I’ve got 9 best headphones for hip hop considering the industry standards, top sellers, budget picks, and I’ve even got some high end headphones. I’ve tested hip hop headphones with audio interfaces, laptops and headphone app. And I use them to track vocals and mics.
I’ve even got a pair of headphones here for just $33. So why did I include them? Let’s find out.
Recommending a pair is not as easy as just saying “buy this one” or “it’s the best” because it depends on its application. Are you mixing using these? Or you’re tracking, or recording vocals? And what about casual listening? Will you enjoy listening to music? So read until the end, because each of these hip hop headphones has its own benefits and drawbacks.
And if you’re just looking for the most neutral and flat headphones, I’ll cover that too. Remember that! This is not a sponsored content, but if you use any of the links in the description to buy one of these headphones for hip hop, it helps out the exploiting iPhone website.
I do my research, provide tips and give you honest advice about the latest gear before we begin. Let me cover a couple of technical terms that I’ll use in this guide. I’ll give you the technical details, but ultimately it’s about how well you reached your goals with hip hop headphones.
Do you like mixing, tracking and listening with these headphones? And are you happy with the results? That’s what matters!
I’m going to make you understand the frequency response for each of these headphones as I go through them.
A wider frequency response range means you should hear lower lows and higher highs.
Now two headphones in this round up the Beyerdynamic have very high impedance. Let’s talk about impedance and why I chose the 250 Ohm versions. Low impedance headphones require less power to achieve high volume levels. Higher impedance headphones require more power, but they provide better clarity in mids and highs. It may not be a huge difference to some listeners but the Beyerdynamic 250 Ohm headphones are widely regarded as their best. So I chose them for this comparison.
Best Headphones for Hip Hop
These are the tested best headphones for hip hop right now;
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990
- Sony MDR7506
- SENNHEISER HD280PRO Headphones
- OneOdio A70 Headphones
- Status Audio CB-1 Headphones
- AKG K 701 Headphones
- Neumann NDH20 Headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm
I’ve used beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm for a long time and have recommended them to you multiple times, but let’s get into the details. These headphones originally retailed for $280, but now you can find them for around $160, which I think is an excellent value for what you are getting.
The beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm have the best sound separation among the headphones in this list. That means you’ll be able to clearly hear every instrument in your mix and their position in the mix. It’s much easier to find problems in your mix with these headphones, but other headphones may help you balance your mix.
The bass is definitely not as pronounced as others in this guide. And you may find the highs a little too sharp for your taste. How about comfort? These are extremely comfortable for long periods of time. They’ve got these velvety soft ear pads, which feel great for long-term.
They’re great to use while recording with a microphone like when you put down your vocal track and I also enjoy casual listening with these, but if you plan to use them with your mobile phone or laptop, consider it getting a headphone out because of the high impedance, the volume may be too low for you.
In fact, the headphone app made these really shine, many reviewers on Sweetwater say these are the best headphones for hip hop they’ve ever owned, even compared to the Audio Technica for hip hop.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones are best sellers on Sweetwater and Amazon with over 11,000 ratings on Amazon, more than any other headphone in this guide.
Here’s a fun fact; Billie Eilish and his brother uses Audio-Technica ATH-M50X and loves them, but remember gear doesn’t win Grammys! These are just tools.
So why are they so powerful? Well, it’s actually a little hard to tell. The collapsible design is nice if you’re going to be traveling with these. The Beyerdynamic don’t fold up like this, and you can twist one side to listen with one ear. These headphones are not as comfortable as the Beyerdynamic.
They actually feel tight on my head, but I’ve got a big head so it may be okay for you. But other owners also complained of the discomfort of having these on for a long time. The ear pads have a nice leather feel and provide excellent isolation from outside noise. But my ears felt a little warm after using these for a while.
So let’s talk about the sound. What are they good for? Casual listening, definitely! Mixing is decent. These best headphones for hip hop have the loudest bass of all the headphones in this guide. So you have to watch out for that while mixing. Clarity is good with mids and highs, but I found that the bass just took over at times, overshadowing the mids.
