The 7 Best Closed Back Headphones
- Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
- Retest after major updates
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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.
Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones: Skullcandy Grind
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.
Better-Sounding Alternative: Logitech G433
If you don't need all the fancy active features of the Skullcandy Grind, then the Logitech G430 are a great alternative that will work with your phone. This affordable and versatile gaming headset has a great sound quality for gaming and critical listening. These headphones have a surprisingly well-balanced sound that is on par, if not better, than headphones two to three times their price range. They're comfortable, decently lightweight and moderately breathable with extra earcup pads in the box. They also come with a boom microphone for gaming and voice chat, which makes them versatile enough for most use cases.
They're a great choice if you want a well-rounded headphone to use with multiple devices and they sound good enough to be the best budget choice for critical listening if you do not care as much about soundstage. However, they're not as feature-packed as some of the other wireless noise-canceling headphones on this list like the Bose or Plantronics, but they deliver a solid experience with a satisfying sound at a fraction of the price.
Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
The best mid-range closed-back headphones are the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. Like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, they're versatile wireless headphones that fare well for most use cases.
They don't isolate as well as the QC 35 II, 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're also well built and easy to use headphones with an exciting sound that packs a lot of bass without sounding muddy or cluttered. If you want a good mid-range wireless over-ear then the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 should be your first choice.
More Portable Alternative: Samsung Gear IconX
If you need a more portable design, get the Samsung Gear Iconx instead. They're compact, truly wireless earbuds, with a great charging case that will easily fit into your pockets so you can have them on you at all times.
They're decently affordable for their sound quality and set of features, and have a customizable app that offers great health tracking for sports use. This also makes them a great option for running and working out since they're stable and do not hinder your movements during more strenuous physical exercises at the gym. They're one of the better options if you want to go truly wireless but they're a bit limited to Android devices, so if your an iOS user, the BeatsX, the Jaybird X3 or the Jaybird Run would be a better option.
Critical listening alternative: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
If you want a pair of audiophile headphones that you can also use outdoors, then the closed-back Audio-Technica M50x are a good choice. They deliver an excellent sound quality that packs a lot of bass without drowning instruments and vocals, which makes them a great option for casual and critical listeners alike.
They're straightforward studio headphones so they're very easy to use and their closed-back design means they don't leak as much as some of the other critical listening models. They have a durable build quality and a decently comfortable over-ear fit. However, they won't be as versatile as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 or the Samsung Gear Icon X for commuting since they have no control options and they're a bit too bulky for sports.
Best Closed-Back Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
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 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. Overall, they're a slightly better option than the Sony WH-1000XM2 for casual everyday use, although the Sonys have a bit more customization options and a superior companion app.
Alternative for More Customization Options: Sony WH-1000XM2
If you like to customize and EQ your headphones to match your mood and still need great noise canceling for commuting, then go for the Sony WH-1000XM2 instead. Their adaptive noise-canceling slightly outperforms that of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and they come with a more customizable app.
They also offer a few improvements over the MDR-1000X, like a more consistent sound profile, softer pads, and the app support that provides an equalizer, codec selection and noise cancelling enhancing features. Unfortunately, even with the softer pads, they are not as comfortable as the QC35 II and they sound a bit worse out-of-the-box. On the upside, they have a more premium build quality that feels closer to their price range than that of the Bose.
- SteelSeries Arctis 7. A great gaming and home theater alternative to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM2. Durable and comfortable design with a low latency wireless connection. See our review
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Sleek and feature packed wireless headphones. Good alternative to the Bose QC35 II 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 II and WH-1000XM2 but do not isolate as well. 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
- Beoplay E8. Decent truly wireless earbuds with a great isolation performance but the Samsung Gear IconX offer a similar if not better performance for much cheaper. See our review
- Marshall MID ANC. A versatile and good sounding on-ear with a great design. But a mediocre noise isolation performance. 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.
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