You’ve got everything set up and are ready to listen. You turn up your crappy computer speakers or gaming headset, then punch into google “best studio headphone brands” because you realize you ain’t getting anywhere without new cans.
You may start looking into the best studio headphone brands or studio monitors. Maybe you live in an apartment or with roommates so headphones are your go-to. Having the ability to listen to the full frequency spectrum (especially when producing EDM) is required if you want to advance your skills. Sure, you can mix off laptop speakers like Skrillex and others did in the beginning. Look at him now – using headphones.
In this article we take a look at some of the most popular headphone brands’ history and provide examples of great headphones they make today. Use it as a quick list to dive further into your research. Having a handy reference and some historical context can help you narrow down the good brands and the BS.
I’ve personally owned a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros – all other info is gathered from user reviews, Reddit, Youtube, and the general interweb. Sources are provided.
Let’s get into it.
Best Studio Headphone Brands – The Top 5
In this section I’d like to do a brief overview of the top 5 brands I chose for this article . I will also mention some “runner-ups” so to speak – I determined the list based on best-sellers and trends, but your mileage may vary. Use this article as a guideline in your research.
Our Recommendation: the HD 280 PROs
Sennheiser was originally formed in 1945 by Dr. Fritz Sennheiser under the name “Laboratorium Wennebostel” or “Labor W” for short; they started with manufacturing tube voltmeters (ways of measuring voltage in AC/DC current) but eventually expanded into microphones and other measuring equipment (geophysical equipment, amplifiers, mini transformers used in hearing aids, and more!).
In 1958, they adopted the iconic name and symbol they’re known for today. Other historical highlights include their long line of microphones like the MD 421/MD 441, their popular HD414’s that took the world by storm in 1968 and remain the bestselling headphones ever to this day, and having invented the first directional clip-on microphone in 1983, the MKE 40.
These are only a few of the plethora of accomplishments Sennheiser has under their belt, which had led them to be one of the best studio headphone brands. To read more, check out their page here.
Our Recommendation: DT 1990s
Beyerdynamic was founded in Berlin by Eugen Beyer in 1924 under the name “Elektrotechnische Fabrik Eugen Beyer” after his fascination with motion pictures led to a desire to add audio to enhance the movie experience. They started creating loudspeakers, leading up to the conception of their forefather headphones – the DT 48.
Launched in 1937, the DT 48 series is probably the longest selling headphones series in the world. They finally stopped production in 2013, having made little change to their design. Talk about sticking to their roots!
They developed the first studio-quality dynamic microphone in 1939 – the M19, which was the capstone for the company leading up to WWII. Millions of customers worldwide were happy with their suite of audio products. Unfortunately, much like the rest of Germany, Beyerdynamic had to start over again after the war and they relocated their factory to Heilbronn shortly thereafter.
Eugen Beyer died in 1959 at 56, leaving the company to his son Fred who stood at the helm of the company for over 40 years. To this day, they are still one of the best studio headphone brands. To read more, check out their page here.
Our Recommendation: SRH1540s
Shure was founded in Chicago by S. N. Shure in 1925 under the name Shure Radio Company. Although they initially specialized in AM radio kits and components, they eventually moved into producing microphones after the great depression. In 1939, they developed their world-renowned Model 55 Unidyne Microphone.
Through the development of their microphone technologies, they became a prime supplier of microphones to allied forces during WWII. They developed some pretty cool stuff – the T-30V Throat Microphone, for example, allowed bomber crews to communicate over extreme noise levels in the plane. This led to a reliance on MILSPEC standards for reliability of their products.
Other notable highlights include the creation of the SM57 in 1965 which has been the standard microphone for every president since LBJ, the legendary SM7 microphone in 1973, L-series wireless microphone in 1990, and a Technical Grammy in 2003. They are definitely one of the best studio headphone brands. To read more, check out their page here.
Our Recommendation: ATH-M50Xs
Audio-Technica was founded in 1962 by Hideo Matsushita in an effort to bring high-fidelity music to those who couldn’t previously afford it. Before the AT-1, their first affordable phono cartridge, high-quality audio was more expensive to obtain. They also launched the first microcassette recorders in 1969.
The 70’s led to major growth, expansion overseas and production of the AT-700 series headphones and AT-800 series microphones. However, the 80’s threatened their core business of phonograph products with the rise of digital music. In an effort to stay afloat, they diversified into sushi machines, among other ideas (fun fact!). Still, they remain one of the best studio headphone brands out there.
You can read more about them here.
Our Recommendation: K712s
Founded in 1947 by Austrians Rudolf Görike and Ernst Pless, AKG was originally in the business of cinema equipment. Over time, they expanded into other audio-related products like car horns, intercoms, telephone microphones, and others items.
AKG developed a moving coil technology and the principle of mass load membranes, two things that enabled them to increase frequency ranges and subsequently achieve international fame. Their D12 microphone was the world’s first dynamic cardioid microphone, landing them as a household name in audiophiles and studios across the globe at the time.
Through time their company developed; in 1984, they were one of the most traded stocks when listed on the Vienna stock exchange. In 2017, they transferred their entire headquarters to California and left Vienna.
You can read more about them here.
These are some of the biggest names in the game and for good reason. Almost all of them were founded in the 40s or earlier and provided the patents and technology to do what we love – make, play, and listen to music.
Thanks for reading thus far. Feel free to check out some of our other articles on our homepage!