I’m searching for the most effective headphones for guitar practice. Whether you desire the fullness of an over-ear design or need to silence the environment for low-key playing, guitar amp headphones are a fantastic luxury.
Headphones are a financial breath of fresh air for guitarists, as you don’t have to spend as much on a good pair as you might think. You may not even need to spend much.
We’ll examine the headphones first, then discuss pricing in greater detail.
Our Top Picks
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Do I need noise-canceling headphones for my guitar amp?
Small microphones that ‘listen’ to the outside world are utilized in active noise cancellation. Then, a tiny amplifier generates sound waves that are precisely the opposite – out of phase – of any ambient noise, effectively canceling it. Similar to adding +2 to -2 to reach zero, except more expensive. Nevertheless, although this technology was once exclusive to high-end headphones, it is now considerably more affordable. It should be sought out if you need to play and listen to quiet passages where outside noise would be an issue.
Studio headphones vs. regular headphones
Numerous options in this guide are studio-grade rather than consumer-grade headphones. This is because consumer-grade headphones (like Beats or Skullcandy) tend to amplify specific frequencies to give you a super-low 808 on your hip-hop tracks and enhance the clarity of vocals on pop and dance tracks. If you’re listening to some of your favorite music, that’s great, but for those who meticulously shape our guitar tones, it’s the last thing you want. Studio-quality headphones have what is known as a “flat” EQ curve. That means no gimmicks, just your guitar tone in its purest form.
How to choose the best headphones for guitar amp monitoring
Choosing a pair of headphones for a guitar amplifier is a crucial decision. You want a microphone that accurately reproduces the sound of your instrument, not one that sounds like a wasp trying to escape your living room. Before you make a purchase, here is some sound advice to ensure you make the right choice.
Generally speaking, in-ear headphones are not optimal for use with guitar amplifiers. Due to their portability and lightweight, they excel as stage monitors or for listening to music on a mobile device. The issue here is that the size of the headphones determines their output. The larger the cans, the larger the drivers, and consequently, the higher the sound quality. Check out the best in-ear monitors if you want to improve your stage hearing; if you’re going to listen to your guitar at home or in the studio with the best audio quality, continue reading!
Fit is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing headphones. You must ensure that they are comfortable enough to be worn for extended play sessions. You last want to discontinue your practice regimen because your head or ears are hurting. Most headphones feature an adjustable band, allowing you to find the perfect fit. It is uncommon to find headphones with different cushions, as cushion sizes tend to be pretty standardized. However, if you’re experiencing extreme discomfort, you can purchase pillows from a third party to improve your comfort level.
Over-ear and on-ear cups or cushions are available for guitar amplifier headphones. Over-ear headphones are worn over the ears, whereas on-ear headphones are typically smaller cups that press down on the outer ear to create a soundproof seal. While on-ear headphones reduce ambient noise, they are often uncomfortable for longer playing sessions and, therefore, not always the best option for guitarists. Over-the-ear headphones create less of a seal but are generally more comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Two types of over-ear headphones are available: closed back and open back. What you intend to use them for will determine which type you require. We recommend closed-back headphones for quiet practice and recording, as they prevent sound from leaking. Open-back headphones will produce the best sound if audio fidelity is your primary concern. This is because the design permits air to flow outward, resulting in a more natural sound. However, this also means that others can hear what you’re listening to at loud volumes, and you can also hear what others are doing in the room.
7 Best Headphones for Guitar Amp Monitoring 2022
Most of the headphones on this list are also suitable for studio monitoring and listening to music on the go. Whether you’re just listening for pleasure or attempting to emulate your guitar heroes, a great pair of headphones is an absolute must-have for any musician.
If you want to read more about the best guitar amp headphones, please scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find some expert purchasing advice. If you already possess the necessary knowledge, keep going; you’re almost there.
1. Best Overall: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
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Detachable cables are a feature of headphones that I’ve grown quite fond of. The cables have broken or torn with other headphones, requiring me to discard the entire set. A detachable cable would have prevented my heartache and financial loss. While many headphones have this feature, it’s nice that the ATH-M50xBT, an excellent pair of headphones in so many other ways, also has it.
