What are the best headphones for film editors?

As a film editor I need to buy a new set of headphones for use during long editing sessions in client offices. Comfort, quality and audio fidelity are what I’m looking for. Not really knowing where to start I polled my creative friends to get their advice on the best headphones they’ve used. Thanks to Alex, Gareth and Adam for all their input which has provided most of the content for this post.

How to choose the right headphones

Best headphones for film editorsFor comfort, you will definitely want circumaural headphones – which basically means the pads sit around the earlobe, rather than pressing down on them.

For quality, and suitability of your particular use, you want Monitoring headphones, or Reference Monitors – which is self explanatory really… they are designed for monitoring, so wont colour the sound too much.

Here are a selection of the best headphones for film editors….

Sennheiser headphones

Sennheiser HD6 Mix Headphones

2015 UPDATE: Sennheiser very kindly sent me several sets of headphones to test for the 2015 update to this post.

The latest headphones from Sennheiser that are suitable for film editors include their DJ Mix series with the HD6/7/8 Mix headphones. The HD6 Mixes are the only ones in the series that don’t have any kind of bass boost in them and so I wouldn’t recommend the HD7 or HD8 Mix headphones for accurate post production work as a result.

Sennheiser HD6 Mix: These headphones are seriously impressive. Nicely packaged in a ‘presentation case’ style box they feel like a premium set of headphones before you’ve even put them on.

When you do put them on they feel extremely comfortable and cut out a huge amount of background noise which helps you to feel totally ‘in’ your mix, free from distractions. They also have a greater frequency range than the HD380 Pros with a top end of 30,000Hz rather then 27000. The HD 6 Mix’s also have a higher Ohm count at 150 ohms compared to the HD380 Pro’s 54 ohms. (See below for what this means!)

The HD6 Mix headphones come with 2 detachable cables – one coiled and the other straight, as well as an additional set of velour ear pads, should you wish to swap them out for the ones they arrive with. They are also packaged in a really nice carry-case, but because they don’t fold flat like the HD380 Pros, it is a little bit on the bulky side for day-to-day transport.

One of the other nice things about the HD6 Mix headphones is that you can detach the 3.5mm jack cable and connect it via either earpiece. This is handy for times when you want to plug into a port on the left side of your head (e.g. a Macbook Pro) so that you don’t have to have the cable crossing over your body/desk.

More expensive than the other Sennheiser headphones listed here, you won’t be disappointed by the sound quality and comfort of these incredible headphones.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk | Buy on Amazon.com

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro: These are their cheaper pro monitoring headphones, and considering that, and the brand, this seems like a really good value price.  £89

Buy from Amazon.co.uk / Buy from Amazon.com

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro: For not much more, these are their top end ones – better audio range, build quality and a replaceable cable – Take these over the cheaper ones. £102

2015 Update: The HD380 Pro Headphones were one of the pairs Sennheiser sent me for testing. After several extensive 8 hour editing days, I can say that they offer excellent sound quality with great clarity in both the high and low end, and, if you get them set up and positioned correctly on your head (I found I had to have the band a bit further back than normal for maximum comfort) they will carry you through the day without a hitch.

Sennheiser HD380 pro review

One of my favourite things about them is that they a) come with a travel case and b) fold flat into the travel case which really helps when you’re fitting them into your editing bag with the rest of your gear. These were originally in the final running for my selection for good reason, a great buy for any editor who travels frequently.

Buy from Amazon.co.uk / Buy from Amazon.com

Sennheiser HD-25: Light and comfy. Popular with DJ’s and Video/Film Sound guys. I’ve used them before and they are great. About £100.

HD26 Pro Headphones

2015 Update – Sennheiser also sent me the HD26 Pro headphones. These are not circumaural headphones, which means that they sit on your ears, rather than around them. This might well be a benefit in broadcast production, for which their closed design is intended – and helps to keep out surrounding noise, but after several hours of use whilst editing I found them to be quite hot and uncomfortable. Although they are light weight and provide excellent sound quality I would highly recommend choosing a pair of circumaural headphones instead to provide constant comfort during long editing sessions.

