The 5 Best Closed-Back Headphones - Winter 2021 Reviews

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Best Closed-Back Headphones
551 Headphones Tested
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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, while also limiting the amount of audio leakage. These types of headphones suit most listeners due to their versatility as they're better suited to giving you some peace while out and about, without bothering those around you. They also tend to have more bass than open-back headphones. While technically most earbud and on-ear headphones are closed-back, we'll focus on over-ear options in this article.

We've tested over 510 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best closed-back headphones to buy. See also our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best headphones.


  1. Best Wireless Closed-Back Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless

    7.4
    Mixed Usage
    6.9
    Neutral Sound
    8.1
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.8
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    7.4
    Wired Gaming
    7.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are the best closed-back headphones with a wireless connection that we've tested. They're comfortable, well-built, and have a versatile overall performance that ranks them among the best headphones we've tested. Their 37.7-hour continuous battery life is longer than the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, making them suitable for long days on the go.

    Overall, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra thump and punch to the mix. If you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. They also have an outstanding noise isolation performance, so you can enjoy your favorite tunes during your commute or while working in a noisy office without distractions.

    Unfortunately, as with many wireless headphones, they don't have the best microphone recording quality, so they may not be the ideal choice for making phone calls on-the-go. They're also a bit bulky and not quite stable enough to wear during more intense workouts. However, if you're looking for a versatile, customizable pair of closed-back headphones, they're a solid choice.

    See our review

  2. More Comfortable Alternative: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you want a really comfortable pair of closed-back headphones, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 instead. While they aren't as well-built and they don't have sound customization features like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, these over-ears are very well-padded, making them ideal for long listening sessions. Their sound profile is a bit more neutral than the Sony, but there's still a little extra emphasis in the bass range to add excitement to your music. Their ANC feature also does an incredible job blocking out background noises typically found during your commute or in a busy office. Thanks to their 20-hour continuous battery life, you can bring them on long international flights, too.

    If you want better-built, more customizable headphones, check out the Sony. However, if you prefer a more comfortable fit and a more neutral sound, consider the Bose instead.

    See our review

  3. Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200: Razer Opus Wireless

    7.6
    Mixed Usage
    7.6
    Neutral Sound
    8.2
    Commute/Travel
    7.5
    Sports/Fitness
    7.8
    Office
    5.8
    Wireless Gaming
    7.5
    Wired Gaming
    6.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best closed-back headphones under $200 that we've tested are the Razer Opus Wireless. These sleek over-ears have an excellent active noise cancelling (ANC) performance, which helps block out noise like bus or train engines as well as ambient chatter. They also have a great build quality and are comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

    Right out-of-the-box, they have a very balanced and neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for most audio content. That said, if you prefer to tweak their sound to your liking, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets. They also have a continuous battery life of over 32 hours, and they have an auto-off feature that helps conserve battery life when they're not in use. They've got good controls that are easy-to-use too, and they come with a hard case so that you can protect your headphones when on-the-go.

    Unfortunately, while their integrated microphone does an alright job of recording your voice, it struggles a lot to separate it from ambient noise around you, making them less-than-suitable for taking calls in loud or noisy environments. They also don't support multi-device pairing, so it can be a bit of a hassle if you want to quickly switch between your computer and smartphone. That said, these headphones offer a well-balanced sound and a sturdy build quality. Their ANC also outperforms most other competitors at this price point.

    See our review

  4. Best Audiophile Closed-Back Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    5.5
    Mixed Usage
    7.7
    Neutral Sound
    4.8
    Commute/Travel
    5.3
    Sports/Fitness
    5.5
    Office
    4.4
    Wireless Gaming
    6.4
    Wired Gaming
    2.1
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best closed-back headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These popular wired over-ears are very well-known amongst audio enthusiasts and sound engineers and are the best studio headphones we've tested. They're comfortable thanks to their large ear cups that easily accommodate any ear size, and they don't feel too tight on the head. They're made from dense plastic and look and feel very durable and premium, with a detachable audio cable that can easily be replaced if damaged.

    Their sound profile is expertly tuned and is well-balanced and natural, but with a tiny amount of extra kick. Their response consistency is decent, though they may need some readjusting to experience their treble response the same way every time. Their soundstage isn't nearly as open and wide as open-backs like the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, though this is expected. On the plus side, this makes them much more versatile and more suitable for use during your daily commute or in the office.

    As they're more designed for use in a studio or while at home, they lack many active features in comparison to the most popular Bluetooth options. Their audio cable doesn't feature a microphone or in-line remote, so they don't have any controls or the ability to take phone calls. On the bright side, their wired design means you don't have to worry about battery or latency issues, though you may need an adapter to use them with newer phones without a headphone jack.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless

    7.2
    Mixed Usage
    7.8
    Neutral Sound
    7.2
    Commute/Travel
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    7.1
    Office
    5.9
    Wireless Gaming
    7.5
    Wired Gaming
    6.6
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless is the best closed-back headphones at the budget-level that we've tested. They offer over 24 hours of continuous playback time, which is impressive. They also have a fairly well-balanced and neutral sound profile, which makes them suitable for a variety of audio content.

