Headphones for your guitar amplifier will allow you to practice and play anytime you want to, day or night, without disturbing your house-mates or neighbors. Not just that, if you get a really good set of headphones for your amp you can hear your playing with new levels of accuracy and clarity.
Is that always a good thing? Well, I guess that’s why we practice! Seriously, though, while you can plug basically any headphones into an amp, I’ve found a few pairs that are especially well suited to the task, and would like to talk about them here in more detail.
Speaking of details, if you’re in a hurry and would like to get right to the point, here are my top three picks:
- Best Headphones for Guitar Amplifiers Overall Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Over Ear Closed Back Studio Reference Headphones
- Most Detailed Sound Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
- Best Headphones for Guitar Amplifiers with Bluetooth Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphone
What To Look For in the Best Headphones for Guitar Amplifiers
I was recently attempting to follow along with a “simple” video tutorial from the late, great guitar hero Shawn Lane, and the results were, well, let’s just say that I realized that I needed a pair of headphones for my amplifier – and a few years of practice before I let anybody else hear.
And if you know me, or if you’ve read any of my other articles, you know I have, uhm, a few pairs of cans already – so did I really “need” a new pair?
Well, it turns out that there are a few things in particular that a good pair of headphones for amplifiers should have – keeping in mind that we want privacy and the ability to play and practice endlessly, even at three in the morning, without disturbing others, and we want to be able to really, clearly hear what we’re playing and how well (or, in the case of my Lane speed runs, how, well, unwell).
So for me the most important things to look for in a new pair of headphones ideal for guitars and amplifiers are:
Volume – Not much of a concern, really, since an average amp will play headphones plenty loud, but if you really shred, you will want a pair of headphones that can take the power for extended periods without breaking down.
Privacy – Even when we’re playing loud, or listening loud, we want to make sure we’re not disturbing the neighbors, the family or the dog (who can, even when we’ve just barely turned the amp up, can howl with his own alarming volume). Plus, if we’re practicing, writing or trying new things, we often want to keep it to ourselves, so we can just relax and let go.
Dynamic Expressivity – Related to volume, here I mean full dynamic range, or the spread between the very softest playing and the very loudest, as well as the tiny and super-subtle dynamic inflections which make guitar playing so powerful and unique. Some headphones – even some inexpensive ones – get this whole dynamic expressivity thing much better than others.
Clarity – Not just in dynamics, but we would ideally like our guitar headphones to really accurately capture all of the details of our playing – tone, technique, intonation, fingering, attack and decay, all of it – and let us perfectly hear, understand and perfect every aspect of our performance.
Toughness – Yeah, we want a set of headphones that can take volume in stride, but also ones that will not break if we use them a lot, or if excessive head-bobbing or theatrical leaping throws the ‘phones from our head, or we yank or stomp on the cord, or go all Pete Townsend on them – BYW, don’t!
Sound – Simply put, we want volume, we want dynamics and clarity, but we also want headphones that sound beautiful, are a joy to use and inspire us when we’re playing.
Who Makes the Best Headphones for Guitars and Guitar Amps?
I’ve tried a lot of different headphones, and it turns out that there are a few companies that really excel, and these are often pretty expected brands – famous and beloved companies from the guitar world, the pro audio scene or the normal headphone market.
So we see some quite familiar names – Boss, Vox, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, Shure – all of which make fantastic pairs of headphones which really capture our sound, our technique and even our energy with clarity, beauty and precision, and are tough enough to stand up to the most enthusiastic late-night sessions.
Somewhat surprisingly, my top choice for the best headphones for electric guitars are very inexpensive – I will offer a few more premium choices, but the seriously tough, honest and powerful Sennheiser HD280 Pro are in no way some kind of low-cost compromise, but a superb pair of cans, and pretty much ideal for guitar amplifiers.
In this list of best guitar headphones, I’m not just going to include headphones you can plug into your existing amplifier, but a couple of pairs which have amps built in, and so can be plugged right into your guitar – the brilliant Marshall Major IV Bluetooth wireless ‘phones and the absolutely amazing Boss Waza-Air, which is an entirely different animal…
So let’s look at the best guitar amplifier headphones from these and others, with some basic information and my own personal take on each one of these great sets of cans.
