Best Podcast Headphones (2020) for Amateurs and Pros
It can be really cool to mix and match podcasting gear if you’re serious about podcasting. Finding the best podcast headphones, pairing them with your custom soundcard, finding the right boom mic or condenser stand mic, and all of that stuff can be mad thrilling for some.
If you’re like me, however, you just want to make sure that you’re getting something that works great for the intended purpose. And that’s the overriding factor in selecting my favorite podcast headphones. It’s not the only factor though. I’ve also made sure to cover a wide price range and a variety of potential studio setups.
Best Podcast Headphones - Sound Like a Million Bucks
Table of Contents
- Best Podcast Headphones - Sound Like a Million Bucks
- Areas of Emphasis
- Wired or Wireless Headphones?
- Comfort is Everything
- With or Without a Mic?
- Noise Cancellation Tips
- Frequency Response Range
1. Sony MDR7506
The Sony MDR7506 is a pair of very comfortable headphones that come with a durable coiled cable and several passive noise-cancelling features. The padding is not thick but more important, it’s comfortable enough for long sessions of use.
I like the closed-ear design as well as the foldable build. This makes them easy to travel with and to store, assuming that you don’t always record in one place? The wide frequency response range is more than enough for the typical dialogue, music, and effects contained in a podcast.
Although they’re wired, the long cord and the minimal signal loss more than makes up for this small inconvenience, not to mention that pros use traditional wired headphones for recording and hipsters use wireless headphones to listen to whatever on the subway (not saying it like I have anything against hipsters, I love them!).
In any event, you may also like the additional padding on the headband which adds another layer of comfort.
What’s perhaps most surprising is that these headphones aren’t new kids on the block. They’ve been around for decades, which is proof of its high standard of quality as it was done right in the first place. Everything from the quality of the cable to the sound quality has stood the test of time.
If you’re looking for a pair of studio-quality headphones to add to your podcasting gear, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones may be right up your alley. These are 80ohm headphones that will require some additional power to drive but, if you supply that, you can count on a highly detailed sound reproduction.
The robust workmanship is noticeable in both the build and the stock cable. While slightly pricey, these headphones can be the focal point of any professional podcasting setup. In terms of comfort, they’re really good at minimizing head and ear pressure.
The custom diaphragms offer a balanced soundstage with a noticeable emphasis on the vocal range. I’m fond of the adjustable headband as well as the larger earcups. The latter will also help to isolate the user from the environment.
Although built to last, the headphones only come with a two-year warranty. The high-fidelity drivers are real workhorses and can tolerate sustained high volume.
Of course, due to the studio-quality audio reproduction, the DT 770 headphones are ideal not just for use during the recording part of the podcast but also during the production and mixing. You’re not going to need a different set of headphones for that.
The Audio Technica M20x headphones can be a complete solution to all your recording and audio needs. You can get them as regular headphones and the built-in microphone makes them great for amateur and hobbyist podcasters.
However, I’m going to concentrate on the headphones only here. The 40mm drivers are equipped with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum voice coils for a bit more volume and clarity.
The headphones will completely encase your ears, which will definitely improve noise cancellation. As far as the comfort goes, this may add a bit of ear pressure to the equation.
That said, I do recommend these if you want something with a bit of depth and warmth to the sound. Besides, you may not want to pass on these if you’re gearing up on a tight budget.
These headphones occupy a unique position among podcast headphones. On the one hand, they feature a standard over-ear design to ease ear pressure and offer some noise cancellation. On the other hand, the semi-open earcups promote a more natural sound and bring out more detail and airiness in the higher register.
These AKG K240 MKIIs are almost unbeatable in this price range, at least in terms of comfort. The headband is adjustable, the padding is just thick enough, and the headphones are inconspicuous enough that they’ll be comfortable to wear for a couple of hours straight.
What I like the most are the sound clarity and impressive dynamic range. Although not specifically tilted for vocals, the headphones work for anything. They can clearly handle podcasting. Even if they may not be the best for mixing, they’ll work well enough to make do.
The very large earcups could be a hit or miss. They help with the noise isolation and they look professional but some people may not be crazy about having so much of their head covered. At least, like I said, these headphones look professional like they mean business.
If you have a professional podcasting setup and plenty of power to drive your gear, you might want to consider the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones. These are 250ohm high-impedance headphones that offer a high enough level of sound reproduction to satisfy most audiophiles.
