What are Studio Headphones & do you need to get one?

what are studio headphones

In this article, we are covering everything about studio headphones. And why you might need one in your home recording studio?

When it comes to setting up your home recording studio, an essential gear that you must get is a good studio reference headphone.

Be it recording various artists or casually listening to music, studio headphones get more done than regular headphones.

No matter how great or expensive consumer grade headphones might be, they are not fit for use in recording or mixing studios.

So, that takes us to another type of headphones also known as studio headphones.

Related: Setting a Home Recording Studio – A step by step Guide!

What are Studio Reference Headphones?

studio headphones
Image by Andrzej Nowak from Pixabay

Studio headphones look similar to any other headphones; however, the difference lies in their sound quality compared to any different consumer-grade headphones. They cover a wider sound frequency and provide a highly detailed and crisp sound.

The sound quality of these headphones makes them suitable in environments where accurate sound reproduction is required. Take, for example, a studio environment.

Additionally, such this studio gear is a must-have for music producers, singers, songwriters, or mix/master engineers. Such professions/hobbies require careful analysis of audio tracks, and regular headphones can make the sound analysis part much more tricky.

Maybe, you are setting up your home recording studio and wondering whether you can mix on headphones or not?

These headphones have become essential, especially in home recording studios. A good unit will let you produce, record, mix and master multiple audio tracks before it wears out.

A fact associated with regular headphones is that their sound is not 100% pure. Almost all consumer-grade headphones add color to the original sound to make music sound much sweeter and more enjoyable.

what are studio headphones used for?

The purpose of studio reference headphones is to reproduce sound without any processing or frequency alterations. This quality makes them extremely useful in track mixing and mastering.

Not to forget, you can also use studio headphones to record videos, podcasts, and voice-overs.

Since studio headphones deliver a clean and precise sound, you can use them for casual music listening or video streaming.

Related: 32 vs 80 vs 250 Ohm Headphones

Types of Studio Headphones

Now, as we move into this section, let us see the two main types of headphones:

  • Open-back studio headphones,
  • Closed-back studio headphones.

So, which type of headphones should you go for, closed or open-back?

Let’s see the comparison between both the types and help ourselves to a clear conclusion.

1) Closed back studio reference headphones

closed back studio headphones
closed-back headphones

Closed-back headphones are ideal for studio recordings. Due to their solid design, they isolate the audio pretty well inside the ear cups, and as a result, negligible sound leaks out of the headphones.

Vice Versa also does a great job of keeping out the outside noise. Hence, making them viable for most of the tasks like recording podcasts or doing interviews.

Due to sound isolation, the bass response is quite spectacular in these headphones compared to open-back units.

However, a con associated with closed-back headphones is that they result in ear fatigue quicker than open-back headphones because of their packed and secured design.

2) Open back studio reference headphones

open back studio headphones
open-back headphones

As the name suggests, open-back headphones have a perforated design around the ear cups that let air in and out of them. This makes the audio mix with the air, making the sound seem more natural and somewhat immersive. Additionally, as the ear cups are perforated, the sound is not isolated within the ear cups and leaks out of the headphones!

So, can you use open-back headphones in recording sessions?

Since the audio leaks out of the headphone, there is a possible chance that a microphone will capture the audio during recording sessions. Therefore, it is best not to use open-back headphones in recording sessions.

Moreover, you can avoid this problem by using a low sensitivity microphone and keeping the headphone volume lower than usual while recording.

Closed vs Open back headphones: Which one to go for?

Follow the below list and see which type of headphone suits you well enough.

Go for closed-back headphone if:

  • want a good low-end/bass response,
  • you want an isolated and clear sound,
  • do not want the sound to leak from headphones,
  • mix in noisy environments as they isolate the headphone audio.

Go for open-back headphone if:

  • you want an open and immersive sound,
  • you also want to enjoy listening to music or stream videos,
  • mix in your private studio and have a peaceful environment,
  • need a mix reference on headphones other than studio monitors.

However, if your budget allows, I would recommend going for both open and closed-back headphones.

Are studio headphones necessary?

Studio headphones become crucial in any professional or home recording environment where the work revolves around listening to accurate audio. Therefore, you must have atleast a pair of studio monitors or studio headphones. Furthermore, having studio headphones becomes evident when artists need to track vocals or instrument layers over a given audio track.

Also Read – Know the differences between regular and studio monitors!

Not to forget, budding record producers and mix engineers must get good studio headphones to aid their music journey. While analyzing multiple audio tracks, bringing a headphone that will give true sound quality becomes necessary. For this, most of the reputed studio headphones will get the job done.

You can either listen to audio on reference monitors or headphones. You may prefer one over the other, depending on your style of dealing with audio. But a studio headphone will become handy in a few other cases than a studio monitor.


In conclusion, I hope you got to know a thing or two about studio headphones and how they are different from regular headphones in terms of their functionality.

Furthermore, whether you need to purchase this essential studio gear depends on quite a few factors. One of them being your work requirement and how accurately you want to hear your mixes and masters.

Plus, if you heavily work on studio monitors, these headphones will provide an additional way to reference your mixes.


what is purpose of studio headphones?

The main use of studio headphone can be found in fields related to audio engineering. Some examples being sound recording, live shows, studio recordings, audio mixing and mastering.

Are studio headphones good for listening to music?

It is absolutely a pleasure to listen to music on studio headphones since these headphones do not boost frequencies or add colour to sound. In addition, the sound quality remains crisp and crystal clear.

How can I use studio headphones on my PC?

There are two main ways to connect studio headphones to a PC. The first is by directly plugging it into the 3.5mm port available on the PC. The second method is to plug the headphones into an audio interface and connect the audio interface to the PC. The latter method allows you to connect multiple headphones at any given instance.

Is it better to mix with studio headphones or studio monitors?

It is better to mix with both studio monitors and headphones. While one may prove helpful in analysing one part of a mix, the other will prove beneficial in tracking different aspects of a mix. Moreover, studio monitors help know how a song interacts with a room, whereas studio headphones let you engage with the music more personally.

Are studio headphones necessary for recording?

Studio headphones become an absolute must when recording vocals or any audio. You can easily track recordings when multiple audio layers are in an audio file. Additionally, they help focus on a particular audio track while neglecting noise in a live setting.

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