The Best Headphones for Rock and Metal Music in 2017
Bass, vocals and guitar figure prominently in rock and metal music. It figures, then, that the best headphones for rock and metal music have to bring out the best in low (bass) and mid-range frequencies (vocals and guitar). After all, people who listen to rock and metal music are mostly interested in the sound quality of their headphones more than in anything else.
Deep bass, which gives the rock and metal its sense of power, is often felt more than it is heard. With the exception of bass heavy instruments, many barely enter this frequency range (20 to 50Hz). The bass guitar, which registers at its lowest achievable pitch of 41Hz, can barely be heard at low volume level, so it’s important that your headset reproduces clean bass even if it has low impedance (below 15 Ohms).
The Key Features of the Best Headphones for Rock and Metal Music
Impedance and Bass
It’s crucial, too, that when you want to listen to heavy metal from your smartphone or some other low-powered device, your cans need to have an impedance of 25 Ohms or lower. Otherwise, if you provide them with higher than the recommended power, they may not be able to handle it and “blow out.” But if your source of sound can handle more power, then the best headphones for rock & metal music with impedance of 25 Ohms or higher deliver the best sound.
The pleasure from listening to metal and rock genres comes from capturing the slightest nuances found in the music, to the changes and evolution of the main tune, the diversity of sounds that comes from the instruments, and variations on a single melody. The best headphones for rock and metal music, therefore, are the ones that let you parse the instruments with laser accuracy. This is especially helpful if you want to do some mixing yourself.
Vocals in Rock and Metal Music
Other genres of rock music put emphasis on the lyrics and the human voice, so your cans should be able to capture vocals in their crisp-est. It’s going to be able to do this if it has well-defined mid-range frequencies where the human voice falls.
But you’ll want the vocals presented alongside the bass, not recessed. This is especially important if your favored genre is progressive (rock and metal) where emotional, multi-part counterpart vocal melodies, and layered vocal arrangements (along with the choirs) become part of the music and enhance it.
Flat Frequency for Mixing and Recording
You already know that if you are mixing your own music, you need to be able to listen to them reproduced the way they were intended to be heard at the studio. Any pollution is going to distort your analysis and/or annoy. Ideally, you want cans that have ruler-flat frequency response so the bass, mids and trebles are neither exaggerated nor reduced. Any extras will color your own interpretation.
For this purpose, monitoring headphones that are intended to capture a more accurate representation of the original sound are a must, especially if you are into the mix down phase of production.
The Effect of Durability on Sound Quality
The best headphones for rock & metal music not only need to sound top-notch, but need to be comfortable and durable too.
Build is key when choosing headphones that house drivers able to hold up to loud, booming bass. While that is the most obvious consideration, overall sound quality suffers when the headphone is made of cheap (like plastic) material because sound interacts – get dampened, heightened, distorted – with physics. So it’s imperative that the best headphones for rock and metal music not only appear sturdy when held, but really hold up to heavy-duty use over time, as most cans for rock and metal music need to be burned in for some time before they achieve their full spectral quality.
Headphone Types – In-Ear, On-Ear, Over-Ear
Headphones come in three varieties. The over-ear, circumaural kind that wraps around your ears and cups them tight so no sound escapes or gets in.On-ear, or supra-aural, headphones are not as wide as over-ears because they only need to rest on your outer ear. In-ear headphones or earbuds, on the contrary, have to be inserted inside your ear, so there are no ear pads to speak of. The ear tips of earbuds create passive noise isolation when the seal is snug and secure, and the drivers are right there sitting in your ear canal, so the presence of sound is immediate, putting you right in the middle of the action.
On-ear headphones are not as noise isolating as the earbuds, so whatever sound is present in your environment leaks into your ears, and whatever sound you play in your headphones bleed into the environment. On-ear headphones have a more direct presence because the drivers are installed right in the ear pads which funnel the sound directly to your eardrums. The acoustic effect is like having the musicians play for you while they are positioned around you.
