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Practice is an essential part of every guitarist’s routine. Unfortunately, those in a nearby vicinity may not fully appreciate having to hear your practice, especially if your routine only allows for late-night or early-morning practice sessions.
Fortunately, many guitar amplifiers have headphone capabilities, allowing you to practice at any hour of the day or night. In this article, we will cover the best headphones available on the market to accommodate your practice sessions, as well as a buying guide to help inform you what to look for when purchasing a pair of headphones.
Best Overall – Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones
While this may not be the most expensive or top-of-the-line pair of headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is the best pair of headphones for those of you who want a durable pair of headphones that provide an excellent sound profile while still remaining affordable.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x can not only be great for use with a guitar amp but can prove to be useful in studio monitoring sessions as well.
The ATH-M50x has been a go-to pair of headphones amongst musicians and studio producers since they first came out in 2014. These monitor headphones will allow you to hear everything in a sound mix exactly as it is without any sound coloring.
Many people opt to use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x due to its extremely flat mix presentation, which is especially important in studio-mixing situations.
The ATH-M50x boasts having 45mm magnetic drivers consisting of rare minerals and voice coils made of copper-coated aluminum. The headphones have a frequency response range of 15-28,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 98 decibels.
The earcups fit comfortably over the ears, with a 90-degree swivel in both directions.
Included with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are 3 differently sized cables, an adaptor, as well as a soft carrying pouch.
The headphones themselves feature a foldable design that allows them to be stowed away safely in the carrying pouch. This is a great feature for travel situations.
The convenience of the ATH-M50x’s ergonomic foldable design cannot be understated, as most high-quality headphones tend to be rigid in form. Being able to easily pack your headphones away ensures that you can truly use these headphones anywhere, especially when traveling to distances by airplane.
Despite all of the excellent features the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x offers, these headphones can be relatively friendly to even the most modest budgets. The ATH-M50x seems to be built for the everyday person, offering a well-balanced stereo picture and a conveniently mobile form factor at a relatively affordable price.
Item Weight: 10.1 ounces
Package Dimensions: 11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches
Best Premium Option – Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Open Studio Headphones
If you’re looking for the top pair of headphones on the market and you have no budget concerns, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Open Studio Headphones will be able to provide an overwhelming capability for your every need.
These headphones are built primarily to suit those who do mixing and mastering work inside of a studio and provides extreme sound accuracy in a durable and comfortable build.
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Open Studio Headphones have an extremely large window of frequency response, ranging from 5-40,000 Hz while also providing optimal sound pressures within the ear cups.
These headphones are powered by 45mm Tesla neodymium drivers, providing a rich and precise sound mix. These drivers also consist of acoustic fabrics which are coated in titanium.
Beyerdynamic has gone to great lengths with the DT 1990s, as the headphones contain spatial technology to ensure that the mix of the sound, as well as the room characteristics of the overall mix, are presented accurately.
Taking it a step further, Beyerdynamic also includes 2 different types of earpads with the DT 1990s. One set is designed to provide a well-balanced mix, while the other set of earpads are designed for in-depth critical listening.
The earpads are crafted with high-quality velour, offering a soft and comfortable feel suitable for even the longest of sessions.
Beyerdynamic also provides a secure hard shell container for the storage of the DT 1990 and its accessories.
Item Weight: 1.5 pounds
Package Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 8.5 inches
Best Budget – Sony MDR7506 Professional Stereo Headphones
For those on an extremely tight budget, the Sony MDR7506 Professional Stereo Headphones are a viable set of closed-back headphones that can sufficiently meet your needs without having to spend too much of your budget.
Though this model could be considered a budget model, the MDR7506 provides a fairly decent frequency response range of 10-20,000 Hz, powered by 40mm neodymium drivers.
Comfort-wise, the Sony MDR7506s feature a padded headband, as well as padded ear covers featuring a synthetic leather-type material. If the ear pads prove to be uncomfortable, a market of replacement ear pads in a range of varieties does exist for this particular model.
These headphones also fold for easy storage within a soft storage bag that comes with the product. However, because these are made entirely of plastic, some care must be taken when stowing these away.
Maybe one of the top things about the Sony MDR7506s is the fact that it comes with a 9.8-foot cable, allowing you to stand at a great distance away from wherever you may have the headphones plugged in. This is especially convenient for use with guitar amps.
Item Weight: 8.1 ounces
Package Dimensions: 8.8 x 7.4 x 3.7 inches
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphones
If you’re in the market for a very Hi-Fi set of headphones that offers supreme clarity and comfort, the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphones will have you covered.
These are true audiophile headphones and are built to provide sound with clarity and extreme accuracy. If you’re looking for the best headphones for any situation, the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphones will more than exceed your expectations.
Since its initial release in 2001, the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphones have been a top-of-the-line industry standard amongst musical professionals. With over 20 years of solid reputation, it is easy to see why this product ranks as one of the best headphone pairs on the market.
The HD 650, while not offering as much isolation as some of the other models listed later in this article, has a wide frequency response range of 10-39,500 Hz, ensuring you will be able to hear the entire sound mix with clarity. This range will allow for even the faintest frequencies in the sound mix to be heard.
