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Making music on a budget? Look no further than our pick of the best studio headphones under $50.
Making music is expensive.
While it is true that music gear used to be prohibitively expensive a few years ago, the EDM boom and the resulting explosion of SoundCloud producers have ensured that music gear is becoming cheaper and cheaper.
Case in point: studio headphones.
Studio headphones are a must-have for any home studio setup. Without a pair, you have no way to accurately reference a sound.
For years, studio headphones used to cost $150+ for a starter variant. If you wanted anything that a pro studio would use, you had to shell out $300-$500.
Not anymore. All the big manufacturers – Sennheiser, AKG, Audio Technica, Sony, etc. – have created cheaper variants of their flagship studio headphones. The Audio Technica M20x, for instance, shares the same bones as its best-selling cousin, the M50x, but costs nearly a third less.
For home producers, this means you can now get accurate, reliable sound reproduction at a fraction of the price.
But which budget studio headphones are right for you? In this guide, we’ll do a deep dive into the best studio headphones under $50 and help you pick the right option for your needs.
Sony MDR7502 – Best For Editing
- Closed-ear headphones
- Gold-plated plugs
- 30mm driver
- Universal plug system
- Gold connectors
The Japanese manufacturer Sony has a range of low-end professional hardware for sound professionals. The MDR-7502 headphones, which were released in 1991 are one of those classics that are enjoying steady popularity.
Sony's MDR-7502 are dynamic headphones with a closed design. They have circumaural ear cups and a weight of 349 grams. The hinge mechanism of the housing allows the headphones to be folded up to a very compact size, which is great for transport and storage.
The MDR-7502 presents itself in the classic, serious studio look and looks very high quality at first glance. A second glance reveals and confirms the actually flawless workmanship of the predominantly screwed headphones. Therefore, they have easy-to-change components. I like the solid feel of the headphones!
The comparatively filigree artificial leather of the ear pads belongs to the type that tends to wear after a few years of intensive use. However, in view of the interchangeability of all components, this should not be a critical problem. The upholstery of the headband appears to be insufficient. It's composed of vinyl metal over metal. So, don't expect anything comfortable from it over long hours of use.
Somewhat unusual, but still completely sufficient, is the transmission range, which is somewhat narrow towards the “top” and ends at around 20 kHz. With relatively low impedance, the Sony MDR-7502 plays at a sovereign volume on mobile playback devices. The closed auricle houses the 30mm neodymium driver of the Sony headphones.
The Sony MDR-7502 is a solid and reliable workhorse for monitoring in noisy environments and with sensitive miking – no more and no less. From my point of view, there is no hidden quality slumbering in it that makes it a secret weapon for other applications in the recording studio. And it doesn't have to be. As a listening tool for voice or vocal recordings, it cuts a very good figure and is available at a fair price.
What I Don't Like
The headphones' wearing comfort is poor because of the rather thin and hard headband. A leather upholstery could be better as you can find on the Sony MDR7506. I would love it if the cable were changeable. Finally, I find the frequency mapping for universal use (mix and mastering) rather unsuitable.
The primary place of use of the 7502 is the recording room. It's a professional long-running headphone for monitoring. It is ideal for editing.
- Effective insulation
- Appropriate playback properties for monitoring
- Excellent spatial imaging for closed headphones
- Impeccable workmanship
- Poor wearing comfort
- The cable cannot be changed
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x – Best Overall
- Over-ear headphones
- Wired connection
- 40mm driver size
- 96dB sensitivity
- 47 ohms impedance
- 15Hz to 20khz frequency
Black is beautiful! That could be the style motto for the ATH-M20x because the design is completely black. Not a bad choice, the model can be worn anywhere with professional understatement: when DJing, at the editing suite, or turning buttons in the project studio. These are budget headphones for producers and DJ beginners.
The light plastic materials on the temple do not feel as high-quality as with the top models, but the overall impression is robust and suitable for touring. The advantage of the 190-gram construction: the circumaural headphones are light compared to powerful studio classics. They won't dig into your temples even after 3 to 4 hours.
The passive shielding from the outside is neat. And so you can do your job with the ATH-M20x in the office or in film and editing production.
The 3-meter jack cable is long enough for every workplace situation, but unfortunately not interchangeable. The user can swivel the ear cups. There are no fancy folding mechanisms that can allow the ATH-M20x to magically disappear into a mini case.
The entire frequency spectrum of the ATH-M20x is consistently well defined. And so, it is recommended for pop as well as for quieter acoustic music styles, deep electronica, and spoken word. Basses bend warmly and selectively into the ear cups. The lower frequencies are not ostentatiously overemphasized, as is the case with many popular fashion and consumer headphones. Granted, if you like it a little more “low” here, you should consider upgrading to one of the higher Audio Technica classes. You may try the ATH-M50x. However, the ATH-M20x reflects the mids and high frequencies properly and accurately. It does not seem intrusive or artificial. In terms of stereo resolution, however, it is somewhat limited. The headphones mix sound rather dense and direct.
