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The 7 best budget studio headphones under $100 and $50 in 2024

I’ve tested a wide range of headphones here at Higher Hz, and in this article, I’ll be providing you with what I consider to be the best budget studio headphones to buy under $100 and $50 in 2024, all of which I’ve used myself in real studio work.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with a decade’s worth of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I have worked with and tested a huge variety of headphones, including Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sony, and Audio-Technica, among others.

testing budget studio headphones
Image: Higher Hz

How I chose the headphones for this list?

When selecting which headphones to include on this list, there were a few factors I had in mind. Chiefly, price to keep the budget constraints consistent, but I was also very careful to take into consideration the frequency response, comfort, and whether or not the headphones lent themselves to professional or casual use – more often trying to lean towards professionalism.

At the end of the day, the criteria that makes a pair of headphones the best choice for you entirely depends on your own personal set of needs and preferences. So don’t feel pressured on making a decision unless you’re truly comfortable with the outcome.

To find out more about how we test and rate studio headphones here at Higher Hz and why you can trust our reviews, check out this page.

testing cheap Sony monitor headphones
Image: Higher Hz

These are the best budget studio headphones under $100 and $50:

  1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
  2. Shure SRH440A
  3. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
  4. AKG K240 Studio
  5. Audio-Technica-ATH-M20x
  6. Yamaha HPH-MT5
  7. Sony MDR-7506

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x 4.0

The best at $100

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: Yes
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 24 kHz
  • Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x professional monitor headphones
Image: Audio-Technica

The ATH-M40x are closed-back headphones that have a lot in common with their slightly more expensive, better performing cousin, the ATH-M50x. These headphones are decently capable of noise cancellation, and as far as their profile is concerned, are fairly well balanced.

Some of the features of these budget studio headphones include earcups that swivel 90-degrees, a folding design that allows them to be easily transportable, and the addition of two cables (one coiled and one straight).

The ATH-M40x headphones have a frequency response of roughly 15 Hz – 24 kHz, which is rather impressive. For just around $100, you really can’t go wrong with a pair of these in your arsenal.

Read the full Audio-Technica ATH-M40x review to find out more.

What I like

  • Detailed imaging and fairly flat response.
  • Comfortable.

What I don’t like

  • Enhanced bass can be slightly muddy.
Buy Audio-Technica ATH-M40x at: SweetwaterAmazon

Shure SRH440A 4.0

The best for mixing on a budget

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: No
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Impedance: 40 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Shure SRH440A closed-back studio headphones
Image: Shure

The Shure SRH440A are crystal-clear, comfortable, and great for noise cancellation. They have a frequency response of 10 Hz – 22 kHz and maintain a relatively flat response curve.

To ensure the durability and longevity of these headphones, they have detachable earpads as well as a detachable cable, so if any of those aspects ever wear out, you can simply replace them.

They also have a folding feature, which happens almost automatically when you place them down. The one drawback is that they have a decent amount of bleed at higher volumes, but besides this, they’re a great choice.

What I like

  • Neutral, clear sound.
  • Good for critical editing/mixing.

What I don’t like

  • Bass is somewhat lacking.
Buy Shure SRH440A at: SweetwaterAmazon

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro 4.0

Time-proven

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: Yes
  • Frequency response: 8 Hz – 25 kHz
  • Impedance: 64 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro professional monitoring headphones
Image: Sennheiser

Since their release in 2003, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro remain as one of the most popular pairs of studio headphones on the market – not an easy feat to go unnoticed.

With a wide frequency range of 8 Hz to 25 kHz, as well as an accurate sound profile, these are one of the best headphones for studio monitoring on both intermediate and professional levels.

These headphones are designed for durability and portability, with a wide, collapsable headband, and swiveling earcups.

Read the full Sennheiser HD 280 Pro review to find out more.

What I like

  • Great for tracking.
  • Good noise cancellation.

