10 Best Isolation Headphones | March 2017

We spent 31 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. For studio use, DJs or those who really want to immerse themselves in their music with no distractions, isolation headphones deliver superior sound quality with excellent outside noise reduction. Thanks to their closed-back design, you can listen to virtually any device's output with the most faithful reproduction possible. Skip to the best isolation headphone on Amazon.
10 Best Isolation Headphones | March 2017


Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
Designed for drummers and long studio sessions, the Kat Percussion KTUI26 headphones have a wide dynamic range, and are capable of reducing external noise by up to 26 decibels. However, the stereo headphone jack is a bit too short.
9
The MSSV Flux Bluetooth Headphones boast dynamic neodymium drivers and AptX codecs for the clearest sound delivery possible. Their built-in Bluetooth 4.0 technology also allows for instant pairing with a large variety of devices.
8
The studio-grade Koss Pro-4AA deliver a frequency response range of 10 to 25,000 Hz, and closed-ear cushions for providing superior bass quality. Their coiled, single-entry 10-foot cord is also designed for easy mobility.
7
With their ability to handle high power levels, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x are a good choice for studio tracking, mixing, and field recording. Their contoured earcups provide a tight seal for reliable sound isolation.
  • copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils
  • tuned for enhanced audio detail
  • not very comfortable for extended use
Brand Audio-Technica
Model ATH-M30x
Weight 1.7 pounds
6
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 offer patent-pending, 50mm dual diaphragm drivers designed to separate and distinguish rich bass sounds from the mids and highs, which allow for efficient and simultaneous mixing of multiple audio sources.
  • a carry case with v-straps is included
  • detachable microphone and audio cables
  • plastic components are cheap
Brand V-MODA
Model M-100-U-SHADOW
Weight 1.5 pounds
5
The Beyerdynamic DT-770-M-80 closed dynamic headphones are equipped with a single-sided, 10-foot cable with in-line volume control, making them a convenient option for stage use. The soft-skin ear pads are also good for extended use.
  • rugged construction
  • gold-plated stereo jack plug
  • they have a tendency to produce static
Brand beyerdynamic
Model DT-770-M-80
Weight 1.5 pounds
4
The Beats Pro have been constructed with an aluminum gunmetal frame and a black-matte anodized finish. Their padded leather, flip-up ear cups also ensure both comfort and superior noise isolation. All of this makes them durable, and increases their life span.
  • lightweight and sleek design
  • headband is easy to adjust
  • the headphones are quite expensive
Brand Beats
Model pending
Weight pending
3
Built for demanding professional environments, the Sennheiser HD 8 feature metal pivot rings that allow both ear cups to swivel up to 210 degrees. This definitely comes in handy during intense studio sessions with a lot of movement.
  • protective case is included
  • 2-year warranty is offered
  • circumaural design for maximum comfort
Brand Sennheiser
Model HD 8 DJ
Weight 3.1 pounds
2
The Zagg Bamboo Headphones provide passive noise isolation for a natural sound with rich bass and crisp high-frequency response. Its cords are detachable, and it features a foldable design to travel compactly with you when not in use.
  • no pvc or toxic chemicals
  • powerful 40 mm drivers
  • attractive and stylish looking
Brand Reveal
Model WHP1001N
Weight pending
1
Ideal for super loud environments and professional DJ monitoring, the Philips A5-Pro headphones offer a closed-back architecture with isolating supra-aural cushions. Their aluminum-hinged, alloy steel headband is also super durable.
  • 90-degree swiveling earcups
  • 3 sizes of replaceable cushions
  • headphones fold down for easy storage
Brand Philips
Model A5Pro/27
Weight 2.4 pounds

Why Isolation Headphones Are a Sound Investment

First, let us clear up a common misconception: noise isolation headphones are not the same thing as noise cancelling headphones. The latter uses an active approach to creating an artificially quiet micro-environment for their wearer, employing microphones that detect ambient noise and then playing frequencies that will offset these sounds (AKA cancel them out) to create the semblance of quiet save for the media one broadcasts through the speakers.

