Picking the best open-back headphones for your needs

If you have landed on this page you are probably a music producer or an audiophile looking for the best open back headphones your budget can afford.

We know how difficult and frustrating it can be to pick the right pair of open ear/open back headphones out of thousands of options. But don’t worry After 100’s of testing hours, we can confidently say we can help you choose the right pair of headphones for your needs!

(Top 10 best closed-back headphones list is just below the Closed back vs Open back section)


Closed back headphones vs Open back headphones

Here’s a video by techquickie/linustechtips that perfectly explains Open back vs Closed-back headphones:

There is one very important question you should ask yourself before choosing your pair of headphones that question is are you going to mostly record with your headphones or are you going to mostly mix and master with them if you are going to mostly record with your headphones

you are going to want to choose a pair of Closed-back headphones which excel in isolating the sound from coming in and out of your headphones.

The reason for that is you don’t want your microphone to pick up any sound leakage from your headphones.

If you are going to mostly mix and master with your new pair then you are going to want to choose a pair of Open back headphones which have almost no isolation to help you get a more natural, pure sound.

Now that we know that if you plan to mostly record you should go with Closed-back headphones and if you plan to mostly mix and master you should go with open back headphones we still need to choose from hundreds of options 🙁

But don’t worry that’s where we come in! After months of research and countless hours of testing. We have come up with the absolute best of the best the crème de la crème of the headphones world and put it into a single concise list, check it out below!

Keep in mind that the most important factor you should be looking for when choosing your pair of studio headphones is how true they are to the original sound and how flat is their frequency response, all of the headphones you are about to witness have a relatively flat frequency response and an honest pure sound…




Headphones NameImpedancefrequency response
Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X (Editor's Choice)485Hz-25KHz Check Price
Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-2502505Hz-35KHz Check Price
Samson SR8503210Hz–30kHz Check Price
Sennheiser HD 60030012Hz-39KHz Check Price
AKG K-240 (Editor's Choice)5515Hz-25KHz Check Price
Grado SR80e3220Hz-20KHz Check Price
Akg K7016210Hz-39.8KHz Check Price
HifiMan Electronics HE-400i3520Hz-35KHz Check Price
Sennheiser HD 80030014Hz-44100Hz Check Price
Sennheiser HD 65030010HZ-41KHz Check Price


1. Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones

The Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones got out first place simply because every top 10 studio headphones list starts with an audio technica product (we’re just kidding)

We cant point out one audio technica product which is not absolutely great and the AUD ATHAD500X is no exception, this pair is not only appreciated by professional producers and top-tier DJs it’s also popular among your everyday audiophiles and even gamers.



    • Comfort – The AUD ATHAD500X  ridiculously low weight, premium honeycomb aluminum casing and cushioned ear pads make the AUD ATHAD500X one of the most comfortable headphones we have ever worn, we have tested them for 4,6 and even 10 hour studio sessions and we can 100% say the AUD ATHAD500X are absolutely essential for long mixing/recording sessions.
    • Adjustability – The AUD ATHAD500X self-adjusting 3D Wing Support Housing will give you the perfect fit for almost any size head without manually adjusting the headband every time.
    • Great Sound quality – When we first got our pair of the AUD ATHAD500X we were very skeptic of their sound quality we didn’t believe a pair this cheap can produce any deep bass or crisp highs, but then we started using them and they were on par with some of our most expensive headphones in terms of their clarity!



    • Design – Don’t get us wrong we really like the design of the AUD ATHAD500X for studio use, but if you want to listen with the AUD ATHAD500X in public then prepare yourself for some odd stares from strangers…
    • Bass – Again don’t get us wrong the highs/treble are absolutely great on the AUD ATHAD500X the bass however while very good for the price does not really stand up to par with some of the more expensive headphones we have tested in higher price categories.


Bottom line
We are quite amazed by the build and sound quality you can get for this price with the AUD ATHAD500X (see lowest price) and that’s why they are our number one choice for open back headphones.

Choose these if you are:
looking for incredible clarity, comfort and a relatively “pure” sound for a really great price.
Don’t choose these if you are:
going to use them publicly or use them for music listening only

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews 


2. Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones

Note: the DT-990-pro-250 come in 2 other versions but for this post, we are going to stick with the best out of the 3.

Beyerdynamic is known for being one of the top German hi-fi manufacturers and for their products incredible build quality. The DT-990-Pro-250 might be one of Beyerdynamic best studio headphones to date.



