The 7 Best Headphones For Recording Vocals (2023)

A key component of anyone’s toolkit when recording vocals is a pair of headphones. Good headphones will tell you exactly what the recording sounds like, allowing you to make the changes necessary to get the best possible sound.

My top recommended headphones are the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, which offer a neutral, highly detailed sound along with exemplary comfort.

My second recommended headphones are the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO, perfect for those on a tight budget, these headphones offer high-quality sound with a collapsible design.

The 7 Best Headphones For Recording Vocals (2023)

1. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm
Top Pick - Very neutral, analytical sound with great bass and a spacious soundstage.
2. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
Budget Pick - Attractively priced headphones offering linear, accurate sound with a foldable design.
3. Shure SRH1540 Premium
Pro Pick - High-end headphones with fantastic sound, lightweight design, and very comfortable fit.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Affordable, portable headphones with deep bass and sturdy build.
5. Focal Listen Professional
High-end transducer with clear, neutral sound and original accessories.
6. AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII
Accurate, professional-quality sound with soft ear pads and self-adjusting headband.
7. Sony MDR7506
Clear, uncolored sound and comfortable headphones with very sturdy construction.

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm

Top Pick
Very neutral, analytical sound with great bass and a spacious soundstage.
View Price at Amazon

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm have a closed, over-ear design with a highly detailed sound that makes them perfect for monitoring recordings in the studio. Their pure and analytical sound makes it easy to hear deep into the mix, allowing producers and sound technicians to easily make a great studio recording.

Pros

  • High-resolution, neutral sound
  • Excellent bass reproduction
  • Very comfortable fit
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Non-detachable cable

The ability of the DT 770 to faithfully reproduce a song has made it the top choice of many audio professionals. While the treble and midrange are delivered with great resolution and minimal coloration, it is the bass capabilities of these headphones that are particularly noteworthy.

As well as being weighty and extended, the low frequencies are reproduced cleanly and with excellent definitions. The closed-back nature of the headphones means that outside noise is filtered out. The DT 770 is also capable of producing a sound with remarkable spatial characteristics due to the high impedance levels.

Headphone TypeClosed back, Over-ear
Impedance250 ohms
Sensitivity96 dB
Frequency Range5 Hz – 35 kHz
MaterialSpring steel headband, velour silver earpads

Made in Germany, the DT 770 have exemplary build quality. The soft, adjustable ear cups mean that they can be worn without discomfort for long periods while the spring steel headband provides a fit that is both secure and comfortable. The single-sided cable allows the headphones to be taken on and off without getting tangled in the process.

2. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Budget Pick
Attractively priced headphones offering linear, accurate sound with a foldable design.
View Price at Amazon

The Sennheiser HD 280 PRO deliver great sound quality, despite being very affordable. The audio is clear and detailed, with a linear frequency response that allows users to get an uncolored insight into the recording.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Accurate, detailed sound
  • Collapsible, modular design

Cons

  • Mid-bass is a little weak

The imaging is particularly effective, being spacious and three-dimensional. Unlike many professional headphones, the Sennheiser don’t have a bright treble, reducing listening fatigue over long periods.

These robustly constructed closed-back headphones effectively block out ambient noise, allowing you to hear the music more clearly. The earpads are constructed from soft faux leather, providing long-lasting comfort. The Sennheiser have a modular design, with the earcups folding and rotating for easy transport. They can also be used for monitoring in diverse environments.

Headphone TypeClosed back, Over-ear
Impedance64 ohms
Sensitivity113 dB
Frequency Range8 Hz – 25 kHz
MaterialPlastic, faux leather earpads

While the Sennheiser’s collapsible design makes them great headphones for taking around for outdoor broadcasts, their rugged construction ensures that they can absorb plenty of spills. The single-sided cable is extra tough so it won’t suddenly go dead on you. It also makes putting on the headphones and slipping them off extremely easy.

3. Shure SRH1540 Premium

Pro Pick
High-end headphones with fantastic sound, lightweight design, and very comfortable fit.
View Price at Amazon

The Shure SRH1540 Premium delivers superlative sound, making them perfect for sound engineers and musicians looking for the best studio headphones. These headphones boast a 40mm driver that delivers pristine highs and extended powerful bass sounds.

Pros

  • Superlative sound quality
  • Lightweight, yet exceptionally sturdy
  • Great frequency response

Cons

  • Limited noise isolation
  • Pricey

Thanks to a steel driver frame and vented center pole piece, internal resonances are eliminated. The sound is linear, transparent, and superbly detailed, with an expansive soundstage that lets you hear all the instruments separately.

