Headphones are an important part of the recording process, equally as important as the microphone you use.
The most important aspect of a pair of headphones during the recording process is preventing noise from leaking. If audio bleeds, you will create feedback, which is a hard problem to solve. So, it's important to select headphones with good noise shielding and low bleeding of audio.
Durability and Comfort
A professional pair of studio headphones will be durable. They will be able to take some knocks, though many professional studio headphones, even in the budget range, will have replaceable ear-cups and replaceable leads.
Comfort is an important consideration if you will be mixing through your headphones and not through a set of studio monitors. Since you'll be wearing your headphones for hours on end, make sure a pair of headphones that sit well on your head and feel comfortable, making sessions more tolerable.
If you will be using your headphones for mixing, the frequency response is the most important consideration. You will want as close to a "flat frequency response" as possible. A wider frequency range allows greater exposure to higher levels of low and high frequencies.
The best studio headphones give a true representation of sound. This means a flat frequency response will give you true sound. This will allow you to mix your tracks effectively.
If you mix a track on a bass heavy set of headphones, your final mix will be bass heavy, leaving the possibility that the finished track will not sound good on all playback systems. This is why a flat frequency response is important.
Things To Avoid
There seems to be a myth out there, that if a headphone brand uses the term 'studio' in the product description, then the headphones are professional studio quality.
Many of the expensive brightly colored Bluetooth enabled headphones, especially those headphones endorsed by Hip Hop DJs, do not have a flat frequency response. These headphones use compression to enhance the bass and middle, high frequencies. Headphones like this have no place in a home studio. They should be left for the bedroom DJs who mix badly compressed MP3s.
Also, avoid headphones that do not have a detachable audio cable. The audio cable is usually the first thing to break on a set of headphones, so if you can replace an audio cable and have a spare in your studio, you will save a great deal of time and money in the future.
A good pair of professional studio quality headphones does not need to cost a small fortune. Some of my favorite studio headphones cost $100. You can pick up a pair of headphones that are suitable for use in a home studio for as little as $50.
I also highly recommend eBay, as you can find a great deal of second-hand studio equipment of a very high quality at a very affordable price. You can see our guide on the best studio headphones for under $200 to see the best headphones available in this price range.