12 Reasons Why Studio Headphones Are So Expensive

Studio headphones are helpful when you’re aiming to prepare audio mixes. A studio headphone set will help you review how music sounds in the studio. 

The headphones provide an accurate representation of the audio you record, plus they can help you identify any flaws in the recording process. You can use these for many purposes, but they work mainly when you record music and test it to ensure everything goes well in the end process.

But one problem with studio headphones is that they tend to be very expensive. Many studio headphone sets will cost at least $150 to order, with some more high-end models going for $500. These totals can be significantly more expensive than many standard headsets, especially those you would use for regular listening purposes.

Many studio-grade headphone sets could cost at least $1,000. These include sets you would rent at a local recording studio. These items are designed mainly for music recording purposes, but they require extensive accuracy to be effective. They need the best possible materials to create the right sounds to make the recording process more successful.

But why are these studio headphones so expensive? Here are twelve good reasons why they cost as much money as they do. Many of these entail the materials used in these headphones, but the technical aspects of these models also play a part in why they cost so much on the market.

Here are 12 reasons why Studio Headphones are so expensive:

1. Bulkier Body

One reason why studio headphones are so expensive comes from how they feature more massive bodies. A studio headphone set will feature added cushioning and protection around the ears. The design lets you keep the headphones over your ears while preventing more outside items from getting in the way of what you are hearing.

The design focuses on providing a good seal for your ears while listening. You will not risk the headphones coming off your ears at any point. The covering also ensures you can focus on whatever you’re trying to hear when producing music. The design arrangement provides the necessary protection you require for any audio task you want to manage.

The feature is useful and helps you focus on the music. But the added materials necessary for producing a body like this will add to the price of these headphones.

2. More Drivers

Studio headphones need the best drivers to operate well. A headphone driver is like a small loudspeaker, as it converts the electric signals it receives into sound. Since studio headphones emphasize good accuracy, you’ll need to ensure your headphone set has the correct drivers.

You could spend extra on a headphone set if it has more drivers. Typical headphone drivers are about 20 to 50 mm in diameter. But some studio headphones may use 8 to 20 mm drivers similar to what you would find in smaller earphones. Many headphones will use these drivers to produce more detailed sounds, as some drivers may focus on specific sounds.

The assortment of headphone drivers in a studio headphone set is worth noting:

  • The smaller drivers in a headphone set will reproduce high frequencies.
  • The more massive drivers can produce a more robust bass sound. This feature works for people looking to see how the bass can influence the overall tone.
  • Broader drivers produce a louder sound. For one of these drivers, the diaphragm will have more surface area, creating more space to vibrate to generate sound waves.

Some headphone sets also let users adjust whatever drivers they want to use. A headphone may feature a customizable layout where you can open the end of a headset and then swap out whatever drivers you wish to utilize. The design requires extra technical knowledge, although studio headphones are already geared towards people who might understand how to add and replace their drivers.

The assorted variety of such headphone drivers could influence what you’re going to spend on your studio headphones. The versatility of such headphones and the ability to customize their operations in some cases may cause these headphones to become more expensive than you expect. But that extra customization provides convenience when handling audio production tasks.

3. The Drivers Feature High-End Materials

Studio headphones often use top-quality drivers to reproduce sounds as accurately as possible. But many drivers feature rare components that cost more to use and process for headphone use.

Your headphone drivers can feature high-quality materials like these:

  • Graphene – Graphene conducts heat more effectively than carbon steel. Graphene also features dampened air that will convert energy into sound, producing a more efficient body. It is lightweight and conducts energy well, making it useful for headphones.
  • Titanium – Titanium adds extra power while using less mass. The driver also responds faster than most other materials.
  • Beryllium – The stiff body of a beryllium driver will read more frequencies without breaking up any audible tones. It also prevents distortion that you might find in a low-end driver material like aluminum.

The quality components found in studio headphones are often more vital than what you might find elsewhere. But these metals are not as common for use in headphones, making them more expensive to find and process. The added cost necessary for these items will be more expensive than other things you could use in your headphone set.

4. Electrostatic Drivers May Also Work

The specific type of drivers in studio headphones is also worth spotting. A traditional headphone set will feature dynamic drivers or planar magnetic drivers. Dynamic drivers are common ones that can create bass responses by displacing air. Planar magnetic drivers use a magnetic field that directly triggers the diaphragm to generate enough vibration.

But electrostatic drivers are among the most popular ones you will find in studio headphones. These drivers use static electricity to create vibrations for the diaphragm. The diaphragm will respond by pushing and pulling against the electrodes near the body.

While electrostatic drivers are helpful for studio headphones and produce more accurate responses, they also weigh more on average. The extra mass and the need to procure more materials for these drivers will cause them to be more expensive.

5. Better Magnets

All headphones require magnets that create a magnetic field to help produce sound. The magnet’s performance in the magnetic field will attract signals that move towards the driver’s diaphragm, thus helping make the necessary noises.

Cobalt, aluminum, and ferrite magnets are commonly used in headphones. A studio headphone set will be more likely to feature a neodymium magnet. Neodymium produces more magnetic energy in its mass, creating a more sensitive response to sounds. They can retain the sounds they receive well while having a more positive response when working.

Neodymium is a less common material for headphone drivers, thus facilitating a higher cost. The extra expenses for using neodymium in the headphone set will result in the product costing more money.

Many headphones will also feature more magnets to cover the entire surface area of the drivers. The diaphragms for the headphones will require equal vibration to produce the most accurate sounds. Extra magnets make it easier for those drivers to receive the materials they demand, making it easier for many solutions to work.

6. Useful Frequency Response

Every headphone set comes with a different frequency response level. A headphone set may include a broader frequency response.

