Do You Own Any of the Best Headphones on Amazon?

All of us own at least one pair of headphones, but as you probably know not all are created equal, and price definitely does not equate to performance.

Whenever I make some crazy claim-of-fact, my 74 year young father is always heard to say, “SOURCES!” In other words, “where the heck did you get that information?!?!” He’s a master intellect who never takes anything on-board unless it comes from a credible source – even if it’s me speaking about audio. I honor him for that. It’s gotten him a good life and a comfortable retirement.

And when it comes to our gear choices, we should be no less shrewd. It’s why I had a sort of guffaw when I saw this article from – yeah – USA Today. I would expect something like, “best headphones sold on B&H,” Sweetwater, or some other well-respected A/V retailer. Nope. Amazon. Now, of course, USA Today is in their rights by caveating in the first paragraph that chances are most folks are pulling up Amazon to buy anything anyway. But we’re not most people. We’re filmmakers. We can’t burn cash on something unless we know the “SOURCES!”

View the original article here –

By now you all know that I’m an AVID (no pun intended) fan of Direct Sound EX-29s and anything Sony M

DirectSound EX-29 Headphones
In my opinion Direct Sound’s EX-29 are one of the best headphones you can buy

DR 75xx. I also grew up on AKG-240 everything and those three letters were on the headphones in my studio for 15 years. All of these headphones are available on Amazon in various new versions and iterations.

My rules around headphone audition/purchase is ironclad in the following items:
  1. You get what you pay for. Tweet: A $15 pair of cans is money usually better spent on actual cans. [click to tweet this quote] At least with aluminum you can get some value if you turn them in.
  2. “Noise Cancelling” headphones are great at killing the noise from outside, but it’s also great at killing panoramic positioning and any 3D audio effect. If you must buy them, ensure that function has an off switch.
  3. Tweet: In-ear headphones are about as accurate and comfortable is in-eye glasses [click to tweet this quote]. Unless you’re willing to buy “real” and “fitted” in ear headphones (hundreds of dollars), you’re throwing your money away unless you’re just buying ear-buds as a reference for what everyone else is going to hear.
  4. Any headphone with more than a 50% price increase over Sony MDRs and some kind of cool logo/everyone-
    AKG K240 “Over Ear” headphones. I’ve been using AKGs since I was 12.

    is-buying-them/Apple-owns-the-company is specifically for consumers and is completely unfit to mix on. Use them for reference and deafening yourself only.

Now, with that draconian list spun, let’s take a look at a few things in this article:

“Best Over Ear Headphones”

Well, you should always be buying over ears. Why?

  • Best uniform bone conduction of bass frequencies.
  • Best rejection of external sounds.
  • Best frequency response (generally).

The question of “best over ear” headphones should really be “best headphones.” Unless you need to replace the ones from your iPhone/Android or need something to reference what your audience is listening on.


AT is a great company. They’ve been around a long time. They have a lot of high-value gear. But high-value gear doesn’t always mean useful-for-the-filmmaker gear. This article touts the ATH-M50xs as Amazon’s best. I don’t own a pair, but I’ve listened to them. Yes. They’re comfortable. They’re nice…if you like listening to things on a constant loudness contour. And at $150+, this is not an investment upon which we want to spend to mix. For fun? Absolutely. It’s good to be rich.

AudioTechnica ATH-M50x
The AudioTechnica ATH-M50x Headphones

The Cowin E7s I have not heard, and I would question a pair of headphones which are priced under $100. That said, of course the AKG 240s are and they’re great. I’d be interested to hear anyone’s feedback on them as mixing reference headphones and just not listening enjoyment headphones.


I’m going to reference my rule #4 for anything Bose. Bose created the de facto standard on booming bass and rip-your-eyebrows-off high frequencies in boxes the size of your fist. A revolution in the consumer electronics world…a brutal blow to the gut for mixers fool enough to use them. You have been warned.


Thanks to our buddies at Apple and their unprecedented release of the iPhone 7 – sans 3.5mm headphone port – everything is trying to go wireless. Be warned: when you see the symbol “Bluetooth” – and some copyright/trademark symbol after it, you’re spending money for a lackluster data transfer model which will leave your high-fidelity headphones hamstrung with artifact oriented sound. There are very good bluetooth-like transmission protocols which are far higher bandwidth and recreate the sound of the original content without notice. I’m speaking of our friends at Direct Sound specifically with their EXW-37 headphones…AND you’re paying $300 for that technology…not a name. Those pro headphones are not on Amazon, and do notice the way Bluetooth is used on their spec sheet and its version.

Honestly, the article is good and well written by our friends at USA Today. It’s educational especially if you’re looking for headphones to work out with. With the exception of the Sonys they listed, my personal recommendation is that you steer clear of their recommendations whereas you need to actually reference your mix on headphones and have it translate to others. 

We talk extensively about headphones and mixing on headphones in the MIX and WORKSPACE volumes of the Pro Member education, and I go in depth into what you should consider for speakers and headphones.

View the original article here –

What headphones do you use? Do you disagree with any of my judgements? Let me know in the comments below, in our forum, or on Twitter.

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