TOP 7+ Best Headphones for Classical Music [2020]


Have you been looking for the best headphones for classical music? We understand how overwhelming it can be with the countless options here and there.

Don’t worry, we prepared an insightful list for you, and we made sure to explain how to pick the ones that fit you the most.

Make sure to read until the end; it’s only a couple of minutes before you have it all figured out!

Top 3 Best Headphones for Classical Music

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS Check price
Best Overall Best Overall AKG K702
  • Premium Design, Impressive Sound
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Best Cheap Best Cheap Sennheiser HD600
  • Accurate Frequency, Lightweight
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Budget Pick Budget Pick  Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X
  • Self Adjusting Headband, Large Drivers
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The 7 Best Headphones for Classical Music in 2020

Here is our list of the 7 Best Headphones for Classical Music that you can buy in 2020.

1. AKG K702Best Overall

AKG quickly climbed the ranks of established headphone manufacturers with its exceptional build quality, rich audio experience, and a robust lineup of reference headphones that breed new life in your classical music library. 

AKG K702 is the pinnacle of critical listening, allowing sharp-eared audiophile out there to get immersed and appreciate every single note.

You don’t want your immersion ruined by an uncomfortable ear cup. Luckily, AKG invests in that front. It crafts their ear cups from velour, which is soft on the ears and doesn’t cause itching or irritation. The ear cups themselves are spacious as well, offering optimal ventilation, a real game-changer, especially in hot climates.

The headphones adopt an open-back design, which delivers neutral tonality for the most accurate representation of your source audio files. They tend to emphasize mids and highs for a natural, clear vocal playback, while the lows are a bit faint in the background.

AKG patented its innovative sound drivers technology that serves to deliver the same top-notch performance even at low frequencies. The Varimotion two-layer diaphragm is very responsive as well, making AKG K720 one of the fastest, delay-free headphones at an affordable price.

Moreover, the headphones age like a bottle of fine wine as the burn-in effects take their full action here. With extensive usage, the padding around the ears becomes softer, and the already excellent soundstage becomes even more accurate with unmatched instrument separation. Also, the bass also becomes more pronounced with time.

The only noticeable downside during our testing was the muddling sound quality when you’re using the headphones while commuting or in a noisy environment. Though the open-back design improves the soundstage effect, it falls short in noise isolation when listening to music outdoors.

Pros

  • Premium design with a soft, leather headband
  • 3D foam earpads for a comfortable fit
  • Open-back design with neutral tonality
  • Unmatched responsiveness of its two-layered diaphragm

Cons

  • Poor noise isolation

Bottom Line

Critical listeners looking for reference headphones will be pleased with what AKG K720 has to offer. While the neutral tonality, exceptional responsiveness, and top-notch sound quality collaborate to make you relive your favorite classical pieces, the comfortable 3D foam ear cups and premium leather headband complete the perfect headphones’ comfortable aesthetics.

2. Sennheiser HD 600Best Sound Accuracy

We have another open-back pair on our list; this time around, it’s from Sennheiser HD. The HD600 professional headphones deliver a neutral audio palate with unmatched accuracy thanks to their neodymium drivers.

A nice segue to kick off our review of a pair of headphones for classical music is the bass quality. The headphones deliver decent bass across the board with some boosting at mid and upper bass, conveying a sense of muddiness to the keen-eared critical listeners unlike Open Back Headphones For Gaming.

With that downside out of the way, there is much to appreciate here about the Sennheiser HD 600. The lows are accurate and don’t fade away in the background like what we’ve experienced with AKG K720. The mids are organic and deliver clear vocals. Finally, the highs are well-calibrated, which is great for your ear’s health in the long run. 

Sennheiser HD 600 truly stands out in the competition with its user-friendly, modular construction, meaning you can easily replace each component separately in case it malfunctions. So, you can push the lifespan of your headphone to an extent rarely seen in consumer electronics.