Recently, Audio Technica added Bluetooth wireless connectivity to the ATH-M50x, creating the M50xBT. This adds great flexibility, particularly for those monitoring via a Bluetooth-compatible computer or laptop.
We increased the feature score by three points and the value score by two.
The purchase includes three cables of varying lengths, one coiled and two straight. You could even purchase a longer cable, as I did with my guitar set, as it gives you more freedom when playing the instrument.
- 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 ear pad and headband material delivers more durability and comfort
- 38 ohms is enough to handle the extra noise of a guitar rig
- Cord is detachable
- Bass response sounds awesome
- Very comfy
2. Runner-Up: Boss Waza-Air Wireless Guitar Headphone Amp
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Wow, we are living in extraordinary times. Jet suits in the style of Iron Man, superfast self-driving electric vehicles, digital currency, apple pie-flavored Baileys… Every few months, an enticing future-fantasy product becomes available with the click of a mouse.
The Boss Waza-Air headphones are precisely this kind of product that feels like it has arrived from the future to alter our lives forever. The concept is straightforward – pack some modeling technology into a pair of cans – but the execution is much cooler.
This product would not be the same if it resembled two large, technologically advanced carbuncles growing out of your head. Thankfully, the headphones are relatively sleek, lightweight, and attractive in a retro-postmodern, faux-Japanese fashion. They appear to be an unremarkable pair of squared-off headphones with steel accents. When it comes to miniaturization, Boss’s engineers are unquestionably experts.
Once powered on, the Waza-Airs provides access to five great-sounding amps derived from the Katana stage amplifier series and more than 50 effects from the Boss Tone Studio application. Plug the neat transmitter into your guitar’s output jack, and you’re free to rock and roll. We’re already convinced but haven’t gotten to the cleverest part yet.
In addition to spatial technology and a gyroscope, the Waza-Airs provide an enhanced player experience. When playing the guitar through a standard amplifier, the placement of the amplifier significantly impacts the experience. It will likely be behind or in front of you, but it could be anywhere within a 360-degree circle. These headphones can simulate this, allowing you to position a virtual amplifier wherever you desire.
Incredibly, you can also configure the amplifier to maintain its position regardless of head movement. Place your virtual amplifier near a window in your actual room, and even if you turn to face the opposite wall, it will still sound as if the amplifier is near the window—a surreal and alluring playing experience.
If that’s not enough, you can also stream music via Bluetooth. This ‘virtual band’ can be placed next to your amplifier for uncanny realism.
We question whether or not the Waza-Airs will render small practice amps obsolete. Finally, an item that makes us happy to be alive!
- Headphone Guitar Amplifier with Wireless Transmitter
- 50+ Customizable Effects
- Dynamic 3D Sound
- 5 Amp Types
- Completely wireless over proprietary 2.4GHz and Bluetooth
- Spatial technology is a game-changer
- They sound excellent, if a little surreal!
- Not cheap but good value
3. Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Headphones
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The HD 600 series contains some of the most well-liked and highly-rated headphones in the $300 price range, despite being a bit expensive. Moreover, they are incredibly comfortable. They feature a velour ear pad that feels like a soft pillow and a padded foam top that does not move at all. Once you begin to play, you will hardly notice their presence.
The tone of the headphones is warm and thick, resembling that of a vintage blues amplifier, but the attack is as crisp as you would expect from a stylish pair of headphones. The music from your MP3 player and the guitar through the preamp sound rich and satisfying.
You will hear every nuance of your guitar’s tone, as the impedance is 300 ohms and the frequency range is between 12 and 39,000 hertz.
The kevlar-coated copper cable is lockable and detachable, and the unit includes a 3.5mm adapter, allowing it to be plugged into almost any device. Sennheiser consists of a two-year warranty with the product if purchased from a list of approved authorized dealers, which includes Amazon and Sweetwater.
The additional comfort provided by the cellulose fleece reduces natural distortion to around 0.1%, allowing you to hear only your guitar’s gain without interference.
