Let’s start with a quick comparison table highlighting our favorite guitar headphones in 2021.
(Stay tuned after this for in-depth reviews of our top choices and what they can offer you.)
Hearing his or her own guitar signal through a decent pair of headphones truly marks a before and after in a guitarist’s life. Suddenly, every little nuance is evidenced and clean playing can be truly set apart from that which, to put it mildly, requires some rigorous practice.
And practice is exactly what can be enhanced through the use of good headphones. When playing with an amp, some players tend to fall into the bad habit of muffling their sound through distortion or very loud volumes, which can lead to simply ignoring certain mistakes they could be making.
A good headphone guitar amp can truly let a guitarist appreciate the sound of their guitar as clean as if it was running into an audio console and played on monitors, i.e. how music is recorded, mixed, and mastered.
So which headphones would be the best investment if you want to improve your playing, as well as be able to practice at literally any time of the day? Here are our top picks…
“16” Top Guitar Headphones In 2021
- “16” Top Guitar Headphones In 2021
- 1. Audio Technica Ath M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
- 2. Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones
- 3. Sony MDR7520 Professional Studio Headphones
- 4. Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Headphones
- 5. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 Monitor Headphones
- 6. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over Ear Studio Headphones
- 7. AKG K44 Studio Headphones
- 8. AKG K553 MKII Guitar Headphones
- 9. Samson SR850 Headphones
- 10. Edifier H850 Headphones
- 11. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Studio Monitor Headphones
- 12. OneOdio Over Ear Headphone, Wired Bass Headsets
- 13. VOX Active Amplifier Headphones
- 14. Sony MDR7506 Large Diaphragm Headphones
- 15. Shure SRH1840 Open Back Headphones
- 16. Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones
- How To Choose The Right Guitar Headphones
When it comes to headphones for audio professionals and musicians, these are one of the most celebrated models of all time. They’ve been in such high demand over the last few years, that the guys at Audio Technica decided to redesign the whole “M-Series” in order to come up with a more comfortable and modern design, without losing their distinctive sound
The newer version, the ATH-M50X, still offers the clarity, extended frequency range and amazing bass response that has made these headphones so popular as bass guitar headphones, but also adds notable improvements when it comes to circumaural design (providing better isolation), rotary phones (great for one-ear monitoring), and overall a more robust construction.
As if that wasn’t enough, these boys fold for easy storage and they come with 3 types of cable, a 3m curly one, and two straight ones of 1.2 and 3m. This is just great if you tend to practice in different spaces, and sometimes need to move around. It’s also super convenient if you’re going to make these your carry-on headphones for guitar amp while traveling or commuting.
Bottom line, the Ath M50x Professional Studio Headphone offer everything you could possibly expect from closed-back professional headphones at a reasonable price. They’re truly the only option on their price range that features such versatility when it comes to design. You can even purchase an optional Bluetooth adapter for them, for example.
Some notable users of these Audio Technica Ath M50x Professional Studio Headphones include Matthew Bellamy, James Hetfield, Steven Wilson, and Robert Delong.
MDR stands for Micro Dynamic Receiver, a trademark of Sony. The first MDR’s were introduced as far back as 1985 and quickly became popular with audio engineers and disc jockeys for being a cost-friendly option of truly flat headphones that could sustain a lot of abuse and travel (since they’re very durable and even foldable).
Now, the MDRV6 headphone model still stands as a go-to for many professionals in audio, including Paul Van Dyk and Gucci Mane, not to mention the numerous pros that use some of the variants of the MDR, such as the MDR-7506.
That being said, the V60’s were the original inception of these headphones and the first run at the Studio Monitor headphone market that Sony ever took. All the other models wouldn’t exist without these, so you’re looking at a real piece of audio history.
These are over-the-ear, closed back headphones with a wide frequency response (5Hz – 30 kHz)… meaning? – These are great for just about anything. Most engineers wouldn’t go as far as to master with these, maybe only use them as reference headphones, but if you’re thinking about mixing, recording, Djing, playing guitar or bass, or just pleasure listening, these are an industry-standard by now.
The only con from our point of view is that the cable is not detachable, which, as we’ve said before, means that if your cable ever develops a false contact, you either have to go through the nuisance of getting them repaired or just getting a new pair.
True, at a $75 price point that’s not that big a deal, and these are quite durable, but we’re surprised Sony hasn’t added the detachable cable option to these bad boys even after decades of world fame. Not just because of the risk of cable malfunction, but even just to have more options.