The overall form factor maintains a lightweight footprint with optimal weight distribution. Hence, the headphones never feel heavy on your head. Moreover, the voice coils are made of aluminum, which contributes to reducing the headphone’s weight, and at the same time, delivers excellent responsiveness with virtually no lag.

Though the soundstage isn’t the most expansive compared to other headphones we’ve tested, it’s excellent when it comes to delivering an accurate representation of your music and retrieving the fine details that might otherwise get missed from the source audio file.

Pros

  • Accurate frequency response
  • Excellent build quality
  • User-friendly design with the ability to replace separate components
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Bass boosting creates muddiness
  • Limited soundstage

Bottom Line

Sennheiser HD 600 took the detailed tone delivery to new territories, allowing audiophiles to spot new details in long time classics. The modular design easily makes it one of the most-user friendly pieces of tech we’ve tested in recent memory.

3. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700XBest Value For Money Pick

You might have gotten used to the trial and error that goes into adjusting the headband every time you put on your headphones. Users who hate this inconvenience will be pleased with Audio-Technica’s self-adjusting headband incorporated in its ATH-AD700X monitoring headphones. This way, you effortlessly get the right fit on the first trial.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X managed to cram the features you’d expect from a pair of monitoring headphones in a budget-friendly package. It comes with an open-back design with excellent breathability and neutral tonality, but lacking noise isolation.

The large drivers sit at a whopping 53mm to deliver clear treble and midrange at 38 ohms of impedance. This means that you can use your headphones right away and get an adequately loud volume without the need to use amplifiers.

When it comes to design, the headphones have large ear cups with a metal mesh to the outside, contributing to the open-back style. They are too bulky to use in public. So, if you’re looking for a pair of portable headphones, the ATH-AD700X shouldn’t be in your queue of choices.

In terms of connectivity, the headphones use a wired connection through a 3.5mm headphone jack. They also come with a 6.3mm adapter, giving you the versatility to connect different devices like musical equipment and your home theatre.

Although the bass performance didn’t blow us away, we believe that the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X is still an enticing package for its feature-rich design, affordable price, and decent performance.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Self-adjusting headband
  • Large drivers 
  • Included 6.3mm adapter

Cons

  • The bass quality is lacking
  • Bulky form factor

Bottom Line

Well, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X delivers effortless fit, loud volume, vocal clarity, all in an affordable package that gives you the best bang for your buck. It lacks in terms of the bass quality. However, the overall feature-rich package makes it worth the investment.

4. Beyerdynamic DT 880 PremiumBest Semi-Open Headphone

Beyerdynamic DT is another well-known brand that offers high-quality headphones. The DT800 has an excellent build. It’s flexible with strong connection joints that you can use without any cracking. 

The ear cups are padded and covered with soft velour. They’re big enough to cover all around the ears and get you more immersed in the music. 

Although some headphones, like the Sennheiser HD 600, will offer more comfort, we can’t say that these headphones are uncomfortable. They offer a snug fit, which is achievable through adjusting the headband to your liking. 

The headphones offer a balanced sound that’s boosted even more with high-end frequencies. They don’t provide the most powerful lows although the bass range is reasonably defined. The midrange is warm with transparency and great details. 

Well, with a spatial soundstage and superb detail retrieval, you’ll end up with excellent instrument separation, particularly in classical music. Because these headphones have an impedance of 250 ohms, it’s better to consider getting an amplifier. This will significantly enhance the sound quality, especially when it comes to the bass response. 

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable 
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Wide soundstage 
  • Amazing clarity and details

Cons

  • The cable isn’t detachable

Bottom Line

The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium Edition is quite durable. They’re comfortable and offer a wide soundstage with detailed instrument separation. This puts them on the top of the list of the best headphones for classical music. 

5. Philips SHP9500

If you’re looking for a pair of decent headphones to enjoy your classical music without hurting your wallet, the Philips SHP9500 is the way to go. Though some can argue that the build quality took a hit to cut down the price, the metal and plastic construction is still ample for the average everyday usage.

