You have probably figured out that your earphones aren't cutting it. You need a higher standard set of headphones to use with your guitar amp.
There are so many good and bad headphones out there and some may be fantastic in general but not good for guitars. We have compiled a list of our favorite headphones for guitar amps to help you make a good choice.
Technically, this isn’t a set of headphones to use with a guitar amp so much as it is a guitar amp itself. It uses Boss Katana amp simulation to emulate 5 different amplifiers. It also has the ability to use over 50 different effects. You control these by pairing the headphones with the Tone Studio smartphone app.
The built-in amps for these headphones sound great. The amp simulators are designed specifically for use with the Waza-Air. The matching of the simulators to the headphones creates a sound much more similar to an actual speaker cab. This is because most headphones are designed to be as neutral as possible which is not how guitar amplifiers are designed. The Waza-Air is one of the best headphone guitar experiences available because of this fact.
They have an integrated gyro sensor which creates an atmosphere within the headphones. This makes it seem like the sound is coming from a physical amp somewhere in the room. You can turn off this feature if you want it to feel more like it's coming straight from the headphones.
These headphones use an advanced form of Bluetooth. This means they have minimal latency. There will not be a noticeable gap between when you strike the note on your guitar and hearing the playback. This is important for wireless headphones. Especially if you're using them to practice an instrument.
When fully charged they provide about 5 hours off battery time. That should be enough if you remember to charge them when you’re done jamming. One annoying thing about these headphones is that they charge separately to their wireless adaptor. It may be worth picking up a second charge cable so you can charge them both at the same time.
If you own an electric guitar you have probably heard of VOX before. They are famous for their high-quality British amps. They also produce these fantastic headphones. The VH-Q1 headphones are perfect for pairing with a VOX amp. They also work great with a VOX amPlug although you will have to use the wired connection for this.
These headphones have a few features that are specifically designed for guitar players. This makes them stand out from other ANC headphones if you plan to use them with a guitar.
One of these features is its powerful monitoring technology. For example, These headphones can pick up on the exact frequencies of your acoustic guitar. The headphones will then use its built-in microphone to playback those frequencies. You can then use its Bluetooth to play backing tracks and use them both at the same time. Doing so creates the perfect practice environment as you will only be able to hear what you're focusing on. With the ANC turned on it will be like you are in your own little world.
This feature is also good for band rehearsal. You can use active noise cancellation to cut out the rest of the band and hear yourself. Then, you can reintroduce the band to your mix through the built-in mic. You can do so at an appropriate volume so you can hear yourself easier.
These aren't only the best ANC headphones for use with guitar. They are also a great set of headphones to use with your phone. They are perfect for traveling. They shut out the sound of planes, trains, cars, and other annoying background noise. The sound quality is also great for music listening.
The ATH-M50x headphones are super popular amongst audio enthusiasts. This is for good reason. They come with a bunch of great features and have superb audio quality.
These headphones have a foldable design with swivel earcups for easy transport. The earcups are also super comfortable with luscious padding on them. This padding also helps to create passive noise cancellation. Having good passive noise cancellation makes these headphones perfect for someone looking for a closed back headphone design.
The Sound from these headphones is well balanced and neutral. This is great for studio use but you may want to adjust the settings on your amp to find the tone you are after. Amplifier speakers are designed to have certain frequency spikes compared to headphones which aim to be neutral. This doesn't mean you can't still find the perfect tone with these headphones. It will just require a little more tweaking than with something like the BOSS Waza-Air. We think these headphones are the best for their cost and are a great inclusion for any studio use or on-the-go.
Another nice inclusion with these headphones is 3 different cables. Having the three cables makes it easier for you to use the headphones for your guitar amp and for other uses. There is a long one for your guitar and a smaller one for your phone. This will get you out of trouble if you lose or damage one of the cables too.
These headphones are a premium pick and as such have a hefty price tag and high impedance of 300ohms. The high impedance means they have fantastic sound quality. They have amazing spaciousness, crisp highs, and thunderous bass. However, the high impedance means they may not be the best match for most guitar amplifiers.
If you own a decent soundcard or interface for your computer and have a home studio then these headphones are a great choice. They are the best for using with virtual amplifiers such as Bias FX. This is because the interface will be able to push these headphones to their full potential. If you would rather use your physical amplifier with these headphones, it would be a good idea to run your amp through your computer then into these headphones. That would give you the best sound from your amp for these headphones.
