Closed-back headphones 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 151 closed-back headphones and below are our recommendations for the best ones to buy in the spring of 2018.
The best closed-back headphones we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're super comfortable and easy-to-use Bluetooth headphones with one of the best noise-cancellation on the market.
They're a slight upgrade to Bose QuietComfort 35 with more control over their noise cancellation feature and a dedicated button to trigger Google Assistant. They have a decent battery life and a well-balanced sound and they're versatile enough for most environments and use cases.
If you like to customize and EQ your headphones to match your mood, then get the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless instead. They won't be as comfortable as the Bose QC35 II and their noise canceling is not as strong as the Sony WH-1000XM2. On the other hand, they have an excellent companion app that allows you to control more options and settings than both the Sony and the Bose. They're a lightweight wireless noise-canceling headset with great battery life and range and a comfortable over-ear fit. They have a well-balanced sound that you can customize and multiple connection options, so you can use them with most of your devices and even your console controllers. They will also provide audio and mic support via their USB cable when connecting to your PC. They're stable enough for sports and are a great headphone overall for most use cases.
If you like noise cancelling over-ears like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000xm2 but find them a bit too expensive, then get the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 instead. They offer the best value for their mid-range price although they will not be the most isolating headphones since their noise canceling is not as good as the Bose or the Sonys. They also do not come with a very customizable app.
On the upside, what they lack in isolation they more than make up for with their exciting bass-rich sound, excellent wireless range and battery life and an ergonomic and easy-to-use design that's well built and durable. They even support aptx-LL (a low latency codec) which makes them more suitable than most of the headphones on this list for watching movies as long as you have the right transmitter dongle.
If you're looking for a mid-range option that delivers great value for your money, then you can't go wrong with Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2.
If you need a more portable design than the over-ears on this list, the Samsung Gear IconX will be the best option for your money. They only isolate passively so they won't be as good as the Bose QC35 II in loud environments. They also won't have the battery life or range of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and won't be as easy to use. On the upside, they're a decently affordable truly wireless in-ear with a lot of features. They have a decent sound quality, a customizable app that offers great health tracking features and a compact and stable design that you can use for running and will easily fit into most pockets. They also have up to 4 gigs of onboard storage so you do not have to carry your phone around to listen to your tunes if you don't want to. This makes them a great option for sports but they're also a versatile option for most uses cases if you want to go truly wireless.
If sound quality is what matters most for you and you also want a pair of audiophile-level headphones that you can also use outdoors, then get the Audio-Technica M50x. They won't have the convenient range of the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. They also do worse in loud environments since they are not noise-canceling headphones. On the upside, they have a well-balanced sound that packs a good and exciting bass, a well-balanced mid-range and a good reproduction of the higher frequencies that's not too sharp or recessed. They also have a durable build quality that will last you years of regular use, and they're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions. They're one of the better options if you're looking for a headphone for just listening to music, but they also have the benefit of a closed-back design so you can use them outside with your phone.
If you want a budget wireless headset, then the Skullcandy Grind are one of the best options we've tested so far below $50. They do not have active noise cancelling so they won't be the best option for very noisy environments and commutes. They also have an on-ear design that doesn't fold and isn't as portable as most on-ear headphones.
On the upside, they are a lot more comfortable than most of the on-ear headsets we've reviewed. They also have a well-balanced sound that caters well to most genres and a good build quality that feels sturdy and durable especially at their price range. They have an easy-to-use control scheme and design.
The Skullcandy grind are a good choice if you're looking for a budget wireless headset and like on-ears. The Bluedio T4 and Cowin E7 are noise canceling headphones that will provide a bit more isolation for your noisy commutes but will not be as comfortable or as portable.
If you do not mind wired gaming headsets to use with your console controllers and for gaming on PC, then get the Logitech G433. They're not wireless like the Skullcandy Grind so their range is limited to their relatively short audio cables. On the upside, they are gaming headphones with a casual design that you can use outside. They're lightweight and comfortable over-ears that come with a couple of accessories including replaceable ear cup pads and an excellent, detachable boom mic that's great for multiplayer games. Better yet, they have a well-balanced audio reproduction that sounds surprisingly neutral for their price range, so they will cater well to all genres and games. You can also slightly tweak their sound profile thanks to the Logitech gaming software on PC. The HyperX Cloud II and Cloud Alpha are better built and more comfortable alternatives to the G433, but they do not benefit from a customizable app and their sound quality is not as well-balanced.
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.