The Top 7 Best Studio Monitor Headphones under $100 [2020 Guide & Reviews]
For under $100 you can still get some of the best studio headphones in the market for your home recording studio. Including one used be legend Mick Jagger.
In creating high-quality music, using a good pair of studio headphones is an absolute must. Best of all, the days are gone when you had to invest $300-$400 buying a good pair. With the current technology, you can choose quality studio headphones with a budget of 100 dollars. And believe me, it will completely cover your needs in your home recording studio.
Studio quality headphones are an essential tool in the world of music production. Tasks in your music production, such as recording, mixing, and mastering requires the use of at least one high-quality sound output. Monitor speakers are also desirable for the above tasks. For more, check the best studio monitor speakers for home recording. The process of most producers is to mix and master on studio monitor and then review with a pair of headphones to identify and correct details you did not notice at first.
So, you have decided to start your home recording studio, and it’s time for your first studio headphones, but you don’t know how to choose. There are a few things to consider and have in mind before you check the market. The headphone type, comfort, and sound quality with a balanced frequency response are the essentials. Also, some producers find durability and portability to be essential factors for your choice.
What to look for when you buy studio headphones:
- Durability: Durability is something you should look for unless you are willing to buy a pair of headphones every couple of years. The build-quality and a detachable coiled cable are beneficial features and will drop the chances for looking for a replacement pair shortly.
- Portability: If you are planning to travel your studio a lot or produce music on the road, portability is a feature that should affect your decision. A detachable coiled cable and 90-degree rotatable ear-cups will offer the easy transportation you always wanted.
- Comfort: It is vital to wear headphones with comfortable design and ear-pads. Long hour sessions can be hurtful for your head and ears if you choose wrong. What features suggest good comfort? The materials, the weight of the pair, and how they sit onto your head.
- Headphone type (closed-back / open-back): The closed-back type of headphones provide excellent isolation from background sounds as well as absorbs well so you won’t pick up any noise when you record with a microphone. From the other hand, an open-back type won’t provide such good isolation, but it will offer better sound quality. In your studio, closed-back headphones are the preferred choice.
- Frequency response: The essential feature of your studio headphones is the sound quality and the frequency range. When you are DJing, you want headphones with loud and clear bass and hats that will help you achieve a perfect beat-match. In a studio, you need to hear the sound in its natural state with FLAT and balanced frequency response.
Each studio headphone usually includes something extra. Either a case to protect and transfer your pair, or extra detachable cables or replaceable earpads to replace them in case of damage. However, you might need an additional tool to use your studio headphones. Yes, you can plug them directly into your computer, but an external sound card will be preferable. For more, check the best audio interfaces under $200.
Will you find all the above in a studio-quality headphone with a budget of $100 or less?
After looking at a couple of dozens of different headphones in the under $100 budget, I’m confident that you can get more than what you will pay. Choices vary according to your brand preference, personal gradient to sound response, appearance, and budget. All suggestions below are studio quality headphones that can adequately stand in any home recording studio.
The best studio monitor headphones should be, portable, robust, with excellent sound quality and full frequency response. We did our research, read customer reviews, and compare features and prices from the top products in the market. So here are the top best affordable studio-quality headphones that deserve your attention.
If your pocket can afford to spend more than $100, take a look at the best headphones for music production.
7 BEST MONITOR HEADPHONES UNDER $100 – Reviews
1. SONY MDR 7506
SONY MDR 7506 is a standard studio headphone with thousands of nearly perfect reviews and also a best-seller at Amazon store. Since 1999 this pair has dominated the market of studio headphones. There’s not a single music producer who hasn’t heard of them or used one. Their long history and countless reviews talk about their sharp audio, comfort, and durability.
There are many reasons why many musicians have used this pair of headphones.
The small brother of MDR 7510, might have outdated looks but it’s a pro pair used by legends in the music industry (Mick Jagger, Linkin Park, Paul Van Dyk and more). With excellent detailed sound quality and flat frequency response, this pair is suitable for any studio.
This closed-back type headphone offers ideal isolation, along with excellent built quality, proven to be long-lasting. The design and the two cushioned ear pads make the pair quite comfortable for long last sessions. Actually, they are so light that you will barely feel them on your ears. They are oval and equipped with lush ear-pads, as well as the backside of the earcups has metal reinforcements to handle regular abuse. It also folds up for secure storage, and travel in it’s provided a soft case.