Philips puts a lot of work into ensuring that the headphones remain comfortable even when wearing them for prolonged listening sessions. The double-layered headband comes with a cushion to cut down the around your head. The ear cups boast a breathable design that stands out as a nice choice in hot climates.

Well, the headphones come with a long 1.5m cable, giving you the freedom to move around and multitask while listening to your favorite classical music.

Although the Philips SHP9500 costs under half of what other reference headphones will charge you, it still maintains an excellent sound quality. It delivers well-balanced mids, highs, and bass for a neutral listening experience, and it’s capable of reproducing your tracks with a satisfactory fidelity.

Audiophiles who like crunchy bass will be disappointed with what the Philips SHP9500 delivers. The headphones also get grainy when you crank up the volume, which is expected at this mid range.

Pros

  • Affordable 
  • Comfortable cushioned headband
  • Breathable ear cups
  • A lengthy 1.5m cable

Cons

  • Subpar bass output
  • Average build quality
  • Mediocre audio at high volume

Bottom Line

The Philips SHP9500 proves that you can enjoy a decent sound quality at an affordable price tag. Philips makes the right compromises to cut down the price while maintaining a satisfactory overall user experience. It delivers excellent comfort and a well-balanced soundstage.

6. Grado SR80e Prestige

On-ear headphones don’t have the reputation of being comfortable enough for extended usage, and Grado managed to change this notion with its SR80e Prestige headphones. The foam on-ear pads don’t exert much pressure on your ears, thanks to the flexible headband design.

The audio listening details are outstanding; you can distinguish every single instrument in the playback, and appreciate every single note and passage, which is impressive when considering that the headphones are only under $100.

The Grado SR80e Prestige maintains the same high-quality performance across a wide soundstage and allows for a seamless transition between different genres of classical music. It does an exceptional job, especially with the mids, to reproduce clear vocals while maintaining the background music’s crispness.

Well, on the other hand, like all the open-back headphones we’ve reviewed so far, the Grado SR80e Prestige doesn’t create the best seal around your ears, which is considered less than ideal if you’re trying to enjoy your classical music in a noisy environment. Moreover, it may significantly leak sound, which can be really bothersome to the people around you.

Your mileage might vary, but it’s worth noting that we’ve had a hard time plugging in the headphones to some of our smartphones. The plug forms a sturdy, snug fit with your phone’s headphone jack, and if you have a case on your phone, the plug doesn’t fully click in. 

More people are now using their smartphones as their primary audio playback device than ever; the plug’s design may be inconvenient to some users.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Accurate reproduction of different instruments
  • Great sound quality with rich mids
  • Comfortable on-ear design

Cons

  • Sound leakage and poor noise seal
  • Suboptimal build quality
  • Inconvenient headphone plug design

Bottom Line

Classical music listening lovers who have an expansive catalog across different genres can pick on new details they have missed before thanks to Grado SR80e Prestige. The affordable pair of headphones offers consistent performance no matter what classical music you’re listening to. 

7. Beyerdynamic T1 2nd GenerationBest Clarity

Beyerdynamic made a name for itself, thanks to its headphones’ premium build quality, and the T1 2nd Gen headphones follow the same trend. They come with soft velour ear cups and a premium leather headband. 

The overall design might fall as a dull one for some people, but we believe the non-striking, minimalist design language makes it fit in anywhere without attracting any awkward attention.

The semi-open design offers some solutions to the shortcomings of all the open headphones that we went through so far on our list. It still doesn’t create the best seal for noise isolation; however, it does a better job of limiting sound leakage, allowing you to listen to your classical music anywhere without issues.

At its relatively higher price tag, the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Gen headphones deliver exceptional sound quality to match. The bass is punchy for all your bass-heavy classical music, the semi-open design creates an airy, spacious feeling, and finally, the highs are delivered at their full quality here with excellent instrumental separation. 

