One of the questions that gets asked time and time again in bedroom producer communities is this… what are the best affordable headphones for new producers. In this article I’ll give you my opinion, and ask you for yours.
How Much do You Want to Spend?
The first thing to consider when looking for your first production headphones is your budget. As this website is aimed at bedroom producers and DIY home studio fanatics I will assume you don’t have an infinite amount of money to spend and that you want to get the best value possible. Obviously, the more you spend, the better quality headphones you can buy. But you can get a pair which are more than good enough for producing and mixing without going bankrupt.
That said, if you buy dirt cheap headphones, you aren’t going to be doing yourself any favours. You need at least a certain level of quality, frequency range and accuracy to really hear what is going on in your production and be able to make good decisions. So you need to find that balance between quality and cost that’s going to allow you to make good music without making you very poor.
I believe that spending around £100-£150 will get you what you need to get started, at the lowest cost. There are two pairs of headphones in this range that I would recommend.
Sennheiser HD 380 Pro
Currently going for just under a hundred quid, the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro Headphones are a great set of cans for the price. They are closed-back so great for recording too, though open-backs are preferred for accurate monitoring you will not be disappointed with the range and clarity of these.
For around the same price (depending what deals are on) you can grab a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Headphones. These have very similar specs to the Sennheisers with a bit more high end and a bit less low, though nothing that makes one particularly any better than the other.
But Which is Best?
In all honesty, there is very little difference between the two and whichever you choose will serve you well. The ATH-M50x are more popular recently and have a slightly flatter response curve. Though if you use correction software like SonarWorks headphone calibration that becomes irrelevant. You can see below the difference, with the Sennheisers having a bit of a peak around 2.5khz which calibration smoothes out for you.
Sennheiser HD 380 Pro
What do You Think?
These two are my recommendations for the cheapest headphones that are good enough to use for bedroom producers and home studio people. If you are willing to spend more then you can definitely do better, but either of these is good to get you started.
What do you think? Do you prefer some other headphones in this price range? Do you think these are not suitable for any reason? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.