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Edit and produce like a pro with our selection of the best headphones for editing film, digital video, and audio you can buy right now.
The Best Headphones for Editing
Best overall: Sony MDRV6
“Practically an industry standard. You can choose MDRV6 with your eyes closed – it's that reliable.”
Alternative to Sony MDRV6: Sennheiser HD 300 PRO
“The HD300 does as good a job as the MDRV6 but at a lower price point”
Best for beginners: Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi Dj
“It's dirt cheap and good enough for any editor starting out on his/her own”
Best value: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
“This versatile headphone is arguably the most affordable “grown-up” studio headphones you can buy”
Best multipurpose headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
“Production. Editing. Gaming. There's little the ever-popular MTH-50x can't do”
Editors need accuracy.
It doesn't matter what you're editing – a feature-length movie, a car commercial, a YouTube video – you need accurate sound reproduction. While you might not be responsible for audio mixing, you need to be able to hear the nuances of what you're editing, aside from keeping track of issues such as audio quality and syncing.
Commercial headphones aren't a good fit for editors. For one, they add their own “color” to the audio mix – mostly by bumping up the frequencies in the low and top end. While this “color” might make commercial pop music sound better, it does not give you a clear idea of the raw audio.
What you need is a pair of tonally neutral headphones. Usually, these are studio monitors with a flat frequency response. That is, instead of adding any color, these headphones have a “flat” EQ curve. This gives you a far better idea of the actual audio.
But not any pair of studio headphones will do. You also need portability, comfort, and sufficient noise isolation. You will be wearing these headphones for hours, after all.
Based on all these requirements, I've picked my list of the best headphones for editing you can buy right now.
About your reviewer
Ryan Harrell is the founder of MIDINation and an experienced producer/DJ. His first experience with electronic music production dates back to Cubase 3.0 in the summer of 1997, and he's been a fan ever since. He prefers Ableton as his primary DAW these days, though he is still partial to Cubase and Pro Tools. He lives in San Diego and freelances as a producer and part-time DJ.
The 8 Best Headphones for Editing
As a video editor, these are some of the best editing headphones you can buy right now:
The industry standard for editors. Practically every serious professional editor has a pair locked away somewhere in their toolkit. While it's not the cheapest headphone around, it remains incredibly accurate, comfortable, and reliable. If you have the budget for it, the MDRV6 is an automatic choice.
Very similar to the bestselling (and cheaper) Sony MDR-7506, we can find in these headphones very similar features and reliability just as the former. The differences are subtle. The Sony MDR-V6s have a higher dynamic range and are generally cheaper in stores. If you have a tighter budget, the V6 can replace the 7506 perfectly.
Inside the box are the MDR-V6 headphones with a 10-foot long, non-detachable coiled cable in full extension. There is also a 1/4″ adapter and a soft carry bag.
It has a wired connectivity technology with Neodymium magnets. The 40mm drivers produce detailed and powerful sound. It has an over-the-ear design which offers improved comfort while reducing external noises. The headphones have a frequency response from a sweep 5 Hertz to 30 kilohertz.
The Sony MDR-V6 are legendary studio headphones, but the finish isn't very enticing. They feel weak and thin, and they shake a lot. Most of the construction materials are plastics, and the band is metal, with ergonomic leather padding. Still, its design is quite elegant. The excellent bass response means that working on an electronic track with heavy subwoofers in a DAW was a pleasure.
What I don’t like:
Its coiled cable is difficult to use when you're far from the headphone jack, and you cannot detach it, unfortunately.
Recommended for: The MDRV6 is perfect for serious editors looking for pro-grade equipment for their editing setups. By most counts, these are the best headphones for editing you can buy in 2020 – and beyond.
Cheaper Alternative to MDRV6: Sony MDR7506
If the MDRV6 is beyond your budget, the MDR7506 is a very reliable alternative.
The Sony MDR-7506 are the standard editing headphones that you can find in most editing studios around the world. They are light, have a sound pressure of 106 dB, and can be folded. The Sony product is perfect if you need a model that can eliminate background noise. This is very functional if you need total concentration.
The headphones can be folded tightly and stowed in the enclosed bag to save space.
Sony headphones are lightweight and sit comfortably. However, the ears are not completely enclosed by the ear pads, so that slight pressure points can appear on the ears after wearing them for a while.
It produces an overemphasized bass, with balanced highs and mids. When mixing, you will inevitably not create enough bass in the mix. The sound comes across well when listening to music or when playing a DJ. Outside noises are well attenuated, although outside noises can still get through.
What I don't like
One of the downsides is the non-removable cable, part of which touches the skin and deteriorates over time. Also, its 63-ohm impedance can be a power issue for some low source devices.
Recommended for: The Sony MDR-7506 are the standard editing headphones that you can find in editing studios around the world. In a home studio, it will perfectly fulfill its role and offer a balanced listening experience.
