Best Earbuds For Classical Music {From Budget to Audiophile} Reviews

classical musicAlthough audiophiles probably already know this, casual music listeners might not be aware of the effects of great sound quality when it comes to listening to classical music. The difference between a top pair of headphones and a lower end set might be the difference between fining a song amazingly good or simply dry and barren.

However, hi-fi headphones and earbuds can be a luxury that many people can not afford or simply too expensive a purchase to justify so we’ve researched everything from the most affordable options to the very high end models tocome up with our top picks for each price range below.

If you’re looking for a quick recommendation: for overall value at a reasonable price that most consumers are willing to invest in a pair of earbuds: these FiiO F9 earbuds take first place on our list. 

Whether you listen to symphony, orchestra or concerto music, you want your earbuds to be true to the quality sound that classical music deserves. Listening to Bach, Mozart or Beethoven through expensive audiophile headphones can really be a treat but not everyone wants to spend a ton of money. 

In fact, having a set of headphones capable of allowing you to properly distinguish between instruments and sounds is just as crucial for classical music as it is for modern electronic music. So here’s our list for 2018: 

Our Top Earbud Picks for Classical Music:

  1. FiiO F9: Best Overall Value

FiiO F9 Best Over the Ear Headphones/Earphones/Earbuds Detachable Cable Design Triple Driver Hybrid In-Ear Monitors with Android Compatible Mic and Remote (Black) The FiiO F9 utilizes a single 9.2mm dynamic driver and excels in delivering a balanced audio quality. It also incorporates the dual balanced armature design which helps it produce excellent low to mid-range as well as the upper mid to high-range frequencies.

The F9 also follows its predecessors with its detachable cable feature. Users get to select between 2.5mm and 3.5mm cables. The F9’s outer shell is made from durable and lightweight CNC aluminum. You will notice that the earpiece features a unique water ripple design which is a nice touch.

The dynamic driver installed in the F9 drops the titanium build in favor of a semi-crystalline polyether ketone (PEK) is a top of the line industrial grade plastic material that is durable and lighter than titanium-based drivers. It can also easily produce rapid beats compared to other dynamic drivers.

The performance, sound-wise, perfectly fits with the orchestral music. The vocals are noticeably more prominent and the treble response is fantastically eloquent through and through. The mid-bass range is also delivering a pleasant surprise, for a hybrid IEM headphone, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

The F9 manages to produce natural sounding bass as well. It does prefer to avoid producing that excessively deep and bone-rattling bass which is fine considering we are looking for headphones designed to optimize classical music listening experience.

The mids is where the F9 excels with its effortless ability to deliver precision. Percussion instruments are delivered with much gusto which should enhance the classical music. Overall, the FiiO F9 does an excellent job at a reasonable price. For a triple hybrid dynamic driver to cost at this price is rare.

Key Features:

  • Hybrid triple driver: One 9.2 dynamic driver plus two BA drivers.
  • Hi-res Audio Certified.
  • Detachable cables (2.5mm and 3.5mm).

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9/10
  • Bass: 7.5/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 8/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 8/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

The FiiO F9 is great for music lovers who enjoy good sweeping orchestral soundtracks. For a top-notch triple hybrid driver at this price, it is as good a deal as you can get.

Pros:

  • Produces excellent mid-range frequency.
  • Natural sounding and well-balanced.
  • Reasonable price for a premium earphone.

Cons:

  • Treble peaks are slightly underwhelming.

  1.       RHA T20i: Best Affordable Sound Quality

RHA T20i (Gen. 2): HiFi Noise Isolating Stainless Steel in-Ear Headphones with Remote & Mic The RHA T20i takes a different approach when it comes to optimizing performance which makes it quite a versatile little headphone. The overall design of the T20i takes a huge step forward compared to its predecessor. For example, the ear hooks come with a memory wire that significantly enhances the comfort of wearing this type of headphone.

The outer casing is made from an anodized aluminum material, and yes, it comes in black. All black, to be precise. The memory wire feature on the ear hooks basically hugs your ears without it feeling too tight. Since this is an over the ear headphone, you might be worried about cable noise. No worries as RHA includes a shirt clip to keep cable noise to a minimum.