Over-ear headphones, on the other hand, envelope your entire ears, so the drivers can be installed in such a way that they bounce sound off your outer ear. The effect is hearing in-your-head sound, a kind of auditory dream that makes for one immersive and unparalleled audio experience.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back
Over-ear headphones are further divided into two categories: open-back and closed-back. As its name suggests, the open-back type lets in ambient sound so you maintain a level of situational awareness where needed. Importantly, when you need to do live recording, you wouldn’t want feedback, which open-back headphones are prone to create.
The closed-back type has no perforation on the side of the ear cups, so you are totally isolated from your environment’s ambient noise. This is crucial when you need to focus on the technical aspects of the sound that ambient noise might pollute. When doing live recordings, closed-back headphones produce no feedback, and so are ideal for the job.
But enough talk about the best headphones for rock and metal music! Go and get one right now and treat yourself to an auditory adventure that only the best cans can offer. Here, we present the top 10 headphones for your listening pleasure. Whether you are partial to heavy, doom, death, black or thrash metal, this guide has you covered.
Best headphones for rock and metal music in 2017 – Top 10 Chart
|1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||$$||4.6|
|2. Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro Headphones (250 Ohm)||$$$||4.6|
|3. Marshall Headphones M-ACCS-00152 Monitor Headphones||$$||4.5|
|4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||$$||4.5|
|5. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||$$||4.5|
|6. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones||$$$||4.5|
|7. AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones||$$$||4.4|
|8. Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones||$$||4.4|
|9. V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone||$$||4.3|
|10. Sennheiser HD 201 Lightweight Over Ear Headphones||$$||4.2|
If there ever is a pair of cans that sound engineers swear by, it’s the Audio-Technica ATH-M50. No other headphone comes close to Audio-Technica ATH-M50 in terms of stellar reviews from legions of fans, a testament that the brand is synonymous with excellence in sound quality, workmanship and comfort.Not surprisingly, Audio-Technica ATH-M50 has earned a cult following, and is hands-down the best headphones for rock and metal music in the market today.
The ATH-M50 has been specially designed to bring out every single detail in a song so even the tiniest sounds can be heard with these headphones. The highs are laser-precise, and at the upper limits of the upper range (at 20kHz), these cans let you on in the action.
The mids are fantastic and warm; the vocals shine with the ATH-M50, especially when the backdrop sounds are resonated.
Sound designers love ATH-M50 for bass production because there is no amplification; you hear bass the way it was intended to be heard at the studio. Consumers and amateur audiophiles note that the sounds are natural, with no added highs, mids or bass that would “pollute” the original sound.
Whilethe ATH-M50 is intended for professional mixing and sound engineering, thousands of casual listeners or movie aficionados say they can just plug these up to an iPod or console or PC or any other non-professional audio device and have an unparalleled listening experience without audio fatigue.
Superb workmanship is very apparent with ATH-M50 too. Where other headphones appear sturdy, the ATH-M50 feel very sturdy and can in fact stand up to years of heavy-duty use. Very few headphones in the market today sound better with age; ATH-M50 sounds better – voices get crisper and sounds sound more natural – over the years.
The headband can get tight at first, and needs breaking in to fit snugly. But if the headband doesn’t need adjusting, the ear cups can feel like big marshmallows cushioning your ears at first try.
ATH-M50 pairs functionality and utility with style. These cans, while a bit bigger than workaday headphones, come in sleek silver (or eye-popping red and black) finish, so you can get away with wearing them in public.
- Reproduces sound as heard in the studio
- Laser-precise highs
- Excellent vocals
- Bass is not amplified
- Can stand up to years of abuse
- Sounds better with age
- Closed-back design ideal for live recording
- The bass can be a bit loose at times
- Highs border on sibilance (unless you want a visceral edge to your music)
- Soundstage sounds narrow
Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro Headphones are known for the fantastic clarity, refined detail and abundant dynamics. The headphones’ sound presentation enables audiophiles to “look inside” the music. This quality has earned DT-880a spot in the top 3 best headphones for rock and metal music.
