Using a good quality pair of studio monitoring headphones to help you perfect a song is one of the most valuable tools for professional audio production, whether it be in a commercial studio or a home studio.
Studio monitoring headphones give you a unique and clear perspective of your song to help you finalize which areas of your track need work. These headphones generally have a ‘flat frequency response’ which means they give you an accurate representation of what your audio sounds like without artificially boosting any frequencies.
Two of the most popular pairs of headphones audio producers are raving about right now are the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, and the Audio Technica ATH-M50X’s. Both are of great quality, but which pair is better, and why?
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Vs Audio Technica ATH-M50X – which is better?
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pros have a much flatter, neutral sound profile than the ATH-M50Xs which have a more colorful, U-shaped sound profile with a more pronounced bass response. The Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs are more comfortable to wear, with less clamping pressure than the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros.
Choosing which one is better comes down to personal preference as some find the bass and treble of the ATH-M50Xs to be too exaggerated while some find the signal of the HD 280 Pros to be much too flat for pleasant use.
Read on to find out more about the two pairs of studio monitoring headphones to help you make a well-informed decision when choosing which pair will suit you best.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pros are a pair of closed, dynamic stereo headphones designed for studio monitoring with an accurate linear sound and good background noise isolation.
For optimal comfort, the ear cups on these headphones have good padding with faux leather covering. They are also collapsable and rotatable to help save space for use on the go and when packed away.
Although the cable is not generally removable, the cable can easily be replaced as well as the headband padding and ear cup padding for increased longevity.
The HD 280 Pros are a good quality pair of headphones commonly used amongst audio producers. Let’s take a look at some of the pros that make this pair stand out among the rest.
- Great sound quality for the price
- Very good sound isolation from background noise
- A neutral and balanced sound profile.
- Solid, quality build
- Comfortable ear pads
- Easily replaceable chord, headband padding, and ear cup padding
Although they are well-loved by so many producers, there are still some cons to be aware of. Here are some of the few cons of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros.
- In comparison to some other headphones, a heavier weight, and bulkier build
- Reported discomfort after long use due to their tight clamping force
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs are a pair of closed-back studio monitoring headphones revered by many professional audio engineers. These headphones have excellent sound isolation for loud environments and great clarity thanks to their extended frequency range.
In terms of comfort, these headphones have large, well-padded earcups with faux leather covering. This pair of headphones feature ear cups that swivel 90 degrees and come with a shaped carrier pouch for added portability.
The cables that come with this pair are removable and therefore easily replaced. It comes with two cable adaptations, one 1.2m-3.0m long coiled cable and one 1.2m straight cable. The complimentary pouch for the headphones also includes a convenient carrier pocket for the cables.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X’s are a high-quality pair of studio monitoring headphones. Let’s go through some of the pros that have gained them their good reputation.
- Affordable for the quality
- Superior bass response
- Good quality sound
- Excellent isolation from background noise
- Large, comfortable ear pads
- Earcups that swivel, good portability
- Removable cables
This pair of headphones is well revered, but like every other piece of equipment out there, it comes with its flaws. Here are some of the few cons of the Audio Technica ATH-M50X’s.
- Boosted High-end and low-end frequencies (so not an accurate flat response).
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Vs Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros are both highly popular headphones used and loved by music producers for studio monitoring purposes.
Both headphones are high quality with their own differences which set them apart from the hundreds of other headphones on the market. The decision you make when choosing between the two pairs should be completely subjective as one producer’s pro is sometimes another producer’s con.
In order to make an informed decision, let’s go through the various features and specifications of each pair to help you figure out which one suits your needs as a producer better.
The specifications of the HD Pro and the Technica ATH-M50X are similar in most ways but there are a few places that the ATH-M50X does better than the HD Pro. Baring this in mind, both pairs are of good quality for their level and can serve you well. Let’s compare the specs in the table below.
Sennheiser HD Pro
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Min. Frequency range
Max. Frequency range
Strong plastic, Faux Leather
Plastic, Faux leather, and metal
As you can see in the table, the main areas that the Audio Technica ATH-M50X succeeds the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is with a 3000Hz difference in high-end and a significantly lower impedance allowing the ATH-M50X headphones to function at higher volumes with less power.
As an audio producer, comfort and durability should be a top priority when choosing which pair of headphones you are going to settle on. When it comes to the choice between the Audio Technica ATH-M50X and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, your decision becomes more difficult as both are so comfortable and sturdy in build.
The build quality for these two pairs of headphones is very good as both headphones are well made with good quality materials. Although both headphones seem to match up here, there is still one main difference between the two in terms of build, and that is the removable cable on the Audio Technica ATH-M50X.
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones have a bulky, yet still very attractive, build. These headphones are made of thick, sturdy plastic with metal accessorizing the ear cups and metal size adjusters to attach the ear cups as well.
The ear cups are lined with a good quality faux leather lining that feels soft on the ear. Although the faux leather is of good quality, it does not have the same durability to wear and tear as the faux leather on the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. However, it should still take a few years for the material to deteriorate and if it does the cups are easy to replace.
