As a beginner, it can be intimidating to practice uninhibited when you think people are listening. Practice makes perfect, but no matter how good you get, no one wants to hear you all the time. That’s why we are looking at the best headphones for keyboards and digital pianos to help you practice in peace.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or pro, there are always situations when high-quality headphones are needed. We have put together our top 7 keyboard headphone reviews to help you get started.
Here are the best headphones for digital pianos and keyboards:
- Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
- Sony MDR-7506
- Sennheiser HD 598
- Beyerdynamic DT 880 Edition
- Yamaha PRO 500
- V-Moda Crossfade M-100
- Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
Audio-Technica has been making headphones that are loved by learners and studio professionals for years. The ATH-M40x professional monitor headphones are our top-rated pair overall.
These are closed-back headphones with an extremely well-balanced sound. Many closed-back headphones focus on the lower frequencies and don’t deliver a natural progression through the ranges. There is no such problem with these; they offer a bright and articulate tone from top to bottom.
When we talk about an articulate tone, we mean they capture the expression in your playing very well. This attention to detail means you get an authentic representation of your keyboard/digital piano sound.
One common theme of Audio-Technica headphones is that they tend to look and feel great. The sturdy, hard plastic construction is very robust, and a metal frame reinforces the headband. The headband and earpads are both made from professional materials that you’d expect on more expensive headphones.
Noise-cancellation is also pretty good due to the high-quality materials and construction. They come with two cables (coiled and straight) as well as both 1/4″ jack and 3.5 mm mini-jack adapters.
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The ATH-M40x headphones from Audio-Technica are our choice for the best keyboard headphones. They do have a few issues; noise cancellation is pretty good, but for outdoor use, it could be better. We only mention this because it’s fair to expect versatility from your headphones, but for indoor keyboard practice, it’s no problem at all.
The soundstage is a little narrow in comparison to some other headphones. All we mean by this is that while the sound is detailed and precise, you don’t get the same feeling of space that some other headphones offer. This lack of space could muddy your sound if playing along to a backing track, etc. However, for regular practice, it’s not. We would describe these as high-end headphones at an affordable price.
2. Sony MDR-7506
Sony MDR-7506s are one of the most popular closed-back headphone sets amongst studio professionals. They have become somewhat of an industry standard for their clear sound and reliability.
The main reason they are so popular is that they don’t color the audio when they reproduce it. The MDR-7506s neutral sound makes them ideal for piano because they capture the subtle nuances of the instrument very well.
Sony has done well to provide a wider than average soundstage in comparison to other closed-back sets. These headphones offer plenty of space/separation between instruments if you’re playing with a backing track.
The closed ear cups (passive noise isolation) do a particularly good job of canceling outside noise. In turn, they also have very low sound leakage. As far as construction goes, they are solid enough, although they aren’t the most robust on our list.
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What can we say about these headphones? They have been around for a long time with good reason. They could certainly improve in a few areas, like the fact they get very warm and leave your ears sore after prolonged use.
However, they have been around for years, and despite these issues, they are amongst the best-selling studio headphones available. They sound great for keyboard/piano and are now available cheaper than ever. Sony MDR-7506s are perhaps the best value for money on our list.
3. Sennheiser HD 598
These open-backed headphones are a modern twist on the popular HD 595’s that have been around for years.
The best thing about the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones is the broad, open sound they deliver. A durable but visually pleasing metal grille covers the open backs.
The wide dynamic range makes these headphones exceptional for many different genres. We don’t just mean listening to different types of music but also playing different piano techniques. For example, playing a busy Latin groove with lots of movement between ranges will be just as crisp and clear as a slow mid-range ballad.
Sennheiser has designed these headphones to stand out from the crowd. From the leather/foam headband to the fleece cups, everything feels luxurious. These premium touches do come at a premium price, of course. Although it’s not just about being stylish, these are very comfortable to work with for extended periods.
The cable is removable, and it has a nice twist-lock feature to ensure it doesn’t pop out in use.
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The modern design of these high-end headphones might not be for everyone, but we like them a lot. When you buy open-back headphones, the first thing you want to hear is a big, wide-open soundstage. The HD 598s deliver on that front without a problem.
As with any open-back headphones, what they gain in sound, they lose in noise-cancellation. So, that’s an issue that you should consider with these. In their defense, they are at a price point that’s more suited to intermediate/advanced studio pros. In professional studio use, they wouldn’t need to block out much noise anyway.
4. beyerdynamic DT 880 Edition
Beyerdynamic is a name that may be less known to beginners, but they have been making outstanding pro-audio gear for the best part of a century.