The T20i is designed for iOS devices, if you are an Android user you might not be able to bring out the T20i’s full potential.

The sound quality of the T20i is quite impressive, as expected from a headphone in this price range. Bass powerful yet precise, think of it as ‘controlled frenzy’. The mids have a steady flow to it and the highs are bright and clear.

While the bass is impressive, don’t expect it to deliver teeth-rattling experience. However, if you prefer listening to classical orchestral music, the T20i manages to produce naturally sounding audio to complement this genre.

The T20i also has a nifty feature called the reference filter. You can shift between bass and high filter depending on the music you are listening to.

The bass filter is somewhat underwhelming but using the high filter manages to boost the sparkle with high range frequencies without compromising the integrity of the mids and bass. If you want to boost the treble of a certain track, switch to the high filter.

Key Features:

  • High accuracy, high-resolution DualCoil Dynamic Driver.
  • Audio tuning filters to optimize listening experience.
  • Made from 303F Stainless steel ergonomic casing.
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9.5/10
  • Bass: 7/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 8.5/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9.5/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

The excellent RHA T20i is a great choice for those who enjoy listening to warm tonal and well-balanced audio.

The reference filter manages to boost the performance of this headphone without adding to the price.

Pros:

  • Customizable audio quality.
  • Memory wire ear hooks offer amazing comfort.
  • High quality build.
  • Excellent mids and highs.

Cons:

  • Slight cable noise.
  • Not made for Android devices.

  1.       Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2

The Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 keeps the signature loop design of previous models which is good news since this design offers great flexibility. If you are familiar with the original C5 series then you know how good its sound quality is. Well, the C5 Series 2 manages to produce an even better-quality sound than that.

Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 In-Ear Headphones, Secure Fit, Black All aspects have been enhanced, from the midrange to the deep bass, the C5 Series 2 pulls out all the stops to delivers their finest headphone yet. The bass quality is considerably more fluent which allows you to savor every deep beat.

However, where the C5 Series 2 truly excels is with listening to live recordings such as orchestras and acoustic performances. The C5 Series 2 manages to replicate the experience of being right there in the middle of this sweeping musical number. A sure treat for people who want to enjoy classical music to their fullest without needing to attend an actual concert.

The C5 Series 2 features a semi-open design for its dynamic driver housing. This allows the C5 Series to produce a more extended sound which helps add to that feeling of being in a concert hall. One of the most common issues with semi-open headphones is that music tends to leak out.

The good news here is the C5 Series 2 manages to dampen this problem. Plus, using the right tip will further improve noise isolation.

The sound quality of the C5 Series has always been full of life and bright, Series 2 maintains this tradition and improves upon it as well. With all the praise the C5 Series 2 gets, it does have its shortcomings. For example, audiophiles might consider the sound quality a bit over the top. While extremely enjoyable to listen to, it falls short if you are looking for accuracy.

The bass is deep but lacks focus. There are times when the bass seems too bloated and smothers everything else. Fortunately, this problem did not reach the point where the audio will start to sound muffled. The B&W C5 Series 2 delivers as a hyperactive headphone but falters for those who prefer accuracy over-enthusiasm.

Key Features:

  • Semi-open design for an expanded audio listening experience.
  • Signature secure loop design.
  • Rich audio quality.
  • 2-year limited warranty.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9.5/10
  • Bass: 7/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 8/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

Another excellent choice for people who prefer listening to live performances and orchestra. The expanded audio quality helps give you that sensation of being in the middle of a performance in the opera house.

Pros:

  • Lively and energetic sound.
  • Top of the line build and quality.
  • Expansive audio experience.

Cons:

  • Bass lacks some control.

  1.       Bose QuietComfort 20: Best Noise Cancelling

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, Apple Devices, Black I think you will have an idea as to what the Bose QuietComfort 20 offers based on that name alone. The Bose QC20 is well-designed and focuses on delivering optimum comfort on your ears. The lightweight construction and the handy zippered cloth case are great for those who love to travel and listen to their favorite music.

