Today there are countless brands and models of headphones delivering an awesome musical experience… mainly for the people who enjoy popular music. However, if you are into classical music, that, most likely, wouldn’t be the case.
A little look can often give an idea of what a pair of headphones is intended for. Having some of our favorite artist releasing their signature models or whole brands can make it even easier to pick a pair.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we will have Beats by Beethoven any time soon, so for classical music, we need to dig in a little deeper, in order to select the best pair of headphones for classical music.
Transparent sound, comfort, durability and sound quality would be the main criteria you would want a particular pair to have met before you commit to buying it. So, what headphones are good for a classical music audiophile?
Since every one of us has unique needs, you should think through carefully what you want from the perfect headphones. Whether you would be listening at home, plugged into your Hi-Fi system, on your desk, plugged into your PC or on the go, with your music player should be considered.
Sound isolation is mandatory if you would be using the headphones in a demanding environment. Not waking up your wife or just isolating yourself from the surrounding noises, while listening to some of the biggest musical geniuses ever to have been born, are definitely things to have in mind when making your choice.
As noted earlier, comfort is mandatory here as you would most likely spend long hours listening. Therefore, I think we are safe to assume a pain in the ears after an hour of listening would prove to be an issue which you would prefer to avoid.
What to consider
Transparent sound, which is complementary to classical music, so headphones with open-back design should be considered if this is indeed what you are looking for. Externally facing grills or holes would indicate an open-back design.
Listening to a favorite concerto might go on for quite some time so choosing a comfortable set of headphones is really important. A tight headband or stiff earpads could ruin your experience. If you carry your headphones around with you, you should definitely have portability in mind.
Foldable design, lightweight and size should be taken into consideration if you would be using your new headphones to listen to music outside of the comfort of your home.
Durability is also quite an important matter, so you should always notice what materials are used, whether you hear any screeching sounds in the movable elements, is the cable tough enough and is it changeable.
And last, but not least, the sound quality. In this manner, the best headphones for classical music would have more in common with professional studio monitors than anything else. You need a flat, true sound with clear high-frequency range.
Now, with the basics in mind, let’s go and choose the best headphones for classical music.
Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro – Designed especially for classical music
The legends from Beyerdynamic never fail to amaze. The same is valid for Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro. Designed especially for classical music, as their spec sheet points out, these studio headphones give you pretty much everything you might need.
The semi-open design provides transparent, open and natural sound, while the adjustable, soft-padded headband and circumaural design assure long hours of use without the need to take the headphones off and rest for a while.
To make things even more appetizing, DT880 Pro’s parts are all replaceable and durable.
The DT880 Pros, as mentioned, are semi-open headphones, with the over-ear design. The headband is metal wrapped in leather and buttoned, so it can be changed if worn out. The same goes for pretty much every part of the 880s.
You can go online and buy additional pads and other parts that are worn out or you would like to change for another reason e.g. changing velour pads with leather ones.
With a 3-meter one-sided, coiled cable these headphones provide plenty of space to move around.
As expected, Beyerdynamic’s DT880 Pros are nearly perfect. With excellent analytical properties and apart from a little boost in the high-register, the sound is flat and natural. As noted earlier, clear and crisp highs would only complement classical music, so in our case, this is a plus.
Other than that, mids and lows are pretty come out pretty natural though still detailed, so an audio adventure is guaranteed with these headphones.
Due to the semi-open design, however, the DT880 Pros lack any sound isolation whatsoever. Do not consider buying these headphones if isolation is a priority.
In conclusion, it is safe to say the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro headphones are among the best headphones for classical music audiophiles. The amazing sound, comfortability level, durability and easy servicing of the 880s makes them a top choice.
- Analytical sound
- Comfortable fit
- Replaceable parts
- No sound isolation
- Not suitable for use on the go
- Non-replaceable cable
Sennheiser HD 598 – Awesome sound experience and frequency response
The open-back Sennheiser HD 598 are simply outstanding. These headphones can be easily distinguished with their stylish design, creamy-brown colors, metal grilles, as well as impeccable sound quality and comfort.
With Sennheiser’s E.A.R. technology and special diaphragm geometry, aiming to minimize distortion, the HD 598s deliver an awesome sound experience. The amazing frequency response only contributes to the sound.
