Closed-back headphones suit most listeners due to their versatility. They tend to be comfortable and offer a well-isolated listening experience in both noisy and quiet environments. Closed headphones generally 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 less distracting to the people around you. Finally, closed headphones cater a bit more to fans of bass.
So far, we've tested 357 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best closed-back headphones to buy in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones.
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 active noise cancelling (ANC) features we’ve seen so far. They're a slight upgrade over the Bose QuietComfort 35 with more control over their noise cancelling and a dedicated button to trigger your device’s voice assistant.
These headphones have a good 20-hour battery life, a customizable auto-off timer, and can be used passively with the included audio cable when they’re out of power. They have a balanced sound that caters well to most genres, and they're easy to use with simple controls.
On the downside, they’re not as customizable as the Sony WH-1000XM3. They also leak a bit of sound at higher volumes, which isn’t ideal if you like to listen your music a bit loud. Although they’re not as well-built or as premium-looking as Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless, they perform better overall, which makes them a better choice for most listeners. If you prefer wireless earbuds, the Bose QuietControl 30 are also a great noise cancelling option.
If you’re looking for noise cancelling headphones that you can adjust to your liking, then go with the Sony WH-1000XM3 instead. They may not be quite as comfortable as the QC 35 II, but thanks to their highly customizable app, they’re a bit more flexible for users with different tastes. They also have slightly better noise cancelling thanks to the added auto-off timer that you can adjust via the app.
On the downside they have touch-sensitive controls that aren’t always very precise, especially when it’s cold outside. The Jabra Elite 85h have a great physical control scheme that’s more reliable and a much better microphone. However, their ANC performance is disappointing, especially when compared to the outstanding noise isolation of the XM3. Overall, the WH-1000XM3 are very good customizable noise cancelling headphones.
If you like noise cancelling over-ears like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3 but find them a bit too expensive, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 instead. Their noise cancelling isn’t as good, but they’re still feature-packed headphones for the price and provide excellent value overall.
What these headphones lack in isolation, they more than make up for with their exciting bass-rich sound, excellent wireless range, and battery life. They have 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 Bluetooth dongle.
On the downside, these headphones don’t come with a very customizable app. If you like being able to EQ the sound of your headphones, the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are compatible with the JBL Headphones app which provides access to a great parametric EQ. Their battery doesn’t perform as well, though, and they’re a bit harder to use. Overall, if you're looking for an option that delivers great value for your money, then you can't go wrong with these.
If you like the isolation that closed-back headphones provide but prefer the more portable format of in-ears, get the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They don’t isolate noise in the bass range as well as the Bose Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 do with ANC, but they still do a decent job and even reduce more noise in the mid-range. They also have outstanding leakage performance, so you can raise your listening volume to mask out more noise without disturbing those around you. They have a stable fit that’s great for sports and are rated IPX7 for superior sweat and water resistance. They sound decent and are compatible with the great Jaybird MySound app for added customizability.
On the downside, you may not find these as comfortable as over-ear headphones, especially after long periods of time. They also have a proprietary charging cradle that’s a bit restrictive. The Samsung Galaxy Buds are a good choice if you prefer truly wireless earbuds, though you may prefer the Jabra Elite Active 65t if you want truly wireless headphones for sports.
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, get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They're one of the better options if you're looking for headphones just for listening to music, but they have the added noise reduction of a closed-back design so you can use them outside with your phone.
These headphones have a well-balanced sound that packs a good and exciting bass, a well-balanced mid-range, and a good reproduction of higher frequencies that's not too sharp or recessed. They have a durable build that should last you years of regular use and they're comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions.
Since these are wired headphones, they don’t have the convenient wireless range of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They also don’t perform as well in loud environments since they’re not noise cancelling headphones. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are also great-sounding critical listening headphones that feel even better-built than the ATH-M50x, but they don’t have a detachable cable and can sound a bit sibilant to some listeners.
The best closed-back headphones for gaming that we’ve tested so far are the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They’re very versatile headphones that support wireless connections not only with their USB base transmitter but also via Bluetooth as well. They also have a unique dual-battery system that ensures you’re never out of power as long as you always keep one battery charging.
These headphones have outstanding audio reproduction and are well-suited to not only video game soundtracks and effects, but film scores, podcasts, and audiobooks too. Their microphone performance is remarkable and you can mix audio from both wireless sources simultaneously, which is great if you like to chat on your smartphone while gaming.
On the downside, these headphones aren’t entirely wirelessly compatible with the Xbox One and don’t have mic level controls, which can be disappointing for some gamers. Their ski-goggle inspired fit can also be a bit uncomfortable for those with larger heads. The Astro A50 are a great alternative thanks to their compatibility with Xbox One, great microphone customization options, and more ergonomic fit.
If you’re a gamer on a budget, get the Logitech G433. They’re less feature-packed than the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, but they may provide better value for those who prefer a simple, wired design. They have an awesome detachable boom microphone with excellent recording quality and noise handling, and are compatible with the great Logitech Gaming Software for a more customizable experience. They’re also more breathable than most gaming headsets, which is nice for long gaming sessions.
Unfortunately, these headphones have poor frequency response consistency, which means that they may not sound the same to people with different head shapes, or among those who wear glasses. They’re also covered in a somewhat rough-feeling fabric that may wear and tear over time. The Corsair HS60 are better-built headphones, but the Logitech have a significantly better microphone and come with more connectivity options.
The best budget closed-back headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Mpow H10. They’re not as well-built as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, but they even less expensive and provide very good value for their price. They’re comfortable and perform quite well for budget headphones.
These headphones have great bass, good treble, and sound decent overall. They have a surprisingly impressive battery for their price and provide over 23 hours of continuous playback on a charge. They can be used while they charge and even passively with their included audio cable. They also have an excellent 56-foot wireless range and slightly lower latency than most Bluetooth headphones.
These headphones sound better and have improved ANC performance over the less expensive Mpow H5, but the H5 feel better-built, come with a great hard carrying case, and even support multi-device pairing. The build quality of the H10 is mediocre-at-best and they make a concerning snapping sound when you bend them in half. That said, they provide a better listening experience than the H5 overall and are still very good budget headphones.
If you prefer the fit of on-ear headphones, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless are a good budget choice. They don’t have ANC like the Mpow H10, but they feel much better-built. The Skullcandy are a lot more comfortable than most on-ear headphones we've reviewed and have a well-balanced sound that caters well to most genres.
On the downside, they can’t be folded into a compact format like the AKG N60NC Wireless can. That said, they are less expensive and much more comfortable. Overall, they are a good choice if you're looking for budget wireless headphones and like on-ears.
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 (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.