Headphones are one of the most important studio accessories. However, many believe that you have to spend a fortune to get a good sound from them.
I would like to differ. Over the years, I have used some of the best cheap studio headphones I could find. And they have always been good at offering a great sound.
Best Budget Studio Headphones Best to buy in 2021
Well, they will most certainly not blow your mind, but they are good enough for your needs. And they come from some of the most reliable brands you can think of.
Besides, budget buying does not mean you have to set your standards too low. You can get a good deal for less.
In this edition, I will share some of the best headphones to buy when you are on a budget.
15 Best Budget Studio Headphones of The Year
Everyone who has ever used headphones knows who Beyerdynamic is. The brand has established itself as one of the most reliable manufactures out there.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is perhaps the best budget open-back studio headphones you can ever find. I am putting it top on this list because it’s everything that makes good headphones.
• Frequency response of 5Hz to 35kHz
• The impedance of 250 Ohms
• Dynamic driver
• Fixed wire connection
• 3m coiled cable
• Weighs 250grams
If you prefer everyone around you to notice you are wearing headphones, these open-back cans should be good enough. They are an overall excellent choice for those buying on a budget and still need a classy look and an excellent performance.
These are high-impedance cans with a 250Ohms output for headphone amps, mixing desks, and audio interface. Whatever your needs, you can be sure these pieces will perform to the fullest.
Think of getting a natural stage sound and a well-balanced frequency response at no extra cost, and these bad boys are your ultimate choice. They stretch beyond human hearing and can handle high sound pressure quite well.
They’re unique in velour earpads, and lightweight means they are very comfortable. Open back design is known for the high propensity for an inherent spill. Hence, they are best for programming and mixing. I would not recommend them for tracking.
• A natural sound
• Replaceable components
• They can spill
Audio Technica is another brand that has all it takes to offer excellent products. Those who have been using headphones for whatever reason should already know what the company promises.
The ATH-M50X headphones are cheap and yet still some of the best cans you can find today. They are very popular among many users, not only for a studio but also for other uses.
They are configured with:
• A closed-back
• Over-ear design
• 15Hz to 28 kHz frequency response
• 38 Ohms
• Driver type – large aperture w/rare earth magnets
• Wired interchangeable cable
• One straight and one coiled cable, each 3m longs
• Weights 285 grams
Even though these can be cheap and a bit heavier, they support many users, and there is a good reason for that. They have maintained a near-the-top-seller position for many years.
Consider them if you are looking for a great combination of comfort and overall great sound that does not affect accuracy, and you don’t have to break the bank. It’s all about offering convenience.
The detachable cables mean you can choose whatever suits your needs at any given time from the three supplied. Articulated earcups mean great comfort and the best results.
They are not totally flat. But I noticed a bit of the bottom end bump. And it does not have many details on the highs.
Considering the price, that should not make you feel bad.
• Most popular cans
• Comfortable for long periods
• Three interchangeable cables
• They could use more detailed highs
I have used AKG headphones for as long as I can remember, and they always have some extra to offer. These K240 are classic semi-open studio cans with a self-adjusting headband. You can be sure of great comfort even for extended periods.
• Semi-open over-ear
• frequency range 15hz to 25kHz
• 55 Ohms impedance
• Varimotion 30mm driver
• Wired connection with a 3m straight cable
• Weights 240g
Walk into many studios around the world, and you are sure to find AKG headphones. That means you can expect a certain level of reliability from these pieces.
The traditional AKG design with a self-adjusting headband makes them an excellent choice for studio use. And the unusual semi-open construction makes them good for editing, mixing, and mastering.
The earpads fully enclose your ears, which makes them very comfortable. The semi-open design exposes the transducer, promising a less low-end build-up. This leads to a more transparent sound compared to traditional closed-back headphones.
Because of this, you get a more solid bass with even-balanced mids. The highs are also clear.
There is a slight leakage of sound, but it’s something you can leave with, considering the other features. These headphones make a good combination of reliability and performance, making them excellent choices for studio application.
