While it’s far more fun to crank your guitar amp up to 10 and shred your way to heaven’s gates, sometimes it’s just not possible. There are many reasons why people aren’t able to play their electric guitars in their humble abodes.
Sometimes people have neighbors who aren’t quite fond of music.
Sometimes people have roommates who need to wake up for their actual jobs in the morning ya dirty music playin’ hippy!
Even beyond noise, sometimes it’s just nice to see how your guitar signal sounds without the room in the equation.
Whatever your unique situation, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, you’re going to learn what you need to know before purchasing headphones for guitar practice, as well as our top 5 picks. Let’s begin...
Closed Back Vs. Open Back
Deciding whether you should buy closed or open back headphones is entirely dependent upon the environment that you are playing in. Closed back headphones provide far more isolation so that you can only hear your guitar, while open back headphones will still let you hear the environment around you.
If your home is a noisier place with lots of roommates or family, or you have a lot that goes on during the day around your house, you may want to consider closed back headphones to block out that external noise.
On the other hand, if you’re in a quieter space and you want to add a bit of realism to your sound, a pair of open back headphones might be better!
Side note: Open back headphones help you to avoid ear fatigue much more than closed back, as you don’t have as much sound isolation.
Frequency Response and Range
When you’re on the hunt for a solid pair of guitar amp headphones, you’ll want to look for those that have a flat frequency response.
A flat frequency response will give you an accurate reproduction of your sounds so that you can capture and hear all of the nuances of your playing. This is because none of the frequencies are being hyped up or presented more than others.
As for range, finding headphones with a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz is recommended. Many small pairs of consumer earbuds don’t have this frequency range, let alone dynamic range, meaning you’ll have a limited sound.
Impedance is another very important thing to consider when you buy electric guitar amp headphones. To break it down simply, Impedance is an electric unit representing the relationship between reactance and resistance
This means that if you buy low impedance headphones, those that run below 30 Ohms, they’ll work best for devices with low amplification.
As you may have guessed, guitar amps have high amplification, meaning they’ll need high impedance headphones.
Not only will you be able to amplify your headphones more easily, but you’ll also keep them safe from blowing when you play at high volumes.
A bad pair of headphones can be super uncomfortable, even after only 30 minutes of use. Serious guitarists will practice 1-2 hours a day or more.
Being able to practice comfortably can make a world of difference. For this reason, you’ll want to get a pair of headphones that have proper padding on the ears and a supportive (and hopefully padded) headband that is adjustable.
Some headphones manufacturers make it easy to replace headphone pads as well, so you might be able to buy a less expensive pair and replace them with more comfortable pads if you don’t want to spend the initial dollar.
One thing that we’ve fallen in love with when it comes to headphones is the detachable cable. Let’s face it; we’re not always as careful as we think we’ll be when we get a new piece of music gear.
Cables can rip or tear, and if they come as part of the headphones, you won’t be able to easily replace them.
Also, you may want to plug your guitar in and practice a few feet away on your couch while still being able to listen. Being able to plug in a longer cable to do so can be helpful. This is why we highly recommend going for a detachable cable model. They’re so much more versatile!
Top 5 Picks
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones are just some of the best studio headphones out there, even beyond guitar playing. Even with the top quality audio that these cans deliver, you don’t pay as much as you would expect.
These closed-back headphones offer a very well-rounded sound while blocking out any external noise. Even at higher volumes and frequencies, you can continue to play without them distorting in your ears, or leaking noise for the people in your house to hear.
The frequency response is pretty flat with a small bump in the midrange. This makes them good headphones for guitar amp practice, as you can hear the punch, funk, and twang, of each line that you play.
Thanks to the high-quality foam pads and padded headband, they’re comfortable to wear for more extended practice sessions too! Lastly, they come with a set of 3 different cables for you to use: a 3m straight, a 1.2m straight, and a 3m coiled.
Bottom Line: For a comfortable, leak-proof pair of headphones with an excellent bass response, a poppy midrange, and sweet, non-distorted highs, the Audio Technica M50x headphones are your best bet!
The MDR-7506 Headphones from Sony have a closed-back design and are also great at preventing sound from leaking out. Yes, they don’t have the most spacious sound in the world, but if you’re looking for peace and quiet in your own practice world, these are perfect.
