Best Headphones for Amps: 6 Surprisingly Affordable Options

Get a better listening experience with our pick of the best headphones for amps, including some surprisingly affordable options.

Our Top Picks

Most versatile: beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO (80 Ohm) 
“From gaming and music production to casual listening, the 770Pro does everything well at a decent price”

Budget audiophile headphones: Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX
“This Drop + Hifiman collab has no business being as good as it is at such an attractive price”

Performance audiophile headphones: Sennheiser HD 650
“Outside of $1,000 precision headphones, the HD650 is the best sound you can find on (relatively) affordable consumer headphones”

Best monitors: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
“The ever-popular ATH-M50x are tuned flat, which makes them great for neutral listening”

Best for guitar amps: Sony MDR7506
“The MDR7506 is built like a tank and neutral enough for guitar amps.”

If you own a dedicated amp in 2020, it’s safe to say that you care about music.

Maybe the amp in question is a guitar amp. Or maybe it’s even a basic DAC + amp combo.

In either case, it pretty much means that the listening experience is important to you. After all, most standard computing gear, including many smartphones, have decent built-in soundcards and amplification to make buying external amps unnecessary – at least for most casual listeners.

If you’ve already invested in an amp, you need headphones that can do them justice. There’s nothing worse than someone spending $500 on an amp and then plugging in some Beats into them. Even entry-level audiophile-grade headphones can do wonders with a decent amp.

When it comes to headphones, my selection policy is rather conservative. Instead of newer models, I prefer the tried and tested offerings – the Sonys and Audio-Technicas that have been used, abused, and reused for years. You can’t really go wrong with an ATH-M50x or Sony MDR7506.

I also categorically avoid high-end audiophile gear. While a $1,000 Denon would undoubtedly be better, such headphones are unaffordable for the average listeners, and frankly, an overkill for most users. You can get perfectly great result with an M50x or an AKG K240 with the right amp.

With this dual focus on reliability and affordability, let’s take a closer look at the best headphones for amps you can buy right now.

We use rigorous research, reviews, and real-world performance when recommending products. Our reviewers include producers, performers, and active musicians. You can read more about our review process here. Be advised that MIDINation might earn referral commissions on purchases made through this website. This does not affect your final purchase price.
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The 6 Best Headphones for Amps in 2020

Here are our six favorite headphones for amps, divided by category:

Sennheiser HD 650

The HD 650 grazes the edge of “great sounding but unaffordable headphones”. They’re not cheap by any means but they sound fantastic. The sound stage is wide and airy (thanks to the open back) and the fidelity is incredible. To get better sound than the 650, you’ll have to shell out nearly four figures. For serious audiophiles, these are easily the best headphones for amps you can buy – while burning only a minor hole in your pockets.

The Sennheiser HD 650 is the best option for audiophiles as it delivers a rich, warm, crisp sound across different genres. They are quite versatile, and apart from giving you impressive guitar amp performance, they are also excellent for mixing and mastering.

While these might lack some volume if plugged straight into your guitar or phone, adding an audio interface with an amp will boost the performance and make them pretty loud. The build quality on these is great. If you will be using them often for a long time, say five years, you should get ready to replace some parts. Some of the notorious parts that first start to fall off include the drivers, headband, and the earpads. Thankfully, though, these are all easy to replace.

Sound performance is what really matters, and we are glad to report that these offer great sound. From our testing and reviews from users, the Sennheiser HD 650 is arguably the most neutral pair of headphones on the market and is ready for use without any tweaking. One issue that several headphone manufacturers have is matching the right driver to the right ears. Sennheiser HD 650 doesn’t have this problem, which is excellent. Because there are matched left and right drivers, the soundstage offered remains highly consistent across different frequencies.

They are designed with the ears in mind, with soft earpads and a lightweight build. The open-back design also improves the breathability of these headphones. The porous earcups do not warm up as much as you’d find in several other headphones on the market.

The frequency response here is better than average. You’ll enjoy almost perfect bass delivery and very little deviation in that range. And as for the mid-range, it is definitely one of the best we have heard on any pair of headphones. You will enjoy using it now and for a long time.

What I don’t like

One downside is that leakage is really poor, and noise isolation is non-existent. Another issue is portability. These headphones are not made to be portable. They cannot be folded and lack any carry case.

Recommended for: The Sennheiser HD 650 is recommended for any music genre and is excellent for casual and serious listeners alike. Although it’s not cheap, if you’re willing to spring the cash for it, it’s easily one of the best headphones for amps you can buy right now.

Best Value for Money: Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX

The Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX comes as the best headphones for budget audiophiles on this list and comes with a stunning design and plenty of comfort that is even better than what is found in more expensive headphones. Planar is one of the best makers of high-quality headphones, which is one reason why many have flocked to purchase a pair of budget headphones from the company.

