3 Best Podcast Headphones As Used by Professional Podcasters in 2020

If you’re serious about podcasting, you’re going to be hyper-focused on getting the right equipment. While not the first bit of podcasting kit that comes to mind, a professional-quality pair of headphones is essential for guaranteeing the best audio quality.

As I briefly covered in my guide to the best podcast microphones, there are just a few pairs of headphones used by most of the top podcasters in the business. In this guide, you’ll learn about the top 3 podcast headphones out there, who uses them and which might be right for you.

Let’s dive right into it.

What are podcast headphones?

Podcast headphones are not an official category of headphones, but any headphones built to reproduce audio quality for studio or professional audio use will work well as podcast headphones when recording or editing episodes.

Do you need headphones for podcasting?

If listeners don’t like the way you sound, they’re not going to stick around.

You need headphones for podcasting when:

  • recording podcasts (to monitor audio levels and noise)
  • editing podcasts (to ensure sound quality)

If you use cheap or poor quality headphones to monitor and edit podcasts, you’re not going to pick up on any  potential audio issues, and thus risk releasing podcast episodes that sound pretty bad to some listeners.

Don’t forget that many people listen to podcasts with headphones themselves, so it’s easier for them to notice any sound issues.

Bad Podcast Audio Reviews
iTunes podcast reviews for Physique Science Radio focus on sound quality issues (source)

While they won’t make up for a bad microphone or recording environment, a good pair of podcast headphones will let you monitor and improve sound quality as you record and edit your podcast.

What type of headphones do I need for podcasting?

These are the main features you’ll want to look for in podcast headphones:

  • Closed-back design – for ultimate noise isolation
  • Wired – for optimum sound quality
  • Frequency Response  – 20 to 20,000 Hz range is sufficient and represents standard hearing range
  • Cable length – around 9.8 feet (3m) should be comfortable enough to reach your preamp/computer and allow movement

Best podcast headphones as used by professional podcasters

1. Sony MDR 7506 Podcast Headphones

Sony Mdr7506 Podcast Headphones

Sony MDR 7506 is not the most catchy product name ever invented, but, to misquote Shakespeare, good podcast headphones still sound as sweet with any name, and the MDR 7506’s are the most popular podcast headphones on the market for good reason.

MDR stands for Micro Dynamic Receiver, which refers to the dynamic speaker driver that converts electrical signals into acoustic waves inside the headphones.

Here are just a handful of hugely successful podcasters who use Sony MDR 7506 headphones to monitor audio while recording their podcasts.

Npr Rachel Martin Sony Mdr7506 Headphones
NPR’s Morning Edition host Rachel Martin recording while wearing Sony MDR 7506 headphones

NPR (National Public Radio) uses Sony MDR 7506 headphones in its studios in Washington D.C.

Tigerbelly Podcast Shure Sm7b Sony Mdr
TigerBelly episode 229 with Tiffany Haddish, recorded using Shure SM7B mics and Sony MDR 7506 headphones

Comedian Bobby Lee and guests use Sony MDR 7506 headphones while recording episodes of the TigerBelly podcast.

Roman Mars Podcast Microphone

Roman Mars uses Sony MDR7506 headphones to record his podcast, 99% Invisible.

Sidenote: Roman also uses the popular Shure SM7B podcast microphone, which you’ll see crop up a lot in this article. If you want to more about why it’s so popular and how the mic works, ready my in-depth Shure SM7B review.

Sarah Koenig Serial Podcast Headphones

Host of the podcast that kick-started podcasting, Serial, Sarah Koenig, wears Sony MDR7506 headphones when recording.

Phoebe Judge Criminal Podcast Sony Mdr7506 Headphones

Phoebe Judge, host of popular crime podcast, Criminal, also uses Sony MDR7506 headphones while working.

Jad Abumrad Sony Mdr7506 Radiolab

Host of This American Life, Ira Glass, wears Sony MDR 7506 headphones in the studio.

Brittany Luse The Nod Podcast Gimlet Shure Sm7b Microphones
Brittany Luse recording an episode of The Nod at Gimlet Media

Gimlet Media’s podcast The Nod has plenty of pairs of Sony MDR 7506 headphones in the studio.

I put on my Sony Professional Studio Monitor headphones, which I wear pretty much all day. They make everything sound better. – Brittany Luse, co-host of The Nod (source)

Smosh Podcast Microphones
Sarah Whittle and Courtney Miller record an episode of Smoshcast while wearing Sony MDR7506 headphones

Smoshcast, the podcast from YouTube channel Smosh, uses plenty of pairs of Sony MDR 7506 headphones while recording.

