Audio is a crucial part of any video presentation. It can set the mood and greatly affect the impact of your video. That is why headphones are such an important tool for your workflow.
However, it is also important to use the right type of headphones for the job. Not all headphones are created equally and some may not be ideal for video editing.
In this article, we will discuss the best headphones for video editing. Our top pick for closed-back headphones is the Audio Technica M50X. And our top pick for open-back headphones is the Sennheiser HD660s.
But, of course, we have plenty of other options for different kinds of users and different budgets. Keep on scrolling to learn more.
Headphones for on the go editing/Content Creation
Closed-back headphones have better noise cancellation than open-back headphones. They are also more versatile and can be used when you are on the go on live events/same-day edit events or if you are editing inside your studio. These headphones can also be used inside the studio but will generally not be as accurate as our post-production recommendations. Here are our top picks:
Audio Technica M50X – All-Rounder
The Audio Technica ATH M50X is easily the most popular headphones on this list. It first made its debut back in 2007 and has since then become one of the recommendations for video editors, content creators, music producers, and even onlinestreamers.
What makes this pair special is its excellent build quality, reliability, and sound quality. It is by no means the best in every category. However, it ticks all the right boxes, which makes it an excellent all-rounder.
These headphones are mostly made of high-quality plastic. The crucial spots, such as the headband and hinges, are reinforced with metal. This pair can take a beating and will survive even if you don’t take care of them.
Additionally, these headphones fold into a smaller form factor. This is extremely important for editors on the go who need to quickly pack up and bring their workstation to different locations. The removable cable is also a plus since you can easily replace it when it fails, or you can opt for different cable lengths/custom cables depending on your setup.
In terms of its sound, the M50X has a fairly balanced signature. It is not completely neutral, but it is enough to hear most of the key frequencies. The bass is slightly boosted, and the mids are slightly recessed, which can make it more forgiving for low-quality sound files. (Audio Technica also offers a more neutral sounding pair in the form of the ATH M40X)
There is, however, one major issue with the M50X. The pleather material used on the earpads and headband easily deteriorates. My personal pair has displayed flaking after about two years of regular use. This is not an isolated case since other users have also reported it on online forums.
Audio Technica and other third-party brands offer replacement earpads with alternate materials such as velour. However, the headband is not easily replaceable and requires maintenance from your local Audio Technica dealer.
Headband protectors can be purchased to fix this issue. But it would have been nice to see official support from Audio Technica, especially considering that the M50X is the M50’s second revision.
Overall, for its asking price, the ATH M50X provides everything that a video editor would ever need. It is built well, it is portable, and it sounds accurate enough for most editing tasks such as volume leveling and monitoring. If you want the best all-rounder on this list, then the M50X is a strong contender. But if you want better-sounding alternatives, then keep on scrolling.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro – Best Sounding
Another popular closed-back headphone for video editing is Beyerdynamic’s classic DT 770 Pro. These headphones have achieved legendary status and have been in production since 1985. It is also the basis for the higher-end Beyerdynamic DT 1770 and is often regarded as the closed-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
What separates the DT 770 Pro from the rest of the closed-back options is its wide and accurate sound. The experience that you get is more natural-sounding and closer to the sound of full-sized speakers/studio monitors. Its sound signature is often preferred over the Audio Technica M50X.
Another major difference between the two is that the DT 770 Pro comes in different impedances. You can read our dedicated headphone impedance article if you are not familiar with the term impedance. But this basically refers to the power requirement of the headphones.
The DT 770 Pro comes in 32-ohm, 80-ohm, 250-ohm, and 600-ohm versions. The 32-ohm and 80-ohm version can work without a headphone amplifier. The 250-ohm and 600-ohm versions, on the other hand, require a headphone amplifier. So if you are planning on using the DT 770 Pro on the go or if you just want to plug them straight into your laptop/workstation, then you should opt for the 32 and 80-ohm versions.
Another highlight of the DT 770 Pro is the build quality. The DT 770 Pro is predominantly made of high-quality plastic and has metal reinforcements on the headband and hinges. It feels more solid than the M50X and can survive more accidents/abuse.
Also, unlike the M50X, the DT 770 Pro has a removable headband. Both the headband and earpads are not utilizing pleather which tends to wear over time.
However, its rugged build quality has two major drawbacks that editors on the go should take note of. The DT 770 Pro is non-foldable, and the cables are non-removable. This is a big deal considering how large the headphones are. It will occupy considerably more space inside your backpack.
Overall, if you are looking for a great sounding headphone and its large size and non-foldable design isn’t a big concern, then we highly suggest taking the DT 770 Pro over the M50X.
