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The 6 Most Popular Headphone Styles


Even if you currently have studio monitors, a good pair will be necessary to assist you in making crucial decisions throughout recording, mixing, and mastering.

However, not all headphone models can handle the difficult duties involved in music production.

The design and functionality of the headphones you wear actually make a significant difference.

I'll go over the most popular headphone types in this article and provide all the information you require.

Let's get going.


One of the most popular headphone styles is the earbud. Small speakers that fit into the outer ear canal are how they operate.

They are ideal for casual listening while traveling because they are lightweight, affordable, and portable.

But when it comes to making music, earphones have some significant disadvantages.

First off, earphone listening is far more exhausting than using other types of headphones. This is due to the tiny drivers' unusually close proximity to your ears.

In order to reproduce low frequencies, earbuds rely on the physical characteristics of your ear because of the speakers' close proximity and small size.

The end result is an acceptable sound that isn't precise enough to assess a mix's frequency balance.

When monitoring or mixing music, stay away from earbud-style headphones.

In-ear Headphones

In-ear headphones, also known as in-ear monitors, are similar to earbuds in that they go into your ear canal rather than your outer ear.

IEMs function like earplugs when fully implanted, offering great isolation from ambient noise.

It's one of the reasons why musicians regularly use this style of headset to hear their own performances live on stage.

IEMs can have excellent sound quality for a live performance, but when it comes to critical listening, they share the same problems as earphones.

If you're mixing and producing music, avoid wearing IEMs, especially if you intend to work continuously for a while.

Bluetooth Earbuds

Because there are no heavy connections to restrict movement or tangle, wireless technology has made headphones more convenient than ever.

The most popular wireless technology for headphones is Bluetooth. There is no need for an existing WiFi network in order to connect because it operates over short-range radio frequencies.

The design of Bluetooth headphones can vary greatly. Many earphone and over-the-ear models from consumer audio brands come with Bluetooth built in.

Unfortunately, using Bluetooth headphones when creating music is not advised for a number of reasons.

Bluetooth must convert your signal to a more transportable audio file type in order to transmit it over the air.

During the process, some information is lost while the data is being compressed. For casual listening, this is generally fine, but it's not the best for mixing or mastering.

Encoding needs time to finish at both ends of the transmission in addition to compression.

As a result, there may be an annoying lag between what you do in your DAW and what you hear through your headphones.

The advantages of your home studio hub will be lost if you use Bluetooth with your audio interface, which is another reason not to bother.

On-ear Headphones

Compared to full-sized models, these headphones are more portable and have higher sound quality.

Despite being compact, the speakers are large enough to deliver a clear picture of the low frequencies.

On-ear headphones fall into the consumer audio category because there aren't many of them made with music production in mind.

Even top-of-the-line headphones made for casual listening may not perform effectively when mixing and creating music, despite the apparent futility of the distinction.

Instead of faithfully duplicating the sound of the original material, many consumer headphones subtly improve it. The purpose of mixing with headphones is not to make your music sound better as you listen to it.

Accuracy and transparency are essential for production operations, especially when they highlight mix-related issues.

On-ear headphone designs can also exert pressure on your ears to keep them in place. If comfort is important to you, make sure you have the opportunity to test out on-ear models before making a purchase.

Finally, because the speakers in this headset model are placed closer together than those in over-the-ear headphones, you could hear higher, more piercing highs that wear you out over time.

Over-the-ear Headphones

The most popular type of headphones for music creation are over-the-ear (also known as circumaural) headphones.

The cups of these headphones are made to completely encircle your ear, as suggested by their name. The speakers are positioned and isolated to their maximum advantage in this way.

Open-backed headphones and closed-back headphones are two variations within this category, each having its own advantages and disadvantages.

Headphones with a closed back

Closed-back headphones provide studio-quality sound and the best in-room noise isolation.

They are therefore crucial for tasks involving music production when sound leakage is an issue.

The majority of these occur when recording vocals. Due to the singer's proximity to the microphone, monitor mix bleed from their headphones can appear in the recorded track.

You might not be able to use your vocals if it's too loud. Use closed-back headphones for recording vocals and performing other tracking tasks.

However, this style of headphone design makes it more difficult to get a neutral frequency response due to the sealed compartment where the speakers are located.

Closed-back headphones are a necessity for your home studio, but for more demanding monitoring tasks, you might consider the following headphone kind:

Headphones with an open back

For mixing and mastering, open-back headphones are the go-to option for music producers.

They provide the least taxing listening experience while delivering the clearest, most accurate depiction of your mix.

Hot tip: High-end closed-back headphones can be just as excellent as open headphones nowadays, which are typically preferred for studio listening. Make sure to test both before making a decision because the sound experiences offered by the two varieties are highly different.

The sound quality of open-back headphones is uncompromised during construction. That's unquestionably a positive thing, but there are costs involved.

The drivers of these headphones don't form a tight seal around your ears. This implies that when you listen, there is nothing to prevent the sound from the headset speakers from leaking into the space.

As a result, open headphones cannot be utilized in situations where headphone bleed is a problem. Additionally, for optimum quality, a relatively quiet listening setting is required.


Not every sort of headset is suitable for making music, though.

Make sure you purchase the appropriate kind if you need a new pair.

The availability of high-quality studio headphones has fortunately increased.

You should have a solid understanding of the main categories of headphones if you've read this article all the way through.

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