• A traditional look
A well-balanced response
Headband is self-adjusting
• Can spill
Are you looking for rugged headphones for pro monitoring? Consider the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. These headphones are designed to perform excellently under studio pressure.
They are configured with:
• Closed-back over-ear design
• 8Hz to 25kHz frequency response
• 64Ohm impedance
• Dynamic closed driver
• Fixed wired connection (3m coiled)
• Weighs 285g
Sennheiser offers a wide range of models. Among them, the HD 240, evergreen studio-oriented cans offer the best in the middle range. They come with rugged durability and a balanced sound like no other.
One of the best things about these headphones is their level of bass cleanness and accuracy. The mids are clear with great detail, while the highs are glossy without much harshness.
The company recently updated its aesthetic to make it more comfortable. The result is the HD 280 Pro, with a foldable design and rotating ear cups. This makes them portable and versatile.
They may not be the most stylish cans out there, but they will turn any studio task into a complete success. The new head padding creates a more comfortable fit for any user.
Thick ear cup padding assures great noise isolation of about 32dB. And since they come with replaceable parts, you can always trust they won’t disappoint you.
• Excellent sound isolation
• Reputable brands
• Replaceable parts
• Design is a bit old-school
Over the years, Samson has become of the most reliable brands to offer the best audio devices out there. TheseThese headphones are known for delivering high-end results at an affordable price.
If you are looking to try out one of their products, the SR850 should be a great choice. This piece is not only good-looking, but it promises excellent performance.
• Semi-open design
• Dynamic driver (50mm)
• Neodymium magnet
• 10Hz to 30kHz frequency response
The SR850 is a semi-back design pair of headphones that come at an affordable price. This design means you get a wider soundstage and incredible studio imaging.
In terms of sound production, you have deep rich bass and clean highs. The frequency response is comprehensive enough for studio performance. It comes with 50mm drivers that promise depth and low-end resolution.
The headband is self-adjusting, which assures security and comfort. You can use them for long hours of listening without feeling tired or overwhelmed.
Also, they feature a 1/8-inch to the ¼-inch gold adapter. This allows you to use it in the studio as well as at home with ease.
Many users agree that these Samsons provide a good value for the price. It’s not easy to get such performance at this price, which makes them exceptionally good.
• Very comfortable
• Excellent for mixing, editing, and referencing
• Clear and detailed sound
• A bit bulky in terms of fitting
If you want to go with a world-famous brand, then Sony MDR7506 should be a great fit. Sony has been making top-notch headphones for many years, and they continue doing so even today.
The MDR7506 is a perfect fit for those who want this quality without breaking the bank. They come as one of the best beginner headphones in terms of sound quality.
I have been using Sony headphones in my studio for a long time now. Even though I have bought the more expensive gear, the MDR7506 has remained one of my favorites.
It offers a great frequency response. The 40mm drivers on the cans deliver a very cold and detailed response, which does a great job in referencing and monitoring.
Even if you crack them high, they will not show any bleeding. Several producers and sound engineers have tested and proven these headphones good at their price range.
They promise excellent sound isolation in any studio. And their frequency response is more than what you would expect for the price.
I noticed the headband is very comfortable. Unlike some other headphones, it does not push our heads too much. The earcups can be adjusted for a comfortable fit.
Their closed-back design means the MDR7506 is quite effective in noise isolation. It’s almost what you can get for higher-end products from Sony and similar companies.
You can’t find a better deal than this in terms of quality sound and performance. Besides, Sony has a remarkable reputation.
• Excellent noise isolation
• Great build quality
• Reputable brands
• Prone to heat build-up
One thing that makes Audio Technica a reliable brand is that they understand what modern consumers need. Hence, they offer a wide range of products to meet these demands.
If you are looking for a high-quality pair of headphones but are low on budget, consider their ATH-M20X. These professional-looking cans are not only great in looks but offer an excellent performance too.
I have used them before and could believe such quality could come at their price. Sometimes I even leave my most expensive headphones aside for these.
