When you work with sound, listening to your output is super important. For most other audio scenarios, listening through loudspeakers is good enough. For podcasts, however, there’s no way around getting a decent pair of headphones. The best podcast headphones will help any aspiring podcaster to get the most from their recording.
Good podcast headphones are among the most essential parts of your podcasting setup. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just beginning your podcast journey or whether you are an experienced hand. Everyone will benefit.
Many podcasters who are just starting out are put off by the initial cost. That’s reasonable if you’re a newcomer or someone who only records the occasional episode. Still, it’s an investment worth making if you plan on taking it seriously and you want others to take your show seriously too. It is almost as important as getting a microphone. There’s really no substitute for good equipment.
In this article, we’ll discuss the essentials of podcast headphones and we will cover ten devices that should top your list if you decide to get one.
Using podcast headphones while recording gives you the ambient noise isolation required to hear exactly how the recording will sound. This makes it easy to spot mistakes, tonal changes, volume changes, outside noises, weird compressed audio, and other imperfections.
It gives you total control over the sound quality of your recording and helps you adjust your voice and mic technique on the go. And when you play your podcast back after it has been edited, you will hear exactly what it is your listeners will, letting you know what their experience will be.
If you’re just starting, you may not see the utility in this, but trust me, it matters. So, without wasting any more time, here are some reasons you need podcasting headphones.
The way you sound to people and the way your own voice sounds can be very different.
Unfortunately, how you sound to other people is more important if you’re setting up a podcast. This is why a dedicated pair of podcasting headphones are essential. You will listen to your content as it sounds to others.
It can also help you figure out if something needs to be changed, such as being off-mic, excessively loud, or popping every time you utter a word that starts with a harsh consonant like ‘p,’ ‘b,’ or ‘k’ (known as plosives).
Fixing those changes immediately will reduce the time you spend editing afterward.
Audio bleed happens when a sound is picked up by an unintended microphone. With podcasts, it occurs when two or more individuals are recording and speaking without headphones. The audio from one person comes through the speakers and is picked up by another person’s microphone. This is bleed through, or audio bleed.
It sounds like there’s an overlap of voices. Listeners notice and get turned off by it. They don’t have a name for it, but they notice.
Wearing headphones lets you turn off your speakers and avoid this, keeping audio bleed to a minimum or eliminating it altogether.
If you’re running a podcast, I don’t expect the same level of meticulousness professional audio producers apply to their work. It’s easy to forget to perform a quick audio check to ensure your audio levels are accurate and leave it at that.
Because of that, you may run the risk of clipping. This occurs when the volume levels are too high for the microphone to record.
Clipping is more problematic in podcasts because there’s a danger that chunks of conversation can be lost. However, if you use premium headphones, you can easily tell when you’re going too loud, and you can modify them as you go on, saving yourself from a lot of post-editing.
There are two main types of headphones: closed-back and open-back. Open-back headphones allow air passage through the ear cups from the back of the speaker element. These headphones typically sound more natural and clear.
On the other hand, closed-back headphones are completely sealed at the back, hence the name. It only allows sound out where it can reach your ear. These types sound less natural but are the best ones to use while podcasting. They almost completely block out external noise, which offers you better sound isolation and allows you to remain focussed on your recording. They will always make for a great pair of podcasting headphones.
Sensitivity level here refers to how loud your headphones will play at a certain power level. The preferable headphone sensitivity level for podcasting is between 80 and 125 dB sound pressure level (SPL).
The tricky part here is that the measurement isn’t the same for all brands, which can make it slightly difficult to tell precisely how loud the headphones are until you test them personally. Unfortunately, this also means it isn’t that helpful in choosing which headphones to buy.
Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies that an audio device can work with. The preferred range is 20 – 20,000 Hz. This also differs from one brand to another, just like the sensitivity level. Beginners often ignore it, but it is one of the most critical factors in sound reproduction.
Other factors to consider include the price of the podcast headphones, your budget, comfort levels, and anything else you may be looking for. Unfortunately, many of the best podcast headphones are expensive and may not appeal to leisure podcasters or more casual users.
However, there are less costly ones which can work effectively, which we’ll cover in a different article.
Comfort levels also matter. Podcasts can be lengthy to listen to and even lengthier to make. That’s too long to be uncomfortable. Does it hurt your ears? Would I prefer using in-ear headphones? Are the ear cups padded enough? Do they offer replaceable ear pads? These are all important questions to consider where comfort is involved and thinking about them will help you make the right selection.
Finally, you also have to consider ease of transportation. Many podcasters like to move around and record on the go. Not all podcasting headphones are easy to take from one place to another due to their weight and cable length.
