Good headphones are essential for recording and editing podcasts. When recording you want to monitor sound quality and avoid sound leakage back to the microphone. Using headphones will help to improve podcast audio quality and edit them to sound professional.
What are the best headphones you should buy when starting podcasting? – Summary
In summary for all starting podcasters (and even professional) we recommend Sennheiser HD280 Pro, the dynamic closed-back headphones. Those circumaural (around the ear) headphones are an industry-standard offering accurate audio representation in full frequency range. Their high sensitivity (SPL of 113 dB) and low impedance (64 Ohms) ensure that they sound loud and clear. They fit comfortably and with 32 dB of ambient noise reduction, they perfectly shield from outside noises, prevent sound leakage and allow for comfortable work.
Finally as with all our recommendations, Sennheiser HD280 Pro is an investment in high quality and a robust device that will work great for years and help you record better podcasts. It provides great sound quality, isolation and has easily replaceable parts extending their longevity.
Two key areas where you can use headphones are:
- Monitoring the recordings clarity and output of devices
- Editing and pasting together final podcast from components
- DAW – check our recommended software in this guide
Should I Wear a Headphone While Recording Podcast?
Yes, you should wear headphones when recording a podcast, especially if you have guests, record an interview remotely or use a keyboard controller. There are some downsides of using them and working and recording with headphones do require getting used to it.
Pros – constant monitoring of audio quality and adjustment instead of editing in DAW
- Using headphones you can better understand noise and setup correctly gain levels
- When you are just starting working on podcasts headphones are great to observer your pronunciation and improve your enunciation
- This will also help you to position yourself correctly against the microphone as you will hear variations in loudness and clarity as you move out of the optimal position
- Monitor gain levels and adjust, also observe the effect of talking louder or quieter, closer or further from the mic
- You require them if you are doing remote interviews so you don’t get feedback from the speakers
- When you are playing audio clips during the recording through control board you also want to avoid feedback
Cons – they can be distracting especially if you don’t have a lot of experience:
- In the beginning, without some experience, listening to your own voice can be distracting
- An element of distraction is also the fact that at the same time you are both performing and judging the result. It requires practice to free yourself from this judging habit
- Depending on the level of performance and emotions you are trying to show having headphones can stop you from immersing fully into your show
- Without headphones, you listen to your natural voice so it is not distracting
- Finally, it is a personal preference and some people just don’t like recording with headphones
What are the types of professional headphones available?
There are mainly two types of professional headphones found in recording studios and both offer benefits and drawbacks.
- Closed Back Headphones – which are used for recording and they prioritize isolation. Closed-back build means that the outside part of the headphone cups is solid.
- Open Back Headphones – which are used for editing and they prioritize sound quality. Open back build leaves the back of the ear cups open.
Closed-back headphones are the recommended option for podcasting.
Closed-back headphones are the best option for recording podcasts since their construction prevents sound from leaking back into the microphone. Podcasting also requires fewer nuances when editing so great capabilities of open-back headphones are not fully utilized and sound quality provided by closed-back headphones is sufficient.
Why earbuds or other popular headphones are not recommended for monitoring podcast?
While recording and editing you want headphones not distorting sound in any frequency. Smallest size headphones due to used technology at low price points change the sound too much.
In-ear headphones – sound quality too low for working on audio files
- Overall low audio quality when compared to professional closed-back headphones
- Due to the small size of the driver popular cheap earbuds don’t represent accurately all of the frequencies
- On the other hand, some expensive earbuds have boosted the low end. Artificial boosting of bass frequencies means that sound you are trying to correctly monitor and edit is not accurately represented
- Additionally, some modern brands can be as expensive as professional studio quality headphones and still offer worse quality
Noise-canceling headphones – too much audio processing
- Use complex internal sound processing to remove outside noise
- This high level of processing can completely change how sound gets represented. This makes those types of noise-canceling headphones inappropriate for recording or monitoring podcast audio
- Also due to advanced technology they can be very expensive. At those price points, you will find a lot of good professional headphones for podcasting
Bluetooth/wireless headphones – heavy, not always reliable and susceptible to interference
- The biggest problem with those headphones are interferences
- The high end and expensive headphones can solve the majority of problems with interferences but there again you are at a price point which doesn’t justify the spend
- Due to their power requirements, large headphones can be heavier than cable powered headphones. This can be uncomfortable or even painful after long hours of work
Traditional wired headphones will always be more appropriate, durable, last longer, and provide better value.
Why open-backed headphones are not best for recording?
