Updated

Best Closed-Back Headphones - Spring 2017
Reviews

Closed-Back Headphones are for the average listeners who want a comfortable and well-isolated listening experience in both noisy and quiet environments. This means closed-back headphones typically have sufficient noise isolation to not let too much ambient noise seep into your audio. They don't leak as much as open headphones so they're not distracting to the people around you. Also, closed headphones cater a bit more to fans of bass. Below are our recommendations for the best Closed-back headphones we have tested so far.

Best Closed-Back Headphones

Usage Ratings
7.7Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.5Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.9Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.3Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.9Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 are the best closed-back headphones if you want to use them in loud environments. The closed-back design and excellent noise canceling block a lot of ambient, which make them a good recommendation if you’re a frequent flyer or commute daily via public transit. They’re also one of the most comfortable wireless, closed-back headphones we’ve tested so far, and they’re a lot simpler to use than the MDR-1000x.  However, they are a little leaky at higher volumes.

See our review

Runner-Up

If you want the best noise isolating experience and a better build quality than the QC35, then get the Sony MDR-1000X. They’re not as comfortable and they struggle a bit more with the higher frequencies when connected wirelessly, but they still deliver a good audio reproduction, have a great battery life, and a better wireless connection. They cost a bit more but feel significantly more premium, which should make you feel better about your investment compared the QC35.

See our review

Best Mid-Range Closed-Back Headphones

Usage Ratings
7.2Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.4Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.8Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.1Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.4Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The Beats Studio Wireless are a good option if you’re looking for a pair of comfortable yet versatile wireless headphones for everyday casual use.  They have a sleek and stylish design, they deliver a well-balanced sound, and they’re easy to use once paired to your Bluetooth device. However, they do not isolate as well as the MDR-1000x or the QC 35, so they struggle a bit more in louder environments, but they’re also considerably cheaper.

See our review

Runner-Up

If you want a more portable pair of headphones that also perform well in most use cases, then the Jaybird X2 are a good alternative to the Studio Wireless. They block a lot more ambient noise despite not being noise canceling headphones, and they deliver an above-average sound that will satisfy most casual listeners. They’re stable once in your ears and are easily one of the best sports headphones we’ve tested so far. However, their in-ear design is not always comfortable for everyone.

See our review

Best Budget Closed-Back Headphones

Usage Ratings
7.1Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.6Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.0Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.3Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.6Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

If you’re looking for a pair of budget wireless headphones and find in-ears comfortable, then the Level U Pro are a good alternative to the much pricier Jaybird X2. They’re comfortable and deliver a reliable and fast wireless connection. They also have a decent battery life and they do not leak much. This makes them good for the office, but unfortunately, they’re somewhat flimsy, which is to be expected at their budget price.

See our review

All Reviews

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).

A few examples of closed-back headphones that didn't make the cut:

  • Sennheiser PXC 550. Sleek and feature packed wireless headphones. Good alternative to the QC35 or MDR-1000x but don't isolate as much. See our review
  • Oppo PM-3. Mobile-friendly, planar magnetic headphones. Comfortable and good sound quality. Mediocre-at-best isolation and leakage. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Comfortable and durable design. Excellent sound but a bit leaky at higher volumes. See our review
  • B&W P5 Wireless. Great design and balanced sound. A bit pricey and the on-ear design is not always comfortable.See our review
  • Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000. Great sound but poor soundstage. A good substitute for the ATH-M50x. See our review

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.

Questions Found an error?

Let us know what is wrong in this question or in the answer.

Email:

Questions & Answers

0 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
Questions Have a question?

Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.

:
:
A valid email is required. We answer most questions directly by email to prevent cluttering the site.