Buy from Amazon.co.uk / Buy from Amazon.com

AKG Headphones

AKG K240:  Another great make – I have 2 sets of their headphones. These have a slightly smaller range of frequencies than the top end Sennheisers, but are slghtly cheaper. I have a similar pair that are the most comfortable things I have ever worn. Again, there is a detachable/replaceable cable. £88.  Buy from Amazon.com/Amazon.co.uk

AKG K240 Headphones for film editorsAKG K702:  I have these (except mine are the non-pro model, which basically just means the cable isn’t removable, and they are a much prettier colour!) and even though they are way more money, I’ve included them cos I love them and think they are worth it. They need to be listened to for some time to break in the sound, but they are great and super comfortable! £207.

Buy from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Sony Headphones

Sony MDR-7510 HeadphonesSony MDR-7506: These are the slightly better, much more comfortable version of the(cheaper) ones you see in loads of edit suits – from universities to post-houses, but basically they are otherwise the same. I think they are considered to be good for editors. This, of course implies that they aren’t great for sound mixing, but are close enough for general reference/mix. The difference between these and the ones you normally see in suites, is that these have proper big ears for comfort instead of those little round ones, and a better cable. £70.

Buy from Amazon.com / Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Sony MDR-7510: These are Sony’s much better equivalent in terms of getting a more accurate sound. Actually they seem to have the widest range of audio frequencies of the lot, so in the sound sense they are the ‘best’. £120.

Buy from Amazon.com / Buy from Amazon.co.uk

BeyerDynamic Headphones

Everyone highly rated either the DT250’s or the DT770 Pros.

2015 Update – As these were the headphones I originally finally chose, it seems odd that I’ve said so little about them! They are incredibly comfortable to wear, especially for long edit sessions, offer tremendous audio fidelity and have remained in great shape after being stuffed into my edit bag on untold occasions. These are my favourite headphones for film editing.

Buy DT770’s from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Headset - 80 OHM

Understanding the technical details of headphones – (Thanks Gareth!)

Understanding Open & Closed Back Headphones: With closed back headphones you need a trade off. Fully closed will isolate more sound (for the listener and away from any bystanders) because of less ambient interference. But as sound is about air pressure, with a speaker moving the air in front of it to create sound, by default the air behind it will move as well. If that air can’t move as freely (being fully closed creates build ups of pressure), it will affect the movement of the speaker and therefore affect the fidelity of the reproduction. Whether it’s notable by the listener is another question. I’ve never personally tried closed and open back headphones side by-side. A lot of top-end headphones tend to be semi-open to balance the issue of isolation v fidelity. I think the 770Pros have a small slit in the casing so the sound can breathe, despite being considered closed backs. I suppose another crude summary – for personal use in public, on the tube, etc – fully closed; for use in a well insulated sound/editing suite – open/semi open.

Understanding ohms:  If you remember physics lessons back at school, electrical resistance (measured in ohms) is related to wire width. The thicker the wire the less resistance (as there is ‘more space’ in the wire for the current to flow through – think of it like water in a pipe, the narrow, the harder to get through). Therefore speakers / headphones made with thicker wire need less power to drive and can therefore go louder, but that thicker wire (which is coiled around and around at the back of the speaker cone) is therefore heavier and means the speaker cone moves less freely, thus affecting it’s reproduction of the sound. Conversely speakers / headphones made with thinner wire will move easier, but will need more power. Crudely speaking, lower impedance (less than 100 ohms), needs less power to drive, therefore can get louder; higher impedance (250 ohms), better sound but more power needed. Real world examples would be, less than 100 ohms – iPods, laptops, field recording; 250 ohms – hi-fi installations, studio monitoring.

And the end of the day in an ideal environment, 250 ohm headphones will sound better and more natural. If power is an issue and you don’t have a headphone amp, you could consider something like one of these:

FiiO E7 Headphone Amp

FiiO Portable Headphone DAC Amplifier – Buy on Amazon.com | Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Plus it will most likely offer better quality than the built in headphone out of most laptops and due to it using USB. Check out this short review.

Film Editors Headphone Summary

In short I’m currently choosing between the Sennheiser HD380’s and the BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro’s. Currently looking for a good tech shop in town to try them out.

