A good pair of headphones can go a long way toward improving the sound quality of your podcast. They let you block out external sounds and ambient noise and monitor audio levels that directly affect the overall audio quality of your episodes.
But with so many options on the market, what should you look for? If you’re on a budget, it’s important to know which headphones can deliver the essentials without skimping on important features like comfort. This guide breaks down everything you need to know!
Factors to consider when choosing podcasting headphones
The first factor to consider is the type of headphones that best suits your podcasting needs. There are two main types:
- Closed-back Headphones
Closed-back headphones are designed with a completely sealed ear cup design. They provide excellent sound isolation, blocking external noise and preventing sound leakage. These headphones are ideal for recording in noisy environments or when you need to focus on your audio without distractions.
Pros and Cons of Closed-back Headphones
- Pro: One primary advantage of closed-back headphones is their superior noise cancellation. This feature ensures that external sounds do not interfere with your recording or editing process, allowing for a cleaner audio output.
- Con: On the flip side, closed-back headphones can sometimes lead to ear fatigue after extended use due to their tight seal around the ears. This might be a consideration if you wear your headphones for long podcasting sessions.
- Open-back Headphones
Open-back headphones, on the other hand, have ear cups that allow air to flow through. This design feature creates a more natural soundstage and can result in a wider, more immersive listening experience.
However, open-back headphones tend to leak sound and offer less sound isolation, making them better suited for controlled studio environments.
Pros and Cons of Open-back Headphones
- Pro: Open-back headphones typically offer superior sound quality, delivering a wide soundstage that can give a more immersive and authentic listening experience. They can provide an edge when editing your podcast for a rich result.
- Con: The major downside of open-back headphones is their sound leakage. This means they let in more ambient noise and a lot of audio, which could be an issue if you're recording in a shared or noisy environment.
Other things to keep in mind...
Look for headphones that provide accurate and balanced audio reproduction across the frequency spectrum. This ensures you can hear every detail in your recordings, from deep bass notes to crisp highs.
Quality podcasting headphones can accurately interpret audio signals, ensuring that every detail in your recordings, from the subtlest whisper to the loudest exclamation, is captured with pristine clarity.
Durability is essential when investing in podcasting headphones. Look for headphones made from high-quality materials that can withstand regular use. Pay attention to factors like the headband's flexibility, the ear cups' sturdiness, and the cables' quality.
The noise level of your recording environment
If you frequently record in less-than-optimal recording environments or need to monitor audio in real-time for other reasons (like interviewing guests), closed-back headphones are highly recommended. Their excellent sound isolation helps reduce unwanted background noise, ensuring your recordings are clean and professional.
Now, let’s get into our top recommendations so you can find the pair of headphones best suited to your budget, needs, and preferences!
Best wired podcasting headphones
The options in this guide range from budget-friendly to professional-grade, catering to various needs and price points.
#1. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro | ($96.95)
These headphones are a popular choice among podcasters and a good blend of high build quality and reasonable price.
Users give the HD 280 Pro high marks for quality, comfort, and excellent noise isolation for blocking out external sound.
#2. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro | ($169.99)
The DT 770 Pro features a durable design and quality sound reproduction. It has a comfortable fit and an adjustable padded headband.
These headphones consistently get praise for their performance and comfort. These headphones do have a coiled cord, so keep that in mind if you prefer straight ones.
#3. Sony MDR-7506 | ($119.99)
The MDR-7506 is a great pair of headphones and comes with a protective carry pouch, a 9.8-foot cord, and a 1/4-inch adapter.
These are an excellent option if you want headphones that are light and flexible. They’re comfortable enough for long periods of use and deliver accurate, detailed sound reproduction.
#4. AKG K240 MK II | ($83.00)
The AKG's semi-open design provides a balanced soundstage at an affordable price.
These headphones have a detachable cable (10 ft. long) and a coiled cable (16 ft. long), excellent sensitivity ratings, replaceable earpads, a self-adjusting headband, and a jack plug.
Some reviewers prefer these to Beyerdynamics, while others say it misses on the comfort. They might not be the top-tier headphones an audiophile is looking for, but for most podcasters, they’ll be more than enough.
#5. V Moda Crossfade M100 | ($149.00)
These high-quality, noise-isolating headphones are slightly more expensive in the mid-range price point but offer stand-out features that set them apart from other options.
They have a dual-diaphragm that delivers vivid sound reproduction and superior build quality with a slick appearance that adds to their appeal.
People also love the design quality of the V Modas and the fact that the aesthetics don't sacrifice comfort.
