As a transcriber you wear headphones for a large part of your day. Finding a pair that is affordable, durable, comfortable, and has great sound quality is very important. In this article we’ll discuss and review ten of the best headphones for transcription.
The links included in the reviews are the most current Amazon.com listings and price data. This page is a guide when purchasing headphones for audio transcription.
Best Headphones for Transcription
The Sony MDR7506 Professional is my favorite. Sony has a great line of studio monitors and they provide amazing clarity, ideal for transcribers & audio professionals.
1. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones – Amazon.com Current Price
- Terrific sound quality.
- Very sturdy design. These will not break from regular use.
- Fits comfortably over your ear. I’ve noticed very little ear pressure while using these.
- Designed for audio recording professionals & hobbyists so they block out all exterior noises.
- Long sturdy cord that does not get caught or tangled due to its circular design.
- Includes a bag/cover and 1/4” adapter.
- Very sturdy and versatile. These are great for spoken word & music.
- Higher priced than other headphones in the category, but if you take care of these headphones they should last a very long time.
- Larger than a standard pair of headphones.
- No Bluetooth or wireless option.
- Not ideal headphones for being on-the-go or outdoors.
The Spectra USB Transcription Headset is very popular & designed for transcription. It has a USB plug, digital volume control, 10 foot cord, and weighs 1 oz.
2. Spectra USB Transcription Headset with Volume Control – Amazon.com Current Price
- The Spectra headset is very affordable.
- Headset is lightweight and will be comfortable for most users.
- On-set volume control. This allows you to control the volume directly on the headset.
- Terrific vocal clarity.
- These are designed specifically for vocals so music playback could suffer.
- Lightweight plastic headsets are less sturdy than a full sized pair of headphones.
The Sennheiser HD 201 Lightweight Headphones have great audio quality. The lightweight design is ideal for transcribers who wear headphones for hours at a time.
3. Sennheiser HD 201 Lightweight Over Ear Headphones – Amazon.com for Current Price
- Reasonably priced. Sennheiser is a reliable brand.
- Very lightweight, ideal for transcribers who type for long periods.
- Blocks out exterior noises very well.
- Great sound clarity.
- Versatile – These headphones can be used for transcription or music playback.
- Comes with a 1/4” adapter. The adapter allows you to connect to a stereo system & musical instruments.
- The bass response is low.
- Not designed specifically for transcription.
The ECS WordSlinger Deluxe USB Transcription Headset is a headset designed specifically for transcription. It comes with on-set audio & volume controls.
4. ECS WordSlinger Deluxe USB Transcription Headset – Amazon.com Current Price
- Designed specifically for audio transcription.
- Great volume and word clarity.
- Has on-set audio and volume controls.
- The customized controls are great for files with quiet & distorted audio.
- Headset is well priced.
- Designed for vocals. These would not be ideal for listening to music.
- A lot of buttons and on-board audio options that may not come in handy.
The ECS WordSmith USB Transcription Headset is essentially the same as the WordSlinger Deluxe, (pictured above) but this product is in-ear as opposed to over-the-ear.
5. ECS WordSmith In-Ear USB Transcription Headset – Amazon.com Current Price
Pro: In-ear headsets will block out almost all exterior noises.
Differences Between WordSmith & WordSlinger?
- This product has a 10 foot cord. The WordSlinger has a 7 foot cord.
- The WordSmith is in-ear, the WordSlinger is over-the-ear.
Which Should You Choose?
The choice mainly depends on if you prefer an in-ear headset or an over-the-ear headset. I find over-the-ear design more comfortable, but the in-ear design does block out exterior noises better.
The Logitech USB Headset H570e is a well-priced, versatile headset. Logitech is a very trusted brand that makes a great line of affordable headsets, all of which include a microphone.
6. Logitech USB Headset H570e Stereo – Amazon.com Current Price
- Affordably priced at around $40.
- Includes a microphone. This is perfect for dictating in Dragon’s NaturallySpeaking software, Podcasting, Skype, and Google Voice.
- Lightweight (under 3 ounces)
- Headphones do a very good job of blocking out exterior noises.
- Not ideal for listening to music.
- Not a great headset for outdoors or being on-the-go.
Olympus makes well-priced & lightweight headsets designed for transcription.
7. Olympus E-62 (146031) Transcription Stereo Headset – Amazon.com Current Price
- Very lightweight & long cable.
- Comes with two different types of ear pads.
- Priced at around $40 which is more expensive than other headsets in this class.
- Not ideal for listening to music.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones is arguably the best pair of headphones on the market. They are versatile, durable, comfortable, and the sound quality is phenomenal. You can use Bluetooth or plug in directly to your device.
8. Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones – Amazon.com Current Price
- Very comfortable headphones.
- You can use these as a Bluetooth headset or plug in directly to your computer.
- Well-made and durable.
- Headphones fold up and come with a carrying case.
- Bose speakers have some of the best audio quality you’ll find in today’s marketplace.
- Very versatile headphones. Great for transcription or music playback.
- The only problem is the price. The QuietComfort has a $350 MSRP price tag, but these headphones will hold up over time.
Audio-Technica is a trusted brand that makes great headphones for audio professionals. These have terrific audio clarity.
9. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Headphones – Amazon.com Current Price
- Fantastic Audio Quality. These are used by audio professionals around the world.
- Very comfortable ear cups.
- Great variety of color choices.
- There’s an optional Bluetooth adapter designed for these headphones.
- Detachable cable. If your cord rips, you can always replace the cable.
- Very sturdy. This is the type of headset you can own for many years.