UPDATE – I went for the BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro’s in the end and they have been both extremely comfortable for long editing sessions and provided fantastic depth and clarity even in the midst of a busy office environment. I would highly recommend them!

2015 Update – Having now personally worn the Sennheiser HD380 Pro’s many times, I would happily recommend them as superb headphones, but I would say that I’ve personally found the BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro’s to be the most comfortable for really long editing sessions. But when I’m working at home, I’m falling in love with the Sennhesier HD6 Mix headphones.

An affordable alternative…

If you just need a pair of cheap and simple headphones to get you started then I’d recommend these Sony MDR-V150’s, which I found once in a Soho edit suite. Nice sound, pretty comfortable and reasonably priced at under £20.

Buy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com


Professional Post Prodution Headphones In Use

Headphones professional use

Every now and then you can catch a glimpse of headphones being used in a professional post production context and it’s always interesting to see which headphones have been selected. In this still from Michael Bay’s behind the scenes of Transformers 4 you can see Peter Cullen (the voice of Optimus Prime) wearing the Audio Technica ATH-M40 Headphones.

Headphones used by post production professionals

In this screen grab from a behind the scenes featurette on the sound design for Pixar’s Brave, sound designer E.J. Holowicki is wearing some of the BeyerDynamic DT770 Pros.

Testing your Headphones – Things to Listen To

One of the things to do when you get your new headphones is to listen to a few of your favourite tracks, films, trailers etc to get a feel for how things used to sound, and how they sound now with your serious new headphones. One of the things you may find is how badly encoded some of the music you’ve been listening to is and that with decent headphones, the source quality really matters.

Personally I love to listen to film scores, and this recording by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios from Alexandre Desplat’s score to Birth, is a great way to check out both the high and low end capabilities of your headphones. That or a properly mixed film trailer.


    • Hey Ubaid, spot on… my favorite are too the Sony MDR-7506, they work great during music production.

      I also own a Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro which have the most flattest sound of them all, however I do pair them with Creative Sound Blaster E1 amplifier that supports upto 600 Ohms headphones.

      By the Jonny an excellently created nice list of headphones for film editing!

      I really love the design of Sennheiser HD6 and would try to get hold of it very soon!


    • Hi Raj
      Volume control will come from whatever you are plugged into when you are using them.
      As for ear heat, well that’s a small trade off between enclosed headphone audio fidelity and not. Personally I’ve found the DT770 Pros are comfortable for long sessions and more so than ones that rest on your ears.

      But that said nothing will be perfect other than taking breaks every now and then.

  • Hi Jonny,

    Realise this post is pretty old… I’m just about to push the buy button and was tossing up between AKG k702 and Beyer DT990 pros. The Beyer 770s seem great but I’m looking for some open headphones. I realise both shine with amp and was wondering if you have any thoughts on these models..? Also what amp are you driving your 770s with?

    Thanks and great site by the way!


    • Hi Danny,
      Thanks for checking out the site and taking the time to comment. Hopefully the info in the post is not really dated even though it is a little old in Internet terms.

      Personally I have the 80ohm DT770 Pros so I’m not running them with an amp (if I had the 250s I would).

      Both look like excellent headphones so it is definitely a tough choice! I can only say that my Beyers have been incredibly comfortable, even for very long sessions and always sound great.

      That said a lot of reviews seem to rave about the K702’s ‘positional accuracy’ so that sounds like a plus.

      Without a side by side comparison on the same audio its tough to say. Order both and send one back??

  • Thanks!!! Very interesting article. I was thinking what to get and now its more clear. 🙂

    Do you have another affordable alternatives to add?

    • Hi Alberto, thanks for taking the time to check out the post and comment. I’m hoping to update this post in the near future so will be sure to include other affordable alternatives when I do.

  • I would not recommend the Sony headphones AT ALL! I only used them for 1 day and the left channel has already cut out. I would go with the Sennheiser, thats what I’m going to get next.

    • Hi Nicholas, I would send them back for a new pair as it sounds like they came broken. I’ve had a pair of Sony’s for years and they have worked perfectly. But the Senneheisers are excellent as are the Beyers.

  • First of all thanks so much for the reviews, i´m a video editor and that was precious information for me 🙂

    Now i have a decision to make and its between the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and Beyerdynamic DT 770 M. The main reason im divided is because of the Ambient noise attenuation.