#6. Audio Technica ATH-M50x | ($149.00) *Podpage Best Overall Pick*
Audio Technica is a popular brand among podcasters, both for mics and headphones. The M50x delivers exceptional clarity and is praised by audio engineers and reviewers for its performance.
Most users say they are highly durable and will last you a long time. Some say there are better options at a lower price point, but if you're looking for a brand you trust that is built to last, we think these are a great bet.
#7. FIFINE Studio Monitor Headphones | ($32.99)
If you're looking for the cheapest option possible (next to using Apple earbuds), these are worth considering.
They come with two long, detachable, coiled cables, passive noise cancellation, and a sleek design.
While they get almost five stars on Amazon, there are some complaints about comfort when wearing them for long periods–something to keep in mind if you plan to record multiple sessions back to back or record long-form content.
#8. Sennheiser Consumer Audio HD 400S | ($45.99)
These minimalist-design headphones have a compact look and a foldable headband, making them great for podcasters on the go (or who like minimal clutter in their recording space).
Being on the lower-end budget, these headphones do get complaints about comfort from some users who state that the audio quality is just ok. However, the overall sentiment among reviewers is that these are a great buy for the price and from a brand you can trust.
#9. OneOdio | ($49.00) *Podpage Best Budget Pick*
These no-frill headphones have both wired and wireless functionality and get a respectable 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
While these are among the most affordable options available, most users are impressed with the quality at the price point. The reviewers who are less impressed report quirks like headband tightness and lack of noise cancellation.
What about wireless headphones?
Wireless headphones have become increasingly popular because of their convenience and portability.
However, podcasters should be aware of some potential drawbacks. The primary concern is latency, which refers to the delay between the audio signals being transmitted and received by the headphones. This can create issues when trying to monitor recordings in real-time or when conducting interviews with guests.
- Battery dependence: Of course, wireless headphones rely on battery power and are ultimately one more thing to charge. This isn’t a huge drawback, but something to keep in mind.
- Audio lag: Some wireless headphones may have latency issues, resulting in a slight delay between the audio source and what's heard in the headphones. This lag can be problematic for podcasters who require real-time audio feedback during recording.
- Interference and connectivity issues: Wireless headphones are susceptible to interference from other electronic devices, potentially leading to connectivity issues that can disrupt the podcasting workflow. This interference can affect the quality and reliability of the audio signal, impacting the overall podcast production.
- Mobility and freedom of movement: Wireless headphones let you move around during recordings without being tethered to a device. Most podcasters don’t need to move around a lot during a recording, but if you do, these might be a good option.
- Clean setup and aesthetics: Fewer wires mean a cleaner and more organized recording space. This is especially beneficial for video podcasts or scenarios where the visual presentation is important.
- Versatility and multi-device connectivity: Wireless headphones often offer the convenience of connecting to multiple devices simultaneously. This versatility lets you seamlessly switch between audio sources, making it easier to incorporate additional sound elements or manage multiple aspects of the recording process.
Overall, wireless headphones can be a useful tool for podcasters on-the-go or those looking for increased convenience and portability. However, it's important to carefully consider the potential drawbacks and make an informed decision based on individual needs and preferences.
Our wired headphone recommendations:
Summary + additional resources
Choosing the right headphones for podcasting is an important part of creating high-quality audio output and comfortable long-term use.
It's important to remember that while price can often indicate quality, it does not always guarantee comfort or suitability for your specific needs. Be sure to consider other factors like comfort, sound quality, portability, and durability.
And when it comes to wireless options, while they do provide certain conveniences, be mindful of potential issues like latency and sound quality. Ultimately, the best pair of headphones for you is the one that fits your individual needs and preferences.
Additional equipment resources:
- Do I really need headphones for podcasting? I see some podcasters not using them.
While optional, headphones offer valuable real-time audio monitoring, helping identify background noise, glitches, and technical issues during recording. They contribute to consistent audio quality, ensuring clear communication with yourself and guests and enhancing control and precision in your podcasting process.
- Can I just use a pair of wired or Bluetooth earbuds for podcasting?
Wired or Bluetooth earbuds do work but have limitations in audio quality and isolation, and wireless ones come with more risk of cutting out during a recording, etc. Investing in a good pair of headphones can significantly improve your listening and recording quality–and it doesn’t have to cost much at all.
- Are noise-canceling headphones necessary for podcasting, or is it just a personal preference?
Noise-canceling headphones are a preference, not a necessity, for podcasting. While great in noisy environments, standard headphones with sound noise isolation are typically enough (as long as you’re in a quiet space).