The bass, while tightly controlled and subtle, is accurate and just the right proportion without detracting the sound quality. The mids are warm, while the highs are clear and articulate, as you would expect a headphone engineered with a slightly tweaked upper treble.
The trebles are crisp and not piercing, so you can listen to your favorite rock and metal music for hours without discomfort.Which is just as well, because the DT-880 has large, soft velour ear pads roomy enough for ears of all sizes. These cans don’t grab your head tightly, nor grind on the top of your head as they are made of sturdy but lightweight material.
You ‘ll want to wear these for hours to hear the balance of frequencies that comes very detailed, a quality lauded by hundreds of fans. Overall tonality is crisp and precise.If you love an exceptionally wide and spacious sound stage, the Beyerdynamic DT-880 plugged to an amp is hard to beat. This balanced, neutral sound is what earned DT-880 stand-out reviews from hundreds of satisfied users.
Because these headphones are semi-open in design, sound bleed is to be expected. While not ideal for on-the-go, they are perfect for use in the studio.
The build quality can be improved, given these headphones’ price range. Some users complain of the adjustment band not staying put because of poor design. Fiddling with the headband may be necessary if you plan to use the headphones for extended periods.
While these cans are meant for professional use, amateur audiophiles and casual listeners love that that they can hear everything with these headphones without fatigue, enriching their listening experience like no other headphone in this price range.
- Natural sound reproduction allows analytic use
- Tonality is crisp and precise
- Soundstage widens with use of amp
- Bassheads may want more thump
- Headband adjustment slips and requires frequent fiddling
- Treble is extended a bit beyond upper range
If you are looking for headphones that can deliver solid bass, warm mids and crisp trebles, then the Marshall M-ACCS-00152 Headphones are fantastic for its price.
Unlike bass-heavy cans that are twice its price, Marshall M-ACCS-00152 makes listening to bass satisfying but not overpowering. You can groove to your EDM beat with these best headphones for rock and metal music on without getting your eardrums liquefied.
The Marshall M-ACCS-00152 comes with removable ear filters that many users say make the bass sound deeper and the overall sound warmer. If you want all the acoustic details taking the back seat, and use these headphones for listening to audiobooks or podcasts, then keep the ear filters. But if you yearn for crisper sounds, you can have them taken out. Otherwise, keep those ear cushions in for hip-hop and rap.
The Marshall M-ACCS-00152 gets plenty of praise with its build. The frame is made from sturdy cast iron covered in a leather headband, making for a very comfortable contraption when in your head. You can also adjust the height of the headphones with distinct clicks and visual increments. The drivers are housed in plastic yet stylish leather, and with the ear cushions made from leather, they ease the pressure on your head, making for a very comfortable experience over the course of long listening sessions.
The cord produces minimal to zero noise when rubbing against a surface, while the headphone jacks have thick rubber protection on one side and protective spring on the other. Collapsing the headset feels solid and smooth, and you can easily feel with your hands that they are going to hold up to a lot of (ab)use.
Style usually comes last when it comes to monitoring headphones, but the Marshall M-ACCS-00152 is a fashionable exception. Finished with black and accented with gold, the headphones impart a sleek and classy look. Though over-ear in design, these cans don’t appear bawdy or amateur, a fact that many users with bigger ears appreciate.
- Two sound options (with or without the ear filter)
- Crisp trebles, warm mids and solid but not overpowering bass
- Comfortable ear cushions and headphone fit
- Stylish look and durable feel
- Some users feel they are more on-ear instead of over-ear
- Some issues with coil around the cable as flimsy
- Users who haven’t figured the ear filterscomplain of too much/not enough bass
The Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x headphonesare tuned very flat, and for that reason, there’s no other headset better than this to pick out acoustic guitar. The trebles are crisp and clear, and the vocals come out superb. The sound stage is amazingly balanced, and warm deep sounds with bass come out controlled yet precise.