Conclusion: Sony MDR 7506 is a solid pair of headphones, precisely what you need if you just start music production if you have a limited budget. If you are not convinced yet, visit Amazon.com store, and you will be surprised at the number of excellent reviews. This tremendous and top-rated pair worth the first pick of the best studio headphones under $100.
Musicians who use it: Mick Jagger, Linkin Park, Paul Van Dyk, Helios
2. AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-M40X
The most popular series of studio headphones for electronic music producers are the ATH-M by Audio Technica. I personally own the ATH-M50X, but you can’t go wrong with any of those models (ATH-M20X/M30X/M40X/M50X/M70X).
Audio Technica ATH-M40X is a closed-back pair that offers good isolation from ambient sounds, and excellent flat frequency response. The bass is heavy -precisely what an electronic producer needs- and the mids and highs are clear and dynamic. However, it requires 40-50 odd hours of burn-in the frequency response. I have to admit that the audio response is more satisfying compared to the all-time favorite and first choice of our list Sony 7506.
Does it get any better?
One more good feature on this pair are the comfort, soft and plush ear-cups lined with synthetic leather. Furthermore, they are 90 degrees rotatable which help with packaging and transferring.
It might look a bit bulky, like all the models, but it is very comfortable, and the built quality is durable with excellent materials. The cable is removable which will provide easy and cheap replace in case of an accident. The result is a set of headphones that offer optimal performance for the money, all while looking like something that costs at least twice as much than they do.
Conclusion: ATH-M40X is probably the “best value for money” option out there. The sound quality is outstanding (very close to ATH-M50X), the isolation is exceptional and available at a reasonable price, indeed good enough reasons to go for it. Except for your studio, this pair can be used in a DJ booth, radio stations, news transmission, or even movie productions. Audio Technica ATH-M40x has been around for a long time and counts thousands of users around the globe.
If you are a beginner with a limited budget of around $50, you can take a look at the ATH-M20X or M30X.
3. AKG K-240
The most affordable pair of headphones in our list comes from AKG. I will also add with the most beautiful appearance, and design compare to the rest. The classy but straightforward structure, along with the golden highlights on black exterior, makes it a unique option.
AKG K-240 is a semi-open type of headphone that offers not good isolation compare to a closed-back type. However, on this pair, you will find tonal excellence with higher frequencies than the MDR 7506. The sound quality is powerful with an accurate response at any listening level, and that’s because of AKG’s Varimotion technology. The bass is heavy but precise. Along with the detailed mids and highs, that will show AKG’s real character.
Regardless of the comfort K-240 provides, you will be satisfied with big ear-cups that will fit perfectly around your ear with excellent resilience. The type of headband is self-adjusting to the shape and size of your head, making it very comfortable for long-lasting studio sessions. It also offers a detachable input cable for easy replacement if ever necessary.
Conclusion: If isolation is not an issue in your studio, then the AKG K-240 is the perfect affordable choice for you. AKG is known for good manufacturing products, but despite the many great reviews, it has, however, some complaints in user reviews concerning the built quality and durability. However, you get sound quality impossible to find in this price range.
4.SHURE SRH 440
Another well-known name in the audio gear business is Shure. This classically designed pair of headphones can pretty much cover the needs in a home recording studio as well as a professional studio. A brand name that is seen in every recording studio in every corner of the world has an excellent market value.
Shure SRH 440 biggest strength is it’s isolation to external sounds. As a closed-back type of headphones, it offers superior isolation in noisy environments. Even if Shure creates excellent quality pairs that ensures long life and endurance to hardship, the built materials of this pair do not look great. However, users of the SRH440 can testify that they have been enjoying theirs for a couple of years already and they still work great. Also, it features a foldable design for easy transportation to take anywhere.
SRH 440 offers excellent sound quality, overall flat, and clean, with thick, punchy bass and bright and detailed the mids. You will be thrilled with the high frequencies, and low bass is rich and intense but never out of balance. My subjective opinion is that this studio headphone can very easily adapt to almost all genres.
Conclusion: This model by Shure is durable, and it will withstand the rigors of everyday use. In general, it is very comfortable, and if there is a bit of hardship with the headband, you can still attach one of your own. The ear-cups are also replaceable to ensure long product life.
5.SENNHEISER HD 280 PRO (new model)
Sennheiser is a very popular brand when you talk about headphones. With years of experience, they have built a classically designed studio-quality pair that is highly durable, and according to user reviews, it can last for over ten years. There are still a few affordable pairs, but the HD 280 is right in our budget and ideal for our list with the best studio headphones of 2019 under $100.