The cable on the V60’s is 10 foot, which is not a lot, and it’s coiled! Meaning it’s not very comfortable if you’d like to be a bit far away from the audio source from time to time. In such a classic model, it’d be great to have those little upgrades here and there.
The same thing happens with the cushioning and the overall design in general. These may have felt nice and comfy in 1985, but there are definitely far more comfortable options out there nowadays.
Anyway, just some things to take into account. After all, the reason Sony might’ve opted to not do those upgrades and keep this model virtually intact for all these years is that it still sells well, and increasing the price would interfere with that.
And, sigh, we couldn’t agree more. It’s nice to have these headphones still around without having to visit pawn shops or eBay, so at that price point, we’ll take them.
Sony MDR7520 can be defined as the bridge between amateur and professional listening equipment. It’s not as sophisticated as the Shure SRH1840, but it’s versatile enough to use for various instruments in a shared listening room.
Capable of replicating piano, violin, and – obviously – guitar notes with incredible clarity, this model provides studio-quality listening at your home.
The main feature of these headphones is the closed-ear design that prevents audio leakage while effectively blocking environmental sounds. The 50mm driver unit with LCP diaphragm is also incredibly comfortable.
Sure, you won’t get the most natural sound despite the wide frequency response and high power handling capacity. But it would be unrealistic to expect top-end performance at such an affordable price tag.
Ideal for instrument listening and a variety of other applications, including gaming, the MDR7520 is an all-round headphone to get your hands on if you want to hear music the way the recording engineer heard it without breaking the bank.
Sennheiser is one of the most acclaimed studio-quality headphone brands, and their HD 600 model is an exceptional choice if you’re after a pair of high-quality yet wallet-friendly guitar headphones.
This audiophile-grade, open dynamic stereo headphone boasts an advanced diaphragm and is ideal to use in a studio. Few to no standing waves deliver a clean sound that is free of artifacts and acoustical disturbances, while the natural imagining and exceptional transient response enhance the audio experience even more.
Optimum sensitivity and dynamics are also ensured by the neodymium magnets and lightweight aluminum voice coils.
Performance apart, we also like how comfortable these headphones are. The sophisticated design and elegant finish incorporate useful details, such as cushioned earpads and adjustable cushioned headbands.
The high-quality open-ear cups with metal mesh covers not only enhance aesthetics; they also deliver an extremely transparent sound. While there will be some sound leaks in the room, the HD 600’s acoustic is excellent.
Another nice feature is the computer-optimized magnet system designed to minimize both intermodulation and harmonic distortion.
The headphones come with a detachable, Kevlar-reinforced OFC copper cable and are backed by a 2-year warranty. Just what you need to buy in all peace of mind.
A really great thing about these closed-back headphones is that they’re used for pretty much everything and different types of playing – acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, and more. Mixing, sound design, live monitoring, recording… plain old pleasure listening, you name it! One look at the list of professionals that use them should suffice in order to attest to their sound quality and versatility.
These Beyerdynamic headphones include replaceable cushions and cables. The first thing you probably noticed was the silver cushions, which are extremely comfortable. That being said, these won’t be that fun to use if you’re in any place that gets too hot, as they’re not exactly made of dri-FIT.
Going further, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro offers a solid and well-balanced sound. These are a great bet if you like bass-heavy guitars, as they feature Beyerdynamic’s “Bass Reflex” technology. The low end you hear from these things is very well defined and clear, almost as if you had a subwoofer somewhere in the room, but they achieve this effect without overdoing it. It’s bass response and not bass enhancement, so these are good even as mixing monitors. A thing of beauty.
Moving forward with our list, another pair of guitar headphones we truly recommend is the DT 880 Pro by Beyerdynamic.
Designed for studio use, the DT 880 Pro presents itself as a semi-open headphone praised for its natural and neutral sound. A feature that makes it perfect for both progress monitoring and mixing sessions.
Comfort is ensured by the permeable ear cup design and adjustable, padded headband, while the circular ear pads provide exceptional acoustic accuracy by preventing external sounds from disturbing you.
This tried and tested design is equally popular between professionals and amateurs, but that’s not it.
The single-sided plug coiled connection cable comes with both mini-jack and ¼-inch jack adapter. You can use these headphones in the studio as well as at home, to listen to your favorite music, recorded instruments, or for gaming.
Regardless of the use, you’ll most likely be impressed by the wide stereo image and balanced sound that make the DT 880 Pro a reference point for audio engineers and producers alike. Indeed, the headphone has incredible sound depth and detail, even at low volume.
