Headbanger's Haven: Headphones for Alternative, Metal & Rock and Roll

Read Time: Approx. 8 min.

Experience the Raw Energy for your Favorite Bands, up Close and Personal

I wanna rock 'n' roll all night...and party every day!! Alternative, rock, and metal, while all three very different genres bear the same musical traits of electric guitars, electric bass, percussion, keyboards, and of course, vocals. Vocals and lyrics play a huge role in rock, alternative, and metal, be they screaming vocals or more soulful or fun-sounding lyrics. 

The popular musical genre rock got its start in the 1950s with the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly, to name a few. Rock's roots lie in rhythm and blues, and country, with elements of gospel, jazz, and more. Over time, rock and roll has evolved into dozens of styles and subgenres with those like AC/DC whose vibe is more 'punk meets rock'.

For audiophiles who love rock and roll, alternative, and heavy metal, we like headphones with a dynamic, lively sound fast enough to match aggressive and high-energy music. A 'faster' headphone will generally be more detailed and have tighter, quicker bass. You want a headphone that will bring out the best in your favorite singer's voice and won't let it get lost amid the instrumentation. When your headphones are well-matched to your music it makes for a better listening experience.

With these guidelines in mind, we've curated a list of what we consider our best headphones for rock music, alternative, and heavy metal. If you're looking for the best headphones for rock, alternative, and metal under $1,000, you've got some great options. If you're looking to spend a little more for a set of headphones, we've recommended a few headphones for under $2000. Finally, you'll see some "cream of the crop" high-end reference headphones over $2,000.


Are open-back or closed-back headphones better for rock and metal genres?

Typically, open-back headphones have an airy, natural sound quality and a wider sense of presentation than closed-back headphones. Open-back headphones also sound dynamic and lively and are faster, making them a good match for aggressive and high-energy music like rock and metal. 

Do I need headphones with a wide soundstage for a more immersive rock and metal listening experience?

Headphones with a wide soundstage can enhance the listening experience by providing a more immersive and spacious feel. You'll be able to perceive the different instruments and vocals as if they are positioned in a three-dimensional space. Ultimately, the importance of a wide soundstage may vary depending on the specific subgenre of rock or metal music.

The Best Headphones for Alternative, Metal & Rock and Roll Music

Under $1000

Meze 99 Classics Headphones

The majority of us use the Meze Audio 99 Classics as our daily drivers here at the office, and the price point makes it that much sweeter to get this level of fidelity. Meze Audio makes some of the best headphones around, and their sound quality and overall craftsmanship stretch from their highest flagship-level cans all the way down to the entry-level models too. The styling is sexy, with metals and woods creating a timeless-looking headphone. The dynamic drivers are incredibly efficient on the 99 Classics—fun and energetic sounding, putting you in the middle with the close, but not too close, soundstage. It'll do alternative, rock, and metal justice. Fit is great— the headphone is lightweight and the wide headband and moderate clamping force make it an easy adjustment to get the right spot. They're an all-around great pair of headphones that deliver audiophile-grade sound at an affordable price point.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: No options for this headphone

Meze 99 Classics Review

Grado Hemp Headphones

The Grado Hemp Headphones deliver a surprisingly mellow listening experience, all jokes aside. The Grado Hemp headphones are a slow burn, getting better with each listen and the warm tonality of these cans makes it perfect for Grateful Dead, Phish, alternative bands, and the like. The sound is up close and personal with nice energy and depth that puts you at the forefront of the performance. Vocals in metal tracks are sharpened and vibrant with enough room for instruments to exist without competing with one another for space. If you're looking for a headphone that's mellow-sounding with enough vibrancy for energetic tracks, choose the Grado Hemp Headphones.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: No options for this headphone

Grado Hemp Review

Focal Bathys Headphones

The Focal Bathys Wireless Headphones are perfect for audiophiles wanting both portability and high-quality sound. Equipped with active noise cancellation you can leave the outside world behind and get lost in your favorite tunes, or opt for a wired listening experience using the single-entry headphone jack. Focal makes some breathtakingly beautiful headphones that sound just as good, if not better than they look. The Bathys boasts Focal's audiophile sound with a great soundstage, tight and thumpy bass response, and clear, detailed mids and highs. What makes the Bathys stand out however is the USB-DAC mode which can offer up to 24-bit, 192 resolution thanks to the integrated DAC and amplifier. It's a well-rounded headphone with enough energy to handle metal and rock genres while detailed enough to emphasize the acoustic guitar string plucking in alternative music. For the price, you get a headphone that sounds great with every genre out there, and tons of features like ANC and app integration, making it the top choice for a versatile headphone worth every penny!