The attention to detail finds its way even to the cables. The headphones come with a detachable, double-braided, long cable that resists abrasions thanks to its textile feel. The icing on top is Beyerdynamic’s exceptional post-purchase support services. The classical music headphones are eligible for five years of limited warranty to give you peace of mind.

Pros

  • Premium and comfortable build quality
  • Soft velour ear cups for a comfortable fit
  • Punchy bass
  • Five-year limited warranty

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Noise isolation is far from the best
  • Conventional design

Bottom Line

The Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Gen headphones secure their spot as one of the best top-tier monitoring classical music headphones. Their premium build quality and excellent audio performance justify the price tag. 

How to Pick Headphones for Classical Music 

Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Design 

The ongoing argument between the open-back and closed-back leagues hasn’t resolved to a settlement yet. However, let’s get into a decisive discussion about what you should expect when you opt for either design. Since the choice between open-back and closed-back is a matter of taste, you should get well-versed in the rudiments of both types.

Open-Back Headphones 

Open-back pairs are what I personally favor in the realm of headphones. Generally, open-back ear cups are primarily designed for proper ventilation, and thus, for an improved soundstage. These classical music headphones hint at an omnidirectional distribution of sound where you can sense the 3D representation of the 3 frequencies in every classical piece. 

It’s worth noting that open-back headphones suffer from sound leakage and little-to-no noise isolation due to the absence of any seal to trap the sound inside the ear cups. So, the background noise is more likely to interrupt your listening experience, and the immersive soundstage may disturb anyone nearby. 

Although the pros outweigh the cons in open-back headphones, these pairs won’t please bassheads due to the compromises on the lows, which are exclusively more pronounced in their closed-back peers.

Closed-Back Headphones 

Closed-back headphones have ear cups that entirely encompass your ears, leaving no room for air passage in and out of the earpads’ diameter. This construction manages to overcome the absence of noise isolation and the inevitable sound leakage of open-back headphones. Yet, the output is nowhere near the natural-sounding “hall” effect of open-back headphones.

On the flip side, your ears will be more susceptible to heating up with closed-back headphones due to their restrictive ear cushions, which are thoroughly padded, but may cause skin irritation after prolonged contact with your ears.

Not only does this lead to an artificial tone, but it’ll give you a headache after a couple of minutes. Perhaps it’s a better option for a bass impact. However, I wouldn’t imagine sacrificing ergonomics, comfort, and spatial sound for the punchy bass response.

Drivers

There are 3 main types of drivers on the market: dynamic, planar, and electrostatic. 

Dynamic Drivers 

These are the most common classical music headphones’ drivers. They rely on magnets that feature a voice coil. This coil is attached to a diaphragm that responds to the air movement and, thus, creates the sound. 

These drivers are the most affordable, and you can find a wide variety of portable options that don’t require using an amplifier. 

Planar Magnetic Drivers 

Planar drivers are considerably heavy due to their even twin-magnet diaphragm. The presence of two magnets here accounts for the nonexistent distortion that marks the prominence of these drivers, and their high price, too.

I think that headphones with planar drivers should be reserved for studio monitoring instead of listening to classical music since they’re far from being convenient with regards to their weight and price.

Electrostatic Drivers

The elusive electrostatic headphones are hard to spot among even professional studio gear due to their hefty price tag. These headphones utilize very thin stationary diaphragms that resonate when audio signals are pumped toward them. Although electrostatic drivers deliver the most impeccable sound, they only shine when plugged into amplifiers.

Ear Cup Design

Ear cups fall into three categories: over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear.

Generally, the over-ear type is what most people mean when referring to headphones. The cups here surround both ears altogether, ensuring an immersive listening experience. I’d say that the over-ear cups implemented in open-back designs are perfect since they provide great playback with minimal sound leakage.