If your podcast involves you moving around a lot, you may want to consider wireless headphones or Bluetooth headphones instead of the more traditional wired headphones variety. Wireless headphones will normally set you back a little more in terms of cost, but the benefit is portability and ease. And wireless headphones won’t be constantly getting tangled up with any other cables you have – you will have a cable-free existence.
Also, check out our 10 Best Microphones for Podcasting article.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is one of the most popular over-ear headphones available on the market today. They are a very comfortable pair of podcast headphones, and are great for use both inside and outside of a studio.
The Audio Technica ATH m50x has the ability to deliver accurate audio, and deep bass response makes it perfect for long podcast recording periods without your ears becoming tired. In addition, one of the cool features of these headphones is the collapsible and foldable 90-degree swiveling ear cups. This makes one-ear monitoring very easy to do. These are the qualities that make it the top choice among professional podcasters.
Each box comes with compatible accessories, including a protective carrying pouch, a screw-on adapter, and three interchangeable detachable cables.
Another reason it is so popular is the design. It is stylish enough to stand out without being tacky and drawing unwanted attention, and it is available in several cool colors that users particularly like.
On the flip side, the ATH-M50x’s padding isn’t great at heat distribution, so you have to take it off occasionally to avoid sweaty ears, especially in hot environments or if you have a long podcast recording session planned. However, despite this, the Audio Technical ATH-MX50x is a great contender when you are looking for the best podcast headphones.
Beyerdynamic is another familiar brand among professional podcasters. The DT 770 Pro is a closed-back headphone that offers maximum flexibility and perfect audio quality that you can always count on.
It is designed for critical sound monitoring, providing a neutral, top-notch listening environment. They have excellent sound isolation and impulse response. This makes it loved among podcasters, sound engineers, and music producers worldwide. This means that, as well as being high-qualily, they are flexible and can be used for different things.
Like the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, these podcast headphones are incredibly comfortable and can be worn for long periods. It comes with a single-sided cable that enables you to frequently take the headphones on and off without fear of getting the wires tangled.
Before buying, keep in mind that it has no active noise canceling or inline volume control, so you’re not blindsided. There are three other models available, so you can buy the one that best suits your needs.
And whatever those needs are, the Beyerdynamic will provide excellent sound quality as both podcasting and studio headphones.
The Sony MDR7506 is one of the best headphones in the company’s range of professional headphones. It used to be popular for being cheap and excellent (previously $66). Now the price has risen, however, it is still known for its excellence. And it is worth nothing that the audio quality still surpasses the price.
It is foldable and comes in a light carrying case, so you can easily travel with it. It also comes with a thick and durable coiled cable, making it perfect to use on a desk or any stable surface while recording your podcast.
Although this headphone beats many other headphones in audio quality, it isn’t the most durable out there. It is made of 90% plastic with exposed metal and visible screws, and while this makes it lightweight, it also means it can easily get broken. These headphones, therefore, may be better suited to home recording than taking them out on the road. The good news is that it is entirely repairable, and Sony has specific service manuals for it.
However you use them, the Sony name remains a mark of excellent and the sound quality here means these are an excellent pair of headphones.
The Sennheiser HD280 Pro is an affordable, great-quality pair of headphones. It is one of the most popular closed headphones and has been sought after by creators worldwide, despite being launched all the way back in 2003. The Sennheiser is relatively heavy at 285g, but its smooth, comfortable design makes it almost unnoticeable.
It has a highly durable build quality and is comfortable to use for several hours. While this good pair of headphones isn’t specifically designed for noise canceling, it does offer excellent sound isolation benefits thanks to the design of its ample ear pads. However, there may be some heat buildup in those pads after many hours of use, though with headphones of this size and weight that’s pretty unavoidable.
The Sennheiser HD280 Pro has a simple minimalist design that may not appeal to many. However, a newer version called the HD380 Pro has the same decent job functionality but a fancier design.
Aethetics aside, the Sennheiser HD280 Pro is still an impressive pair of headphones.
Sennheiser are good at what they do, and this is another “oldie but goldie” device that proves it.
The HD25 is lightweight, reliable, and super durable, more than enough to satisfy the needs of professional podcasters. The HS25 closed-back headphones, which are rugged and modular, are professional monitoring headphones that are great at blocking out outside noise and reducing high sound pressure levels. As professional monitoring headphones, they will be at home whether you are podcasting or working on music, making them an ideal choice if you have a range of creative pursuits.
They also work remarkably well in loud conditions, so even if you are recording somewhere with a lot of background noise, these headphones will still deliver.