Sennheiser has equipped this model of headphones with top-of-the-line components, featuring a neodymium ferrous magnet system for unmatched headphone response. The accompanying cable is reinforced with Kevlar and features OFC copper, with a gold-plated jack plug.
A 2-year warranty accompanies the purchase of the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphones.
The Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650’s are likely to be overkill for some guitarists, whether it be budget-related, or simply due to the fact that the capabilities provided by the HD 650 might exceed one’s needs. However, if you’re a serious audiophile and also perform work in a studio, these can be an excellent tool to have at your disposal.
Item Weight: 9.1 ounces
Package Dimensions: 12.4 x 10 x 4.33 inches
Yamaha HPH-MT7 Headphones
Another longstanding and highly sought-after pair of headphones within the music community is the Yamaha HPH-MT7. These affordable headphones have been built to last, offering durable construction and precise sound response.
The HPH-MT7’s have been a reliable go-to pair of headphones since 2015, offering flexibility to accommodate most musical situations.
The Yamaha HPH-MT7 proves to be a comfortable pair of headphones, offering adjustments to the angle of the ear cup, as well as the capability to use a single ear cup if needed to help alleviate any fatigue you may have.
These over-ear headphones feature a sweat-resistant headband as well as support arms made of die-cast aluminum.
The HPH-MT7 has a frequency response range of 15-25,000 Hz. The headphones themselves are powered by 40mm neodymium drivers equipped with CCAW voice coils.
A cable and a case are also supplied with the Yamaha HPH-MT7 headphones.
For the price, the features that come with the HPH-MT7s are hard to pass up. These headphones offer a great response and sound isolation at a level that makes this a worthy contender for most budgets.
Item Weight: 15.5 ounces
Package Dimensions: 10.4 x 4.9 x 10.9 inches
Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Studio Headphones
If you are looking for a pair of comfortable headphones that have a wide dynamic range and top-notch isolation, the Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Studio Headphones will likely be a good fit.
These headphones have been a go-to standard for many producers since their introduction to the market in 2017.
This 80-ohm version is ideal for use in the studio, as well as for amplified sound settings, such as your guitar amp.
Comfort-wise, these headphones feature a soft velour covering over the ear pads, as well as an adjustable steel headband.
The DT770 PRO Studio Headphones have a frequency response range of 5-35,000 Hz, which helps ensure that you will be able to accurately hear the entire range of frequencies coming from your amp.
Should any issues arise with the components of the DT770 PRO Studio Headphones, the components can be easily replaced. This is a great feature as you can ensure that you get the most value for your money.
The Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Studio Headphones could be a great investment for the right budget, as these headphones perform with great capacity at a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned DT1990s.
Item Weight: 9.5 ounces
Package Dimensions: 8.7 x 4.5 x 9 inches
Boss WAZA-Air Wireless Guitar Headphones
If cost is of no concern and you are looking for the absolute best headphones tailor-made for the guitar playing experience, the Boss WAZA-Air Wireless Guitar Headphones will meet your every need.
The Boss WAZA-Air Wireless Guitar Headphones are actually a personal monitoring system that allows you to play your guitar without the need for an amplifier.
Taking from the tradition seen with the Boss Katana amplifier line, these headphones feature 5 different amp voicings and over 50 different Boss guitar effects built into the unit. Using the headphones in conjunction with the accompanying mobile application will allow you to shape and detail these settings even further.
As these headphones are completely wireless, a wireless transmitter (with up to 12 hours of battery life) is used to transmit the signal to the headphones (which have up to 5 hours of battery life).
The Boss WAZA-Air Wireless Guitar Headphones are crafted to simulate a real-world situation where you would actually be playing in a room with an amp. A built-in gyro sensor tracks your head’s movement and adjusts the sound to create a real-time 3D sound experience.
To top it all off, a built-in tuner is also provided, allowing you to truly play anywhere at any time.
For most people, the Boss WAZA-Air Wireless Guitar Headphones will likely be overkill, as the features offered by these headphones will likely not be needed if you are specifically using the headphones with a guitar amp.
Most guitarists would likely opt to play and practice with their own pedalboards and amps, but these headphones can provide the opportunity to play and practice in the event that it is not possible to play with your entire guitar rig.
Another possible drawback to these headphones, depending on your own needs, is the fact that these would likely not be very suitable for studio use, as they are specifically designed for guitar practice. This makes the Boss WAZA-Air headphones a product likely only suitable for those with a high budget, or those who do not need headphones for any other purpose.
Item Weight: 1.7 pounds
Package Dimensions: 11.57 x 9.57 x 11.61 inches
What Should I Look for When Buying Headphones for a Guitar Amp?
If you’re in need of a pair of headphones and have a guitar amplifier that has a headphone jack, you will likely be able to use any pair of headphones that you may have on hand.
However, if you are in the market for a dedicated set of headphones that will be worth your time and money, there are serious factors to consider before making a purchase. This is especially true because headphones will likely be used quite frequently, and you must ensure that your needs will be met.
What is Your Application?
While we have established that you will be using these headphones with a guitar amplifier, it is important to consider whether you will be using the headphones for any other applications.