The Beyerdynamic DT 880s are semi-open back headphones, which in theory, give you the best of both worlds. There are three different versions available with varying impedances at 32 OHMs, 250 OHMs, and 600 OHMs. If you are going to be using them primarily as digital piano headphones, then the 32 OHMs set is perfect.
The soundstage is wide, spacious, and only slightly behind the Sennheiser HD 598s above. They deliver a very accurate and natural sound that is just beautiful for solo piano playing/practice.
The DT 880’s are built in Germany and are an excellent example of German engineering – in simple terms, they are built to last. Some premium soft leather covers the metal headband for added comfort.
The headphones come with a 3m long cable with a 3.5mm plug and a 1/4″ adapter. The cable is non-detachable, unfortunately.
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The DT 880s from Beyerdynamic are premium headphones and one of the best digital piano headphones you can buy in 2020. The reason they aren’t higher on our list is that they are slightly edged out on sound quality and value for money. They do leak more sound at high volume than you’d want, but at low, to mid-volume, it’s not a problem.
These are arguably the best built and most comfortable set of headphones on our list. If you are the type to practice for hours on end, these could be the ones for you.
5. Yamaha PRO 500
Yamaha makes some of the best digital pianos/keyboards on the market, so who better to make the best headphones for a Yamaha keyboard.
The first thing you will notice is the sleek appearance of the PRO 500 headphones. They are made to be fashionable as well as functional without sacrificing sound, of course.
These are closed-back headphones, and they provide outstanding noise-cancellation. The sound quality is very high; the PRO 500’s produce an extremely precise sound. Considering these are closed-back headphones, they do have a pretty spacious soundstage too.
Yamaha has gone for more significant than average, 50mm drivers here, and it’s reflected in the output. The bass, in particular, is imposing – they sound similar to some Beats by Dre headphones.
Yamaha has so much experience in making pro-audio gear, and it shows in the build quality. However, the build quality is stronger in intelligent design than it is in durability. These headphones are slightly heavier than similar types, but the earpads do fold in to make them more compact.
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In our opinion, these are the best Yamaha headphones for keyboards. They do, however, have some significant drawbacks. The most obvious one being the price, if you only want headphones for practicing, these shouldn’t be an option. If you want headphones that are great for practice, studio work, and wearing outdoors, try these out.
The other major drawback is the build quality – design-wise, it’s fantastic, but they aren’t nearly as sturdy as they should be. They aren’t as adjustable as they could be either. If they fit you well, they are very comfortable, if not then they aren’t.
Now the good part, they sound fantastic, rich, detailed, and articulate. The other major selling point is that they could be perfect for your instrument. For example, if you have a Yamaha keyboard/digital piano, then who knows how to replicate that sound than Yamaha themselves better.
6. V-Moda Crossfade M-100
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100s are the go-to headphones for many of the world’s most renowned DJs. That tells you two things, one, they sound amazing, and two, they are expensive.
You get some very high-end touches for your money, one of the best being the memory foam cups. The M-100s are amongst the most comfortable on our list along with the Beyerdynamic DT 880s. They are powered by a 50 mm dual-diaphragm driver that will rival any on our list.
These headphones are quite bass-heavy, which is why they are so popular with DJs. However, they aren’t in the category of sacrificing everything else for a banging bass. They have a surprisingly warm, wide soundstage and clarity that will match most.
What you get in the box along with the headphones, is a one-button mic cable, and a share play cable. The share play cable makes it possible for someone else to list to your music.
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These headphones from V-Moda could potentially be number one for many purposes. However, in the context of piano playing, they have to be near the bottom of our list. They don’t have too many flaws at all, but the price is a bit of a stumbling block.
As far as the sound goes, it’s beautiful; the only issue is that it’s bass-heavy. It doesn’t cause any problems when being used for keyboard/piano playing, but some headphones will sound brighter for less money. The V-Moda M-100s are ones we would suggest you consider if you want top-quality multi-purpose headphones.
7. Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT
The Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BTs are the only wireless headphones on our list, which makes them our choice for the best wireless headphones for a digital piano.
Audio-Technica’s wireless technology will remember up to eight paired devices. The wireless max communication range is 10 m, but that doesn’t matter when playing the piano. They are powered by some impressive 40mm drivers, surprisingly powerful for affordable wireless headphones.
These are closed-back headphones, and they have a reasonably narrow soundstage. However, they do sound great for keyboard/piano, and that’s the main goal.
Unfortunately, that’s about as far as these headphones go. There are no flashy features that you get with high-end wireless headphones, but that’s reflected in the low price.