They’re not as neutral as the Sony and Norman headphones in this guide, but that actually makes for a pleasant listening experience. The soundstage is not as good as the Beyerdynamic, but still better than the others in this list. I would recommend Audio-Technica ATH-M50X for a producer or musician who needs good quality headphones that are very portable. These are easy to carry around or throw in a backpack.
Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990
So what about open back headphones? Let’s take a look at the Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 250 Ohms headphones. These and the AKG headphones in this guide are both open back. That means sound leaks through the sides of the cans intentionally. This is supposed to improve the spaciousness of the sound, the stereo with making them sound closer to a set of speakers.
So do they? Yes, I compared the open back to the closed back beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm and found a difference, a small difference, but it was there. If you’ve got discerning ears, you will hear the difference.
Otherwise, sonically, these are pretty much the same as the beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm closed back versions. The comfort is the same as well. These are great for long sessions. So if you’re mixing with these. Now because of the open back design, they’re not meant for use while recording with a microphone because of the noise leak.
Also, you probably won’t use these for commuting or in public places. Everyone’s going to hear what you’re doing and you can hear a lot of noise coming in as well. So best to be mixing in a quiet place.
I love the sound just as much as the beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 250 Ohm. When I started listening to the mixes through the Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990, I just wanted to keep listening and listening, and it was hard to switch to another pair of headphones.
So far i’ve covered some reasonably priced headphones, but what you get when you spend $500 or more. I’ll let you know a little later in this guide.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, let’s take a look at the Sony MDR7506. You’ve probably seen these headphones in tons of studio pictures.
It’s used by audio engineers, vocalists, everyone. Many reviewers call Sony MDR7506 industry standard because of their flat sound. When I tried them, I heard a very even spread of bass, mids and highs. It was a very cohesive. But if you’re trying to carefully listen to every nuance of each sound, these may not be right for you.
The high hats in my beats just didn’t come through as they did with the Beyerdynamic and Audio-Technica headphones. But these are among the flattest headphones I listened to. If you’re looking for an enjoyable listening session, these aren’t the best. The mids were just too pronounced for casual listing, but wait, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This may be the mix you really need to hear. People seem to love Sony MDR7506 for hip hop, for tracking vocals too. They’re reasonably comfortable, but the build quality is not as good as more expensive headphones in this list. The ear padding is low quality, and I’m not sure how long it will last, but they still provide better isolation than cheaper headphones in this list.
And they are quite comfortable for my big head. These are not luxury. But they will get the job done in your studio.
SENNHEISER HD280PRO Headphones
If you want something similar to the Audio-Technica and also at a lower price. The SENNHEISER HD280PRO headphones are an excellent choice and many call these an industry standard.
They’re just $10 more than the Sony’s. And they sound excellent. The bass is good, but not as powerful as the Audio-Technica is. Still, I found it good enough. It didn’t conflict with the mids as much, but the highs are much more subdued with the mids taking center stage. SENNHEISER HD280PRO Headphones have the best isolation of all the headphones in this guide and let in almost no noise, but that may be partly due to the fact that they fit a little tight.
They’re comfortable, but may need to be broken into feel better. And my ears got real warm quickly. The cable is very heavy and tight. I thought it was just me, but others complained about this too. These are an excellent pick for tracking, but not my favorite for mixing. The clarity and separation just wasn’t as good as others in this list.
OneOdio A70 Headphones
OneOdio A70 are the cheapest headphones by far at $33. Never heard of them before?
So why did I include OneOdio A70 in this list? Well, they were Amazon’s recommended studio headphones, and these are the most popular DJ headphones on their site. So if you’re shopping on Amazon, these are going to be in your face. They have tons of reviews and people who say they’re quite happy with them. They have a nice form factor and are pretty comfortable, actually surprised me in the comfort area.
They fold up real nice, so great for portability. But what about the sound? They’re definitely not on par with the others in this list. They’re missing a lot of clarity in mids and highs. And the bass muddies up the mids. These are not bad headphones, just not up to the caliber of the rest, but hey, they are so much cheaper.
