What Is the Difference Between Normal Headphones and Studio Headphones?

A set of headphones is a set of headphones, right? If you are looking into purchasing a good set of headphones for your home studio, this is probably something you have thought to yourself. But then as you peruse the options available to you, you may start to notice that some of the headphones have the word studio somewhere in the description. This may bring up an excellent question, just what are the differences between normal headphones and studio headphones?

When I first started putting together my home studio, I wondered if I could use my normal headphones. After a little research, I realized there’s a big difference between normal and studio headphones.

So what is the difference between normal and studio headphones? The main difference between the two types of headphones is that studio headphones are designed to provide an accurate reproduction of audio. They do this so that during recording, mixing, and mastering, problems can be heard easily and rectified. Normal headphones, on the other hand, provide the listener with a more pleasurable listening experience.

Apart from the differences in audio reproduction between normal and studio headphones, there are also a few other noteworthy differences, as we’ll see below.

Normal Headphones Versus Studio Headphones

On the surface, you may look at both headphone types and say they look the same, and they are both pieces of audio equipment that let you hear sound, right? Yes, that is true, but there are some significant differences that you need to understand before you choose which type of headphones you are going to go with.

The first and most important consideration is the overall sound quality. Regular headphones are designed to add tone and to allow you to hear music in its best light, or to emphasize low end. That is not the case with studio headphones. In fact, studio models produce a flatter natural audio quality. No one frequency or frequency band is emphasized or attenuated.

This is simply because when you are in a studio, you need to hear the audio as it was recorded to be able to get rid of unwanted noises and electrical interference as well as be able to precisely know what you need to enhance to make the audio perfect.

The other difference is the quality of materials used. Some normal high-end headphones are crafted with high-quality materials, but because the studio headphone needs that added clarity, often the internal parts are of an even higher quality.

Sennheiser HD800 Studio Headphones

Figure 1: Sennheiser HD800 Studio Headphones

Design and Manufacturing

When manufacturers design studio quality headphones, they need to ensure that electronic and mechanical design is absolutely fit for purpose. To do this, the designs specify highly toleranced and accurate componentry.

For some high-end studio headphones, components are matched to one another to meet the overall design specification. Regular headphones, on the other hand, use fairly off-the-shelf components and have a much higher product deviation than their studio counterparts.

Studio quality headphones tend to have:

  • Higher quality components
  • A higher quantity of components
  • Higher tolerance components
  • Components that are hand-picked for each individual product

Studio headphones are designed to be unique.

Normal quality headphones tend to have:

  • Normal quality components
  • A  minimal quantity of components
  • Wider tolerance components

Normal headphones are designed to be mass-produced.

Other Differences

Studio headphones are designed and built to have good sound isolation and be robust for heavy-handed use in a studio environment. There are also designed with comfort in mind, as wearers may use the headphones for up to 10 hours per day.

Can I Use Normal Headphones in My Studio?

We already discussed the difference between normal headphones and studio headphones, so you know that normal headphones cannot do the detailed work of studio headphones. However, normal headphones can undoubtedly be used to good effect in a home studio.

For example, you can use normal headphones when assembling or arranging a song structure, or doing jobs that do not require high fidelity or scrutinization of recorded or mixed tracks. Sometimes, due to volume restrictions, it’s not always possible to use your home studio monitors. Additionally, normal headphones can be used while traveling with your laptop to arrange and compose.

Normal headphones also have a place in the home studio has a reference sound source for checking how well finished mixes or masters translate out of your studio.

Choosing between Normal Headphones and Headphones

So how do you know which one is right for you? That depends solely on what your intent of use is for these headphones. If you are looking for every day “drown out the noise and groove to some tune’s” kind of experience, then going with a set of ordinary headphones is the ticket.

However, if you are looking to use the headphones as your home studio set then, of course, a pair of studio headphones is the best option. Some models are suitable for both, which leads us to our reviews and suggestions of some of the best normal and studio headphones.

Check out those below.

Studio Headphones

We have gathered together a few of the best options and will give you a quick review of each before moving on to our overall choice for best all-around studio headphones.