The SRH1540 Premium are built to a very high standard. The aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke and carbon fiber cap make them exceptionally sturdy, while also being lightweight. The headband is lightweight with a dual-frame padded design that is fully adjustable and ergonomic, making this set of headphones very comfortable to wear, even for hours at a time.

Headphone TypeClosed-back, Over-ear
Impedance46 ohms
Sensitivity99 dB
Frequency Range5 Hz – 25 kHz
MaterialAluminum, alcantara earpads

The ear pads are made of low-density, high-recovery foam, and Alcantara, ensuring an extremely comfortable fit. They are also replaceable, allowing you to use these headphones for many years. The detachable OFC cable comes with a Kevlar-reinforced jacket for exceptional durability.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Value For Money
Affordable, portable headphones with deep bass and sturdy build.
View Price at Amazon

Over their long lifespan, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones have garnered plenty of critical praise from industry veterans and reviewers. The Audio-Technica headphones boast phenomenal clarity, allowing you to hear deep into the mix to make accurate recordings. The frequency range is extended with deep, powerful bass that is also clean and controlled. Best of all, these headphones are very affordable.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Excellent clarity and deep bass
  • Neutral, balanced soundstage

Cons

  • Not the best noise isolation
  • Plastic construction

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X have a circumaural design that contours around the ears, filtering out background noise. Consequently, you can use these headphones even in noisy environments, however, the noise isolation levels are far from perfect.

Professional-grade materials have been used in the construction of the earpads and headbands, allowing you to use the Audio-Technica for hours with no discomfort. The headphones come with a 1/4-inch adapter for improved connectivity. 

Headphone TypeClosed-back, Over-ear
Impedance38 ohms
Sensitivity98 dB
Frequency Range15 Hz – 28 kHz
MaterialPlastic, aluminum highlight pads

The collapsible design makes the headphones much more compact and portable. The earcups also swivel, allowing the headphones to be used in a variety of situations. Three detachable cables and a carrying pouch are included, making them easy to take with you wherever you go.

5. Focal Listen Professional

Well-rounded
High-end transducer with clear, neutral sound and original accessories.
View Price at Amazon

Focal has used its expertise in designing high-end drive units to create headphones with exclusive cone technology that offers transparent sound with excellent dynamics. The transducer has a Mylar suspension, with a central dome made from a Mayler-titanium alloy. This makes them extremely light yet rigid, resulting in a frequency response that extends to 40 kHz. The bass has also been tuned to go low with minimal distortion.

Pros

  • Advanced driver technology
  • Designed for superior comfort
  • Great accessory package included

Cons

  • Prone to sweat when used for a prolonged period
  • High bass THD

The ear cushions have been carefully designed to give an even tonal balance while providing noise isolation and great comfort for long-term use. Microfiber is used for a more linear and accurate bass response while the acoustic tissue close to the driver is designed to offer absorption for improved linearity. As a result of this judicious tuning, the lower midrange and bass have better articulation and the sound as a whole is more accurate and precise.

The headband of the Focal has a unique design for comfort and durability. Its curve remains consistent whatever the shape and size of your head, while a layer of silicone spreads out the weight evenly. This allows the headphones to be used for long recording sessions without discomfort. 

Headphone TypeClosed-back, On-ear
Impedance32 ohms
Sensitivity122 dB
Frequency Range5 Hz – 22 kHz
MaterialPlastic, microfiber-covered memory foam earpads

The ear cups have a black covering that makes them resistant to damage. They also rotate horizontally and vertically, enabling them to be used in any situation. Plus, a great accessory package is included.

6. AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII

Comfortable
Accurate, professional-quality sound with soft ear pads and self-adjusting headband.
View Price at Amazon

AKG has been in business for 65 years, and the K271 MKII shows why countless industry veterans continue to use their products in the studio. These closed-back headphones deliver the phenomenal sound that you need to correctly master your recordings.

Pros

  • Realistic sound with 3D soundstage
  • Comfortable self-adjusting headband
  • Robust construction

Cons

  • Cheap feel
  • The bass is a bit thin

The AKG Pro Audio K271 MKII headphones have patented Varimotion drivers to produce realistic, highly accurate sound. Everything is reproduced faithfully, with a 3D soundstage that lets you hear deep into the mix. The bass is very deep but clean and tightly controlled.