As stated earlier, the Bose QC20 uses a highly comfortable design that requires you to simply rest the earpiece on your ear rather than jamming it inside which can be quite uncomfortable for some people. The QC20 also features active noise-canceling technology which helps keep your focus on enjoying your music even when listening to high noise traffic areas.

This is a wireless earphone and utilizes a lithium-ion battery which is located in the controls attached to the cord. As for battery life, Bose markets it as delivering up to 16-hours of continuous use.  The good news is that the QC20 can still operate even if the battery dies, of course, you won’t be able to use the noise-canceling feature. Nevertheless, this is a nice backup feature to have.

What you need to realize with ANC (active noise canceling) headphones is that whenever you use that feature you can expect the sound quality to dip somewhat. ANC headphones are basically not designed for audiophiles but for those who tend to travel outdoors a lot. So sound accuracy is not that impressive in the QC20.

Keep this in mind if you are planning on buying the Bose QC20. It does manage to produce a relatively well-balanced sound quality. But nothing to celebrate about. Is it a recommendable earphone for people who enjoy listening to classical music? Yes, to a degree.

If you travel a lot then the QC20 is one of the best ANC headphones available out there today. If you mostly stay at home, look for something else.

Key Features:

  • Active Noise-Cancelling Feature.
  • Aware mode automatically lowers volume with a touch of a button for when you need to hear your surroundings.
  • Premium build.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 7/10
  • Bass: 7/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9.5/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9.5/10
  • Battery Life: 8/10
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

Due to the overall sound quality the QC20 delivers, I wouldn’t recommend it for audiophiles. However, if you enjoy listening to music while on the go, it does a pretty good job of delivering decent quality music within noisy environments.

Pros:

  • Amazing noise-canceling technology.
  • Aware mode feature is extremely helpful when you are outdoors.
  • Can operate passively.
  • Good audio quality for an ANC headphone.

Cons:

  • Quite expensive.
  • The battery housing is a bit bulky.

  1.       Etymotic Research ER4P-T: Quality Sound

Etymotic Research ER4P-T microPro Precision Matched In-Ear Earphones The Etymotic Research ER4P-T headphones get my respect for focusing on performance and practicality rather than eye-catching aesthetic designs that won’t factor into its performance at the end of the day. The housing of the ERPT-4 is durable plastic that is also lightweight. No frills, no bells, and whistles. The downside here is that wearing this headphone can cause some issues for some users.

The earbuds have a rather large appearance which makes it stick out more compared to other earphones. This can be an issue as moving around with the ER4P-T causes it to slowly slide out.

You can use the shirt clip to prevent it from slipping out but you would expect a headphone with this price tag would not have basic problems like this.

If you can look past that little issue with the design then you will find yourself with a high-quality headphone. The sound quality offered by the ER4P-T is as solid as they come. It features single, well-balanced armature dynamic drivers which is one of the most precise drivers you will find today.

The ER4P-T shines when it comes to delivering highly accurate sounds right to your eardrums. What it lacks in finesse with its design, it more than makes up for with its performance.

This headphone delivers bright sounds by reducing the bass power to compensate and balance the treble and mids.

When it comes to mid-range production, the ER4P-T passes with flying colors. Its ability to produce accurate and full sounding audio goes well with classical and orchestral soundtracks. Overall, the Etymotic Research ER4P-T manages to deliver a solid sound quality with its high accuracy at the expense of lower bass power.

Key Features:

  • Balanced armature drivers.
  • Braided cables.
  • Highly accurate sound quality.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9.5/10
  • Bass: 7.5/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 7/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 6.5/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

The high-quality drivers of the ER4P-T headphones make it an ideal choice for audiophiles. If you can look past the awkward design of the earpiece, then this headphone is one that offers some of the best quality audio experience, accuracy-wise.

Pros:

  • Expansive and highly precise sound quality.
  • Perfect for listening to classical music.
  • Solid noise isolation.

Cons:

  • Awkward fit for some.
  • Bass is subpar.

High-End Audiophile Picks

  1.       Shure SE846-CL Earphones

Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and True Subwoofer Shure is one of the most well-known and reputable names when it comes to audio equipment.

