Top 4 Best Mixing Headphones

When you’re mixing your music, you want a clear and accurate representation of what you’ve recorded to reach your ears.

It’s integral to use speakers or headphones with a flat frequency response that is true to the audio in its pure form.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to use speakers or headphones that add color to the sound, but this is almost unavoidable, particularly when using headphones.

However, there are many great headphones that you can use to mix your music if you’re in a situation where you cannot listen to your music on loudspeakers. We have curated a list of all the best headphones for mixing right here.

Ideally, when mixing your music, you will want to be using open-backed headphones rather than closed-back. This is because closed-back earphones make the sound feel too close to your ears, and you don’t get an accurate stereo image.

Open-backed headphones create a feeling of distance from the music, with a wide stereo spread.

A drawback of open-backed headphones is that those around you will likely be able to hear what you’re listening to as well, particularly when listening at high volumes.

Open-backed headphones are typically not used for tracking vocals or anything that is being captured by a microphone, as the bleed from the headphones will also be captured by the microphone.

When either mixing or mastering, you want headphones that have very little emphasis on particular frequencies, otherwise known as “flat” headphones.

Another important aspect of a good pair of headphones for mixing and mastering is comfort. This is because you will likely be spending many hours wearing them, so you want the headphones to be comfortable on your head without getting your ears too hot.

Another critical factor is durability, particularly if you’re going to be using your headphones for mixing and mastering day in, day out.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Beyerdynamic have solidified their reputation as a brand that makes high quality and durable headphones that have become a standard within the industry.

The DT 990 Pro open-backed headphones are a great, cost-effective choice for mixing and mastering your music. At a very reasonable price, these headphones will give you professional level sound and outstanding comfort.

These headphones provide a very natural sound, with a wide dynamic range without an overpowering bass or harsh highs.

These headphones are great for wearing for long sessions of mixing or mastering without getting fatiguing to the ears or uncomfortable on your head.

These open-backed, over-ear headphones have a frequency response of 5 Hz to 35 kHz.

They have a super-wide stereo image with really sounds three-dimensional. This spacious sound platform is ideal for mixing your music, as it lets you hear every single detail.

One of the best things about the Beyerdynamic DT 990s is their comfort factor.

The headbands and the ear cups have a nice, thick padding that allows you to wear them comfortably for hours on end. The padding on the ears has a lovely, soft material that just feels great on the ears.

The DT 990s have a strong and durable design that makes these headphones a real workhorse. They are likely to last you a lifetime of extensive use.

Beyerdynamic also sell the individual parts to all their headphones, such as the ear pads. Since these are likely to wear with age, you can easily replace them.

Unlike many other headphones, the cable isn’t removable or replaceable. They have a coiled cable, which some people favor over a straight cable, but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

For the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better set of professional-level headphones for mixing and mastering your music.

Pros

  • Wide, spacious sound with a great frequency response
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Coiled cable is not replaceable

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro can also be purchased from the following webstores:

Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro Acoustically Open Headphones (250 Ohms) with Knox Gear Large Hard Shell Headphone Case Bundle (2 Items)
  • BUNDLE INCLUDES: Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro Acoustically Open Headphones (250 Ohms) and Knox Gear Hard Shell Headphone Case (Large)
  • TYPE: Open diffuse-field studio headphone (250 ohms) with dynamic transducer
  • DIAPHRAGM: Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
  • HIGH FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 to 35,000 Hz frequency response and offers excellent sound reproduction

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Open Back Reference Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Open Back Reference Headphones

Audio-Technica are a very popular brand when it comes to studio headphones, and it’s easy to see why. The ATH-R70x are their open-backed headphones that are great for both mixing and mastering in the studio.

These Japanese-made headphones are very well-respected in the industry. Their open-backed design set the ATH-R70x apart from the rest of the Audio-Technica range.

Much like the Beyerdynamic DT 990s, these headphones are very comfortable during long music production sessions.

The earcups have a nice padding and are made from a breathable material, which prevents your ears from getting too hot after consistent use.