To improve the already amazing listening experience, the leatherette headband and velour pads provide a luxury feeling of comfort throughout long listening sessions.
As with many other Sennheiser headphones, the HD 598s wear the classic oval-shaped earpads with Sennheiser’s logo right underneath the grilles.
Sennheiser’s HD 598 has an open-back design, as well as the fact these are not foldable, which means they probably aren’t the best headphones to go out with.
However, the headband and ear cups padding make these Sennheisers awesome for long hours of listening. These headphones also come with a tough replaceable cord which contributes to their overall luxury feel.
With an impedance of 50 Ohms, you should not have many issues plugging the Sennheiser HD 598 into a mobile device. Still, you would find it quite beneficial to use decent headphone amplification.
The open-back design presents a really nice soundstage, which is especially noticeable when listening to instrumental pieces.
These headphones are not the most bass-oriented but provide amazing highs and mids.
Sennheiser’s innovative “Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement” (E.A.R.) design delivers outstanding sonic accuracy and clarity which any audiophile would want when enjoying a classical masterpiece.
Similar to the previous suggestion, the open-back design leaves no place for sound isolation.
Whether you like the brownish color scheme of the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones or not, is a matter of choice. However, no one can argue with the luxury feel and comfort, crystal-clear sound and wide soundstage these babies provide.
Although not the most bass-oriented headphones out there, the 598s deliver nice low-end, as well as mids and highs.
- Analytical sound
- Very high level of comfort
- Replaceable cable
- Not portable
- No sound isolation
- Not foldable
Audio Technica ATH-AD900X – Deliver very spacious and neutral sound
If you have ever had the chance to listen to classical music on a pair of Audio Technica ATH-AD900X headphones, you already know those are awesome. These headphones are probably not the best choice for using in the street due to the lack of sound isolation. Enjoying an evening at home with Chopin’s Nocturnes, however, is a whole different story.
The ATH-AD900X is very comfortable open-back headphones that deliver very spacious and neutral sound, ranking them amongst the best headphones for classical music. One can not easily get tired of listening on those headphones.
The ATH-AD900X is a lightweight, open-back headphone. As such they have no sound isolation whatsoever. Thus, the AD900xs would not be a top choice for on-the-go use.
They are quite big and have a comfortable over-ear design. The 3.5-meter cable gives you the ability to walk around the room (or at least a part of it) without having to take off the headphones or worrying that you will pull the cable.
Unfortunately, the cable is not detachable and, to be honest, they could have used a somewhat tougher cable.
Much like their predecessors, the ATH-AD900Xs deliver huge, open sound. The distortion is next to none even when listening to high volume levels. The sound is pretty flat and neutral. If you intend to listen to pop, hip-hop, rock or any other popular style of music, it is likely that the AD900Xs would not be a good choice.
However, all these features of the sound make these headphones awesome for listening to classical music. Due to the 38 Ohm impedance, these headphones perform great even without additional amplification.
There is no sound isolation, due to their open-back design.
If you are a classical music audiophile and you need a new pair of headphones that bring out the beauty in classical music, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X headphones is definitely a choice to consider.
They are lightweight, spacious, provide great soundstage, flat and natural output, so you should definitely enjoy a few hours of music written by your favorite composers.
- Extremely light
- Great sound
- No sound isolation
- Not foldable
- Cord could have been somewhat tougher
Grado Prestige Series SR80e – Bulky but with a great sound with excellent dynamics
The Grado SR80es are on-ear open-back headphones. Having that in mind, they might not be as comfortable as the over-ear phones we mentioned but still, provide an amazing comfort level even when listening for a few hours straight. The foam pads feel a little strange but won’t get your earshot like leather pads.
Due to the open design, the SR80es are definitely not the best headphones to wear on the subway while listening to Cannibal Corpse, they go pretty well with some Rachmaninoff at home.
Going for on-ear open-back headphones design is indeed pretty unorthodox. Keeping a retro touch, the SR80e are somewhat bulky. They look a little like an 80’s sci-fi gadget, probably due to the metal rods sticking on both sides. Those are not pointless, however. The earcups swivel around those freely to allow for an instant fit.