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Bronze Dragon Portable Headphone Cable will add musicality with a bit of warmth to the Bathys

Focal Bathys Review

Grado RS1x Headphones

The Grado RS1X is a trifecta of sweet looking woods. They combine Maple, Hemp, and Cocobolo into an amazing-looking ear cup, and along with the RS2X of the Reference Series, provide some nice warm tones for your music too. The RS1X uses the newer X series driver, which is a larger 50mm driver that’s tuned specifically for the tri-wood RS1X. It’s great for a lot of genres, specifically rock and folk, and the tone is even good for heavier music like metal and grunge. The wood adds a nice body to the mids that help guitars sound chunky and rich. Like the rest of the X series revamps, you’ll get some new sturdier cables and headband padding, and those changes alone go a long way to enhancing the comfort of a great-sounding headphone. We’ll have more Grado’s coming up, but the RS1X is the top of the Reference Series line by Grado. And yes, it sounds just as good as it looks.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: No option for Grado Headphones

Under $2000

Audeze LCD-X Headphones

The Audeze LCD-X Headphones are the most neutral of all the LCD collection, and is popular among audiophiles, studio engineers, and musicians. It’s clear and accurate, and we’d classify it as forward with some great top-end resolution. It’s going to be great for rock, metal, and anything with a lot of energy. The open-back design of the LCD-X has a wonderful soundstage, giving ample space for the performance. Imaging is also great, which is partly why it's so popular with mixing engineers. We recommend pairing the LCD-X with our Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable to add warmth and musicality to the sound. The drivers are incredibly efficient—you can plug them into your phone and they’ll work just fine, but you’ll get much better performance hooking them up to an amp.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable will tame high-end energy and add warmth to the low end

Focal Clear MG Headphones

The Clear MG Headphones from Focal makes some awesome improvements over the original Clear, making it Focal’s premiere mid-tier headphone for audiophiles. It sounds just as good as it looks too - it’s like they took a bronzer to the original Clear - the browns and coppers with silver accents just look awesome. The big deal here is the new M shaped magnesium dome, it really improves the dynamics and balance. Details are nice, and it's just an overall solid reference signature. It’s gonna be great for blues, country, and folk in particular. We like to pair our Silver Dragon headphone cable as well for added detail and tightening up the low end. The Clear MG is one of our favorite Focal headphones here at Moon Audio and we use it as a staple for many of our testing sessions. It’s tried and true great sound and comfort, and we’d be doing you a disservice by not recommending it for anyone looking for one of the most premium headphones in this price range.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Silver Dragon Premium headphone cable will add top-end sizzle while enhancing detail retrieval.

Focal Clear MG Review

HiFiMan HE1000se Headphones

The HiFiMan HE1000SE is an open-back planar magnetic headphone with a very detailed and dynamic sound. It’s on the analytical side, but it’s more natural than clinical-sounding. HE1000 series headphones have one of the largest planar diaphragms made. This gives them the ability to provide subharmonic low frequencies better than any other headphones, in our opinion. You’re not going to get big, bloated bass, but you’ll hear subharmonic frequencies that most headphones can't pick up. The HE1000SE has a huge soundstage and the open-back design suits aggressive genres like rock and metal. It’s a very comfortable headphone, with larger, teardrop-shaped ear cups; a wide, perforated leather head strap; and a headband designed for stability and durability.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable will warm the middle and low frequencies for a fuller sound

Reference Listening

Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 Headphones

The Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 is an open-back planar magnetic headphone with a smooth, neutral-warm sound. The gorgeous, handcrafted design is available in five colors, utilizing materials such as wood, rocks, and gems. This is a heavier headphone, weighing around 550g to 615g, depending on the materials used in your chosen design. Rosson Audio Design was started by the co-founder of Audeze, so some of the Audeze sound comes through here. The RAD-0 has the warmth and musicality of the LCD-4 and the top-end resolution of the LCD-X. They've got a great reference sound while maintaining a warm and smooth low-mid and mid-section. The low-end isn't boomy but there's some nice tight bass extending to lower frequencies. If you’re a fan of the LCD-4 reference style but want a little more warmth, then the RAD-0 headphones from Rosson might be the perfect fit for you.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Silver Dragon Premium Headphone Cable will bring out detail in the midrange and upper frequencies

RAD-0 Headphones Review

Audeze LCD-5 Headphones

The Audeze LCD-5 may be a lower weight than its predecessor siblings, but it's made serious gains in resolution and clarity. If you enjoy the clean, tight bass and distortion-free sound of a planar magnetic headphone, AND you want great soundstage and imaging plus lots of detail and nuance, the LCD-5 is a gem. Instrument separation is top-notch, making this headphone great for listening to more complex music where you really want to hear all of the individual sounds that comprise the whole, such as classical and jazz. The top end on the LCD-5 has some sizzle; upper mids are on the forward side; and bass is tight, punchy, and well extended. This headphone is a looker, too, with a sleek black carbon fiber headband, black perforated head strap, and tortoiseshell finish on the rings.