The Sennheiser HD 25 headphones are made almost entirely out of plastic, so potential buyers often decice that they’re too light to be truly durable without actually trying them. However, durability is one of its strong suits. It takes a lot of intentional effort to break or bend the plastic, and they can stand up to most abuse thrown at them.
This durability, combined with lightweight and great sound quality, makes it a choice pick among podcasters. Durability, great sound quality and a flexible pair of headphones – what more could you ask for?
With identical appearances, dimensions, and only gold lettering to differentiate between them, the Shure SRH840A is the newer, much-improved version of the old SRH840. These headphones are “professional” monitoring headphones perfect for podcasting and home studios. They’re a terrific buy if excellent sound quality is your top priority.
The Shure SRH840A monitor headphones provide the neutrality that monitor headphones require, with just enough thickness in the upper bass and low mids to avoid sounding sterile. The primary strength here is the lack of coloration in the mids, particularly in the vocals.
The SRH840A’s exceptional isolation is another of its strong characteristics. The circumaural, closed-back design fits comfortably over the ears and reduces ambient noise and sound leakage to a bare minimum. It has excellent noise isolation qualities, and its sense of soundstage depth gives these podcast headphones their three-dimensional feel.
The improvements that Shure have made over the older SRH840 make this pair of headphones well worth the investment.
Costing $50 less than the more expensive 840A model, the Shure SRH440 doesn’t quite have the finesse that some of the podcast headphones above do. But it still offers excellent quality and noise cancellationand it has a neutral tone that professionals really like.
The closed-back body of these wired headphones is entirely made of plastic, but it is surprisingly sturdy and durable. The ear cups are made of vinyl, which isn’t the best, but you can always replace them with SRH840 pads, which are significantly more comfortable.
They don’t have any active isolation, so they don’t block many external sounds, especially at low volumes. That means they are better for quieter or home-stuio work than they are out in the field. Turning the volume up to avoid this can lead to sound leakage, another consequence of the vinyl ear cups. Also, they have no external controls, and they’re not the most portable headphones for traveling.
Though not the best headphones on the list, their low cost and the Shure name still means that they are worth considering.
For a meager $50, the AKG K72 is the best budget pair of headphones a podcaster can have. The adjustable headband and lightweight design will provide several hours of comfort while you’re recording or editing a podcast. It comes with a generous 3m cable best suited for home studio use, and the large ear pads are incredibly comfortable on the ears.
If you’re new to podcasting and you’re just looking to get nice but affordable equipment, you should definitely consider these as a good place to start. The headphones aren’t exactly industry-standard, so do not expect much when it comes to audio quality.
That being said, for such a low price, the AKG K72 does really well. It has a flat frequency response, more than most good headphones within this price range, and you get to avoid major bass or treble skews with better imaging clarity.
The AKG K72 are a good example of where to begin your podcasting journey. They won’t see you all the way through to the end, and you will likely want to upgrade at some point, but for the sound quality and financial outlay you really can’t go far wrong.
$125 – $300 (Varies)
Lastly, we have the Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones. True to its name, the Bose QuietComfort 25 are complete acoustic noise-canceling headphones specifically designed for Apple products. The noise-cancelling ensures you’ll never have to endure ambient noise while recording and is incredibly effective.
It produces high-end neutral sound and these wireless headphones are powered by a single AAA battery that offers over 35 hours of use. If the battery dies, it continues to play on, but you only get a fraction of the great sound quality.
The QuietComfort 25 is perhaps the most comfortable pair of headphones around. Bose appears to have struck an outstanding balance between durability and comfort. The only way these headphones could be more durable would be to sacrifice some of the lightness and comfort.
Despite being old and discontinued, it is still one of the most sought-after pairs of headphones. It doesn’t matter where you are; the noise cancellation on these is unmatched. Put these on, and you’ll only hear the sounds you absolutely want to hear.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer in production, but you can find used and refurbished QuietComfort wireless headphones as well as spare parts. If you are able to track a pair down you definitely won’t regret it. These are some of the best headphones ever made with fantastic all-round sound quality.
Whether you are looking for a way to improve your podcast, or just beginning with your first episode, you should definitely get noise-cancelling podcast headphones. Even dogs have their own noise-cancelling headphones, so doing everything you can to sound your best is very important. And the right pair of headphones for podcasting really can make all the difference. Wired headphones or wireless, open-back or closed-back, cheap or expensive, there will be something out there for you.
There are many to choose from, each with many features, but that’s to be expected since it’s a very competitive market. However, it also means that you have many good options to choose from. These listed are some of the best headphones available. So, whether you want to be the next Joe Rogan or are just looking to entertain your friends, all you need to do is select one of the best podcast headphones and get recording!