You’ve bought a digital piano. That’s great, and congrats are no doubt in order, but have you stopped to consider just what are the best headphones for a digital piano? It’s sort of a funny question, isn’t it? How can there be a “best headphone” for any piano, considering pianos usually are 61, 76, or 88 keys, and can be as inexpensive as $150 and as pricey as thousands of dollars?
How, exactly, can you really determine what the best headphone even is?
Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to explore in this article, as I dive into how you can go about figuring out the best headphone for the money, as well as the headphone that’s truly right for the digital piano you purchased.
Best Headphones for Digital Pianos: 7 Questions
- When buying headphones, I suggest you first ask yourself the following questions:
- Where in your house is this digital piano located?
- Do you live with other people?
- Do you live in an apartment complex with thin walls?
- What if you have noisy neighbors and need to concentrate on practicing?
- Are you an accomplished pianist and need to more closely monitor what you’re playing?
- Are your kids the ones learning how to play and would rather not suffer through all their wrong notes?
Why those questions in particular? Well, the answers to these questions will go a LONG way towards helping you determine not only the greatest headphones you can get, but which ones are best for the amount of money you’re willing to spend.
The good news here is that all digital pianos come with headphone jacks, so you (or your kids) will be able to practice wherever and whenever you want in the privacy of your own ears without disturbing anyone else.
So, everyone from your family members and neighbors to your landlord, dog, and goldfish will thank you later.
All the World’s a Stage
In discussing headphones, it’s important to consider the concept of “soundstage.” If you’ve ever shopped for stereo speakers, you may already be familiar with this idea. For those of you new to the concept, “soundstage” has to do with how you perceive the distance between you and the music.
Does it sound like you have a front row seat, or does it sound like you’re sitting in the nosebleed section of your city’s professional sports stadium?
The concept of soundstage becomes relevant when looking at the design of headphones.
Open Back Vs Closed Back Headphones
There are two main types of headphones: open back and closed back.
Open back headphones have the back of the ear cups open, and closed back headphones have the back of the ear cups closed.
An advantage of open back headphones is they tend to produce a more spacious sound that can be considered more “natural,” but their drawback is they let in a lot of environmental noise. Open back headphones tend to have a bigger, better soundstage, which we talked about earlier.
One advantage of closed back headphones, in contrast, is the improved bass response. Open back headphones just can’t compare in this particular category. Another plus—and this is a big one if you live with other people or even animals, is that closed back headphones keep your music contained within the earcups.
In short, what you play or listen to through your headphones won’t leak out to the physical space (and other people) that are within your area.
Closed back phones also are great for blocking out more external noise. This helps you stay far more immersed in your music. The disadvantage, however, is the music can sound more compressed and not as “wide.” And, if you have a baby or a toddler running around, closed back headphones will make it very hard to hear them (or really anyone) should an emergency (or even a phone call) arise that immediately needs your attention
Earbuds for Digital Pianos?
Actually, there is a third type of headphone, the in-ear, or “earbuds,” which you see everyone wearing while listening to their iPods. In most cases, these are not the best for musical instruments, although I will be discussing one specific type of in-ear that is specifically made for instrument playing, just so you know what all your options are.
Headphone Buying Guide
Below, take a look at our interactive table, where we compare some of the best headphones that are available to purchase for digital pianos. In this comparison chart, we compare headphones based on not just price and customer ratings, but frequency response and impedance, as well.
$ = $200 or less | $$ = $200 – $500 | $$$ = $500 and up
|Sony MDR7506||10Hz - 20 kHz||63 Ohms||$||4.6|
|Sennheiser HD-280 PRO||8 - 25,000 Hz||64 Ohms||$||4.4|
|AKG K 240 MK II||15Hz-25kHz||55 Ohms||$||4.4|
|Beyerdynamic DT-880||5Hz-35kHz||250 Ohms||$||4.6|
|Shure SRH840||5 Hz - 25 kHz||44 Ohms||$||4.6|
|Sennheiser HD 598||12 - 38,500 Hz||50 Ohms||$||4.6|
|Shure SRH1540||5 Hz – 25 kHz||46 Ohms||$$||3.8|
|Fostex USA TH900||5 to 45 kHz||25 Ohms||$$$||5.0|
Headphones on the Cheap
If you’re just getting started and you bought a cheap digital piano, or don’t want to spend a ton of money right off the bat, there are a couple of great options that you should strongly consider.
- Samson SAHP10
This Sampson closed-back style headphone is designed not only to work with your digital piano but, if you don’t mind the bulk, also with your mp3 or other media player. It comes with a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch adapter.
These particular headphones are tough to beat for the price, as the frequency range reproduced is quite good. However, as with any headphone, they may become uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. This is most often due to the size of one’s head, or if you have lots of hair that stretches the flexibility, and comfort, of the headphone.
- Tascam TH02-B
This closed-back style headphone comes in two colors: basic black, and all white with red writing and a red cord. They also fold up, making transporting them easier if, for example, you need to stuff them in a backpack or something.
The drivers inside (the driver is the speaker part) are a bit bigger than the Samsons. Several users thought the sound quality of these was excellent considering the cost, but, as with the Samsons, many people cited uncomfortability as the biggest drawback.