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium headphone cable will smooth the prominent top end without sacrificing detail.

Audeze LCD-5 Review

HiFiMan SUSVARA Headphones

The HiFiMan SUSVARA planar magnetic headphone is a power-hungry open-back pair of cans with a neutral yet musical and exciting sound. Pop these on your head and you can’t help but smile. Your music is going to sound bold, expressive, and impactful. Detail and instrument separation are top-notch. The bass is deep, textured, and well-controlled. Mids are rich and realistic, and highs are non-fatiguing but plenty sparkly. The SUSVARA is a power hog, so you won't drive it using portable gear. You’re going to need an ample desktop amplifier or DAC. The SUSVARA weighs just under a pound, and it’s a larger headphone, with big ear cups. The metal and wood design echoes the sound signature: natural and exciting. 

Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium headphone cable will balance the more prominent mids and highs with some bottom-end warmth and weight

HiFiMan SUSVARA Review

Our favorite Alternative, Rock, and Metal albums

bon iver album cover

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

in these silent days brandi carlile album cover

In These Silent Days

Brandi Carlile

exuvium crywolf album cover

Wildflowers & All the Rest

Tom Petty

atropos periphery album cover



Moon Audio Qobuz Playlist

Dragon Audio Cables

When you're investing in a pair of audiophile headphones you want your listening experience to be enjoyable—from the moment you put on your headphones, plug in the headphone jack, and turn up the volume. Every link in your signal chain is important and a poorly constructed headphone cable can be what stands between you and exceptional sound.

Now, not every audio cable is poorly constructed, but sometimes stock audio cables are treated as an afterthought by manufacturers. While stock cables are designed to be functional, a custom audio cable elevates your headphone experience by providing superior sound quality, durability, and customization options, making it a worthwhile investment for any discerning music lover.

Our HiFi Audio Dragon Cables bring out more of what you love in your music and audio gear. We craft our cables using only the purest and best raw materials to unveil your music. We know that every listener hears differently so we've created three Dragon Audio Cable lines each with their own unique sound signatures that will tailor your listening experience to your preferences. We may recommend a Silver Dragon headphone cable as the ideal pairing for your headphones, but it's only a recommendation! Ultimately, they're your cans, so if you're a warm and musical listener through and through, the Black Dragon headphone cable might be a better fit for you.

If you love your headphones but wish they had a bit more top-end sparkle - a Silver Dragon Headphone Cable would be a great option. If your USB cables keep dying - as many stock cables do - then check out our quality USB Audio Cables. We say time and time again that materials matter, and our audio cables and custom geometries actually help to bring out those desired properties in your gear and music. We make tons of custom options for our customers so that you can get the right HiFi Audio cable for your exact needs. If you have any questions feel free to Contact Us and we'll be more than happy to help.

Moon Audio Silver Dragon Logo

Silver Dragon

Clear | Detailed

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Silver Conductors
  • Available in standard & premium
Moon Audio Black Dragon Logo

Black Dragon

Warm | Musical

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Pure Copper Conductors with 7N Purity
  • Available in standard & premium
Moon Audio Blue Dragon Logo

Blue Dragon

Neutral | Uncolored

  • 4 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Pure Copper Conductors with 7N Purity
  • Available in standard & premium
Moon Audio Bronze Dragon Logo

Bronze Dragon

Musical | Inviting

  • 8 x 99.99998% UP-OCC Stranded Copper Conductors
  • Available in portable headphone cable
Generally, stock audio cables are manufactured with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose. Inconsistency and lack of quality control in stock cables can lead to poor sound quality and a veiled sound vs. what the musician intended for you to hear and feel from the music. Dragon Audio Cables are handcrafted with the highest standards and made to order according to your specific needs. At Moon Audio, we create a custom cable for you using the highest quality UP-OCC silver or copper conductors that can be manufactured. UP-OCC metals are void of impurities and are optimized for signal transfer and sound quality. We have one of the largest collections of audio and headphone connection options available online and we create limitless audio cable options depending on your specific gear and needs.

Why Dragon Cables?
You’ve heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, right? Well, the same applies to your brand new audiophile-grade headphone or other audio components. The weakest link, in this case, is your stock audio cable or the cheap interconnects the manufacturer threw in the box just to get you up and running. Why is the audio cable always an afterthought, when it’s just as important as the rest of your system? At Moon Audio, we use the purest and best raw materials in our cables to unveil your music. We believe that materials matter and your audio cables should have the same care and craftsmanship that manufacturers put into their audio components and headphones. Audio cables are ultimately the connection to your music. The fact remains that cabling is often considered the last priority to that of the main product and a means to cut down the overall production costs. It’s as simple as that. Dragon Cables elevate every note - as if you were hearing your favorite music for the very time. 

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