The cans have an impedance of 63 ohms, meaning they are a studio-grade model that works really well with high impedance devices like guitar amps. They also boast some serious 40mm drivers and neodymium magnets that give you a crispy sound.
When it comes to the frequency response, they have a great mid-range and surprisingly solid bass response. As for the treble, it can be get a bit hissy for tones that are too hi-fi, though it’s really on a case-by-case basis.
They come complete with a 3 m, non-detachable cable and a ¼” adapter so that you can get to playing right away. They’re also foldable, making them super easy to collapse and stow away for travel or organization.
Bottom Line: The Sony MDR-7506 headphones provide some of the crispiest sound you’ve ever heard in a pair of inexpensive, studio-grade cans. Both comfortable and dynamic, they’re an instant classic for practicing guitar.
While the Edifier H850 Headphones may not look like anything special, they have a surprisingly sturdy build. The slightly padded headband has a metal reinforcement on the inside, meaning you’ll have an incredibly hard time snapping or bending it over time.
The earcups are entirely replaceable, which is fantastic if you’re looking to adjust the comfort level a bit.
As for the sound, it depends on the setup you have. They tend to push the mids a little bit depending on the type of electric guitar or amp that you are using, though no matter what, they do remain very clear.
The bass is tight and punchy and is pretty audible until you go anywhere below 40 Hz. The highs are a bit of a loss with these headphones because of the restricted ear cup design, though they do have pretty good sound directionality that helps to mitigate those issues.
Bottom Line: While these aren’t the most glamorous headphones in the world, the Edifier H850s are a budget-friendly pair of closed-back headphones with a great sound for the price. Other headphones in this price range tend to have boosted bass frequencies, so we praise Edifier for creating a more even pair of cans than expected.
Any audio professional will tell you how much they love Sennheiser. Their line of headphones is easily one of the best around, and their 598 SR Open Back model is no different.
These babies have an impedance of 50 ohms, perfect for guitar, as well as an open back design that can give your sound a crispier and airier quality than you may have ever imagined possible. A lot of this has to do with the patented EAR technology that helps to direct the main signal right into your ear, giving you a full sound.
The quality aluminum coils provide great dynamics without distorting when levels get too high. That being said, they aren’t the best at reproducing bass and tend to distort a bit when you play bass-heavy tunes through them.
Luckily, the open back design creates more of a soundstage, meaning you won’t notice the distortion as much. These headphones come complete with two detachable cables, a ¼” and ⅛” inch.
Bottom Line: Overall, the Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones are great for those who want an open and realistic soundstage to go along with their playing, or those who don’t practice in noisier environments. The sound is rich, the dynamic range is wide, and they’re incredibly comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
If you’re looking for supreme comfort, look no further than the CB-1 headphones from Status Audio. They’re a bit larger than most headphones you see out there, but they also have far more padding, allowing you to wear them for long sessions without feeling as fatigued.
We mostly see these marketed as studio headphones, though their high impedance and large driver size make them great for practicing with. They come with two detachable cables, straight and coiled, though you can also replace them with your own cable if you choose!
The look with these headphones stands out too. They have a sleek and modern black/gold design without any logo to be found. The sound, while not neutral, has a great mid-range and solid treble.
The bass is a bit lacking with this pair, though it might not be too necessary to have a great bass response for most guitar players. What we will say is that the stereo imaging surprised us, and it really makes up for the qualities that these headphones lack.
Bottom Line: For a solid pair of headphones that you can use with your guitar amp, as well as for mixing, do yourself a favor and check out the CB-1 cans from Status Audio. They’re also some of the most comfortable headphones on our list!
We hope that this article helped you in finding the best pair of guitar amp headphones for your needs. All of these headphones come from manufacturers who have had years of experience in build pro music gear, so you know that you’re getting something quality when you purchase from them.
Regarding versatility, sound, and cost, we have to recommend the Audio-Technica ATH M50X headphones over the rest. These closed-back headphones have a wide frequency range, a dynamic response, and a comfortable and durable build.
Overall, looking for a solid pair of guitar amp headphones does not need to be complicated. Just keep your eyes on the ohms, comfort, and frequency response, and you’ll be good to go!
Have fun and keep jamming… but seriously, keep it quiet I’m trying to sleep over here!