Top 5 Best Headphones for Jazz

You can grab any old pair of cans if you’re listening to bubblegum pop but that’s just not true for jazz.

You want headphones that bring out the best in what is often complex and intricate music and that means you need one of our best headphones for jazz not any old pair of headphones. 


How Did We Choose Our Best Headphones For Jazz?

There were a lot of factors that went into our decisions as we tested dozens of pairs of headphones but our main criteria for selection were:

  • Textural definition: the sound has to be well defined when listening to jazz, each note needs to feel like it flows but at the same time, it needs impact, which is why we don’t use classical music headphones for jazz.
  • Fast and substantial bass: you can’t preserve the audio signature of jazz without the bass response being lightning fast and substantive. 
  • Defined high tones: and you can’t listen to jazz if it starts to crackle or whisper either. 
  • Space: each instrument needs auditory space to shine with jazz, it’s an ensemble sure, but the woodwind should sound free. 
  • Design: open-backed or closed-backed? They can both do well though an open-back gives a larger soundstage, the closed-back is often more comfortable for day-to-day use.

Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone

You might have expected us to go with the cutting-edge of headphone design but these classic jazz headphones may be a decade old but they’re still the jazz audiophile’s first choice. 

OK, they’re not as pretty to look at as some headphones of today but the large, oval ear pieces are super comfy to wear and the sound is incredible. 

When you listen to jazz on these headphones you’re struck by the textural range and the meaty bass. The treble definition is first rate too and it’s never too bright. 

PROS

1. Almost no harmonic distortion on the low end
2. The mid tones are among the richest you can get from headphones
3. They’re easily among the most comfortable headphones to wear ever made

CONS

1. The design’s not the freshest and they could be prettier
2. They need an amp if you want sound everywhere, so don’t use them with a phone
3. The joints on the headphones can be a little creaky at first


Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones

If you want a super reasonably priced option for your jazz headphones, then look no further than this excellent offering from Phillips Audio.

They do a great job of producing high-resolution audio and it sounds exactly the way it was meant to do when it was laid down. We loved how crisp the sound was with these.

Our only real complaint was that they’re quite bulky even for open-backed headphones and you might find that they sit a bit heavily after a long period of listening. 

PROS

1. The drivers are very high-powered and reproduce sound brilliantly
2. They are very comfortable when worn for short periods of time
3. Very well built and should last for a long time

CONS

1. They’re quite bulky and may be tiring to wear over longer periods of time
2. The accessories they supply with them aren’t very well made
3. The pads cannot be removed or swapped out 


Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7GM SonicPro Over-Ear High-Resolution Audio Headphones

The thing that struck us most about the Audio-Technica headphones was the incredible level of detail that they’re capable of rendering. 

The closed-back design is very comfortable and it makes them very much suitable for all-day listening and they have a classic look to them as well as being very well built. 

You’ll need a good output source though to enjoy the best hi-fidelity reproduction that these cans can deliver. The soundstage is amazing given that these are closed-back. 

PROS

1. The mid tones are very detailed and airy
2. The design is gorgeous and you won’t be sorry to rock them in public
3. They fold flat for easy storage, ideal for taking to the office, for example

CONS

1. The bass could be a bit meatier but it’s more than good enough
2. The noise cancellation function isn’t brilliant
3. May need an amp if you want to reach maximum volume


SENNHEISER HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone

Sennheiser really do know what a jazz fan wants from their headphones and the HD 660 S are an excellent choice for a discerning audiophile with a large headphones budget.

The coils and diaphragms are made out of a stainless steel fabric that reduces distortion while allowing free movement and this provides a very low level of harmonic distortion.

They’ve got a nice modern design but, we found that they clamp really tight to your head and that they could become uncomfortable after long periods of listening. 

PROS

1. Really nice modern design that catches the eye
2. Plenty of different cable options included in the packaging
3. The padding on the cups is really heavy duty

CONS

1. They can get a bit uncomfortable due to tight clamping to the head
2. They don’t feel as premium in the hand as they perhaps should at this price point
3. You need an amp to get the best sound out of them


Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium Edition 250 Ohm Over-Ear-Stereo Headphones

One thing you need to be careful of if you opt for the Beyerdynamic headphones is that you’re buying the right ones, there are so many variations of the DT880 that it can drive you crazy.

In our opinion, these 250 Ohm over-ear headphones are the best choice for jazz listeners. They have a very premium feel and the aluminum backplates look amazing.

They sound as good as they look too and there’s a real luxurious, lush tone to the music as it moves through, however, they do tend to let in ambient noise which can be a bit of a pain.
 
You also can’t use them with a portable music source as they have a very high impedance and will require an amp. 

PROS

1. The instrumentation timbre is out of this world
2. They don’t leak sound as the open-backed design often does with other brands
3. They’re very comfortable and you can get a range of solid accessories for them

CONS

1. The cord supplied is very long and it won’t detach
2. They’re great for jazz but their sound for gaming is not good
3. Not as comfortable as a closed-back headphones


Final Notes

If you love jazz, you’ll find that any of these headphones truly enhances your listening experience, why not pick up a pair today and see for yourself? 

If you’re looking for a more general purpose headphone why not check out our favorite bone conduction headphones?

And if you want to make some noise without cans, then check out Audioengine or our best bookshelf speakers

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