When it comes to buying the best headphones for video editing, we're looking for excellent sound quality and detail, but without the punchiness and colour to the audio we might look for from something like the best running headphones.
What we need in monitor headphones for video editing is a neutral sound, not emphasising any particular part of the soundstage, though not lacking in areas such as deep bass either, since we might expect people to be listening on sound systems that include meaty subwoofers.
Below are the top six models that we've picked as the very best headphones for video editing. They all have their specific strengths, and all come at different price points, but they're all united by being brilliant at what they do – much like the best video editing software (download Premiere Pro, our top pick, if you haven't already).
Looking for other headphone options? We also have guides to the best noise-cancelling headphones, and the best wireless headphones. If you're looking to save a bit of cash, be sure to bookmark our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals article, which we'll be updating with all the best headphone discounts as and when they land. And to make sure you're fully kitted out for video editing, also see our best monitors for video editing.
The best headphones for video editing available now
These have become a staple of creative work, and for good reason: they’re comfortable, the closed back keeps the noise of the world out reasonably well, and they sound superb, with unmatched levels of detail in this price range.
The sound aims to be neutral and natural, and it succeeds at that overall; while there’s just a little more weight in the bass than purists might prefer, we don’t mind that at all. It’s not enough to really call them problematically weighted towards the low end, and plenty of people will watch on TV setups that pack in bass power, or on phone headphones that do.
The most important part is that the separation and detail is exactly where it needs to be, meaning you’re hearing everything in the mix precisely, and you’re getting a great sense of the stereo. In terms of comfort, they’re good for long working stretches, and we like that they come with three cables: a coiled cable stretching from 1.2m to 3m, a 3m straight cable, and a 1.2m straight cable for on the move.
Look, if you want a pair of neutral headphones for getting a totally uncoloured listen to your audio tracks, and you don’t want to splash out loads, get these. It’s that simple. The Sony MDR 7506 will celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2021, and there’s a damn good reason they’ve not only survived that length of time, but been wildly popular in studios all over the world from launch until now.
When it comes to a ‘flat’ reproduction of sound across the full frequency range you need, nobody does it better, despite the price. Detail comes through nicely… and that’s all you want. They’re reasonable at sound isolation, being closed back, and they’re really small and portable when folded.
They’re not very thickly padded, and though this doesn't cause comfort issues for most people, it does mean they don’t cut out sound from outside as well as some of the others here. And some people do struggle with headphones that aren't well-padded, so it may not be for them.
Planar magnetic headphones use a different type of driver to 99% of headphones (these are the only ones here of the type). Instead of magnets driving a large cone to shift air and create sound, here a thin flat film is moved instead. The result is more precise sound than almost any other headphones can manage, with ultra-low distortion – meaning less of the very finest edges of the sound get sanded away. At the same time, they can drive a more impactful soundstage, where robust bass doesn’t overwhelm the mids or trebles.
The result is pretty much the best sound quality you can get for this price, paired with faultless detail levels, and a wide spacious sound that comes across as much less 'contained' than most of the headphones here. That’s partly thanks to these being open-backed headphones, which allow air to flow through the headphones themselves.
The advantage of being open-backed is that you don’t feel like the sound is stuck just in your ears – with the right driver quality, it feels closer to being in a room with speakers. However, the big disadvantage is that outside sounds can just wander happily into your ears, because they’re not sealed out, and interfere with your listening. And vice versa – in a shared working space, others will be able to hear audio faintly drifting out.
The downside of planar magnetic headphones was always that they required lots of power (and, therefore, a headphone amp) to drive them, and they were heavy and unwieldy. Well, these can be driven from anything (though if you want the full loudness they can muster, you would need an amp – few will really want that, though), and they’re no heavier than the other headphones here.
In the right environment, and if you want your audio to sound as much like it’s coming from a real set of meaty home cinema speakers as possible, these are excellent headphones to choose. But they won’t suit all situations.
If you need to work in noisy or distracting environments, a pair of great headphones with active noise-cancellation are a godsend. But these aren’t great. These are fantastic. The newest model in a line heralded by travellers for years, the WH-1000XM4 cut out sound better than anything else on the market, reducing a raucous train to barely a hubbub, and basically banishing a plane’s engines.
