Best Studio Headphones Under 100
Whenever you feel like enjoying some leisurely “me time”, headphones are the way to go. But headphones are not only used for leisure. Sound mixers, audio engineers, DJ’s, and other professionals who make their living in the entertainment industry rely on them every day as they go about their duties and responsibilities. For these people, they can’t have just any pair of headphones. What they need are studio headphones that have designed specifically for professional use.
Types of the Best Professional Studio Headphones
There are generally two types of studio headphones commonly used by entertainment professionals. For those in the recording business, the preferred type of headphones are those that have a closed-back design because they do a much better job at isolating individual sounds. This is important for recording artists and musicians because they can listen to the mix through their headphones while they record in real time, without the audio from the headphones bleeding into the live mic and ruining the recording.
Open-back type best studio headphones, on the other hand, are frequently used in the mixing department. While sound isolation is important when recording tracks, during the mixing process, it takes a backseat to sound quality. Therefore, open-back headphones are used for audio reference quality monitoring, wherein you can listen to the final rendering and check for problems in the audio track. Open-back headphones are not as good at isolating sounds like their closed-back counterparts, but they do provide much better audio quality.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Studio Headphones
- Sound Quality – You will need to find a pair of studio headphones that offer the best sound quality for your needs. Whether you opt to go for closed-back or open-back headphones, how well they sound will and should always be one of the first things for you to think about. You need to realize, however, that your idea of what sounds good would most likely be slightly different from how other perceive it. So when a friend tells you that some headphone brand offers the best audio quality in town, don’t take his word for it. Go out and have a listen for yourself.
- Design and Comfort – Some manufacturers will try to bring down the retail price of their product in order to make them more competitive, but at the expense of quality or comfortability. Since the best studio headphones are designed to be worn over long hours of recording and such, they need to be made with soft, comfortable materials that have been incorporated into an ergonomic design.
- Cost – With everything that studio headphones bring to the table, you could easily think that a pair might cost you more than what you can afford. But as mixing and recording slowly make their way out of the studio and into the hands of the everyday consumer, professional studio headphones are becoming more and more affordable. Today, you can find plenty of high quality studio headphones that not only sound great, and are comfortable to wear, but are also friendly on the budget. You can even find a few gems that cost less than $100.
5 of the Best Studio Headphones under $100
With its sleek, black exterior, collapsible design, padded headband, and cushioned earpads, the ATH-M30x from professional audio equipment firm Audio-Technica is making waves in the consumer electronics market. For a pair of closed-back over-ear headphones that retails for around $70, the ATH-M30x delivers fairly remarkable audio quality through its 40mm drivers. It provides a generally balanced frequency distribution, with noticeable attention given to mid-range definition, the circumaural design provides great sound isolation, letting you listen to the songs on your playlist even when you’re in a noisy place. The ATH-M30x is extremely comfortable to wear, better even than some of its more expensive competitors. Great sound, comfortable fit, and an average retail price that would hardly make dent on your savings, the ATH-M30x has all the makings of one of the best studio headphones on the market today.
Offering a good combination of durability, portability, and remarkably decent sound isolation, the MDR-V55 from global multi-industry leader Sony gives other DJ-style headphones a run for your money. DJ-style headphones are so named because they are used by amateur and professional DJ’s to monitor their tunes while performing. The MDR-V55 is great for monitoring audio reference quality, and it offers a street-style look that is not only trendy but also very comfortable to wear. Sound quality on the MDR-V55 is superb, and its build is solid and ruggedly durable for a pair of on-ear headphones in its price range. It is also portable due to its folding design, and offers a decent level of comfort thanks to its flexible headband and cushioned earpads. It may not be the most comfortable pair of headphones that you will ever get to wear, but the MDR-V55 is one of the few to offer good audio, powerful bass, and rigid construction all for a low price. It retails for around $50, and comes in two colors: black, and white.
Another pair of headphones that incorporate the DJ-style look is the 8323, from online consumer electronics retailer Monoprice. Offering high fidelity audio through its 50mm drivers, the Monoprice 8323 is right up there with some of its more mainstream competitors when it comes to sound quality. It delivers a deeper and richer bass than other over-ear headphones in its price range, and has very decent mids and highs. It comes with two detachable audio cables, one short and one long, for better flexibility. It’s padded headband and plush ear cups give you a decent amount of comfort, although the material used can cause your ears to get a little sweaty, especially during hot gigs. But for headphones that only cost a little over $30, the Monoprice 8323 still deserves some serious thought.
German audio electronics firm Sennheiser takes a spot on this list of the best studio headphones under $100 with the HD 205-II. Delivering excellent audio quality and a powerful bass, the HD 205-II is arguably one of the better performing supra-aural or on-ear type studio headphones on the market today. Like most of the other DJ-style headphones out there, the HD 205-II also has a closed-back design that provides a decent amount of sound isolation. They are surprisingly comfortable for a pair of on-ears, thanks largely to its rotatable and cushioned ear cups. Its robust construction also allows the HD 205-II to take quite a beating. The earpads are user-replaceable and are easy to clean. If you are looking for a pair of studio headphones that you can take on the road with you and still give you superb sound quality, the HD 205-II is definitely worth checking out. Retailing for around $50, it is one of Sennheiser’s better sounding and more budget-friendly pair of headphones.
Channeling some of the audio equipment company’s pricier and more sophisticated products with its sleek design and excellent sound quality, the HDJ-500R from Pioneer is one pair of on-ear headphones that deserves your attention. Being the closed-back headphones that they are, the HDJ-500R provides just enough sound isolation to let it deliver clear audio reproduction, particularly in the low and mid ranges that are important for remixing. It is rigid and flexible, and is built with a swivel arm that allows you to rotate the right earpiece forward at an angle of up to 60 degrees, making it great for one-ear monitoring. The HDJ-500R is also sufficiently comfortable, and can compete with the best of them in terms of ruggedness and durability. Barely making it into this list with its $95 price tag, the HDJ-500R performs well above expectations and is still one of the best studio headphones that you can buy for less than $100.