While the DT 880 Pro already comes at an unrivaled price tag, you’ll also be pleased to know that the company also manufactures a DT 880 edition for home use, which is naturally cheaper.
The only difference between the two is a slightly softer headband on the home model, for greater comfort and enjoyment, and the spiral cable on the Pro version. No matter your model choice, though, both DT 880 headphones deliver the same sound clarity, so you can pick the one that best fits your budget.
If you are set on using your headphones only to practice guitar with them occasionally, then we understand if you’re a bit reluctant to spend over $100 on them.
The K44’s are absolutely your best option if you identified with that last sentence. They’re pretty budget friendly, semi-closed back and provides good comfort. The cable is 8’, and they also include the 3.5 / 6.5 mm stereo adapter. They’ve got all you need, really.
As far as sound goes, they are good when it comes to clarity, but do feel a little overdone on the bass and mid frequencies. Luckily the treble isn’t too spiked, otherwise we wouldn’t recommend them, but they’re good to simply practice with. Certainly better than any other more commercial options such as Bose or Beats. Don’t buy these headphones for guitar amp to practice with them!
The AKG K553 MKII is a surprising headphone designed to perform well with all connections thanks to its low impedance drivers and excellent noise isolation. Its lightweight, over-ear design features advanced closed-back technology that blocks outside noise and also prevents sound leakage into the environment.
Excellently priced for their performance, the headphones are hard to beat. Outstanding build quality is ensured by the metal and faux leather materials that characterize the design. Sure, there are some plastic components too, but they feel high-quality and durable.
The cable doesn’t unplug from the headphones, which could be an issue in the long run. However, it’s thick, and it has a good length for both home and studio use.
We truly like the earpads that are large enough to cover the whole ear, while the plushy feel enhances comfort even when wearing the headphones for several hours.
What really matters when buying guitar headphones, though, is the acoustic quality. And the AKG K553 MKII knows how to impress. The closed-back design sounds awfully like an open back but does an excellent job of preventing outside noises from disturbing you.
Despite this minor downside, you’ll get an off-the-charts soundstage with balanced, smooth highs and satisfactory bass. All in all, the headphone delivers a wonderful listening experience at a fraction of the cost of a professional choice.
The AKG K553 MKII also folds flat for storage and transport and undoubtedly delivers outstanding value for money.
Samson SR850: Could a pair of professional headphones reliable enough for mixing really be under $50? This is the big question with this model. While they’re not as renowned as other models, they do offer a good audio reference, which sometimes is all you really need.
It’s amazing that these low cost headphones could churn out some decent mixes, but as with everything, it’s really up to the person using them.
The SR050’s do sound pretty decent considering the cost. The bass is definitely there, nice and thick without being artificially enhanced, while the highs are nice and clean.
These headphones are mainly used for reference audio, which is the old question of getting a true representation as possible from the audio source. That technology, in plain 21st century, shouldn’t be that expensive, so it makes sense that these Samson’s would give you that without having to break the bank.
They do skip some nice features like detachable cable, interchangeable cushioning, or a more appealing design. But if you can do without those, these are a great bet to start doing your own mixing, teaching yourself what to hear, or even have as another reference point.
Finally, while you won’t find any equipboard clippings with professional artists endorsing these, they are quite popular in music production and audio engineering forums. If you want a pair of headphones specifically to connect them to your guitar amplifier, you probably won’t regret these.
We know, Edifier isn’t exactly a household name when it comes to professional audio, like, say, a Sennheiser, Audio Technica, or AKG. That’s because they’re a Chinese company that was just founded on 1996.
Like most good ol’ Chinese companies, their focus is on keeping things low cost, while just at the right amount of functionality.
In that sense, the H850 headphones are no exception. While you may find them marketed as “audiophile headphones” or even for monitoring, we would not recommend this if you’re trying to get into professional mixing or mastering.
However, if all you want to do is get a nice and clean signal from your guitar amp headphones, that do have a detachable cable, then these are definitely worth looking into. We wouldn’t have them here otherwise.
The same goes for pleasure listening. If all you want is something you can take with you on trips, but the sound from earbuds doesn’t cut it, these do provide nice texture and details on recorded music, with the added benefit of being foldable and very flexible.
These monitor headphones combine high-quality materials with modern engineering, delivering a comfortable and accurate listening experience. You’ll get enhanced audio clarity and sound isolation; all made possible by the over-sized ear cups with closed-back design.
Tuned for enhanced detail and mid-range definition, these guitar headphones are also ideal for general audio listening, watching movies on your devices, or gaming.
The copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils and 40mm drivers with rare earth magnets also enhance sound clarity in most environments.
As its name suggests, the ATH-M30x was designed primarily for studio tracking and mixing. Features like increased portability come as a natural consequence, therefore, and you can also use these headphones for field recording.
Like the AKG K553 MKII, these headphones have a collapsible design for easier storage and transport, and they don’t come with a detachable cord.
Delivering great sound and comfortable fit, the ATH-M30x also delivers outstanding bang for your buck if you’re looking for cheap and reliable guitar headphones.
Equipped with 50mm speaker unit drivers and neodymium magnets, the Studio delivers clear vocals, crisp treble, and powerful bass.
Not only you can use them when playing the guitar, but the headphone is also compatible with a variety of other devices. You can pair it with your Apple or Android smartphone, use it on airlines, or even pair it with your PC for the best gaming sound quality.
Besides amazing acoustics, the Studio also delivers unrivaled comfort. High-quality padded ear cushions provide comfort as well as noise isolation, while the adjustable headband ensures a perfect fit.
Single-ear monitoring is also possible, thanks to the 90° swiveling ear cups. We also like the DJ-style 9.8-foot cord that reaches easily from your TV or stereo to your favorite chair or couch, while the two 6.3mm and 3.5mm plugs bring further value.
OneOdio Studio comes in a variety of colors, with or without a carrying pouch. Regardless of your choice, these headphones are undoubtedly a worthy investment for the amateur guitarists out there.
Indeed, the main feature of this technology is the possibility to obtain an immediate lead tone. Simply plug into your guitar or bass to enjoy a full-fledged sound. Besides the incredibly dynamic lead tone, these headsets impress with a lot more.
A new reactor circuit based on the Valve Reactor technology also enhances the sound, while the closed-ear design blocks the exterior sounds quite effectively.
Another outstanding feature is the new Bassilator circuit designed to provide a realistic simulation of the resonance of a speaker’s cabinet and floor, for an accurate perception of the guitar and bass sounds in a real environment.
Furthermore, the totally analog design also simulates the circuit response of the original amp. A few features that help you understand how the song would really sound like.
If you’re a casual guitar player and want to use the headphones for other purposes too, you can also choose from the other three versions, namely the AC30, Twin, or Lead.
Whatever your choice, rest assured you’ll be surprised by the performance. They’re perfect for casual music listening as well as guitar practice, and come at a price that won’t break the bank.
The closed-ear design ensures comfort as well as an outstanding reduction of the environmental noise. At the same time, the large-diaphragm enhances sound clarity, while the cushioned ear pads make the headphone ideal to wear for a long time.
From mixers and stereos to your phone, you can use these headphones without worries. The frequency response between 10 Hz and 20 kHz also ensures versatile use.
The noise isolation is not exactly the best at lower volumes, but sound leakage is fairly low even when you’re listening to your music out loud. We also like the cup adjustment pieces that have numbers on them, allowing to achieve a specific setting quickly and easily.
The headband is also comfortable, and the included protective soft case adds further value for money. Not perfect, but great for most applications, they are undoubtedly worth buying.
Indeed, the design provides exceptionally natural sound, increased field of depth, and a wide stereo image. Individually-matched drivers deliver unrivaled acoustic performance, and you can expect smooth high sounds and accurate bass.
Thanks to the balanced sound, these headphones can deal with a variety of different genres, and even come packed in a handy carrying pouch.
You can expect consistent performance at all listening levels, while the ergonomic and fully-adjustable dual-frame ensures comfort even during long hours of listening.
The SRH1840 is manufactured from premium materials and comes with a replacement set of velour earpads and an additional cable, all at a fraction of the price of other professional studio headphones.
Coming from one of the most popular brands, the SRH440 boasts professionally calibrated impedance, sensitivity, and power handling.
Ideal to use with amateur as well as professional audio devices, the headphone is compatible with DJ mixers and mixing consoles, PCs, and amplifiers.
A feature that makes them stand out is the threaded ¼-inch gold-plated adapter that enhances versatility. Furthermore, the removable cable attaches securely to the ear cup with a bayonet clip and is easy to replace whenever needed.
We also like the adjustable headband and collapsible construction that provides both comfort and portability.
Boasting legendary durability and coming with a protective carrying pouch, the Shure SRH440 is a great choice for amateur guitarists and students alike.
