There’s a lot of crossover between the best headphones for digital piano and those that excel for general audio work. In order to reproduce the most favored qualities of a top-notch digital piano, players are encouraged to use dependable headphones with superior sound.
Why All Digital Piano Players Should Use Quality Headphones
Digital pianos have a few major advantages over a traditional acoustic piano. For one, they’re much smaller, lighter, and less expensive than an acoustic piano. Digital pianos don’t have to be tuned, so their sound is always reliable and consistent. And perhaps best of all, players can practice silently at any and all hours thanks to built-in headphone outputs. That way there’s no chance of disturbing your family, roommates, or neighbors — musicians often hold odd hours, and silent practice is a distinguishing factor when it comes to digital pianos.
- SEE ALSO: 16 Best Piano VST Plugins [Free & Paid]
- SEE ALSO: Yamaha P45 vs P125 | Which Keyboard Is Better for Your Studio?
When you’re stealthily upping your chops, you want to use a quality pair of headphones. If your piano sounds amazing in your ears, it’s an inspiring experience. Inspiration tends to lead to immersion, bettering the chances of having a productive playing session rather than a disappointing one. For that, you’d want many of the same qualities that set apart headphones that are good for recording, mixing, and critical listening.
What to Look for in Digital Piano Headphones
There are several key components that many of the best headphones for digital pianos share. The first is a natural frequency response so that the instrument sounds like itself coming into your ears. The second — because digital pianos replicate the natural stereo image of a real-life piano — is a wide stereo image to capture the same feel of playing an acoustic instrument. Third is isolation from the outside environment, to not only keep the volume down, but to also keep your sessions free from distractions.
And finally, comfort is definitely going to be high on the list of important factors. The more comfortable the headphones, the less you’ll know they’re even there.
Open vs Closed Back Headphones: Which Is Better?
Open headphones generally sound a bit better overall due to how the open driver interacts with the cups and the outside air. They also have the most natural stereo image because of crosstalk between both sides of the headphones. Open headphones are also breathable and therefore quite comfortable; the biggest drawback is the lack of isolation, so they’re not ideal for everyone.
Closed headphones keep a lot of sound from bleeding in or out of the cans at the cost of slightly reduced sound quality. The biggest issue is bass reproduction, because low frequencies build up inside the closed drivers/cups and become unnaturally enhanced. Unfortunately closed headphones are not as breathable as open ones, though that lends itself to their greatest advantage: isolation.
Wireless vs Wired Headphones
The audio world is still heavily tethered. It’s just the nature of the equipment we use. Wireless headphones tend to be consumer-oriented, so wireless support for audio equipment and instruments, including digital pianos, is limited at best. While it’s possible to get wireless headphones with their own 1/4″ transmitter, you’re probably better off just getting a traditional pair of wired headphones. Save yourself from dying batteries and possible interference.
The 7 Best Headphones for Digital Piano Players in 2023
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x headphones are a longstanding favorite. These closed headphones have an ultra-wide 15 Hz to 24 kHz frequency response tuned for flatness across the entire spectrum. They’re collapsible and easy to store or take on the go, and they’re also incredibly lightweight and comfortable. The ATH-M40x headphones are affordable and reliable.
The Sennheiser HD series has a wide range of offerings at different price levels and of varying designs. HD280 Pros are on the affordable end, though they still boast the same accuracy and reliability as the higher-end headphones. These in particular are closed back for isolation, and they’re more comfortable than most so you won’t feel fatigued during long practice sessions.
Have you ever seen a broadcast studio in the world that doesn’t use Sony MDR-7506s? Me neither — they’re that popular. Not just for broadcast, however, the Sonys are ubiquitous in recording studios for their dependability, sound quality, isolation, and comfort. These are simply an ultra reliable pair of headphones that are great for digital piano, recording, mixing, or whatever you throw their way.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense pair of practice headphones to use with your digital piano, these Yamahas might be just the thing you’re after. The HPH-50Bs are designed for simplicity and optimum sound on a shoestring. Though you won’t find any fancy features, these are workhorse headphones which would be great for late-night piano practice.
The Hi-X line over at Austrian Audio revolutionizes sound delivery in headphones using a proprietary high-excursion driver for superior performance. They’re built for the modern music producer who needs a lot of bottom end that doesn’t distort. For the digital piano player, you can hear every detail in the left hand without fear of the headphones bottoming out on the low-low notes.
Yamaha’s RH1C portable headphones are actually purpose-built for keyboard/digital piano practice. They’re super lightweight and inexpensive enough to not have to worry about breaking them, especially if they’re traveling with you. The RH1Cs may not win any awards, but their barebones functionality is sometimes all you need.
Tunical isn’t a household name in audio, but their headphones are pretty good for most audio tasks. Their affordability is in line with the Yamahas we’ve featured here, so you might consider these as an alternative if those pairs didn’t do anything for you. Functionally, Tunicals have virtually identical features are pricier options, so these might be just the ticket for practicing digital piano.