The ATH-M20x impresses me with its comfortable fit, balanced basic sound, and proper bass tuning. Anyone hunting for frequencies in a particularly analytical manner for professional reasons must certainly look for models in a higher league. In this price range, newcomers will find a pair of headphones that sound better. The headphones concentrate on their sound properties without any frills.
What I Don't Like
Doesn't have analytical quality for professional purposes.The impedance is too low at 47 ohms. Also, it's not collapsible.
The M20x can come up with professional and neutral sound. These are budget headphones for producers and DJ beginners. It's perfect as a DJ set, for monitoring, for an editing suite, and for fast mixing projects.
- Thick earpads
- Impressive sound insulation
- For tracking and mixing
- Good build quality
- For low-frequency performance
- Light plastic material
- Not collapsible
Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ – Most Affordable
- Bluetooth with aptX
- Built-in microphone
- Built-in battery
- 10-hour playtime
- 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
- 50mm drivers
- 100dB sensitivity
The Monoprice 8323 headphones are premium hi-fidelity DJ-style over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones for professionals. The biggest highlights of these headphones are the Qualcomm aptX and microphone support.
The highly-rated Monoprice 8323 headphones are now also available wirelessly! With it, you can stroll around wirelessly for as much as 10 meters away from the headphones when paired with a Bluetooth device. Of course, its Bluetooth integration means it has to have a built-in battery. When fully charged, it lets you enjoy your listening pleasure without interruption with a runtime that can extend to 10 hours.
Built into the headphones is the Qualcomm aptX audio codec technology. This ensures excellent audio quality when you are streaming from a device that is aptX-enabled. Designed for both professional and casual use, the headphones deliver good sound quality with premium durability.
The device has a built-in microphone. You'll be able to increase the volumes, receive important calls, or skip songs thanks to the control buttons which you will find very simple to use. The microphone lets you have razor-sharp phone calls or in-game chats.
Also built for the best comfort, the ear cups have thick and comfortable cushions. These keep your music in the housing and your ears, locking annoying outside noises outside. The fully swiveling, circumaural shells are very light and very comfortable for long-term use. You can stretch the headphones for up to 4 cm on the sides. They are sufficiently wide to reach over a hat while still keeping your ears well enclosed. The headpiece is also cushioned on the inside. It is built of rubber with great flexibility which adds substantial durability.
What I Don't Like
The ergonomics of the headphones could be better. When you wear them for more than 20 minutes, the clamping force could make you start developing some slight headaches.
The headphones are recommended for home offices. Designed for professionals, it is a studio tool for DJs.
- Designed for comfort
- Long playtime
- Bluetooth support
- Thickly padded
- High audio sensitivity
- Not for a long period of use
Samson Technologies SR850 – Best Open Back
- Semi-open circumaural headphones
- 50mm dynamic drivers
- 10Hz–30kHz frequency response
- 98dB sound sensitivity
- 32Ω impedance
- 2.5m long cable
Audiophiles who only believe their level of headphones has to be of the high-end price range will certainly hate me for this now. But the Samson SR850 are, in my opinion, great headphones at a low price.
In addition to sound quality, you not only have to pay attention to the frequency range and intended use of a pair of headphones. But you have to pay attention to the connections and wearing comfort. A lot of these are true with the Samson SR850 – and it costs just under 50!
As an openly designed headphone, it is good for listening to music, but also for cutting podcasts. The comfortable bracket is a plus. But what about the sound? Well: I can't complain. The sound is significantly better than Apple's Earpods, and that's all you may need. But I find the sound to be extremely balanced: neither bass nor treble is overemphasized.
The headphones are designed to be open, so they (slightly) let outside noise in and their own sound out. Compared to closed headphones, the open construction should be more comfortable and sound quality better. I can confirm both, the headphones fit and sound very good in my opinion. However, due to the design, people near me can hear what I'm hearing, only quieter.
If you have nostalgic moods with an embarrassing taste in music; maybe sometimes you love to listen to 90s Eurodance, post-punk and hard rock for nostalgic reasons, you would rather use a closed model or the earpods in public. By the way, the processing quality is also surprisingly good. I wouldn't place any bets on the external parts’ durability now. Considering the low price, the headphones are definitely well-made. And thanks to the light padding, you don't sweat underneath.
The Samson SR850 headset, however, is definitely worth the money. And, according to some testers, it even reaches the level of significantly higher price ranges. I wouldn't sign that now – but I would definitely agree. Together with the high level of comfort and the sound quality, from my point of view, I can give you a full purchase recommendation.
What I Don't Like
While the headphones don't block your music into your ears, there is too much leakage from the external environment into the internal audio reproduction.