But where the Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x shines their brightest is in classical and acoustics, particularly guitar and jazz. These genres are simply brilliant to listen to with Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x. The mids are great after a break-in period, and while the lows are not as clear as they could, they are clearer than most headphones in this price range. Even with this tiny nitpick, the overall sound experience is well-balanced. With an impedance of 35 Ohms, these headphones can be paired nicely with mobile devices with volumes turned up pretty high.
These are circumaural phones with good noise isolation, so sound bleed is minimal. People nearby can hear at higher volumes if the environment is noise-free.
Compared to other models in Audio-Technica’s repertoire, the ATH-M40x is lighter with a minimalist look. It’s more affordable too without compromising sound quality and comfort. Ear cushions are soft; you can listen in them for up to six hours without discomfort. The build quality of the headphones itself is rather solid for its price point. The cables are virtually indestructible.
Not many of these best headphones for rock and metal music are stylish given its price point, but ATH-M40x looks much more expensive than its actual price suggests. While some users feel they are big, the ATH-M40x is actually smaller and lighter (by 40g) than others in the ATH-M series. The headphones are easily collapsible too, so while bulky in appearance, they are surprisingly easy to travel with.
- Superb for acoustic guitar and jazz
- Remains comfortable after hours of use
- Lighter than other versions in the series
- Remains clear at high volumes
- Attractive price point
- Needs burning in to achieve great mids
- Lows are not as clear as they could be
- Swivelling ear cups feel like they are prone to breakage
Maybe you’re looking for headphones that are not so much into bass or trebles; maybe you’re looking for a dedicated headset that specializes in mid-range sounds so you hear the male vocalist better. If so, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x is your go-to headphone.
Engineered for studio monitoring, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x produces rich, clean and detailed sound. Many users say trebles are clear and notes are easily discerned although not as emphasized. The bass is relatively tight and punchy, enough to satisfy most listeners but not hardcore bass heads.If you want to pick out instruments, however, such as guitar and piano, these best headphones for rock and metal music deliver.
What Audio-Technica ATH-M30x appears to lack in both bass and treble, it more than makes up for its superb mid-range definition. So if you want to do more than just track, and want to do some mixing and field recording, this headphone makes the most bang for your buck.
While made with studio professionals in mind, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x makes for great consumer headphones too. Maybe that’s why it’s so lightweight and easily collapsible. Its 3.5mm plug easily pairs with smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktops.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x provides passive noise isolation, and you can listen to your songs at 90% volume in public without bothering your neighbors.
While not many headsets are made for bigger frames, Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones comfortably fit users with bigger heads and ears. The headband clamps tightly at first but gets comfortable over time, so you might need to break them in on something before using them on your head. No need to worry about breaking them: they are rather flexible and resilient. The headband leather padding is soft and subtle, and the ear cups are above-average in size and elongated so bigger ears are accommodated.
The cables look durable as they are thick; many users note, however, that they are longer than needed. One way to keep them tidy and short is to have them braided. Even in this form, no distortion in sound quality is noted.
- Excellent mid-range
- Clear instruments
- Good noise isolation
- Built to accommodate bigger frames
- Headband could get uncomfortable after a few hours of use
When you want to listen to music as it was heard in the studio, the Sony MDR7506 Headphones delivers that kind of listening experience. For thousands of its fans, this quality is enough to put MDR7506 in the list for the best headphones for rock and metal.
The flat response, the deep sound stage and the tight accuracy all translate to hearing every aspect of the source signal so your sounds come to life and revealed in full. If you want to experience an old song and hear every nuance, Sony MDR7506 will reveal previously obscure sounds and passages (and imperfections).
Picking up the individual voices of back up singers, or zoning in on the drummer’s brushes, is made possible with these headsets. All of these translates to hearing the kind of recording you made reproduced with superb fidelity.