These are some of the most balanced headphones you can get without spending thousands of dollars. They are really worth your consideration as a set of studio headphones. Think of them more as having the bonus of being great for guitar simulation.
These headphones provide real bang for your buck. They perform just as well as many other more expensive headphones. They are very comfortable with a self-adjusting headband. This is important if you like to practice for hours on end.
They have a semi-open back design so you kind of have the best of both worlds. However, this also means you don’t get the full sound isolation that you can expect from closed-back headphones.
They have an impedance of 55ohms which doesn’t make them perfect for studio use but is spot on for use with a guitar amp. They have a rich and open tone with accurate mids and highs. You might find the bass a little too powerful for your taste when playing guitar. Others will love the boosted bass. The boosted bass makes them particularly well suited for down tuning.
They have a more expensive newer model called the K240 MK2. These do sound even better but may not be worth breaking the $100 budget for.
You can often find these headphones on sale for under $15! They sound decent and are comfortable enough to wear for about an hour at a time without causing too much grief.
They don’t have any special features. They don’t sound as rich and complex as more expensive pairs. They don’t feel great if you wear them for hours at a time. But. You. Can. Get. Them. For. Less. Than. $15! They are perfect for practicing on your own for occasional use. Great if you just need them when you don't want to bother others.
They are also useful to test the water for using headphones with your guitar amp. If it's something that you like you can always upgrade later. You can do so without having spent a fortune on something you weren't sure about by buying in the first place.
Samson manufactures a lot of great quality yet budget-friendly audio gear. The SR-970 headphones are a favorable closed back set that has a full stereo image. They look cool, sound fantastic considering their cost, and are comfortable too.
These headphones are a good choice if you like a light feeling set. They have an automatically adjusting headband. They have this to ensure that they will remain comfortable for prolonged use.
The padding on the earcups is super cozy but is also conducive to heat if you are predisposed to this type of thing.
The treble on these headphones is particularly impressive considering their cost. That makes them perfect for recreating certain guitar tones. If you know that you crank the treble on your amp then it is worth thinking about buying these headphones.
These headphones are a great choice if you like your mids boosted. That makes these headphones great for genres such as metalcore and post-rock. You can also experience some great response from the bass as well as the treble of these headphones.
They are reasonably comfortable but can feel like there is a little too much pressure. This is especially true if you have a particularly wide head. However, this tight fit also means they are unlikely to come off while you’re moving your head around.
The MDR-7506 headphones are a very sturdy set. They have metal hinges and a foldable design. This is compensated with ample padding on the headband and earcups of these headphones.
They operate at 63ohms which makes them good for use with guitar amplifiers. It's also beginning to border on a high resistance load for studio use too.
Yamaha is one of my favorite brands for mid-level audio gear. They are always reliable and sound great. The HPH-MT8 headphones keep this reputation alive. They have aluminum diecast support arms and thick ABS housing for the speakers. This will give them a long lifespan.
These headphones aren’t the prettiest ones to look at but they are super comfortable. Their closed-back design feels snug without being too tight. The headband has enough padding to feel comfortable for long use. This is all without making you sweat.
The sound from these headphones is very neutral. This makes them worthy of use for basic studio or DJ applications as well as for your guitar amp. They present a decent spaciousness considering they are closed back. Not compared to similarly priced open-back models though.
Shure is likely the most trusted brand of microphones. They also are the industry standard amongst in-ear monitors for live gigs. The SRH1440 headphones bring some of that prestige into the studio environment.
These headphones are specifically designed for critical listening. This means you will be able to hear the detail and nuances within your guitar tone. This also makes them fantastic for use as studio headphones. They are therefore useful if you plan to record your guitar playing and listen back.
Another great application for these headphones is to practice live looping. Having great detail available will help to identify places that need improvement. This includes improving your timing or accuracy.
They have an open back design and as such provide an awesome soundscape that is rich and deep. They also have excellent response across all frequency ranges that they are rated for.
These are also one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones you will ever wear. There is just one design flaw that gets in the way of being the best for guitar use. This is having the wires go into each side of the headphone instead of just one side. It can lead to the cables getting snagged in your guitar which is never fun. If you can avoid this, you will have an amazing set of headphones that can do pretty much anything you throw at them.
