The Best Headphones for Rock Music in 2021

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The Best Headphones for Rock Music in 2021

If you love rock and roll music you will want a pair of headphones designed for rock music to play your favorite rock bands.

Rock and Roll music, born in the USA in the 1940s, and since then it has grown into many different subgenres.

Rock music focuses on guitar solos, vocals, deep bass, and drums and the best headphones for rock and metal have certain features to enhance these sounds. Whether it is some old-school Rolling Stones, The Nirvana Punk Rock of the 1980s, Grunge and Indie Rock of the 90s, The rap-rock Linkin Park era in the 00s, or the Alternative Rock music of the 2010 period, we know that the listening experience is key.

Editor’s Quick note: Our review guide to choosing the “Best headphones made of metal” was updated on June 8, 2021.

The best rock headphones for those audiophiles out there will immerse you in every detail and make you feel like you are hearing a live band and of course, comfort is key. There are a few important but confusing specifications you should know about headphones before making a choice, impedance and frequency response (FR).

To simplify, impedance is the resistance of the headphones to the electrical current, you measure impedance in ohms. Headphones with lower impedance from 8 – 32 ohms are typically used with battery-powered devices like your mobile device, laptop, or your tablet. Headphones with higher impedance from 100 ohms and above, usually will need an amplifier to provide the best possible audio performance. It is really important to pick headphones for rock with the right impedance for the devices you want to use them with. The key thing that would be affected by a mismatch would be the loudness, bass quality, and overall soundstage.

Frequency response primarily deals with treble, bass, and mids, it is measured in hertz. The normal human can only hear sounds within the frequency response range of 20 – 20,000 hertz. 20 Hz describes the bass and 20,000 Hz describes the treble and the mids lie in the space in between. People often have their own specific taste when it comes to music, some people prefer to have the voice come through and some prefer a deeper bass, but a good neutral frequency response is often best. Simply put look for a pair of headphones that have a wide frequency range covering 20hz to 20,000hz at least.

Now we understand those specs it’s time to review some of the best headphones for all those rock and roll lovers out there.

8 Best Headphones for Rock Music

#1 – Sony WH-1000XM4 (Overall winner)

Sony has done it again, I didn’t think it would be possible to beat the XM3 but they have with these brilliant noise-canceling headphones.

image of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones with white background

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Type: metal over ear headphones
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Noise Canceling: Yes
  • Charging: USB charging
  • Mic and Controls: Touch controls and Voice Assistant
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black/Silver/Blue
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Battery time: Up to 30 hours
  • Price: Under $300 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

These are lightweight and come with well-padded ear cups thinking of your comfort during those long listening sessions. The Sony XM4s come with a hard carrier keeping them protected by the elements. When listening to rock and metal music the headphones are a bit bass-heavy, but you can use the Sony Connect App to customize the sound you want. Packed full of smart technology, the speak to chat function automatically pauses music when you speak, smart listening automatically distinguishes what environment you are in and changes noise cancellation accordingly, and wearing detection will pause your music when you take off your rock headphones.

Final Verdict

These headphones are in a class of their own, with so many smart features and amazing sound quality. The ability to customize the sound makes them the best headphones for rock music and click here for the full Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

Pros

  • Ambient sound control
  • Touch controls
  • Voice control
  • Active noise cancellation
  • 40mm drivers which produce full frequency ranges
  • 10 min charging for 5 hours of playback
  • 2 devices can be paired at once
  • Speak to chat technology
  • Great metal headphones as well as folk music
  • Nice carry case for taking to rock concerts
  • Comfortable headphones for people who wear glasses

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • A little bit of noise leakage at high volumes

Our Rating:

9.7 / 10

Amazingly comfortable, with brilliant battery life, packed full of smart features and a fantastic class of sound.


 

Other Models by Sony: The SONY WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-canceling Stereo Headset and Sony WHXB900N Noise-canceling Headphones.

 

#2 – V-Moda Crossfade m-100 (Runner-up)

The Editors Choice winner in 2017, these noise isolation headphones are comfortable, durable, and versatile. These would be the best headphones for metal music.

headphones on a white backgroun, V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Wired
  • Noise Canceling: No
  • Charging: No Battery
  • Mic and Controls: Detachable mic with in-line controls
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Matte Black / White Silver
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Battery time: No Battery
  • Price: Under $500 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

The metal frame is both durable and lightweight and the unique shape covers your ears well, the large earcups give excellent comfort levels. The portable but sturdy case keeps the headphone safe and they come with a mic and audio cable. The dual drivers create a deep clear bass that won’t bleed into the mids and highs. They have a really neutral audio experience. The 3d soundstage makes you feel like you are listening to your rock and metal music live. These headphones have 32 ohms so are best used with battery devices.