Their over-ear cups, a padded headband, and a 3ft cord ensure you get a pair of headphones that are not only good-looking but easy to use too. They feel very comfortable when you wear them.
I would recommend them for bedroom producers. They are great for mixing and doing other studio staff.
But you will also find them useful in live sound engineering. Even for bigger-scale audio projects, these bad boys will hold.
Besides, they are some of the most popular headphones on the market right now. It’s not just because they are cheap, but also because they sound good.
• Long cable
• Slightly clunky
• It would be better if they were collapsible
You may never have heard of Tascam, but it’s one of the best brands for those who require good headphones. Tascam is a company that was started years ago to provide affordable audio-production solutions, and they have been doing an incredible job.
The Tascam TH-02 is a closed-back, affordable pair of headphones that promise excellent performance. It features a foldable design, a padded and stitched headband, and a custom-made driver and chamber. The company took over a year testing its tech components, making it compete with more expensive options.
• Dynamic driver
• 18Hz to 22 kHz frequency response
• 32 Ohms impedance
I went through several reviews of these headphones, and many users showed excitement about them. The rotating earcups make them very portable.
Tascam has been absent for a few years, only to come back with the TH-02, which is now mentioned on many lists of the best cheap headphones. You will not regret buying them, mainly because they are not overly priced.
• A great frequency response
• Perfect for monitoring during recording
• Folding and rotating earcups
• Some users feel the build quality and material could be improved
I have always been a fan of Audio Technica. This is not the first time I am using or reviewing their products. Walk into many studios across the globe, and you are likely to find one of their products.
The ATH M-40X is a closed-back headphone that promises precise audio monitoring in a wide range of frequency responses. They may be cheap, but they are crafted from top-notch materials with sturdy construction.
They come with a detachable cable, which makes them portable and easy to use. One can use them for one-ear monitoring and still get the right sound quality.
Also, they feature a collapsible design that makes them easy to carry around. They will easily fit in your carrying pouch.
Another feature that I find interesting is that their tight earcups. Although this could mean more heat build-up during intense sessions, it makes them fit nicely on your head.
• Dynamic 40mm driver
• Neodymium magnet
• 35 Ohm
• Two interchangeable cables
The ATH-M40-X is an excellent alternative for the more expensive M50. They come with better padding on the ear cups, and the headband is more versatile.
• They compete well with more expensive options
• Detachable cable for portability
• Excellent sound
• Not very durable
I have never come across a list of the best headphones, cheap or expensive, that does not include something from Shure. That just shows how good the company is.
For many years, Shure has stood as a reputable brand for making microphones. And they have also ventured into headphones with the same focus on quality.
For those who need an alternative to the ATH-M20X or M40X from Audio Technica, this Shure SRH440 should be perfect. Well, it’s a bit more expensive than the M20X but a great addition to your studio hardware.
It’s a good choice for those who need a good pair of beginner studio headphones and can afford a small premium for comfortability. It’s designed to make you feel in charge of the process.
Shure is highly recommended in terms of durability for its products. You can therefore use these headphones for long periods in your work, and they will stand out.
Also, Shure does not sacrifice sound quality for comfort. The SRH440 is comfortable but also very good in sound production. Not as good as premium headphones, but enough for all your needs.
They are collapsible, which means easy to carry anywhere you go. Their adapter is gold-plated to ensure the purest quality of the sound signal.
In a nutshell, these are some of the best beginner studio headphones I have ever seen.
• Good sound production
• Excellent noise-isolation
• Some users say they are not very durable
When choosing the right studio headphones, I always consider the brand, especially for cheaper options. And in this case, Audio Technica has proven time and again to offer excellent built and sound quality in their products.
Their ATH M-30X closed-back headphones are the bridge in the M series. They promise a strong mid-range definition, perfect for monitoring, making them your ultimate studio headphones.
Those who are familiar with the M series will tell you they are suitable for their isolation and portability. They feature a collapsible design, which makes them perform well in studio monitoring and field recording.
Also, they come equipped with 40mm neodynamic magnets, which promise a good frequency response and excellent production.