Crucially, the audio quality is superb as well, balancing really well out of the box – there’s plenty of bass, but not an excess; the mid-range is precise and clear; and treble is elevated and crisp. However, while we like the balance, it certainly isn't neutral: you can, however, tweak the mix using Sony’s app to bring it more in line.
Sony does a lot of audio processing in these headphones, in not just the noise cancellation, but generally managing the audio profile. This means they’re not inherently made to be monitors, but if what you’re looking for is detailed, dynamic audio you can hear in any environment, these need to be part of your toolkit.
The ergonomics are great here too – they’re much lighter than most other noise cancelling headphones, making them more wearable for long periods of work. The earpads are soft and comfortable too. And you can use Bluetooth or a wired connection, so you can use them with no latency risk.
If you’d like to save a little, take a look at the predecessor to these – the Sony WH-1000XM3 (see best prices below). They’re very, very nearly as good in every way, but have had their price slashed dramatically, making them a huge bargain.
For many, the most comfortable way to listen for long periods is with a pair of great-fitting in-ear monitors, and when it comes to audio quality, these Audio Technicas are hard to beat. They’re a triple driver model – one each for highs, mids and lows – meaning they give you as much oomph as tiny in-ear speakers can manage.
The bass is just a little weak when compared to the higher-end over-ear headphones we’ve chosen here, but the advantage is that the design here gives you excellent isolation from outside sounds, sits securely in the ear with the help of a flexible over-ear loop locking it place, and they weigh basically nothing, so with a comfortable in-ear tip, you’ll forget you’re even wearing them.
The balance is still more than good enough for the majority of audio mastering work – indeed, if you’re working for the web, you really don’t need any better than this anyway. You can hear all the detail you need, in any case.
If you like the idea of using sound-isolating, ultra-lightweight in-ear headphones as monitors, but want a more entry-level price tag, Sennheiser has you covered with these great monitors. The ‘Pro’ moniker here indicates a change from Sennheisers usual warmer sound to the more neutral approach favoured for studio work.
Rather than a multi-driver approach, a single larger driver is used here, more like an over-ear headphone pair. Sennheiser knows exactly how to use it, tuning it for an impressively balanced sound, with solid levels of bass, a mid-range that doesn’t get washed out despite maintaining its Swiss-like neutrality, and a high-end that has no problem picking out details. The only issue with them at all for studio purposes is that the treble feels like it’s being a tad over-egged to emphasise those details – not really a problem, but it feels like it’s breaking out in more of a sweat to get there, compared to the more natural sound of our other choices. But we’re nitpicking there.
They’re extremely comfortable for long sessions, with again an over-the-ear loop locking them in place. With the right in-ear fit, you can lose yourself to Premiere for hours in these and not feel any fatigue
What we look for in the best headphones for video editing
The aim with the best headphones for video editing is to give ourselves a solid, neutral ground to build on when mixing volumes and effects – people will listen on sound systems that vary wildly in the ways they tweak the audio, so we'll aim for the best accuracy and detail we can muster.
Another big factor in headphones for video editing is comfort, since you'll likely be working for hours at a time. Everything we've chosen here has found favour with editors thanks to reliable fits, comfortable weights and good padding that won't overheat you.
Most of the over-ear headphones here are closed-back, which means they don't allow air to flow through the structure of the headphones freely. This has the advantage of cutting out exterior sounds better, so they're not interfering with what you're trying to listen to, also often find it easier to dig into bass frequencies solidly. If exterior noise is a big problem (if you work while travelling, say), then the best noise-cancelling headphones can help you overcome this – we've chosen our favourite in this list, though.
We've also chosen headphones that don't require headphone amps to drive them, so they're all good for plugging into your laptop or PC directly, and double as being great for phones or tablets.
We've focused on wired headphones, to ensure lag-free listening. While Bluetooth headphones can be close enough to lag free to make no odds, there's no real way of us guaranteeing it for you, since the combination of different Bluetooth tech in the computer and headphones can mean unpredictable outcomes. All headphones here come with a standard 3.5mm cable.
The frequency ranges of the headphones here are also a factor: human hearing is generally considered to range from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, but a home sound system subwoofer may offer as low as 15Hz, so where possible, we've included headphones that can reach similarly low. That said, not many movies are mixed that low anyway, but at least you'll have the best chance of hearing tracks that are.