I also recommend these headphones for the comfortable and adjustable fit. The padding is soft and not too thick. The earpads are also easily replaceable so that you don’t have to throw them out once the padding is shot.
The sound is spacious and on the natural side without allowing any appreciate levels of ambient noise to get in. There’s good bass and treble definition and a superior clarity whether you’re listening to music or conversations.
Surprisingly enough, these are low to medium-priced headphones. Although they may not be the most durable headphones to come out of a Beyerdynamic factory, they sound impressive for the money. Still, they’re not for everyone. Without enough power to drive them, you may not be able to get along with your guests and co-hosts well enough.
6. Samson SR850
If you’re more of an open-back type of person, the Samson SR850 headphones may be able to give you the best of both worlds. They feature semi-open earcups for a good balance between noise cancellation, breathability, and soundstaging.
The large 50mm drivers can handle a wide dynamic range. The midrange sounds great, although not artificially enhanced like with many podcasting headphones. This pair of Samson focuses more on preserving a natural and open sound, with limited ambient noise interference.
Apart from offering superior ventilation, the SR850 headphones also have comfortable padding around the ears. The headband is adjustable, or more precisely, self-adjusting. This can be quite the advantage in a way, which you’ll agree after using a pair.
You may also like to know that the SR850 is not particularly designed for podcasting. In fact, these are marketed as reference studio headphones. They’re also suitable for mixing, editing, and mastering in addition to playback.
7. Edifier H840
Equipped with large 40mm drivers and calibrated for vocals, the Edifier H840 headphones offer an interesting alternative to podcasters who are looking to gear up on a budget.
I like how these headphones are built, particularly the ergonomic over-ear fit. I recommend these headphones on their own, i.e. without the microphone. You can buy them with a mic, but there are plenty of standalone mics that do a better job than the H840 mic, which is nothing to write home about.
The build is surprisingly rugged for this price range and the leather headrest has a nice feel to it. The 6ft cable is not long, but it seems really well put together. It also has a gold-plated connector that won’t oxidize, which helps with the signal transfer.
The low impedance makes them convenient to use. However, they’re a bit more sensitive than other headphones in this niche. The manufacturer has them rated at 90dB sensitivity. This means that they play loud even if you only hook them up to your phone. In real world conditions though, you may also start to hear some distortion a lot sooner.
The highly popular LyxPro HAS-15 better known as a pair of studio headphones than podcast headphones but, believe me, they are in this article for a reason. The HAS-15 is particularly nice and convenient for use with podcasting for its low price and the detachable cable, to begin with.
I can also say that the noise cancelation is pretty good for this amount of money. The sound is a bit bright in the higher frequencies, though one could easily call it detailed. All in all, the sound should be balanced enough. These are great-sounding headphones for the money.
Two cables come with the headphones, as well as a carry pouch for portability and safe storage. The 45mm drivers are surprisingly big at this price range and they pack a serious punch. The LyxPro HAS-15 headphones are capable of playing loud, even though they don’t have a high sensitivity threshold – but sensitivity rating doesn’t mean much on its own, you’ve just got to turn up the volume to play loud.
I also like these as a pair of affordable headphones for mixing and monitoring. The sound is natural enough and distortion-free if you don’t jack the volume levels up to the max.
Rated at 32ohms impedance, the Philips SHP9500 is a pair of great headphones to have around if you don’t have a lot of gear in your podcasting studio. They don’t require considerable power to drive and have a high sensitivity of 101dB.
The 50mm drivers are big and powerful and calibrated for superior midrange reproduction. I also like the wide frequency response range, slightly overkill for podcasting purposes but always good to have.
You may also appreciate the double layer of cushioning on the headband. If you have problems with keeping headphones on for too long, the breathable cushion should make things even more comfortable.
What is a bit lacking is the length of the cable. At just 4.9ft, you’ll have to be more concerned with how you space out your studio and where you seat everyone down. Another interesting thing is the open acoustic system (earcups).
10. Tascam TH-02
If you’re looking for closed-back headphones at a reasonable price, you should take a look at the Tascam TH-02 headphones. These are as cheap as podcast headphones come and they’re not bad at all when it comes to sound quality.
The sound has good clarity even though it may not be as spacious. The midrange frequencies are not emphasized – they are just naturally well-defined for this price range. You’ll be able to hear conversations clearly, be it with one or multiple speakers.
