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When figuring out your music-making setup, whether at home or in a studio space, headphones are a key factor. But with a plethora of options on the market, it’s hard to know which are worth the money.
That’s why we talked to five music professionals — from producers and audio engineers to songwriters and session musicians — to get the scoop on the headphones that amplify their artistic experience while working with some of today’s biggest stars.
See the best musician-approved headphones below, just in time for the holidays.
1. Beyerdynamic DT-770 Over-Ear Studio Headphones
For five-time Grammy winner Cassidy Tubin, who has worked as a producer and audio engineer for stars like Beck, Keyon Harrold and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Beyerdymanic’s professional-grade headphones are a no-brainer for long studio hours.
“They’re extremely comfortable, lightweight and don’t fatigue my ears,” he shares with Billboard. “They don’t seem to exaggerate much low end, which is why I’ve been using them. They also give great detail at lower volumes. That’s really important to me when recording for long periods.”
2. Audeze Headphones
Carlos de la Garza, a Grammy winning producer, writer and mixer for high-profile artists including Paramore, Hayley Williams, Best Coast and Cold War Kids, knows the value of detail, especially when it comes down to those minute song tweaks that make a big difference. To do the job, he opts for Audeze‘s planar magnetic technology, which are extremely resistant to electronic and audio distortion.
“As to the headphones I use, there is no contest, Audeze headphones are the absolute best,” he reveals. “The technology they employ and the sound they deliver are simply a level above any other headphone on the market. They are the only headphone I use in making critical mix decisions, especially when working in conjunction with the Immerse Virtual Studio plugin from Embody. If you want the best, regardless of price, it’s Audeze.
Shop the brand’s headphone selection here.
3. Focal Clear MG Professional Headphones
As a multifaceted session musician, producer and songwriter who has worked with artists like Alessia Cara, Jason Mraz, Celine Dion, X Ambassadors and more, Eric Ruscinski needs a versatile pair of headphones that don’t compromise sound accuracy. As a result, he’s drawn to Focal‘s commitment to comfort and quality through its unique magnesium cone.
“I love my Focal Clear MG Professional headphones,” he tells Billboard. “They’re true sounding and very comfortable. It’s always important for me to have a pair of accurate sounding and easy-to-wear headphones in the studio. From tracking to producing and mixing, they’re my go-to. ”
Shop them here.
4. Beyerdynamic DT-880 Studio Headphones
Jon Yeston, an audio engineer who has worked with a number of A-listers including John Legend, James Bay, Yungblud, Elle King, Celine Dion and Janelle Monae, is also a fan of Beyerdynamic’s technology and lasting power — thanks to the DT-880’s velour, circumaural ear pads and semi-open design.
“The headphones I love using are the Beyerdynamic DT 880 headphones, which I got individually calibrated from Sonarworks,” he explains. “They are comfortable enough to wear for hours and let me hear crucial frequencies when I need them. When I’m working on vocals these let me dial in on every detail without fatiguing my ears.”
Shop them here.
5. Necano In Ear Studio Headphones
Quality doesn’t mean breaking the bank! For Jeff Hazin, a producer and songwriter for Renforshort, WizTheMC and Glaive, an $11.99 pair of Necano headphones emulate the experience of a fan listening to the music he’s working on.
“My favorite headphones to use in the studio are a cheap pair I bought once at a computer store,” he admits. “I have four pairs of them now and I just like the way they sound. They’re really simple and I love to listen to music on them, so I figure why not create with them as well? I prefer them over high quality studio headphones because they let me hear the music in the way I’m used to listening and enjoying music.”
Shop them here.