The 10 Best Closed Back Headphones

Updated May 21, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Closed Back Headphones
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you're on the hunt for audiophile-level sound quality, take a look at the world of closed-back headphones. Their sealed design allows for greater frequency response, more accurate reproduction, and effective passive noise isolation that everyday over-ears can't always match. With options in every price range, a pair of these top-rated cans will suit almost anyone's needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best closed back headphone on Amazon.

10. Superlux HD-685

With the Superlux HD-685, you can jam out in relative privacy without spending very much money at all. While they're far from top-of-the-line, they perform pretty well, and considering their price, they're especially durable.
  • fold up for easy transport
  • slightly boomy mids and lows
  • somewhat muted treble
Brand Superlux
Model 297
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

9. Sony MDR-1A

The mid-level Sony MDR-1A are known for being among the easiest to wear for long periods, thanks in part to their sub-eight-ounce weight. Their response curve is generally flat, with some very minor tweaking to deliver highly immersive sound.
  • inline remote and microphone
  • good for bass-heavy genres
  • the newer model isn't as comfortable
Brand Sony
Model MDR1A/B
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Denon AH-D7200

The eye-catching "woody" design of the Denon AH-D7200 should give you the hint that their studio-quality drivers offer exquisitely accurate reproduction. You can definitely rely on them for crystal-clear monitoring while you're mixing intricate tracks in any genre.
  • quarter-inch y adapter
  • respond as low as 5 hertz
  • priced well on the high end
Brand Denon
Model AH-D7200
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Sennheiser HD280 Pro

The staying power of the Sennheiser HD280 Pro is the first sign that they're a worthwhile piece of equipment. In fact, they've been the industry-standard tracking headphones for years, due mostly to their flat response and exceptional isolation.
  • attenuate a maximum of 32 decibels
  • quite affordable for their accuracy
  • not for everyday music listening
Brand Sennheiser
Model HD280PRO
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

6. Sony MDR-Z1R

Those who are truly dedicated to pumping the finest possible signal into their ears must consider the Sony MDR-Z1R. The best aren't cheap, of course, and this pair are ridiculously expensive, but you will be hard-pressed to find anything as hi-fidelity.
  • may be the ultimate closed-back pair
  • rich low-end and pristine treble
  • require a few dozen hours of burn-in
Brand Sony
Model MDRZ1R.WW2
Weight 9.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Oppo PM-3

The Oppo PM-3 are well-respected among audiophiles, thanks to their superior fit and finish, in addition to nearly unmatched clarity. Their price tag seems high at first, but they are a great value for a pair with planar magnetic drivers.
  • weigh just about 10 ounces
  • comfortable and immersive earcups
  • work with or without an amplifier
Brand OPPO Digital
Model PM-3W
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. V-Moda Crossfade M-100

The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 are among the most balanced offerings, just as good for poring over samples in the studio as they are for rocking out while walking down the street. 3D-printed metal makes for awesome build quality, and the silver-white finish is simply stunning.
  • tested for military-spec durability
  • innovative dual-input capability
  • clean bass and lifelike vocals
Brand V-MODA
Model M-100-U-WSILVER
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are an iconic, German-engineered pair that costs surprisingly little, given their great quality and renown. They come in 32-, 80-, and 250-ohm variants, the largest of which will require a dedicated amp.
  • great for jamming or recording
  • ultra-plush velour cups
  • attractive and robust construction
Brand beyerdynamic
Model 459046
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Astell & Kern T5p

The Astell & Kern T5p are among the best choices for making the most of high-resolution audio data. While they are extremely pricey, they perform better than almost every other option, and feature a fully balanced output, ensuring perfect signal consistency on both sides.
  • custom eq settings for matching amps
  • sheepskin headband
  • handcrafted with care in germany
Brand Astell&Kern
Model 4EP008-CMBL64
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Focal Listen

While many of their products cost an arm and a leg, the Focal Listen are an amazing-sounding pair that nearly any music fanatic can afford. They really shine when driven by a quality amplifier and supplied with a lossless source.
  • perfect amount of bass enhancement
  • comfortable on any size head
  • outperform models 3 times the price
Brand Focal
Model ESPICAS107-BL001
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Closed Back Versus Open Back Headphones

While many tech terms can be misleading, open back and closed back headphones actually describe exactly what the each headphone has. Closed back headphones have earcups which are completely sealed, while open back headphones have backs that are not completely sealed.

