In many of our headphone reviews, we like to talk about how particular sound signatures benefit different genres. Metal and Rock are both diverse musical genres whose sonic profile can be greatly aided by the right set of headphones. Where to start though? With this article, we’ll cover everything from Bluetooth to open-back headphones. Here is a list of headphones I think have a sound signature that performs the best for Metal and Rock.
Starting with the Bluetooth variety, most would probably point to Sony’s 1000X series, and they wouldn’t be wrong. While a headphone like the XM5 can boast some solid boom for metal and rock, the Momentum 4 delivers a similar response with better resolution. On the Momentum, the bass and low mids are a lot more focused and better balanced. The frequency contents are cleaner and are less boomy while still maintaining a tight grip on the texture of the lows. Distorted guitars are thick and meaty, giving you a body of tone that enriches the track rather than muddies it.
There are some similarities shared between the Momentum 4 and PX7 S2. They both share a well-formed and clear bass while showcasing more theatrical qualities too. I like the PX7 S2, particularly for its awesome punch. Hardcore and Post-Hardcore bands faired the best here. If you want some kick drums pounding inside your head but also want to hear separation and clear vocals, the PX7 S2 is one of the best Bluetooth headphones to pick up.
At an affordable price, the SV021 is a great closed-back headphone to have for daily use. They also have a nice sound profile for metal and rock. While its timbre might not be as aggressive, the SV021 houses a great soundstage with a sub-bass lift. It is great for droning electric guitars from the likes of Sleep or Electric Wizard. There is also a slight sibilance in vocals that is good for the right performance, but screams might be a bit harsh.
If you’re looking for something with more force, the Sundara Closed-Back will give you what you need. This is also the most recently released headphone to appear on this list, and its sound profile is the freshest in my head. This is also the first headphone on this lift I would suggest using some kind of dedicated DAC/Amp with. It can be easily driven but in order to do the sound justice, you may want to put some more gain on these headphones. The power it can reproduce is very gripping. Everything appears full and articulately layered too. Ambient metal and post-rock selections work fantastically here, with bands like Svalbard and Planning For Burial as great examples.
I included the 99 Classics, particularly for its focus on warmth and vocals. Guitars and drums will perform well, but if you want to really concentrate on passionate voices, then the 99 Classics are one of the best headphones for that. Everything from shrieking screams from Bring Me The Horizon, to the ethereal, reflective vocals of Esbern And The Witch, are presented intimately with transparency.
A bulkier option than the rest, but that is the way with Audeze. In terms of sound though, the LCD 2 Closed-Back is great for metal and rock. It excels at providing you with clarity and power to pump out an intense punch. You’ll always get a sense of momentum to the sound signature that pairs great when your music starts to speed up. It is like the LCD 2 is properly keeping up with everything you put through it. This results in more transparency for bass, drums, guitars, and vocals, which are given equal amounts of fidelity.
I’ve listened to a lot of Beyerdynamic headphones, and their most recently released open-back headphone ended up reproducing a more ideal tone for metal and rock. This isn’t the widest open-back sound signature, but it sure is one of the most precise. Reference headphones usually make good headphones for any genre, but for metal music, the 900x offers a bit more color to sweeten the sound. Lows are tight but more impactful than other open-backs from Beyerdynamic. It better emphasizes the body of the instruments, leading to more lift in the response. This benefits metal and rock by presenting the bass as equal to the mids and highs, while also accentuating the grip of these performances.
These are the only on-ear headphones you’ll see on this list. Out of every pair of headphones from Grado’s library, the Hemp stands out as the one with the best tendencies for the genre. Every part of the Hemp’s timbre is loud and aggressive, and with its open-back principle, the sound has enough room to play. There’s an enveloping growl to the Hemp that delivers the perfect timbre for screams and wailing guitars.
I see some mention the HD 650 when recommending headphones for metal, and they’re a great option. However, I have come to prefer the sound signature of the 660s more for a few reasons. The midrange on the 660s is more solidified, which shapes the tone better for heavier music in general. There is a more significant boom to the 660s that better highlights the scale of the track.
Basically, if you like the sound signature of the closed-back version, then the open version is totally up your alley too. With this version of the LCD 2, you get all the intensity of the closed, but with an extended scope. The instruments and vocals are even bigger, and the soundstage is wider and more dimensional. If you’re looking to be fully immersed in the mayhem, then the LCD 2 open-ba