Top 10 Music Production Headphones Under $100

Can the right pair of headphones make you a better producer? Ghost Producers love to rave about their favorite headphone brand and will not hesitate to share all of the specs for their $500 pair of top of the line producer headphones. You never want to sacrifice quality, but believe it or not, you can find high quality headphones perfect for music production for under $100.

A great pair of music production headphones may be the difference maker for helping you achieve a higher quality production level. Without proper studio headphones, you may be doing a lot of guess work when it comes to processing sounds and your overall mix. Getting a clear sound with your tracks requires you to have music production headphones that are capable of delivering clear sound.

One of the most common challenges up and coming producers face is the ability to get a clean mixdown. You should always do your final mix and master on proper monitor speakers [Link Studio Monitor Article], however, when producing away from your studio, proper headphones will give you a great start to a proper mixdown. Don’t sell yourself short with ear buds or pay for overly bass boosted products with a powerhouse of marketing (You know who you are). Check out our list of the Top 10 Music Production Headphones Under $100.

There are a few things you should probably be looking for in your studio headphones. Not all of them are created equal, so you want to make sure that you buy the right pair that fits your needs. Some are bigger than others, some have coiled cables instead of straight, there’s all kinds of things that can change once you move on to a different pair. We’re going to narrow down all those options into three big ones that you probably shouldn’t be ignoring.

  1. First and foremost is comfort. No matter how expensive they are, or the quality of sound that they put out, nobody wants to wear a pair of headphones that doesn’t fit comfortably on his or her head. If you’re like us, you might spend countless hours upon hours at a time with these things on. If you’re producing late at night and you have neighbors close by, you might spend an entire production session with just headphones on instead of using speakers or studio monitors. This can easily turn into a very unpleasant situation if you don’t have the right gear that fits your head and ears. If you don’t want to wear the headphones then you can’t hear the music, and not hearing the music can be quite a roadblock in the workflow department, if you can believe that! Go out there and get the best fit for yourself so that you don’t run into these situations. Finding some comfortable headphones can be a complete game changer.

  1. Next, you’re going to want to find some headphones that have the right frequency response for what you need. Frequency response is how we measure the headphones’ ability to reproduce sound at certain frequencies. The average person can hear and recognize sounds between the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This is really helpful information to have when looking to buy headphones because you can find the right pair depending on what genre of music they’ll be blaring most often into your eardrums. If you want a lot of bass, you’re going to want to look for headphones that support a low frequency such as 10 Hz or 15 Hz. Anything below 20 Hz, or anything above 20 kHz, is usually something that is felt more than heard, but these things can have an enormous impact on how you hear the music. Be careful, though, because a larger range does NOT always mean better sound quality. It is only an indicator of how high or low of a frequency the headphones support. We’ve noted the frequency response ranges for each pair here to take one more step out of your decision-making process.

  2. Finally, check the impedance of your next purchase. Impedance is a little difficult to explain but to put it very technically it is essentially the resistance of a circuit or object to an incoming alternating current, measured in Ohms. For instance, a pair of headphones with an impedance of 80 Ohms will require more power to get loud, and may even require a headphone amp to get you to louder volume levels. A pair of earbuds, on the other hand, will probably be somewhere around 20-30 Ohms, and you can simply run those off of your phone or laptop without any issues whatsoever. Now, it is important to realize that higher Ohms do not necessarily equate to higher sound quality. It is simply a measurement to define how much power the headphones take. For instance, you might find your favorite pair of headphones with pristine sound quality to be around 40 Ohms, while your friend’s favorite pair is 60 Ohms. His aren’t automatically better because the number is higher, they just take more power to operate than yours do. The entire reason you want to be looking at this number at all is simply based off of the gear that you already have (or plan on purchasing with the headphones). If you’re only going to be listening to your music off of your laptop or your phone, then we wouldn’t recommend springing for something with a very high impedance, since you won’t be able to get them very loud without a separate amplifier. If you’ve got a lot of audio gear to power some shiny new headphones, however, then you probably won’t have to worry as much about this number.