The Best Guitar Amplifier Headphones in 2023
Best of the Best
SENNHEISER HD 820 Over-the-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones
- The HD 820 delivers an unparalleled, reference-grade audiophile listening experience in a closed headphone
- Innovative glass reflectors and frequency absorber systems replicate the wide open characteristics of audiophile speakers in a sealed earcup...
- 56mm Ring Radiator transducers and Glass Reflectors provide total immersion in your music with absolute detail and a breathtaking soundstage
- Made in Germany using the finest materials for sound integrity, build quality, and luxurious comfort
- Connectivity technology: Wired
I’m honestly a bit confused by some of the other review pages out there, several of which so enthusiastically recommend the Sennheiser HD 800 reference headphones – yeah, to be sure, the 800 are nearly as good as it gets, with stunning clarity, unrivaled soundstage and imaging and unbelievably beautiful sound.
But they are open-backed headphones, and I have to say that if you are connected to any decent amp, and really going, these are going to leak a lot of sound into your space – not as much, obviously, as the amp’s speaker, but maybe enough to wake the family and get that darn dog howling.
But I do love the idea, and for accuracy and the ability to really capture absolutely everything you’re doing, along with, again, indescribable tonal beauty, there is no better choice than high end Senns – and really, for this specific application and for pretty much any listening, there is no better headphones available today than the superb Sennheiser HD 820.
Incredibly over-built, and with clarity and accuracy, subtlety and power which have made them the de facto standard for high end studios, professional musicians, audio engineers and record producers, the HD 820 are not just one of the finest pairs of headphones available period, they are definitely the best you can get for monitoring your guitar playing.
These are expensive – really expensive, in fact – headphones, but if you are a serious guitar player, or a serious composer, the HD 820 will capture even the tiniest inflections or techniques with startling clarity, reveal even the most insignificant mistakes with almost annoying relentlessness, and present every single aspect of your playing completely and perfectly – and do it all with a beauty that will inspire and delight every single time.
Yes, these are a real pipe dream for most of us, at nearly 2 thousand bucks a pair, but if you want the best of the best, and are really serious about your playing, look no farther – the Sennheiser HD 820 closed back studio reference headphones are the best guitar headphones on the planet, and many would say they are the best headphones overall.
- The most accurate, revealing and neutral headphones
- Incredibly well built and premium quality in every way
- Unparalleled dynamic expressiveness
- Stunningly beautiful sound
- Will last forever – well, pretty close anyway…
- Inspiring and engaging experience on all levels
Best Headphones for Guitar Amplifiers Overall
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Over Ear Closed Back Studio Reference Headphones
- High ambient noise attenuation
- Accurate, linear sound reproduction
- Soft earpads for a comfortable fit
- Folding and rotating earcups for space-saving transport
- Tough, single-sided cable
But yeah, there are pipe dreams and then there is reality – and while the 820 are the best headphones I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing my playing through, Sennheiser also makes another truly legendary pair, which are fully 1,900 bucks cheaper than those pricey beauties – the HD 280 Pro, coming in at around one twentieth the price!
Do they have the accuracy, beauty and energy of the 820? Of course not, but also yes, they kind of do…
In fact, this is why the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are so legendary – they have an uncanny confidence for their low price, with not just the ability to present your tone, your technique and your expressivity with near-perfect accuracy, but to do so with real ease and incredible beauty.
They will also play incredibly loud – really, dangerously loud, and because they are so very well designed, and so perfectly isolated, you can crank them as hard as you want, even in the wee hours, and unless your fingering is excessively noisy nobody will have a clue. And even at extreme volumes the detail, expressiveness and tonal quality are consistent, with no strain or distortion at all.
With seriously deep bass, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones are as good for bass players as for lead, and are a great choice for somebody who plays both – and, in their unadorned and uncolored honesty, they are also a great choice for anybody who plays a wide range of styles and genres.
Though not expensive, in my opinion the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are, all things considered, the best overall guitar amplifier headphones you can get, They offer amazing accuracy, detail, dynamics, bass and overall tonal quality, and somehow all at once reveal your playing with new levels of honesty while at the same time make everything you do sound better. They are super-tough, and will last for years and years, even with heavy use, easily besting even much more expensive headphones on all fronts – top recommendation!
- Near perfect neutrality and yet warm and musical
- The best value
- Supremely revealing and highly expressive
- The best acoustic isolation
- Comfortable, even for long sessions
- A brilliant company
- At this price, none
Best Budget Headphones for Guitar Amps
MuveAcoustics Over Ear Wired Studio Headphones
- Incredible Stereo Sound - This recording studio headphones for mixing and mastering computer headphones over ear phones is specially...