    On the Dt 770 Pro its only 18dBA and on the Dt 770M is 35 dBA. But on the 770M the only downsize is the Average pressure on ears 6.5 N, compared to only 3.5N on the 770 Pro.

    So my question to you is does these number really care? is 18 dBA enought for editing on set or in a room full of people all talking?
    At the end of the day does de extra pressure will make editing impossible?

    PS Does the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro feel more uncomfortable at the end of a day of editing? as compared with the DT 770 Pro?

    Sorry about all the questions.

    Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Joao, thanks for your questions. In my experience the DT 770 Pros are the most comfortable headphones I’ve used, even after long editing days, and have been great even in loud environments.
      Hope that helps!

      • Thank you once more, yes it help me 🙂

        One last question do the DT 770 PRo get to hot on your ears after a day working?

        The material for the ears looks a bit warmer as opposed to the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro!

  • Hello,

    Thanks for your wonderful article! I’m a soon-to-be university student, studying film production. Obviously, whichever headphones I choose will be used for post-production playback through my Macbook Pro, but I’d also like the pair to be compatible with my iPhone for listening to music. I’m assuming I’ll want a pair will less than 100 ohms? Or is that incorrect? Which would you recommend for me?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Isaac, thanks for checking out the post and good luck at University! It all depends on what you want to spend but a good pair will last you many years if you look after them.

      My personal favourites are the DT770s which come as both 80ohm and 250 (if memory serves). So get the 80ohms for use with the phone. I’ve used both the DT770 and the HD380’s with my iPhone, no problem. Hope that helps a little.

      • Thanks for your response! Do you have any experience using the Sennheiser HD 598? I came across them online and think they look really cool. The reviews of them are very positive—especially for music. I haven’t ever had a “nice” pair of headphones, so I don’t have much experience in determining quality. Would a pair of headphones that sound great for music be equally as good for video editing?

        I researched the DT770s, but the lengthy, nondetachable cable would make it difficult to use on-the-go for casual music listening.

        I’m also looking at the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBL, which have very high reviews. Have you used them?

        In terms of your recommendation for the Sennheiser HD 6 Mix DJ Headphones, my only concern would be its 150 ohms. Would that not be compatible with editing on my laptop or use with my phone?

        I’m not sure what to do. Too many good choices! 🙂

        • Hi Isaac, I’m afraid I don’t have any hands on experience with the headphones you’re talking about, but at that level I’m sure they will all be good enough!

  • Hi there again.

    I read in a lot of forum’s that the DT 770 PRo have recessed mids. In other words human voices are mediocre and also classical music is bad.

    So my question to you as an editor is. Do you feel that editing dialogs is bad on these headsets ?

    Thank you once more 🙂

    • Hi Joao, I haven’t noticed that myself but I’m not an audio expert, just an editor! I’ve always been very happy working with them, cutting dialogue, mixing in music and effects etc. It all comes down to personal preference at the end of the day…

  • A chap named Ugo emailed me with the following question and I thought it might be helpful for others too, so here it is posted with permission.

    Hey Johnny,

    I enjoyed reading the post on headphones. Very informative and very helpful as I am looking at buying a pair.

    Usually very long session, 6 to 8 hours, so I am leaning toward the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. I hope I can ask you for an advice. My question is should I get the 80 OHM or the 250 OHM model considering the amp we will be using it from is a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2? (The output impedance is less than 10 ohms)

    I would love your input if it is not asking too much as there is a difference in price of about $90 less in the 250ohm, but I am also looking at getting the best sounding ones with no distortion, etc…




    Hi Ugo

    Thanks for getting in touch. In my personal experience the DT770 Pro 80ohms have been very comfortable over long sessions and always sounded great whatever they’ve been plugged into.

    These articles go into a lot more technical detail and might help.


    “Device Output Impedance – This is tricky because the output impedance of most sources is unknown. But the idea is to follow the “1/8th Rule” described in Output Impedance Explained. If you multiply the output impedance of your source by eight, that’s the lowest impedance headphones you should use with that source. The FiiO E9amp, for example, has a 10 ohm output impedance. So it should only be used with headphones of 80 ohms or higher if you want to be assured of the best sound quality.”



