Closed-back headphones best suit most listeners due to their versatility. They are comfortable and offer a well-isolated listening experience in both noisy and quiet environments. Closed-back headphones have sufficient noise isolation to not let too much ambient noise seep into your audio. They also don’t leak as much as open headphones, so they’re not distracting to the people around you. Finally, 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
The best closed-back headphones we've reviewed are the Bose QuietComfort 35. The closed-back design and excellent noise canceling block a lot of ambient noise, which makes them a good recommendation if you’re a frequent flyer or commute daily via public transit. They’re also one of the most comfortable wireless, closed-back headphones we’ve tested so far. They are a little leaky at higher volumes but they’re a lot simpler to use than the Sony MDR-1000x.
If you want the best noise isolating experience and a better build quality than the Bose QC35, then get the Sony MDR-1000X. They’re not as comfortable and they struggle a bit more with the higher frequencies when connected wirelessly, but they still deliver a good audio reproduction, have a great battery life, and a better wireless connection. They cost a bit more but feel significantly more premium, which should make you feel good about your investment.
Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones
Unfortunately, they don't isolate as well as the QC 35 or the Sony MDR-1000x but they have a much greater wireless range and support both aptX and aptx-LL, making them more suitable for watching movies and gaming. They also do not leak much and they have an exciting sound that caters well to fans of bass.
If you want a more portable pair of headphones that also perform well in most use cases, then the Jaybird X3 are a good alternative to the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. They block a lot more ambient noise despite not being noise canceling headphones, and they deliver an above-average sound that will satisfy most casual listeners.
The Jaybird X2 and Freedom outperform the X3 slightly but the X2 is outdated, doesn't support the MySound app and has a limited stock available, where as the Freedom have a short battery life that requires the bulky charging clip for all day use. They're also cheaper than the Bose QuietControl 30 and more accessible to both Android and iOS users, unlike the Beats BeatsX.
Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones
If you’re looking for a pair of budget wireless headphones and find in-ears comfortable, then the Samsung Level U Pro are a good alternative to the much pricier Jaybird X3. They’re comfortable and deliver a reliable and fast wireless connection.
They also have a decent battery life and they do not leak much. This makes them more versatile than the 1More Triple Drivers, but unfortunately, they’re somewhat flimsy and don't sound as good as the 1More out of the box.
If you're looking for an, even more, budget option but still want a decently well-built pair of wired headphones, then get the 1More Piston Classic. They do not sound as good as the more premium options from 1More but they have a decent enough performance to be suitable headphones for most use cases. They're lightweight and more comfortable than typical in-ears but our unit was slightly mismatched which is not too surprising considering their price range.
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:
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Sleek and feature packed wireless headphones. Good alternative to the QC35 or MDR-1000x but don't isolate as much. See our review
- Oppo PM-3. Mobile-friendly, planar magnetic headphones. Comfortable and good sound quality. Mediocre-at-best isolation and leakage. See our review
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Comfortable and durable design. Excellent sound but a bit leaky at higher volumes. See our review
- Bose QuietControl 30. Comfortable earbud design and balanced sound. A bit pricey and the around the neck design won't be for everyone. See our review
- Samsung Level Over Wireless. Good sound and feature packed. A good substitute for the Plantronics but they're a bit bulky. See our review
- JBL Everest Elite 700. Great sounding and good noise isolation. Bulky design and slightly uncomfortable. See our review
- 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. One of the best sounding in-ear headphones. Wired and not as versatile as the Jaybird X3 or the Level U Pro. See our review
- Beats BeatsX. Sleek design and easy to use. Limited for Android users. 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 are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.