- Comfortable Fit Out of Ear - The cute over-ear headphones are foldable and stretchable easily. Gym headphones perfect choice for adult...
- Easy Control - This wired headphones with mic connect to an audio microphone with answering phone and playback control for running,...
- Always On - This DJ headphones professional is battery worry free always on. Overear headphones is perfect for wire gaming headphones no mic...
- Detachable Cord Headphone - Bargain finds earphones wired headphones for computer designed with detachable cable for easy storage and...
There are actually quite a few great headphones we can choose as the best value – including the easily affordable Sennheiser HD 280 Pro above or the redoubtable Sony MDR7506 headphones, which are also tough, honest and expressive, and also built to take some abuse. In fact, even though the Sony aren’t a finalist, they easily could be, and I love them and recommend them with real enthusiasm.
But neither of them – great values though they are – are really cheap. For a bit more substantiality, clarity and accuracy they are well worth the not-enormous increase in price, but I wanted to find a pair of headphones that really amaze, and do so at a really, really low price.
And boy did I – the MuveAcoustics over-ear wired studio headphones are destined to become one of those true legends in consumer audio, with almost unbelievable accuracy and clarity, dynamic subtlety and power, physical toughness and intelligent design – and in a pair of cans under twenty dollars!
Seriously, you won’t believe how great the MuveAcoustic headphones sound, with strikingly deep, fast and detailed bass, smooth and flat frequency response overall, amazing ability to resolve not just detail and dynamics, but the kind of micro-detail and micro-dynamics we need to up our game, and which studio engineers need to accurately hear and capture what musicians are doing.
I guess when I start talking about micro-detail and micro-dynamics I sound like I’m describing the two grand Sennheiser 820s above, or even their 280 Pro, which cost more than five times as much as these MuveAcoustics studio reference cans. And to be clear this is a different level, with less power, less tonal beauty and less absolute clarity, expressivity and resolution than those famous models.
But for super-cheap headphones, I’ve never found anything that comes close to the MuveAcoustics, which are very well made, have a lovely overall sound, will play plenty loud and plenty soft with equal fullness and clarity, and can capture all of the aspects of your guitar playing with ease, accuracy and actual excellence.
The MuveAcoustics over-ear wired studio headphones are too inexpensive for many serious musicians or audio professionals to take them seriously, but I honestly think this will change as their reputation is established and more and more people try them and fall in love with them. They are, to me, a near-perfect hyper-affordable set of cans, for guitar amps and for everything else, and my easy choice for the best budget headphones for guitar players.
- Really neutral and accurate
- Clear and present presentation of guitar sound, technique and expression
- Amazing detail and resolution for the price
- Comfortable and with good isolation
- Well made
- An amazing value
- Not as revealing, neutral or beautiful sounding as the Sennheisers above (but at this price nothing comes close)
Best In-Ear Monitors for Guitar Amplifiers
Shure SE425-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones
- SOUND ISOLATING TECHNOLOGY - Own your audio space with sound isolating design that eliminates noise and keeps your experience pristine....
- CUSTOMIZED FIT - Includes three sizes (S, M, L) of the flex and black foam sleeves. Experiment with the size and style that creates the best...
- SECURE, OVER-THE-EAR DESIGN - Wireform fit ensures earphones stay in place and cables remain out of the way.
- STRIKING FULL-RANGE SOUND - Full range sound from a dual high-definition driver to deliver accurate, natural sound in a discrete, durable...
- DURABLE REINFORCED CABLE - Detachable cable is durable enough to withstand everyday wear, yet allows for easy replacement in case of damage....
This is, as they say, a slam-dunk!
As audio engineers, musicians and audiophiles have known for many years, there is no better choice for in-ear monitors than the superlative Shure product line, which offers the highest levels of sonic accuracy, isolation, clarity and resolution, build quality and design, tonal beauty and the ability to play hyper-loud without stress or strain – and, of course, that slamming, deep and thrillingly powerful Shure bass.
A bit tougher, though, is deciding which Shure in-ears to choose as best earbuds for guitar amplifiers. The flagship Shure SE846 are perfect in every way, with unparalleled honesty, resolution and beauty of sound, while the still pricey SE535 offer similar levels of performance and amazing isolation, and are a fantastic choice for working musicians and live performance.
