Ten Best Headphones for Transcription in 2020

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.

Best Headphones for Transcription

The Sony MDR7506 Professional is a terrific pair of headphones. Sony has a great line of studio monitors and they provide amazing clarity, ideal for transcribers & audio professionals.

1. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones – Check 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.
  • Folds them up! It even has a nice carry case, so you can take them on the go.
  • Very versatile. These are great for spoken word & music.


  • $79.99 to $99.99 price tag depending on available inventory, but as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for. The sound quality is superior to cheaper headphones ($20 to $50 range), these headphones blockout all exterior noises, and this Sony headset will last and not deteriorate over time.

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 – Check Current Price


  • The Spectra headset is very affordable at $27.00.
  • 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 can break with prolonged use.

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 – Check Current Price


  • Reasonably priced at $45 per pair.
  • 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 – Check 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 reasonably priced at $49.95.


  • Designed for vocals. These would not be ideal for listening to music.

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 – Check Current Price

 Pro: In-ear headsets will block out almost all exterior noises.

Differences Between WordSmith & WordSlinger?

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 – Check 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.


  • Voice clarity is not as high as headsets designed for transcription.

Olympus makes well-priced & lightweight headsets designed for transcription.

7. Olympus E-62 (146031) Transcription Stereo Headset – Check Current Price


  • Comfortable.
  • Very lightweight & long cable.
  • Comes with two different types of ear pads.


  • Priced at around $45 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 – Check 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 $349 MSRP price tag, but these headphones will hold up over time.

Bose QuietComfort Sale

Rose Gold Bose Headphones

As of May, 2020 the Rose Gold version of these headphones are on sale at around $230, or 34% off, on Amazon.com.

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 – Check 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.
  • $149 MSRP price tag.
  • 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 – Check 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.
  • $99 MSRP price tag, but Bose is a high quality brand.

Which transcription headphones are best for you?

best headphones

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.

15 thoughts on “Ten Best Headphones for Transcription in 2020

  1. could you please advise what are the best earbud head phones for transcribing reports from doctor. I need clarity and hardly any base.

  2. Hello there

    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?

  3. Hi,

    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


    • Hi KM,

      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

  4. 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.

    • Hi Nancy,

      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!

  5. Hi,

    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.

  6. 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?

  7. Hi,
    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!

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