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO is not only for studio work but live performances and DJing as well. That is is due to the extended frequency response with sound pressure exceeding 100 decibels. The bass is heavy, clear with flat gain and acceptable the mids and high frequencies. HD 280 PRO is also popular among electronic producers, DJ’s and drummers because of its bass response.
This closed-back pair offer splendid isolation from external sounds and is also designed to provide coziness to listeners for many hours. The soft cushioned ear-pads helps also achieve great comfort. You can use the pair for a couple of hours and completely forget you have them on. Furthermore, this pair offers the ability to easily swap out padding for something that might fit you better — versatility at it’s best with such an affordable studio pair of headphones.
Conclusion: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO is the second most popular pair of studio headphones in the market with users praising its built-quality, the excellent isolation, and price range. This pair can stand in any recording studio for many years.
6. PRESONUS HD9
Presonus HD9 is a professional studio quality pair of headphones. It features 45 mm dynamic, neodymium drivers and frequency response that extend from 10 Hz to 26 kHz. The sound is flat and transparent, with accurate bass and mid response, for precise monitoring, mixing and mastering in your studio.
The HD9’s closed-back acoustic design provides excellent isolation and reduces headphone bleed. Especially if you have proper sound isolation in your studio room, then you have nothing to worry about. If not, check how to soundproof your room.
They’re pretty comfortable and easily transferable due to their big and soft pads and two-way 180° cup rotation. However, we found a couple of reviews by users who wear glasses that it is a bit harsh after long hour sessions. Nevertheless, this studio monitor pair of headphones is an excellent option for DJs and regular audiophiles as well.
Conclusion: HD9 offers a combination of comfort, sturdy construction, isolation, and adjustability in one very affordable pair of studio headphones. It has collected nearly perfect reviews on Amazon store and can’t go unnoticed by any beginner producer. Presonus also produces HD7 monitoring semi-open type of headphones for an even lower price tag.
7. TAKSTAR PRO 82
Taskar Pro 82 is one of these products which often go unnoticed due to their low marketing popularity. That is why we are here to mention these tools and get the word out. To start with an insignificant feature, the black color design, is catchy. The same with the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, they are the most “black color-covered” headphones in the market!
No studio headphones will be in our list if the sound quality is not precise and flat. The bass response and midrange will happily surprise you, as it comes pretty close to the popular models ATH-M and MDR. It also offers three bass levels to adjust the bass according to your taste and music preference. However, the frequency response from 10Hz to 20KHz is nothing remarkable.
The earpads are big and made of soft leather material, that makes it very comfortable to use for long hours. Durability may be an issue as user experienced small wear and tear on the headband and earpads. On the plus side, it comes with an audio cable, a gold-plated adapter, a cloth bag and an aluminum case for easy usage and transfer.
Conclusion: Taskar Pro 82 is an ideal cheap option for recording and monitoring in your studio. Although it is also advertised as gaming headphones, I don’t believe gamers will be satisfied as the sound is detailed, precise but offers no warmth or enhancement in a frequency range. It is also available in black or silver to match your style and gear.
These were our top picks for the best studio monitor headphones under $100
If you can get studio quality headphones for under 100 dollars, then I consider it a cheap buy. Nevertheless, the popularity and recognition of brands such as Sony, Audio Technica, Shure, AKG, and Sennheiser, leaves no room to doubt their sound and built quality!
Even tho, most of them are advertised as studio monitor headphones, they are suitable for other tasks as well. DJs, producers, singers, radio hosts, reporters, and every professional who requires decent sound quality, comfort, and great sound isolation in one pair of headphones, will find our choices suitable.
Check out the best studio monitor speakers, to build the perfect monitoring pair in your home recording studio.
Did we help you choose your next pair of headphones without breaking the budget?
Many beginners believe that you have to start with an expensive set of headphones. Well if you can afford it then why not. But we are firmly convinced that any of the models we’ve shown you today will get you started. Not only that but chances are that it will take some time before you end up needing an upgrade.
Every music producer has different needs in the studio, and taste on sound and equipment. So, you also need to find the best studio headphone for YOU. Is sound isolation vital to you? Design & looks or you mostly care for crystal clear sound and full frequency range response?
For those with a limited budget that hardly exceeds the $100, we found the best studio quality headphones that will get the job done in any home recording studio.
Most of the models we picked here are smaller siblings of the pairs on our list with the best headphones for music production.
If you liked the article and believe that will help others make a good choice. Then consider sharing it, or leave your comment below.