Middle of the pack Headphones
I want to make a note here and say that all of the remaining suggestions are considered to be more professional level headphones and should provide an excellent reproduction of your piano sound. Since a digital piano’s sounds are “sampled,” or recorded from an acoustic piano as the source material, you want something that will reproduce that sound as accurately as possible.
- Sony MDR7506
If you’ve lived any length of time on this planet, then you know that if there’s an electronic component out there, there’s probably a model with the Sony name on it somewhere. This particular model has been around for many years, and rightfully so. Ask someone who owns a pair; they’ll tell you “they’re good!” Many rave about how comfortable these are several owners have remarked that they like the coiled cord.
- Sennheiser HD-280
This closed-back headphone is very popular with people who do audio mixing. However, they perform very well in other applications, and are probably the Sony MDR7506’s biggest competitors.
I enjoy the frequency range (8-25,000hz), the comfortability, and the “flat frequency response” (accurate reproduction of the sound source without any distortion, effects, etc.). These headphones also fold up for easy transport and feature a coiled cable.
- AKG K 240 MK II
The drivers on this closed-back headphone are smaller (30mm) than some of the others, but according to some, this isn’t a big deal, and many of them speak highly of the bass response.
Another cool feature I like is that the cord is detachable, which at this stage is critical, should you lose or damage your cord. This can be convenient not only in transport but if the cord goes bad you can just replace it without buying another entire set of headphones. So in the end, a detachable cable can, in some ways, end up saving you both headaches and hundreds of dollars in the end.
- Beyerdynamic DT-880
This is what you might call a “hybrid” headphone, or semi-open. Beyerdynamic rightfully boasts that this headphone is reference class, and that it combines all of the advantages of an open AND closed back headphone.
This headphone is 250 ohms, which is an electronics term for measuring resistance. The more ohms, the greater the resistance. At 250, you might need a separate amplifier to help boost the signal–it all depends on the output of your piano.
Luckily, the DT-880 comes in a 32 ohm version (and a 600, which my be a little excessive for your needs on the piano), which should work on just about anything. The vast majority of owners speak very highly of these ‘phones, and as an added bonus, the ear cups are REALLY soft—almost furry!
These might be the most comfortable of all the models I’ve tried. But more on that later!
- Shure SRH840
You might recognize the name Shure as one of the world’s premier manufacturers of microphones, but evidently they make some darn good headphones too.
Like the AKGs, these come with a detachable cord. As a bonus, you also get a carrying pouch.
The cord is coiled, and the headphones themselves fold up. You might consider this headphone to be the competitor of the Beyerdynamic model listed above. Some do find the comfort not being the best, but again, this differs from person to person.
- Sennheiser 598
A lot of people seem to love the Sennheiser 600 or 650, because of the more neutral sound. I get that. But I suggest you save a little bit of money, and go with the 598’s, which are not only a bit cheaper, but look better from an aesthetic point of view (can you really turn down egg shell white and brown?)
The Sennheiser 598’s come with a detachable cord that’s connected to the left ear cup, and the headphone itself is made of plastic and is quite flexible. It’s easily one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn, and the soundstage is clear and beautiful.
Yes, it’s Sennheiser, which means that some people belive that there is “veiled” sound. I don’t particularly feel that way about these headphones, and frankly, I think they’re just plain fun to listen to.
Best of the Absolute Best
- Shure SE425
For those of you who actually prefer the headphones in your ears, check out the Shure SE425. These come in 3 colors: silver, metallic silver, and clear. Notwithstanding their small footprint, Shure still managed to cram two drivers into these babies and also make them noise cancelling—which might explain their higher price point. They also come with a detachable cable.
- Shure SRH1540
This particular model is fairly new. The SRH1540’s come with a hard travel case (which is important, because sadly, too many headphones out there don’t), an additional pair of ear pads, and detachable coiled AND straight cables. These come with 40 mm neodymium drivers and are closed back.
- Fostex USA TH900
Fostex is another one of those names that’s been around a long time in the recording industry. If you paid top dollar for the best digital piano you could buy, then you might want to pair that investment with this pair of ‘phones for your ears.
They feature a gold-coated plug, 50mm drivers (which are among the largest of those reviewed here) and they come with their own stand to put them on when you’re not using them. You won’t find much to dislike about these ‘phones—which is good, considering what they cost.
So when searching online, should you be looking for the best headphones for Yamaha digital pianos or Casio pianos or Roland pianos? Well, not exactly. In short, you should be eyeing the headphones that best fit your need, are of the best possible sound quality, are open or closed back based on your living situation, and most of all, are affordable given your budget.
And then, at that point, it’s just about plugging them in, playing the music, and being engulfed by the wonderful sounds and tones of your newly purchased digital piano.
If you haven’t bought your piano yet, I suggest you read my in-depth buyer’s guide to digital pianos. Here, I break down the best pianos on the market today, why they are so good, the top piano brands, and the key features you need to consider before buying.
You can find that article at: The Ultimate Digital Piano Buyer’s Guide. Also, for more information on digital pianos and reviews, please bookmark our website and visit often. We can’t wait to see you again!