7 Best Headphones for Transcription for Vocal Clarity

Author: Ross McLeod | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

The best headphones for transcription must offer several vital qualities. Firstly, they need to reproduce audio with precise clarity so that you can quickly and efficiently identify words and phrases.

They also must produce a balanced frequency response that focuses on the main frequencies of the human voice, and be comfortable enough to wear for long periods. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find the very best transcription headphones available.

7 Best Transcription Headphones

With decades of frontline experience in the audio manufacturing field, Sony’s reputation is unquestionable. Their range of headphones includes various offerings that are great for transcription, with the MDR-7506 one of the finest in production.

A popular choice for mixing and recording engineers in professional studios, the MDR-7506 headphones are well suited to real-time monitoring and focused listening. The sound isolation they offer is also second to none.

Transcription often involves listening to audio files for long periods in one sitting, so comfort is of paramount importance. Sony has designed these closed-back headphones in the earcup style, ensuring that friction and tightness are kept to a minimum.

Sonically, the frequency response of these headphones is extensive. Spanning from 10 Hz – 20 kHz, they easily cover the whole spectrum of the human voice, no matter what the individual’s speaking tone or pitch is.

This comfort is underlined by the inclusion of an adjustable headband. The cushioned support can be extended or tightened to suit the shape of size of your head, making for a more comfortable listening experience.

Indeed, transcription is a job that can be done remotely, from any location. Therefore, choosing a pair of mobile headphones is also important.

Thankfully, the Sony MDR-7506 set fold away when you’ve finished using them, for easy transportation and storage.

PROS

  • Closed-back earcup design for ultimate noise isolation
  • Adjustable cushioned headband
  • 10 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Find-away design for easy storage and transportation

CONS

  • No Bluetooth or wireless connectivity

The ATH-M20x headphones by Audio-Technica are built with high-quality components, whilst providing exceptional value. They feature neodymium magnet drivers that span 40mm and deliver accurate, crisp tone across the frequency range.

These unique magnets also keep the bass frequencies sounding solid and tight. With a closed-back design, they provide stellar noise isolation with very little bleed. External noises are minimized to help you focus on the transcription audio.

Another innovative inclusion by Audio-Technicais the circumauralearpads, which cushion the headphones and provide comfort over long listening sessions. They are robust and durable enough to handle consistent usage.

The frequency response of transcription headphones needs to be comprehensive, as you can never predict the quality or vocal styles of the recordings. Covering the range of 15 Hz – 20 kHz, these ATH-M20x headphones suffice.

One of the main reasons that Audio-Technica has emerged as a leading manufacturer of headphones and recording equipment is their ability to use quality components while keeping their costs reasonable.

With the ATH-M20x headphones, they have succeeded at this once again. The copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils are tailored for speech recognition, and the enhanced low-end performance will prove very useful for transcription purposes.

PROS

  • 15 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Specially tuned for low-end clarity
  • 40 mm drivers with rare magnets enhance the accuracy
  • Comfortable circumaural design

CONS

  • Lacking wireless connectivity

If you’re familiar with ECS, you’ll know that they are a specialized provider of transcription and speech-based audio devices. Their WordSmith in-ear USB transcription headset is amongst their standout offerings.

The first thing you’ll notice about the WordSmith headphones is their impeccable ability to isolate the sound source and reduce external bleed. This creates the platform for silent dictation and will speed up your transcription work tremendously.

As a transcriber, you’ll be aware of the fact that not all of the audio files you receive are of particularly high quality. Therefore, your headphones must hone in on the main frequencies of human vocals.

The WordSmith headphones by ECS certainly do this. The proprietary sound card is capable of generating impressive volume and pinpoint accuracy. Then, the voice frequency matching technology highlights the slight nuances of the speaker.

With simple USB connectivity, these headphones are easy to set up and use. You simply plug them into the USB port on your laptop or computer and enjoy the crisp reproduction of transcription files right away.

Due to the likelihood that transcription headphones will be subjected to heavy use, ECS has included a 10-foot braided nylon cord. Durable and extensive, this cord ensures the longevity of the headphones.

PROS

  • Convenient USB headphones
  • Noise-isolating
  • Unique voice frequency matching technology
  • Capable of clarity even at high volumes

CONS

  • In-ear design reduces noise-canceling abilities

The Speech Deluxe headphone by Philips provides you with clear audio for your transcriptions. Lightweight and discreet, they are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.

This stereo headset delivers crisp sound quality, which covers the full range of the human voice. They also slot tightly into the ears, keeping background noises at bay and improving your listening focus.

The Speech Deluxe Transcription Headset comes with a soft ear cushion for ultimate comfort. They also have a hanging bracket that can be used to attach the headset to a monitor if required.

The quality of the connectors is also of a very high standard. The last thing you need is to find that your new headset’s output connector has become worn away after a short time. With gold plated connectors, this won’t be an issue.

Included with the Philips Speech Deluxe headset is a 3-meter cable. This allows you to move around the room while listening to audio without being confined to your desk or having to stop transcribing while you get something from across the room.

These headphones sit under the chin, rather than the conventional behind-the-head design. This might take a little getting used to initially, but in the long term, it reduces friction and tension.

