Skip to main content

Samson’s Z55 studio headphones offer brilliantly-balanced sound for less

samsong z55 professional reference headphones samson manual
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Alright, we admit it: Studio headphones are not hip. Since the Beats revolution has erupted over the last few years, headphones have become as much about style as substance, and studio headphones have quietly watched that trend from the outside, staying true to their roots like the musical Luddites they are.

However, if you’re trying to put together a home studio, podcast work station, or even fill out your professional studio with some decent loaners, studio cans are an all-but essential purchase. And at just $200, the Z55 Reference headphones from Samson make for an enticingly affordable choice, offering a professional audio experience on the cheap.

Related: Audeze goes direct to Lightning with the EL-8 Titanium

While it’s true that all studio cans tend to blur together when it comes to style, Samson has added some thoughtful features to the Z55’s exterior that helps them take a step forward from rival studio cans. The headphones may sport a healthy amount of plastic on board, but it’s easy to tell they’re built with durability in mind, and the lighter materials also make them a lot easier to wear over time.

To that end, there’s plenty of padding along both the ear pads and the headband, sheathed in real lambskin for a smooth and cushy fit that makes the Z55 ideal for those long mix sessions. The earpieces also lay flat, for travel, and even collapse into the band if you need to save some space at your workspace. One thing we did note about the exterior design is that the paint seems to wear off without much help, so playing rough and tumble with these cans may not break them, but it will likely leave them looking a little ragged over time.

Unlike most consumer headphones, the most important accessories for the Z55 are the cables, and the headphones really deliver the goods there. Inside the box you’ll find three options, including an accordion cord that stretches to 10 feet to allow free movement to and from your computer or mixing board; an eight-foot straight cord perfect for laying down tracks, and a basic four-foot cable with a single-button mic piece for taking the cans out of the studio and into the world.

Samson also includes a soft carrying pouch for travel, along with a screw-on quarter-inch adaptor in gold.

But its the sound of the Z55 that really prove their worth. The 45mm drivers provide a clear, wide-open sound signature that makes it easy to track instruments across the stereo image. Frequencies across the scale are excellently balanced, and the headphones capture a lot of detail for the price — especially at the attack of instruments.

The cans tend to lean just a tad light in the upper midrange, especially notable in acoustic guitar tracks, and they’re also a little lacking in the mid bass, so you’ll have to watch out for overcompensating in the mix there. However, lower bass is impressive for such a clean sound signature, hitting with real authority in the deeper frequencies.

While there are a rainbow of choices out there for entry-level studio cans, Samson’s Z55 pack a lot of bang for the buck at the $200 line. For those trying to build a nice home studio setup, or even fill out their loaner sets in a pro-setting, the Z55 Professional Reference Headphones are well worth a long look.

Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is an audio engineer, musician, composer, and all-around lover of all things tech, audio, and cinema. Hailing…
The 11 best Robert De Niro movies to stream right now
From Raging Bull to The Godfather Part II, these are the roles that have defined De Niro's long career
Robert De Niro in Goodfellas

There are few actors working today who can match the career that Robert De Niro has had. Some, like Brad Pitt or even George Clooney, have been in plenty of great movies, but even they don't stack up to the kind of career that De Niro has had over the last half a century. De Niro's success can be chalked up, at least in part, to his collaboration with great directors. De Niro has been in some of Martin Scorsese's best movies, and Scorsese isn't the only director who knows how to use him.

Really, though, it's De Niro himself who deserves a lot of the credit. Although he's been in plenty of schlock, the best movies of his career are up there with the best movies ever made. When he emerged on the scene, De Niro showed off his ability to play a range of different types, and his skills have only deepened as the years have gone by. Keep reading and find out what Robert De Niro movies you cannot miss if you have already.

Read more
The 12 best Adam Sandler movies (they’re not all comedies)
From Uncut Gems to Happy Gilmore, these are the films that defined Sandler's career to date
Henry Winkler (left) and Adam Sandler in The Waterboy

 

What is there left to say about Adam Sandler? The Sand-Man has been a fixture of pop culture for well over 20 years, having worked first on Saturday Night Live and then broken out in a series of farcical, wonderful comedies in the years after his departure. He's one of the biggest comedy stars on the planet, and he's been part of some of the best comedy movies. He's also made plenty of movies that nobody should be forced to watch twice.
For every movie that has immediately been relegated to the trash bin of history, though, Sandler has also made an indelible comedy or a surprising turn into drama. While he could have emerged looking a little bit like a one-trick pony who relies on funny voices for cheap laughs, Sandler turned out to be far more complicated than that. He is a genuinely great actor whenever he wants to be. The rest of the time, he's content to make silly movies with his best friends. Here are the best Adam Sandler movies you need to watch now.

Read more
Take a lot of handwritten notes? This gadget will change your life
A man uses the reMarkable 2.

There is an overwhelming desire to return to paper from people of all walks of life lately. Screens have invaded us. But what we're often not seeing is an actual return to paper. It's not necessarily as convenient as we remember it to be, and a lot of the return to paper is about desire, not action.

Should you also have the desire to return to the physical but also have an addiction to screens, let me introduce you to the reMarkable 2. It's a sort of notebook, drawing tablet, document reader hybrid that is considered one of the best tablets for handwritten notes. Here are the top ways its been helping us.
It helps me remember things
Let's start this one out with a list:

Read more