Inside Of You Podcast Michael Rosenbaum
Michael Rosenbaum interviewing Felicia Day for an episode of Inside of You

Inside of You host Michael Rosenbaum uses Sony MDR7506 for himself and guests while recording

Anna Faris Podcast Headphones Sony Mdr7506
Anna Faris interviewing Macaulay Culkin for an episode of Unqualified

Anna Faris uses a couple of pairs of Sony MDR7506 headphones while recording her podcast, Unqualified.

I could bore you with many, many more photos of podcasters wearing Sony MDR7506 headphones, but I think you get the message – they are very popular!

2. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO Podcast Headphones

Sennheiser Hd280pro HeadphonesWhile it might seem like Sony has the monopoly on podcast headphones, there are other big players in town, namely the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones.

Used by some big names in podcasting, including Joe Rogan and Marc Maron, Sennheiser HD 280 PROs are professional-quality, dynamic (HD stands for Headphone Dynamic), closed-back headphones.

Joe Rogan Podcast Sennheiser Hd280pro Headphones

Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones are used by Joe Rogan and his guests on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Grace Helbig Podcast Microphone

YouTuber Grace Helbig uses Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones while recording he podcast, Not Too Deep.

Marc Maron Sennheiser Hd280pro Podcast Headphones
Marc Maron recording an episode of WTF podcast wearing Sennheiser

Marc Maron records WTF with Marc Maron in a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones.

Office Ladies Podcast Sennheiser Hd280pro
Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey wear Sennheiser HD280PRO headphones while recording their The Office re-watch podcast, Office Ladies

Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones are used in the Midroll podcast studios in New York, now part of the Stitcher. Many top podcasts use Sticher’s studios to record, including Office Ladies and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.

Stitcher Midroll Podcast Studios New York
Stitcher Studios setup with Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones and Shure SM7B microphones

3. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Podcast Headphones

Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro Headphones

While not as popular as Sony MDR 7506 or Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones, beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones have their fans in the podcast world.

Dax Shepherd Podcast Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro Headphones
Dax Shepherd recording an episode of Armchair Expert while wearing beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones

Dax Shepherd, host of podcast Armchair Expert, uses beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones while recording his podcast interviews, and his guests get to wear a pair of their own too.

Ellen On Armchair Expert
Ellen DeGeneres recording an episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd while wearing beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones

Aileen Xu, host of popular self-help podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, uses beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones while recording.

Aileen Xu Lavendaire Lifestyle Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro Headphones

BBC Radio 2, one of the UK’s biggest radio stations, also use beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones in their studios.

Zoe Ball Bbc Radio 2 Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro Headphones
Zoe Ball recording her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show wearing beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones tend to run a little more expensive than Sony MDR 7506 or Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones, and they also come in several versions: 32, 80 and 250 ohms.

Dax Shepherd uses the 80 ohm version, so what’s the difference and which one should you choose?

It all comes down to something called headphone impedance.

According to beyerdynamic, the higher impedance headphones are better suited to professional studio mixing.

Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro Headphones Impedance Comparison

The 80 ohm version should be sufficienct for most podcasters:

80 ohms DT 770 Pro is optimized for very high listening levels in a recording studio, for example musicians, playing an instrument, etc (source)

I suggest you read beyerdynamic’s guide to headphone impedance selection for further context.

For reference, DT stands for Dynamic Transducer, which means that these are dynamic headphones.

Sony MDR 7506 vs Sennheiser HD280 PRO vs beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

If you’re struggling to choose between the Sony MDR 7506,  Sennheiser HD280 PRO and beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones, have a look at this handy comparison table.

 Sony MDR 7506Sennheiser HD280 PRObeyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Wire TypeWiredWiredWired
Cup TypeClosed-backClosed-backClosed-back
TransducerDynamicDynamicDynamic
Weight8.1 oz (230g)10 oz (285g)9.5 oz (270g)
Cable Length9.8 feet (3m)9.8 feet (3m)9.8 feet (3m)
Frequency Response10 to 2000 Hz8 to 25000 Hz5 to 35000 Hz
Sensitivity (Sound Pressure Level)106 dB113 dB96 dB
Impedance63 Ohms64 OhmsChoice of 32, 80 or 250 Ohms

Final verdict

Ultimately, you’re in good company if you choose any of the 3 popular professional podcasting headphones we’ve covered here. They’re used by big names with mega-successful podcasts and the specs are fairly comparable: closed-back, dynamic headphones with similar weights, cable lengths, sensitivity and frequency response.

The main difference comes down to whether you like the style and fit, so don’t forget to go somewhere to try them on or buy from a place with free returns so you can get a feel for the headphones before committing to long sessions.

If you’re looking for more podcast equipment, don’t forget to check out our piece on the best podcast microphones, too. And for podcast hosting, you’ll find the biggest podcast platforms in our list.

Helpful links

Sony MDR7506 official website

Sennheiser HD 280 PRO official website

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO official website