    Price wise, it’s strange that the headphones are so differently priced in the U.S. across the range, because in the UK they are basically the same price across all three models (32, 80, 250).

    So you could ‘save’ the $90, go with the 250’s and spend less than $90 on a portable headphone amp, like the Fiio ones.

    Any help?

    If you can find the 80ohms for a reasonable price though, they might make life easier.


  • SO do any of you wear glasses? One of the biggest problems I find with cans is the discomfort caused by the arms of my giglamps during long sessions.
    Which of the headphones might be best for glasses wearers then?

  • Hi Jonny. You mentioned that the DT 770 Pros were great in loud situations. Where I work, it’s not uncommon for folks to have small meetings 10 feet away, at normal conversation levels. How do think they’ll hold up in those kinds of settings?

    I saw the DT 770M had better noise attentuation (35db), but I also read that they aren’t nearly as comfortable, and that the sound quality doesn’t compare to the 770 Pros.

    What are your thoughts? Are the 770 Pros the way to go? Or do you think there are other models in this price range worth considering, for loud situations?

    • My pros are really comfortable, especially over long sessions and pretty decent at blocking out external noise in office settings.

      Not tried the Ms so can’t speak to their comfort though.

      On the UK amazon the 80 ohm pros are cheaper than the Ms at the minute.

  • I just bought a pair of Sony 7510’s and man are they terrible. DO NOT BY THEM. The mids are absolutely out of control. One pair that he doesn’t mention here are the Ultrasone HFI-450’s. You can find them for a good bit cheaper than the Sony’s and they are far superior. I’ve handled some very heavy mix jobs on them and they did great. My dog chewed them up so I decided to try what I thoguht was a higher quality pair in the Sony’s. I hate them.

    • Hey Will, thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve never heard of the Ultrasone brand before, so good to have a recommendation.

  • I use Audio-technica ATH-M50X. I absolutely love these headphones. The number 1 most important thing for me is comfort as i wear my headphones around 8-10 hours a day. My ears never hurt after a long day editing because they go fully around my ears. Second is the sound quality is amazing, they are not consumer grade bass factories and produce stunning audio at all ranges and frequencies. The only drawback is that they are so much better than average speakers that i have to constantly switch to speakers to make sure that my scoring sounds as good on average speakers as they do in my headphones. These headphones sell for around $170 on B&H though.

    • I 100% agree with Robert. I also own the Audio-Technica ATH-M50Xs; they are perfect, in my opinion. I use them for film editing, listening to music, and live radio broadcasting. They are comfortable, stylish, and most importantly precise and beautiful in their sound reproduction. I HIGHLY recommend them!

  • Hi, thank you for this piece and what appears to be a very interesting site. I am planning on checking more of it over the next few days.
    I want to ask a relevant question. I have the Beyerdynamic MMX300. I haven’t used them for film editing, never planned to. They are very good all around headphones but the sound department is not my best. Have you by any chance used them at all? Should I really go for something else for editing?
    The other thing I want to ask you is if headphones should in your opinion even be used for video editing. I have heard that you shouldn’t really use headphones and always prefer speakers/monitors. That’s why I was leaning towards getting something like the Behringer MS16 or the Mackie CR3, but now I wonder if headphones would be ok too.

    • Hi Efthimios
      Thanks for taking the time to check out the site. In answer to your first question I’ve not had any experience with the Beyerdynamic MMX300 headphones, but taking a quick look at them, they look like very high quality headphones.

      That said, the thing you’re really looking for is an ‘uncoloured’ sound – so a sound where the bass isn’t enhanced etc, but it’s a little tricky from the description online to tell what they are doing. They’re probably very good headphones and will work just fine for editing with – especially if you already own them!

      In answer to your second question. Yes a set of studio monitors is the preference for editing and mixing on, when you have a private room to do so. The only reason to work with headphones is when you might be editing in a shared environment and need to a) not annoy other people b) focus on your work.

      Here is a post I wrote on The Best Studio Monitors for The Edit Suite – in which I personally went for the Yamaha HS7 speakers, but both Mackie and Behringer make good ones too.

      Hope that helps a little!

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