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 115 closed-back headphones and below are our recommendations for the best ones to buy this fall.
Best Closed-Back Headphones
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 than the Sony WH-1000XM2.
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.
Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones
For a mid-range option, we recommend the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. Like the Bose QuietComfort 35, they are 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 or the Sony WH-1000XM2 but they have a much greater wireless range and support both aptX and aptx-LL, making them more suitable for watching movies and gaming. They also do not leak much and they have an exciting sound that caters well to fans of bass.
More Portable Alternative
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The Jaybird X2 and Freedom outperform the X3 slightly but the X2 is outdated, doesn't support the MySound app and has a limited stock available, whereas the Freedom have a short battery life that requires the bulky charging clip for all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.
Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones
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 cancelling headset, then go for the Cowin E7 instead, they just won't sound as good or be as durable as the Skullcandy Grind.
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 also have a decent battery life and they do not leak much, which makes them a more versatile option than the 1More Triple Drivers.
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Sleek and feature packed wireless headphones. Good alternative to the Bose QC35 but don't isolate as much. See our review
- Oppo PM-3. Mobile-friendly, planar magnetic headphones. Comfortable and good sound quality. Mediocre-at-best isolation and leakage. See our review
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Comfortable and durable design. Excellent sound but a bit leaky at higher volumes. See our review
- JBL Everest Elite 700. Great sounding and good noise isolation. Bulky design and slightly uncomfortable. 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. Sleek design and easy to use. Limited for Android users. See our review
- Beats Solo3 Wireless. Above-average and well-balanced sound. Compact stylish design. Doesn't block a lot of noise, tight on the head and a bit pricey. See our review
- Sennheiser HD 4.50. Versatile headphone with decent noise cancelling and sound quality. Outperformed by the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2.0 for the same price. See our review
- Cowin E7. Well rounded budget headphones with decent noise cancellation. A good alternative to the Skullcandy Grind. See our review
- Sony WH-1000XM2. Great closed-back headphones and a good alternative to the Bose QC 35. See our review
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.