Best Headphones for Every Budget in 2019

We all know sound is half the story so making sure your audio levels and sound effects are on-point, is of the utmost importance to help drive the narrative. Your next pair of headphones need to perform properly which is why your research and ultimate decision is so vital.

And headphone performance isn’t 100% objective – which is why audiophiles will debate their favorites until they are blue in the face. There are other factors such as comfort, features, and price that often come down to personal preference.

So use this guide as a reference only, test out the options, and do your own research to find the perfect headphones for you. Let us know your recommendations in the comments below.

Before we cover our top 8 headphones for filmmakers, and those working in post-production, let’s recap a few terms to help you narrow down your options.

Monitoring Headphones

If you’ve ever put on a pair of Beats by Dre you may have noticed how much more bass you’re getting compared to the actual song. With monitoring headphones, you are getting the most accurate sound without altering any audio coming into your headphones. All the headphones listed below are classified as “monitoring headphones,” but some audiophiles may debate this.

Circumaural Headphones

If you’re looking to escape the discomfort and heat from wearing headphones for a few hours, circumaural are your best bet. The key benefit here is the pads don’t press down on your earlobes, instead they rest around them.

Closed Versus Open Back Headphones

Open back headphones aren’t completely sealed around the back so air pressure can’t build up and affect the sound. But since they are open back, you’ll hear some surrounding ambient noises during playback.

With closed back headphones you are getting sound isolation through the sealed back. While they may block out more outside noise, air pressure can build up creating ear discomfort and even influence the fidelity of the reproduction. Whether the latter’s discernible to most listeners is debatable.

Checking Frequency Range

When researching headphones, look also for the frequency range. The greater the range, the more accurate the sound reproduced in your headphones will be. However human hearing is widely considered to cover between 20-20,000 Hz. With frequency ranges greater than that, some manufacturers will tout being able to feel these higher frequencies creating a quality similar to sitting in a studio or watching a band live.

Understanding Ohms

Generally, the higher the impedance or more ohms, the higher the sound quality you should get. Headphones with higher impedance tend to have thicker wires to create less resistance, but require more power to use. This is where having a headphone amplifier (see last section) will be essential for headphones with a higher impedance.

Now without further adieu, let’s look at a few different options at different price points.

$300+

Beyerdynamic T1 - $799

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Ear Cup Style: Semi-Open (low attenuation of ambient noise)

Impedance: 600 Ohms

Frequency: 5 Hz to 50,000 Hz

These headphones pack a serious punch with a 600-ohm impedance to help you pinpoint any sound as you edit. Along with a clean and neutral sound, they come with velour ear pads and a leather headband to keep you comfortable editing for hours.

 
ATH R70.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Earcup Style: Open-Back

Impedance: 470 Ohms

Frequency: 5 Hz to 40,000 Hz

The open-back, lightweight headphones include breathable fabric earpads and detachable cables. With a dedicated amplifier, you can make the most of the higher impedance of 470 ohms.

AKG.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Earcup style: Open-Back

Impedance: 62 Ohms

Frequency: 10 Hz to 39,800 Hz

These open-back headphones are a go-to resource for many audio editors. AKG touts their patented varimotion two-layer diaphragm for improved high-frequency range and better performance at low frequencies.

 

$100-$300

Sennheiser HD6 Mix - $150

HD 6.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Earcup Style: Closed Back

Impedance: 150 Ohms

Frequency: 8 Hz to 30,000 Hz

Looking for comfort and options with your headphones? Along with blocking out most external distracting noises as you’re working in post, they come with two detachable cables: one coiled and one straight along with plush, removable ear pads. If you sweat a lot or don’t like leather you can also switch out for the velour earpads that come with it. In case you’re producing something bass heavy the frequency range goes as low as 8 hertz and up to 30,000.

V-MODA Crossfade M-100 - $250

V MODA.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Earcup Style: Closed Back, memory foam earpads

Impedance: 32 Ohms

Frequency: 5 Hz to 30,000 Hz

These circumaural headphones were developed in collaboration with musicians and editors to deliver clarity and a vivid mid-range. Custom shield kits are also available to 3D print or laser-engrave any logo if you want to advertise your brand while you’re out working on the field.

Bonus: It also comes with a microphone!

DT770.jpg

Design: Over-ear (Circumuaral)

Earcup Style: Closed-Back

Impedance: 32 Ohm

Frequency: 5 Hz to 35,000 Hz

Many headphone owners report finding these to be especially cooler in comfort so you don’t have to worry about heating getting trapped up around your ears as you’re knee deep in editing. Beyerdynamic touts the closed back for studio and/or stage usage with this model, and other models for other use cases: DT 880 Pro’s semi-open back for mixing, mastering, or reference monitoring and the open back of DT 990 Pro for critical listening in studio. Keep in mind the headphones do not have a detachable cable so handle with care.

Under $100

Sony MDR7506 - $80

Sony MDR.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)

Earcup Style: Closed Back

Impedance: 63 Ohms

Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 20,000 Hz

If you’ve worked with any sort of video team you’ve probably seen these. They are lightweight and foldable, making them easy to travel with. When producing out on the field, the cord on these headphones can extend up to 10 feet.

HD280 Pro.jpg

Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural/sound isolating)

Earcup Style: Closed back, swiveling

Impedance: 64 Ohms

Frequency Response: 8 Hz to 25,000 kHz

If you’re looking for a cheaper option that still maintains the quality these are headphones for you. Whether it’s dialogue, sound effects, or other audio elements, happy owners report being able to clearly hear each different sound as they’re adjusting levels.

 

Headphone Amplifiers

For headphones needing more power to give you every sound detail, you have a few options…

Rupert Neve RNHP Headphone Amplifier -$499

RNHP.jpg

Although it only has one channel for headphones and not the most aesthetically pleasing piece of hardware, you can enjoy the clear difference in fidelity and clarity this amp provides.

Features?

  • Drives up to 600 Ohms headphones

  • XLR, 1/4”, RCA, & 1/8” Inputs

  • 1/4” Stereo Headphone Output

  • 24V Power Supply Included

 
Fiio.jpg

If you’re seeking something more portable, FiiO includes up to 16 hours of battery power covering headphone impedance up to 150 ohms.

Features?

  • 1400 mAH Rechargeable battery with 16 hour run time

  • 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency response

  • Shields against EM Interference

  • Low - High Gain Toggle Switch


Once you’ve found your favorite combination of headphone and amplifier you can not only enjoy editing every sound intentionally, you can always put on your favorite playlist and rock on as you dive into other work.


Looking to upgrade your gear further? Check out our post on best video cameras for every budget.