In nearly every mass produced pair of headphones, the tiny speaker driver inside emits sound in both directions, towards your ear and away from it. With open back headphones, that sound leaks out into the air potentially disturbing others around you. Closed back headphones almost completely block the sound leakage, providing roughly 10dB of noise reduction so nobody else has to hear what you are hearing.

This noise isolation also affects how music sounds to the headphones wearer. Since closed back headphones isolate you from the outside world, the music sounds almost like it is playing inside your head. No background noises will interfere with the music listening experience and the wearer will be able to hear every minute detail. This is why studio monitors nearly always have a closed back design and why sound engineers prefer them.

While this can be fantastic for audiophiles, it can be problematic when wearing the headphones while performing outside activities. If one is wearing a pair of closed back headphones they may not hear a car horn honk or somebody yelling out a warning. But if one truly wants to get lost in the music, closed back headphones are the best choice.

Open back headphones produce a larger sound stage kind of experience more akin to what you hear when listening to a pair of speakers in a room or at a concert. Some people prefer this kind of experience as they don't feel completely cut off from the world when listening to music. This also makes open back headphones safer when exercising outside. It also makes them a better choice if you were reading a book at the beach and wanted to hear the sounds of the waves crashing along with your music, or other similar situations where you want to hear the ambient noise intermingle with your music.

How To Pick The Perfect Pair Of Headphones

There is nothing better than finding that perfect pair of headphones that fits great, sounds even better, and handles the trials and tribulations you will be subjecting them too. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, mostly because the average consumer focuses on the wrong features when making their purchase decision.

This may seem counter intuitive when trying to pick out a pair of headphones, but sound is actually one of the last things most buyers should focus on. Unless you are a die-hard audiophile, most won't notice much of a difference in sound between two pairs of high-end headphones. Now if one were to compare a pair of $15 headphones to a pair of $150 headphones, the sound difference would be obvious.

The first step is two determine a budget you are prepared to spend. This can be something like $50 to $100, or $300 to $400. Once you have a budget determined, you can start to compare some different models.

The main two considerations should be how compatible they are with your lifestyle needs and their comfort level. If you buy a pair that is not comfortable or don't conform to your needs, it doesn't matter how great they sound, you will most likely rarely wind up using them. Those that want a pair for traveling will need totally different features than those who will primarily be listening to headphones in their home. If you plan on using your headphones for on the go listening, make sure to consider their portability and build quality. You can determine their durability by looking at the materials they are made from. Look for aircraft-grade aluminum, carbon fiber, and other materials of similar strength.

Finding a pair of comfortable headphones is vital, especially if you plan on listening to them for more than twenty minutes at a time. If you cannot try them on, the best way to gauge their comfort is by looking at features like weight, earcup cushion material, size adjustability, and headband padding.

Sound Specs You Need To Know

It is easy to get confused by all of the complicated specifications and terms manufacturers use when describing their headphones, but there are only a couple you really need to understand regarding how they will sound.

Most look to frequency response range first, but unless the manufacturer lists the frequency response range with ±3dB next to it, the spec is essentially useless. If they have ±3dB, which means they are telling you the frequency response while maintaining volume within a 3dB range, then you can pay attention to the spec and look for one rated at 20-20,000Hz, the lower number being the bass response cut-off and the higher number being the treble roll-off.

Total harmonic distortion (THD) is extremely important as this tells you how prone the headphones are to sound distortion at higher volumes. When headphones are played at high volumes, there is a chance that diaphragm may not be able to move fast enough, which results in sound distortion like popping and crackling. The lower the THD percentage, the less possibility of sound distortion at high volumes. Good headphone manufacturers have a THD of 1% or less, while the best have below 0.1%.

One should also look at the sound pressure level. This is a measurement that taken by playing a 1 kilohertz note at a power level of 1Vrms, and then recording the decibel level produced by the headphones. The higher the sound pressure level, the louder the headphones will be able to get with a particular audio source.


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Last updated on May 21, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.


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