Final Verdict

These are versatile headphones, whether you are looking for studio headphones for mixing or a great pair to listen to rock and metal music alike these are a great option.

Pros

  • 50 mm dual drivers
  • Foldable headphones
  • 3D soundstage
  • Detachable cables
  • 5 -30,000Hz frequency range
  • Memory foam cushions
  • Metal headband

Cons

  • Below-par noise isolation
  • Some noise leakage

Our Rating:

9.5 / 10

These metal Bluetooth headphones are Lightweight but strong, the 3D soundstage will make your metal and rock music sound as if it is being played live.


Other Models by V-MODA: V-MODA XS On-Ear Folding Design Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone and V-MODA Crossfade LP2 Vocal Limited Edition Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone

 

#3 – Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose is always recognized as one of the major players in the headphone industry and these wireless headphones are reassuringly brilliant.

black Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with white background

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Noise Canceling: Active Noise Cancellation
  • Charging: USB Charging
  • Mic and Controls: Integrated mic and touch controls
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Triple Black/Soapstone/Silver Luxe
  • Waterproof: Water-Resistant
  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Battery time: 20 hours
  • Price: Under $400 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

Premium design and build quality with a metal headband that hinges and comfortable ear pads that can swivel flat. The hard case has a magnet pocket to keep the accessories safe. With 11 different levels of noise-canceling that adapt to any environment, music lovers can immerse themself as a listener. The balanced mid-range makes vocals really stand out and creates really deep bass tones. The audio performance is also customizable making this one of the best headphones for rock music. The microphone is great at reducing the background noises and picking up your voice which also makes these a good pair for taking calls too.

Final Verdict

Brilliant noise canceling makes these headphones perfect for playing your favorite rock songs undisturbed. The design and sound clarity make them everything you would expect from Bose, a brilliant update to the range.

Pros

  • Adjustable noise cancellation
  • Virtual voice assistant with inbuilt Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Noise isolating 4 mic system
  • 20-hours of listening
  • Touch controls
  • Water-Resistant
  • Active EQ
  • Metal band headphones

Cons

  • Bit bulky
  • Touch control can be sensitive

Our Rating:

9.5 / 10

Extremely light and comfortable, with a 20-hour battery and impressive noise cancellation.


 

Other Models by Bose: Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II and Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Canceling, with Alexa Smart Control

 

#4 – Audio-Technica ATH M50X BT

If you are looking for a pair of headphones for a reasonable price then these Audio -Technica ATH M50X BT’s could be for you. Delivery great performance for a sensible price point.

Audio-Technica ATHM50XBT Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones, Black

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Noise Canceling: No
  • Charging: USB Charging
  • Mic and Controls: Touch controls
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black/Blue/Gun Metal/White/Black-Purple
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 10.9 oz
  • Battery time: 40 hours
  • Price: Under $200 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

A great pair of headphones that have swiveling earcups that make these more portable. The well-padded headband with a metal frame makes these both sturdy and comfortable. They come with a pouch that will protect them from the rain and a detachable audio cable and a USB charging cable. Overall the audio clarity is good, you cannot customize it. These cans produce a very bright sound with emphasis on the bass. It takes around 5-7 hours to re-juice, but you can use them whilst they are charging which overcomes this a little.

Final Verdict

A reliable brand that has produced a really good pair of wireless headphones at a great price point. They don’t have noise cancellation but have pretty good noise isolation with the big over-ear design.

Pros

  • 15 – 28,000 Hz frequency response
  • 45mm neodymium drivers
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Touch controls
  • Access smart controls like Sri or Google Assistant
  • Well padded headband
  • Swivel earcup design

Cons

  • Takes a while to recharge
  • Earpads are a little thin

Our Rating:

9.7 / 10

Best budget headphones, comfortable, decent sound isolation, with excellent 40-hour battery life and accurate bass response.


 

Other Models by Audio-Technica: Audio-Technica ATH-M50XWH Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

 

#5- Beats Solo3

Beats are one of those brands that are best known for being youthful and fashionable. If you are style-conscious, then these could be the headphones for you.

Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, black

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Type: On-Ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Noise Canceling: No
  • Charging: USB
  • Mic and Controls: Integrated mic
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black/Red/Silver/Club Navy/Club Red/Club White/Club Yellow/Rose Gold/Satin Gold
  • Waterproof:
  • Weight: 1.45 lbs
  • Battery time: 40 hours
  • Price: Under $200 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

The color variations on these headphones are excellent, earcups that pivot and are fully adjustable making the comfort level amazing. These come with a soft case and a USB charging cable but no other cables. There is a bit of over-emphasis on the bass and it can at times make the vocals sound pushed to the back. One of the best features about this headphone is the 5mins of charging which gets you 3 hours playback and with up to 40 hours on a full charge, you can enjoy any album over and over again.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for something that focuses on style, enables you to listen to your rock musicians of choice all day long without having to charge your headphones, then these cans could be the ones for you.

Pros

  • 40 hours of listening time
  • Adjustable headband and comfortable and cushioned ear cups
  • 3 hours of music playback for just 5 mins of charging
  • Compatible with IOS and Android
  • Wireless connectivity technology
  • Apple W1 chip
  • Multiple different color variations

Cons

  • Noise isolation isn’t great

Our Rating:

9.7 / 10

Outstanding battery time, durability, and premium design.


 

Other Models by Beats: Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones and Beats by Dr. Dre – Solo Pro Matte Collection headphones

 

#6 – Beyerdynamic Dt 770 Pro

Beyerdynamic is one of the best-known brands in audio equipment and this studio headphone produces an incredibly balanced and well-rounded sound.

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in Gray

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: No
  • Noise Canceling: No
  • Charging: No Battery
  • Mic and Controls: No
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black/Gray
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 9.5 oz
  • Battery time: No – Wired connection
  • Price: Under $200 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

The design is what you would expect from a studio headphone, the leather-padded headband and thick ear pads mean listening for hours is a pleasure. They come with a bag to carry them in and an attached 3m cable. There are 3 different impedance rating choices, 32 ohms, 80 ohms, and 250 ohms meaning you can select which type you want. The audio quality is one of the features that set these apart, with a mid-range as close to perfect as we have heard. These are well-balanced and brilliant for metalheads and rockers alike.

Final Verdict

The closed-back design creates a comfortable and great-sounding headphone and is perfect for anyone who is a fan of music due to its neutral sound. A no-nonsense headphone for those that put the audio experience above all other features.

Pros

  • Replaceable pads for ear cups and headband
  • 3-meter long cable
  • Steel headband
  • Selection of 32 ohms, 80 ohms and 250 ohm
  • Gold plated adapter
  • Solid design

Cons

  • Cables are not detachable

Our Rating:

9.7 / 10

Amazingly comfortable, durable and the clarity of sound with these is perfect for all music genres.


 

Other Models by Beyerdynamic : Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro and Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

 

#7 – Philips SHP9500

These are the best headphones if you are on a tight budget. The open-back design adds to the sound and the musical experience.

Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: No
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Open-back
  • Wireless: No
  • Noise Canceling: No
  • Charging: No
  • Mic and Controls: No
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Battery time: No – Wired
  • Price: Under $100 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

These open-back design, over-ear headphones are made from some really premium materials for a reasonable price range. They have a removable cable and gold-plated adapters, but these do not come with any case so are not the most portable. With a wide frequency range of 12-35,000 Hz these sit perfectly in the range you want them to and are low impedance headphones with 32 ohms meaning you don’t need an amp.

Final Verdict

The Phillips model gives us a high-end design at a low-end price, which still sounds great. One of the best, cheap studio over-ear headphones around.

Pros

  • 50mm neodymium drivers
  • Frequency response of 12-35,000Hz
  • Cushioned headband and breathable ear cushion
  • Removable cable
  • Large ear pads
  • Crisp and clear sound

Cons

  • Sound isolation isn’t great
  • Quite bulky

Our Rating:

9.6 / 10

A budget headphone, with excellent acoustics and high comfort construction.