• Dynamic 40mm driver
• 15 to 22000 Hz frequency response
• 47Ohms impedance
Among the many lower-priced headphones I have ever used, the ATH-M30X offers more detail and clarity. They are a good fit for those who need high-end performance without spending too much.
Concerning noise isolation, several users feel it is better than its siblings in the same price range. It allows for easy mic position for those who want to record those loud guitars.
The bass and the mids are well emphasized, which is good for tracking and monitoring. However, it’s not recommended for mixing.
Also, the mids seem too forward for mixing. This leads to mixes that don’t have the best midrange and low frequencies.
Overall, use these headphones for tracking. It comes with a good clamping force that lets them stay on, especially for aggressive drummers.
• Good noise isolation
• Great sound production
- Great quality headphones
• Not a very good emphasis on the bass and mids
Do you want a pair of the best affordable studio headphones for beginners? Consider the Shure SRH840. These cans are an upgrade from the SRH440, which is known for offering a professional sound.
As you can expect, the Shure SRH840 headphones are a little more expensive than most pieces reviewed above. However, their quality should conceal that.
You will love the sound fidelity and clarity of these cans. It is more than anything you can expect at this price range. Their bass response is clear, with little to no EQ used. This means you get a colder and more desirable response.
The lower bass frequencies are not too obvious, making one hear the mids and highs more clearly. You should notice that mixing your sessions becomes much easier when using these headphones. They will withstand up to 32dB, with no bleeding.
The SRH840 also offers an incredible amount of detail. From their noise-canceling to the colder response, you can easily confuse them for more professional headphones.
You will need several sessions to get used to the earcups and the headband, which you will love afterward. They are made mostly from plastic, plush, and pseudo-leather. Hence, they are lightweight and comfortable.
Another remarkable feature is the detachable and future-proof cable. You can easily replace it if anything happens to it using only a few dollars. Other parts like the ear pads are also replaceable.
• Excellent build quality
• A good sound production
• Comfortable ear pads for a good listening experience
• They are not very durable
Here are some new cans on the market you may not have heard of yet. They deliver premium quality at the lowest price you can imagine.
• Closed-back over-ear design
• 15Hz to 30kHz frequency response
• 24Ohms impedance
• Closed 50mm, dynamic driver
• Wire and detachable cable
• Weighs 374g
Status Audio is a newcomer brand that is taking the market by storm. I was impressed with their premium-looking pair of headphones right from the start. And its sound did not disappoint either.
It’s hard to imagine you can get such quality at this price range. And yet, that is what Status Audio stands for.
I was not very impressed with the build quality, though. It’s made from quality plastics. Also, you get soft padding, which is also thick but lightweight. And the earcups are real metal. But the headband padding can wrinkle. The ear pads also make it look very old-fashioned and unattractive.
Despite that, it’s their price and sound quality that caught my attention. We all know that the exterior looks don’t really matter when the sound does not impress. And that is why I included this piece here.
The CB-1 offers a better sound quality than you would expect, even from more expensive products. They are also cheap headphones with premium sound quality. If you think these are not good enough but need something at the same price, consider the open-backed in OB-1.
In a nutshell, these headphones are good. Despite their issues with the build quality, you still get a good sound, which is the most important thing.
• Cheapest headphones on this list
• Good sound quality
• A little wide
• It has some issues with the build quality
Are you looking for the best bargain-basement studio cans? Consider these Sennheiser HD 206. I feel happy every time I review Sennheiser products because I know they offer incredible products.
• Closed-back design
• Over-ear headphones
• 21 – 18kHz
• Impedance, 24 Ohms
• Dynamic Closed driver
• Fixed wired drivers
There are many cheap headphones out there, and that is for sure. However, very few can offer the same quality as you get from these Germany made cans. They are simply good for everyday studio use.
One thing you will notice right from the box is that they are very durable. They bear all the qualities of true Sennheiser products.
Also, they are remarkably accurate, which is why they compete even with pricier options. When you buy these headphones, you are assured of some good sound too. It will not be anywhere near the premium sound of higher-end headphones, but you will love their performance.
