We don’t want to count how many pairs of studio headphones we have at hand (to be honest, we have literally 4 in our studio right now). Today we were interested in narrowing our search down to a specific budget, and $500 or less is an absolute golden range to find a higher-end pair for studio recording, mixing, or even podcasting, streaming and simply enjoying music or audio in general. We’ll cut to the chase and get into our best studio headphones under $500 picks below.
The Best Studio Headphones Under $500
Sennheiser HD 650
Up first, we have arguably one of the best pairs ever in the Sennheiser HD 650. These are a pair of professional, dynamic, and open back headphones with natural, even and high-quality sound. The over-the-ear ear cups are oval shaped, designed like the shape of the ears for great comfort in those long sessions. They also have a specially designed acoustic silk that provides precision damping throughout the entire frequency range and helps reduce total harmonic distortion significantly, a feature only found in higher-end pairs like this (damping is a technique in music for changing the sound of a musical instrument by reducing oscillation or vibration).
In terms of some specs, the Sennheiser HD 650 have s a removable cable to aid in longevity (usually the first to go) and also features a frequency response of 10 Hz to 41 kHz, impedance of 300 Ohms, THD of 0.05% and an SPL of 103 dB. Overall just amazing sound quality here for finding that super accurate sound, and these have stood the test of time for years to back up our confidence in the purchase. If you need an open-back pair of headphones under $500, stop right here.
Shure SRH1840 is another super popular pair in the music and is another professional, high-quality pair of studio headphones for just under $500. This open back, around the ear headphone comes in a luxurious box with an additional cable, ear pads and adapter. The headband is adjustable and ear pads are very comfortable to wear for an extended period of time.
Compared to other open-back headphones, The SRH1840 leaks a very little amount of sound, therefore may be able to work with recording if you need to get away with it. Otherwise, they’re beautiful when mixing, mastering, or even producing. For build and longevity, they are lightweight, the cable is detachable and and it also replaceable velour ear pads. For specs we have features such as an impedance of 65 Ohms, solid, accurate bass and frequency response of 10 Hz to 30 kHz.
AKG K712 Pro
Another famous pair here. The AKG K712 Pro has a leather adjustable headband, over the ears ear cups, the ear pads are covered with velour and an open back design. The cable is detachable and the sound is extremely natural and accurate. The K712 Pro headphone also comes with a mini XLR connector, a coiled cable and a carrying bag.
It features sensitivity of 105 dB, frequency response of 10 Hz to 39.8 kHz and impedance of 62 Ohms. One of the cons of this headphone is its bulky design that might not be for everyone and it is not foldable, otherwise they have a tight fit and really submerse you into the audio.
Beyerdynamic DT 880
The DT 880 is around the ear, semi-open back, dynamic, professional headphone for less than $500. This headphone has a clean and accurate sound and neutral bass. It has a padded headband for comfort, the ear pads are covered with velour and the headphone is comfortable to wear for a long period of time. It features frequency response of 5 Hz to 35 kHz, SPl of 96 dB.
The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Edition comes in 3 different versions with impedance of 32 Ohms, 250 Ohms and 600 ohms. The 32 Ohm version is best used with iPad or iPod, the 250 Ohms version on stereo system and the 600 Ohms version for hi-fi systems at home or studio.
Another professional studio headphone for $500 or less is the NDH20. This is a closed-back, around the ear, adjustable headphone. The ear pads are made of memory foam, hence they are comfortable to wear for hours. The Neumann NDH20 gives great isolation and are perfect for recording or listening to audio privately.
The sound is clear with high resolution and minimal distortion, and the build is quite high-end as compared to many others. It has removable ear pads and cable in case you need to replace them later down the line or perhaps want to use a shorter or longer cable depending on what you’re doing. It comes with one coiled and one straight cable and an adapter in the box however. Specifications include an impedance of 150 Ohms, frequency response of 5 Hz to 30 kHz, sensitivity of 114 dB and sound isolation of 34 dB.
The ATH-R70 is an open back, around the ear professional headphone. These headphones have a very flat and clear sound, is lightweight, has ear pads that are covered with breathable fabric and has dual sided cable that are removable.
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x has a uniquely designed 3D Wing Support system used for comfort. It has a frequency response of 5Hz to 40 kHz, sensitivity of 99 dB and impedance of 470 Ohms.
Adam Audio SP-5
At the end of our guide here, we have yet another high-quality pair of studio headphones headphones for just under $500. This is a closed back, around the ear headphone. The headband and the earcups are padded for comfort, the ear pads are replaceable and the cable is removable. It comes with one coiled and one straight cable.
The Adam Audio SP-5 is lightweight. One of the great features that this headphone has is that it engages “decentralized driver position” which means that the sound comes out around the ear instead of directly into the ear. This is a nifty feature as it reduces the risk of hearing damage. It has frequency range of 8 Hz to 38 kHz, impedance of 70 Ohms and sensitivity of 95 dB.
Finding the Best Studio Headphones Under $500
There are a lot of different headphones out there. Most higher-end headphones in this range are open or semi-open that are usually used for mixing and there are closed back ones that are preferable used for recording. For just listening to music, we recommend closed back headphones.
It’s a good thing to have high-end studio headphones, but if you’re on a budget, you can get high studio quality headphones for much less.