Best Headphones for Classical Music
If you have a particular interest in classical music, then you’d need to have the proper equipment to truly enjoy it. Of course, all those amplifiers and sound cards are important, but they are worth nothing without a good headphone.
And if that’s what you are looking for, welcome to our review of best headphones for classical music.
Best 5 Headphones for Classical Music Reviewed
The first model on our review of best headphones for classical music is Beyerdynamic DT 880. If you were looking for a headphone to use with a powerful amplifier, this model may be the right choice for you.
The main reason for this is the 250-ohm impedance of the headphone. Unless you have a proper amplifier, you won’t be uncovering what the DT 880 headphone truly has to offer.
And it does have plenty to offer to lovers of classical music, mind you.
The key spec in this headphone is its wide frequency response range of 5-35,000 Hz. The DT 880 headphone is designed to deliver a neutral sound with no coloration. Such a sound profile should allow you to use every nuance in classical music.
The bass is restrained in this headphone as well. Those who’d like to have more bass in their headphones may not be quite satisfied with this headphone’s bass profile. However, the overall sound balance in this headphone is great for classical music.
Another notable feature in the DT 880 headphone is its semi-open design. Compared to the closed-back DT 770, the DT 880 delivers a more spacious and 3-dimensional sound. At the same time, it doesn’t let out as much sound as an open-back headphone would.
The DT 880 headphone is great in terms of comfort as well. It has got pretty comfy ear cups equipped with soft and breathable velour ear pads. In addition, you may replace the headband and ear pads in the future to get longer service from the DT 880 headphone. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to the audio cable since it isn’t detachable.
Praised by music lovers and gamers alike, this headphone delivers a clear and versatile sound with excellent higher frequencies.
Just have a look at the frequency response range of this headphone – 12-38,500 Hz! Needless to say, the HD 599 is going to be spectacular in terms of overall sound profile. It may have lacking bass compared to some other headphones on the list, but this won’t be a problem for you if you aren’t a bass junkie.
A thing that greatly contributes to the sound stage of the HD 599 headphone is its open-back design. Allowing more sound to leave the headphone, such a design makes the sound more 3-dimensional and less muffled.
On the other hand, the open-back design is going to leak plenty of sound, so keep that in mind.
This headphone has an impedance of 50 ohms, so it should pair excellently with mobile devices. You may also plug this headphone into your home entertainment system thanks to the included 6.3mm cable.
The comfort is remarkable in these headphones as well. The HD 599 has a soft headband combined with comfy ear pads, but what contributes to the comfort level more is the full articulation in the ear cups. Even big-headed individuals should be able to comfortably use this headphone.
The Audio Technica ATH-AD900X headphone arguably is a more suitable choice for use with mobile devices than the HD 598 SR. Part of a reason for this is its lower 38-ohm impedance, which means that they require less power. With weaker sound sources, this would allow you to avoid the low volume issue.
This isn’t this headphone’s only difference from the HD 598 SR, however.
The frequency response range in the ATH-AD900X headphone is a bit different – 5-35,000 Hz. It has lower high frequencies, but it also goes 7 Hz deeper into the low frequencies. So while this headphone may subtly lack high frequencies (though unlikely since the human ear doesn’t hear higher than 20,000 Hz), it should have a better bass profile.
In terms of sound dimensionality, the ATH-AD900X headphone should be identical to the HD 598 SR. The ATH-AD900X headphone boasts an open-back design as well, so music will sound airier in them. Likewise, the open-back design is going to let more noise in and out.
In terms of comfort, the ATH-AD900X headphone is arguably slightly worse than the HD 598 SR, mainly because it doesn’t have as much articulation in its ear cups. As a result, the ear cups may be not too comfy for big-headed people.
Another thing that you may dislike about this headphone is that it has a stiff non-detachable cable. It’s curly and difficult to straighten up. Not a critical thing, but it may make this headphone less convenient for you.
For those on a tight budget, headphones like the Grado SR80e could be the best option out there. This headphone is inexpensive, but it does have the basics that allow you to enjoy classical music. Overall, we think that these are the best budget headphones for classical music out there.
Now, being the cheapest headphone on the list, the SR80e has the most limited sound profile among all the reviewed models. It has a 20-20,000 Hz frequency response range. While this corresponds to the hearing capabilities of the human ear, the sound stage in this headphone may lack noticeably compared to headphones with a wider frequency range.
Thanks to the low impedance of 32 ohms, the SR80e headphone may be freely used with mobile devices. And this is great since if you are on a budget, you probably won’t have a powerful amp in your possession.
In terms of comfort, the SR80e has both good and bad sides. The good is that this headphone weighs just around 8 ounces and has fully articulating & adjustable ear cups. On the other hand, since the ear cups have an on-ear design, they will put more pressure on your ears than an over-ear headphone would.
And besides, when it comes to sound isolation, the SR80e headphone is weaker than all the other models on our list due to its more open on-ear design.
You may also dislike the fact that this headphone doesn’t allow its audio cable to be detached. But this is a feature more common for pricier models, so it isn’t that big of a problem for a headphone like SR80e.
The Q701 headphone has the widest frequency range on our list – 10-39,800 Hz. Obviously, this headphone is going to be spectacular in the higher frequencies. It will be good in the lower frequencies as well and will deliver an overall neutral sound great for classical music, but it isn’t the best on the list when it comes to bass.