These sounded closer to consumer grade headphones. So are they a good choice for mixing and tracking? Well, I would have to say no. I would recommend that you save up a little money and go with the Sony’s in this list or the status CB ones, which we’ll look at next.
Status Audio CB-1 Headphones
The Status Audio CB-1 Headphones are another very affordable set of headphones at $80. They came in a classy box that gave me high hopes on build quality.
But when I took them out, they felt and looked a little cheap. When I put them on isolation from outside noise wasn’t that good. But they sound almost identical to the Sony’s and some reviewers say they’re close to the audio-technica’s from this. I didn’t think so. The Audio-Technica has had much more bass and better clarity in the highs, but the sound of the Status Audio CB-1 Headphones is very nice for the price.
I’d say it’s a more comfortable version of the Sony’s. If $80 is your price point, I would recommend these.
So what do you get when you spend a few more hundred dollars on hip hop headphones? Well, I’ve got two headphones here that retail for a lot more than the others, but wait, one of them has dropped in price to less than $200.
AKG K 701 Headphones
These are the AKG K 701 Headphones. They retail for $439. But guess what? You can now find them for 169. I have the AKG K 275 Headphones, which are a hundred dollar headphones, and I wasn’t really impressed by them. AKG K 701 Headphones are different. The soundstage is wide due to the open back design. In this aspect, it seems similar to the Beyerdynamic in this list. That’s the closest comparison.
However, where the Beyerdynamic are sometimes harshly bright. These are more subdued in the high frequencies. This made the AKGs more pleasant to listen to with certain mixes, but they do lack in bass. And when comparing them to the Beyerdynamic, the bass gets lost a little.
I love the design. Yeah, they look really cool and high quality in my opinion. But when you actually tap on the materials, they sound like cheap plastic. The ear pads are super comfortable. These are self-adjusting. So AKG K 701 Headphones automatically extend to fit your head when you put them on. And they feel light and really fit well around my ears.
I would say if you want them wide sound of open back headphones, these are an excellent choice, but you’ll save some cash going with a Beyerdynamic 990s instead.
Neumann NDH20 Headphones
I’ve got the Neumann NDH20 Headphones. These are the heaviest headphones in this ‘best headphones for hip hop’ guide.
But they feel super premium. You’ve got steel and aluminum here, top grade stuff, and the ear pads feel so comfortable. Neumann NDH20 Headphones truly rivaled the Beyerdynamic in comfort, the Neumann NDH20 provided better isolation than most of the headphones in this list, which means the least sound leaked through the sides. The sound is also really flat.
Mids are great and highs are not as in your face as the Beyerdynamic’s. The bass is subdued, but these sound great for mixing. I felt the sound separation is better on the Beyerdynamic, but this is still really nice, probably more realistic resulting in better mixes. In fact, Neumann NDH20 headphones sounded closer to my studio monitor mix than any other headphone here.
When I put these on, they sound so close to my speakers. This is how I intended my mix to sound. I think this is a great choice for, hip hop, audio engineers, mixers, especially for long mixing sessions, but the price is going to get you. And I think if you’re just starting out with music production, these may be overkill.
Here’s some final thoughts on my top recommendations for you. The Audio Technica headphones sound great for casual listening, especially if you like your bass. The clarity in mids is almost on par with the Beyerdynamic’s, but the comfort for long sessions worries me and other reviewers as well. And the soundstage can’t compare to the Beyerdynamic’s or the AKG. Still at $150, I think they’re a really good overall value.
If you prefer more bass, the Sony’s are also a great value at $90. And if you’re going to be tracking or mixing, these are an excellent budget pick, not as pleasant to listen to casually, but a great workhorse for your hip hop music production needs.
I’d want a pair of these in my studio, both the Beyerdynamic headphones are true winners for me, the stereo with the soundstage, and just using them to pick out the problems in your mix. Top-notch I mean, you can place your sound more accurately with these. Remember to get the close back version the 770s, if you plan to use them for monitoring while recording with a microphone, and you may need a headphone depending on your audio interface, or if you plan to use these with a laptop or a mobile device.