The build quality is very good. The Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX comes as an upgrade to previous versions in more than one sense. First of all, the manufacturer has opted to make the model more comfortable than others. Thus, it comes with a comfortable and plush headband which makes for more comfortable use.

It also comes with the new Focus-A earpads that improve your comfort level. These earpads are made of a leatherette and velour padding combo. The result is a pair of headphones that not only feel great but also provide a better seal around the headphones and improves the sound isolation while reducing sound leakage.

Apart from that, the Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX also comes with a detachable, short cable. We love this because it allows you to move around and play your guitar without getting in the way. Portability is not the strong suit of the Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX as it is fairly bigger than what is now found in most headphones. Nevertheless, the size comes with advantages.

Sound performance is impressive across genres. The sound here is cleaner than what you’d find from earlier iterations from the manufacturer. However, the bass is not as deep or much on this unit as it was with the older version. In our opinion, these headphones offer some of the best overall quality on the market today and are an excellent pick for audiophiles on a budget.

The large design of the Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX means that it has one of the quickest responses when tones are rapidly played. You can thus add plenty of bass using an equalizer with minimal distortion. We are enamored with the brand and this product. The sturdy build ensures that you will get years of use out of the model.

What I don’t like

The low cost comes with several problems in the build quality. For one, this isn’t the best headphone for vocals. It is also not a portable option.

Recommended for: If you are an audiophile on a budget, we believe you’ll love these headphones. It comes with a pure bass tone, a well-developed mid-range, and is one of the best headphones for amps you can find right now.

Best Budget (Open Back): AKG Pro Audio K240

The AKG Pro Audio K240 are the cheapest headphones on this list. They come in an open-back design, which has advantages and drawbacks. If you do not plan on spending a fortune on a pair of headphones, then you will be pleased to know about these.

The build and design of these headphones are rather old and gives off vintage vibes. Considering the price, it isn’t much of a surprise that AKG hasn’t paid very much attention to how it appears. Nevertheless, we liked the color combination of the headphones. Away from the color of the AKG Pro Audio K240, we enjoyed using this due to the open-back design.

The open-back design is excellent if you are listening to music in a quiet environment like the studio, however, if you are using it on the train or somewhere noisy, you would have a torrid time. The sound leaks out, and there isn’t any noise isolation worthy of note.

These headphones come with an all-plastic build. This has pros and cons. An advantage of this build is certainly the lower price. It also feels comfortable to wear. The downside is that it is not very durable. Models with metal parts offer more durability. As for comfort, these headphones come with earcups that are uniform.

The open-back design allows for better breathability and will improve your comfort even if you wear them for a long time. The left cup comes with an input for the 3.5mm cable. There is also a ¼” adapter that comes in handy when you want to use the guitar amp.

The aforementioned cable feels pretty solid and will likely last for a long time. As the AKG Pro Audio K240 are wired, you can play FLAC files and other lossless versions.

Sound quality is an important aspect of your headphones, and the dynamic drivers on the AKG Pro Audio K240 are quite accurate within the range. While sound isolation is nearly zero with this model, you will have a good listening experience if you use it in a quiet environment. Clarity is decent considering the cost of these headphones.

What I don’t like

As expected with open back headphones, there is no noise isolation. The soundstage is also surprisingly narrow for open back headphones. Plus, the build quality is mediocre – expected at this price point.

Recommended for: The AKG Pro Audio K240 is awesome for anyone looking for a reliable pair of headphones at a bargain price. They’re not the best headphones for amps in terms of sheer sound quality, but for budget buyers, they’re a great starting point in the audiophile journey.

Best Studio Monitors: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

ATH M50x are the best headphones for mixed use, from producing and performing to casual listening

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is one of the most popular headphones on the market for the high precision it offers. Of all the headphones that we tested, this model has the best high precision monitors and is one of the best options for your guitar amp. Playing your guitar through an amp is a great way to make and enjoy your music. However, you might have roommates or neighbors that complain about all that loud music. If you still want to enjoy playing through an amp, then the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is one of the best options that you have right now.

When you remove these from the box, you can see that they will last and are made from good quality parts. It looks and feels solid while remaining lightweight. The design is quite compact, and since it can be folded, you can move around with the headphones without much fuss.

These headphones are some of the most popular options on the market and feature in several lists of the best headphones money can buy. The closed-back design allows you to hear the best sounds from your guitar.