The Shure SE846-CL comes with a staggeringly high price tag but it earns every penny with its overall performance and quality.

The SE846-CL utilizes a total of four balanced armature drivers and works alongside the twin bass drivers to deliver optimum audio performance.

The twin bass drivers have a special tuning system which allows it to properly extend down to the low-end frequency spectrum without affecting the quality of the mid and high ranges.

The  SE846-CL also features filters that help the listener adjust the balance to their liking. The SE864-CL can even compete with a dedicated stereo system in terms of sound quality. That is an achievement a handful of headphones can claim.

But if you wish to truly grasp what these earbuds are capable of, simply play some classical music from Beethoven or Mozart. The complex nuance of each tone is fully realized in this powerful headphone. If you have the cash and want the best earphone for classical music, the SE846-CL is one of the best that money can buy.

Key Features:

  • Quad Hi-def Microdrives.
  • Reference filters for full sound quality customization.
  • High-quality and premium build.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9.5/10
  • Bass: 9.5/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 8/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9.5/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

Do you want the best headphone for all types of music? Do you have the cash? Then the Shure SE846-CL is waiting for you.

Pros:

  • Top of the line dynamic drivers.
  • Balanced and clear.
  • Audio accuracy is on point.
  • Durable build.

Cons:

  • Aesthetically, it is not as impressive in appearance as you would expect in regards to its price.
  1.       Westone W60

Westone W60 Six-Driver True-Fit Earphones with MMCX Audio Cable and 3 Button MFi Cable with Microphone When it comes to presentation, the Westone W60 definitely feels like a high-end headphone. This headphone comes in a cool looking magnetic lock box. Checking the overall feel and build of the W60 makes it easy to see why it has the extremely high price tag attached to it.

This is a premium headphone – with a price tag to match. Of course, it may look the part but what is important is the performance. So how does the Westone W60 stack up?

The W60 comes with an interchangeable cable that uses the MMCX connector. This makes it compatible with almost any type of cable you can find in the market. This is actually a smart choice in the part of Westone as it allows their customers more choices when replacing the cable as they did place any proprietary ownership when it comes to the cable.

Internally, the Westone W60 contains 6 dynamic drivers without making the earpiece to large. An impressive feat, to say the least. The earbuds also utilize memory wire that allows it to fit snugly over the ears without causing any strain.

As for sound quality, the W60 sounds impeccably clean and crystal clear. The tone is somewhat warm but it doesn’t really affect audio quality, all things considered.

The soundstage in the W60 is significantly larger than most headphones which are to be expected considering its price. The separation of the tones and instrument is quite impressive. You will be able to hear every beat and every distinct tonal shift in a song.

The bass feels booming and powerful. You can also use the W60 with amplifiers to further enhance an already impressive audio performance. It manages to hit all the right spots from lows to highs and does so with tact.

Key Features:

  • Utilizes 6-balanced armature dynamic drivers.
  • Ergonomic and compact design.
  • Uses MMCX cables for compatibility with different aftermarket cables.

Our Rating: 

  • Sound Quality: 9.5/10
  • Bass: 9.5/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9.5/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9.5/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

The Westone W60 is for the audiophile who only wants the best when it comes to their audio system.

Pros:

  • Smooth and balanced sound quality makes it ideal for any music genre.
  • High sensitivity rating means it will work well with low-output devices such as smartphones.
  • Sleek and ergonomic design.

Cons:

  • Falls just short of delivering extremely detailed highs.

Low Budget Picks

Wireless Earbuds by Smartomi

Completely Wireless Earbuds, SmartOmi True Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Stereo Noise Cancelling Earpieces with Mic Hands-free calls for Smartphones iPhone, Android on Driving or Sports(Black)
Sound Quality:
Although these headphones are far from perfect when it comes to connectivity, their sound quality is one thing you could very rarely complain about. They are your ideal purchase if you’d like to buy a wireless pair of top sound quality headphones.

Bass: When it comes to classical music, having a balanced bass is one of the most important features you should look for. These headphones have a bass that could easily surpass the one offered by AirPods. These are ideal to listen to most types of music, but it should get the best out of your classical playlist.