Best Multi-Purpose Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a closed, ohmic headphone system. The nominal impedance is 38 ohms. The single-sided helical cable is 3 meters long. The ATH-M50 can be folded up and stowed in the supplied bag to save space. As a special feature, the auricles can be folded down so that one-sided listening is also possible without any problems. The external attenuation is good; enough signals are still let through so that there is no unpleasant feeling.
The Audio Technica headphones sit very comfortably and do not cause pressure points even after long periods of use. The automatic setting adapts well to the shape of the head.
Sonically, the ATH-M50 is very impressive. The mids and highs can be perceived transparently and appear very balanced. The bass range is very powerful and dynamic, but too much overdone, in my opinion.
Much of the headphones are made of high grade plastic. This gives it a high-quality impression. A folding mechanism that clearly clicks into place in two stages makes the receiver correspondingly small for transport.
What I don't like
The quality of the earpads is a little suspect. The noise isolation, while impressive, could use some work as well.
Recommended for: The M50x works great if you want headphones that will let you do multiple things: edit videos, produce music, play games, and do some casual listening along the way. They're comfortable, balanced, and built to last. No wonder they're often counted among the best headphones for editing and music production.
Best Open Back Headphones: AKG Pro Audio K702
The AKG K702 is a product that, according to the manufacturer, are only equipped with the best components. The K702 is a dynamic headphone that was constructed in an open design. The advantage lies in the possibility of communication with the “outside world.”
The disadvantage of open design is, for example, that a drummer will prefer closed headphones due to the very high sound level of his instrument. In general, one can say, “the louder your instrument, the more closed.”
With regard to the technical data, the AKG K702 is in the green area in all categories, or even far beyond. For example, a frequency response of 10 – 39,800 Hertz is more for the “higher, faster, further” group. With a nominal impedance of 62 ohms, the K702 is pleasantly low and can therefore fully exploit its sensitivity of 105 dB SPL/V. Its weight of 235 g is moderate due to the elaborate construction but can be described as light for the components offered.
The headphones have the standard 6.3 mm jack plug, which turns into a 3.5 mm mini-jack plug by unscrewing the top cover. Both plugs are gold-plated and thus ensure an optimized signal flow.
What I don't like
The materials and build quality could be better. However, they are a bang for the bucks at the sound level. And of course, since they're an open back design, privacy is non-existent.
Recommended for: Asides from the fact you can use the headphones for editing, they are also recommended for gaming. If you're looking for the wide soundstage and comfort of open back headphones, these are the best headphones for editing you can buy currently.
Best Entry-Level Editing Headphones: Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi Dj
The Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi Dj's large cushioned ear cups completely enclose the ears. The inside of the ear cups is made of soft synthetic leather, which is soft on the ears. An approx. 1x 4-foot long audio cable is at the left auricle. According to Monoprice, the frequency response extends from a deep 20 Hz up to 20 kHz. The maximum sound pressure is 100 dB.
The sound is very balanced and powerful without any particular frequency range being significantly emphasized.
The bass is very accurate, and the sound is very slightly forward, but without throwing into the typical hi-fi bass machine. That might cover the lower mids a bit, but I don't consider that to be a major flaw in the intended area of application. The height range of the headphones, which consists of a wide variety of materials, is really very clear and brilliant.
In addition, the level that the headphones can generate is astonishing, which should not be neglected, especially when listening to music on the iPad or laptop. This is where the 40-ohm headphones can really exploit their full loudness potential.
What I don't like
The ear pads are not very comfortable. They may be uncomfortable for several hours of use. Also, the build quality is poor. According to a user, it lasts around 6 to 11 months. But for the price, I don't expect it to last more.
Recommended for: Anyone looking for an ultra-cheap pair of headphones for casual editing or production. They won't fly in a pro studio at all, but if you're on a budget or just starting out, these are some of the best headphones for editing you can find in this price bracket.
Best Value: Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone
The HD 280 Pro joins a series of around 50 over-ear headphones in the Sennheiser range. The HD 280 Pro is quite cheap, especially in comparison to a Sennheiser HD8, which has a recommended retail price of over 300. Quite a difference that piques the interest to learn how that price difference affects the sound and quality.
Looking at the price, I grind my teeth for a moment and say: OK. But it would have been different. On the other hand: Anyone who knows the prices of replacement cables from Sennheiser knows that a cable can cost half or a third of the price of headphones. In this case, too, a replacement cable can be found easily, as Sennheiser is well organized in its own online shop.
I'll be honest; I like Sennheiser's packaging. Simple and classic and straight in design, simply from the inner values. The headphones are unpacked inside. Not a lot of plastic, not a lot of eye candy.
At first glance, the headphones look very simple. Matte black dominates, both on the shells and on the temple. The auricles are very large, the headphones encircle the ears, and large cushions surround the matte shells. These fit precisely into the lower part of the bracket, which also contains the hinge.