As an openly designed headphone, it is good for listening to music at home or the studio, but also for cutting podcasts.
- Stylish design
- Good workmanship
- High wearing comfort
- Good processing quality
- Poor build quality
- Doesn't cancel noise
MEE Audio M6 PRO – Best Earphones
- In-ear phones
- Built-in micro-controls
- Dynamic 10mm driver
- Frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz
- 16-ohm impedance
MEE's professional range has never sounded better. Designed in collaboration with professional musicians, the MEE Audio M6 PRO is manufactured to meet the highest requirements in terms of sound and construction whether you are on stage, on the street, or in the gym. The MEE Audio M6 PRO has been developed in collaboration with professional musicians and artists from the world of music.
In addition to its great fit in the ear and its resistance to sweat and water, you can use them daily both for walking down the street and when practicing the most intense exercise.
The MEE Audio M6 PRO lets you forget the madding crowd. It blocks noise from the outside thanks to its perfect seal in the ear canal. This allows you to listen to your music at moderate volumes and take care of your hearing health.
Stress-tested for durability in the real world, the MEE Audio M6 PRO is waterproof. The headphones include two removable and replaceable cables. There's a cable with built-in micro-controls and anti-tangle and strain-resistant technology.
With its remote control and microphone, you can control music playback. You can receive your calls quickly and without having to take your mobile or player out of your pocket.
The MEE Audio M6 PRO comes with a complete accessory kit. It consists of a 6.3mm adapter for complete compatibility with all types of devices. There's a practical shirt clip that will prevent the cable from accidentally getting caught in an obstacle.
What I Don't Like
The construction is made of plastic and you need to take your time to place them correctly. Most users will require adjusting the basses through the equalizer.
This is perfect both for your professional activity and for everyday use. If you are looking for headphones that, in addition to delivering good sound, you can also use to make and receive calls, the MEE Audio M6 Pro is the solution.
- Total sound precision
- Strain-resistant technology.
- Complete accessory kit
- Made to last
- Construction (plastic)
Tascam TH-MX2 – Best For Beginners
- Closed dynamic construction
- 40mm (neodymium) driver
- Fixed cable (straight 3m)
- 3.5 mm jack plug
- Gold-plated screw adapter to 6.35 mm
In the 90s, Tascam was the number one brand of professional cassette deck recorders. And I love to see that they continue to make products of such good quality. These headphones are comfortable and you can use them for hours without noticing any discomfort. The materials feel sturdy and of good quality.
The TH-MX2 has excellent audio quality and very good bass. They are designed to perfectly isolate exterior sounds and fit into the entire ear which makes them big but very comfortable.
The Tascam TH-MX2 is a closed headphone designed primarily for studio use with circumaural auricles and dynamic transducers. The construction and workmanship seem simple and pragmatic. The headband is remarkably flexible. Black plastic and synthetic leather (upholstery) dominate the material mix. These give the Tascam headphones a serious, if not high-quality, studio look.
Apart from the gold-plated screw adapter from 3.5 to 6.35mm of the permanently installed cable, the TH-MX2 offers no further features or equipment features, which is not a big deal. But some competing products in this price range have detachable cables, folding mechanism. However, it has a leatherette transport bag.
The bass sounds good! It is deep, powerful, and still allows sound assessments. It is not overly dominant and does not affect the adjacent frequency ranges! In this respect, the complete reproduction/frequency reproduction can be described as great. So, in addition to being used for tracking, it can also be used for creative programming and mixing.
The Tascam TH-MX2 is a solid and generally recommendable studio headphone. It does not excel in any sub-discipline. But it also does not allow any significant weaknesses that would disqualify the closed model for any kind of studio use. From monitoring during recording to creative bedroom production and mixing, everything is conceivable. A check to see whether the TH-MX2 meets your personal requirements is definitely worthwhile.
The sound is really good and incredible for the cost of the product. They offer a flat EQ and are comfortable for periods of time between 1-2 hours. The cable is VERY long. So it is better to release just the inches you need and leave the rest tied with the wire. The arms are made of plastic but feel resistant. You'll be happy with your purchase.
What I Don't Like
The only problem I have with the headphones is that the cable is too long. Also, during a long period of use, they can make you sweat and give you discomfort.
It's suitable for recording and mixing in the studio. Asides from studio use, thanks to its closed design, it's perfect for users who love to go out in the street with the phones plugged in. It can maintain high sound quality without having to be in the studio or at home.
- High-frequency range
- Padded headband
- Lightweight construction
- Exceptional noise cancellation
- Ear discomfort during prolonged use
Top Studio Headphones Under $50, Final Thoughts
So there you have it, the best studio headphones under $50. If you need headphones but are on a budget these could be exactly what you're after.
Have a compare of the choices and get the pair you want.