Studio headphones generally provide excellent bass and low-end reproduction. As a home studio owner, where your own monitors probably lack accurate low-end reproduction, a good pair of studio headphones can really help out here.

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Looking for a great budget-friendly studio headset then look at the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X.

Product Highlights:

This professional studio monitoring headphone set comes with the high-quality features you would expect from Audio-Technica. Features like:

  • Built-in patented 45mm drivers
  • Designed with a wider frequency response range for more transparent sound
  • Crafted with fitted earpieces for the better isolation of external noise
  • Enhanced monitoring with swivel earpieces for better on-ear monitoring
  • Constructed to be lightweight and compact for easy portability

The Good:

The best thing about this headset is that you get high-quality sound for a super competitive price. The bass depth and the overall sound quality is stunning - a great fit for any studio work you may be doing.

The Bad:

There may be times where the bass is a little too emphasized. Also, sound isolation may not be up to par with other options available.

Pros:

  • Great bass depth
  • Full stereo sound quality is amazing
  • Price is very competitive

Cons:

  • Bass emphasis sometimes a little too much
  • Sound isolation is a little weak

2. Shure SRH440

If you are into audio you for sure, have heard of Shure, and with the SRH440 this industry staple brings you a set of high-performance headphones fantastic for any home studio.

Product Highlights:

The SRH440 studio headphone is fitted with a feature that makes this easily one of the best options out there. These headphones are crafted with these features:

  • Designed with a closed-back, collapsible circumaural build
  • Comes with an adapter that is gold plated, 10-foot detachable cable, a bag, and user guide
  • Crafted to be comfortable
  • Easy to replace earpads for durability
  • Better reference monitoring with the built-in 40mm drivers

The Good:

These headphones from Shure offer optimized sound quality and enhanced sound isolation that will make sure that your studio recordings come out as perfect as possible. You can carry the headphones easily for times when you need to hit another studio as well.

The Bad:

These headphones may be professional-grade when it comes to the performance, but when it comes to comfort, they lack in some areas. There is limited padding on the headband, and the earpieces often tend to cause sweaty ears.

Pros:

  • Amazing sound isolation
  • Easy portable design
  • All-around sound quality is great

Cons:

  • Not designed to be as comfortable as other models
  • Limited padding on the headband portion

Best Studio & All-Around Headphone

But here is the deal if you are looking for the best studio headphones (and possibly the best headphones, period) then look no further than the Sennheiser HD800.

Sennheiser HD800

Sennheiser has been creating high-quality audio equipment for quite a while, and they focus on making sure that each of their products offers its user perfect and total sound. That is why the HD800 is the cream of the crop when it comes to headphones.

Product Highlights:

Just what makes this the best headphone out there. That is easy! The attention to detail when designing this headphone brings with it so many features specifically designed for comfort and optimal performance. These features include:

  • Designed with ergonomic ear cups that not only are comfortable but help with better acoustics
  • The headband is built with dampening polymers to alleviate vibrations
  • Equipped with the significant dynamic drivers
  • Cables are insulated and shielded against electrical interference and unwanted noise

The Good:

These are a superior design that allows for comfortable wear and optimal sound. There is not much that is wrong with this design.

The Bad:

There’s not much wrong with these headphones except for the high price tag.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Ergonomic design for comfort
  • Wide breadth of rich, crisp sound
  • Great for checking the low end of a mix

Cons:

  • A little expensive (but worth every penny!)

So, there you have it the best overall headphones for any audio need are the Sennheiser HD800s. Though there are many other great studio headphone options out there, we find that these headphones work well and offer the outstanding audio quality you would need whether you are rocking out to your jams or getting ready to cut that new album!

Normal Headphones

Having a few pairs of normal headphones around your home studio offers the advantage that you can carry out reference listening on a few different sound sources. People listen to music on all kinds of devices these days, so it’s good to check if your mix translates well.

Normal headphones are obviously not designed for studio use, but they can be a useful tool in your home studio reference listening arsenal.

Great headphones are a must if you want to enjoy all your music without the distractions of the world around you. Whether taking a bus ride through your city or jetting off to unknown destinations having the best quality headset could mean the difference between a long trip and a “loooong trip.” Here are a few of the best options available to you.

