The 10 Best Closed Back Headphones

Updated December 24, 2016 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Closed Back Headphones
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If earbuds just won't cut it for your musical enjoyment, it's time to upgrade to a pair of high-quality, over ear headphones. Their closed back design provides greater depth, richness, and clarity, while preventing those around you from deducing that you are, in fact, listening to Wham! 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. LyxPro HAS-10

The LyxPro HAS-10 are worth a look because they offer high performance at a low cost. They are a good choice for somebody who isn't a professional, but just desires decent sound quality from their headphones and wants a pair that will last.
  • instant dynamic response
  • telescoping stainless steel arms
  • could use a little more treble
Brand LyxPro
Model HAS-10
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

Delivering deep and high quality bass, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are a good choice for those who enjoy listening to and mixing electronica, house, or hip-hop. They have a rugged, yet soft, padded headband for comfort and durability.
  • gold plated jack
  • made in germany
  • 250 ohm model requires an amp
Brand beyerdynamic
Model DT770 PRO 250 Ohm
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. M-Audio HDH-50

The M-Audio HDH-50 are made with studio quality tuning and a highly dynamic frequency response range for Hi-Fi sound. They have a stylish, gunmetal black finish, and their firm fit doesn't slip off the head, even if the music makes you move.
  • overstuffed plush earpads
  • durable steel construction
  • a bit heavy for extended use
Brand M-Audio
Model HDH-50
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. AKG K551SLV

The AKG K551SLV are an excellent choice for the serious audiophile who demands only the best. They have powerful 50-millimeter drivers that can pump out tunes at high volumes without distorting, and an in-line microphone for phone calls.
  • 2d fold-flat mechanism
  • streamlined appearance
  • padding feels inexpensive
Brand AKG
Model K551SLV
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are tuned flat for incredibly accurate audio monitoring across an extended frequency range. They have a robust construction and swiveling earphones for DJ-ing or studio use, but they won't add any color to a lackluster mix.
  • create almost no noise pollution
  • adjustable to fit all head sizes
  • long cable gets tangled easily
Brand Audio-Technica
Model ATH-M40x
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Sony MDR-7506

The neodymium magnets in the Sony MDR-7506 make for a compact and capable driver system. They have a folding design, which is great for travelers who want portability and exceptional sound without any interference from background noises.
  • unrivaled punch and clarity
  • outlast higher priced headphones
  • don't fit over larger ears well
Brand Sony
Model MDR-7506
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Sennheiser HD25

The Sennheiser HD25 offer versatility, with a rotating capsule that can be used for one-ear listening. They handle very high sound pressure levels with ease and have accurate sound reproduction, but they aren't very flashy.
  • high attenuation of background noise
  • good choice for cameramen and djs
  • extremely lightweight at just 5 oz
Brand Sennheiser
Model HD 25
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Ultrasone HFI-780 S-Logic

The extra thick earpads of the Ultrasone HFI-780 S-Logic swivel in any direction, so they can easily fit anybody's head comfortably while providing great sound quality and creating a form-fitting seal. They can effectively create a surround sound environment.
  • design reduces sound pressure levels
  • tuned for dvds and gaming
  • come with a velvet carrying bag
Brand Ultrasone
Model HFI-780
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. CAD Audio Sessions

The CAD Audio Sessions are a good budget choice that have a high end look, and they come in five color options. They have been designed for studio use and live playback applications, and come with one coiled and one straight cable.
  • include an extra set of earpads
  • your music won't bleed out to others
  • stitched headband
Brand CAD Audio
Model MH510W
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Shure SRH1540

The Shure SRH1540 have an expansive soundstage sound from their 40mm neodymium drivers that cancel out any background noises. They produce clear, extended highs and warm, full bass tones that really get you involved in the music.
  • aircraft-grade aluminum alloy
  • vented center pole
  • ergonomically adjustable
Brand Shure
Model SRH1540
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 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 December 24, 2016 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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