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.
We've tested over 680 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones with a closed-back design to buy. See also our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are the best closed-back headphones we've tested. These Bluetooth-enabled over-ears have a sturdy-feeling plastic construction and a comfortable fit, with ample padding and a lightweight design. They also supply upwards of 37 hours of continuous playback time on a single charge, which should be more than enough for a couple of days. They have a highly effective active noise cancelling (ANC) system that filters out a remarkable amount of ambient noise, from the low rumble of bus and plane engines to the high-pitched hum of an AC unit, not to mention background chatter from people nearby.
They have a bass-heavy default sound profile, which should please fans of EDM or hip-hop but can also muddy vocals and lead instruments. The Sony|Headphones Connect app also features a couple of EQ presets and a graphic EQ to fine-tune your listening experience. They have a comfortable fit, but if comfort is a top priority, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless. They're lighter and clamp onto your head less tightly, which helps make them more comfortable for most people. While they perform similarly overall, they aren't as well-built and don't block out quite as much noise.
The best headphones with a closed-back design under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. These budget-friendly headphones have a sturdy-feeling plastic design. Their ANC feature can isolate you from a broad range of noise, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines and higher-pitched noise like ambient chatter or a humming computer fan. They have a comfortable fit, although the headband padding is a bit thin, which you may find uncomfortable over long periods. These headphones also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected to your phone and computer at once.
Their v-shaped sound packs a lot of extra rumble and punch in the bass range, which makes them well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. Vocals and lead instruments are present, clear, and sparkly. If you prefer a different sound, it can also be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app. If you prefer headphones that have a more neutral sound profile out of the box, the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless are a good alternative. Their ANC doesn't block out as much noise, and they have a shorter continuous battery life, but they have a much more neutral default sound profile and a similarly comfortable, well-built design.
The best closed-back audiophile headphones we've tested are the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. These headphones have a comfortable fit and a very neutral sound profile well-suited for different audio content. Vocals and lead instruments sound clear, accurate, and detailed, while a bump in the mid-treble makes sibilants like cymbals bright, which is good if you prefer a more analytical sound to pick out imperfections in your mixes. They have a wide passive soundstage, and your audio seems like it's coming from speakers placed in the room around you rather than from inside your head.
They don't block out as much background noise as other closed-back headphones on this list, and they bleed some audio at high levels. They can still cut down a decent amount of ambient chatter around you, which is handy if you're listening to audio in a shared space. They also have a great build quality and feel sturdy and dense. However, their audio cable isn't detachable, so if you damage it, you'll need to replace the entire unit.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the best closed-back studio headphones that we've tested. While both have a closed-back design, these leak much less audio than our audiophile pick, which is helpful if you're using them in a shared space. They're also comfortable, with a well-padded headband and swiveling ear cups. They feel impressively well-built, especially considering their fairly affordable price. Their audio cable is detachable, and they come with three different cables to choose from, including a 10-foot coiled cable that gives you plenty of room to move around.
They have a neutral sound profile with an accurate bass response and vocals and lead instruments that sound present and clear. Their treble accuracy is also very good, although sibilants like cymbals lack a little bit of brightness. Unfortunately, their passive soundstage isn't as immersive as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. Like most closed-back headphones, it doesn't seem very spacious, and their sound seems to come from inside your head instead of speakers in the room around you.
The MOONDROP Aria are the best closed-back in-ear monitors that we've tested. These in-ear headphones have a well-balanced sound profile with a bit of extra boom in the bass range. While sibilants like cymbals can sound dull, instruments and lead vocals are present and clear. However, because of their in-ear design, they have a less immersive passive soundstage than the over-ear options on this list. The soundstage seems small, and their sound seems to come from inside your head.
On the plus side, their in-ear fit helps block ambient sound like background chatter. They're also well-built and comfortable, as they don't put much pressure on your inner ear once you find a good fit with the selection of differently-sized tips. Unfortunately, some users have reported that the cable is prone to fraying or curling up. That said, it's detachable, so you can replace it without buying new headphones if it's damaged.
Jul 18, 2022: Added the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x as the 'Best Studio Closed-Back Headphones', the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless as the 'Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $100', and the MOONDROP Aria as the 'Best Closed-Βack In-Ear Monitors'.
Apr 25, 2022: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Feb 24, 2022: Replaced the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x with the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO as the Beyerdynamic have a more neutral sound profile. Moved the Audio-Technica to Notable Mentions.
Dec 21, 2021: Replaced the Razer Opus Wireless with the AKG N700NC M2 Wireless as the 'Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200' because the variant of the Razer we tested is no longer available.
Oct 28, 2021: Checked out picks for product availability and accuracy. However, there hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphone 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.