Doesn’t matter if you are a professional sound engineer, musician, or a beginner who just got into studio monitoring.
Sooner or later, you will need a pair of headphones. Studio headphones can either be used for recording, tracking, or mixing.
Buying the right ones might be a challenge, but at the same time, it is the best moment since the market is quite crowded and there are a bunch of options to choose from. Also Electronic music has never been more popular, people trying to make music rose insanely. Pretty much, the audio world before was dominated by a few contenders but now there are a handful of players trying to enter the “game”.
Most of the time, professional studio headphones come with a price that is hard to swallow. Thanks to the huge portfolio of headphones currently on the market, based on my knowledge and some research, I came up with a list of best studio headphones under $100.
Without further a doo let’s start listing the best studio headphones under $100.
Best Noise Isolation
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Best For Listening
|AKG Pro Audio K240|
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Best For The Money
|beyerdynamic DT 240 PRO|
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|Sennheiser HD 280 Pro|
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5. Yamaha HPH-MT5 – Best Noise Isolation
Yamaha HPH-MT5 are a pair of closed-back headphones that are a worthy contender for those who are looking for a budget-friendly set of cans. The HPH lineup from Yamaha is not something new, but the MT5’s are like the baby version of the HPH range, even though it can be tagged as the smallest in terms of features, you’d be surprised by how well those headphones sound.
The Yamaha HPH-MT5 features a sleek, stylish design with a closed back. Each component in them has been developed with durability and lightweight in mind so it can provide good portability. The headphones are equipped with large ear pads that come wrapped in smooth synthetic leather so you can have an extremely comfortable fit.
While the headband is not made out of real leather, it is rather soft and comfortable. The three-dimensional arm pivot construction will allow the angle of the ear pads to fit any head shape perfectly while at the same time alleviating fatigue when working in a studio for extended periods of time. Besides that, they also feature moveable/swivel earcups.
Thanks to their closed-back design the noise isolation here is quite good. Audio engineers can monitor sound and listen to every detail without the background noise interfering with the quality. Obviously, it is not as good as an ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) that you will find in a flagship like the Sony WH-1000XM4, but passive noise cancellation wise, they do a splendid job.
Their sound quality for the price they come with is simply beyond good. Especially if you look at some other options in the industry that offer less quality in sound aspect and still charge a huge amount of money. The MT5 shines at a mid-range level the most while producing good bass levels, nothing harsh just to make sure the users enjoy the headphones to the fullest. The frequency response is good enough to deliver a clear sound with detail.
- Good sound signature
- Highs could be better
- Ears might get irritated after a very long time of usage
4. AKG Pro Audio K240 – Best for Listening
AKG an important player in the sound industry, often like to refer to their products as “Professional Studio Standard” and they are not only making hollow claims. Their headphones live up to AKG’s word, especially the Pro Audio K240 is a testament to that.
Design is not their key selling point, I mean that’s a wise move from AKG, they make a pair of studio use headphones, what is the point of them being all flashy and cool looking?
Therefore the K240 won’t impress us much with their appearance. That being said, the headband hit high notes, it is designed to withstand a great deal of wear and tear. The earcups themselves sit comfortably on the ears, with a nice imitation leather padding that can be replaced. The star of the show here is definitely the headband as I mentioned. It is self-adjusting, and one of the few parts that sport a metal design, also very flexible steel inside that provides us with great comfort.
Moving to the part AKG does the best, the sound quality. The soundstage of the K240 is quite remarkable. It feels like the sound just floats around you. The details are exceptional, the mids are excellent and the vocals sound clear and price. In a few words, the AKG Pro Audio K240 represents a sound that you will hear or expect to get from a pair of high-end headphones. As for the frequency range, it goes from 15 Hz to 25 kHz.
I feel like the reason why they sound so good is the semi-open design that is structured nicely and efficiently. But besides that, bass heads or people that love bass might not find themselves on the K240, big bass sound is not present, which is quite understandable.
- Don’t bleed as much as the fully open ‘headphones”
- Great Comfort
- Quiet Bass
3. beyerdynamic DT 240 PRO – Best for the Money
The well-known German brand, Beyerdynamic has found the sweet spot to offer professionals a pair of studio headphones at a great price, without compromising on their design and sound quality.
The German manufacturer did a great job on presenting a well-managed balance of build while maintaining sonic performance so the headphones can reward in a versatile way, all the entry-level studio users.
Beyerdynamic often skips stylish designs so they can focus on the comfort aspect more, yet, on the DT 240 Pro, they managed to give the headphones a cool matte black look. The earcups come in plastic without looking cheap. The Beyerdynamic logo appears on the plastic ends to the headband. Both the earpads and headband are generously padded despite being budget. They are also covered in faux leather, giving us tons of comfort in return. Yes, it will continue doing so over long listening periods – a must for studio use.
They ship with only one removable cable, which is understandable when you consider the low price. The included cable is ideal for studio and recording, it has a 49-inch design that can extend up to 10 feet.
