What Are Studio Headphones? Your Key to Pro Audio Quality

We've all been there, standing in a store or scrolling through pages online, trying to decipher the world of headphones. It's not just about picking the snazziest pair—especially when you're eyeing studio headphones. These are the unsung heroes in the creation of crystal-clear soundtracks and the backbone of any music production setup.

Understanding studio headphones is crucial, whether you're an up-and-coming artist or an audiophile. They're designed for precision, allowing you to catch every nuance in the mix. We're here to demystify these essential tools, so you can make an informed choice for your audio adventures.

What Are Studio Headphones?

Studio headphones are specialised devices designed to provide an accurate and uncoloured representation of audio. Unlike consumer headphones that might enhance certain frequencies for a more 'exciting' listening experience, studio headphones strive for flat frequency response, ensuring that audio professionals hear a true sound.

Core Features of Studio Headphones

We can identify studio headphones by their distinct characteristics:

  • Flat Frequency Response: This feature allows for neutral monitoring, vital for making precise adjustments in mixing and mastering.
  • Comfort: Long studio sessions necessitate comfortable gear. High-quality studio headphones are built with extended wear in mind.
  • Durability: Constructed to withstand the rigours of daily studio use, these headphones are not just for occasional listening but are a long-term investment in audio quality.
  • Sound Isolation: To prevent bleed from the headphones into microphones, good studio headphones provide excellent sound isolation.

The Role of Studio Headphones in Music Production

In music production and editing, studio headphones play various crucial roles:

  • Monitoring: For accurate real-time feedback during recording sessions.
  • Mixing and Mastering: Allows for critical listening to fine-tune tracks.
  • Editing: Clean up recordings and edit with precision, relying on clear audio reproduction.

Choosing the Right Studio Headphones

For those in the market for studio headphones, there's a wide range of options available. When selecting headphones, considering one's specific needs in terms of studio work is paramount. Whether you're after a versatile pair of headphones for various tasks or a high-end model dedicated to precise mastering work, it's important to understand one's options.

To see the variety of studio headphones available and find the best fit for your needs, browsing a reputable online store like TOMS (The Only Music Shop) is a wise start. You'll find a well-curated selection catering to different requirements and budgets. For audio professionals and enthusiasts alike, making an informed decision on studio headphones is a step toward ensuring the highest standard of sound production.

The Importance of Studio Headphones

In today's music production environment, studio headphones play a vital role. They're an essential tool for sound engineers, producers, and artists alike. Let's dive into the specifics that set studio headphones apart and underscore their significance in the professional audio landscape.

Accurate Sound Representation

When we talk about studio headphones, we're referring to their unparalleled ability to deliver sound with precision and neutrality. Accurate Sound Representation is the cornerstone of high-quality audio production, and for good reason. Studio headphones are specifically designed to provide a flat frequency response. This ensures that the sound from the headphones is uncoloured, presenting the audio as it is, without enhancement or alteration of any frequency.

In the diverse sonic terrain of South Africa, from Johannesburg's bustling studios to the serene settings of Cape Town's recording spaces, precise audio reproduction allows us to make informed decisions about the mixing and mastering of tracks. Whether it's traditional African music, Kwaito, or the latest House tracks, studio headphones provide a consistent reference, critical for crafting a sound that translates well across various listening environments.

Noise Isolation

Another key feature of studio headphones is their Noise Isolation capabilities. Finding a quiet space to focus on the finer details of audio work can be a challenge. Here's where the design of studio headphones shines. By using materials that form a tight seal around the ears, studio headphones effectively isolate the listener from external noises, allowing for an intimate and distraction-free listening experience.

Noise isolation isn’t just about blocking out external sound—it’s about creating a space where the subtleties and intricacies of the audio can be fully appreciated. For audio professionals, this can mean the difference between an average mix and a stellar production. Whether you're working in a home studio in Durban or a professional recording studio in Pretoria, the sound isolation provided by studio headphones is an invaluable asset for critical listening and precise audio editing.

In summation, studio headphones are essential tools for audio production, offering both accurate sound representation and effective noise isolation, two features that are indispensable for professional audio work in any environment. With the variety and quality found in today's market, investing in a pair of studio headphones is a smart choice for anyone serious about their audio production work.