With low harmonic distortion levels and 24 ohms of impedance, this $25 pair of headphones is an excellent value that can be used in the studio and with the vast majority of small to medium guitar rigs. I also owned these, which sound great with clean and distorted guitar signals.
- Lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Neodymium ferrous magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics
- Sophisticated design, elegantly finished in black and gray
- High quality open metal mesh earpiece covers
- Detachable, Kevlar reinforced oxygen free copper cable with very low handling noise
- Connectivity technology : Wired
- Extremely comfortable
- Sound quality is warm and guitar-friendly
- Detachable cable
- Two-year warranty
4. AKG Pro Audio K240 Professional Studio Headphones
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The AKG k240 could be the best headphones under $100 for guitar playing and instrument monitoring. They are significantly less expensive.
55 ohms of impedance and a detachable cable get this affordable, professional-grade headphone set from AKG rolling. In most markets, the price is in the mid-two-figure range, which is enticing. I’ve seen used options go for significantly less.
The headband design is a classic self-adjusting system that is highly comfortable and eliminates the need to adjust them each time you put them on manually. In my opinion, an underrated feature of headphones for guitarists. It may not seem like much, but being able to put on headphones and play without adjusting the ratcheting bands is highly convenient. The frequency range of 15 to 25 kHz is pretty standard and will not leave any of your tone behind.
It is a reliable option for studio guitarists.
Although it is not prohibitively expensive, it has all the features we require and expect from a studio-quality headset. Given the attractive price point, I would consider this to be one of the best studio headphone sets in terms of value.
- Professional studio headphones
- 3 m replaceable cable
- Audio Interface type: Stereo plug – 3.5mm (1/8-inch) with 6.3 mm (1/4”) screw-on adapter
- Comfortable suspension headband
- Vocals sound excellent
- Replaceable parts
- Dubious durability
- Quiet bass
5. Status Audio CB-1 Closed Back Studio Monitor Headphones
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The CB-1 headphones have a closed back, which makes them more isolating than open-back headphones. Unlike many other closed-back headphones, the CB-1 handles the guitar’s higher frequencies without simply emphasizing bass tones.
As a result, the headphones’ low end, mainly when playing the Warwick bass, was not as robust as I was accustomed to hearing from other sets. At times, it felt somewhat airy, or perhaps more like an open-back pair of headphones. However, when I became accustomed to it, I perceived a more balanced EQ.
A screw-in eighth-to-quarter-inch adapter is included, as well as two extension cables that can be locked into the headphones and easily detached.
The CB-1 is an incredible value when considering the price, as its quality is comparable to that of much more expensive models. Except for adjusting to a more moderately balanced EQ, there were no drawbacks, especially considering how well it handled the higher tones of my electric guitar.
It is an excellent option for guitarists or anyone looking for a less expensive way to monitor or record instruments professionally.
- 50mm drivers provide incredible detail and massive sound-stage
- overstuffed memory foam earpads ensure long-term comfort
- 2x detachable cables are included, 1x coiled and 1x straight
- around-ear, circumaural design
- authentic gold metal accents
- folding ear cups collapse the headphones into a small form-factor
- rugged, minimalist design that can withstand the rigors of professional use
- adjustable headband accommodates virtually all head sizes
- Amazing value and price point
- Guitar monitoring sounded exceptionally good
- Includes adapter and two extra extension cables (one coiled and one straight)
- Cables are detachable but also lock into place
- Bass felt a little "airy" at times
6. Honorable Mention: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
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The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are one of the most popular options at Sweetwater for professional studio monitoring and focused listening. MDR-7506 headphones can be found in virtually every recording studio on the planet. Why? You can wear these headphones for even the most extended tracking or mixing sessions due to their studio-quality sound and impressive sound isolation, yet they are so comfortable that you can wear them for hours. The headphones’ closed-back design and thick ear cups prevent sound from leaking into microphones and provide a consistent listening environment regardless of where they are used. And unlike most folding headphones, the Sony MDR-7506s can easily withstand daily wear and tear.
Even in the lower price ranges where the MDR7506 typically resides, the Sony brand is always a safe bet.
The mid-to-high teens are not uncommon.