But since this headphone has an open-back design, it is going to deliver no less dimensionality in the sound than the rest of the open-back headphones on our list. Likewise, it is going to let some sound in and out, so keep that in mind.
When it comes to sound sources, this headphone should be able to work with more powerful unamplified sources. It has a higher input impedance of 62 ohms, and not every mobile device is going to deliver enough power for it. This headphone is overall going to be a better choice for use with a not too powerful amplifier.
In terms of comfort, the Q701 headphone is rather good. It doesn’t have fully articulating ear cups, but the frame of the headphone is flexible enough to provide you with a good amount of room for adjustment.
The headband in this headphone isn’t the best though. It is for some reason made bumpy, and it may leave an imprint on your head, regardless of whether you have hair or not. You may try to cut these bumps off if they bother you, but do so after some test drive. Cutting the bumps will void the warranty, and you will not be able to return the headphone if you don’t like it.
Things to Look for in Headphones for Classical Music
Now, it’s time for you to pick the absolute best classical music headphone. And to choose a proper model, you need to know what to look for in headphones.
We are going to focus on things that you would want to have specifically for classical music, as well as more general features that you should have in your headphones.
One of the most important things to look for in classical music headphones is their design. The construction of a headphone is not about how it looks or feels on your head: what’s more important is that the design significantly affects how the headphone sounds.
Overall, open-back headphones tend to deliver the best sound for classical music listening. In closed-back headphones, little to no sound escapes the headphone. As a result, the sound “bounces back” into your ears, which creates a more muffled and restricted sound. While closed-back headphones are excellent in terms of noise isolation, not everyone likes them for music listening.
In semi-open and more so in open-back headphones, some of the sound escapes the headphone, which imparts a more natural 3-dimensional feel to the music. In addition, semi-open and open-back headphones don’t hit the ears as much as closed-back headphones, so your head is unlikely to hurt in them.
Frequency response range
The design of your headphone has a pretty noticeable effect on sound quality, but the frequency response range is much more important if you are a lover of classical music.
So, if you didn’t know, the frequency response basically is the frequency range covered by the headphone. The human ear can usually perceive 20-20,000 Hz frequencies, but headphones very often go beyond that. Just have a look at the headphones we reviewed: most of them go both below and above the human ear’s hearing capabilities.
Now, people perceive frequencies differently, and you most likely won’t hear the frequencies below 20 Hz and above 20,000 Hz. However, headphones with extended frequencies tend to deliver fuller sound since they have more breathing room in the upper and lower range of frequencies.
What also matters is how the headphone delivers its frequencies. Some headphones may have reinforced lower frequencies (bass), while others may emphasize higher frequencies. However, generally, it is considered that a neutral sound profile is better for classical music since it allows all the musical instruments to have equal input to the listening experience.
As for bass, it really is going to come down to your own preferences. But even if you don’t like bass too much, your headphone probably should have some mild bass to it so the music doesn’t sound too bland.
Impedance is a more general thing in headphones, and it won’t specifically impact classical music. However, if you want to have a good experience, you need to consider impedance as well when buying a headphone for classical music.
Measured in ohms, impedance indicates the amount of electrical resistance in the headphones. The higher the impedance, the more power the headphone will require.
Headphones with impedance around 30-50 ohms can generally be used without any dedicated amplifiers. Mobile devices, PCs with integrated sound cards, and other devices that don’t have amplifiers should be able to work with such impedances.
Headphones designed for studio use or use with powerful amplifiers tend to have impedance around 250-600 ohms. The overall sounding in such headphones is going to be noticeably better than in home headphones, but you’d need a proper amplifier to power a headphone with high impedance.
The bottom line is that you need to get a headphone with an impedance that corresponds to the impedance of the audio equipment you have. Otherwise, you’ll get poor sound quality and volume at least. And if you get a low-impedance headphone for your amp, you may just blow the headphone.
Everyone perceives headphone comfort differently. Some people absolutely need to have a headphone that sits excellently on their head, while others can tolerate some inconvenience.
Let’s put it this way: if your listening sessions won’t be long, you probably won’t need to have the best comfort in the world. But, if you spend most of the day with headphones on, whether working in a studio or just chilling at home, you’d need to get a headphone that would be comfy.
Things like the headband and ear pads are important, so research how good the desired headphone is with them. A thing that we’d advise you to look for as well is articulation in the ear cups. Most headphones have flipping ear cups, but not all headphones’ ear cups rotate around their vertical axis.
A headphone with fully articulating ear cups would be great for you if you are looking for great comfort in headphones. Besides, articulating cups would be great if you are a big-headed individual.
If weight also matters to you, do make sure to keep it in mind as well. If you’ll be wearing the headphone for long periods of time, you may want to go for a cheaper headphone.
With music, your subjective taste plays a huge role. A headphone that is perfect for someone else may not be good for you.
Ideally, you should do a test drive with the desired headphone before buying it. If someone you know has it, you may be able to test it beforehand. If prior testing is impossible, read user reviews: they should give you a good idea of how the headphone sounds.
And overall, do make sure to conduct some extensive research in order to get those best headphones for classical music.