On-ear headphones land directly around the edges of your ear. The reason I find them worthy of purchase is that they save you the bother of taking over-ear headphones outdoors. However, they’re definitely more sensitive to ambient noise. Also, they may cause fatigue if worn for long periods since the earpads may run tight on your ears. 

Do you know the headphones you get out of the box when buying a new smartphone? These are definitely in-ear. These are so portable that you can keep them in your pocket, but their sound reproduction is so trivial compared to full-sized headphones. However, I always have a pair of these with me, either as a backup or for low-power playback devices.

Power Requirements

Impedance and sensitivity account for the power draw the headphones will require. Let’s take a look at how these criteria relate to the audio playback device you’re using.

Impedance

Any good headphones for classical music magnetic drivers have a certain limit of the electric current they can withstand, and this limit is called impedance. Measured in ohms, the impedance in best headphones falls between 8 and 600 ohms. Note that you should buy best headphones with an impedance level near to your playback device’s output impedance.

Simply put, the higher the ohm magnitude, the more the electricity flows to the magnetic drivers, and thus, the better the overall sound reproduction. However, higher impedance doesn’t always ensure better sound quality. For instance, you won’t fully enjoy how a 250-ohm pair sounds if you plug it into a low-impedance playback device.

Sensitivity

Although sensitivity isn’t the super important factor you should consider while buying good headphones for classical music, it’s crucial that you understand how it relates to impedance. Generally, sensitivity, measured in dB, refers to how loud the best headphones are.

With high-sensitivity best headphones, you don’t need to crank up the volume knob in your playback device to obtain the desired loudness output, and since more volume corresponds to more power, you can argue that low impedance (usually around 32 ohms) and high sensitivity is the bargain you’d want to strike. 

Soundstage

The soundstage is what gives the listener the spatial recognition of every instrument in the playback in good headphones for classical music. It depends on an omnidirectional presentation of the sound to create the illusion of hearing every individual layer of music.

But, what’s so essential about the soundstage effect? Unlike many genres, classical music provides a wide array of frequencies played at a time, hence the plethora of clefs you see in sheet music like Bach’s Mass in B minor, for instance.

To give rise to the same sensation as the sound-amplifying domes in philharmonic orchestras, the soundstage, with its ability to provide genuine stereo imaging, comes into play. If you’re reading till this point, you must’ve noticed that open-back headphones generate a second-to-none soundstage.

Comfort 

You probably know that suites, like Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” play for more than 30 minutes. So, make sure that the earpads have sufficient cushioning, preferably velour or memory foam. Moreover, the headband should be self-adjustable to save you the bother of having to align it to your head’s posture.

Detachable cables are always a plus when it comes to headphones, especially these single-braided cables that won’t get tangled up around your arm as you move around. Alternatively, I like kevlar-braided cable even if they aren’t detachable since they don’t wear out easily.

Final Verdict

Finding the best headphones for classical music isn’t a piece of cake. Yet, with a better understanding of the capabilities of each of the models we have on the list, we’re sure you’ll be able to make up your mind to get good headphones for classical music. 

The AKG K702 isn’t the most expensive on the list, but it offers the highest sensitivity and an optimal impedance. These headphones are the lightest, and they feature a decent frequency response that’ll suit the majority of our seasoned classical music listeners. The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700Xoffers excellent performance that’s almost as satisfying as that of the AKG K702, but it’s more affordable. 

If you want to get the advantages of both open-back and closed-back headphones, then you’d want to consider the Beyerdynamic DT880’s semi-open form factor. However, it’s important to make sure that the headphones are compatible with the device you use for listening to classical music, mainly because of the relatively high impedance. 

Whichever way you go, we hope we provided you with all the information you need to make the right choice. Enjoy! 

Evan Grant

A Ukulele player, musician, boyfriend and also the lead Editor of ElectricFieldsFestival, Evan Grant is the guy who runs this site. He's a great Roger Federer fan and is always up for a game of Tennis.

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