    • Great for studio and casual use – The DT-990-Pro-250 are one of the few open back headphones on the list which are suitable for studio use and casual use, that’s why the DT-990-Pro-250 are not only used by producers but also by music lovers and even gamers!
    • Very Durable – Every pair of headphones we get goes through our 10 feet drop test, some headphones break but most hold up fine with a few minor bruises. once we tested the DT-990 from the 10 feet drop test absolutely nothing happened, so we tested again from 15 feet and again nothing happened. After countless of tests, we got frustrated and dropped one of our old 30-pound studio monitors on the DT-990 which ultimately managed to do some damage to this indestructible pair of cans.
    • Great sound quality – Once we received the DT-990 we instantly started playing some very bass intensive music and the DT-990 bass reproduction capabilities blew our mind!. Then we proceeded with some progressive house and pop records and the mids were also very clear and concise.



    • Pricey – For their price the DT-990 are not exactly cheap (see lowest price).
    • Sharp highs/treble – The highs on the DT-990 are a little sharper than what they should have been and are a little irritating in highs/treble intensive genres. that’s why we recommend the DT-990 to producers who produce genres such as Dubstep, Trap, Hip-hop, Deep house,Pop music, Etc.


Bottom line
The DT-990 are in our opinion the Mercedes of open back headphone world! they are durable, feel expensive and have incredible bass reproduction capabilities. For the price we believe they are a steal.

Choose these if you are:
Producing bass intensive music such as Dubstep, Trap, Deep house, Hip-hop Etc…
Don’t choose these if you are:
Producing Highs/Treble intensive music such as Progressive house, Future bass, Dance-pop

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


3. Samson SR850

It’s official The Samson SR850 are the ultimate beginner open back headphones!

In all seriousness, the Samson SR850 are incredibly comfortable and caused no ear fatigue after hours of listening. And they would take our number one spot if our list was based on the “bang for your buck” factor alone (see lowest price).



    • Affordable – For the price the Samson SR850 are a steal.
    • Sound quality – We honestly didn’t expect SR850’s to have any clarity or substantial low end but boy we were wrong! The Samson SR850 will be the best sounding headphones you will find for that price.
    • Natural sound – The Samson’s overall sound is obviously not as powerful as some of the other more expensive headphones on this list. but what it lacks in power it definitely delivers in purity and clarity.
    • Great stereo image – The Samson SR850 is particularly great in providing an honest stereo image, in our tests we mixed EDM, Acoustic and pop music and we were amazed how detailed and clear the stereo image was for headphones at this price range.
    • Comfortable – The Samson SR850 cushioned ear pads and adjustable headband makes it one of the most comfortable pair of cans you will find in this price category.



    • Design – The Samson SR850 do look like a cheap pair of headphones and feel cheaper than some of the more expensive headphones on this list.
    • Not very durable – Our headphones held just fine in the last couple of months but we did hear of cases the SR850 broke in a matter of 1-2 years.


Bottom Line
The SR850 are the absolute best when it comes to a great pair of studio headphones on a tight budget.

Choose these if:
You are tight on budget.
Don’t choose these if:
Your budget is above 80-90$.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


4. Sennheiser HD 600

The Sennheiser HD 600, 650 and 800 are considered by many audiophiles and producers the best line of open back headphones that ever existed.

We share that opinion and believe that the Sennheiser 600 could be the perfect choice for you if your budget is high enough.



    • Incredible build quality – Built from materials such as Metal, Kevlar and Aluminum the Sennheiser 600 are extremely durable and feel very “expensive” in our opinion the HD 600 feels way more expensive than what they actually cost.
    • Honest sound – Sennheiser’s studio headphones generally provide a very honest sound and the Sennheiser 600 are no exception. They will reveal any imperfections in a bad mix and sound amazing in a great mix.
    • Long lasting – The hefty investment is diffidently not a short-term one, Our pair of HD 600 has gone through a few drop tests and some major abuse and they are still in perfect condition after an entire year.
    • Great for casual music listening – The Sennheiser HD 600 are one of the few open back headphones that also sound really good outside of the studio.
    • Diverse – We have tested the HD 600 in genres such as Dubstep, Future Bass, Trap, Acoustic Music, House, progressive house, orchestral and pop. from our tests we can tell that the HD 600 are great in bass heavy genres as well as in treble/mids heavy genres.



