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The 6 Best Closed-Back Headphones - Winter 2024 Reviews

Best Closed-Back Headphones

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 noise both in and audio out of the headphones, closed-back headphones keep music close to the ear by blocking background noise and limiting audio leakage. These headphones are more versatile and better suited for commutes, outdoor strolls, and working with others around you. They also tend to have more bass than their open-back counterpart.

We've tested over 765 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones with a closed-back design to buy. For more, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best headphones.

  1. Best Closed-Back Headphones

    The Focal Stellia are the best closed-back headphones we've tested if you want to spare no expense. Their high cost hurts their appeal, but these are it if you're looking for the best. Thanks to their leather and aluminum design, these luxury cans have a build quality unmatched by others on this list. Although heavy, they're still comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

    Their warm sound adds extra boom and punch in their bass. Vocals and instruments are still clear and pleasant in mixes, although the recessed treble veils their detail. Unfortunately, they're prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery, and you'll notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or wear glasses, as this can break the seal the pads have on your head.

    However, even though the soundstage feels somewhat natural, it's still narrow, closed-off, and not very immersive. That's to be expected from closed-back headphones, though. If you want a better soundstage experience, try the Sennheiser HD 820. They're cheaper (while still being high-end) and can create a wider, out-of-head audio experience. Unfortunately, their sound profile is a bit boxier, and vocals and instruments are harsher.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones

    The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO are much cheaper than our top pick and offer better value for some people, especially if you care about a more neutral sound from your cans. They have a well-balanced sound with an exceptionally flat mid-range, so vocals and instruments are clear and accurate. Although they lack some low-bass, the rest of the bass range is fairly neutral, resulting in adequate punch and boom. Their treble response is underemphasized, hurting the detail of vocals and instruments. Their soundstage also feels closed-off and unnatural.

    These high-end headphones have excellent build quality and come with a durable carrying case that, while bulky, will help protect them when not in use. Unlike their more affordable sibling, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, they also have a detachable audio cable, so you can easily replace it if it gets damaged. Thanks to their plush ear cup padding, they're very comfortable, making them a solid choice for long listening sessions. They can also passively block out a fair amount of ambient chatter and don't leak much audio at high volumes.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones

    The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are the best closed-back headphones we've tested at a mid-range price point. While well-built and sturdy, these headphones are very tight, and users with average-to-large heads may feel a hard squeeze near their temples and around their ears. These over-ears are comfortable for those with smaller heads and offer similar performance to the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO at a reduced price point. With an analytical sound profile out of the box, vocals and lead instruments sound clear, accurate, and detailed, but a bump in the mid-treble makes sibilants like cymbals a bit sharp.

    They passively cut down a decent amount of ambient chatter around you, which is handy if you're listening in a shared space. However, their audio cable isn't detachable, so if you damage it, you'll need to replace the entire unit. If you're looking for closed-backs with detachable audio cables, it's worth checking out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. However, they don't passively block out as much background noise as the 770 PRO.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones

    The Sony MDR-7506 are some of the best studio headphones on the market, thanks to their balanced sound. They have a bump of extra bass to add thump, punch, and boom to mixes, while another peak in the treble range makes vocals and instruments bright and sparkly. They also have a very neutral and flat mid-range, so vocals and instruments are reproduced accurately. Thanks to their affordable price, it's easier to absorb the cost of several pairs if you're looking to equip your studio.

    While these retro-chic over-ears have a cheap and plasticky frame, especially compared to the sturdy Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, they're decently comfortable and have a coiled audio cable, so you don't have to worry about tangling. However, they struggle to passively block out mid-range background noise like ambient chatter, which can be troublesome if you want to listen to audio around others.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones

    Build quality tends to take a big hit at the budget price point, and the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are no exception. Their frame feels cheap, especially compared to the Sony MDR-7506. Their exposed audio cable also makes them more prone to damage over time. However, their warm sound profile is worth considering if you want audiophile-grade headphones at a more digestible price.

    Although they lack a bit of thump and rumble, their bass range has a bump in the mid to high-bass to add punch and warmth to your mix. It doesn't clutter or muddy the mid-range, so vocals and instruments remain clear, present, and detailed in your tracks. Their treble is quite recessed, and sibilants like cymbals are dull. These over-ears also struggle to block background noise, which can be frustrating when listening to audio in a moderately noisy room.

    See our review

  6. Best Wireless Closed-Back Headphones

    If you prefer a wireless design, consider the Focal Bathys Wireless. These high-end over-ears offer an audiophile experience you can take on the go thanks to handy features like noise cancelling (ANC), multi-device pairing, and a built-in mic. Since they're Bluetooth-compatible, they support aptX Adaptive, a codec designed to stream high-quality audio with low latency. Their fairly neutral sound profile also delivers satisfying thump, rumble, and boom out of the box compared to the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO's more neutral bass response. However, vocals and instruments are somewhat veiled. You can fine-tune their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.

    These comfortable cans come with a hard carrying case to protect the headphones from damage. They do a very good job of blocking background noise like the rumble of bus engines and ambient chatter. With their ANC on, they last over 29 hours continuously, so they'll last through long days without an issue. That said, their passive soundstage doesn't feel natural or immersive.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • AKG K371: The AKG K371 are comfortable audiophile headphones with a very neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for different audio content. Their passive soundstage isn't as immersive as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, and they struggle to block out as much background noise. See our review
  • Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X: The Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X are over-ear studio headphones. Their impedance is much lower than the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, meaning you won't need an amp to drive them. While their construction blocks out slightly more background noise and leaks less audio, They're more expensive than the 770 PRO, and their sound profile isn't as well-balanced. See our review
  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are well-built headphones with a balanced sound profile right out of the box. They have a spatial audio feature to help immerse you in your audio and use an H1 chip, which lets you seamlessly pair with other Apple products. However, they're not as comfortable as the Focal Bathys Wireless and don't support aptX Adaptive codec for high-quality audio streaming. See our review
  • RØDE NTH-100M: The RØDE NTH-100M are closed-backs with a detachable mic, which is handy if you want to use them for gaming or streaming. Their sound isn't as flat as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, and they don't feel as well-built. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 09, 2024: We've checked our picks for accuracy and product availability, but our recommendations haven't changed.

  2. Nov 06, 2023: We've made minor changes to the text of this article and verified that all our picks are in stock.

  3. Sep 08, 2023: Made minor updates to the text and checked that the products are in stock.

  4. Jul 13, 2023: We've added the Focal Stellia as the 'Best Closed-Back Headphones' to better reflect the higher-end price spectrum and replaced the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless with the Focal Bathys Wireless as the Focal offer a more audiophile-centric performance. We've also moved the RØDE NTH-100M to Notable Mentions since they have a mic design, but don't stand out in terms of sound.

  5. May 19, 2023: Removed the MOONDROP Aria and the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless from our picks as they don't align with user expectations for closed-back headphones. We've also added the RØDE NTH-100M as the 'Best Closed-Back Headphones With A Mic' option for users who want closed-back headphones for gaming or podcasts.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones with a closed-back design to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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).

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.