What I don’t like

  • Not the most comfortable headphones around.
Buy Sennheiser HD 280 Pro at: SweetwaterAmazon

AKG K240 Studio 4.0

The best open-backs under $100

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, semi-open
  • Earcups swivel: No
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 25 kHz
  • Impedance: 55 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
AKG K240 Studio professional headphones
Image: AKG

As far as open-back studio headphones are concerned, the AKG K240 Studio are most likely the best budget option you’ll find. Their reliability in mixing, mastering, and monitoring applications is more than enough for the beginner producer. They’re also extraordinarily light, weighing about 8.5 oz.

The open-back design is quite critical when it comes to mixing, as closed-back headphones disallow you from hearing the effects of the room sound you’re working in – an important aspect of a good mix is fine tuning how it reacts within any given acoustic space.

The K240 Studio have a range of 15 Hz – 25 kHz, with ample bass presence as well as a well-balanced midrange.

Read the full AKG K240 Studio review to find out more.

What I like

  • Fairly neutral sound signature.
  • Remarkably comfortable.

What I don’t like

  • Somewhat fatiguing high end.
Buy AKG K240 Studio at: SweetwaterAmazon

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x 4.0

The best for under $50

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: Yes
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 47 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x professional monitor headphones
Image: Audio-Technica

Are these the best-performing, or even the most comfortable headphones you can buy? Absolutely not. However, the ATH-M20x provide an insane value for what they’re worth.

These are the younger siblings to the ATH-M40x, and they share all of the same features and almost the same exact performance despite some more harshness in the high end. They’re just much, much cheaper.

At just under $50, the ATH-M20x are definitely worth the expense for beginners just starting out on their journey as audio engineers, and are just as great for casual listening.

Read the full Audio-Technica ATH-M20x review to find out more.

What I like

  • Neutral midrange.
  • Great value for beginners.

What I don’t like

  • Lacking bass.
Buy Audio-Technica ATH-M20x at: SweetwaterAmazon

Yamaha HPH-MT5 3.8

A solid budget choice

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: Yes
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 51 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Yamaha HPH-MT5 studio monitor headphones
Image: Yamaha

The HPH-MT5 are an incredibly solid budget choice for nearly any situation, whether that be for casual listening or for editing your live mixes. They’re also quite comfortable due to their padded headband and light weight.

Having a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, they have a fairly balanced sound profile. To me it seems that the lack of detail in the high end was sacrificed in favor of more accuracy and low end, which is a trade-off, but not necessarily an unwelcome one.

Read the full Yamaha HPH-MT5 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Fairly neutral sound signature.
  • Lightweight, comfortable.

What I don’t like

  • Not for critical listening.
Buy Yamaha HPH-MT5 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Sony MDR-7506 4.0

A great all-rounder

  • Type: Wired
  • Design: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Earcups swivel: Yes
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 63 ohms
  • Connectivity: 1/8″, 1/4″ adapter
Sony MDR-7506 stereo professional headphones
Image: Sony

The Sonys are a set of closed-back headphones with a frequency response of 10 Hz – 20 kHz, an impedance of 63 ohms, and a price tag of just under $100.

They are fairly neutral in their response, although the high end may be a bit bright for some. However, they are extremely comfortable, affordable, and overall solid in their performance. Many musicians and engineers swear by these, and so do I.

Read the full Sony MDR-7506 review to find out more.

What I like

  • Extremely detailed.
  • Can help highlight flaws in a mix.

What I don’t like

  • Slightly sibilant.
Buy Sony MDR-7506 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, an updated list of the best budget studio headphones to buy under $100 and $50 in 2024. While some may have more drawbacks than others, all of the headphones mentioned here are well worth the price. The question is simply what your values currently align with.

Ultimately, you have to choose the headphones that will perform for your needs, not what anybody else tells you to buy. Always buy with the intention to get the most out of your headphones – whatever that may mean for you.

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