Choosing the best studio headphones under $500 with a dynamic range and clean sound can be difficult. There are several studio headphones in the $500 price range that have high sound quality, so it’s hard to choose which one is right for you. The three most important things you should look for in a studio headset are comfort, frequency range, and sensitivity. Clearly, you want something that is comfortable to wear for hours while mixing and recording.
You also want something that has an extremely high sound quality, so you can hear all the nuances in the mix. That’s where the range and sensitivity come in. In this article, we will discuss this in more detail.
Best Studio Headphones Under $500
Now it’s time to compare the top-rated best studio headphones under $500 and review their sound and features, so you can pick the right one for your studio.
1. Shure SRH1840
Shure is a well-known brand in the audio industry. Although it is better known for the production of microphones, it also offers other audio solutions, such as headphones and earphones for casual and professional use. The Shure SRH1840 is one of the headphones the brand offers for professional use. They’re open-back headphones with a circumaural design that offers a wide stereo image, improved depth of field, and highly realistic sound reproduction.
The overall design is simple but efficient, with headband forks made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. These forks slide easily in and out of a well-filled centerpiece making adjustments very easy. The ear cups are well padded at the front to make listening easier, while a stainless steel grille overlooks the driver housing at the back. Two 40mm neodymium is used for the drivers. These provide an SPL of 96dB at a frequency range from 10Hz to 30kHz. It also offers an impedance of 65 Ohm, which is surprisingly low for such high-end headphones.
2. Etymotic Research ER4SR
Etymotic Research, Inc. is a company dedicated primarily to improving the quality of life of people with hearing impairments. Therefore, it may seem strange that the brand offers solutions for professional reference listening. The ER4SR is an in-ear type of earphone. Although these are certainly not common in the studio, they are becoming very popular for stage monitoring. That said, for anyone who decides to look beyond the traditionally accepted over-the-ear headphones that most studio professionals use, they’re likely to be surprised at the quality of sound these in-ear headphones offer.
First of all, they offer up to 35-42 dB of noise reduction, resulting in significant isolation that allows for undisturbed listening. They are also comfortable and can be used for prolonged, worry-free listening. These earphones have a sensitivity of 98 dB over a frequency range of 20 Hz to 16 kHz. They also have a maximum SPL of 122 dB, which provides sufficient headroom for loud referrals. One thing’s for sure with these earphones: a flat response, that’s exactly what professional audio tasks require. Overall, this is one of the best studio headphones under $500.
3. Shure SRH1540
After covering the open set of cans from Shure, it was only logical to include a closed-back model. The one we have chosen for this list is the Shure SRH1540 and is one of the best studio headphones under 500 dollars. Even though these two resemble each other, they are very different. Where the open-back version offers that spatial dimension, the closed back-set provides the highest accuracy. The only real mistake in this is the padding on the frame.
Shure uses the same frame design for this entire range of headphones, so it’s not too strange to find the same errors. Performance-wise, the SRH1540 is an entirely different ball game. Large, flat sound with a lot of accuracy over the entire range is what you can expect.
4. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio
Whether you are trying to get into music production or want to have good headphones for mastering, the chances are that the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio will do the job and a few more. Despite their simple, unobtrusive design, these are one of the absolute best studio headphones under $500 you can get right now. Especially if you appreciate minimalism. The frame, although simple, is relatively practical. You look at lots of padding and suitable swivel mounts at a reasonably decent weight.
The hardware on the inside has the shape of two 45-mm dynamic Tesla drivers with an impedance of 250 Ohm. The performance you get, let you experience how to reference monitoring should sound in perfect conditions.
5. Audio-Technica ATH-E70
Audio-Technica is a household name in the world of professional audio. The brand has many top-quality over-the-ear headphones, but as a market leader, it must assert its presence in the in-ear niche, which is becoming increasingly popular. The ATH-E70 is the brand’s top model in the E-Series. This earpiece offers a design that’s streamlined and very comfortable. As you’d expect from top-quality in-ear earphones, they fit beautifully and provide top-quality sound insulation, all thanks to the silicone ear tips.
They also come with a nice cable that provides flexible memory loops. This enhances comfort and fit. The cables are detachable for easy replacement. Although you may find the piece sticking out of your ears a little, they in no way affect performance or your comfort. Inside these earpieces, you’ll find three fixture drivers that are balanced to deliver accurate sound reproduction over a frequency range from 20Hz to 19kHz. They have a sensitivity of 109dB and an impedance of 39 ohms. Overall, this is one of the best studio headphones under $500.
6. AKG K702 Pro
AKG has been known for years to offer some industry-leading products. The product we are looking at today is the K702. This is an open-back professional headphone built to deliver aesthetic value, durability, and of course pro-level audio reproduction. These are certainly not headphones that support mobility because they cannot be folded into a compact device.
That said, they’re built to withstand heavy use while offering maximum comfort and fit, thanks to the headband that’s well-padded and adjustable, and the ear cups that are lined with “3D” soft foam and covered in velvet. These cups are also replaceable. Deep inside these headphones, we find the drivers with laminated Varimotion diaphragms (patented by AKG) and flat-wire voice coils. These drivers have a frequency range from 10Hz to 39.8kHz, a sensitivity of 105dB SPL, and an impedance of 62 Ohm.
7. AKG Pro Audio K712 PRO
The AKG K712 Pro is an open-back-over-the-ear tuned for delivering high-fidelity reference audio for precise listening, mixing, and mastering. The low-end performance has been improved with 3dB, resulting in more robust and accurate imaging of sound. The excellent and open sound quality ensures good music in the bass range, while the instruments and the voice are well balanced. The K712 is designed to give you maximum comfort for effortless mixing and mastering while offering a spacious and airy sound without compromise. All such features make it one of the best studio headphones under 500 dollars.
8. Phonon Subtonic Monitor Smb-02
Last but not least, we want to show you a set of cans from Phonon. These are not as popular as the rest of the brands on our list, but they are certainly capable of maintaining the required performance and then what. What you’re looking at here is, in fact, headphones with a huge stunner for the buck value. What Phonon has done with this set is to combine an excellent driver design with its advanced tuning theory. On paper, these should push the boundaries of transparency. In reality, they offer a very flat response across the entire range, making them very good for monitoring. That makes them more than useful in our book, especially for the best studio headphones under $500 list.