You are here

High-end Mixing Headphones

Audeze LCD‑XAudeze LCD‑X

Although it’s safe to say the majority of engineers prefer to mix using monitors, there are plenty of situations where a high‑quality pair of cans will come in handy. Checking a mix on headphones can reveal some crucial details that may have been missed when listening on speakers — even for those working in a well‑treated room — and they’re certainly a lot easier to carry around and set up if you need to work on a project whilst on the move! In this month’s Spotlight, we take a look at a selection of headphones that have been designed to tackle serious mixing and mastering tasks.


SpotlightThe K712 PRO is based around a pair of carefully selected drivers that feature the company’s flat‑wire voice coil construction, which is said to deliver fast transients along with a detailed high‑frequency response. A soft leather headband and lightweight construction help to maximise comfort over long sessions, whilst the open‑back design delivers a natural, spacious sound with precise stereo imaging as well as helping to avoid listening fatigue. It also features a detachable cable which locks safely into place using a mini XLR connector.

£324.99 including VAT.$659‑k612‑k712

View at

Audeze LCD‑X

Audeze’s Reference Series promises to deliver a listening experience comparable to high‑end speaker systems, with a neutral response and low distortion figures helping to combat listening fatigue. The best‑selling LCD‑X employs a number of patented technologies, including Ultra‑Thin Uniforce diaphragms and Fazor waveguides, whilst efficient planar magnetic drivers offer a low impedance that the company say allow the model to deliver a great sound from almost any device with a headphone output. The physical design has been updated since its initial release, and the latest version boasts a reduction in weight along with a suspension headband design and cushioned earphones that offer improved comfort over long sessions. There’s also a closed‑back version in the form of the LCD‑XC, as well as the LCD‑MX4, which further improves the design’s efficiency thanks to technology derived from the company’s Flagship Series.

All of the Reference Series models can be used alongside Audeze’s Reveal+ plug‑in, which provides personalised HRTF files and emulations of world‑class studio spaces, and is available at a discounted rate when purchased with the headphones.

£1149 including VAT.$1199‑lcd‑x‑el8

Audeze MM‑500

SpotlightDeveloped in collaboration with Grammy‑winning engineer Manny Marroquin, the MM‑500 has been designed to deliver studio‑quality sound anywhere whilst allowing users to create consistent mixes that translate well across other systems. Like the Reference Series offerings, it features planar magnetic drivers which offer fast transients and a neutral frequency response, along with a low impedance that allow them to be driven easily from a wide range of devices. An adjustable spring steel headband and plush earpads help to ensure a comfortable fit, and a machined aluminium construction combines a lightweight feel with durability.

Audeze have recently introduced another model to the series, the MM‑100, which delivers many of the same features as the flagship MM‑500 but at a significantly lower price point.

MM‑500: $1699 MM‑100:$399 including VAT.MM‑500: $1699 MM‑100: $399‑mm‑500

Audio Technica ATH‑R70x

SpotlightThe ATH‑R70x is Audio‑Technica’s first pair of open‑back headphones, and has been designed specifically for mixing, mastering and critical listening. It promises a natural and spacious sound thanks to acoustically transparent aluminium honeycomb mesh earcup housings, as well as minimal distortion, a balanced tonality with an extended high‑end frequency response and detailed transient reproduction. The physical design is very lightweight, and the R70x comes equipped with a new and improved version of the company’s 3D wing support system, which promises to deliver even greater comfort over long listening sessions.

£295 including VAT.$349‑technica‑ath‑r70x

Austrian Audio The Composer

SpotlightThe latest addition to Austrian Audio’s headphone range utilises a new Hi‑X driver design featuring a diaphragm coated in a diamond‑like carbon, which is said to deliver precise reproduction throughout the frequency range along with low THD levels. A comfortable fit is ensured by tiltable earcups and a lightweight design with a mesh headband, and the cables attach directly to the headband to avoid any additional strain. Balanced cable options with four‑pin XLR and Pentaconn connectors are provided, along with a standard quarter‑inch/mini‑jack TRS cable.

The company have also announced their first headphone amplifier, named the Full Score one. As you might imagine, this has been designed to pair perfectly with The Composer, and the system as a whole has been developed with high‑end mixing, mastering and listening applications in mind. Full Score one is due to ship soon, although no exact date is confirmed at the time of writing.

The Composer £2249; Full Score one £1299. Prices include VAT.The Composer: $2699 Full Score one: $1499

Avantone Planar

SpotlightAs their name suggests, the follow‑up to Avantone’s Mixphones is a planar magnetic headphone design, offering an accurate sound that couples a detailed high‑frequency response with natural low‑end reproduction and a fast response time. Despite having a large earcup to accommodate the drivers, the Planar has been designed with comfort in mind; Avantone say that its weight is perfectly suited to long sessions, and that hours will only feel like minutes whilst wearing them! The removable cable can be plugged into either side, depending on which is more convenient, and the Planar is available in two finishes: black, or a more visually striking red.

