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Best $300 headphones for music production

iMickey503

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What music genre is he producing as this is more critical to the final question then the best set of headphones with the best response characteristics.

it's kind of like how comedians have to know Their audience before they perform. if you're making music for audiophiles or people who happen to know about telarc or any of the major audiophile labels that are out there and of course you want to use the best headphones for the job.

if you are mixing music for the regular crowd of folks out there that are for example listen to Top 40 or popular music I wouldn't go very much Beyond something like RP-HTX7.
there's a large difference between an artist making music for him or herself and then sharing it with others and making music for the enjoyment of other people to be listened by the end-user.

The RP-HTX7 is one of those cans that no matter what? The final mix going to sound amazing to 99.9% of the population who are going to playback the audio that he mixes.

since this set of cans is somewhat uncomfortable to be used during long sessions it encourages you to get up get some fresh air / soda or just take them off for a little bit and hear the mix on a set of monitors.

the one thing they excel at is reliability and they work every single time even the cord is well-built and has no problems even after years of abuse. it's also detailed enough to reveal any nasties that are on the recording or mix without being over detailed as of the end user will not be able to hear some of the things that you may be able to distinguish on a higher tier set of headphones.

I made lots of videos with these headphones, and the one thing they always do is give solid real world repeatable results. If something is to hot or too forward, these will let you know about it just as a person listening to it on the other end of the mix would be able to tell.

they retail for around 50 to $80 depending. if you're able to get the ones that are actually Bonafide made in Japan that is the set you want to get. there are different manufacturing runs from what I can gather so if you're able to get in early set in box brand new you are now holding one of the best headphones to do your hair and mix with that I can think of.

it's not reference by any means but what it does is produce a Final Mix that is going to be enjoyable by your end users. It will playback on their systems in a way that the headphone mimics what they are typically using for playback equipment.

in summary, if you make the mix on a set of these headphones? your Final Mix is going to sound fantastic regardless of the playback hardware or setups. better systems will of course see more detail in the recording but you're not going to have any problems with harshness you would get on some very detailed headphones.

you also won't get a superflat recording. anywhere where the mix is too hot , the headphones will tell you this right away. I believe this would be referred to as its dynamic range.

I'm not saying I'm a mixing engineer, but I can tell that Nashville has a certain sound compared to something that was produced in an independent Studio on the West Coast. (summed up results of course)

I have had good luck with these, and so has another fellow who makes mixes for EDM Music.
The model number you want to look for is this:
Part Number
RP-HTX7-K1

Also:
RP-HTX7AE-K (UK model, made in Japan from what I have heard)

The new model is fine, and has some improvements to the ear pads, but it just does not seem to sound the same as the model I purchased way back in 2012.

The only downside is that the Earcups will last all of a month before they will need to be replaced. Everything else is SOLID.

Not recommended at all for those with larger ears. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE otherwise for long sessions as is. Also those with BIG American size Heads, NO BUENO!


But hands down, a true money maker. With proven use by not only me, but others who mix professionally for retail consumer end use.

You would be lucky to find a Brand new in box pair, but here is a sample of what they look like albeit a USED pair.

You can tell them apart from the earcups.
1635691485047.png
They degrade quickly. They don't have the tougher but inferior vinyl like earpads on some of the new models.

Also, the metal Headband is from what I can tell HY-80 steel or its equivalent. (Think Eibach springs that don't ever sag) They just don't give a damn about losing their grip on your head. so they don't become loose over time.

they also have more of a satin finish and seem to use some kind of sealer or some kind of clear coat on the metal outside where it has the printing of the Panasonic logo and of course the model number.

Panasonic seems to be out of stock of them as of today but seems to be able to get some within about 9 days or so


My son STOLE my headphones every chance he got until I got him a pair of his own. Still to this day, this is his own reference standard. But he likes an open back design, so I'm also trying to have him try out higher quality headphones, and so far? All I have been able to set it down on is the topping Headphone/Bluetooth DAC.
I'm going to have him choose a few pairs to purchase and try out tomorrow.

Kids like good stuff. You just have to show them the ropes on why audio quality is important. One particular problem that I ran into is people breaking or outright theft of his items at PULIK-school AKA Indoctrination centers.
I wanted to get him a pair of B&O headphones, but he smirked at the idea of $300 headphones.

