Want to crank you guitar amp late at night but scared the neighbours will report you to local authorities? Yep. Frustrating isn't it.
The answer? Get yourself a pair of headphones.
But NOT a pair that are made for listening to mp3s on your daily commute. They won't cut it.
Take a look at some of the best headphones for guitar amps below - headphones that are made for this purpose.
At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Headphones For Guitar Amps On The Market
Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.
Buyer's Tips: What makes a great pair of headphones for guitar amps?
- Wide range of frequency responsiveness. Since the signals haven’t been mastered yet, the headphones need to be able to offer a good range of bass, mids and high tones without favouring one too strongly over another. At minimum you will want a range of 20Hz to 20Khz.
- Robust enough to handle the amp being cranked up without sending you a constant stream of cracked noises resembling nothing like music. Damaged speakers are fairly common when you push cheap headphones as hard as you do with guitar practice.
- Noise cancelling is another factor you should consider. If the headphones can’t keep the sound of your playing contained, or keep out the sound of ambulance sirens or fireworks, then you might not be getting the best practice.
Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...
5 Best Headphones for Guitar Amps
1. Sennheiser HD 598 Special Edition Over-Ear Headphones
A decent pair of headphones with a comfortably mid-range price tag. As well as sounding good, they resemble the interior of a classic car, so they can make a little addition to your outfit if you consider headphones an accessory.
- Speakers are resilient to damage.
- Good frequency range.
- Designed to channel audio into your ears for an ‘in-room’ experience.
- Open backed design leaks sound and doesn’t isolate you from other noises, but is a deliberate part of the ‘in-room’ design, rather than a flaw.
- They fall off if you start headbanging.
- Bass is lacking compared to closed-backed alternatives.
2. AKG K 44 Headphones
This is the budget pair, and although they are good for their price range, they're still noticeably inferior when compared to higher end models. Having said that, they’ll suit your practice needs in a pinch but should be avoided for anything beyond learning a new song or some chords. They are NOT the way to go if you’re trying to mix an album, as they lack some of the responsiveness of higher end headphones.
- Extremely lightweight and comfortable.
- Very affordable.
- Handles high volume better than you would expect from such low cost headphones.
- Bass tones overpower others, and the frequency balance seems to lurch all over as you adjust the volume.
- Although they respond well to EQ adjustments from a laptop or computer, not having these capabilities without using an extra piece of gear limits your options when using a practice amp.
- Ear cups are fixed position, so they won’t always sit just right over your ears and don’t allow for one-ear monitoring.
3. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones (Budget Choice)
These sit on the low-mid end of the price spectrum, and are a very well designed pair considering that. They’ll perform well for guitar practice in your bedroom and for you sound engineers in the recording studio. For this reason, they're one of the most sought-after headphones in the business.
- Sound isolation is good, thanks to the thick closed backed and well padded ear cups.
- Swiveling ear cups up to 90 degrees for all your one-ear needs.
- Brilliant bass frequency.
- Although the bass is deep and full, it’s a little overpowered and seems more suited to listening to dubstep than practising guitar.
- Take a bit of use to break-in the headband before they’ll become comfortable.
- Ear cups get warm and uncomfortable after prolonged use.
4. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Studio Headphone (Editor's Choice)
These headphones are a closed-back, rugged design that take punishment well. They have a high sound quality, decent (but not great) comfort, and excellent noise cancelling capability.
- Available in 32, 80 and 250 ohms. For the best sound quality, the 250 ohms is ideal for guitar practice since you’ll be using an amp anyway.
- The frequency range is excellent, giving a very accurate sonic representation of how your music really sounds thanks to a range from 5hz all the way to 35Khz.
- Very robust build, being able to take daily wear and tear long past the two year warranty period.
- Like many headphones, the bass is a little stronger than it needs to be, although this is one of the most balanced available for the price.
- Although the velour padding is very soft, they soak up heat and can make them uncomfortable to wear after more than an hour.
- Doesn’t come with a decent hard case, so you’ll want to take the time to make sure they’re being securely packed for travel.
5. Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone
Another Sennheiser product, and this one truly punches into the high end of the price spectrum, easily sitting past the $400 mark. However, it’s an option for the serious musician, so if this is you, then these are worth a look. They’re designed with professional requirements in mind, without running up to the point of costing thousands which makes them among the best headphones for guitar amps.
- Open backed design provides a great sonic experience, although they won’t cancel out noise and will leak your sound, they are fine for your late night practice sessions.
- Uses a ventilated magnet system really minimizes any distortion.
- Powerful drivers deliver high sound pressure, giving you a very clear picture of what it might sound like to a crowd being blasted by giant speakers.
- More expensive than you might be willing to pay, but if you’re making your practice a priority (which is why you’re looking at this article, right?) then you’ll be making a good investment.
- Can be a little too bright, as the mids are a little understated.
- Although these are fairly comfortable, the top of the head can be a problem spot if you don’t get them adjusted just right.
When you’re looking for a pair of headphones that can hold up their end of your guitar practice, finding the best headphones for guitar amps relies somewhat on the hierarchy of your needs.If it’s just privacy you need, then closed backed are the way to go. If you’re looking to recreate the on-stage sound, then open backed are better as they give you a closer to reality sonic picture.
For an option that should suit most of your needs, try taking a look at either the Beyerdynamic or the Audio Technica models. They’re both affordable options with great quality to back them up.
If you’ve ever owned any of these, or think we should have mentioned others, leave us a comment to let us know!
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.