    • Pricey – For the price the HD 600 are not exactly cheap (see lowest price).
    • Somewhat Light bass – The HD 600 do lack a little bass in the 20-40hz region.


Bottom Line:
From the German build quality to the jaw-dropping sound quality the Sennheiser HD 600 are one of the best purchases you can make if you are looking for a pair of studio headphones that will serve you for years to come.

Choose these if:
You have a big enough budget and you plan to mix/master EDM, Hip-hop or Pop music.
Don’t Choose these if:
You produce ambient or orchestral music.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


5. AKG K-240

There are two pro audio companies which we absolutely love the first is audio technica and the second is as you may have already guessed AKG,

The akg k240 relative flat frequency response, comfortable fit and gorgeous black/gold finish make them an industry standard for mixing/mastering for a relatively low price.

Technically the akg k240 “semi-open” design should disqualify them from entering our list but we couldn’t resist adding them as an option for those of you that are looking to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some isolation for recording and music listening and some open air ambiance and clarity for mixing/mastering.



    • Design – You may disagree with us but in our opinion, the akg k240 is absolutely gorgeous! and we get compliments from random people while casually listening in public. a feat which we only achieved with the DT-990 and the akg K240.
    • Clarity/honest – We have heard many stories of the akg K240 clarity, purity, and impressive sound and at first, we were very skeptic. as you may have already guessed we were wrong, we take our hats off to Akg for accomplishing the incredible feat of managing to create such quality headphones for a relatively low price.
    • Replaceable cable – We would be millionaires if we got a penny for everytime a cable broke in our studio. And we are delighted at the fact that akg includes a replaceable cable for those of us who are less cautious with their gear.
    • Durable – The akg K240 cable may break overtime but the K240 will surely last you for years, put them in a suitcase, in the back of your car or even use them as a children’s toy (Yes that really happened)  the akg k240 will last and remain in perfect condition!
    • Semi-open design – As we have mentioned before the AKG K240 semi-open design allows you to enjoy the best of the open back world as well as the closed back world. Making the akg K240 the perfect choice for those of you who want the 2 in 1 solution.



    • Design – You either love it or hate it, for some people the golden design feels too extravagant and for others it feels just right we are personally in the second camp and believe most people will agree with us.
    • Loudness – Depending on how you look at it the relative quite sound of the Akg k240 can be viewed as a safety measure (pro) or as a con for those of you who are looking for extra loudness.


Bottom Line
If you are looking for the most affordable true mixing/mastering headphones that will give you a fighting chance in the mixing/mastering game look no further than the K240 which are some of the best open back headphones you will at this price category.

If you are still undecided you can check out our full review of the AKG K240.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


6. Grado SR80e 

Grado is known for their high-quality treble-heavy headphones, We generally don’t like Grado’s because of their emphasis on the higher end of the frequency spectrum, and feel they are generally a little too harsh for our taste.

The SR80e, however, are different than most Grado headphones their frequency response is more natural and the highs aren’t as harsh.

What leaves us with Grado’s spacious audiophile sound without the downsides of the harshness and lack of bass.

We feel the SR80e are not for everyone but they definitely are the perfect choice for those of you who are looking for a crystal clear high end, great mids and relatively decent bass.



    • Great highs – Grado’s studio headphones are arguably the best “Treble headphones” in the world and the Grado SR80e are no exception, elements such as hi-hats, snares and even the click or attack of your kicks get a whole different dimension while mixing/mastering or when listening to music. For the price, the SR80e are in our opinion the best “treble headphones” in the world.
    • Design – Many of you may not agree with us but the Grado’s super old-fashioned studio look is just gorgeous in our eyes. the Grado’s teleport us to right back to the legendary Abbey Road studios everytime we wear them!
    • Bass – The bass on the Grado’s is not hyped and feels very natural it’s a great trait if you are producing acoustic music but a bad one if you are planning to use the grado’s for EDM, hip-hop, and bass heavy pop.
    • Open Design/Comfort – All of the headphones on our list have an open design but the SR80e relative small ear pads make them feel much lighter and much cooler than some of the other headphones on this list which are also very comfy, to begin with.



    • Bass – As we said before the bass on the Grado’s can be a blessing or a curse. the natural bass can be great if you are producing/listening to genres such as jazz, acoustic, orchestral and classic rock which tends to benefit from a more natural bass response. but can be very bad if you are producing/listening to genres such as dubstep, trap, hip hop, deep house, house, future bass (most EDM genres).
    • Not Very Durable – The Grado SR80e are not as durable as some of the other headphones on this list, they will break if you won’t take good care of them.


