What Are The Best Headphones for Music Production/Mixing?

The answer is different for everyone.

People have asked me many times,”What are the best headphones for recording?” “What are the best headphones for checking mixes?”  I’ve seen ego arguments on engineering forums, and I’ve seen friendships ruined.  Well, not really.  My best answer: it’s personal.

I’ve tried many different earbuds, “professional” studio reference headphones, high end consumer headphones, (well, not high end like these $16,000 headphones!) and ya know what? Some worked alright for me, but there was never that definitive pair that was the end all be all.  I either couldn’t hear clearly to mix accurately, or everything sounded beefed up and bright so my mixes sounded flat and lifeless.  While it was a nice break to briefly change from speakers to headphones, it was the equivalent to checking a mix on small auratones: if it sounds good there, it will sound good anywhere.  I gave up on the search until one day, in a weird moment of desperation (due to a time sensitive deadline and I was on the road), I used my Bose Quiet Comforts to make a beat.  I wasn’t concerned about the rough mix because I knew I could finalize at my studio later, but the mix was SLAMMING.  I also realized that I could get into a vibe to create!  My ears weren’t getting fatigued, the outside of my ears weren’t hurting, I could hear clearly, and although they aren’t the most accurate headphones, they translated into a real world environment enough for me to have faith in my mix decisions.  This was a win for me!  I tried using them in a few other situations, editing and mixing, and they killed it! I now had headphones I could use and trust.  NOTE that these weren’t even my go-to listening headphones – I usually rock the Bowers and Wilkens C5’s cause they sound nice and my weird ear shape won’t keep normal earbuds in.  On another note – I couldn’t use those C5’s to create with – I tried and they fatigued me quickly.

I think it’s funny because Bose doesn’t have the best rep, audiophiles called them the O.ther S.ound E.quipment company, (LOL) and they’re definitely not even in the studio headphone category.

Regardless, I offer this advice.  Find what works for you.  Take reviews and advice into consideration, but don’t rush to buy a pair based on someone else’s experience, and don’t settle for a final decision after listening to many models at best buy or guitar center.  Somehow try to borrow, rent, or buy-then-return a pair.  Try working for at least 45 minutes to an hour on some critical listening, music creation, or ideally mixing of some sort, and find out what works best for your process, and your final result.  It took me years to finally discover what works for me.  I tried many models over the years.  Hope my experience helps!!