Six Great Studio Monitor Headphones Under $200: Reviews 2017
A Few Good Headphones for Monitoring and Mixing
If you've had any experience in a recording studio, you'll know that getting the proper sound quality from your audio monitors is a huge deal. You need to hear the intricacies of the sound in full stereo if you want to mix properly. Therefore, finding the best studio monitor headphones is an essential thing for any studio, from the home based budget variety all the way up to uber professional firms.
A pair of good studio monitor headphones will give the right balance of clarity, detail and tone, letting you hear both the bass, mid tones and treble all without distortion. They will render the sound from your recordings in true fashion, and help you hear what the end listener might catch. You may not consider them that important, but once you start using a nice set you'll be unable to go back, I guarantee it.
This article is intended to showcase six of the best studio monitor headphones under $200. We'll take a look at five products that fit within that price range, and list some of the nicer features and why you might want to consider each one. If there are any potential detractors, we'll list those too. Before we get into the product reviews, I'll give a short list of my 'must have' features in case you end up going off the grid! Let's get started.
Finding the Best Studio Headphones Below $200
If I'm shopping for the best studio headphones for recording and mixing purposes, there are a few things that I value over other features. It's important to make sure your headset has stuff that will actually be useful, since many brand advertisements will make a big deal about features that are really just fluff in the grand scheme of things. Here are a few things I'd look for first.
- Large Earphones With Isolation:
You want to make sure that the 'earmuffs' will cover your whole ear and provide you with adequate isolation from external ambient sound. Even a lower key studio can sometimes be a noisy place, and you don't really want to hear anything but your recordings.
- Excellent Cushioning / Pressure Compromise:
If you're using the headphones for studio monitoring purposes, chances are you'll be wearing them for long periods of time as you mix, adjust and splice. Lower quality earphones can cause headaches and strain with inadequate cushioning and overly pressured headband components. The best professional studio headphones don't just sound great, they are also comfortable enough to wear all day.
- Untinted, Clear, True Sound:
You want to make sure that the sound quality is 'neutral' in order to mix properly. Non-studio headsets can tend to be 'colored', meaning that they're slanted towards a particular genre of music. You want to make sure your earphones will cover the gamut of musical styles, so a neutral tuning is ideal. All the sets listed below fit the bill.
Audio-Technica: Best-Selling Pro Headphones for Studio Monitoring
This set of headphones by Audio Technica is one of the best sellers in the category for a lot of good reasons. Audio Technica is a low to mid range brand that tends to deliver no-nonsense gear with great upside.
What I particularly like about this set (aside from the low price) is the accurate and true sound quality they deliver, along with excellent sonic isolation from external noises. They're one of the more comfortable good studio monitor headphones under $200, and they're lightweight and can be worn for hours without discomfort, especially when adjusted right.
With 40 millimetre dynamic drivers and a gold plated connector (that works with both 1/8" and 1/4" jacks depending on your needs), this is a great and noise free set of studio monitoring headphones with a wonderful low end clarity and quality. It also avoids the 'boominess' that cheaper headphones can fall victim to.
I'd definitely recommend you check them out, along with their big brother, the higher priced ATH-M50.
KRK: Professional Studio Monitoring Headphones, Superior Isolation
These KRK professional studio monitoring headphones are just the latest in a long line of excellent products from the company. They've taken their technological innovations over the years and miniaturized them in this sleek yet powerful headset.
The frequency response in this set is almost unmatched in the price range, and you'll really notice the natural and true reproduction of your recordings right away. The low end is superb with excellent and warm bass tones, and the Neodymium 40mm drivers also do well with mids and highs too.
Overall, they are flat EQ headphones, intended and built for mixing audio, and their unbiased sound is one of their great selling points. While many seem to be buying them as consumer headphones (and they'll work for that function) remember that they're meant to mix.
The acoustic foam used in the ear cushions isolates you very well, so you won't be distracted even in busy and loud recording situations. Closed back and circumaural, they are a fantastic set of studio headphones for well below $200, and they are highly recommended.
AKG: Very Good Studio Monitor Headphones from Legendary Brand
You might already be aware of AKG. When it comes to recording gear, they're a well known brand with a ton of history and know-how.
You might recognize the set of headphones pictured at the beginning of this article: they are AKGs, and the predecessor of this fine set. DJs and recording studio professionals alike love the true to life sound quality and excellent comfort this headset provides.
The K 240 Mark II has a self-adjusting headband that helps form a perfect fit. The earpads are very comfortable and work well to isolate you from ambient sounds and let you focus on the music.
The high fidelity 'Varimotion' drivers provide a broad range of audio quality, so whether your mix is acoustic guitar or a bass rich mashup, they'll work for you. They're one of the best studio monitor headphones for sale today because you can simply wear them all day long. In fact, with the sound quality and comfort, you might not want to take them off!
Marathon DJH-1200: Cheap, Good Quality Monitoring Headphones
In this headset you get a great deal not because the components are no good, but because the brand isn't as well known yet. Everything is there and you'll be shocked by just how good this cheap studio headset actually sounds!
Let's start with the drivers: they're huge at 57mm with neodymium magnets, and they have a great frequency response with a wide range, which is what you want with a good set of studio monitoring headphones.
Beyond the hardware, the sound isolation is excellent, and the ear cushioning is surprisingly comfortable, probably because the cups are larger than most and offer total coverage without being too obtrusive. I like some of the extra features, like the fact that they fold up to a small size or let you isolate a single ear if you need to hear the ambient sound around you. And it's completely irrelevant sound wise, but they look great too and are perfect for a DJ or a studio monitoring setup.
For under $50, these studio headphones aren't going to compete with the more expensive brands above, but they are quite decent and worth your time to consider.
Sony: Pro Studio, Large Diaphragm Headphones
I often gravitate towards smaller brands, but in this case it's hard to go wrong with such a proven name. A lot of big studios swear by Sony equipment, and they are consistently excellent in nearly every arena. These are inexpensive studio headphones, well under $200, but they offer great bang for your buck and a brand who will back up their gear.
These headphones are foldable and portable, but they're not messing around. They were express built for the purpose of providing true quality sound reproduction, and they've even been labeled specifically for the studio as a result (in case there was any doubt).
The sound is crystal clear, expertly isolated from the ambient world around you. What's more, they're easy to wear and are intended for long periods of use (they know how mixing professionals operate). The small touches make a big difference: the cord is nearly 10 feet long so you can move around your workstation.
There is an included plug adaptor from 3.5mm to quarter inch. They fold up neatly into an included storage bag. Did I mention they sound incredible? They're not much to look at but looks are deceiving!
Beyerdynamic: 'Acoustically Open' Headphones for the Picky Mixer
Beyerdynamic is on the higher end of the quality spectrum, and these headphones are meant for studio monitoring use and are professional grade. They're just barely under $200, but they're absolutely a step above some of the less expensive models listed earlier.
These German crafted headsets have incredibly true and warm sound tones and they're considered acoustically open. That means that they aren't as great for sound isolation, but you'll notice the greater frequency response as this set will hit the lows and highs effortlessly without booming or tinniness.
They do add a bit more 'color' to the sound than traditionally flat studio monitors, but I prefer that: it's easier to remain inspired when there's a bit of vibrance to the sound.
The huge ear cups with soft velour padding ensure that you'll be very comfortable wearing these ones all day long. They also have the added bonus that you can purchase separate replacement parts should you ever need them, saving you an expensive replacement if anything were to ever fail. Not that that's likely, since they're built by German standards to last and will probably stick with you for years to come.