High-quality open-backed headphones are generally great devices offering outstanding sound quality and devices like Sennheiser HD 559, are both very affordable and great choice for people editing the audio recording.
They are not appropriate for recording because they don’t have a back and this means sounds escapes them and can very easily be picked up by your microphone. This downside is called sound leakage (or bleed).
Some people choose to have two pairs of headphones. Closed-back for recording and open back for editing. We use only close back and for podcasting requirements, this is enough.
Features and characteristics of good monitor headphones?
- Closed-back, circumaural (around the ear) design to provide maximum sound isolation so sound monitoring can happen without sound bleeding into the mic
- Frequency range – the human ear can hear sounds within frequency 20Hz to 20kHz. When technology was much less advanced getting headphones producing sound within this range was extremely complex. Nowadays we have products capable of producing sound waves extending below and above this range. For podcasting, it will be enough if headphones you choose will be able to produce sound within this 20Hz – 20kHz frequency range.
- Sensitivity – describes how effectively headphones can convert an electrical signal into acoustical. The sensitivity indicates how loud the earphones can get. Recommended headphones should have sensitivity in the range of 80 to 125 dB SPL/mW (Sound Pressure Level per milliwatt)
- Impedance – you want headphones for audio monitoring within 32-80 Ohms. Low impedance requires little power to deliver high audio levels. With headphones with higher impedance, you would require a better amplifier
Recommended best closed-back headphones for podcasting
|Sennheiser HD280 Pro||Sony MDR-7506||Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80||Focal Spirit Professional||Shure SRH-1540|
|Summary recommendation||#1 – an industry standard for working on podcasts||Lightweight and great for podcasting remotely||A perfect combination of quality and luxury||High-end combines the quality of closed and open back headphones||High-end audiophile grade headphones|
|Zippered Hard Travel Case||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Additional Pair of Ear Pads||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Impedance||64 Ω||63 Ω||80 Ω||32 Ω||46 Ω|
|Frequencies range||8Hz – 25kHz||10Hz – 20kHz||5Hz -35kHz||5Hz -22kHz||5Hz -25kHz|
|Sensitivity SPL/mW||113 dB||106 dB||96 dB||102 dB||99 dB|
|Ambient noise red||32 dBA||not specified||18 dBA||not specified||not specified|
|Weight||10 oz (285 g)||8.1 oz (230 g)||9.5 oz (270 g)||9 oz (255 g)||10.1 oz (286 g)|
|Cable Style||Single-exit, not detachable||Single-exit, not detachable||Single-exit, not detachable||Single-exit, detachable||Dual-exit, detachable|
|Cable Length||9.8 ft (3 m)||9.8 ft (3 m)||9.8 ft (3 m)||13.1 ft (4 m) &4.6 ft (1.4 m)||6 ft (1.8 m) – two cables|
All the 5 presented recommendations meet audio monitoring requirements. They provide great sound, isolation from external sources and prevent from sound leakage. With their low impedance and high sensitivity, they sound loud and clear and provide with high-quality audio within the core frequency range.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro – the industry standard, simplicity combined with quality
Sennheiser HD280 Pro is our recommended choice for starting podcasters. They sound great, feel good, offer great capabilities at an incredible price. Also with their parts being so accessible and easy to replace this is a simple investment choice that will work for you for years.
- Those are one of the most popular dynamics closed-back headphones used for audio recording and monitoring in the world. This is the professional standard and benchmark to which all other good headphones can be compared to
- They are simple to have a bit rough design and they work great
- HD280 Pro offers warm, natural sound with no extra features
- Most sensitive headphones in our list of recommendations with SPL of 113 dB
- High ambient noise attenuation up to 32 dB allowing for really comfortable work
- Easily replaceable earpads and headband padding. Parts are easily accessible
- Those are not audiophiles level of headphones but they are great for recording and monitoring podcast
- This is simply a great choice for beginners and professionals alike
Sony MDR-7506 – great quality matching and successfully rivaling with Sennheiser HD280 Pro
Sony MDR-7506 might have a slight edge over Sennheiser HD280 Pro in areas of design and lower weight. If you are traveling a lot with your headphones you might consider them as they will be less likely to damage.
- Sony MDR-7506 are extremely comparable to the Sennheiser HD280 Pro
- They are just as affordable and durable, although their foldable mechanism makes them a bit more friendly for traveling. As you fold them they take less space and so there is a smaller likelihood of damaging them
- The design makes a better impression than the HD280 Pro which is even described by the producer as “rugged”
- Great sound quality and good isolation (although not specified by the producer)
- Very lightweight – with only 8.1 oz (230 g) they are the lightest headphones on our list of recommendations. You can feel the difference after a long day of work
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 – great balance between required quality and high-end feel
DT770 Pro is definitely a step up from HD280 Pro and MDR-7506. You will usually find them around 50% more expensive. They offer as great features as the previous two products but they have some advantages.
- Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 is simply a great compromise between solid technical features offered by HD280 Pro and MDR-7506 and luxury aspect of high-end models like Focal Spirit Professional and Shure SRH-1540
- Even being around 50% more expensive than HD280 Pro or MDR-7506 they are still reasonably priced for the quality offered
- They are as good sounding as Sennheiser and Sony
- This is a highly durable product offering great isolation of ambient sound – again comparable to predecessors
- However, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 offer significant upgrades in overall quality
- These headphones offer the highest frequency range out of all recommended products (5Hz -35kHz)
- In terms of comfort, their Nominal headband pressure is approx. 3.5 Newtons, which is almost half of the value of 6 Newtons from Sennheiser HD280 Pro – which means there is much less pressure on your head
- They have generally a better build quality especially when you compare them to Sennheiser
- At this price point, the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 looks more like a high-end model
Focal Spirit Professional – a mix of great features of closed back and open back headphones
Focal Spirit Professional is another upgrade over already discussed Sennheiser, Sony, and Beyerdynamic propositions. At a much higher price point that mentioned 3 great headphones this product combines great features of closed back and open back devices.
- Provides isolation and comfort of work as good closed-back headphones do
- At the same time, it offers sound quality close to many great open-back headphones
- One clever feature of these headphones is the memory foam padding, which comfortably molds your head, sealing up any open gaps.
- Distinguishable design – headphones look more like a product for a mass consumer market instead of studio monitoring – black plastic has been covered in a wet-look finish that resembles water drops
- Those headphones have the smallest earcups of the devices in the recommendation list so they might feel different and for people with larger ears or with glasses might not be the most comfortable solution
- Focal Spirit Professional have the lowest impedance of the recommendation headphones which means they sound very loud and clear even on not very powerful audio interfaces. With 32 Ohms they are even great to listen to music on smartphones
- A detachable cable is a great solution as cables are very often weakest points and easiest
- 2 cables – one very long for work and second for portable listening equipped with volume regulator and a mic so it can be used as a hands-free kit with a smartphone
Shure SRH-1540 – premium high-end audiophile-grade headphones
Finally let’s present and discuss briefly the most expensive of our recommendations, the Shure SRH-1540.
- Shure SRH-1540 are audiophile-grade headphones
- They successfully combine multiple elements – the quality of sound and isolation required from monitor closed-back headphones, a great audio quality found in open-back headphones and a very attractive design mostly present in the mass consumer market
- They look most attractive and luxurious out of the products on the list
- Those are one of the best sounding and most comfortable closed-back headphones on the market
- They are sold with a zippered hard travel case – this is not a small and compact mobile travel case but quite a large protector if you need to take your headphones with you
- With a low impedance of 46 Ohms, they sound loud even on less powerful amps and mobile devices just as Focal Spirit Professional
- Also as Focal Spirits, they come with a detachable cable greatly improving the durability of the whole product
- They come with 2 cables, with a length of only 6 ft (1.8 m) – significantly less than other recommended products, but actually w like this as then the entire construction is much lighter and comfortable to work with
- The Shure SRH-1540 is perhaps the closest you could ever come to reference-quality sound in a pair of closed-back headphones
Shure SRH-1540 is not recommended for beginner podcasters. You can consider them at some point as a luxurious upgrade. This is a powerful and beautiful device worth mentioning. Shure SRH-1540 is overall recommended as a high-end product that will allow for great recording sessions, great editing experience and high comfort of work.
- Headphones are needed for monitoring audio clarity and output level
- When editing use headphones to pick up more details which will require work
- The best type of headphones for a podcast closed-back circumaural (around the ear) headphones
- Open back devices may sound better but they leak sound and won’t work when recording
- Recording with headphones will require getting used to it to avoid distractions
- Avoid popular mass-market headphones – earbuds, noise-canceling, and wireless headphones – they don’t represent sound accurately
- Good headphones should play sound within the frequency of 20Hz to 20kHz, have a good sensitivity in the range of 80 to 125 dB SPL/mW and low impedance within 32-80 Ohms
- Sennheiser HD280 Pro is an extremely popular industry standard and our recommendation all podcasters
- Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 offers a great combination of qualities absolutely required from professional studio monitoring headphones and luxury available in the higher-end models
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