Isolation headphones, on the other hand, are made using materials and designs that are ideal for physically blocking external sounds while amplifying your chosen audio within their ear cups. These are carefully crafted pieces of acoustic hardware that represent an even better way for the audiophile to enjoy media, for, unlike noise cancelling units, they don't create any sounds save for those featured in a chosen musical track, podcast, or other media source.

By the nature of their design, isolation headphones are rather bulky. You can expect oversized ear cups that completely cover your ears and that certainly won't go unnoticed by anyone nearby. These are not the right headphones to wear while jogging, wearing a hat, or while out and about in public. Rather, this type of audio hardware is intended for use when you are truly focused on media. Music lovers will rejoice in the crystal clear, faithful reproduction that isolation headphones provide to a record or a digital track, while gamers will feel totally immersed in their artificial worlds with a pair over their ears. These are also the ideal headphones for the editor who needs to hear every single sound in an audio track or video clip, or for the musician trying to critically review his or her own performance. And of course the DJ who must be in command of his or her music, even while surrounded by sound, must use a fine pair of isolation headphones to have any chance of hearing anything.

While few isolation headphones are ideal for wearing as you walk, commute, or travel, some pairs are at least well-suited to bringing along with you on the go. Consider one of the several options that uses a folding headband and rotating ear cups, that can be packed down into a small case or pouch. If you do want to wear your headphones as you ride on the bus or train, you might look into one of the wireless isolation headphone options, as the absence of a cord allows for more convenient use during travel. Wireless headphones are less viable for the sound engineering or editing professional, however, as most have middling battery lifespans between charges.

How Do Isolation Headphones Work, Anyway?

In the simplest sense, noise isolating headphones work by isolating you from ambient noise. They essentially block the sounds that would otherwise reach your ears by creating a robust physical barrier. This is known as passive noise reduction/isolation. By both rejecting and absorbing external sound waves, a good pair of isolation headphones can provide their wearer with a pleasantly quiet environment, and can allow the user to enjoy his or her music or other audio programming with almost uninterrupted clarity.

The sound rejection provided by these headphones commences at their hard outer wall; the solid, shell-style exterior rejects sound in much the same way as tile wall bounces your voice back to you as you sing in the shower. Next come the soft, usually oversized ear pads, which allow for a comfortable but complete seal around your ears. Within these pads you will usually find a dense foam (viscoelastic memory foam is used commonly) that absorbs much of the sound that would otherwise reach your aural canal.

And finally, just like any other decent headphone, sound isolating headphones use small but potent speakers to fill the area around your ear with sound. When ambient noise is greatly reduced, you can enjoy the detail and nuance of your preferred audio in the fullest.

Other Ways to Enjoy the Silence

They say silence is golden; when you are being assailed by the din of traffic, bad music, noisy kids, or any of life's other many cacophonies, you may well agree. Fortunately, there are many ways a person can create their own personal quiet space. Wearing noise isolation headphones is ideal for when you wish to listen to music or podcasts without the encroachment of other noise, but at times these devices may not be practical or may be insufficient.

To block the most noise possible, you must use an ear plug that effectively seals your ear's canal, preventing sound waves from reaching your eardrum. Wearing noise-blocking earmuffs over these can almost ensure you will enjoy silence.

However, many people find wearing earplugs uncomfortable, and might not even want to be relegated to wearing headphones every time they want some peace and quiet. Using a sound machine that generates so-called white noise (more accurately referred to as pink noise, though) can trick your ears into hearing silence. These devices play sounds that span a wide range of frequencies, thereby overpowering sounds that would otherwise stand out to your ears.

If you are a musician or editor who needs as quiet as possible a space in which to work, you can add acoustic foam to the walls of your workspace to dampen external sources of audio and to reduce the echoing and reverberations caused by your own efforts. Ideally, you can obtain enough acoustic foam to fully line the walls and doors of your room or studio, but any amount of this unique, dense material will help. Place panels of acoustic foam around the room as evenly as possible, and make sure you have a carpet or rug down on the floor. Soft materials, such as shag carpeting and pillows, absorb sound well, and can even be used in place of purpose-built acoustic foams.



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Last updated: 03/25/2017 | Authorship Information

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