 

Other Models by Philips: New Philips SHP9600 Wired, Over-Ear, Headphones, and Philips Audio SHP9600MB Wired Headphones

 

#8 – Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9

Part of the appeal of these has to be the Bang & Olufsen brand they are one of those headphone manufacturers that everyone knows and they come packed with plenty of high-tech details.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 headphones, black

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Noise Canceling: Yes
  • Charging: USB Charging
  • Mic and Controls: Touch-sensitive control system and integrated mic
  • Transducer: Dynamic
  • Colors: Black
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 10.4 oz
  • Battery time: 25 hours
  • Price: Under $450 although prices vary on Amazon (buy link) – Checked June 8, 2021

Our take:

With plenty of technology like; ambient noise-canceling, touch controls alongside the pairing connectivity of up to 4 devices, this headphone is packed full of characteristics that are sure to make you smile. Made from metal, memory foam, and leather, the material used is exactly what you would expect from this company. The durability of these has to be factored in as it only comes with a soft bag, which is a little disappointing for the price. They do, however, come with an audio cable, airline adapter, and charging cable, which is one of the advantages. The sound produced is a bit bass-heavy and at times the mids and highs sound a little muffled and pulled back, but you do have EQ to smooth that out.

Final Verdict

The price tag might be one of the reasons that put you off and there are lots of other products with similar functionality available. Whilst these have a decent sound I would opt for a similar spec from a different company to get more value for money.

Pros

  • Ambient noise control
  • 25-hour playback
  • Touch interface
  • Customized listening modes
  • Wired back-up
  • Listen whilst charging
  • 10-meter range

Cons

  • Sound leaks at higher volume

Our Rating:

9.2 / 10

Durable, high comfort levels, full of design details, but a bit on the pricey side.


 

Other Models by Bang & Olufsen: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i and Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H4 2nd Generation

 

Considerations choosing the best headphones for rock and metal music

Whether it is classic rock or heavy metal music you are listening to there are some common considerations when picking headphones or the best earbuds for metal. Firstly, make sure you choose the right ones for you and we have recommended the features to look out for depending on your needs. Because the best headphones for heavy metal are different from folk music or classic rock!

Battery Life

If it is a wireless headset you want then you will need a charge that will last for those longer music sessions. Be careful though as some batteries have long playback but can take ages to charge. There are great design features on some that allow fast-charging functionality or that you can wear whilst on a charge so it’s worthwhile looking out for that.

Active Noise Cancellation

If you plan to use your rock earphones to listen to your music you will want some form of noise cancellation. The best headphones for classic rock should be noise-canceling headphones that will reduce the amount of background noise you hear meaning you won’t have to crank up the volume as much protecting your ears, although those heavy metal listeners may still blast the volume regardless.

Microphone

Unless you also want to use your headphones for phone calls or gaming then a mic isn’t really necessary. If you do want something for versatile use then depending on the headphone type, microphones come either integrated or with boom mics that can be detachable. With a microphone, it is also important to reduce background noise so worth looking for that as well.

Cabled Backup

You will get the best of both worlds if you go for something that comes with cables but can be used without. It’s particularly good if you want to use them with multiple different devices. You will also get the freedom of good wireless headphones when you need them.

Comfortable Fit

A bit of a no-brainer really, one thing you definitely don’t want is a sore head and uncomfortable ears, so picking a pair of headphones with comfort in mind is key. Many manufacturers offer similar qualities with padded ear cushions and padding around the head, just make sure that it’s made from good materials.

Sound Quality

This feels like it would be the most important thing when picking the right headphone for you. If your sole reason is to listen to music then you want them to sound great. Look for something that produces a neutral tone and allows the vocals and guitars to come through and not be drowned by the bass. You can also use the option of being able to customize the sound yourself which is always really good and available in some of the reviewed headphones above.

Water Resistance

If you are planning on using the headphone outside then you should look for either a water-resistant one or at least one with a case that is made out of water-resistant material. Luckily there are a few good waterproof headphones for metal.

Build Quality

With all the best metal headphones you will want them to feature a durable and sturdy construction but still be light and comfortable. Materials such as aluminum in headbands are a good decision as they are strong but still very light. It is also worth looking to see what type of case comes with them as that will help keep them safe when on the move.

All Metal Headphones FAQs

What is the best headphone for metal music?

With Metal and Rock genres being quite similar any of the reviewed headphones above would be good, however, the best headphones for metal are the V-Moda Crossfade m-100. Other balanced headphones are the Sennheiser HD, but no matter what kind of music is your favorite, Death Metal, Doom Metal or Nu Metal your headphones for metal music need to allow the intensity of the genre to shine.

Rose Annemarie
Rose loves to review products and has been doing so for years. Now she focuses on headphones and tech products.

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