And the affordable SE215 have the same seriously overbuilt and super tough material quality of the more expensive models, and a very similar sound signature, with amazing accuracy and honesty, detail, expressive power and subtlety and beauty of sound, and for under a hundred dollars are a supreme value.
But for me the ideal choice is the Shure SE425, which are premium headphones to be sure, but surprisingly affordable for what they offer.
Exceptionally well made, the Shure SE425 are true working professional in-ear monitors, which can hold up to even extreme volume and lots of use, and can even handle a bit of rough treatment. They are quite linear, with flat frequency response up and down, but do have a bit of bass boost for warmth.
Resolution of detail is as good as it gets at this price level, as is the 425’s ability to capture and present even the tiniest variances in playing technique or artistic expression – subtle dynamic inflections, minute differentiations in texture, attack, speed and rhythm, power and energy.
In fact, power and energy are real strong suits with the SE425 – and all Shure in-ear monitors. It’s not just how loud they will play, how deep the bass is, how clean and clear attack and playing force come across, but an indescribably quality which really set these beautiful ‘buds apart – a thrilling energy, that same power which the electric guitar itself, perhaps more than any other instrument – is known and loved for.
Not the cheapest, the Shure SE425 are still quite affordable, and represent the best value in their line. Not the most expensive, they offer performance as close as possible to the top models, but remain in reach for most of us.
If you need or want an in-ear monitor, the Shure SE425 are the best choice I know for guitar amps and guitar players, with excellent isolation, superb performance, amazing build quality, beautiful sound and real power.
- Supremely neutral sound
- Excellent resolution and expressivity
- Superior acoustic isolation
- Very comfortable and secure
- Great bass and high volume
- Industry standard
Most Detailed Sound
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
- Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
- Proprietary 45 millimeter large aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper clad aluminum wire voice coils
- Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range with deep accurate bass response
- Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
- 90 degree swiveling earcups for easy one ear monitoring and professional grade earpad and headband material delivers more durability and...
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X would be a perfect choice for many people as the best headphones overall for guitar amps, and their bright and especially detailed sound do make them a natural choice for the electric guitar.
In fact, that bright and detailed sound emphasizes things like attack, speed and articulation, inflection and dynamics so clearly and obviously that the M50X are pretty much as good as it gets for serious practice. Or fun practice, for that matter…
They are also very, very well made headphones, with material and build quality that puts them firmly into the professional audio category – even though these are among the most popular of all wired headphones in consumer audio as well – and you can be sure they will hold up to whatever you put them through, and sound great for many years to come.
Bass is powerful and deep, nicely extended into the sub-bass range and with just enough boost to provide a strong and pleasing quality of foundation and warmth, but without sacrificing clarity in the mid-bass and midrange. As such, the ATH-M50X make an equally good choice for bass, just as their sparkling sound make them especially pleasing with acoustic guitars.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X will also play really loud, and even at top volume maintain amazing dynamic expressiveness and subtlety, as well as clarity and sweetness. Their overbuilt quality means they can handle lots of volume, and their superior acoustic isolation means you can play them as loud as you want whenever you want.
Ultimately they might not be as flat in frequency response as even something like the less expensive Sennheiser HD280 Pro, above, and they are a bit too bright for some listeners,
That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X closed back professional headphones do have superb bass to offset their strong, superb treble, and end up being very pleasing and musical overall. And for making all aspects of your playing extraordinarily clear they have no real competition at this affordable price – a beautifully made headphone that can’t help but make you a better guitarist!
- Incredible resolution of detail
- Equally great for lead, bass and acoustic guitars
- Bright, clear, musical sound
- Super well built and durable
- Detachable Cable
- Fantastic company
- Maybe too bright for some
Best Headphones for Guitar Amplifiers with Bluetooth
Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphone
- Major IV delivers the signature Marshall sound that you’ve come to expect. Custom-tuned dynamic drivers deliver roaring bass, smooth mids...
- 80+ solid hours of wireless playtime with quick-charge capability – only 15 minutes of charging will give you 15 hours of listening. These...
- Improved ergonomic design means that when you’re deep diving into your music, the tenth hour is as comfortable as the first. Major IV’s...
- Major IV can be charged wirelessly, so it’s now easier than ever to charge and go. Spend less time looking for your charger in a mess of...