The overall sound quality is as expected from Beyerdynamics. It has a bright sound signature with a bit of elevated bass. The mid-range is close to perfectly natural, which is quite impressive, very few closed-back headphones are capable of achieving that. The sound coloration that is introduced by the DT 240 Pro will appeal for a lot of recreational listening, as for studio work, they benefit hugely from the calibration.
Nothing more to say besides, DT 240 Pros are fantastic headphones, that will fit in a wide range of tasks while keeping you at a great comfort level. For more headphones from beyerdynamic, check out our beyerdynamic headphones roundup.
- Unbeatable build/design quality at this price point
- Smooth frequency response
- Great Portability
- Not for those that seek heavy bass
- Minimal noise cancellation
2. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro – Best Runner-Up
Sennheiser is a brand that has impressed the sound community always with its top-notch headphones. But with their HD 280 Pro, they really hit the nail in the head.
A pair of closed-back headphones that are as versatile as headphones can get, but in the end studio, professionals are the ones who benefit the most out of them.
Design-wise, they are entirely made out of plastic, don’t let that trick you though. It is a high-quality plastic that is made to last.
Besides being well built they also are extremely comfortable, to the point that you forget you’re wearing headphones. The headband is firm and sturdy, yet flexible, so are the ear cups; they can bend in any direction for easy-storage transport and comfort.
They pretty much check all the boxes, settle with ease since they will keep you comfortable for hours.
What’s more, they also do an incredible job on Passive noise cancelation. To isolate the noise outside, the HD 280 pro uses a relatively strong clamping force, but sometimes this might result in some headaches due to the pressure.
The HD 280 Pro inherited the signature sound of Sennheiser, they are bass-oriented. With an expansive frequency range of 8Hz to 25,000Hz. Despite exceeding on bass, other frequencies don’t fall short either. Overall, they sound great and will prove great even in-studio use. We also listed them as the best over-ear headphones under $100.
- Good comfort
- No sound bleed
- Great price
- The clamping force might generate heat around the ears
- Cable is not detachable
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x – Best Overall
Audio-Technica is a company that sits at the top with its top-notch headphones, especially the ATH lineup.
The M40x who made my list as the best overall is the younger brother of the well-famed ATH-M50x, both siblings are the reason why Audio-Technica is known for good.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are a pair of headphones with a closed-back design, that cut off the background noise nearly as good as a pair of Bose headphones (e:g Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700).
Their design is something that we all should expect from Audio-Technica. Plain simple, and good-looking. Nothing fancy, nothing flamboyant because the design is not the selling point of Audio-Technica products, it’s their sound quality and performance.
It comes in black with a black finish. It has lightweight plastic with a plush padding that makes it quite comfortable to wear, something that is crucial for all those hard-working hours. To reward us with good portability, ear cups can rotate 90 degrees so you can have them flat around the neck when not in use or just adjust them for the best fit.
Sound-wise is where the ATH-M50X shines the most. It is so versatile, that I can go as far as say “Jack of All Trades, and Master of all”.
The vocals and instruments are well detailed coming in clear and crips, and nicely separated on a well-organized soundstage. The low end is warm, the midrange is well defined and integrated while it avoids harshness and provides smooth quality. Bass is something we all love and look the most on a pair of headphones, M40x doesn’t fail to provide it. The ATH-M50X has been tuned for a great responseful and impactful bass.
Nevertheless, the ATH-M40X isn’t going anywhere, the comfort, style and great sound will still keep this bad boy in competition, Though its brother the ATHM50x is currently leading the pack, M40X is right behind. They also earned the number 1 spot in our piano headphones roundup, meaning they are one of the most versatile headphones out there.
- Great Versatility in sounding aspect
- Detachable cables
- Earcups swivel freedom
- Hingers are quite fragile
- Propetiary audiotechnica cable, will be hard to find other aftermarket upgrade cables
Casual Headphones Vs Studio Headphones:
Casual headphones, as the name implies are designed to benefit everyday consumers. Some brands that provide headphones for casual listening would be: Skullcandy, Beats, Bose, Jbl, Anker soundcore etc.
While Studio Headphones are the opposite of that. You buy them to monitor and create songs instead of listening to them, they usually offer a more natural sound, so the song you are monitoring can come as it is and not enhanced in different frequencies.
Are studio headphones under $100 worth it?
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t recommend cheap headphones to anyone that don’t sound good and will break in a couple of days.
However, the list that I made is a different case, those are all well-known headphones that have been in the market for years now even decades, while time swallowed them, the price went down too.
Yet again, by no means those are bad headphones. Them making on a 2022 article is a testament to how good they are. I can go as far as saying, even some of the newer flagships fall short of some of the above.
If you are a musical artist, such as a piano player, you can also take a look at some of the best headphones for piano players.
All I can say in the end is, try to look around a bit before you make a purchase, so you make sure they are a good fit for your needs. Don’t be hasty, what Is good to me or someone else, might not be good for you or vice-versa.
Hopefully, my article gave you guys an even a little bit of insight on the best studio headphones under $100.