These lightweight headphones weigh in at a mere 0.46 lbs. This low wight only add to the comfort factor. After a while, you’ll forget that you’re even wearing headphones. The headband also has a soft padding that sits comfortably on the top of the head.

The sound of these headphones is very pristine, without any harsh higher frequencies and plenty of low-end. Their open-back design features an aluminum mesh that provides a wide soundstage, making them ideal for mixing.

The ATH-R70x are a great, moderately-priced set of headphones that wouldn’t be out of place in any studio.

Pros

  • Light and comfortable design with breathable material on the earcups
  • Smooth, balanced sound
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • The design of the headband isn’t to everyone’s taste

The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Open Back Reference Headphones can also be purchased from the following webstores:

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
  • High-efficiency magnets and pure alloy magnetic circuit design reduce distortion and ensure accurate and extended high-frequency response
  • Carbon composite resin improves structural rigidity to provide detailed transient response
  • Acoustically transparent, aluminum honeycomb-mesh housings provide a natural and spacious open-back sound
  • Breathable fabric earpads and improved wing support provide long-wearing comfort
  • Feather-light weight (approx. 210 g w/o cable) and robust construction make headphones perfectly suited for professional use

Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser is a brand that is synonymous with high quality audio. These German-designed headphones live up to the brand’s reputation that they have amassed since the mid ‘40s.

The HD 600 are very comfortable open-backed, over-ear headphones that have a focus on quality in both sound and in their construction.

They are made from a high-quality, durable plastic, which makes them super light and comfortable to wear over long periods of time.

Their open-backed design features a metal mesh earpiece, which creates a very open and wide soundstage. They have a frequency response of 12Hz to 39 kHz, and a very little to no harmonic distortion.

Weighing in at only 0.57 lbs, they are deceptively light considering the size of the earcups.

What’s also great about the HD 600s is that they feature a detachable cable. The cable that comes with these headphones is a ⅛ inch stereo mini jack with a ¼ inch jack adapter, and it is a Kevlar oxygen-free copper cable.

The HD 600s are often praised for their clear, transparent sound that is also spacious and natural. The diaphragm in these headphones is designed to remove standing waves or acoustic disturbances.

The crystal clear, uncluttered, pristine sound of these headphones make them ideal for mixing and mastering music such as orchestral music.

If you’re looking for some really high-end headphones, and you’re serious about high-quality audio, then the Sennheiser HD 600 are one of the best premium headphones that money can buy.

Pros

  • Outstanding design and sound quality
  • Lightweight
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Very large ear cups

The Sennheiser HD 600 open back headphones can also be purchased from the following webstores:

Sennheiser HD 600 - Audiophile Hi-Res Open Back Dynamic Headphone
  • Lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
  • Neodymium ferrous magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics
  • Sophisticated design, elegantly finished in black and gray
  • High quality open metal mesh earpiece covers
  • Detachable, Kevlar reinforced oxygen free copper cable with very low handling noise

Beyerdynamic DT 1990

Beyerdynamic DT 1990

Moving up a price point with these Beyerdynamic headphones compared to the DT 990s, you can tell what the extra cash will get you in terms of sound quality.

These open-backed, over-ear headphones offer you a choice of two different ear pads for different listening styles. One is for analytical, critical listening, and the other is for a more balanced sound.

The DT 1990s are perfect critical listening headphones because of their natural and wide sound. This is thanks to their 45 mm neodymium drivers that have a frequency response of 5 Hz to 40 kHz and an SPL of 102 dB.

The sound is crisp and bright and yet still natural sounding, with very articulate bass frequencies and really detailed mid-range frequencies. This makes the DT 1990s great for mixing vocals and drums.

Unlike the DT 990 Pros, the DT 1990s feature a detachable cable. Beyerdynamic even provide the option of either a straight or coiled cable. This is a thoughtful choice that we like very much.

The ear pads that are supplied with the DT 1990s are very comfortable to wear for long sessions of mixing and mastering.

The relatively hefty price tag of the DT 1990s shouldn’t be surprising, as these truly are professional level headphones that perform incredibly well.

The sound is so detailed and crisp that most professional music producers would be willing to pay for them.