Even though the list price on Sony’s website is $130, you are unlikely to pay that amount, especially if you only shop online. As expected from a Sony product, the sound quality is excellent and effectively captures the guitar’s tone. While I did not find the bass response as satisfying as the Audio-Technica product, it would be petty to complain about their differences.
The only thing I truly missed with this set was a cable that could be detached.
- BUNDLE INCLUDES: Sony MDR7506 Folding Professional Closed Ear Headphones and Knox Gear Hard Shell Headphone Case
- PREMIUM DRIVERS: Thanks to neodymium magnets and 40mm driver unit technology, these headphones offer high-quality sound reproduction
- CONSTRUCTION: The Sony MDR-7506 features a closed-ear design that offers great isolation. The padded ear cups and a generously padded headband makes the MDR-75006 headphones comfortable to wear even during prolonged use
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: Whether you’re the performer or the engineer, a wide frequency response of 10Hz to 20 kHz means that you’ll enjoy crystal clear highs, present mids, and extended lows
- 10' cable length is great for guitarists
- 63 ohms of impedance can handle a lot of gain
- Includes an adapter
- Can't detach the cable
7. Just plug and play: VOX VGH AC30 Guitar Headphones
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The VGH series of headphones from Vox advance the company’s micro-amp amPlug 2 technology. Now, rather than needing to connect an amPlug 2 to your guitar before plugging in your headphones, you can plug a pair of VGH headphones into your instrument and begin playing.
In essence, the modeling accessories from the amPlug micro-amps have been transplanted into a pair of headphones, removing some clutter and making it easier and quicker to get up and running.
The headphones’ quality is commensurate with their price. Vox has judiciously relied on Audio-Technica to provide a pair of 40mm drivers that sound full and rich with clarity in the upper frequencies. Turning the power switch off transforms the headphones into a standard pair of wired headphones with an aux-in for MP3 players and other devices.
Instead of incorporating switchable modeling within a single pair of cans, Vox has decided to market three variants with distinct sonic personalities. The AC30 headphones are based on the manufacturer’s legendary AC30, the Rock headphones are based on high-gain stacks from the 1980s and 1990s, and the Bass headphones are voiced for bass guitar.
Undoubtedly, this has reduced the price of each model, but if you’re a bassist who also enjoys playing 1960s blues and occasional hair metal, purchasing all three models would be prohibitively expensive. Alternatively, if you only intend to wear spandex while listening to Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me,” you’ll be okay with just the Rock headphones. We’re aware you’re out there…
The beauty of these headphones lies in their simplicity, although all three models include effects like reverb, chorus, and compression. Merely plug and play.
- Headphone/Guitar Amplifier Combo designed with Audio-Technica for stellar sound quality, perfect for silent practice and low-noise settings
- AC30 model delivers iconic British Invasion tone directly to your ears, with 3 different amp modes for tonal variety
- Onboard chorus, delay, and reverb effects (Rock and AC30 models only)
- Durable, lengthy cable, and approximately 16 hours of life with 3 AAA batteries (included)
- Bundle includes a 24 pack of premium Fender Guitar Picks and an Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth to help keep your instrument in mint condition
- Revert to normal headphones when powered off
- Three distinct versions for different sounds
- Not wireless
- Expensive if you buy more than one model
How to Connect Headphones to a Guitar Amplifier
In most cases, a solid state or digital guitar amplifier will have a headphone out jack marked as either an eighth or quarter-inch jack. Plug your headphones into the jack once you’ve located it, and you’re good to go.
Check out our article for a more thorough explanation of connecting headphones to a guitar amplifier.
Otherwise, consider the following basic dos and don’ts:
- Utilize the headphone output jack on your amplifier.
- Use an adapter if you need to convert from quarter to eighth inch or vice versa.
- Connect headphones to any speaker output jack
- Connect headphones to a line out or direct out jack.
- Connect headphones to the amplifier’s input jack.
- Directly plug headphones into your guitar’s jack.
Difference between Line Out and Headphone Out
The distinction between a headphone out and a line out can be challenging to explain to curious individuals. In a few brief paragraphs that I’ll quote here, my friend Peter Driver explains it extraordinarily well by separating the four levels of audio signal strength:
There are typically four levels when discussing the strength of an audio signal.