Build Quality/Design: The matte aspects of its premium design are very good looking, especially for such a non-expensive set of headphones. The rubber tips of the headphones don’t really feel that great, but they’re solid enough and should last for a long time if properly cared for.

Fit/Comfort: They are very comfortable to the ear and they fit very well in most ear canals, even in the smaller ones. They also come with interchangeable ear pieces, which come in very handy!

Connectivity: These headphones are compatible with almost any device within a range of 10 feet, including cellphones, tablets or even laptops.

Pros:

  • They are one of the better-sounding wireless headphones that you can get for a good price.
  • They might seem a little large at first, but they fit very well and shouldn’t fall off easily.
  • The headphones come with detailed instructions made to help out those who are new to wireless earbuds. Pairing could be difficult, but the manual definitely helps.

Cons:

  • They tend to disconnect from time to time, which could sometimes be very annoying.
  • The battery should last longer. Although it does a good job, some owners might like to use their headphones for longer periods of time.

YSM1000 by Betron

Betron YSM1000 Headphones, Earbuds, High Definition, in-ear, Noise Isolating, Heavy Deep Bass for iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3 Players, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia, HTC, etc (Without Microphone)Sound Quality: The sound quality of these earbuds is easily comparable to the one offered by over-ear headphones of even higher price ranges than the YSM1000. If you’re on a budget but you don’t want to compromise sound quality, these headphones are strongly recommended for you.

Bass: The bass is robust, not boomy and it just feels right. It’s pretty easy to know which instruments and sounds are used in most songs by wearing this pair of headphones. They are a great choice if you like to listen to classical music!

Build Quality/Design: The build is sturdy and the design looks very good. The one issue that these headphones may have is the fact that the cable isn’t made of woven cords as the images suggest, but the quality is top notch nonetheless.

Fit/Comfort: Although the headphones are pretty good overall (and even more so for their price), they don’t really feel very comfortable to the wearer. They do fit, though, but they could feel a bit too uncomfortable for some people.

Connectivity: Just like many of the headphones we’ve reviewed so far, these come with a built-in microphone and a system capable of connecting to almost any device, provided that it has an earphone jack.

Pros:

  • Amazing, well-balanced bass, which makes these headphones ideal to listen to classical music.
  • The build quality is very good, as well as the material used to manufacture them.
  • The sound quality is second to none for any headphones on this range of pricing. Crisp lows, mids and highs.

Cons:

  • Although the tips of the headphones are pretty well made, they might come off when storing them in your pockets.

ZST Pro by KZEasy KZ ZST Colorful Hybrid Banlance Armature with Dynamic In-ear Earphone 1BA+1DD Hifi Headset (colorful ZST NOMIC)

Sound Quality: The sound quality of these headphones is definitely complimented by their bass. The mids sound incredibly smoothly, and the highs aren’t going to compromise the audio quality anytime soon.

Bass: If you get your hands on the upgrade cable available for these headphones, you’re likely going to experience one of the best bass sounds for a set of regular in-ear headphones. The sounds are very smooth and the bass isn’t overcharged. The stock cable does a job as well, but we strongly suggest you to try out the upgraded model.

Build Quality/Design: The design of these headphones is likely to attract a young crowd. They are very stylish and modern-looking. Even so, the build is incredibly sturdy and should sustain regular wear-and-tear with ease.

Fit/Comfort: The ZST forte has to be the easiness with which the headphones wrap around the ears and provide a comfortable wear to the user. They fit very well and shouldn’t fall off easily. In fact, if you pull the cable too harshly, the cable is more likely to snap than the earphones are to fall off!

Technical specifications: These noise-cancelling headphones come with a 3.5mm plug, made to be attached to most modern audio devices without any trouble.

Pros:

  • Great bass balance and sound quality makes these headphones an ideal companion for any type of music aficionado.
  • Fancy design makes the product look really good without even trying it.
  • The build is very sturdy and the headphones should last for a long time.

Cons:

  • These might not fit easily inside every type of ear, though generally it shouldn’t be an issue.
  • You might need to get an upgraded cord if you want them to perform at their very best.

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