These strange little headphones are not just surprisingly comfortable, they offer great sound with excellent dynamics putting to shame many other headphones in the price class. The mids and highs are quite awesome while the bass is somewhat diffused. Of course, the open design gives you the necessary space to fully enjoy your favorite classical pieces, as well as pretty much any other style of music.
Sound isolation, not surprisingly, does not exist.
The Grado Prestige Series SR80e headphones are a somewhat weird but great pair of headphones. They are somewhat smaller and more portable than the giant over-ear headphones which does cost a little soundwise.
Nevertheless, the surprisingly good mid and high ranges and the sound being a little less than aggressive make the SR80e a great choice of headphones for listening to classical music.
- Lively and detailed sound
- Fast, punchy bass
- Portable size
- No sound isolation
- Not the most comfy headphones
- Two-sided cable
Sennheiser HD 650 – Luxuriously comfortable with a pretty accurate sound
As a part of Sennheiser’s luxury class, the HD 650s are easily noticeable with their titanium-silver finish and thick-padded headband and ear cushions. Although relatively heavy (260 grams) these headphones are luxuriously comfortable nonetheless.
You can expect no less from their sound.
The headphone drivers are hand-picked to ensure matching tolerances and have an optimized neodymium magnet system, aiming to minimize distortion. The lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure accuracy and fast transient response.
Sennheiser has also thought of these headphones long life, so the 3-meter cable is replaceable.
The open-back construction would flatter any classical piece you might want to play. The sound is pretty accurate and detailed. However, these aren’t the best choice for your latest selection of bangers. The low-shelf is not accentuated. This adds up to form an awesome pair of headphones for listening to classical music.
Although those can be used with laptops and mobile devices and provide a pretty decent result, in order to gain most out of your Sennheiser HD 650s we would recommend using amplification.
With their open-back design sound isolation is once again out of the question.
With a great soundstage and perfect tuning, the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones are definitely an option to consider when looking for luxury headphones to enjoy your classical records with. Their highly comfortable and stylish Sennheiser design is not to be overlooked either.
- Extremely comfortable design
- Excellent sound quality
- Nice styling
- Heavy weight
- Not suitable for on-the-go use
All best headphones for classical music are top-notch products worth checking out. Each of the pairs has its own advantages while still covering the major requirements indigenous to headphones intended for classical music.
All of the above have an open-back design which provides the necessary openness and soundstage. The sound is generally flat and natural with small exceptions specific to each model.
Comfortability was also considered with all suggestions, so the long hours of classical music can be enjoyed to the fullest.
Of course, these cover different price classes, so depending on how much you are willing to spend and what your personal requirements are, your perfect headphones for classical music would come at prices at around $50, up to the $500 HD650s and of course you can even go further up in the price range.
However, the first prize goes to the legendary Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro. Their awesome rugged design, analytical sound quality, amazing soundstage and replaceable parts are features relevant to a great pair of headphones for classical music.
The gentle high boost would only contribute to your classical records and be as comfortable as they are, you can wear them continuously without any pain of fatigue. This is ensured by DT880’s soft, circumaural and replaceable soft skin ear pads and rugged soft-padded headband while the 3-meter coiled cable allows you to move freely.
Of course, naming the best pair of headphones for whatever purpose is somewhat subjective. Depending on whether you need these headphones for classical music only, for on-the-go use or listening to other styles of music as well, each model of headphones would hold its specifics.
As I mentioned earlier, this selection was done based on a few criteria which we believe to be critical for a great classical music experience sound transparency, build, near-perfect sound quality and a high level of comfort.
I have done our best to fulfill these requirements with each of our suggestions, so whichever model you might decide on getting you will not be disappointed.
Still, with all in mind we believe the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro headphones provide the best value for the money. Their wide stereo image, neutral sound, and extremely high resolution make the Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO headphones a reliable benchmark-setter for studio use and an even better achiever when it comes to classical music.
Comfort-wise, the DTs are no less superior. The over-ear design, padded steel headband, rotating pads and 3-meter-long coiled cable all contribute to ranking these amazing headphones at the top of our list of headphones for listening to classical music.
And if that is not enough, as with all Beyerdynamic professional studio headphones, the DT 880 PRO were handcrafted in Germany, so there should be no doubt in their superior quality whatsoever.