You will also have a breezy time parsing out the instrument and its placement with the Sony MDR7506, and marvel at the authority that bass notes are reproduced. This is a boon for bassheads who want to have their sound with extra volume, or want to have their sub-woofers-in-the-trunk block-wide bass reproduced in their heads.
The Sony MDR7506 headsets have low impedance but have capacity for handling high power. So when you want to amp up your iPod’s playlist, you can easily achieve heart-thumping volumes without distortion.
Because nuances are captured by these headsets, some users experience fatigue when listening to music or movies using Sony MDR7506, especially for extended periods.They claim the sibilance is overemphasized, and the treble is too “bright.”
Sony MDR7506 headphones are surprisingly small and lightweight enough to get away with wearing them in public. The headband instantly adjusts to different head sizes, feels sturdy, and stuffed with ear cups made of cushy vinyl pads. These best headphones for rock and metal music are closed-back, so you won’t hear much else in your surroundings, or feedback when doing live recording, when you put these on.
- Lets you hear sound as it was recorded in the studio
- Easily parses out instrument and their location
- Authoritative bass
- Volume can be turned up to high without distortion
- Comfortable ear pads and easily adjustable headband
- Sibilance overemphasized
- Trebles unnaturally “bright”
- Some issues with audible metallic resonance at high volumes
An update of the K240 Monitor, AKG K240 Studio Headphones have earned rave reviews as one of the most affordable monitoring headphones and one of the best headphones for rock and metal music. With this headseat, you get clean audio and high impedance (55Ohms) so there is no distortion at higher volumes.
K240 has flatter sound and excellent mids that are ideal for mixing vocals. The bass is solid, and the highs are articulate. As these are open-backed headphones, they tend, however, to pick up feedback during recording.
You can adjust the steel cable headband for perfect fit especially when you have a bigger head, which this headset has accommodated. As these are over-ear in design, you will enjoy the comfort of faux-leather circumaural pads that leave you with no audio fatigue even after extended use.
Because the K240 has higher impedance, you can push your volume up and get it thumping without the sound suffering from distortion typical of headsets in this price range.
While the vented ear cups allow for some ambient noise, the upside is you won’t have sweaty ears as much. Rock and metal music seldom features the organ as the centrepiece, but if you love that mix, you will enjoy the organ’s true-to-life reproduction without getting your ear liquefied. This is also a boon if you are into operas, as vocals come off clean and visceral.
Because orchestral sounds are rendered accurately with the K240, many movie buffs swear by these headphones. You enjoy tonal balance as though you hear it live in symphony halls.
These headphones accommodate bigger heads, but at the expense of users with average features. As a result, the coverage falls short, and this often contributes to the degradation of sound quality. The manufacturer is yet to make an adjustment to correct these enduring complaints.
- Crispmids and vocals
- Smooth but not overpowering bass
- No sound degradation at higher volumes
- Sound quality a great value for the price
- Faux-leather heats up making extended listening uncomfortable
- Trebles a bit bright
- Feels flimsy and requires TLC to keep going
If you are looking for cans you can use when a track is in the mixdown phase of production, and you don’t want the highs, mids and lows affecting each other’s presence, the Shure SRH440 is great value for money.
Engineered with a flat response, the SRH440 gives an accurate representation of level and sound.While the Shures cover most of the sound spectrum, the SRH440 lets the modern rock, techno or house/club music junkie come out and play. Strings particularly stand out, so if you are into rock sub-genres, jazz and even classical music, SRH440 is molasses to the ears.
Even better, unlike most reference headphones that do not work well with low impedance devices, the SRH440 reproduces bass below 80Hz and 3-4kHzmids with clarity even at low volumes on iOS devices.
That said, the mids come out excellent with SRH440. But these headphones are not all about the bass junkie. While the bass is there, it’s not the kind that would rattle a car’s trunk. If, however, you are into hearing every minute detail in a song, or in a stand up comedian’s scratchy, sweaty pickup of a mono channel mic, then these headsets are for you.
There are some issues with one side of the headset going out where the music would cut, then the vocals. While this usually resolves by itself, it helps to see if the cables are properly connected or twisted.
