HE560’s. Cost me about $850. At the time the LCD-2’s were a lot more money so I went with the HiFiman ones, thinking they would be near to the sound of the LCD-2’s but I would feel less bad about bringing them around. And they have been great. Never any surprises and translate beautifully. A very pleasant yet accurate sound. Imaging is terrific. But I will say that the LCD-2’s are a tiny bit better and the 3’s are even better still. Sweeter in a tiny way. All of these phones require a good headphone amp to sound their best - the one in my Dangerous D-box is fine, but the Grace Design m900x is really great. All this may seem like a lot, but if you live in those phones and would like to be able to reliably mix in them, these are unbelievable. I’m only sorry I didn’t spend more on them.


Andrew Scheps uses Sony MDR 7506. 100$, I love them, especially the low end and the 5-7kHz area.

You really can’t go wrong with them.

But at the end of the day, it’s not super important what you use, but how you use it and how well you know your stuff. Put a guy into a 2 Million Studio, if he doesn’t know how, he won’t deliver anything. I heard mixes from big expensive studio, which were awful. Once again take Andrew Scheps, give him one mic, 7506s and Audacity, this guy will deliver a world-class mix. :wink:

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Andrew also has a very “tuned” ear, but I’ll point out all of us do not have the same frequency response when we listen … ear canal diameter and length , diameter of eardrum … the vili that have broken off and do not regrow to to excessive sound level from concerts, calcium degeneration affects inner ear bone conductivity through the drum to the auditory nerve … and we are all prone to the above in some form or fashion … So they may be good for Andrew but it doesn’t guarantee they will be good for you …Just saying.
I’ll also point out we suffer from potholes in our auditory roadway to our brain which causes scrambling of the signals … but is more prone to people 60 and above !!

the Sonys are a good suggestion but he really needs to see what works for him … I have them for talent in studio as well as Senheiser, akg, Audio Technica, and dt770s … but talent switches to those that sound good to them … the popular ones here , or the ones that are selected the most are the Audio Technica ath-m40 or the ATH-M50’s… and even those get mixed reviews…


You can easily go wrong with them. Many people talk about Andrew and his 7506’s like that’s the way he wanted to do it. It wasn’t and it’s not. It’s a thing that happened out of necessity and he was happy that it turned out well. It’s true that if you really know the way things work like he does, and listen with his intelligence, you can get a better result than someone who doesn’t - but that really does not mean that 7506’s will be the right thing, or the most truthful thing, or the way you would want to work.

My thinking is: this is the audio business. You have to like what you use, surely - but having used 7506’s for years (it’s likely we started with those at similar times, as he was a classmate of mine and we worked in similar circles for years) I don’t look at them and say, oh great, that’s the sound I want, or that’s the accuracy I need. But taste evolves over time. So many times I had something I liked until I heard something better - and, barring hearing loss, listening refinement only goes one way. I’m clear that those phones were not the best thing he’d heard at the time the story occurred, but they were what he had with him, along with his mind.


I once tested the “Ollo S4 Mixing Headphones” and I think they are gonna be my next … AND they are around 300 Bucks.

A lot of people use and recommend AKG K 240 MkII - myself included. For their price range, they’re very good with a pretty flat response. But those DT-990’s are also recommended all over the place too - I’ve not tried them myself.

If you can get down to a music store to try out a few pairs, I’d recommend that you do (take a track that you know really well so that you can reference). So much is down to personal preference.

Let us know what you choose!

thanks for all the help . I’ve decided to try the dt-990, see how they turn out :slight_smile:

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I do have them as well, like them for the transparency and the good overall response, but wouldn’t focus on them only. Try to get as much infos as you can from all the speakers you have around you. This is the most accurate way you can work throughout a production.


totally with you, as everybody should try to find pieces of gear which work the best for them. I guess the only thing we just missed were the price-tags, so it’s more or less fair to decide, what gear is good in a specific range. I totally understand that headphones, which costs 1k+ $ are the best you can get, but you need expensive pre-amps to make them sound as good as they are/were built. So we land besides that “average” range for sure.

I remember when I have tried out the K812s, which a colleague of mine had bought back then, and I was kind of shocked, how much you really could hear through them. But what I have learned for myself is, that I deliver better mixes, when I have two “average” pieces of gear, rather then only one “expensive” I have invested in. I really like to switch after some minutes to another device, rather than working throughout one device the whole day. I stay focused and have more information about my mix. If you use a super expensive headphones, so you need super headphones amps as well. But then we are in a totally “other” league and still you have only “one” perspective.

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I have a pair of the DT-770 Pro’s. To me their hallmark is too much low end. At low levels they unsurprisingly feel cosy but not accurate, and at higher ones this is only slightly ameliorated. Again, my taste only. Always compare or check the return policy…