Updated

Best Closed-Back Headphones - Winter 2017
Reviews

Closed-Back Headphones are for the average listeners who want a comfortable and well-isolated listening experience in both noisy and quiet environments. This means closed-back headphones typically have sufficient noise isolation, to not let too much ambient noise seep into your audio. They don't leak as much as open headphones so they're not distracting to the people around you. Also, closed headphones cater a bit more to fans of bass. Below are our recommendations, for the best Closed-back headphones we have tested so far.

Best Closed-Back Headphones $300+

Usage Ratings
7.3Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
7.3Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.6Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.2Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.6Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
6.9Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The QuietComfort 35 are well-built and exceptionally comfortable wireless headphones. They sound great and the superb noise canceling significantly reduces the ambient noise of loud environments. However, they leak a bit, so people may hear what you're playing, at higher volumes. They're also not as sturdy as the ZIk 3.0 or the PXC 550.

See our review

Alternative

The Sennheiser PXC 550 are sleek wireless headphones with a sturdy, comfortable design. They're packed with active features and have a good, customizable sound profile to suit your listening habits. They also isolate fairly well in loud environments making them versatile headphones for most use cases. They're a bit expensive tough, but feel better built than the similarly priced QC35s.

See our review

Best Closed-Back Headphones $150 to $300

Usage Ratings
7.0Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
7.0Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.6Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.1Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.1Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.3Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Beats Studio Wireless are well-crafted, sleek-looking headphones. They're comfortable, stable and relatively compact for an over-ear model. They also have a decently well-balanced sound that has a punchy bass but still caters well to instruments and vocal-heavy tracks. Unfortunately, the noise canceling is inefficient and a little weak for noisy environments.

See our review

Alternative

The Oppo PM-3 are well-designed, mobile-friendly, planar magnetic headphones. They're comfortable and have a good, crisp sound quality. However, they're not the most versatile headphones for all use cases. They won't block the ambient noise of loud environments and they can be a little leaky at higher volumes.

See our review

Best Closed-Back Headphones $75 to $150

Usage Ratings
7.3Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.3Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.4Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.9Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.5Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.1Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Jaybird X2 are great sports headphones. They're  stable and wireless with a decent control scheme that's easy-to-use. They also and block a surprising amount of ambient noise and have an above-average audio reproduction. However, the in-ear fit is not comfortable for everyone. 

See our review

Alternative

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x deliver an outstanding, well-balanced audio reproduction for their price. Their sound quality is on par with a lot pricier headphones, however, the straightforward studio design lacks some features for everyday casual use. They won't be the best headphones to use in loud noisy environments but they're an affordable option for closed critical listening headphones.

See our review

Best Closed-Back Headphones below $30 to $75

Usage Ratings
7.0Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.9Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.2Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
6.8Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
6.7Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.7Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Panasonic RP-HC56 are decent and affordable noise canceling in-ear headphones. Their noise isolation is excellent which combined with their in-ear fit blocks a tremendous amount of ambient noise. They also have a sufficiently well-balanced sound to satisfy most casual listeners. Unfortunately, they distort audio easily at higher volumes and the in-ear fit might not be comfortable for every one.

See our review

Alternative

The Samsung Level U Pro have a stable, lightweight design and good wireless range. They also deliver an above-average sound quality and more comfortable listening experience than typical in-ear models. They're a good pair of headphones to use around the office. However, the around-the-neck deign is not for everyone and the earbud audio cables feel a little cheap and susceptible to wear and tear.

See our review

Best Closed-Back Headphones below $30 

Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.0Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.9Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.6Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.2Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.0Studio Recording
Show Help
What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The SoundPeats QY8 have an above-average audio reproduction. They're wireless and stable enough to be used while exercising. They also do a good job isolating listeners from ambient noise, although they only block noise passively. They're a great option for the gym, and they're not too pricey but can be uncomfortable for some.

See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best closed-back headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

A few examples of closed-back headphones that didn't make the cut:

  • Sony MDR-7506. Simple, straightforward studio headphones with a good sound. Not versatile and struggles in loud environments. See our review
  • Sennheiser Momentum 2.0. Wireless. The wireless version of the momentum 2.0. Good sound and decent isolation. Also very low leakage. See our review
  • Vmoda Crossfade M-100. Comfortable and durable design. Good sound but a bit leaky and poor isolation. See our review
  • B&W P5 Wireless. Great design and balanced sound. A bit pricey and the on-ear design is not always comfortable.See our review
  • Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000. Great sound but poor soundstage. A good substitute for the ATH-M50x. See our review

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for closed-back headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no perfect closed-back headphone. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.

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