Which studio headphones do I need?


Thinking about purchasing your first or next pair of studio headphones but not sure where to start? This guide aims to provide you with all the info you need to make the right choice when buying the right cans for your needs!

Shopping for headphones may seem like a simple thing to do. In an ideal world you would just go for the most expensive pair of headphones your budget can allow. Although this could to a certain degree be an easy way around it, sometimes the most expensive solution is not necessarily the best, you may have special requirements that some headphones meet much better than others.

When it comes to professional headphones, it’s important to focus on the purpose and your own needs, as not all headphones are designed for the same task. Before we get started, here’s a little piece of advice: avoid HIFI and Wireless headphones at all cost, as they tend to enhance or cut certain frequencies that won’t give you a critical or accurate reference.

How much should I spend?

Headphones are very useful but professionals believe that, unless you’re on the road, they should not be a replacement for good monitors. How much you spend on your headphones is up to you and how far your budget can stretch, but it’s important to keep in mind that the further you go, the more improvements you will see on quality and durability of the components, as well as how comfortable they will be over long periods of use. The great news is that there are some excellent budget-friendly options around now too, so it doesn’t need to cost you the world.

Operating Principle

The operating principle is sometimes also called operating system, or in other words just a fancy way of saying whether the headphones are closed-back, open-back or something in between. The operating principle is subject to much debate in terms of what works best and the short answer is that there is no best solution, there is only what works best for you, so we’ll address the features of each operating principle to help you make a much more informed decision.

Closed Back Headphones


Closed back headphones have the earcups completely sealed. Because of this they offer great monitoring without leakage of sound, making them the best option for recording to eliminate any unwanted sound reaching your microphone. They also tend to provide the most powerful bass and the best noise isolation from the outside, making them a great choice for live mixing.

Great options for closed back headphones are the Focal Spirit PROBeyerdynamic DT770KRK KNS 8400Roland RH300 and RH200. For a cost effective alternative you could look at KRK KNS 6400 and the Roland RH5.

Open Back Headphones


Open back designs are prone to leakage and don’t isolate outside noise as well as closed-back headphones. However, for mixing rather than recording applications, these limitations may not be a problem. Many of the headphone designs that have a great reputation in the audiophile hifi world are open-back designs, with a lot of people believe that allowing the sound to escape gives them a better sense of the sound-stage. Amongst the best open back headphones in the market there’s the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO and the AKG K702 or K612. If you’re on a budget, the AKG K121 are a great bet for you.

Semi Closed /Semi Open Headphones


Semi closed or sometimes also known as semi open headphones aim at the powerful bass response of closed designs with the airiness of open headphones. A good set of semi-closed headphones could be a very good balanced solution for an overall use. Some recommended models are the Beyerdynamic DT 880AKG K240 MKII and the AKG K141 MKII.

If you need any advice on finding the right pair of headphones, just get in touch with our expert team and we can help you find the right solution for your needs.

Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, a spectacular shop in Leeds, and a London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.


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Red Dog Music

Red Dog Music is the UK's friendliest musical instrument retailer with branches in Edinburgh, leeds and London and an awesome website at www.reddogmusic.co.uk.

2 Responses to “Which studio headphones do I need?”

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  1. David scott says:

    Anybody who tries to mix live with headphones is going to fail miserably.

  2. Kenn says:

    Graham from Recording-Revolution uses both headphones and monitors when mixing

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