If you’ve ever used a pair of over-ear or on-ear headphones, chances are they had a closed-back design. Unlike open-back headphones, which try to create a natural listening experience by fully letting sounds both in and out of the headphones, closed-back headphones keep music to the listener by blocking out background noise coming in as well as limiting the amount of audio leakage.
Closed back headphones are the kind of headphones that have ear cups whose back have a closed or solid build, letting you enjoy premium sound isolation.
On the other hand, the plastic encasing the driver is perforated when it comes to the open-back headphones, which means your audio can be interrupted by surrounding noise.
Whether you are a frequent traveler who requires blocking out airplane noise, a musician who requires superior sound quality, or you just need a quality pair that is pocket-friendly, there are headphones for both your budget and needs. Here are a guide and a review of the best closed back headphones.
Benefits of closed back headphones
There are a plenty of benefits and disadvantages of closed-back headphones, which are important to be aware of before making a purchase decision. Here are the main benefits:
- Provides the best isolation from outside noises, making them perfect in noisy environments.
- Protects against sound leaking out and being heard by people near you.
- Produces stronger low-frequencies or bass than open headphones.
Things to Consider Choosing Closed Back Headphones
- Comfort: Not all closed-back headphones are created equally. The amount and type of padding on the ear cup varies from model to model so it is important to know what level of comfort you need for the type of listening you will be doing.
- Location: If you will be using the closed headphones when you travel you will want to find a good quality set that folds so they are easy to carry with you when traveling.
- Musical Styles: Headphones cater to specific sound types. Headphones that are excellent for classical music may not deliver the bass or lower frequencies needed for hard rock and heavy metal for example.
10 best closed back headphones of 2020:
1. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
The best closed-back headphones with a wireless connection that we’ve reviewed so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These Bluetooth over-ears are one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones we’ve ever tested thanks to their very lightweight design and well-padded ear cups and headband. They have easy to use physical controls, look and feel quite premium and durable, and have great 20-hour battery life.
Their sound profile is very well-balanced and will be well-suited for a very wide variety of genres and content. While they have a tiny bit of extra bass, it isn’t overpowering or boomy and adds a nice amount of kick to all genres.
Unfortunately, their dedicated companion app doesn’t offer any EQ presets or customization, so you can’t change the way they sound in case you prefer a more unnatural sound profile.
These headphones have an excellent active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that does an outstanding job at blocking out background chatter and the high-pitched noises of an AC unit or fan, though they aren’t as outstanding at blocking out engine rumbles.
They also support multi-device pairing so you can easily switch between your phone and a PC, making them a great choice for the office.
2. Marshall Monitor II A.N.C
When Marshall was making the Monitor II A.N.C headphones, its clear how much thought went into their design and performance. While these closed back headphones great at cancelling out the sounds around you, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
These headphones are described by Marshall as “authentic yet modern”, and we couldn’t agree more. They have the classic quality we expect from Marshall, but with a ton of high-tech features. They have 40mm drivers that produce Marshalls signature sound, and an impressive battery life.
On the side of the headphones, theres a multi-directional control knob that lets you control everything from volume, to skipping tracks, and phone functionality.
This isn’t a unique feature to Marshall, but theres another knob that allows you to shuffle between EQ presets, which is the first of its kind. This means you can change the sound profile on the go, without pulling out the app to adjust for different music styles.
The active noise cancellation is some of the best in the industry. The headphones are constantly pinpointing ambient noise so they can cancel it out so you can focus on your music.
3. Sony MDR-7506
If you don’t want to read any further and want to buy the first thing you see, then do it!
These headphones are an industry standard with many professionals. Pro mixers, recording engineers, front of house engineers, you name it.
They offer a clean, mostly uncolored sound. It’s great for listening to things without distracting frequency bumps.
The Sony MDR-7506 has great isolation for tracking. You can record vocals, acoustic guitar, woodwinds, or brass wearing these, and they won’t bleed out.
They also come with an adapter. So you can use a standard ⅛” headphone jack or a 1⁄4″ jack for pro equipment, as well as a bag to store them when moving around.
All in all, this pair of headphones balances affordability and quality really well.
4. V-MODA Crossfade Closed Back Headphones
If you are on a budget and looking for a decent pair of closed-back headphones, then this is the perfect product for you. It comes with military-level durability due to the use of STEELFLEX headband exoskeleton fitting case, and steel frame.
The product has even been tested for extreme performance, ensuring its long life span. Its audio provides you with an immersive 3D soundstage. Additionally, it comes with a dual diaphragm driver that is 50mm with a high level of accuracy.