Pros

  • Amazing sound quality
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Gives you a choice of ear pads and different cables

Cons

  • More expensive than the DT 990s

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro open back headphones can also be purchased from the following webstores:

Sale
beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones
  • Open studio reference class headphones for mixing and mastering, Made in Germany
  • 250 ohms, 45 mm dynamic Tesla neodymium drivers
  • Single sided, detachable cable with mini-XLR connectors
  • Soft, replaceable ear pads and headband for long studio sessions. Headphone frequency response : 5-40,000 Hz. Nominal sound pressure level : 102 dBSPL (1mW/500Hz)
  • Delivery contents: 2 ear pads with different sound characteristics (analytical and well-balanced), two pairs of cables (3m straight and coiled), premium hard case

Buyers’ Guide

When looking for a pair of professional-level headphones for mixing and mastering, there are many important factors to consider, such as comfort, clarity, and build quality.

From all of the headphones we’ve looked at in this list, we have concluded which one is our favorite overall, and which one is the best value for money.

Top Pick: Beyerdynamic DT 1990

After extensive research and testing, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Beyerdynamic DT 1990s are the best headphones for critical listening, mixing, and mastering.

The wide soundstage makes them perfect for distinguishing different instruments in the mix of a song, and the balanced frequency response provide you with a natural-sounding reproduction of whatever you’re listening to.

What’s also great about these headphones is the choices it gives you for different ear pads and cables. This level of customization is rare in the high-end headphone market.

They are also very comfortable, and you can wear them for long periods of time without getting fatigued.

The construction of the DT 1990 is impeccable. With such durable build quality, these headphones will last you a lifetime guaranteed. They also look great with their large, round, laser etched metal ear cups and chromed lettering.

There’s a good reason why these headphones are so popular among professionals, and we think they are totally worth the price.

Best Value: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Despite the very reasonable price of these headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros are still an absolutely excellent set of headphones in terms of sound and build quality.

The DT 990s are the more inexpensive little brother to our top pick, the DT 1990s. Both have a great, detailed sound with a wide soundstage, which makes them ideal for studio work such as mixing and mastering.

Unlike its more expensive counterpart, the DT 990s have a captive cable that cannot be replaced or removed. While this may be an inconvenience to many, the connection is very robust, and it’s unlikely to break even with extensive use.

The coiled cable of the DT 990 stretches out to 3 meters in length, which is great for working in a studio where you may have to move around.

One of the best things about the DT 990s, along with other headphones in the Beyerdynamic range, is the comfort.

The ear pads have a thick padding covered with a soft material that feels great against your ears. Comfort is a crucial factor in choosing the right headphones for you, especially if you wear them for long periods of time.

If you’re looking for quality, durable headphones with an impressive sound and an equally impressive price tag, the DT 990s are the perfect choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Master My Music Using Headphones?

In the mastering stage of music production, headphones are best used for detailed listening. The clarity and detail that high-end headphones profide will allow you to hear any pops or other artifacts in your music.

It is important to listen to your music from a variety of different audio sources purely for reference. You should bear in mind how people are eventually going to listen to the music (ear pods, laptop speakers, car stereo).

Can I Mix My Track Using Closed-Back Headphones?

If you want to minimize sound pollution while you’re mixing a track, closed-back headphones are a good option. They are able to block out external sounds from your environment, and they don’t bleed out as much as open-backed headphones do.

Closed-back headphones are typically used during the tracking/recording stage, but they can also be used for mixing if it suits your situation better.

Why Are Open-Backed Headphones Better For Mixing?

Because open-backed headphones have less sound isolation, the sound of your surroundings and ambient noise interacts with the mix of your track.

When listening, the track will sound more like it’s all around you, rather than inside your head. Open-backed headphones provide a better stereo experience compared to closed-back headphones, so they are better for mixing and detailed listening.

Are Open-Backed Headphones Good For DJing?

No, for any kind of live performance, open-backed headphones have too little sound isolation. They will let in too much ambient sound from your surroundings, so you’ll have to turn them up to volumes that are dangerous for your ears.

For DJing or any kind of live performance, you should either use in-ear monitors or closed-back headphones.