£479 including VAT.$399

beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

SpotlightBeyerdynamic headphones will be a familiar sight to many studio users, with models like the DT 770 and DT 150 proving to hugely popular choices for tracking duties. The DT 1990 PRO shifts the focus to mixing and mastering, promising to deliver a detailed and balanced sound with a natural stereo image thanks to the pairing of the company’s Tesla driver technology and an open‑back design. The physical construction has been designed not only to ensure comfort, but also to assist the audio quality — two pairs of interchangeable earpads are provided, allowing users to tailor the sound to their liking. Coiled and straight cables options are provided, and are attached via a mini XLR connector.


View at

Focal Clear Mg Professional

Focal Clear Mg ProfessionalFocal Clear Mg ProfessionalFocal’s Clear Mg Professional model employs full‑range drivers that sport an ‘M’‑shaped inverted dome, a design feature derived from the company’s range of studio monitors. It is said to create an an extremely precise sound that delivers detail across the full audio spectrum whilst maintaining a flat and natural tonal balance. The headband has been designed to create a constant curve that distributes weight evenly, whilst a rotating mechanism and memory‑foam earcups assist sealing for optimum low‑end performance and ensure a comfortable fit. Focal say that the headphones will sound their best after a ‘running‑in’ period, and recommend at least 24 hours of bass‑heavy music at a relatively high playback level to stabilise the drivers.

£1199 including VAT.$1499‑clear‑mg‑professional

View at

HEDD Audio HEDDphone TWO

HEDD Audio HEDDphone TWOHEDD Audio HEDDphone TWOAir Motion Transformers, or ‘ribbon tweeters’, can be found in a number of speaker designs, but HEDD Audio were the first company to employ them in a pair of headphones. Now, with the release of the HEDDphone Two, they’ve managed to reduce the size and weight of the original design whilst maintaining the impressive technical performance. The AMT driver delivers fast transients and an extended high‑frequency response, whilst a technique called Variable Velocity Transformation allows the folds in the driver material to vary in width and depth, resulting in an even frequency response across the audio spectrum. The new design also features a revised headband design (named the HEDDband), which offers adjustment over both its height, width, curvature and tension to ensure a comfortable fit.


Neumann NDH 30

Neumann NDH 30Neumann NDH 30Neumann say that their aim when developing the NDH 30 was to make the sound of their KH monitors, calibrated with their MA 1 system, available in portable form to engineers on the go. It shares the same high‑quality spring steel and aluminium construction as the earlier NDH 20, but with an open‑back design that helps to deliver a fast transient response and maintains a natural, transparent sound throughout the entire frequency range. The linearity of the overall response is not achieved solely though the use of high‑quality components: it also relies on the physical construction, which employs frequency‑selective absorbers that Neumann say help to combat the overemphasis of high frequencies that occurs in many headphone designs. The attention to detail extends to the cable design, which has been optimised to minimise crosstalk between channels, and as with all Neumann products, the NDH 30 is manufactured to extremely tight tolerances to ensure a consistent performance between different units.

£539 including VAT.$649‑ndh‑30

Sennheiser HD 800 S

Sennheiser HD 800 SSennheiser HD 800 SSennheiser’s HD 800 S design employs a large driver in order to maximise air displacement, which nevertheless has the rigidity required to deliver fast response times. Both the inner and outer edges of the transducer are secured to the drive unit, and the voice coil is wound in‑house by Sennheiser to ensure that it is produced to the highest possible standard. The chassis and headband design not only provide a comfortable fit, but also incorporate some built‑in damping and an absorber system intended to improve audio quality by tackling frequency masking issues. Each unit is manufactured to tight tolerances, and fitted with matched transducers that come supplied with their own unique frequency plots.

£1499 including VAT.$1799


Shure SRH1840

Shure SRH1840Shure SRH1840Shure’s premium offering comes in the form of the SRH1840, which feature a pair of drivers that are individually matched for each set to ensure consistency. The 1840 offers an extended high‑frequency response, accurate bass reproduction and a wide stereo image, and is fitted with a steel driver frame with a vented centre pole piece designed to improve linearity and eliminate internal resonances. Comfort is ensured by lightweight construction and a dual‑frame padded headband, along with replaceable velour earpads that contain a high‑density, slow‑recovery foam — a spare pair are included with each unit. Detachable cables are provided, and are securely held in place using MMCX (micro‑miniature coaxial) connectors.

£579 including VAT.$499‑srh1840

Sony MDR‑MV1

Sony MDR‑MV1Sony MDR‑MV1The MDR‑MV1 has been designed for mixing and mastering, both in traditional stereo and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio spatial audio format — the latter can be achieved via the company’s 360 Virtual Mixing Environment (360VME) software, and requires a visit to an approved studio to create a personal HRTF profile. It promises unparalleled spatial accuracy for all listening formats thanks to a precision‑tuned open‑back design loaded with drivers that have been optimised to deliver a natural, balanced sound with minimal distortion. Lightweight aluminium construction and soft, breathable earpads make sure it remains comfortable over long sessions, and it comes supplied with a detachable, replaceable cable.

£309 including VAT.$329‑mdr‑mv1

Sweetwater Affiliate logo 14px