Without a cable, the HD 280 Pro should weigh 285 grams. Strange that it looks lighter. A look at my somewhat old-school analog kitchen scale shows around 250 grams. Have I now noticed the 35-gram difference? Certainly not, I trust Sennheiser and distrust my scales. With a cable, it is around 100 grams more. So that looks like a heavy cable. No wonder, it is a 1.3-meter long spiral cable that can be extended to 3 meters. The fact that there is no cable routing on both sides is forgiven.
Sound and silence sound a little ironic. But you get this from the HD 280 Pro when you put it on without sound: it is astonishingly silent. Sennheiser calls it “high passive noise insulation.”
What I don't like
There isn't anything I can complain about in the headphones. The Sennheiser is a bang for its price. Well-engineered, the sound produced is of high quality. If there's one minor complaint, it's about the sheer bulk of these headphones. A light pair these are not. Not meant for traveling at all. The earcups also don't breath well at all and can get hot in summer months.
Recommended for: The HD280 Pro regularly comes up as my go-to headphones for anyone starting on a serious path to music production or editing. They're affordable enough for most people while also offering enough balance, accuracy and comfort. For the price, these are the best headphones for editing if you're looking for great value.
Also Consider: Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 300 PRO
In addition to countless microphones and wireless systems, the manufacturer Sennheiser has had various headphones in its range for many years. The latest development is the Sennheiser HD 300 Pro, which the company offers in three versions.
Like almost all headphones, the HD 300 Pro is almost completely black. The studio headphones have a restrained and discreet matte look, mainly made of plastic. This makes a solid impression and brings the weight of the headphones to just 297 grams. The ear cups and the headband are equipped with synthetic leather, which sits flat on the head and around the ears.
The auricles completely enclose the ears; the contact pressure is just right on my head. The headphones sit firmly on, allow faster head movements without falling, but do not squeeze the head completely. It fits.
The headphones can be folded up extremely compactly for transport, so they take up little storage space. With the HD 300 Pro, Sennheiser has developed very good headphones for recording or monitoring. Overall, the headphones are equipped with a sound restrainer, which can even be an advantage in the areas of application mentioned.
What I don't like
It would have been nice if Sennheiser had given the HD 300 Pro a suitable bag for storage or transport. The HD 300 Pro is also less suitable for mixing and mastering; there are models with better resolution in the same price range and also from Sennheiser.
Recommended for: The HD 300 Pro is recommended for mobile use, thanks to its relatively low impedance of 64 ohms. But it should also be loud enough on mobile playback devices such as smartphones. At the same time, the HD 300 Pro can also be used for one-sided listening (great for DJing – should you ever decide to get into it). If the MDRV6 looks a little too pricey, the HD 300 Pro is one of the best headphones for editing at a lower price tag.
Honorable Mention: beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
The DT-770 Pro dynamic headphones are currently available in 250 ohms, 80 ohms, 32 ohms, and 16 ohms. Its 250-ohm impedance clearly shows the primary purpose of this headphone is for musicians and singers in a music studio or home studio. For those who take care of the mix, it allows reproduction of a fairly wide sound spectrum.
You can tell the three versions of the DT-770 Pro from one another by the small white label emblazoned on the ear cups. In addition to the model name, depending on the version, you will find the addition 32, 80, or 250 ohms. The 80 and 250 ohms versions are offered with gray ear pads and the 32 ohms model with black ear pads.
At first glance, you can't necessarily tell that the DT-770 Pro is a state-of-the-art headphone. In terms of design, other manufacturers are certainly investing more in this area than Beyerdynamic. But as is so often the case, the real advantages only come to the fore with the inner values.
The DT-770 Pro has to accept some criticism for the fixed cable and the bulky exterior. But if you can live with it, you should take a closer look at the DT-770 Pro and listen to it.
What I don't like
These headphones are a little on the heavier side – not the most comfortable for long hours. The large cup design also makes them very unwieldy – forget about slipping them into your laptop bag while traveling.
Recommended for: Beyerdynamic recommends the 32 Ohm version for working on the go. The manufacturer itself divides the areas of application of the three variants as follows:
- 250 Ohm: for mixing in the studio
- 80 ohms: for recording in the studio
- 32 ohms: for mobile applications
- 16 ohms: for plug and play
Make sure that you get the one that fits your needs.
Over to You
Good headphones make all the difference when you're editing. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the best headphones for editing you can buy right now.
For more recommendations and advice, don't hesitate to reach out to me here.
- Our favorite studio headphones across budgets and use cases
- If you're on a budget, refer to our list of the best studio headphones under $100
- Audio Technica (Official website)
- Sony Headphones (Official website)
- AKG Audio (Official website)
- Sennheiser Audio (Official website)
- Sep 24, 2020: Article first published