Shure SRH440 – $89

  • Pros: Accurate, neutral sound. Immense dynamic range. Comfortable.

  • Cons: Leather may start to wear and crack after lots of use. High frequencies may be too loud compared to what you’re used to.

  • Closed back

  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 22 kHz

Sony MDR 7506 – $99

  • Pros: Industry standard, very accurate sound across all frequency ranges. Hardly any sound leakage. Fairly comfortable.

  • Cons: May lose secure fit over time. Extremely long provided cable, which is not always the most ideal situation.

  • Closed back

  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz

Sennheiser HD280PRO – $99

  • Pros: Great noise isolation. Rugged, can withstand a beating (though we recommend avoiding giving your headphones a beating if at all possible).

  • Cons: Heavy, coiled cable may not be what you want if you are going to be moving around a lot. Not geared at all towards mobile listeners. May become uncomfortable as they are quite solid and heavy.

  • Closed back, over-the-ear

  • Frequency response: 8 Hz – 25 kHz

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x – $99

  • Pros: Incredible “bang for your buck” headphones. Cheaper than the premium M50x, while keeping audio quality.

  • Cons: Swivel mechanism may give you some issues. Headphones themselves may press too tightly on your head.

  • Closed back

  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 24 kHz

AKG K 240 – $59

  • Pros: Less expensive with solid sound reproduction. Clear highs and pretty deep lows.

  • Cons: Build quality, fake leather may start to wear quickly. Very clearly entry-level headphones from AKG.

  • Semi-open back

  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 25 kHz

Koss Pro-4AA – $73

  • Pros: Excellent noise cancellation by design. Great build quality.

  • Cons: Comfort will be an issue after just a few hours wearing these. High frequencies may not deliver quite what is needed.

  • Closed back, excellent sound isolation

  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 25 kHz

AKG K 142 – $87 (as of this time)

  • Pros: Good sound reproduction. Bass is not too heavy but does come through with enough punch while the high frequencies are as clear as the mids.

  • Cons: Build quality. They feel cheaply made and may hurt your ears after using them too long.

  • Semi-closed back

  • Frequency response: 18 Hz – 20 kHz

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x – $69

  • Pros: Another good “bang for your buck”. Clean mids and highs, sound quality is what you’d expect from Audio-Technica.

  • Cons: Sound reproduction is not as clean as the M40x’s. Muddy bass. Clearly the more “entry-level” version of the M40x’s, may have to replace sooner than you want.

  • Closed back

  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz

Samson SR850 – $41

  • Pros: Inexpensive, and reproduce audio fairly well. One of the best options under $100, much less $50.

  • Cons: Build quality. Very tight on the sides of the head. Pretty high sound leakage. Other people will most likely hear what you are listening to if you are in a public area.

  • Semi-open back

  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 30 kHz

Yamaha HPH-MT5 – $99

  • Pros: Clean, accurate sound reproduction as is expected from an audio giant like  Yamaha. Clean bass while maintaining clear mids and highs.

  • Cons: Comfort may become an issue after long periods of listening.

  • Closed back

  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Conclusion:

Finding the right pair of headphones can literally make or break a track. If you can’t hear the flaws that need to be fixed, then whatever you’re working on is not going to come out how you want it to. There’s a multitude of things that will change your purchasing choice, but try to keep the big 3 in mind when making your big decision – Comfort, frequency response, and impedance. Comfort will keep you in the zone longer, frequency response will help you hear and feel the right sounds, and impedance will tell you what goes best with the gear you already have. These will help you narrow things down quite a bit, assuming you know your own preferences and you know your own gear.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer with these either. Finding the right pair of headphones is like finding comfortable clothes. Nobody hears exactly the same way as you do, and nobody has the same head that you do. These are some good guidelines to follow, but when it comes down to it, a lot of your decision will rely on your own preferences and what feels good to you.

Disclaimer: EDM Ghost Producer does not have any affiliation with any of the above companies or products.

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