The world of music is split into two distinct areas. Consumers and producers. And the music industry is one that is open to anyone with the determination, means and artistic flare for creating great-sounding music
When it comes to working in a studio, you need specialized tech. Recording mics, mixing boards, and massive storage units to keep all the edits. But one of the key pieces of tech needed is a pair of good studio headphones.
It can be difficult to find a pair of studio headphones that meet all your requirements, without breaking the bank. And it can be daunting to even differentiate between studio headphones and normal ones. But we are here to help. Below we are going to look at some of the best studio headphones under $200. We will be looking at options at the top of this price range, along with some budget options under $100 as well.
We have also constructed a little buyers guide to help answer some of the more technical questions you might have so that you can make an informed purchase.
The Best Studio Headphones Under $200
1. AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII
We are starting off the list with a unit that offers the amazing sound quality, mixed with some fantastic extra features that make this a solid purchase for anyone looking to step up their music production.
AKG is known for their great sound quality, and the MKII is no exception to this. The unit boasts a frequency range from 16Hz to 28kHz. This range will allow you to have complete control over your music, nothing will be left unheard. This is paired with an impedance of 55ohms, you will be able to listen at any volume without losing sound quality.
The MKII comes with an active mute-switch built into the speakers that automatically mute the sound the moment you remove the unit from your head. This is perfect for avoiding accidental audio bleed during recording sessions. The unit is closed-back, creating a baseline of noise cancellation and avoiding any audio bleed while listening.
The system is a wired unit, with a 3m cable. But the cable unit is detachable, meaning the unit is extremely portable, which is a huge plus for us. The unit features an adjustable headband, meaning no faffing about with fittings as you pass the unit around the studio.
Sitting at the $180 mark, this unit is a great top-end product that offers fantastic audio quality and precision listening.
2. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm – Our Top Pick!
Beyerdynamic always produced top-quality products that match sleek design and comfort with unbeatable sound quality, and their studio products keep to this standard. This unit is my personal top pick for this list!
The unit features a staggering 250ohm impedance, balanced out with Biodynamics’ signature commitment to quality sound reproductions, the DT 990 is a staple for any serious production studio that has some powerful amps or processors available. If you need the top level of precision listening, this is it.
The casing for the speaker is Open-back, meaning they work best in enclosed studio environments or production studios not doing live recordings. The strong sound quality, mixed with the open-back, allows you to get a full sense of how the audio will perform on similar units.
Designed for long editing sessions, the padding on the speakers is top quality velour, with the headband being fully adjustable and padded to provide maximum comfort while you work. The unit is wired, meaning there is no chance of audio disruption, stuttering, or random disconnects.
This unit sits neatly at the $200 mark, making it a top-end product that is well worth the money. If you have the cash to spare and need the best, this is definitely it. The only downside we can see is the price tag and the cable isn’t detachable at all, making it less portable than other options.
3. Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones
Weighing in at the midrange price bracket, the Fostex T50RP is a fantastic unit that offers great sound quality combined with some fantastic additional features and comfortable, sleek design.
Fostex puts an emphasis on the drivers they use in the speakers. Featuring their own design, the drivers make use of copper foil etched polyimide film and powerful neodymium magnets. These drivers are designed to put a greater emphasis on sound reproduction, meaning you will have a crisp, quality sound. Perfect for rigorous editing sessions.
The T50RP has gone for a semi-open backing on the speaker units, to achieve the best of both worlds. It reduces audio bleed significantly, allowing for live recording sessions, while also providing some ambient noise through. This is a huge plus in our books.
The unit is beautiful, with a sleek design and fantastic coloring to give it a distinct look. This is paired with low repulsion earpads, allowing for quick and comfortable fitting and adjustments, meaning you will be comfortable throughout.
A nice addition to this unit is the maximum input level being able to reach 300mW. This means the T50RP is usable in both a personal home studio and in a high-end big-budget recording studio. Whatever tech you have, this unit can handle it.
Sitting at the $160 mark, the T50RP is a fantastic value for money unit that won’t let you down. The downsides are the impedance level is not as great as some other products on the market, but it’s fantastic for this price. It does not feature a detachable cable either, which is always a bit of a nuisance.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
The ATH-M50X, by Audio-Technica, is a great unit for those looking at middle ground prices paired with fantastic audio quality. This unit is particularly great for use with digital mixing and music production, as opposed to live recording with an emphasis on bass.
The drivers are made from earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, making it perfect for DJ mixing using vocal samples or even for personal listening. The audio quality isn’t as precise when it comes to the more technical elements of music production, so this unit is definitely a more specialized product.
The focus on bass is what really characterizes this unit. If you are creating bass-focused tracks, this is a fantastic piece of kit that will enhance your experience. If not, you might want to give this one a miss.
Audio-Technica puts an emphasis on personal comfort and style. The earpieces have full 90-degree swivel functionality for easy removal, paired with circumaural design contours that fit snuggly around your ears, providing maximum comfort.
The unit also features a detachable cable, which is always a big plus. And there is even a wireless version of the product as well. The unit sits at the $150 mark. It is a mix of studio quality with the benefits of personal listening and bass loving. A great niche unit.
5. KRK KNS 6400 On-Ear Closed-Back Circumaural Studio Monitor Headphones
Our first budget option for the list, the KNS 6400 is a unit that offers everything you need without breaking the bank.
