Headphone recommendation for rock music

I mostly listen to rock, classic rock, indie rock, punk, punk rock, pop punk music (Arctic Monkeys, PUP, The War on Drugs, Interpol, Japandroid, etc.) I’m looking for a new headphone with for natural clear details, good seperation, excellent timbre and lively energetic instruments. I’ll mostly use it at home with my DAP or desktop DAC. Price range between 300$ - 600$. What headphone would you recommend?


The top recommendations in that range are typically going to be open backs like

  • Sennheiser HD 600 - very mid forward
  • Sennheiser x DROP HD 6xx - a bit more bass that the 600
  • Hifiman Sundara - a really good neutral planar
  • Hifiman Ananda - the upgrade from the Sundara

This price bracket is a bit more than I put into headphones. I am an IEM guy that owns the budget open backs ( Hifiman HE400SE and HX58x ) the tier below these.

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Before I give some recs do you have a pair of headphones you’re using currently (or IEMs/earbuds for that matter) that you enjoy but are looking to improve upon? Sometimes I find this helpful in getting a feel for what someone is asking for rather than just the words which can be interpreted broadly. Either way, I’ve owned a lot of what’s out there in this price range and I listen to a lot of the music you mention liking (Interpol is an all-time favorite, currently listening to Operation Ivy) some I’ll take a crack at so recs after I hear back.


Good suggestions in first thread.

Another: Look to Audeze sales around Black Friday, when you probably can get an LCD-2C for around $500-600. It’s a heavy headphone, but it’s EXCELLENT with all kinds of rock.

If you can tolerate on-ears, don’t sleep on the Grado 325x, either. Tuned REALLY well for rock.

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The best set I have is DUNU Zen pro. I really like it’s bass. I also own Olina OG which is more energetic and engaging. I definitely prefer Zen pro for it’s overall sound experience, but at the same time I miss the treble energy of the Olina.

I like edgy electric guitar sounds, fast bass, excellent dynamics and great technicalities. DD is the only thing I know so far,. Since I crave for good timbre, never took a chance on planar headphones or IEMs.

I also own a pair of HD558 that I like, but don’t use often since I got my first 2 IEM sets.

Really looking forward your recs! Thanks mate.

Thanks for your recs. Open backs is what I’m looking for, yes.

  • HD600 is a classic. I’ll have one in my collection, I’m just not sure about the match with rock music.
  • HD6xx might be another good option.
  • Had my eyes on the Hifiman Ananda Nano for a while, same for LCD-2C. Planar would be a new experience for me. Never tried a planar before. Wish I could demo some to avoid a blind buy.

Thanks again!

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Hey, thanks for your recs. I really appreciate your help!

Have you tried Ananda Nano? If so, how would they compare with LCD-2C?
As for Grado, I’m used to wear comfortable headphone (HD558 for example). On-ears is risky. I’m wondering if I could have long comfortable sessions with them.

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The Sony WH-1000XM5. This headphone does not fulfill any of your priorities but it is an absolutely fantastic but colored set that is soooooooo good with rock at all volume levels when EQed well. The XM5 is like a Marshall JVM or an Ampeg SVT. They ain’t close to hifi but they just sound “right”.

Plus, you get class-leading noise cancellation and the option to go wireless.

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I have not tried Ananda. But I’m not a big fan of HiFiMan with rock.

I’ve owned the Edition XS and HE400se. Both excellent headphones, especially for the money. But I find both are a bit airy and bright in the treble, and both lack the note “weight” and bass of an Audeze, which sounds so damn good with rock. I would choose the LCD-2C over the Edition XS and HE-400se every time for rock.

If comfort is very important, avoid Grado unless you go with alternate, over-ear pads, which I did. But that changes the tuning. I’ve never used a headphone that’s more pad-dependent for tuning than a Grado.


They tend to have a weird recessed upper mid right before the pinna gain, and it makes the guitars sound recessed. I like the 400se as a stage and imaging for the $, but tend to agree that for rock, I will take a Sennheiser 6xx or 58x any day.

They are super cheap, but for classic rock and blues, I still love the Koss KPH30iW with the Grado GS1000 replacement pads. I think you can get the pads and headphones for $40.


I’m surprised for dynamic driver no one recommended BEYERDYNAMIC DT 1990 PRO since you seem to like some sizzle up top. Can’t give you first hand experience since I don’t own a set.

I went the planar direction, Verum One MK II for open, and Drop + Dan Clark Audio Aeon Closed.

Need an amp for both, still need to get a more powerful one for the Dan Clark.

Would also need an amp for 1990s

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Hm you could also try some fostex bio drivers Like the 600 or the drop X00 variants or Denon 5200 or 7200 for a good v shaped experience and good bass without the treble murder of the 900 on the wrong amp

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I always forget those are around $500, for some reason my brain sees Dan Clark and associates it as out my price range.


Anyone has experienced LCD-2C with rock music?

Yes, I have. It’s a terrific can for rock. Happy to share any specifics you want to know. Holler!

@JAnonymous5150 I’m curious about your take on rock music headphones rec :slight_smile:

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Dude, based on everything you just said, my top rec would be the Hifiman Edition XS. Smooth but with articulate and detailed bass, good treble extension, great staging (depth and height in particular) and imaging, outstanding detail retrieval for the money, and exceptionally accurate timbre and realistic presentation for a low cost planar. Personally, I think the XS dominates the LCD-2C and LCD-2 Closed (the two I’m most familiar with) and I’d take them over the Ananda and Arya (have tried Stealth version of both and Arya Organic). I don’t think the Hifiman oval cup line makes a significant step beyond the XS until the HE1000 V2 and HE1000se. Again, that’s all my opinion as I currently consider the XS to be the best planar open back sub $600 and possibly more. The XS has a lot of the articulate, but liquid smooth presentation that I enjoyed in the Zen Pros.

Alternate picks would include the E-Mu Teaks which are my go to funky bass headphones. They’re a fun set, but also still technically proficient though not exceptional. The Focal Elex also comes to mind as a very dynamic pair with a powerful and punchy low end and good treble extension. Personally, I like the Elex better than the Clears which sounds a bit shouty and metallic to me (though I may be in the minority on this call).

If you have the power for them, the HE6se V2s still hold their own as one of the best sub-$600 planars, IMO. They have a truly unmatched (until you spend a lot more) effortlessly powerful and dynamic sound that is downright addictive in listening to rock of all stripes and well mastered/recorded live albums. It’s really kind of amazing how the HE6 platform has held up over time even with planar driver tech advancing at warp speed for much of that time.

The last mention I’ll throw out there is the Drop+DCA Ether CX. These are a wild card and kinda polarizing, but if you really enjoy nimble bass of a high quality and neutral quantity and very well extended treble the Ether CX can be a very enjoyable listen. That said, some find them overly clinical and they expose poor recordings with a vengeance. The Ether CX isn’t for everyone, but if they work for you they tend to do things that nothing else can do for the money. You’d have to catch them used or on sale to get them under $600 since they go for $699 IIRC.

Lastly, I have to put out a small disclaimer. Many people really enjoy the LCD-2 in it’s various forms. However, I’m not a fan of the traditional Audeze sound and really only enjoy the MM-500, the LCD-4, and the LCD-5 (to a limited extent). Point being, I’m probably not the best person to ask about Audeze recs. Also, sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this. I’ve been AWOL from HFG for a bit.