- With the multi-directional control knob you can play, pause, skip and adjust the volume of your device, as well as power your headphones on...
Not that many guitar amplifiers have Bluetooth wireless technology built in, and fewer still of the more serious pro amps will, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea, or one we’ll surely see more and more of.
And while there may be more Bluetooth wireless headphones out there these days than there are wired headphones, one pair really stands out at the best choice for guitar players – the Marshall Major IV.
No, it’s not just because of the name – or maybe it is. I mean, Marshall is totally connected with guitar sound, and has probably shaped and defined that sound more than any other company in existence – so I guess it makes sense that their headphones will sound exceptionally good as guitar monitors.
And they do – the Major IV have that signature Marshall sound, smooth, rich and kind of dark, but with plenty of brightness and detail, and will play loud enough – especially for Bluetooth headphones – to satisfy your inner metalhead. They have fantastically deep and strong bass, with speed, impact and amazing accuracy, and are in fact – for all their unmistakable sound – quite honest and accurate overall.
The Marshall Major IV have improved enormously over previous generation Marshall headphones in at least one very important respect, and that is the presentation of space – and this is why I so happily and enthusiastically recommend these latest-generation headphones. In addition to their powerful, accurate and “guitary” sound signature, the Major IV are surprisingly open, with a wide, detailed and highly accurate soundstage.
With Bluetooth 5.0, unbelievable battery life and fast charging, the Major IV are as well designed as they are great sounding, and they can be used as wired ‘phones too with the included cable.
A tough, well made pair of headphones from perhaps the most iconic company in the business, the Marshall Major IV Bluetooth wireless headphones are everything you would expect and a lot more – great tech, great comfort and just the right sound.
- That wonderful, unmistakable Marshall sound
- Fantastic battery life
- Detailed and open sound with great bass and real dynamic power
- Bluetooth 5
- Very comfortable
- Great build quality
- On-ear (over-ear do provide a bit better isolation)
Best Amplified Headphones for Guitars
Boss Waza-Air Wireless Guitar Headphone Amp
- Headphone Guitar Amplifier with Wireless Transmitter
- 50+ Customizable Effects
- Dynamic 3D Sound
- 5 Amp Types
My last recommendation for best headphones for guitar players maybe should have been put at the very top of the list, and in many ways is the most ideal, and the most completely designed-for-the-purpose choice of them all – the Boss Waza-Air wireless amplified guitar headphones.
So why are they all the way down here in the cellar? Well, this is a list of best headphones for guitar amplifiers, but the Waza-Air are both headphones and amplifier in one. And yeah, while this is a great idea, and their amplifier is absolutely fantastic, they will not reproduce or represent the sound of your own amp.
In fact, Boss doesn’t even call these “headphones,” but instead a Wireless Personal Guitar Amplification System – a real mouthful!
And while they don’t, and won’t, sound like your amplifier, the Waza-Air do sound uncannily like one of the finest guitar amplifiers ever made, the legendary Katana stage amplifier. In fact, they include 5 distinct sound signatures derived from that amazing amplifier, and the sound of these headphones really is amazing. And with the free Boss Tone app you can access tons of different effects, and really customize the sound.
While the setup is a bit of a hassle, and there is definitely a learning curve here, the connection is pretty ingenious – you simply plug a wireless Bluetooth transmitter into your guitar’s jack and it pairs and communicates with the headphones.
What is far more complex, though, and both really fascinating and amazingly effective in actual use, is the spatial technology, which uses built-in gyroscopes and complex algorithms to simulate a performing space and react to your movements and position within that space. Seriously freaky and cool, and it really does bring the experience of playing a guitar with headphones to a whole new level.
It should be said that these are also just great sounding headphones – spatial modeling, effects and sound models aside, they have a smooth, detailed and highly resolving quality that is perfect for perfecting your own technique, style and sound. They will play loud, have plenty of deep bass impact, dark but clear mids and nicely extended highs – and again, the amplifier sound is just fantastic.
An expensive pair of headphones, the Boss Waza-Air are unique in their abilities and offer a really effective and exciting simulation of playing a guitar in space and time. There may be better values on this list, and more accurate headphones overall, but for this stunningly effective virtual reality the Waza-Air are in a league of their own.
- Beautiful Katana amplifier sound
- Incredibly effective spatial representation
- Well made and durable
- Simple to use – at least after setup
- Setup a bit difficult
- Short battery life