    They have thick and soft padding on the earcups and headband. Although their build can creak while you're moving them around your head, they still feel decently dense and sturdy. They can also be paired with up to two devices at a time, which is great if you like to move between your smartphone and laptop. Although their companion app doesn't offer a lot of customization features, it has two EQ presets. You can also adjust the level of active noise cancelling (ANC) to your preferences.

    Unfortunately, while their ANC does an okay overall job of isolating noise around you, it does a poor job of cutting down bass-range sound like bus or plane engines, which can be annoying during your daily commute or on long trips. Their integrated microphone also does a passable job overall, and it can struggle to capture your voice in moderately noisy environments. Still, if you're trying to keep your expenses down, they offer a balanced sound at a budget-friendly price point.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are well-built headphones with a balanced sound profile right-out-of-the-box. They use an H1 chip, which allows you to seamlessly pair with other Apple products. While their active noise cancelling feature rivals others on this list, such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they can be fatiguing to wear as they're quite heavy. Sound enhancement features are only available on iOS devices. See our review
  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless have a more premium look and build than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. Their integrated mic also does a good job of recording your voice, even in a noisy environment. That said, their sound profile isn't as well-balanced and they aren't as comfortable. While their active noise cancelling feature does a similarly outstanding job overall of cutting down ambient noise around you, it reduces slightly less bass-range noise. See our review
  • Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016: The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016 have a premium and sturdy-feeling design. However, their active noise cancelling performance falls a bit short when compared to the Razer Opus as they don't block out as much bass or mid-range noise. Their sound profile is a bit less balanced and their companion app doesn't offer any sound customizations. See our review
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless: The Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless are decently versatile wireless headphones with a fantastic active noise cancelling feature and excellent build quality. They're a viable alternative for the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless but they aren't as comfortable. Their sound profile is also more bass-heavy and muddy-sounding. Unfortunately, their companion app doesn't offer an EQ. See our review
  • Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless: The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless are decent Bluetooth over-ears with a stylish retro design. They have a well-balanced sound profile with a good amount of extra bass. Their companion app also has a parametric EQ and presets so you can customize their sound to your liking. However, while they have a great active noise cancelling feature, it doesn't cut down as much ambient noise as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Their continuous battery life is also less than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC: The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC are versatile wireless headphones with a lot of features. However, they're not as comfortable or as well-built as the Razer Opus Wireless. Unlike some of the other headphones on this list, they also lack a companion app and sound enhancement features to help customize their sound to your preferences. Their active noise cancelling feature is significantly better than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless: The Beats Studio3 Wireless are very comfortable, well-built, and stable enough for moderate exercise. They also offer a more stylish and colorful alternative to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 and Sony WH-1000XM4 since they come in several color variants. However, their active noise isolation doesn't perform as well as the Bose or Sony. Their sound profile isn't as neutral as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x either, and even though they auto-calibrate to the user and their surroundings, they can sound muddy and dull. See our review
  • Marshall MID ANC Wireless: The Marshall MID ANC Wireless are versatile on-ear headphones with a sleek retro look. They have decent battery performance and can also be used wired as they come with a coiled 1/8" TRRS cable. However, while they have a balanced sound profile, they're not as neutral-sounding as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Their active noise cancelling feature doesn't perform as well as most of the other picks on this list. However, if you're a fan of the on-ear fit, they're worth considering. See our review
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless: The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are more comfortable than the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless and have longer-lasting continuous battery life. Their active noise cancelling feature is better too and it can reduce more bass and mid-range noise around you. Although they have a much more thumpy, bass-heavy sound profile, some users may prefer this sound. That said, they don't have a companion app and lack sound customization features if you're looking for a more neutral or balanced sound. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 85h Wireless: The Jabra Elite 85h Wireless are decent Bluetooth over-ears. They have a well-balanced sound profile that's versatile enough for a variety of audio content. They also have a comfortable design and last up to 34 hours on a single charge. Their companion app also offers a graphic EQ and presets to help tweak their sound. However, their active noise cancelling feature isn't as strong as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. They also have high latency on Android, iOS, and PC. See our review

Recent Updates

01/13/2021: Added the Apple AirPods Max Wireless to Notable Mentions. The Apple AirPods Max lack the wide amount of customization features that the Sony WH-1000XM4 offer and aren't as comfortable. For many users, the Sony also provide a better price-to-performance ratio than the Apple. Replaced the Mpow H10 with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless for 'Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones'. The Mpow H10 variant that we tested has now been discontinued. It has been replaced with an upgraded variant of these headphones. We haven't tested this variant yet and can't verify whether it performs similarly to the previous generation.

11/06/2020: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Added the Bose QC35 II as 'More Comfortable Alternative'.

09/08/2020: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with the Mpow H10 Wireless for 'Best Budget' to reflect pricing changes.

07/07/2020: Changed 'Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200' recommendation to Razer Opus, moved Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Wireless to Notable Mentions.

03/09/2020: Replaced Mixcder E9 with Anker Soundcore Life Q20 and removed earbud and over-ear picks.

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 (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.

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