- These headphones are large. They would not be great for listening on the go.
- Similar to the Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones, but they’re more expensive.
The Bose SoundSport is a great, extremely lightweight pair of Bluetooth earbuds.
10. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones – Amazon.com Current Price
- Very lightweight. Less than 1 ounce.
- Sleek design.
- Long Battery Life
- Wireless Bluetooth technology.
- Comes with built-in microphone.
- Very versatile.
- You can take these on the go, transcribe at home, listen to music, work out, etc.
- These headphones do not have a wire. They require a Bluetooth connection.
- Higher priced than a lot of Bluetooth headsets, but Bose is a luxury brand.
Which transcription headphones are best for you?
Everybody has different needs. Some people have big ears (like myself), and smaller headsets and earbuds may not be comfortable in the long-run. Whereas other people like the convenience of the more compact earbuds.
Price is a factor for any purchase, but you don’t have to break the bank on headphones. Luxury brands like Bose & Beats aren’t always necessary for transcription. There are many headsets between $25 and $50 that are great quality, suitable for transcribing, and will hold up over time.
I hope this article was helpful. Comment below if you have a favorite pair of headphones and please leave any questions or comments you might have. Happy transcribing!
Click here to see our reviews of the best transcription software.
22 thoughts on “Ten Best Headphones for Transcription in 2023”
could you please advise what are the best earbud head phones for transcribing reports from doctor. I need clarity and hardly any base.
Thanks for your question. Number one on the list, the Spectra USB Headset, would be your best bet. It has low bass and clear audio.
I transcribe disciplinary hearings and CCMA arbitrations with more than five people in a room. I had the Spectra Transcription Headset but it broke after three years. I was very happy with the sound. I work from home and have quite a bit of noise around me.
I need to replace mine and would like your input?
Thanks for your question! There’s a new Spectra headset, this article should be updated soon. It’s the same as the old one, but it’s a newer version and slightly less weight. Here is the link:
Also people like the Executive Pro headset, it’s good for transcribing and lightweight:
I personally like the Sony and Sennheiser headsets. The lightweight Sennheiser is great and any of the Sony studio monitors (a little more expensive) have terrific audio quality.
I’d go with another transcription headset. You could always buy a 3-year warranty plan. Spectra often only last about 3 to 5 years, but they are cheaper than big name brands generally.
What would you say the best set is for transcribing the vocal audio in police body worn cam videos? They have a lot of background noise. And how does low bass factor in? Is that a factor to consider? Thx
I think the Sony MDR 7506 is your best best or a pair of Sennheiser headphones. You don’t want headphones designed for pop music, like the Beats brands or others, because you really just want to hear the vocals in a body camera and not external background noises like car engines, foot steps, and other heavier sounds.
Hope my answer helps and good luck!
– Flawless Transcription
Fantastic, thank you.
Hello – any suggestions for transcribing 100 or so hours of interviews for a documentary? I have a small head/ears and I do production work so for ease of use, I usually have gone the airbud route for being on set. But this pair will not leave my office – so I’m not as worried about that.
I think the Sony MDR 7506 is the best overall headphones for transcription because they’re well built, comfortable, and they’re studio monitors – the headphones block out exterior noises nicely and have great vocal clarity. They’re a little more expensive than some other brands. Sennheiser is another good brand and they’re a little cheaper than Sony headphones.
Good luck with your transcription!
No question, just a compliment. I wanted to say how much I appreciate how you answer questions in the comment section months after you’ve posted the original article. Oftentimes people never receive answers. Thank you for such a helpful review as well.
Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate it.
I am hard of hearing and with volume turned to 100% I am still having trouble hearing. What do you suggest
Audio Technica (ATH-M40x or ATH-M50x models) or Sony studio monitor headphones would be a good choice as they cover the whole ear and do a great job of blocking out exterior noises.
I wear a hearing aid and need over the ear headphones. I transcribe committee meetings and sometimes miss words or have a hard time figuring out what they are saying. What headphones would you recommend?
A Bluetooth set, something along these lines:
Hope you had good luck finding a good pair!
I’m looking for some over-ear headphones for my small head. I mainly transcribe interviews and focus groups which are often recorded on phones or laptops and are often poor quality. Can you recommend some decent quality headphones which cost less than £100, preferably with bluetooth option? I know I’m asking a lot, but want to keep the cost down for now with a view to upgrading later on. Much appreciated!
That can be a little tricky, I have a huge head lol. Sennheiser or some small Sony’s might work. You could look on Amazon or go to a Guitar Center type place locally if you have access to that.
Hello: I’m finding your very thorough article late, but really appreciate your insight. I’m an editor reviewing transcriptions before they’re submitted to the client. I listen to hours of court hearings. The sound quality is generally good, but often with harsh spoken vocals.
I’m new to this work and am concerned about the impact on my hearing of listening to these audios for hours a day. Do you have any thoughts about which kind of headsets – over-the-ear or ear buds are better for keeping ones’ hearing safe in this line of work? Thanks so much!
I work with in-ear buds and I seem to prefer that. I’ve tried a pair of regular Sony headphones, but I really like the sound being IN my ear and noticed a difference even though the Sony were a very expensive, high-quality set. Knowing that earbuds are my preference, do you have any recommendations for the higher end? Do you think that over ear is actually better than in-ear or is it really just a personal preference? Thank you.
When I transcribe with Ear Buds I always use Apple products. These are easy to connect and a fun pair of headphones to use for working out as well:
That is an Amazon link so it will redirect you to Amazon.com.