Whatever headphones he settles on? The artist needs to be comfortable and relaxed in the environment first before they can make great works of art. Its often not the tools, but how the artist makes them sing.
In recording and producing on a DAW? It gets a little tricky. But going for the ultra high uber reference of finiky gear just gets in the way of often what you are trying to accomplish. So let him create, and see where he goes with it.


The HD600 and its variants are a solid choice. sooner or later just about everyone ends up owning a pair at some point. and boy are they comfortable to wear hours and hours into anything.

personally if he's just doing it at home and just for enjoyment just get him something that's really comfortable that fits him really well that he likes and that's probably the most important aspect of creating truly good sounding recordings.

Just my $3.50 cents.
 

AudioManNewb

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PULIK-school AKA Indoctrination centers. That part had me cracking up. Sad that there are people that actually believe that. Public school is a better teacher of the general population you will see outside of school rather than the coddled silver spoon BS at private schools.

Those headphones look very light weight the RP-HTX7.
 

AudioManNewb

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My 21-year-old son has been spending a lot of time doing music production during the last year and a half. He records his own vocals and beats.

He has a pair of JBL LSR 305s, but prefers to use his headphones, Sony MDR-1A. I want to get him a new pair of headphones as a gift.

So I thought I would ask those of you who do music production. What would you recommend as an improvement over the MDR-1A?

He has a Presonus 26C & AT2020 mic and works with FL Studio. I have a JDS Labs Atom amp I can give him, so powering headphones is not a problem.

I did pick up a pair of HD600 since Amazon has them on sale for $278. That seems like that would work well for his vocals. But because of the sub bass roll off, I am afraid he might not use them. That, and coming from the MDR-1A, he might feel the mid bass is way too light.

And, yes. He should use speakers, and I should probably just get him an LSR 310S sub to go with them. But he's 21 years old, and you can't really tell him anything. lol
These are out of your price range being they are $479 but the Steven Slate Audio VSX 2.0 just came out. Looks like they fixed the durablilty with the new models also customer services seems to be good. But they are headphones that emulate actual mixing studios and models other headphones open and closed variants. Also you can check you mixes on a boom box in a luxury car. So it is a one stop shop to mix and master. Without ever leaving your studio.
 

M00ndancer

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I actually ended up comparing the DT 900 and DT 700, and went with the DT 700 instead. I was afraid the bass would be too neutral for him with the DT 900.
As a owner of the MDR-1A, I think the DT 700 is a big upgrade. Now I don't feel I have to EQ the headphone, at least for now. The next upgrade if I ever got the money will be the Aeon RT closed and a amp. I'm kind of a bass head anyway. :)

(I'm not mixing or producing music, so take my thoughts for what they are.)
 

adama99

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I actually ended up comparing the DT 900 and DT 700, and went with the DT 700 instead. I was afraid the bass would be too neutral for him with the DT 900.

If he likes the isolation of closed backs but not the DT 700 specifically, you might want to try the ATH-M50X. I use mine in live sound environments where open backs are impractical, and swapping the factory pads for Dekoni Platinum Leather was both a comfort upgrade and smoothed the bass response (somewhat "boomy" with the factory pads).
 

MadMan

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M50X FR is awful...why it still remains a recommendation to this day by many people makes no sense.
 

adama99

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M50X FR is awful...why it still remains a recommendation to this day by many people makes no sense.

The Dekoni Platinum Leather pads I recommended remove the upper bass hump and smooth the treble slightly.

As far as the FR, are there specific aspects you find objectionable or a similarly priced closed back you prefer instead?
m50x-k371-graphs.png
 
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AudioManNewb

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I didn't realize that Owings Mills, Maryland was in the united states till about 23.
I thought Motor Trend was filmed in Europe.

"General population"
LOL.
The general population as in who you will encounter in your day to day activities. Not some silver spoon lazy kids. And what are you trying to tell me you failed at learning in school where things were? Indoctrination centers really why do these brainwashed people exist.
 

Leime

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Surprised no one has mentioned the AKG 371 yet...so surprised I had to finally register after being a long time lurker here! haha

The AKG 371 would be perfect. I gave a pair to my fiancee to take to recording studios (pretty much all the headphones at recording studios appear to be trash for some reason) and she's incredibly happy with it. She's also used it at smaller DIY recording sessions and everybody who tries out the headphones loves them. The second option I would personally recommend is the Etymotic ER2XR (over the ER4XR/ER3XR actually, which I also own), which she also uses often when she needs more sound isolation. The preference seems to go to the AKG 371 most of the time, but she seems to be split 50/50 between the two. For 300 dollars, you could get both the AKG 371 and the Etymotic ER2XR, kind of seems like a no-brainer to me!

