K0K0 Registered User

I've had a set of Sennheiser HD 280s as monitors for a home recording setup for years. When I got them I thought they were nice and neutral, detailed if a little bright. So I liked em and basically ended up using them for general listening purposes at home as well.

I recently had to replace them and went for HD 380s instead. I was shocked at the difference. To me it sounds like the bottom end is way more pronounced and dominates the sound. But after thinking I realise that having used nothing but 280s for so long they've become my reference for what I perceive to be a neutral sound.

So I'd like to know what people think is a good benchmark for neutral sounding headphones and more generally what they think are the best headphones to use as monitors?

jackbarrett91 Registered User

I have Audio Technica ATH-M50 and they are just the best monitor headphones ever. Go to some music store and try them. Good luck.

madtheory Registered User

The topic of headphones comes up several times a week on this board. Try a search. There's also an excellent SOS shootout of various models.

Headphones seem to be more prone to personal preference than speakers, although with speakers there is the massive variable of room acoustics. Plus, you need to develop your critical listening faculties to hear and understand the differences. And understand how to do a proper blind AB listening test.

Sennheiser HD25II are what the location sound for film/ TV people use. Says it all really- if the mix works on those, it'll work on TV sets up and down the country with no further processing. Excellent isolation so great for mic positioning in studio. AKG K-271 are very good for mixing music, as are Beyerdynamic HD-150. The new KRK are very good too.

Ultimately though, you really need to mix on good speakers in a treated room to be absolutely sure that the mix works.

TroutMask Moderator

there are so many nice headphones and, as madtheory pointed out, excellent shootouts like the one on SOS. I like my Sony MDR 7506 - sound great and last forever - got mine in 1995 and still using them.

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K0K0 Registered User

Thanks a lot for the suggestions guys. The SOS comparisons are very informative alright.

I guess for a lot of people recording at home headphones are the only practical option and with so much choice it's good to have some kind of starting point


akg k701

splitrmx Registered User

If money was no object, I'd go for the Grado PS1000.

smck99 Registered User

@jackbarrett91 have to agree with you there, +1 on the Audio Technica ATH-M50s!
I study sound engineering in college and from having used some other students sets, I realized how much I actually love my own! They're just very natural sounding, large frequency response range, quite comfortable, very sturdy. A great all rounder as I also use them for DJ'ing and on the bus!

danabrism Registered User

I don't work on them much (they're just for an alternative reference really) but I like my Beyerdynamic DT990s - not terribly well defined in the bass, but they are really comfortable to wear! If you're using headphones for an extended period, this can actually be an important factor...

K0K0 Registered User

I actually ended up getting Beyerdynamic DT880 pros and I'm really pleased with them. Excellent clarity and detail, a different level from the 280s straight out of the box. Defo don't emphasise the low end but a lot of phones seem to have an unnatural bass boost which is what I didn't like about the HD380. And yeah, sooooo comfy!


Yeah I have the Audio Technica ATH-M50 myself. Great headphones for the price but they do come down a little bit heavy on the bass side. Still good headphones for monitoring once you are aware of that and take it into consideration. But no one mixes there bass through headphones, right?

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