So you asked for the best studio headphones under 100$. When it comes to producing music, you need studio headphones for three main reasons: to keep the sound isolated to your ears while recording, to keep sound from getting out, especially while recording with a microphone, and of course, to hear the details in your mix closely, easier than possible on speakers. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get good results, so here are our top budget recommendations for best studio headphones under 100$.
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The AKG K240 were one of the first studio headphones I purchased, and I used them for almost a decade before upgrading. And at this price point they’re pretty much unbeatable, which is also why I’ve recommended them in my home studio essential equipment list.
These headphones are semi-open meaning they can be used while recording without too much sound bleeding into the microphone. While at the same time letting a little sound out to reduce distortion and increase clarity. Furthermore, they come with a 3 meter cable which should be enough to easily connect to your device while you might be sanding to record at a distance. I’ve used these headphones for hours on end without getting tired or uncomfortable, so they get a plus in that domain as well.
The K240s are designed for professional use like mixing and mastering. AKG goes as far as claiming they are a studio standard, and sure enough, they can be seen in a lot of professional studios.
The second candidate for our best studio headphones under 100$ are the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X. If you’re more of a bass-head, they might be more to your taste. Although they’re not strictly marketed as “studio” headphones, its frequency response is relatively flat, impedance high and frequency range wide enough to qualify.
These headphones are entirely open too, which should theoratically produce less distortion than the competition. As a downside, more of the sound may bleed into the microphone, so if you’re using them for recording keep an eye on that volume knob. Similarly, if you’re using headphones to listen without disturbing your cohabitants or neighbors, you might have to keep it at a lower volume. This also means that you wouldn’t be able to produce music on the go, at least not in noisy enviornments.
If you’ve looked for headphone guide’s before, you’ll understand why Sennheiser decided to redesign their widely recommended HD280 Pros. Thankfully, the new edition is mostly an aesthetic and comfort upgrade.
The main factor setting these headphones aside from the competition is that these are closed headphones. Meaning they’ll better isolate you from your enviornment, letting less sound in or out. You won’t be disturbing or being disturbed with these on, the trade-off being slightly less accurate sound reproduction.
Still, this can be a plus if you’re more of a performer and would like to isolate the sound in your head from your enviornment, or you like to produce music on-the-go from a laptop. Another benefit of closed headphones is that you can use them outdoors, or even on your travels. That is, assuming your phone still has a headphone jack on it.
As is often the case with questions like these, the best studio headphones for under 100$ is ‘it depends’. But I always like to have a clear and concise answer at the end so let’s break it down thusly:
If you’re going to be recording audio from a microphone as well as mixing & mastering your own music, then go for the AKG K240. If you’re going to be producing music more and recording audio less, for example like EDM, then grab yourself a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X. Finally, if you want to you produce music on a laptop on-the-go, or you live with someone who you wouldn’t want to disturb, or maybe even want to use the headphones out and about, then you can’t go wrong with the Sennheiser HD280 Pro.