They have a battery life of up to 30 hours, and that’s very impressive indeed. Audio-Technica has given these headphones a metal frame wrapped in plastic. So, they aren’t the toughest, but they don’t look or feel cheap in any way. More importantly, they are very comfortable. You should have no issue wearing these for even a couple of hours without a break.
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We wanted to add at least one set of wireless headphones to our list because we know they appeal to a lot of people. As we said earlier, we think these are the best wireless headphones for a digital piano.
It’s not the sound quality that blows us away, it’s great, but it’s not exceptional. The build quality is very good but not the best. If you are starting to get the picture, you’ll see that these headphones are very middle of the road. The reason we like them is that they are from a trusted brand, and they won’t break the bank.
The main reason they are bottom of our list is that we would never suggest choosing wireless over wired if the primary purpose is for keyboard practice. You literally can’t be far enough away from your instrument to need wireless headphones.
Not to mention, your keyboard/digital piano must be compatible, or you’d need to buy a Bluetooth USB transmitter. Lastly, there’s the issue of lag; performance will vary from one keyboard to another. Despite everything we just said, these are excellent budget wireless headphones; we prefer wired, that’s all.
What to look for when buying headphones for keyboards and digital pianos?
What is soundstage?
When we say soundstage, we are referring to how the headphones recreate the audio. When you think about a live gig, the source audio could be considered as pure, and what the audience hears will depend on the amps/speakers/monitors that are reproducing the sound. So that’s where the name soundstage comes originates.
We often use the term wide or spacious soundstage, and this means there is lots of clarity between ranges or instruments. If you are playing piano, this means your sound won’t get muddy even if you are walking a bebop bassline and soloing in the upper-range. Alternatively, if you are listening to a track, you’ll be able to hear individual instruments clearly.
Why do you need headphones?
As a keyboard/piano player, you are going to be using headphones to practice, that’s straight forward. But are they mostly for your benefit or others?
If you have a noisy household and you want to practice in peace, then noise-cancellation will be vital to you. In this scenario, closed-back headphones would be best for you.
If you are buying them because people don’t want to hear you practice, then noise-cancellation isn’t so important.
For any more advanced players, it becomes more about optimal audio quality than just practicing quietly. In this case, you should be looking for a neutral sound and spacious soundstage. This way, you can capture all of the expression in your playing as you work on advanced techniques.
It doesn’t matter how good headphones are if you need to remove them every few minutes because your ears hurt.
There are two areas to consider when thinking about headphone comfort. The lesser talked about issue is poor audio quality. If you are listening to a tinny, hissy, generally poor sound for a long time, your eardrums will get tired. If this happens, you can sometimes start to get a headache too.
The most apparent issue if the fit and quality of the headband and earpads. You need headphones that fit well and grip the ears, but not too tight that it hurts.
Look at the quality of materials around the headband and earpads. Check out how adjustable they are too. Remember, you could be wearing them for long periods.
Open-back headphones have one distinct disadvantage, a lack of isolation. Poor isolation is a big problem if they are used in a particularly noisy environment.
They also leak a lot of sound which could be annoying for others if you are practicing in close quarters.
Open-back headphones do come with some benefits too. They tend to be the most comfortable to wear for prolonged periods. The airflow through the open-back reduces the build-up of heat and moisture.
An open-back also provides a much broader and spacious soundstage (in general). Headphones like this immerse you in the music, making it sound more natural.
Closed-back headphones are the most common and most popular headphones. The solid outer shell means that no air can pass through, which is a downside when it comes to comfort. Heat and moisture can build up much more with closed-back headphones with prolonged use.
As far as any difference in sound, closed-back headphones tend to have much deeper and more powerful bass. Don’t be fooled though; there are closed-back headphones that provide a beautifully spacious soundstage too.
The most significant advantage, though, is in their noise-cancellation. Whether it’s a noisy house, outdoors, or public transport, nothing shuts out unwanted noise like closed-back headphones.
Our advice, as always, is to make your choice a personal one. Our number one pick might not be the best choice for you. It has to be about what suits your needs and your budget most.
If you are a beginner, we suggest making comfort a top priority. We say this because you probably aren’t at a stage where you need the highest-quality audio. You need something that keeps the practice noise down and lets you get on with it.
If you are beyond the beginner stage, then think more about sound quality and potential studio use.
Make sure you get the most out of your budget by thinking of other uses for your headphones. Keyboard/piano playing me be the priority, but it doesn’t hurt if they are great for listening to music, traveling, etc.