1. Bose QC 35 II

If you are an audiophile and even if you aren’t you for sure have heard the name Bose. One of the industry leaders in audio and electronic equipment you can never go wrong with a good set of Bose Quiet Comfort headphones.

Product Highlights:

These Bose noise-canceling wireless headphones come chock full of great features that will ensure you get the best quality sound possible. Some of these features are:

  • Multiple levels of noise cancellation
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Dual microphone with noise rejection
  • Enhanced and balanced audio performance no matter the volume
  • Easy to use with Bluetooth
  • Designed with Bose AR (once you have downloaded the app)

The Good:

These noise-canceling headphones have ultimate cancellation capabilities due to the multiple layer design specifically to aid with this. It is a great choice to hook up to your Bluetooth so that even during rocking out you can take that urgent call from your mom or your boss. They are lightweight and comfortable, which means those long commutes will not leave your ears sore like other models. Plus, no matter how long your commute is, it is likely that that battery will not die.

The Bad:

This model is a great choice but does not offer as complete and rich of a sound as other models available, and it is not compatible with the aptX codec.

Pros:

  • Great noise canceling properties
  • Built-in Mic for taking calls
  • Designed to be lightweight and comfortable
  • The battery life is awesome

Cons:

  • Not compatible with aptX codec

What is aptX? aptX is a wireless streaming compression protocol used when paired devices send and receive audio to one another.

2. Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT

Another well-known name in the audio world brings us our second choice of normal headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH SR5BT is an excellent choice for anyone.

Product Highlights:

The features that you will be able to take advantage of if you choose to go with the noise cancellation headphones from Audio-Technica include:

  • Able to effortlessly use Bluetooth on up to 8 devices
  • Easy to use volume with built into headphone design
  • Able to elevate audio resolution when paired with the included cable
  • Constructed to be lightweight and comfortable
  • Full day use when completely charged

The Good:

You will be set for a full day of jamming out or relaxing to whatever music makes you happy with these fabulous sounding noise cancellation headphones. With an enhanced Bluetooth capability, you will also be able to take those calls on multiple devices. This will make your commute or trip a little easier and comfortable as well.

The Bad:

There are some issues with this model when it comes to overall sound quality. Though it has good quality if you are a person who listens to music that is more bass-driven, these tones may seem flat and not capture the full crispness of the sound.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Good sound quality
  • Excellent Bluetooth reception
  • aptX compatible

Cons:

  • Vocals have been known to sound flat
  • Issues with hardness in the upper-mid tones

Best Normal Headphone

So, what is the absolute best regular headphone on the market today? This is up to your preference, but we have chosen the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Headphone. Look at why!

Beyerdynamic Custom Williams Sound Studio Design Headphones

Figure 2: Beyerdynamic Custom Williams Sound Studio Design Headphones

Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

This company may not be familiar to everyone, but if you are into audio, then Beyerdynamic will be no stranger. A company backed by almost a century of experience they strive to bring their customers rich sound, and that is what you get with the Amiron headphones.

Product Highlights:

The thing that drives this to the top of our list is the features that these headphones are designed with. These features include:

  • Extended range for Bluetooth operation (up to 10m)
  • High-quality sound thanks to being designed with Tesla tech
  • Built-in sound personalization
  • Crafted to be ergonomic
  • Crafted in high-quality materials for better durability
  • Wide frequency response (5Hz – 40kHz)

The Good:

The one thing you want the most is a well-rounded sound that sounds just right to your overall internal acoustics. Music sounds a little bit different to everyone, and with the headphones you can customize the acoustics for just the right sound. Overall these headphones are damn near perfect.

The Bad:

We say damn near because there are a few issues that some have complained of. The first is that for this excellent sound quality, you are going to pay a hefty price in comparison to many other models. The other issues have to do with the fact this model is not built to be specifically a noise cancellation set, and to have full control of your sound customization, there is an app you will need to download.

Pros:

  • Sound quality is amazing
  • Durable
  • Well-designed touchpad
  • Staging is good
  • Tuning of natural sound

Cons:

  • Price
  • Must download the app for optimal control
  • No ANC