Key Features to Look for in Studio Headphones

Frequency Response

When delving into the realm of studio headphones, we're often confronted with the term frequency response. This is a fundamental trait that determines how well headphones reproduce the audio spectrum. For us, a deeper understanding of frequency response is essential as it directly impacts the accuracy of the sound we hear during playback. Studio headphones should ideally have a neutral and flat frequency response, avoiding any unwanted colouration of sound that may mislead our production decisions.

The human ear can hear frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The best studio headphones for our projects should cover this range comprehensively. Nevertheless, some premium options extend even beyond, reaching up to, say, 5 Hz to 33 kHz, unlocking the potential to perceive more detail in the bass and treble domains. Yet, it's worth noting that sometimes a bigger number is just a number; it's the quality and flatness of the response within the audible range that truly matters.


Another key specification we can't overlook is Impedance. This tells us how much electrical resistance the headphones present to the audio signal. Why is this important for us? It's simple: high-impedance headphones, which typically range around 250 ohms to 600 ohms, are more resilient to overload and often provide a more refined audio reproduction. They do require a more powerful amplifier though, so they're ideal for studio environments where we have the necessary equipment.

For those of us browsing at TOMS, we should aim for studio headphones with an impedance of at least 60 ohms to ensure compatibility with a wide range of professional audio gear. By selecting the right impedance, we're investing in our craft, making sure that every note and nuance is delivered with utmost precision.


Lastly, let's talk about sensitivity. This parameter impacts how loud our studio headphones can get. Measured in decibels of sound pressure level per milliwatt (dB SPL/mW), sensitivity lets us know the efficiency of headphones in converting an electrical signal into an acoustic signal. If we're working in an environment with varying noise levels or simply need our studio headphones to really shine during a late-night mixing session, a proper sensitivity rating is our ally.

High-sensitivity headphones may not always require a bulky amplifier to reach higher volumes, making them a versatile option for both in-studio and on-the-go production. However, it's a balancing act, as extremely high sensitivity could also introduce distortion at peak levels, which is of course something we want to avoid at all costs.

As we delve further into the details and features of studio headphones, it becomes clear that the choices we make will have a profound impact on our music production experience. At TOMS, we have access to an array of studio headphones that cater to the discerning ear, promoting a blending of technical excellence with practical needs. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, we’ll find the right studio headphones to fit our unique profiles.

Types of Studio Headphones

When delving into the world of audio production, the type of studio headphones one chooses can significantly impact the outcome of their work. Music producers and sound engineers are well aware that the selection of studio headphones is as critical to the production process as the instruments themselves. Let's explore the different types of studio headphones that cater to a variety of needs within the music industry.

Open-Back Headphones

Open-back headphones are revered for their natural sound quality and broad stereophonic images—crucial for meticulous mixing and mastering. These headphones are designed with the back of the ear cups open, allowing sound to pass through freely from the driver. This design attribute leads to minimal sound reflections within the cups, enabling producers to hear an accurate reproduction of audio. For those in quest of immaculate sound for critical listening, open-back studio headphones present a clear advantage.

Studios that prioritise a pristine listening environment often lean towards open-back models. These headphones' ability to release sound pressure and minimise ear fatigue allows for extended sessions of precise audio editing. However, they're not optimal for live recording due to sound leakage — an important consideration for studios with live rooms. For those in pursuit of high-quality open-back studio headphones, our range at TOMS provides professional options that suit even the most discerning audiophiles.

Closed-Back Headphones

In contrast, Closed-Back Headphones are designed for isolation. They're engineered to prevent sound from leaking out and also block external noises from entering the ear cups, making them the ideal choice for vocalists and instrumentalists during recording sessions. With the absence of sound leakage, these headphones effectively eliminate the risk of microphone feedback and ensure that no outside noise disrupts the recording process.

Our selection at TOMS features some of the best closed-back studio headphones, renowned for their ability to provide a clear and undisturbed monitoring experience. Whether in the control room or the recording booth, investing in a pair from our curated range means choosing a tool that enhances the recording capability without compromising on audio quality. They maintain a strong presence in South African studios, balancing the need for sound isolation with the comfort required for long sessions.

Semi-Open Headphones

Semi-open headphones offer a compromise between the aforementioned types—blending elements of both open and closed-back designs. They serve as a versatile option that provides some sound leakage and allows for a degree of external noise to enter, but with less intensity than open-back headphones. Semi-open headphones can be particularly useful for those looking for a middle ground, offering a decent level of isolation with less pronounced in-ear reflections.