PROS

  • Lightweight & durable
  • Soft foam ear cushions
  • Gold-plated connector
  • Inbuilt speaker driver for clear audio reproductions

CONS

  • The under-the-chin design takes some getting used to

The USB Transcription Headset is a high-quality offering from Spectra. This manufacturer has emerged as a competitor for the long-standing dominators of the industry in recent years, and it's easy to see why.

One of the great things bout this USB headset is the control it allows you over transcription audio volume. With a dedicated level control built onto the device, you can quickly set the dynamics to suit your requirements.

Storing your transcription headphones is something that needs to be considered. This is especially important if you plan on working remotely and transporting your equipment from one location to another.

To facilitate this, Spectra has included a convenient carry pouch for your storage. This padded carrier prevents your headset from being subjected to unnecessary wear and tear and boosts its longevity.

In terms of connectivity options, you can use a USB or 3.5mm jack to link the headphones to your chosen device. They are connected by a loop, which provides the necessary tension to hold the headset in place, while not causing unnecessary pressure on your head.

PROS

  • Features a digital volume control
  • Lightweight & robust design
  • Personal storage pouch included

CONS

  • Lack the noise-canceling abilities of over-ear headphones

Samson’s SR350 is the perfect affordable option for transcribing audio. These over-ear, closed-back headphones boast exceptional noise isolation so that you can focus exclusively on the words spoken in the recordings.

For comfort, Samson has fitted the SR350s with cushioned earpads. They also have a slightly contoured shape, and the adjustable headband caters to all head shapes and dimensions.

The crisp and clear audio quality produced by these headphones is a direct result of the high-quality components that they consist of. The 35mm drivers use rare earth magnets, to boost low-end clarity and create balance across the frequency spectrum.

This balanced output covers the whole frequency range of the human voice, no matter what the individual’s speaking style. If you’re listening to sub-par quality transcription audio, the SR350s will help to make it more clear.

With a frequency response that stretches from 20 Hz – 20 kHz, these headphones leave no sounds behind. They come with a 6ft cable, so you can use them at a considerable distance from your computer or laptop.

The connector size is 1/8”, but these headphones also come equipped with a ¼” adapter. This means you can connect them to most audio devices, including headphone amps or audio interfaces.

PROS

  • Powerful & clear low end
  • Balanced output across the frequency range
  • Contoured & cushioned for comfort
  • 6ft cable with ¼” adapter included

CONS

  • Wired connection only

The ECS WordHear-O headset is a great choice for professional transcribers. They deliver rich and immersive audio, with accuracy across the frequency range of the human voice.

The headset is worn under the chin, which reduces unnecessary pressure. They are lightweight and mobile, and the fitted ear cushions are designed to fit the shape of any ear.

For transcribing purposes, these headphones boast several useful qualities. Line-in volume control allows you to tailor the dynamics in real-time, while an extensive 10-foot cord minimizes restrictions.

Durable and high-quality, the WordHear-O headset is constructed from antimicrobial materials. These synthetics prevent any bacteria from forming on the headphones, and in turn, boost their longevity.

The headset also comes with some useful add ons for streamlining the transcription process. These include three sets of replacement sponges and a carry pouch for convenient storage.

There’s also a built-in premium sound card which significantly improves the audio quality of transcription audio. This allows you to work faster and more efficiently, saving you time and effort.

PROS

  • Specifically designed for transcribing audio
  • The inbuilt sound card delivers high-quality audio
  • Antimicrobial materials
  • 10 ft cord and carry pouch included

CONS

  • None

The Required Qualities for Transcription Headphones

When it comes to choosing the best headphones for transcription, it’s important to be aware of the qualities that are required. Transcription is a fast-paced listening process, where every second counts.

An ideal set of headphones for this purpose need specific features that ensure maximum comfort, and accuracy.

Frequency Response 

First of all, the frequency response is extensive enough to cover the full range of human speech.

20 Hz – 20 kHz is an ideal frequency response for transcription headphones. This will ensure that you can hear both male and female vocals while picking up on the pronunciation and small details of the audio.

Noise Isolation

Noise isolation is also a desirable quality. The headphones should minimize background noises, whilst isolating the sound source and playing it back with pinpoint accuracy. Contoured earphones are great for ensuring this.

Connector Type

Another thing that you should consider, is the type of connector that the headset facilitates. If you are plugging them directly into a computer or laptop, you’ll need 3.5mm jack connectors.

Alternatively, if you want to use a preamp or audio interface for transcription, you’ll likely need an adapter. Many headphones come with adapters so that they can be used with any playback device.

Flexibility

The length of the cord that is included with the headphones will decide the flexibility and mobility they offer. If you like to move around your office while listening to transcription audio, you’ll need a cord that is long enough to facilitate this.

Type of Headphones

Finally, you should decide whether you would prefer headphones that rest under the chin, or more conventionally, over the ears. This comes down to personal preference.

Final Thoughts

Transcription is a skill that requires maximum concentration. Choosing a good set of headphones for this purpose will speed up the process and allow you to work more effectively.

The headphones featured in this guide all provide various benefits for transcription. Whichever you decide on, I’m sure that they will greatly enhance your ability to transcribe right away!

About Ross McLeod

Ross is a music producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He is the frontman of The Blue Dawns, where he handles vocal and bass duties. He has extensive experience with bass, drums and guitar. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket.

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