Many studio headphones will support the basic standard range of 20Hz to 20kHz. But some models may support a more extensive coverage, like one that goes from 10Hz to 33kHz.

You could spend more on a headphone set if it features a more comprehensive frequency response range. But a more expansive range doesn’t always result in better performance. Some treble frequencies over 20kHz aren’t always easy for people to hear. 

Any bass sounds hear under 20Hz are also more likely to be felt than heard. Sticking with a traditional 20Hz to 20kHz range is the best idea, as the ones with a broader range might not be as useful based on the price.

The frequency response should be realistic enough to where it covers different sounds that humans can hear. Anything that produces sounds too broad and far from one’s average ability to hear would be overkill.

7. Lower Plus/Minus Deviation

Studio headphones are designed to feature a lower plus/minus deviation. The deviation level is paired next to the frequency response. The level shows how far the sound from the headphones will deviate from a neutral response. For example, a headphone set may feature a plus/minus deviation of 3 to 5 dB.

A headphone set requires a lower deviation for it to work. The lowest possible variation ensures the more accurate sounds coming from the set.

Studio headphones often have the lowest deviation levels. They can be around 1 or 2 dB on average. While it would be impossible to prevent deviation altogether, a proper headphone set will keep that issue from being as significant or noticeable as you might expect somewhere.

8. Noise-Cancelling May Work

One feature of many studio headphone sets is noise-canceling. The process uses a few steps:

  • A small microphone in the headset will capture ambient sounds in the area.
  • An amplifier in the set will then produce new sound waves out of phase with the ambient noises.

For example, if the sound pressure from the outside waves is high, the canceling wave produced by the headphone set will stay low.

  • The sound waves from the headphone set will interact with the ambient noise to cancel each other out. The design reduces the excess noise in the area.

The design works well, but it also adds to the expense. Noise-canceling support is very convenient and helpful, but it requires extra effort to ensure it works.

9. Great Impedance

The impedance rating on your studio headphones is another point of value. The impedance level entails the amount of power necessary to deliver high power levels. The level is measured in ohms.

A headphone set with a higher impedance level can work with more robust and thorough audio production systems like a mixing board or a studio recording system. Some headphones will feature impedance levels of at least 100 ohms. The total is higher than the 20 to the 70-ohm level you will find in most other situations.

Higher impedance is necessary for preventing a speaker set from blowing out while in use. It needs enough energy to handle the intense power required for hearing music in a studio environment.

You will still pay more money for a studio headphone set that can handle a higher impedance rating. The design allows the set to last longer and work in more environments.

But it would help if you still looked at how high the impedance is in any headphone set. Some models might produce more impedance than necessary. 

Something with a level of about 100 ohms will be helpful for studio recording needs. But something that manages 300 or 400 ohms at a time might be overkill, as you won’t be likely to come across half that power when listening to music.

10. Different Wire Materials

The cables that come with your studio headphones can feature high-end materials. At the same time, traditional headphones will feature silver and copper compounds that will conduct energy. But some high-end components may also work, including gold and steel.

Many studio headphones will use gold cable components. Gold naturally costs more money to use than other items, thus producing a higher cost for your headphone set. But gold is more effective than other items, as it has a lower resistance rating. It also does not oxidize, providing a good design.

You could also find some headphones that feature oxygen-free copper materials. Oxygen-free copper does not feature a layer of copper oxide, thus producing less resistance. But the copper also requires maintenance on occasion, as copper can still oxidize.

Watch for what the cables feature when you’re looking for studio headphones. The unique materials used in some of these cables will cause their values to go up much higher than you might expect.

11. Bluetooth Connections Can Also Work

Some studio headphone sets also come with support for Bluetooth connections. The Bluetooth connection standard is the most popular one you’ll find for wireless headsets.

A Bluetooth headphone set will use radio waves to connect to a computer or mixing station. You will pair the headphones with the desired computer or another system to make everything work. The design provides a consistent connection that is easy to manage.

Expect to pay more money when ordering a studio headphone set with Bluetooth support. A company will charge more for this feature because of its general convenience in how it works.

12. A Fancy Look

The last reason so many studio headphones are so expensive is that they often come with fancy and stylish appearances. A studio set will require more mass so that a designer might produce something with a different look.

A headphone set can feature a detailed look with a stainless steel body. It could also come with a wood-panel look. The fancy designs around these sets can vary, making the wearer look more attractive and exciting.

But these designs are also prepared to stay comfortable. A company will need to ensure its design process is careful enough to where the headphones will stay comfortable and easy to wear for hours at a time.

What Should You Consider When Finding Headphones?

You’ve got many choices to consider when looking for valuable headphones. But it would help if you watched for how you’re going to find headphones you can trust. You have many choices to note for your headphones, but whatever you use should be compelling enough for whatever you will do while in the studio.

You can choose your studio headphones based on how well they fit and how they can reproduce sound. Take a look at how the drivers operate and if you can adjust these as necessary. Anything that gives you complete control over your listening experience is always a plus.

The ability of the headphones to receive sounds is also essential to note. Just because a headphone set can handle frequencies beyond the 20Hz to 20kHz range doesn’t mean it will be any more effective than another model.

The connections for your headphones are also essential to note. A Bluetooth setup can work, but you can always review if that feature is necessary or if you’re OK with something else.

Don’t forget about your general comfort. Many studio headphones are expensive because they have such massive bodies. But the headphone you use should be comfortable enough to use them for hours at a time without feeling bothered by anything.

Be specific when looking for studio headphones that you know what to expect when finding something of use. You will spend more money on these headphones than other products, but the cost will be worthwhile when you consider what works here.

Audiophile Haven

AudiophileHaven is a site dedicated to Hi-Fi audio, and helping others learn more about premium quality sound equipment.

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