Bottom Line
The Grado SR80e are probably the best Highs intensive headphones for their price category.

Choose these if:
You are producing treble heavy genres such as acoustic music, jazz, orchestral, film etc. or if you have good studio monitors and need an extra system to mix your highs in.
Don’t choose these if:
You are producing Bass heavy genres such as EDM, Hip-hop, Metal Etc…

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


7. Akg K701

After 3-4 years of use we can confidently say the Akg k701 are the most comfortable headphones you will ever wear, they are well cushioned, airy and very light.

the sound quality is very natural and at times you won’t be able to tell if what you are hearing is coming from the headphones or from the environment.

The akg k701 slightly exaggerated highs and natural lows make them great for treble heavy genres and not so great for EDM, Hip-Hop Etc…



    • Comfort – As we have mentioned before the k701 are the most comfortable headphones we have ever worn, We can’t feel them even after 12-14 hour sessions and they are our go-to choice for long mixing sessions.
    • Sound quality – Arguably the most natural/pure sounding headphones on this list are the k701 they are very honest to the original sound and will sound great in all genres if mixed well. We have tested the K712 on 100’s of genres and we feel their sound truly depends on how the mix/master was done.
    • Mids/Highs – The mids and highs on the K701 are absolutely great. And we feel the mids/highs are the strong points of the K701 when it comes to sound quality, whether you listen to Heavy metal or to Mozart you can count the K701 will do great in terms of how clear, pure and crisp the highs and mids are going to be.
    • Durable – Even though the K701 are made out of very light materials they are still very durable and lasted us almost 4 years of travel (and still going strong).



    • Build quality – The build quality on the K701 are not as great as some of the other headphones in the same price category and you probably wouldn’t expect any plastic on headphones this expensive, however, the relative poor build quality is the compromise of the incredible comfort and lightness. We personally feel the comfort outweighs the build quality issues any day.
    • Clanky design – Even though the K701 are great for studio use they will be a little harder to travel with or do sports with, we feel the K701 are good for casual music listening sessions and for very long mixing/mastering sessions and wouldn’t recommend taking them on flights, car rides or walks. We did take the k701 on flights, car rides, and walks and they are still in perfect condition the reason we don’t recommend doing these activities is that it’s a little awkward walking around with such big headphones on your head.
    • Bass – The bass on the K701 is not hyped at all and feels very natural, as we have said before the relative lack of bass can be seen as a pro for treble heavy genres or as a con for bass heavy genres.


Bottom Line
The AKG K701 will probably be the most comfortable headphones you will ever wear! they are very natural sounding and will greatly help you when mixing your stereo image.

Choose these if:
You are producing bass-light genres such as acoustic, jazz, orchestral, film.
Don’t choose these if:
You are producing bass-heavy genres such as EDM or Hip-hop

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


8. HifiMan Electronics HE-400i

Hifiman’s increasing reputation got us interested in one of their renowned open back headphones the HE-400i, And to be honest when we first put them on we felt like a million bucks!.

from the glossy finish to the premium leather headband the HE-400i feel very “expensive” and probably would take our #1 spot if price wasn’t a factor.



    • Incredible soundstage – Out of all the headphones on our list Hifiman’s HE-400 soundstage is the best, with most open back headphones you can hear sound coming from your left and right but with these, you can also clearly hear the sound coming from in front of you or from behind of you. The Hifiman’s phenomenal soundstage makes the listening experience much more impressive and makes mixing a lot easier when panning or stereo mixing.
    • Comfort – The HE-400i ear pads are very big and will go all the way around your ears, we find bigger ear pads to apply less pressure on your ears and become less moist after long listening sessions. The hifiman’s are also very breathable and will keep your ears cool for long periods of time.
    • Low resistance – The relatively low resistance of the HIfiman He-400i makes them better suited for use with your Smartphone, Tablet or PC.
    • Honest – Out of all the headphones on this list, the Hifiman’s are probably the most honest and unforgiving. They will uncover any imperfections in a bad mix and shine when your mix is good. the pure sound may be perceived as a con for those of you who are looking to use your new pair of headphones for music listening only.
    • Balanced – The frequency response on the hifiman’s is surprisingly balanced. It feels like the Bass, highs, and treble have their own space and that they are not conflicting with each other.