As these are noise isolation best headphones for rock and metal music, expect to have some external noise leaking into you, and your sound leaking into your environment. It could also be due to the thin cushions that come with the ear pads and the headband. The usual remedy is to swap the ear pads with SRH840.
- Accurately represents sound
- Lets you hear every minute detail of the sound
- Clear bass and mids even in low volumes on iOS
- Thin headband and ear pad cushioning
- Bass is present but won’t rattle a car’s trunk
- Some issues with one side of headset going out
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 not only makes headphones worthy of rock metal music, they also make them looking stylish too. So if you want to combine style and sound quality in one package, the M-100 is hard to beat.
And if you think it’s all about the looks, then you really need to put these M-100s on. You will hear rich detail that is normally garbled with cheaper varieties. With M-100, they come clear and silky smooth, especially the vocals and high tones that come out with fantastic clarity.
While not overpowering, the bass is deeper, punchier and never muddled.With these headphones on, when the bass hits, you feel like plunging down into a bottomless cavern. The highs are crisp, and the mids are exceptionally well-defined too, so if you want to pick out violins and vocals with ease, these are the cans for you.
Build is high on V-Moda’s list. The M-100 cords are wrapped in Kevlar, adding more class and sophistication to the already sexy look. But if you think it’s all just about appearance, you have to put these best headphones for rock and metal music on to feel their soft, cuddly micro-fiberear cups and amply cushioned and snugly fitting headband. It’s made of soft pleather so there are no pressures at the top of your head, making listening a breeze even for hours.
The M-100 is noise isolating so it leaks a bit; you might want to keep your volume at 50% or below when using it in public.
Style may not be high on an audiophile’s list, but if you want to look the part of a rock metal fan, you may want to switch to a more fearsome-looking logo by changing out your ear cup plates (purchased separately). In short, you can easily wear them in public and get away with it courtesy of class.
- Mids have a lush, organic sound
- Bass is thumping and visceral
- Highs sparkle but not fatiguing
- Upper midrange is emphasized
- Midrange frequencies are not blocked out much
- Upper treble sounds quiet
- Some cable microphonics can be heard
- Midrange sounds more distant relative to lower-treble and bass
- Ear pads could get warm and wet
If the thousands of positive reviews are any indication, the Sennheiser HD 201 make great beginner cans to those who are looking for the best headphones for rock and metal without busting their budget. The highs are clear, the bass doesn’t rumble, and you can clearly pick out the nuances in the sound at regular volumes. While suited for rockheads, the HD 201 also brings out the rap, house, trance and classical fans to the dance floor.
The Senns are well-loved for its rich, crisp bass response, as well as high-fidelity audio reproduction for its price range. If you plan to record with this headset, it’s designed with a sealed ear cup so noise doesn’t bleed into the microphone.
Because the HD 201 is intended for consumer use, bassheads are going to get pumped with its thumping bass and increased signal levels that are characteristic of today’s rhythm-driven music.Some users feel, however, that you need to plug these into an amp to get the powerful hard-hitting bass you crave.
If you want to revisit oldies but goodies rock, you will notice shortcomings of the audio recordings. But if you love strings, you will be delighted with the HD 201. Gamers report they hear nuances that have vastly improved their plays. At this price point, no other headphones get this crisp and clear.
These are closed, dynamic headphones so you get good noise isolation. The headband, while it does not fold up, is lightweight but made of tough material that could hold up to intense use. The earpieces of the best headphones for rock and metal music have a degree of swivel to accommodate bigger ears. Cushioning could be improved to make listening for extended hours more comfortable.
- Great clarity at this price point
- Crisp bass response
- Strings shine, and nuances to the sound come to life
- Decent sound isolation for its price point
- Bass needs amp to bring to normal loudness
- Bass is lost/muddy at very high volumes
- Headband padding can be improved
- Earpieces are thin and not comfortable for long periods
- Female vocals tend to be sibilant