Figuring out the best headphones for mixing can be quite a difficult task. Luckily for you, I have taken out all the guess work, research, headache, and uncertainty. I have done laborious amounts of research on the topic, and I can without a doubt tell you that the Sennheiser HD 600 is the absolute best option for all of your mixing and reference needs!
Before we get into why .. Grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this article
Quick View of the HD 600
Final Word and Link to my official review
Now without further ado, let’s get started!
Note: If you don’t want the backstory and all my rambling, just scroll to the bottom and click on the link to my official review! 🙂 Or you can also click here for the Sennheiser HD 600 Review.
Being a producer myself, I’ve always needed the best headphones for mixing. When I first started making beats, I invested in a pair of Sony MDR 7506’s, a laptop, and my KORG padKONTROL. It was a nice little set up. I could bring my gear on trips and make beats pretty much anywhere. The 7506 is a great headphone and for mixing it works beautifully. Known as the industry standard, it really excels in giving you a flat, neutral response that some call a bit “cold” (which is a good thing).
That being said, the 7506 improved my mixes tremendously.
However, they aren’t the best for mixing.
As my journey continued on, I graduated to the Audio Technica ATH M50’s. Labeled “Studio Monitors”, I was quickly blown away by their sound. I also invested in a quality audio interface and a pair of actual studio monitors.
My studio is still growing and evolving, but years later, I still appreciate and continue to love the M50’s. They also do great as mixing headphones, but are more for the casual consumer looking for audiophile quality at an affordable price.
In 2015 I purchased another pair in the Sennheiser HD 280. Great headphone, super flat and neutral, superb for mixing, and built like a tank .. but extremely BORING. Ugh. I suppose coming from the flamboyant and exciting M50 didn’t help; But man, what a chore it was to even listen to these for extended periods. I guess that’s the point (they’re clinical for a reason), but I don’t remember the 7506 being that lifeless. Oh well.
Some people claim that you should never mix on headphones exclusively. I can agree with that to an extent. With closed back headphones such as the two mentioned, yes; You should always have a pair of studio monitors as your primary source.
However, nowadays with the advent and emergence of open back headphones, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to mix on these exclusively. Why? Because:
Their sound-stage, or ability to separate instruments and give clarity to a mix is astonishing. What is Soundstage?
They give you a 3-d like, surround sound feeling at times, thus allowing you to really pick apart a mix and discern what needs tweaking.
So basically a good set of open back headphones can be like listening to actual speakers. The sound is spacious and airy, which is very conducive to mixing.
While I haven’t actually invested in a pair of HD 600’s, it will be my next purchase without a doubt.
Being that I have been looking to upgrade for months now, I had to dig deep and find out as much information as I could from the trusty old interwebs 🙂 Nowadays, the internet has made it easier than ever before to find exactly what you’re looking for. After all, you stumbled upon this site right? 😀 Reviews are no different. I’m sure you can relate when I say, I have this almost unhealthy obsession with finding out as much as possible about a product before I buy it.
The HD 600 was no different.
I was on the fence for a long time about which was the best. After diligently going back and forth between 3 models, I wrote an article on the best studio headphones for mixing.
Beyerdynamic DT 880
While the K701 is still a great mixing headphone due to it’s extremely cold and analytical sound, it’s still not the best. Why? It has a really unnatural, and abnormally large sound-stage. A lot of people say that the music can seem really far away or distant at times. The bass is also just about non-existent, and their were questions concerning build quality. That doesn’t really help us out when we need to dissect a mix properly or have faith in our purchase, so I crossed it off the list of the single best.
I went back and forth for a long time between the DT 880 and the HD 600. For awhile, I was sold on the 880 and planned to purchase it as my next studio investment. But like I said, something prompted me yet again to continue my due diligence.
I read as much as I could, and finally got down to the crux of the issue, as well as the most important difference between the two headphones.
The all important treble range.
The DT 880’s treble has been described as too bright at times, and it can lead to some harshness/sibilance. What does Sibilant mean? It also lacks a bit of detail because of this. Overall it is still a great headphone, but the issue is definitely there and bothers people. It’s very lean bass response also contributes to the high end taking on this bright/fatiguing character.
The HD 600 has the opposite effect. It’s treble is much darker, giving credence to the idea that it has somewhat of a “veiled” effect. Basically this means that it lacks some air and harmonic content in the high end. What is the Sennheiser Veil? The whole veiled issue was a bit exaggerated, and only became noteworthy because most headphones in the past overemphasized treble to the point of it being way too pronounced. Sennheiser reversed this trend when it released the HD 580, HD 600, and HD 650. So in essence, many people simply weren’t used to it.
So my research was finally complete. I watched an exorbitant amount of videos, read way too much, and analyzed a ton of reviews. There hasn’t been a consensus more convincing than that of the HD 600. It’s simply the best headphone available for mixing and reference, and serves as the benchmark for which all others should be compared.
The most neutral headphone in it’s class or otherwise.
Called a genre master. Does well with any type of music.
Longevity through the roof. Been around for almost 20 years (1997).
Amp versatile. Does well with most any amplifier of your choosing.
A+ price to performance ratio. More on that in the actual review.
Supreme comfort. You may forget you’re wearing them!
Amazing tonal balance, with a touch of warmth for added pleasure. 😉
Removable parts. Many of the parts used in the HD 600’s construction, including the ear-pads, cable and grills are replaceable. Parts are still easily obtainable from Sennheiser. Goes back to that longevity factor.
The perfect reference point for buying other headphones, meaning: It’s a great example of what any headphone should strive to be, and serves as that ultimate standard and benchmark. At the end of the day, you should compare everything else to these!
The Gold Standard as far as mixing/reference in fact. There isn’t a headphone out there more recommended in this regard than the HD600.
The bottom line is that the HD 600 is the best headphone for mixing, period. Learn even more about them in my..
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.