    • Build quality – Don’t let the HE-400I “expensive” looks and feel deceive you as their build quality is actually not that great. the major weak points of the HE-400i are the fragile earcups, the use of glue in certain parts (not unusual) and the yoke swivels.
    • Pricey – The hifiman’s really exceeded their price in terms of sound quality and design, however, we feel like the build quality could be better for headphones this expensive.


Bottom Line
The hifiman’s amazing soundstage, great sound quality, and gorgeous design make them a great pick for those of who are looking for a natural sound.

Choose these if:
You will take good care of them and you want to mostly mix and master with them.
Don’t Choose these if:
You won’t take good care of them or you plan to use them for casual music listening only.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


9. Sennheiser HD 800

Simply put the Sennheiser HD 800 gave us the best sound experience we have ever had.

Their highs, mids, and lows are balanced to perfection the soundstage is incredible and the overall sound is just damn impressive!

We know most people don’t want to spend huge sums of money on a pair of headphones and we totally get it.

We do however totally recommend the HD 800 to professionals or audiophiles that already own a 300$+ pair of headphones.

In a perfect world, you would mix and master on a good set of studio monitors and use your open backs for reference.

The Sennheiser HD 800, however, are a whole different story we feel as if you can mix and master entire projects on the Sennheiser HD 800 and get very good results that translate well to other sound systems.



    • Sound Quality – As we have mentioned before The Sennheiser HD 800 are in a class of their own when it comes to sound quality. from their crisp tasty highs to their juicy bass every genre we have tested sounded incredible.
    • Build quality – You can compare the HD 800 to an armored Rolls Royce when it comes to build quality. you can twist them throw them on the ground or sit on them and the Sennheiser HD 800 will always come on top!
    • Comfort – At this ridiculous price range you would expect exceptional comfort and we can tell you the HD 800 definitely delivers. when we first put them on we felt as if we put our ears to sleep! the ear pads are well cushioned, breathable and fit perfectly on most sized heads/ears.



Since the HD 800 are pure perfection we can’t come up with any cons other than the very high price.


Bottom Line
The Sennheiser HD 800 are in our opinion the best mixing headphones in the world.

Choose these if:
You can afford them and you already have a pair of audiophile/studio headphones.
Don’t choose these if:
You are just starting out in the production or audiophile game.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


10. Sennheiser HD 650 

Probably the most well-known headphones on our list are the legendary Sennheiser HD 650 as we have mentioned before Sennheiser’s line of open back headphones is absolutely great. And we think the HD 650’s are the perfect middle between

The HD 600 and the more expensive HD 800.

When we first got the Sennheiser HD 650 and tested them for the first time we were totally blown away by their clarity and

How impressive their sound was! The Comfortable design didn’t hurt either!

We totally understand what’s all the buzz is about and think the HD 650 hold up to their incredible reputation.

If not for their high price the HD 650 would take our 2nd spot after their big brother the HD 800.



    • Sound quality – The HD 650 sound quality is pretty incredible and from our tests, we have found that most Sennheiser headphones work well across all genres. The HD 650 are no exception to that rule. The iconic pure, honest sound of Sennheiser just makes any piece of music a little bit better.
    • Comfort – Almost all Sennheiser headphones we have tested were comfortable but the HD 650 and HD 800 are definitely in a league of their own when it comes to comfort from their large cushioned ear pads to their adjustable headband the HD 650 are a joy to wear.
    • Build quality – Most german headphones are well built but as we have said before Sennheiser are in a league of their own when it comes to comfort and build quality. built from an acoustic metal mesh, aluminum coils and a beautiful titanium/silver finish the HD 650 are probably some of the most well-built headphones in the world.



    • Price – the HD 650 are definitely not cheap.


Bottom line
The Sennheiser HD 650 are the perfect choice for those of you who want to enjoy top german quality for a relatively low price.

Choose these if:
You are an audiophile looking for an impressive audio experience or a music producer looking for a pure, honest sound.
Don’t choose these if:
You are just starting out in the audio production or audiophile game, at this stage, we highly recommend starting with the cheaper options.

Click here to check out latest prices and reviews


And that’s it our top 10 list of the best open back headphones! hope you got some value out of our list and we hope you choose the right pair for you 🙂

If you would like to learn more on open back and closed back headphones you can check out this great article on forbes.

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