The speakers themselves run at an impedance level of 36 ohms, meaning you don’t need any heavy-duty tech to utilize these to the best of their ability. This is paired with 40mm Neodymium transducers that work to create a large dynamic range. This unit does put a slight emphasis on bass frequency as well, allowing you to hit the lower ends of your music production.
This unit features a frequency response of 10Hz to 22kHz, which is fantastic given the price tag attached. They are fully closed-back as well, providing that ambient noise cancellation, which is a huge plus for any studio product.
The foam padding around the speakers is designed to conform to the ears of the user, making them ideal for long studio sessions. This, paired with the detachable cable, makes it a portable and nifty unit for any music producer to own.
The downsides to this product are, of course, the lower impedance rating and smaller frequency response range. But, resting at the $100 mark, this is an excellent budget unit. It is especially good for any first-time buyers looking for the best studio headphones for less than $200. It will give you an idea of how they function compared to normal headphones.
6. AKG K240 Studio Over-Ear Semi-Open Professional Headphones
Another budget option, the AKG K240 is a fantastic product for anyone short of cash, or anyone looking for a fantastic gift for someone looking to break into the music production field.
Despite the cheap price tag, the audio quality is still fantastic. Making use of a low impedance rate of 55ohm, the unit can be used in any studio set-up and it offers a fantastic frequency response range of 15Hz to 25kHz. This makes it usable for any studio environment, whether that be live recording or digital mixing.
AKG is using their patented semi-open back design to great effect here. The grills along the speaker side allow air-flow in to create a nice ambient listening experience, while also reducing audio bleed. The best-of-both world approach is always a sign of quality when it comes to finding the best headphones for the studio. This is paired with a comfortable design and padding allowing use in long editing sessions.
This product comes with a few extras thrown in, giving it more bang for your buck. It comes with a bluecoil extension lead, adding 6ft of cable to the unit. And it comes with a sturdy carry case that fits the headphones in snugly, meaning they will be secure for travel.
Sitting at the $70 mark, the downsides to this product are, of course, the weaker audio quality and frequency rating when compared to its more expensive counterparts. But from the price, this is a great product.
Buyers Guide for the Best Budget Studio Headphones
What are Studio Headphones?
If you already know the difference between studio headphones and normal headphones, feel free to skip this part.
For those not in the know, there is a big difference between the two types of headphones. As the name implies, studio headphones are used in a studio environment, designed to listen to recording playbacks and let the producer pick up on all the small, specific sound discrepancies and make modifications as needed.
If you are looking for a pair of normal headphones for casual listening, we have created a guide of the best headphones under $200 that will definitely help you find what you need. And for those looking for something a bit more specifics, we also have a guide for the best water resistant headphones for runners or gym-rats.
What is Frequency Response?
One of the big differences is studio headphones look for strong Frequency Response. This is essentially the opposite of Bass/Treble boosting or other specific sound altering functions you might find in your casual headphones.
Frequency Response essentially flattens the music, meaning no one aspect is given priority. This lets a producer use their mixing table and computer to highlight what areas of the sound they want to focus on, and ensures the music is even, steady, and as crisp as it can be in all areas.
How Important are the ohms?
You will see ohms mentioned a lot in this article and on many product pages, especially for studio-quality products. But what does it mean?
A headphone impedance is measured in ohms and essentially dictates how powerful the drivers are within the speaker unit. It is easy to think that high ohms mean better quality, but this isn’t always the case.
The higher the impedance, or ohms, the more power a device will need to achieve maximum volume. If a device can provide enough power, a higher impedance will create incredible audio quality. But if it can’t, you will find the headphones volume output is significantly lower.
If you are working in a powerful studio with top quality amps and powerful computers, a higher ohms count is fantastic. But for a smaller budget studio, you may want to look at the lower end of the impedance scale.
Do I want Open or Closed Back?
When it comes to casual listening, the argument of Open or Closed Back simply falls down to preference. But with studio headphones, you have to be a lot more considerate of both your working environment and the type of music you are recording.
Closed Back headphones guarantee little to no audio bleed while recording. This is fantastic if you have to be in the same room as the microphone or are recording vocals with the headset on.
Open Back headphones are fantastic for a sealed, quiet environment such as a separate recording booth setup, or if you are creating music digitally rather than recording it live. It will give you a better sense of what the music will sound like played aloud or through other Open Back products.
You will often find some companies make use of a semi-open back design. These products aren’t as common and generally underperform in both aspects. But the reduced audio bleeding, slight ambient noise cancellation, and ambient listening are perfect for a studio setting.
What Extra Features Should I Look For?
When it comes to extra features, companies will often prioritize some over others. With studio headphones, you should always focus on the sound quality above all else. But after that, you have free reign.
Wireless functionality is always a good feature to have, especially if the headphones are being used by vocalists, band members or just being passed around the studio a lot.
Active Noise Cancellation is always a huge plus. If you need to really focus on the sound, especially during a live recording session, this is going to pay for itself ten times over.
Detachable cables are quite common amongst the best studio headphones, a small feature, but a handy one nonetheless. It makes transport a breeze and allows for quick disconnecting as well.
Not every unit will have these features, so when they do show up, its always a great addition. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the list.
We hope this list has helped you find the best studio quality headphones under $200 to meet your demands. Creating music is one of the most rewarding experiences out there. There is no better feeling than sitting down and listening to the playback of your own creation. To that end, we wish you all the luck in the world! Happy shopping.
Last update on 2021-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API