Shure SRH 440
A popular budget alternative to the M50X and DT 770 Pro is the Shure SRH 440. This model is widely regarded as one of the industry standards in studio monitoring headphones thanks to its accurate and flat sound signature. However, there are some downsides to these headphones which we will be discussing.
In terms of its form factor, it is very similar to the Audio Technica M50X. It has a foldable design and a removable cable, which makes it very portable and easy to transport.
However, unlike the M50X and DT 770 Pro, the build quality isn’t quite as good. It is still decent as it is made of high-quality plastic. However, the hinges are more prone to snapping since there are no metal reinforcements.
But the main highlight of these headphones is the sound quality. Its flat sound signature means there are no specific frequencies highlighted. Leveling your audio will also be easier since you will be able to easily tell how well different sound elements fit in the overall mix.
Take note, however, that this kind of sound signature is not as engaging as the other two headphones. It does not introduce excitement to the overall sound which may not make it as versatile as the DT 770 Pro or the Audio Technica M50X.
But overall, if what you are looking for are accurate sounding headphones, then make sure to check out the Shure SRH 440. Just make sure to take care of these headphones since it may not last as long as the other ones on this list especially when subjected to abuse on live events.
The Sony WH1000XM3 may seem like an odd choice for video editors, considering it is a wireless headphone marketed for casual use. However, this pair has been becoming more popular with content creators and video creators. And that is because of its wireless versatility and Sony’s class-leading Active-Noise Canceling Feature (ANC).
This ANC feature can easily come clutch at noisy venues. And unlike most of its competitors, the ANC does not have a strong pressure sensation that would normally make you want to turn off this feature. Sony was able to implement this without sacrificing on the sound quality.
And speaking of the sound quality, its warm sounding and bass-centric approach may initially be a turn off for video editors. However, the WH1000XM3 maintains its clarity and does not have bloated bass. It will not be as accurate sounding as the rest of the headphones on this list, but it is good enough to pinpoint any sound issues.
And unlike the other pairs on this list, the WH1000XM3 can be used wirelessly to connect to different devices such as the iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. It’s great to have this feature since you never know when you will be needing a wireless pair in case you ever find yourself editing on these machines.
The build quality and comfort are also top-notch. The Sony WH1000XM3 is easy to carry around and comfortable for long listening sessions thanks to its lightweight and foldable design.
And in terms of comfort, you can easily wear the WH1000XM3 without any comfort issues for at least five hours. And when you do decide to use it on wireless mode, you can expect at least 30 hours of usage.
Overall, the Sony WH1000XM3 is the complete package. It has everything from a reliable ANC to great sound quality. It does everything the Bose QC 35II does, but the execution is better in almost every way.
Headphones for Post-Production
Open-back headphones are more precise than closed-back headphones. However, they have less isolation and leak more sound. These headphones are more suitable inside a controlled environment such as in an office or studio. Here are our top picks:
Sennheiser HD660s – Recommended
Our top recommended model for video editors who are looking for an open-back headphone is the Sennheiser HD660s. It is the latest version of the classic Sennheiser HD600 and has several improvements to make it more competitive to today’s market.
The primary reason for the HD600 series’ popularity in the past two decades is its neutral sound signature and near-indestructible build quality. The neutral sound greatly helps with monitoring audio since the frequencies will be more leveled with no exaggerated frequencies.
The mid frequencies are more highlighted but do not throw off the accuracy of the sound. This can even be beneficial when monitoring or adjusting volume levels of speech.
The build quality is also known to be extremely reliable. There are still old HD600 and HD650 units still being used today. And if any part breaks, you can easily replace them since Sennheiser sells almost any part of the headphone.
The main highlight of the HD660s is the new drivers that reduce the original impedance from 300-ohms to 150-ohms. You can now theoretically use the HD 660s with more devices such as laptops with good internal sound cards or audio interfaces. You will still, however, have to use a dedicated headphone amplifier to get the best results.
The new drivers also improve the HD600 series’ already great sound signature. With the help of the new drivers, the HD660s manages to solve some of the issues found on the older HD600 headphones. The HD660s managed to fix the infamous “Sennheiser veil” and can now reproduce better highs.
In terms of the design, the HD660s stays true to the iconic HD600 series design. There are large grills that expose the drivers and help with ventilation. Aside from some aesthetic changes, there are no major differences between the HD660s and other HD600 models in terms of the build quality.
If you want the best performing headphone in the HD600 lineup, then the Sennheiser HD660s is worth it. But If you are on a tighter budget, you can also check out the Sennheiser HD600, Sennheiser x Drop HD58X, or the Sennheiser x Drop HD 6XX.