How To Choose The Right Guitar Headphones
Having gone into detail with each model, let’s address some common questions regarding buying headphones to practice or record guitar with. Before pulling the trigger on any particular model due to price, brand or look, there a few considerations you should make in order to ensure the wisest purchase.
How To Play Guitar Through Headphones
You may know that headphones are usually open ear, closed ear, or semi-closed back. This refers to the level of isolation that they provide, with open headphones letting you listen to the environment (good if you’re playing with a band) and closed ear pairs being much more isolated, letting you hear your guitar and only your guitar.
Hence, the question of what’s your practice environment like should help you determine what type to go for. If you’re in a noisy space, like an apartment building, and want to practice during the day with something that drowns out all that external sound, the closed ears are the obvious choice.
Open ones are good if you practice in a rather quiet space and you’d like to avoid ear fatigue, which is what happens when you use isolation headphones for extended periods of time. If you’d like a good combination of both, as in closed enough for close listening even with outside noise, the semi-closed work wonders
What Do You Like In Terms Of Sound?
This question is all about what you like to emphasize and hear when you play guitar. Are you a fan of chunky mid-frequencies? A high-end maniac? Do you really like bassy guitars? All these things should come into consideration as you try to find the headphones that match your taste.
If you’re not sure, going with a very balanced option is the wisest bet. “Balanced” refers to having no particular emphasis on any particular frequency range. This is good because it means you get to hear your guitar exactly as it sounds coming from the amp, with no tampering. That means that if you’re working on a certain sound while using these headphones, that will still sound great once you unplug them and let the sound flood into the room.
What Other Needs Do You Have?
Then there’s the question of whether you plan to give your pair of headphones more use apart from playing guitar. If you ever get into home recording, mixing stuff, or even just carrying them around with you to listen to music on your phone, you can find a pair of headphones that fulfils all those needs easily! It’s just a matter of being willing to spend a bit more, but it may well be worth it.
On a final note on how to choose headphones, a good piece of advice is to go for a pair with a detachable cable. Some people are more rough on equipment, and it’s horrible to have a perfectly good pair of headphones be ruined because of a false contact in the cable. This is less frequent with detachable cables, and whenever it happens you can spare yourself the nuisance of getting them repaired and just get a new cable, or use the spare one they came with!
How To Add A Headphone Jack To A Guitar Amp For Headphones?
Most headphone guitar amps come with a jack. Using it is just a matter of getting the right adapter, which in these cases usually comes with the headphones, giving you the option of having a 3.5 mm or 6.35 mm jack.
If the amp you happen to be using does not have a headphone out, be advised that using an external speaker out isn’t the wisest thing to do, depending on the amp you have. Doing this with transistor amps does not pose any serious threats to the amp. Tube amps, however, must have a load that is matched to the amp’s output, so using the speaker output to plug headphones for guitar amps without having some sort of a dummy load to absorb the output power, could cause some damage to the amp.
Of course, if you’re somewhat of an electricity buff, this video on how to add an output jack to any guitar or bass amp might help:
As another option, if you’re also considering home recording, you can just get an audio interface to recording into your computer with, and then just mic your amp or plug it directly.
What Are Monitor Headphones? Frequency Range? Impedance?!
If you’ve opened some of those links and looked through the product description of any headphones for guitar amps we’ve covered, you might have noticed certain technical terms like frequency range, impedance, or the mention of a headphone amp.
While it’s not essential that you know what they mean in order to make a good purchase and reap all the benefits of practicing with headphones for guitar amps, here’s a brief explanation to help you out:
Frequency range means how many frequencies each pair of headphones is capable of reproducing. Simply put, the higher the better.
Impedance, when it comes to headphones, means the power that they require to deliver certain audio levels. Headphones with low impedance (around less than 25 ohms) require little power to provide decent audio levels, so they’re best used with equipment with low amplification like a phone or a laptop. Headphones with high impedance (more than 25 ohms) require more power to deliver higher audio levels, these are meant to be used with more powerful equipment than your usual home electronics. This is where the term “headphone amp” might have come in.
Headphone amps are used for people that are going to be using several pairs of headphones, usually for monitoring or mixing purposes. Higher impedance headphones work best with this sort of equipment but don’t necessarily need it to perform. That being said, your guitar amp does count as powerful equipment, as the signal it sends to your headphones for guitar amps is certainly stronger. That’s why the Beyerdynamic’s, with 250 ohms, are a great bet for guitarists. The higher impedance means they can sustain more powerful amplification without risk of blowing them out.
Enjoy and make sure to read our guide for best loop pedals on the market here for the next step in your guitar playing journey!