Specifically, you can expect the high and mids to be exceptionally executed to offer an immersive experience. You can wear them for long periods without getting tired, thanks to its comfort.
The comfort is due to exotic materials, ergonomic headband, and Supple BLISS Memory Foam Cushions. Its cable has detachable engineering, which makes it practical.
5. Sennheiser HD 280
We’re going with a pair of Sennheiser’s to start our list off as the best closed-back headphones out right now. Their entire HD line of headphones are worth looking at, so we feel a bit weird just mentioning just one but we stuck with these since they’re rated so highly and are also closed-back.
With the 280’s, you get a clear, warm sound that’s flat among all frequencies. They’re also collapsible and have rotating earcups for convenience.
In terms of comfort, you’re good to go for long periods of listening and the entire build is very rugged and won’t break on you easily.
If you want a quick and simple answer for a pair of closed-back headphones to get, grab this and don’t look back.
6. Beyerdynamic Amiron
Beyerdynamic’s Amirons aren’t the kind of headphones that grab your attention on a short listen, but give them a bit of time and their impressive transparency and resolution is sure to please.
They’re comfortable too, with nicely-judged earpads and sensible weight. You’ll need a good quality source and recordings to hear them at their best though, so don’t be tempted to skimp.
With everything in place, Beyerdynamic’s Amiron headphones provide an impressive sound that takes the whole frequency range in its stride.
We like their clear midrange vocals, their tight timing, and the impressive way that they can handle challengingly messy songs. They’re hard to beat at this price.
7. Sony WH-1000XM3
If you’re looking for more customizable closed-back headphones, go for the Sony WH-1000MX3 instead. These wireless over-ears feel like premium headphones with a durable, yet stylish build and touch sensitive controls.
They’re compatible with the great Sony | Headphones Connect app which provides multiple customization options, like a graphic 5-band EQ with presets, room effects, and ANC control, all of which make them very good travel headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 have deep, heavy, and punchy bass that’s perfect for EDM genres like house or dubstep, but some may find they sound a bit warm.
However, but you can customize their sound in-app to better suit your tastes. The XM3 also have even better ANC and their outstanding noise isolation performance makes them very good travel headphones.
They have a great 27-hour battery life and a quick charge feature that gives you up to 5 hours of listening from a 10-minute charge.
8. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
The ATH-M50x is a solid over the ear headphone that is well built and sturdy. The sound quality is quite good although it does not perform at quite the same level as professional studio headphones offered at higher price points.
For a middle of the line consumer headphone it delivers better than average sound that is clear and balanced throughout the low, middle and higher frequencies.
The headband and ear cup padding is made of pleather and foam and it is pretty soft and comfortable. The headband is easy to adjust and it hugs your head.
Another nice feature is that the ear pads fold up and in so they are easier to store and to use when traveling. They also swivel 180 degrees so the ear pads lie flat when you place them on a table or if your wear them around your neck.
All in all they are a good, solid performing set of closed headphones at a reasonable mid range price point and a set should be at the top of your list for those that want good sound and good noise isolation.
9. AKG K550
AKG is an extremely popular headphone brand out there — we actually love their mics, too. This particular closed-back model is rated very highly among audiophiles.
They fold for convenience, isolate sound well and aren’t too hefty when it comes to fit or price — they usually float around the point of the M50x’s, but double-check the sites they’re selling on to make sure.
The AKG K550 are another one of the best closed-back headphones in the market, and they come in as lightweight, very comfortable, 50mm drivers (bigger isn’t always better, but it doesn’t hurt), and a very clear sound to them. These won’t disappoint either if you end up grabbing them — audiophiles love AKG for a reason.
10. BOHM Closed Back Headphones
In case you are searching for headphones that can offer top-notch performance at a budget price, this is the one for you.
It has a noise cancellation function to insulate your music and calls from the surrounding noise. You will immerse yourself in your music and calls by canceling out the surrounding noise.
Its construction has a premium feel, which is amazing considering the low price of the great headphones. You will be assured of long-lasting performance. Its Bluetooth has connectivity of up to a distance of 10 meters.
Moreover, it has a battery life of up to 16 hours when the volume is at 50 percent. It has a noise reduction of 20 decibels, and the drivers are 40mm. It has an excellent audio performance considering the small budget.
If you want to isolate yourself from the noisy outside world, closed back headphones are the best choice. Closed back headphones block every little sound coming from the world.
Closed back headphones run the market with how versatile they are and their potential to go from home to the office. Meeting all of your needs can be tricky, so figuring out what you are considering before making a choice will help out immensely.