Performance-wise, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is better than any other model made by Audio-Technica. The soundstage is impressive. For example, the mid-range gives you clear, warm, and rich sound. It is complemented by a powerful extended bass. Additionally, treble is also quite pleasant on these headphones. Overall, the sound performance is great. Unlike with several other headphones, we didn’t notice any popping, hissing, or distortion with these headphones.

One of the advantages of the closed-back design is that there is minimal sound leakage. Therefore, even people that are beside you will not hear whatever you are playing on the headphone.
It is a versatile model that supports a variety of frequency ranges and definitely one of the best for your guitar amp.

What I don’t like

There are some drawbacks to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. One of the major downsides is the lack of soundstage effect, which affects the bass delivery. Another minor complaint is that they tend to run hot – you’ll start sweating in warm weather in no time.

Recommended for: These headphones are excellent for anyone that wants a compact, high-grade headphones with minimal sound leakage and impeccable precision. While they were originally meant for producers and audio engineers, I also find them to be some of the best headphones for amps.

Best for Guitar Amps: Sony MDR7506

Next up is the best headphones for guitar amps that we could find – Sony MDR7506. The Sony MDR7506 doesn’t look like much. It doesn’t come with a trendy, modern design like that found on several of the options on the market. However, this isn’t too surprising considering that Sony has used this design for a long time. We don’t exactly have any reservations about the look, although we recognize that others might. Personally, we enjoy the vintage design that will appeal to a certain set of people.

Apart from that design, the Sony MDR7506 is loved for almost everything else. These headphones are highly versatile. The build quality is one of the best at this price point, even though it might not appear to be solid. If you are often on the move, you’ll appreciate that these can take a beating without any damage.

The closed-back design that prevents sound leakage. Apart from being durable, these headphones are lightweight, compact, and foldable. Therefore, they stay out of the way when you aren’t using them. Additionally, Sony has provided a carrying case to keep them safe and aid portability.

The performance of these headphones is what really matters, so how do the Sony MDR7506 fare? Excellently! These are versatile cans that can help with studio monitoring and playing guitar apps.

It has a sound impedance of 63 Ohms which makes it a solid choice for studio use and for your guitar amp. The 40 mm drivers and neodymium magnets contribute to the rich, expansive sound that you get from this model.

For the price, you will not find a better pair of headphones with a mid-range frequency response as good as that found on the Sony MDR7506. Overall, these deliver a beautiful range of sounds that you’ll love.

What I don’t like

As this is a budget level pair of headphones, some of the build quality is an issue. For example, the hinges are made of plastic. Additionally, the cable is non-detachable.

Recommended for: If you want budget headphones that come with impressive durability and even better sound performance for your guitar amp, then we recommend the Sony MDR7506. Their proven reliability, neutral audio profile, and comfortable sound stage has made them one of the bestselling headphones of all time, and certainly some of the best headphones for amps you can buy.

Most Versatile: beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

The last option on this roundup is the highly versatile Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80. Beyerdynamic is hands-down one of the most popular makers of headphones. The company has spent over 9 decades in the business and is admired by audiophiles around the world for the high quality, yet affordable headphones that it produces. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 is not an exception and comes with plenty of useful features that you would certainly enjoy.

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 comes with the trademark design and build of budget headphones from the manufacturer. They look premium and are very hardwearing. The shells are made of high-grade plastic and will survive bumps and fall without plenty of damage.

Other parts of the headphones contribute to the comfort you’ll experience. For instance, the shells measures under 105 mm and are genuinely circumaural. They come with velour cushions that cradle the ear and will have you comfortable even after prolonged use.

Headbands sometimes cause discomfort, but that is not an issue here. It is stable and comfortable on your head. Since you can expand and retract it, you can wear it despite your head size. While the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 doesn’t look as sleek as more expensive models, that is merely a matter of taste. One of the best things we love about these headphones is that most of the parts can be replaced.

The sound is great on this model. It comes with an 80 Ohm impedance, which means that it plays louder than older models. It sounds even better when used with a guitar amp. The soundstage is decent, although highs are emphasized and can leave you with a shrill ring. They are bass-heavy, though, so you should keep that in mind as you think of buying these headphones.

What I don’t like

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 comes with a cable that is just shy of 10 feet. Therefore, it can get in the way as you play and isn’t exactly designed for smartphone use. It also is bulky and isn’t portable.

Recommended for: These are rock solid all-around headphones, comfortable in any setting from gaming and production to video editing and casual listening. Their great build quality, acceptably neutral but exciting sound profile, and relative affordability makes them one of the best headphones for amps you can buy right now.

Over to You

Finding the right headphones for your amp can be a massive challenge. Hopefully, our pick of the best headphones for amps will help you zero-in on the right option.

For more recommendations and advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Check our other recommendations

References:

Changelog
  • October 21, 2020: Article first published

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