Classical music best headphones

Which headphones are the best for classical,jazz and soundtracks? Have heard that 800s are good for them but are there more affordable headphones?

I always loved my old HD600 when I listened to classical or jazz, same goes for the HD700. Never actually listened to the HD800 so I can’t compare. But in my book, any open headphone from Sennheiser delivers. Denon AH-D5000 (sadly long discontinued) and Audeze LCD-2 Closed-Back are also great in my experience, if you want something closed. Klipsch HP-3 is also great, although with that one you’re kind of stretching the budget in the wrong direction.

For jazz and jazz alone, I would be tempted to say the Moondrop Starfield has them all beat, at least on very specific tracks and if you get the right fitting tips. The tuning on those is absolutely magical for jazz in my book.

On the more affordable end in my collection, I’d say the Fostex t60rp are okay at best for classical and jazz. They can be a bit harsh at times though depending on the amplifier and music. They’re way too sharp on my HiBy R5, but they sound great on the SMSL SP200 (with SU-8 DAC). Their main issue is the soundstage in my book, too narrow for classical. Detail wise they’re quite great, but too finnicky with amps.

Going by my own collection alone for this type of music, I’d rank them the following:

Sennheiser HD700 = Audeze LCD-2 CB > Moondrop Starfield > Denon AH-D5000 > Blon BL-03 = Tin T2 > Fostex t60rp

If it would be movie soundtracks on the more bombastic end, then the t60rp would end up 3rd. They’re a bit tiring in the long run for me though.

For full orchestra, I found my 95X to be most pleasing of my small collection. It’s not as wide-sounding as my AD900x, but there is much greater sense of depth and separation. And detail of course. Just so easy to pick out little bits of detail. Rather, it shoves detail in my ears. :^)

I also find the lack of bass impact a plus side as well. With dynamics drivers with flat or emphasized bass response, the cellos and contrabass seem to rumble too much and thus sound over-emphasized. With the 95X, the bassier strings are better balanced with the violins. The major flaw is, the lack of impact greatly affects tuba at FF dynamics and cannons in 1812 Overture. They sound very detailed, but I don’t want detail. I want my tubas to go “BWAAAAAH.”

The KTXPRO1 has a surprisingly spacious soundstage and flat tonality good for orchestra - which is why I kept this oddball despite how terrible the physical design is. It’s obvious not as resolving as the 95X, but the KTXPRO1 gives me a better feeling of being “there” if I crank up the volume.

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I’m finding that the DT880 600Ω do really well on classical music. Very bright, clear and articulate.


For a great price, I came to suggest this, DT 880 600. Flatish FR with good sparkle. Good staging, speed and separation. I think those are key. My AKG K340 had really exciting instrument separation - I have to imagine full-on electrostats should be a perfect answer for larger budget. Of course source and power should be considerations like always.

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the HD600’s are considered kings for orchestral / instrumental music…especially on a tube amp. the DT 880 600 ohm are considered to be good also, but not quite as good as the HD600’s.

they have narrow soundstage tho and doesnt orchestral music needs large soundstage?

no, they don’t need it. it may be preferable for some, but the HD600 have been around for more than two decades, so their intimacy is not a handicap. it’s more a different presentation. the only way to find out if it’s for you is to get a pair. you can usually score good deals on the used market. check out r/avexchange and USAudioMart and see if any are up. even the DT 880’s have a relatively narrow soundstage, but like the HD600’s, their imaging makes up for it. :slight_smile:

i have both hd600 and dt880 600ohms. i prefer the hd600. the hd600’s make me feel like im sitting front row at the show. the beyers make me feel like im mid row at the show. thats the simplist way i can explain the difference. i prefer the front row experience. YMMV

edit: i also feel like the hd600’s have slightly more low end presence default tuning.


How will Sundara perform compared to 600s?

Just what I’ve experienced for classical music:

HD800S > HEKv1 ~ Arya v2 > AKG K501 >> HE6 > HE500 | HD6XX | KSC75 | LCD-2.2 > LCD-2.1 > Elex (too many holes in the upper-mids/lower treble)

Budget recommendations: AKG K501 (used, out of production) and KSC75+Yaxi pads+the parts accessories headband.


As for now, I would really love to upgrade to Sennheiser HD660S or Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro.
I am currently using bowers and Wilkins px7 and they do pretty much a good job.
But, I have had a chance to use the Sennheiser HD660S from my friend. And, I am really looking forward to moving towards them.
You can also find more headphones for classical music here.

Would also like to throw Koss ESP950/95X into here.
Also, a surprise, if you need a closed-back option for classical is ESS 422H w/Shure 1540 Pads.

  • Instrument Separation.

The sundara compared to the hd600 is softer and in not at the same level in terms of microdynamic and microdetail for example in piano tracks with the sundara is difficult catch every nuances and variation in intensity and the timbre is a bit off especially in the decay there are some odd resonances and some sounds are longer and end with essh…, the only think that the sundara does better is instrument separation in busy passages but i much prefer the hd600 and the dt-880 for classical music. For orchestral my pick is the 880 for solo or chamber music the 600

I’ve been pretty floored lately with the ZMF Auteur Classic for classical music. The mids are incredible, and with the Atrium dampening tech in there the soundstage is excellent as well. I also have HD800S, and at the moment I’m preferring the Auteur Classic to the HD800S which I also love.

AKG K501 and K340 can both be found on the used market for pretty cheap and both offer exceptional separation and clarity for classical/orchestral/symphonic pieces, IME. The K1000s are one of the best classical headphones out there and the K501 and K340 bring some of what makes the K1000 great at much more modest prices. Don’t sleep on yhe K701 or K702 either. I currently own the K340s and they are a very unique headphone that I would love to see someone do a modern update on. I owned the K501s for 20+ years before they got lost in a move. All of these AKG solutions will require a good amp.

I happen to think my Drop+DCA Aeon Open X has the details and dynamics along with the correct timbral character that makes them great for both jazz and classical.

If you want to go even cheaper, the Hifiman HE400i (2016 with grill mod) I just picked up are great for jazz. I actually just finished listening to Snarky Puppy’s latest release on them driving them with my xDuoo MT-602 with some GE tubes in it and my SMSL M400 as the DAC and that is one super smooth jazz setup. The HE400is have this wonderful combination of crisp, snappy agility and smooth presentation that I find to be very enjoyable/addicting and a marvel in this price range. I listened to the London Philharmonic’s recording of Holst: The Planets in hi-res the other night with the HE400is being driven by the JDS Labs El Stack 2+, which is a much more clean source than the mt-602/m400, and it sounded fantastic. The dynamics and balance were really something. When I started out in this hobby you would have had to pay hundreds more for headphones with similar perfirmance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Drop+Mr Speakers Ether CX Closed as well. They’re just great at taking on the flavor of the source AND the music while bringing their own highly detailed, but not in your face brand of dynamics to the party. They make pretty much anything instrumental (and many more genres) a joy to listen too. If you’re looking for a closed back solution for reasonable money these or the Aeon Closed X would be hard to beat from a price to performance perspective. Not to mention the fact that both are crazy comfortable.

I’ll leave it at that. I hope this helps and I’m sorry for any typos, but I wrote this from my phone.