These headphones use advanced closed-back technology to isolate unwanted background noise, allowing you to hear the music more clearly. It also prevents the sound from spilling into the studio environment and spoiling the recording. The AKG features an integrated mute switch that automatically mutes the sound when the headphones are taken off, ensuring that there is no bleed in the studio.

Headphone TypeClosed-back, Over-ear
Impedance55 ohms
Sensitivity104 dB
Frequency Range16 Hz – 28 kHz
MaterialPlastic build, velvet and leatherette earpads

Befitting headphones that have been designed for lengthy recording sessions, the AKG has soft ear pads and an ergonomic design that makes them comfortable to use for extended periods. The headband is self-adjusting and automatically adapts to the shape and size of your head, ensuring that they fit very securely and comfortably. Two detachable cables are also provided.

7. Sony MDR7506

Budget-friendly
Clear, uncolored sound and comfortable headphones with very sturdy construction.
View Price at Amazon

Sony has been making great headphones for studio monitoring for many years and the MDR7506 shows why the brand continues to be trusted by industry veterans. These headphones produce some of the most accurate, uncolored sounds that you can find for the money.

Pros

  • Natural, extended sound
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Lightweight yet ruggedly constructed

Cons

  • Lacks soundstage
  • Too much mid-range
  • Plasticky feel

The 40mm drivers and neodymium magnets combine to deliver a precise, highly detailed sound with an extremely extended frequency range. The treble and midrange are transparent and natural, while the bass is powerful but clean.

The Sony MDR-7506 has been designed to provide outstanding comfort so that users don’t experience fatigue even after hours of use. Despite being ruggedly constructed, these headphones are lightweight, so you hardly feel them on your head. The earpads are soft and ergonomically designed to avoid discomfort. At the same time, they provide a secure fit that filters out external noise, allowing you to clearly hear only the music.

Headphone TypeClosed-back, Over-ear
Impedance63 ohms
Sensitivity106 dB
Frequency Range10 Hz – 20 kHz
MaterialPlastic, faux leather earpads

These headphones are foldable, making them very easy to take around in the provided soft case. These headphones come with a 9.8-inch non-detachable cord with a gold-plated plug, which provides an excellent connection and great sonic results.

Do you need particular Headphones for Recording Vocals?

Yes, in order to record vocals well, you need clear, detailed headphones that will give you precise, uncolored insight into the recording, along with good studio monitors, of course. Consequently, you should select headphones that are as accurate as possible.

The headphones should also provide excellent sound isolation, which will allow you to clearly hear the music while preventing the sound from leaking into the microphone and contaminating the recording.

What is the difference between Studio and Conventional Headphones?

Conventional headphones are designed to provide musical enjoyment and studio headphones must be as accurate as possible. Normal headphones may have a boosted bass, warm midrange, and accentuated treble in order to provide a more engaging sound. In contrast, studio headphones produce a linear, precise sound that is tonally neutral and provides as much detail as possible. 

Are all Closed-Back Headphones good for Recording Vocals?

Not all closed-back headphones are good for recording vocals, as some of these headphones may have a colored sound that is designed for casual listening. However, studio headphones tend to have a closed-back design as they provide better sound isolation. Naturally, open back headphones (open-back designs) are quite inferior for studio use.

What to look for in Headphones for Recording Vocals when buying?

The most important factor when selecting headphones for recording vocals is sound quality. You should look for headphones that will give you an unvarnished view of the recording. Consequently, you should select headphones that are transparent and highly detailed, while offering a flat response and neutral tonality.

Sound isolation is also important for studio headphones. You should find headphones that effectively suppress ambient noise while preventing noise leakage into the studio.

Studio headphones typically have to be worn for hours at a time, so it’s important that you find one that doesn’t cause fatigue due to long-term use. Make sure that the ear pads are soft and not too warm. Does the headband make the ear cups fit securely without clamping down on your head? Is the headphone lightweight?

Also, check that the headphones are strong enough to withstand daily use. If you are planning on taking the headphones to a different studio, opt for foldable headphones that include a carry case. Good quality headphones are not cheap, but fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options for those on a tight budget.

Summary

Using a quality pair of headphones is essential if you want to accurately record vocal tracks. Luckily, there are many excellent choices for purchases on the market and you are bound to find one that’s right for you from this list.

My top pick is the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. These quality headphones really give you a clear view of the recording while being secure and comfortable.

My budget pick is the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO. Despite the low price, they offer excellent sound and are also well-built and portable.

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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