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  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Best Headphones
    1. Alternative
  4. Best Mid-Range
    1. Alternative
  5. Best Budget
    1. Alternative
  6. All Reviews
  7. Q&A
Updated

The 7 Best Closed-Back Headphones - Winter 2018
Reviews

Best Closed Back Headphones

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 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.

So far, we've tested 132 closed-back headphones and below are our recommendations for the best ones to buy this fall.

Best Closed-Back Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.4
Mixed 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.
Score components:
7.7
Critical 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:
7.7
Commute/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.
Score components:
7.1
Sports/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.
Score components:
7.7
Office
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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.
Score components:
6.1
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.8
Gaming
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Score components:

The best closed-back headphones we've reviewed are the Bose QuietComfort 35. The closed-back design and excellent noise canceling blocks 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 and more comfortable than the Sony WH-1000XM2

See our review

Travel-Friendly Alternative: Bose QuietControl 30

The Bose QuietControl 30 are a more travel-friendly alternative to the QuietComfort 35. They provide almost the same amount of isolation and a decently well-balanced sound in a compact, around the neck design that you can keep on you at all times. The earbuds are also very comfortable, unlike some in-ears.

The neckband style may not be for everyone but the QC 30 are well-rounded headphones that are great for most use cases, even sports. 

See our review

Gaming and home theater alternative: SteelSeries Arctis 7

If you use your headphones mostly at home rather than outdoors, then the SteelSeries Arctis  7 will be a better option than the Bose QuietComfort 35. They have a durable and comfortable design and a low latency wireless connection that's suitable for gaming and watching movies. 

They even come with a regular audio cable, so you can use them wired, which makes them more versatile than the Astro A50 or the Logitech G533. Unfortunately, they do not have any wireless options with mobile devices so they won't be as convenient as the QC35 more casual uses.

See our review

Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.3
Mixed 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.
Score components:
7.7
Critical 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:
7.4
Commute/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.
Score components:
7.1
Sports/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.
Score components:
7.5
Office
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.
Score components:
6.2
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.9
Gaming
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Score components:

For a mid-range option, we recommend the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. Like the Bose QuietComfort 35, they're versatile wireless headphones that fair well for most use cases but at much lower price.

Unfortunately, they don't isolate as well as the QC 35, the Sony WH-1000XM2 or the JBL Everest Elite 700 but they have a much greater wireless range and support both aptX and aptx-LL, making them more suitable for watching movies and gaming provided you have the right Bluetooth dongle. They also do not leak much and they have an exciting sound that caters well to fans of bass. 

See our review

More Portable Alternative: Jaybird X3

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, whereas 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.

See our review

Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones: Skullcandy Grind

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.5
Mixed 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.
Score components:
7.2
Critical 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:
6.2
Commute/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.
Score components:
6.8
Sports/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.
Score components:
6.6
Office
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.
Score components:
5.8
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.5
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:

The best budget, closed-back headphones are the Skullcandy Grind. They're surprisingly comfortable for an on-ear design and sound better than most wireless headphones in their price range. They have a sturdy build quality, they're easy-to-use and have a decent battery life.

Unfortunately, they're not as portable as some of the other on-ears and won't be the best to use in loud environments. If you want a cheap noise canceling headset, then go for the Cowin E7 instead, they just won't sound as good or be as durable as the Skullcandy Grind.

Also if you don' need all the fancy active features, then Logitech G430 are a great alternative that will work with your phone. They come with a good gaming software when connected to your PC. However, they won't be as convenient as the wireless designs.

See our review

Cheaper Alternative: Samsung Level U Pro

If you’re looking for a cheaper pair of 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're not the most sturdy headphones and will not be as durable or as portable as the 1More Triple drivers, which have a better sound but a wired design that's not as convenient. However, the Samsung Level U Pro have a decent battery life and do not leak much, which make them a good option for the office. 

See our review

 Notable Mentions

  • Sony WH-1000XM2. Great closed-back headphones and a good alternative to the Bose QC 35. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550. Sleek and feature packed wireless headphones. Good alternative to the Bose QC35 but don't isolate as much. See our review
  • JBL Everest Elite 700. Great sounding closed headphones with good noise isolation. Bulky design and slightly uncomfortable. See our review
  • Sony MDR-1A. A comfortable and well-built headphone with a good sound for critical listening. A bit pricey for what they have to offer. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Closed back headphones with a comfortable and durable design. Excellent sound but a bit leaky at higher volumes. 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 Samsung Level U Pro. See our review
  • Beats BeatsX. Closed-back in-ears with a sleek design and easy to use. Limited for Android users.  See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless. Above-average overall performance and a decently well-balanced sound. A more stylish alternative to the QC35 and WH-1000XM2 but do not isolate as well. See our review
  • Cowin E7. Well rounded budget headphones with decent noise cancellation. A good alternative to the Skullcandy Grind. See our review
  • Astro A50. A premium gaming headset with a lot of features and an excellent sound quality. Not as versatile as the SteelSeries Arctis 7. See our review
  • Logitech G533.  An affordable gaming headset with a good overall performance and a well-balanced sound but can only be used with the USB dongle which is not compatible with all devices. 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).

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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