Mic Level Signal (the weakest)
“mic level” refers to the output created by a microphone; this is typically a balanced output (3 contacts in an XLR, for example).
Instrument Level Signal
The next level is the instrument level, which is the signal level created by a guitar or bass pickup and is typically unbalanced (2 contacts (TS) in an instrument cable, for instance).
Line Level Signal
Line level is the signal level between professional-grade audio components, such as a mixer and an effect unit. Typically, this signal is balanced (3 contacts (TRS/XLR)).
Speaker Level Signal
The final step is speaker level, the output from an amplifier to a speaker or a device to headphones, for example. It is typically unbalanced (two TS contacts) for driving speakers and unbalanced stereo (TRS) for driving headphones.
If it’s described as a “combo” headphone/line out, it’s stereo unbalanced – likely compromising higher impedance to drive headphones but functioning at lower levels as a recording DI out. To record a clean, high-quality signal, it would also be necessary to use an appropriate DI box or interface.
Unlike solid-state amplifiers, tube amplifiers do not have headphone outputs. This is because you cannot disconnect the speaker from a tube amplifier without providing a path for the speaker load.
Recognizing Speaker Load
If tubes are operating in both the preamp and power amp sections of a tube amplifier, you must connect a speaker. If you don’t disconnect the speaker, the power amplifier will eventually be shorted out by high voltage, as the ohm load will have nowhere to go.
However, a secondary option for tube amplifiers allows you to manage the speaker load and connect headphones. It’s a simple device known as an attenuator.
Getting an Attenuator
Attenuators serve as hospitable hosts for your speaker load, allowing you to detach or mute the main speaker without risking internal damage to the amplifier. Almost every attenuator also includes a headphone output for direct signal monitoring. Consult the list of the best guitar amp attenuators compiled by Guitar Chalk for suggestions.
Bluetooth is ubiquitous on electronic products, so it is no surprise that a few of the products we recommend include Bluetooth. Connecting your guitar to a Bluetooth transmitter in the hopes that it will wirelessly communicate with your headphones is not always successful. It will function, but there may be so much latency that playing is unbearable; some we’ve tried gave us enough time to drink a flat white between plucking a note and hearing it. Ensure that Bluetooth headphones include a detachable or fixed audio cable for added safety. Theoretically, you will enjoy higher-quality audio regardless if you wire up, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole!
Regardless of price, the best guitar amp headphones are those you forget you’re wearing because they’re so darn comfortable. Over-ear headphones should be fully adjustable for width and height and should embrace your head with the affection of a close friend rather than squeezing it with a vice-like grip. The headband should be comprehensive and supportive, and the earcups should be padded more than the hotel’s coziest pillows.
Do guitar amps have headphone jacks? Yes, most modern amps have headphone jacks. However, some amps have a 6.35-mm output that won’t match the usual 3.5-mm plug that most headphones have. If that’s the case with your amp, you need a 6.35-mm to 3.5-mm adapter to get it to work.
Can I plug headphones into an amp? If your guitar amp has a headphones jack, you can plug headphones into it and it will work fine. Some guitar amps have an Aux output which will also work with headphones.
The only workable solution, if you want to record from the headphone output, is to use a ‘Y–cord’, which comprises a TRS plug at the amp end, and two TS plugs for the interface end. It’s often sold as an ‘insert breakout cable’ or a ‘stereo–to–dual–mono output splitter’ cable.
As long as the amp of choice has a low-ish output impedance (the rule of thumb is about 1/8 of the headphones’ rated impedance or less), it should be able to drive our headphones with a modicum of power.
These units provide numerous options for virtually every guitarist. They all allow you to practice and enjoy your playing without disturbing others. They are portable, can be taken anywhere, and when appropriately edited, they can sound incredible.
It is something that every guitarist should have at home or in their guitar case, ready to play whenever inspiration strikes. Hopefully, you’ll find one or more solutions that meet your needs in this article. With meager prices for the more affordable options, you must concede that they are within the price range of anyone interested in purchasing.
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