When it comes to the headband on the ATH-M50Xs, it is very nice with even padding along the bottom of the band, as well as a layer of padding covering the rest of the band as well. The headband is also quite wide, adding to the comfort of this awesome pair of headphones.
There is not much negative to say about the build of these headphones, but if we were to mention something it would be the bulkiness. These headphones, while still quite lightweight for their size, might not be well suited for a producer who is looking to use these for multiple purposes like casual listening while on the move.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD Pro headphones, much like the Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs, have a bulkier build than some other popular headphones. They are made with thick, high-quality plastic, including the ear cups and size adjusters.
For the price range of these headphones, the quality of the build including all its features is surprising. The padding on the ear cups and headband is covered with high quality, durable faux leather which is said to last significantly longer than other brands of headphones, including the ATH-M50Xs. It does not flake or deteriorate as one would expect after years of usage.
As for the padding on the headband, the design is very different from the ATH-M50Xs. Instead of an even layer of padding along the bottom, this headband sports two thicker pads next to each other where the headphones make contact with the wearer’s head. The rest of the headband is not padded making for a very different look and feel to the ATH-M50Xs.
With this pair of headphones, there is, unfortunately, one drawback and that is the amount of clamping force they hold themselves closed with. The squeezing sensation when worn for long periods of time is unpleasant for some users but is said to improve over time as the headphones naturally lose some of their force with age.
Of course, beyond comfort and appearance, and even price, the most important part of choosing a good pair of headphones for any audio producer is the audio quality and range.
You want good isolation from background noise to help you hone in on the subtle mistakes you may have missed (without the neighbor’s dog interrupting your concentration) and you need a comfortably flat signal to help you determine what needs to be brought up and where sounds may be competing.
A flat signal doesn’t always sound the most enjoyable for general listening, but when it comes to studio monitoring, it is an absolute necessity. Headphones with a flat signal allow you to hear your song as it truly is so you can assure that it sounds good on any speaker once the mix is done.
Between the Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs and the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, both are designed for studio monitoring purposes and have good and bad reviews regarding this. In general, it comes down to preference depending on what you feel helps you mix better, the ultra-flat signal of the HD 280 Pros, or the added color of the ATH-M50Xs.
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X studio monitoring headphones have a high-quality sound. Their sound profile is less flat than the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, with a better bass response and a good high-end range. They have more of a U-Shaped profile, perfect for multipurpose use.
Many producers rave about how enjoyable the ATH-M50X’s are to use, especially for the quality bass response. However, some users found the treble on this pair to be a little exaggerated for their liking.
In general, the sound of these headphones is fantastic, with just the right amount of color for a realistic and enjoyable listening experience. Their clarity and isolation are both a bit better than the HD 280 Pros, making them perfect for both audio engineering and general listening.
Overall, it is important to note that when it comes to audio quality, both pairs of headphones are great for studio monitoring and are revered for their clarity and quality so it really comes down to personal preference.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio monitoring headphones have a high quality, flat sound great for mixing with no added color. Although the sound profile for these headphones is very neutral, many users still report them good for some general use like listening to music.
There are some inconsistencies between different users, some reporting great quality audio with good even frequency response, while others report a poor bass response and an unpleasant flatness to their sound.
The way users experience the flatness of these headphones comes down to personal preference, some finding the flatness useful while others finding it unpleasant to the ear.
Overall, the HD 280 Pro headphones have good quality and clear, neutral sound with good sound isolation from background noise, making them useful for fine-tuning audio and hearing subtle mistakes.
Although price should not necessarily be the deciding factor when choosing which pair of headphones work better for you, it definitely can help you finalize your decision, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Between the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros and the Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs, the difference in price coincides with the difference in quality. Generally, the Audio Technica ATH-M50X studio monitoring headphones are considered slightly better quality, mostly in terms of audio and in some ways the build as well.
The Sennheiser HD 280 Pros go for around $100, with prices sometimes varying, while the Audio Technica ATH-M50Xs go for around $150. Although the price difference isn’t too crazy, it might be a deal-breaker for some.
However, if you can spare the extra $50 and you would prefer a more comfortable pair of headphones with a more colorful sound great for multipurpose use then the Audio Technica’s are your go-to in this case.
If you are on a tight budget and need a pair of headphones exclusively for studio monitoring purposes then the Sennheiser HD 280 Pros are a great deal at a low price for their durable build and flat accurate response.
After all, there will be things that you prefer about one headphone over the other, while another producer may feel the opposite.
Considering the price range of these two headphones, both are very high quality for headphones under $200. Both are accurately designed for studio monitoring purposes, and although they each have their nuances, you really can’t go wrong with either pair.
Every producer has their own preferences and taste, and if you aren’t sure what yours is the best thing to do is to choose the pair that appeals more to you and see where that takes you!
Want to read more about studio headphones? Read our post on the best studio headphones under $300