When buying headphones for any use, be sure to check out their sound qualities. As much as other factors like construction come into play, sound production makes more sense.
The Sennheiser HD 206 promises that quality. I loved the rich and crisp bass response they gave. Also, there is plenty of detail in the mids and highs. All these make studio headphones worth considering.
The cans are quite comfortable. They feature hypoallergenic ear pads, which are great for blocking unwanted noise. Whether you are using it in the studio or at home, these bad boys will stand up to the challenge.
The cable is 3 meters long. To me, this can lead to tangling. But at this price, I would worry so much.
These headphones are becoming rarer on the market. So, if you get your hands on one, keep it in a safe place.
• Good value
• A good balance
• The cord is too long, which can lead to tangling
It is not every day that you will find me reviewing headphones from brands that are not very popular. So, Koss must be really good, even if their products are cheap to appear on this list.
However, that is only in terms of price. The Koss UR20 is simply the cheapest pair on this list. They offer excellent sound quality, comfort, and durability, even better than some more expensive brands.
These over-ears closed-back headphones have become a favorite among many studio experts. They are made from high-quality, durable material, which makes them last longer.
They deliver a frequency response range of 18 to 24kHz. This might not seem much, but at this price point, it becomes hard to complain.
The ear cups are quite big. Those with bigger ears and a larger head will find them more outstanding.
Because of their size, these headphones do a great job in noise isolation. You get only the purest sound from your studio equipment.
In terms of sound delivery, the bass is so strong. It’s not very strong and well-isolated, but enough to give you great performance.
They are durable and lightweight, good for anyone who needs such cans at a low price. Their flexible sling-style headband makes them ideal for any user environment.
The biggest downside is that they are not very comfortable. They could use more padding.
They are not well suited for mixing or mastering. But you should find them enough for listening to your favorite tracks while recording.
• Large cups
• Good noise isolation
• Too much bass
• They could use more padding
Best Budget Studio Headphones: FAQs
What are some good budget studio headphones?
If you are looking for the best studio headphones on a budget, consider the products we have reviewed above. If you don’t find anything that suits your needs, there are many other options out there.
Here are the factors to consider when choosing cheap studio headphones.
There are three main designs:
• Over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear. These are called circumaural and sub-aural headphones. And they come as either open-back or closed-back.
• Closed-back. These are the most popular headphones on the market and are common in recording studios. They feature a fully enclosed hard plastic shell and padding around the ears, which keeps off unwanted noise.
• Open-back headphones. Manufacturers claim they offer more natural and good quality sound output and a better balance with greater studio imaging. You are able to hear every sound clearly They are lighter, and hence, more comfortable. But they have a higher risk of spilling.
• In-ear monitors. These are usually designed for on-stage monitoring. Unless they are incredibly high-quality, do not pick them for the studio.
This factor is about the sound frequencies the headphones can produce. Most can offer frequency response outside the human ear, which is about 20kHz, decreasing as they get older.
Studio cans should be crispier, which clear detail even at high volumes. They should be for monitoring the sound.
Comfort is very crucial when choosing studio headphones. You want something that you can wear for hours. So, more padding is necessary.
Are studio headphones good for casual listening?
Yes, some of the best budget studio monitor headphones are used for casual listening. They are designed to offer excellent sound quality, which can be good for getting clearer music.
Also, since their frequency response is excellent, you can be sure of getting better vocals. But I would recommend you get headphones dedicated to casual listening.
Can you make music with cheap headphones?
Many cheap headphones are good for studio mixing and monitoring. As long as the headphones are comfortable and deliver a good sound response, there is no reason why you cannot use them for making music.
All headphones are good. The only difference is in the features like impedance, frequency response, and sound quality. Even if they are cheap but good in sound, you should not have any issues.
Best studio headphones on a budget – Conclusion
There are many headphones brands on the market today. This is why it can be a bit hard for a beginner to choose. I hope this list makes your search much more straightforward. If you have any comments or questions, please reach out, and we will help you.