Despite being best known for the HD800s and HD6XX series, it was Sennheiser’s HD5XX series that became the go-to headphones for content creators back in the day. However, the market has changed a lot and new models now easily outperform the old HD5XX series. But Sennheiser has surprisingly revived the series with the new Sennheiser HD560s.
The HD 560s is Sennheiser’s latest sub 200 USD offering. This model aims to be the company’s new analytical sounding model and is looking to set the bar for 200 USD headphones.
The HD 560s’ design resembles the rest of the HD 5XX lineup. It mostly has the same build quality but with a few changes to modernize the look. The headphones are now rocking an all-black color scheme similar to the latest version of the HD 600 and the HD 660s.
The headband and the grills also resemble the ones found on the HD 650 and HD 660s. The single-sided connector is, however, retained. This can be good for simplicity but a lot of people prefer the mode “audiophile look” of the HD600 and HD800’s connectors.
But the biggest change here is the new drivers, which offer better sound quality than the rest of the HD 5XX headphones. This new tuning is even regarded as an improved version of the Sennheiser HD6XX series. It solves several key issues of the HD 600 series, such as the intimate soundstage, while adding more quantity and detail to the highs.
Additionally, the HD 560s retains the neutral tuning and clarity of the HD 5XX and HD 6XX series. Compared to the HD 5XX series, specifically the HD 598/599, the HD 560s seem to be an easy upgrade overall. The only downside that it has is that its added brightness might cause fatigue for some.
Its analytical sound signature makes it great for editing since you will be able to easily hear and correct the imperfections in your audio. You will also be able to easily set your volume levels since there are no overemphasized frequencies.
Overall, if you are looking for a more affordable reference sounding headphone, then the Sennheiser HD560s is very hard to beat in its price point.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro – High-End Pick
Beyerdynamic has a long history of creating great sounding and reliable headphones. The DT 770 Pro that is also featured on this list, is a highly regarded pair. But if you want an even better sounding open-back headphone, then the DT 1990 Pro is your best bet.
The highlights of this model are its build quality and sound quality. Beyerdynamic is already known for its build quality. However, they take things up a notch with their higher-end models.
The DT 1990 Pro is mostly made of metal, which instantly gives you confidence in the product. There are no noticeable weak points, so you can treat it as rough as you want. And to add to its premium build, nearly every part of the headphone is replaceable.
Aside from its premium build quality, the DT 1990 Pro also comes with several earpads, cable options, and even a carrying case. This gives you more options and allows the headphones to adapt to any situation.
As for its sound quality, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is one of the most accurate and revealing pairs on this list. Like more expensive headphones such as the Beyerdynamic T1 and Sennheiser HD800s, the DT 1990 Pro is a bright sounding headphone.
The highs are incredibly detailed and are not tamed. You will be able to hear the nuances and imperfections of your audio files. It will not be as forgiving as other headphones, so take note if you mostly deal with lower quality files. These headphones can also lead to listening fatigue, especially if you are sensitive to highs.
One thing that you have to take note of is the DT 1990 Pro’s impedance. Its 250-ohm impedance means that you will surely need a more powerful source such as a headphone amplifier, DAC/Amp, or audio interface.
Overall, if you are looking for a reference pair that can squeeze out all the tiny little details, a sturdy pair, and an overall great value, then the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is one of the best headphones you can get.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
If you like what you see with the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro but want a more affordable version, then the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro might just be the one for you.
It is the older version of the DT 1990 Pro and was first released in 1985. Despite not having a sound signature as neutral and accurate as the DT 1990 Pro, it is still a reliable tool for video editing.
Unlike its higher-end counterpart, the DT 990 Pro comes in various impedances. It comes in 32 ohms, 80 ohms, 250 ohms, and 600 ohms. This makes the DT 990 Pro highly versatile, especially if you have a simple setup without other external audio devices.
Another change that you will notice with the DT 990 Pro is its build quality. It is still solid, but it is now mostly made of plastic instead of metal. It is similar to the DT 770 Pro meaning the cable is non-removable.
Compared to the higher-end DT 1990 Pro, the DT 990 Pro is leaning more towards a V-Shaped sound where the lows and highs are more pronounced. The DT 990 Pro’s bass response is stronger but not as accurate or controlled as the DT 1990 Pro’s neutral bass response.
The DT 990 Pro does not have the same peaky treble response that the DT 1990 Pro has. And while you may not be getting the most accurate high-end, you will at least have a smoother and more tolerable treble response.
Overall, the DT 990 Pro is a solid package. It has everything that you need to get started with mixing and mastering. And while it isn’t as good as the more expensive offerings, you can still be sure that it won’t let you down in your workflow.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s