Listening to your favorite records? Recording and mixing in your home studio? These are viable applications that may require a certain type of pair of headphones that can accommodate your needs.
It should not be understated that comfort goes a very long way with a pair of headphones. Often, people will underestimate the amount of time they will be wearing their headphones which can cause fatigue with long sessions.
In other words, what starts out as a mild discomfort will become a major discomfort in an accumulating sort of way. Finding a comfortable pair of headphones will help alleviate any long-term fatigue.
A good pair of headphones should also be durable and able to withstand the number of hours that you will be putting in with your headphones, as well as any travel you might do with them.
Some headphones often have a certain synthetic material, similar to leather, that covers the ear cups and headband. While this can initially feel comfortable when using the headphones right out of the box, after time, this material starts to degrade.
When purchasing a pair of headphones, particularly for recording purposes, it is important to find a pair of headphones that responds well to a broad spectrum of frequencies.
While it is not necessarily advisable to mix a recording solely using headphones, it is important that the headphones are able to accommodate the full spectrum of sound present within a recording.
While headphones can certainly allow you to play without fear of your neighbors being upset, it may be important to find a pair of headphones that have a good factor of isolation.
Isolation is a two-way street. In one way, isolating headphones will block out any external auditory sounds from entering and interfering with the headphone mix. In another way, isolation helps to keep the sound inside of the ear cups without much bleed into the environment.
Closed Back vs Open Back
Headphones that are circumaural will tend to have either a closed-back design or an open-back design. This term refers to the construction of the headphones behind the headphone drivers.
The major drawback with closed-back headphones is that they can tend to create false frequencies due to the internal sound pressure within the ear cup. Open-back headphones tend to produce a more accurate sound mix but do lack the isolation of closed-back headphones.
Believe it or not, cable length plays an important part with a pair of headphones, especially if you are using the headphones for use with a guitar amp.
You never know what may arise during your practice session, and having a long cable can allow you to walk to another area of your practice room to get anything you may need at the moment, without being tethered down to a small area of your space.
Wireless headphones allow you to use the headphones without the need of having to be restricted to a length of cable. Of course, these types of headphones do have their drawbacks.
One drawback is having to always ensure that your headphones and the headphone transmitter have enough battery power for your session.
If the transmitter and the pair of headphones have a hard time connecting to each other, then you will undoubtedly have issues during your practice session, which could end your session altogether.
There are many excellent headphones available on the market that can likely serve most of your needs (and then some) without necessarily having to spend a fortune.
The questions you need to ask yourself are these:
- At what level am I going to be using these headphones?
- Are these headphones going to be a critical aspect of a costly endeavor (such as recording)?
- Am I using these headphones in/for a professional setting?
A middle-of-the-road budget can give you access to a wide range of products that will not only last you a long time but will serve your needs quite comfortably. These can also make excellent headphones for the audiophile whose favorite pastime is listening to music with the highest definition possible.
Which Headphone Brands are the Best?
Like every niche product on the market, there are certain brands that have built a reputation for creating top-notch products that are not only mainstays within the musical community but can be relied upon for dependability and performance.
Let’s take a look at the best headphone brands in the market and how each brand built its reputation.
Audio-Technica is a Japanese company founded in 1962. Originally, the company started out making cartridges for phonograph record players.
Audio-Technica has also been quite innovative in the space, creating and improving upon already existing technologies, such as a microphone that is resistant to outside radio frequencies emitted from cell phones and other electronic devices.
The Yamaha Corporation is a large Japanese conglomeration that has been producing high-quality products. Currently, Yamaha is the world’s largest producer of pianos.
In the last 50 years, Yamaha has been providing an innovative edge to its products, helping to push the industry to where it is today.
Since 1924, Beyerdynamic has been crafting high-quality headphones, microphones, and other studio mainstays. The German company has been continually at the forefront of new innovations within the space.
In fact, Beyerdynamic was the first company to develop dynamic headphones, prompting the evolution of headphones as we know them today. They were also the first company to develop the ribbon microphone which is still highly sought after and used today.
Sennheiser is a German company, founded in 1945. This company specializes in high-quality musical gear such as microphones and headphones.
Many of Sennheiser’s products have become mainstays within the music industry, as many Sennheiser products are used both in the studio and for live performances.
Boss, a division of the Roland Company, is perhaps one of the most easily recognizable names amongst guitarists, as they have been a frontrunner in creating guitar effects pedals and other accessories.
The company was founded in Japan in 1973 and is still creating highly innovative products that are well sought after by many guitarists.
It is without question that Boss will continue to be a mainstay brand within the guitar community as they have built a reputation backed by years of great products and a long list of musicians endorsing their products.
Top Headphones for Guitar Amps, Final Thoughts
A great pair of headphones is essential for any musician, whether you are using them with your guitar amp, for recording purposes, or for pure listening enjoyment.
Headphones are important, not only for listening and studio purposes but because they allow the privacy and freedom to be able to play with your guitar amp and still be able to respect your neighbors in the process.
A great pair of headphones definitely does not need to break the bank, so do keep your budget in mind when you are shopping for your next set of headphones.