The highs are also crisp and detailed. While these may not be the optimal gaming headphones, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy watching a movie with them on. However, keep in mind that for editing your podcast recording, you may need a different pair.
In terms of comfort, the ear pads are good except that the stitching on the headband may make the padding firmer. Luckily, it’s adjustable so you may be able to reduce some of the tension.
Areas of Emphasis
The most important thing for any podcast headphones is the quality of the sound in at least the midrange. You don’t need a lot of bass nor do you need very bright high frequencies. The midrange frequencies should take center stage. After all, most podcasts are just two or more speakers talking back and forth.
That said, the ability to handle dynamics is preferred. You have to think about what you want to get out of your headphones. Do you just want them for you and your guests so that you can hear each other? Or do you want to also use them for editing and mixing?
Even if you’re doing the editing and mixing on your own now, you might end up hiring someone to do it should your podcast take off. You probably won’t be sharing a pair of headphones with that person, yes?
Wired or Wireless Headphones?
You won’t need much freedom of movement if your podcast involves sitting people down and having a chat. But, there’s no denying how much more convenient wireless headphones can be.
Personally, I always recommend wired headphones. The signal stability is crucial for podcasting and most recording needs. Like I said, if you’re a hipster listening to music when you’re out and about, that’s a totally different story.
Be that as it may, don’t settle for the shortest cables either. It’s better to have some give than to feel constrained by your gear placement.
Comfort is Everything
Recording podcasts implies a few hours of keeping your headphones on. Therefore, you want to ensure the best comfort you can afford.
How exactly do you compare the various comfort features? For one, the padding should be soft but not too thick. Very thick padding is going to make you feel hot. Thinner padding can sometimes work to your advantage.
An adjustable headband is almost always a must. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, you’ll have to look for something that you can adjust. Luckily, that’s true of all headphones that I know off, though some may tilt smaller or larger.
You may also want to consider an open-back design. It’s not an ideal choice if you’re shooting for the best noise cancellation, but the extra ventilation can make even some heavier headphones feel light and as if they’re not really there.
With or Without a Mic?
This decision will likely come down to your existing gear. If you have microphones for your guests then paying extra for a built-in mic is really not worth it. Even if you’re putting together a professional setup from scratch, built-in mics are rarely satisfactory, unless you’re willing to cough up some serious cash.
Generally speaking, any other technology built into your headphones will only introduce noise and affect the sound quality. You don’t see a guitar that comes with a built-in microphone, for example
Noise Cancellation Tips
Any pair of headphones should be able to block out some noise. Keep in mind that all speakers will be in close proximity to each other. That’s why you don’t use earphones but only headphones for podcasting.
Good noise cancellation is always worth the extra buck, but you generally don’t have to go all the way and get a set of headphones with advanced active noise cancellation either. I also find that minimizing ambient noise can help everyone maintain a leveled tone. There’s no need to raise your voice if you can hear everyone perfectly.
Frequency Response Range
What’s a good frequency response range? The human ear hears everything between 20Hz and 20kHz. That’s assuming that your hearing is perfect, which for most people is only true when they’re babies. Most adults can’t hear anywhere near 20kHz. And 20Hz is the sort of low bass that you can feel, rather than something that you can hear.
You see, if you pick out a pair of headphones that are rated down to 15Hz or 5Hz, you’re not going to hear the low bass anyway. This is subwoofer territory, the ability to produce such long wavelengths. That’s why true bassheads buy subwoofers and not headphones.
However, the wider the frequency response range, the higher the chance that all frequencies will be played in a proper proportion to one another. So, yes, a wide frequency response range is good to have.
Should you pay top dollar for anything “superior” to the 20Hz to 20kHz range, though? Not for the purpose of listening to your guests, you shouldn’t. There are other features as mentioned above that have a more dramatic impact on the sound quality.
Time to Listen to Your Guests Like Never Before
Whether you want to hit it big like Joe Rogan or you want to host your own StarTalk-type podcast, you will need gear, guests, and interesting conversation topics. I can’t help you with the last two but hopefully, I’ve at least pointed you in the right direction as far as headphones are concerned.
The headphones cover in this article were picked for their functionality and not looks, celebrity endorsements, or brand names. Each pair has its own unique appeals and may not thrive equally well in all setups. It all depends on what you have in the studio right now.