For recording and music production, especially in a bedroom type setup where there may be potentially be a decent amount of external noise, I would also imagine that the preference would go to closed-back headphones over open-back so you'll have less interference from the outside world when doing some more critical mixing and mastering.
 

Murrfk

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The drop HD6xx are equivalent to HD650 and are good for mixing. You need good sound to mix properly. For recording you need closed back to prevent the microphones from picking up the sound from the headphones. I use HD280 Pro.
 

M00ndancer

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I really like my DT 700 Pro X too. A great upgrade to my equed MDR-1a that was singing it's last song.
 
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sarumbear

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The OP needs closed back headphones to avoid cross talk while recording. There is no point suggesting open back units.
 

wildgooselake

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Production is about getting used to the sound of your system, and knowing how stuff should sound on it. And for that, comfort is very important. HD600 and 650 are great of course, but do get a bit uncomfortable in long sessions.

I would second Beyerdynamic DT-880 as a very good choice. Can wear them for hours, and sound is hard to beat for the money. The bass is not so emphasized, but it does extend fairly low, so once he gets used to the sound, he'll be able to confidently mix lower frequencies on them as well. Speaking from experience here, had them for a long time, and mixes translated well to systems with massive subs.

If tracking vocals when recording is important, of course a closed design is preferred. In that case, AKG K371 is best choice in this price range hands down. That said, even if open HPs can alter the material, depending on genre and needed fidelity level it might not be very important. Definitely good enough for home studio use. I mean, Kanye has recorded vocals on his phone mic for grammy-winning albums :)

You probably aren't considering them since they're more expensive, but just in case, Neumann NDH20 and Adam headphones are not great. For a bigger budget I would go for Shure SRH1540 or Beyer DT1770. The 1540 is my only pair, and I love them for both recreational listening and mixing work.
 

GaryH

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Production is about getting used to the sound of your system, and knowing how stuff should sound on it. And for that, comfort is very important. HD600 and 650 are great of course, but do get a bit uncomfortable in long sessions.

I would second Beyerdynamic DT-880 as a very good choice. Can wear them for hours, and sound is hard to beat for the money. The bass is not so emphasized, but it does extend fairly low, so once he gets used to the sound, he'll be able to confidently mix lower frequencies on them as well. Speaking from experience here, had them for a long time, and mixes translated well to systems with massive subs.

If tracking vocals when recording is important, of course a closed design is preferred. In that case, AKG K371 is best choice in this price range hands down. That said, even if open HPs can alter the material, depending on genre and needed fidelity level it might not be very important. Definitely good enough for home studio use. I mean, Kanye has recorded vocals on his phone mic for grammy-winning albums :)

You probably aren't considering them since they're more expensive, but just in case, Neumann NDH20 and Adam headphones are not great. For a bigger budget I would go for Shure SRH1540 or Beyer DT1770. The 1540 is my only pair, and I love them for both recreational listening and mixing work.
DT880s are a terrible choice. You can't get used to a sound that changes dramatically over time:

Harman 2018-Beyerdynamic DT880 (fresh earpads)-Beyerdynamic DT880 (worn earpads).png
 
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wildgooselake

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DT880s are a terrible choice. You can't get used to a sound that changes dramatically over time:

View attachment 168066
Thank you for sharing this graphic.

No idea how long it takes for pads to wear out to the degree shown in the picture. I guess years? I’m sure it doesn’t so fast that there’s a noticeable change in a day or even a week. If the change is gradual and slow, the mind gets accustomed to it like any other slow change.

I assume the process of sound changing as parts age happens with other pads and headphones too, but I haven’t seen any comparison in terms how much degradation of materials affects sound per-headphone. First time I’ve seen a graphic comparing this kind of stuff. Because there’s only one data point, I can’t tell if an aged DT880 changes sound more than an aged HD600 or whatever else model.

In general though, terrible is a strong word, I don’t think many people who have used this headphone for the suggested purpose feel that way about them. They wouldn’t have their clearly positive reputation and ubiquity otherwise. If you feel that way, I’m sorry to hear that.

In any case, I suggest them because it was a good choice for me in a similar situation, and hope this opinion can help OP or others out.

No claim of their immunity to the passing of time, naturally. Change pads if they fall apart after some years of course, thankfully they sell replacements.
 
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