Our comprehensive range at TOMS includes semi-open headphones that are ideal for a variety of studio applications. Whether it's for basic track laying, overdubbing, or simply enjoying a high-fidelity listening experience, these headphones cater to both professional and home studio environments. With careful consideration of the acoustics and intended use, semi-open studio headphones can be an excellent addition to any audio professional's toolkit in South Africa.

Whatever your preference, studio headphones are an essential piece of equipment for any serious music production endeavour. Understanding the differences between the types and choosing the right fit for your needs will elevate your audio production to new heights.

Popular Studio Headphone Brands

As we delve deeper into the world of studio headphones, it's crucial to spotlight the stalwarts in the industry that have been the backbone of professional audio work. These brands are renowned not only for their sonic fidelity but also for their commitment to meeting the rigorous demands of studio professionals and audiophiles alike.


When discussing premium audio gear, Sennheiser stands out with its blend of innovation and tradition. For decades, Sennheiser headphones have been synonymous with unparalleled audio quality that's equally appreciated in both professional and consumer markets. Here in South Africa, Sennheiser continues to impress with its broad range of studio headphones, ensuring that whether you're mixing a track or recording, clarity and detail are never compromised.

Sennheiser HD200 Pro Studio

At TOMS, the only music shop you'll need, Sennheiser's offerings are in full swing. The HD 200 Pro, for example, has established itself as a formidable contender for those seeking studio headphones that deliver detailed and powerful sound no matter the locale. It's a beloved choice for home recordings and for immersing oneself in high-fidelity music.


Audio-Technica is another brand that's captured our hearts and ears. Known for their robust build and exceptional sound reproduction, Audio-Technica headphones are a staple in many South African studios. The ATH-Mx Series, especially the ATH-M50x, has garnered a following amongst sound engineers and producers for its flat tuning and accurate audio monitoring.

At TOMS, the horde of Audio-Technica headphones beckons to all levels of audio professionals. From the modestly priced ATH-M20x to the critically acclaimed ATH-M50x, there is a common thread of durable construction and precise sound that has made these headphones a go-to for studio and fieldwork. With a redesigned feel that caters to modern demands, they stand as a testament to Audio-Technica's commitment to quality.


The legacy of Beyerdynamic is one of detail-oriented audio performance. With a reputation for engineering excellence, Beyerdynamic headphones are fuelled by a passion for audio fidelity and ergonomic design. The German manufacturer knows the ins and outs of studio settings, making headphones that cater to the nuanced needs of sound professionals.


At TOMS, we understand the unique place that Beyerdynamic holds in the pantheon of studio headphones. From intricate mixing to critical listening sessions, Beyerdynamic's offerings at TOMS cement their status as a heavyweight in the audio industry—and they're essential for anyone serious about their sound in South Africa.

As we continue to explore the impact of studio headphones, it's evident that the right pair is a transformative tool in the music production process. They're not just accessories; they're vessels through which sound is shaped, refined, and ultimately, realised in its purest form.


We've explored the pivotal role studio headphones play in crafting impeccable audio experiences. Delving into the nuances of open-back, closed-back, and semi-open designs, we've uncovered how each type serves a unique purpose in music production. With trusted brands like Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, and Beyerdynamic readily available at TOMS, finding the perfect pair that resonates with your sonic aspirations is easier than ever. Remember, equipping yourself with the right studio headphones is more than just a purchase—it's an investment in the quality and precision of your audio work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between studio headphones and DJ headphones?

Studio headphones are designed for accurate sound reproduction and mixing, whereas DJ headphones prioritize durable construction and enhanced bass response for live use. DJ headphones typically offer better isolation to focus on the mix even in loud environments.

Why are studio headphones quiet?

Studio headphones can be quiet due to several reasons such as improperly connected cables, low-power audio sources, or even internal headphone issues. Ensure everything is properly connected and the audio source has sufficient power for the best sound experience.

Can you hear yourself in studio headphones?

Yes, studio headphones often allow you to hear yourself during recording sessions. They provide clear audio monitoring to help artists stay in tune and maintain rhythm, crucial for creating professional recordings.

Can you DJ with studio headphones?

Yes, you can DJ with studio headphones; however, they might lack certain features that are specific to DJ headphones, like swivelling ear cups. When choosing studio headphones for DJing, focus on comfort, durability, and good sound isolation.

Can you use studio headphones for listening to music?

Absolutely, studio headphones are excellent for listening to music. They offer high-quality, accurate sound reproduction, making them perfect for music enthusiasts looking to enjoy every nuance of their favourite tracks.

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