In the specs for headphones, amps, speakers, etc you will find impedance which is measured in ohms. This is the amount of resistance to the electrical signal given by that device. It can be a confusing concept so let’s address it as simply as possible.
Headphones that are about 30 ohms or less are perfect for low powered devices such as phones and laptops. Others that are rated at above 32 ohms are more suited for studio use. This includes applications such as monitoring and tracking. Guitar amplifiers have a high output so you will need to get headphones that have a higher rating.
Generally speaking, high impedance headphones will sound better than low impedance headphones. These headphones do need more specialized gear to go with them though. For example, let’s take a set of headphones with a 300ohm rating. It will have amazing clarity and an outstanding soundstage when used with a headphone amp or interface. On the other hand, it will be barely audible plugged straight into your laptop.
These high impedance headphones may provide too much resistance against your amplifier when plugged directly in. This means you won't get the best tone from them. They are definitely the best option for use with digital guitar plugins though.
All of the recommended headphones in our top list have a minimum impedance of 32ohms. This will prevent blowouts. We have also avoided headphones with high impedance except for the Sennheiser HD 650. This still made the cut as it is our pick for use with virtual guitar amps. We assume you have a quality interface to accompany them.
I have seen other review sites say that it is important for your headphones to be able to go above 20Khz. This is simply untrue. Most humans can only hear a maximum of 20Khz.
Headphone manufacturers boast about being able to reach high frequencies. This is in the same fashion that car manufacturers gloat about their car having a top speed of 300mp/h. Yeah, it’s cool, but so unnecessary for your daily drive. All the speakers in our top list reach a maximum of at 20Khz or above which is more than enough for guitar playback.
Most speakers in guitar amps are rated around 75Hz - 5Khz. The lowest frequency when you play the low E string on your guitar is 82Hz. You can see that 75Hz still leaves a lot to play with. If you play in down tuning you will need to get lower than 82Hz but not significantly so.
Every set of headphones in our list is rated from at least 20Hz. This is the lowest possible frequency most people can hear. Lower frequency response than we can hear is important for some applications. This is because you can feel bass in your body. However, 20Hz is much lower than you are likely to need for guitar amplification.
Headphones are available in two different types. Open-back headphones have a perforated opening at the back of the ear cups. Closed-back headphones don’t.
Closed-back headphones are better for isolating noise. They do this both inwards and outwards. This means that you’re unlikely to share the sound from your headphones with people around you. It also helps to prevent outside noise from bothering you.
Closed-back headphones are a great way to help you focus fully on practicing. For some people, they may cause discomfort when used for a long time. I know that I get hot ears when I use my closed-back headphones but every person and headphone set is different.
Open-back headphones allow air to pass through the opening on the back of the ear cups. This provides a more comfortable fit for many people. It also means you can hear what is going on around you. This creates an open listening experience. especially when compared to focused listening of closed-back headphones.
It comes down to personal choice in regards to open or closed back. Neither option is better than the other, just different.
It is great to have so extra additions to your headphones. These can include detachable cables, self-adjusting headbands, wireless connectivity, and active noise cancellation. But, you don't need any of these for the headphones to work as guitar headphones.
These extra inclusions can provide some benefits though:
- Your guitar cable won’t ever get caught in headphone cable if your headphones are wireless.
- Detachable cables make it easier for you to use the headphones with other devices. They're also easier to replace if they get damaged.
- Active noise cancellation will help to drown out any unwanted noise.
With more features comes a larger price tag so you need to consider if the extra additions are worth the cost to you. The sound quality is generally better the more you spend too. It is worth getting a more expensive pair of headphones especially if you also plan to use them as studio cans. If you’re on a tight budget, something cheaper will do the trick. At least until you can afford something better.
Headphones are built to have the most neutral eq possible and amplifiers speakers are not. This is part of the reason certain speakers or amp cabinets have a signature sound.
The best way to counteract this difference in speakers is to use emulated amplifiers for your headphones. This makes the Boss Waza Air the best all-inclusive option but amp simulators are also perfect for this.
In terms of real amplifiers, a solid-state amp is often better for use with headphones as it does not need to be driven as hard to get its tone when compared to a valve amp.