What Are Closed-back Headphones?
It is pretty astonishing to see how the design of the headphones can create a difference in their acoustics and make them more suitable for certain applications than others. We all know how critical it is to pick up the right kind of headphones for achieving the best results. Whether it is for audio production, gaming, casual music listening, or for work, the appropriate pair of headphones can make a whole world of difference.
Speaking of which, we will be covering the best closed over-ear headphones that you get today in this article, but a little later. But, let’s first understand what these types of headphones are and what are their advantages and downsides that can cause a significant impact on the listening experience of a person.
Why do some people like to use closed over-ear headphones?
The closed over-ear headphones, as the name suggests, have ear cups completely closed from the back. In other words, they are contoured in a way that they cover the entire ear forming a tight seal around the ears. Owing to this design, these headphones are great at effectively isolating the surrounding noise by reducing sound leakage to a minimum. The noise cancellation functionality is important when you require a quieter ambiance to focus on your work, or sound mixing, recording, or monitoring. For instance, It also helps maintain the quality of the sound that can otherwise be affected by the outside noise or sound bleeding.
Closed-back headsets, typically loved by casual listeners or music lovers for their rich bass sound or those who work remotely and need to get away from a typical home environment full of noises. It is also one of the most preferred styles of video gamers who need immersive audio to have a better gaming experience. Not to forget, the daily commuters or the travelers who get exposed to the traffic, subway, or the airplane engine sound also hugely benefit from these closed over-ear headphones.
That said, audiophiles or critical listeners are usually not the greatest fans of these for several reasons that we will discuss in the latter part of the article.
Why should you choose closed over-ear headphones?
The overall design and construction make this set of cans comfortable to wear as the pressure exerted by the ear cups distributed equally around the ears instead of pressing against them. This makes the closed over-ear headphones one of the most comfortable options to go for when compared with their in-ear and on-ear counterparts.
Now that you have a fair idea of what benefits these types of audio gears can have, are you already planning to try them out? Well, let’s get to what the main focus of this article is then- the list of the headphones that you can consider. We have come up with some of the best closed-back headphones that are available in the market today with different features and prices. In addition, The list also includes their pros and cons, so you can weigh them before deciding which might work best for you.
Best Closed-back Headphones: 10 Top-rated Closed Over-ear Headphones, Their Main Features, Pros and Cons, and Price:
With oodles of closed over-ear headphones saturating the market, it is not an easy task to pick one which is right for you. There are headphones with different designs, from numerous brands, unique features, different budgets and, to add to that, every manufacturer has their way of marketing their products making all of them seem worthy of buying! Amidst this, it is very normal for you to get confused or overwhelmed and not understand which one you should go for.
So, to make your selection process simpler, we have narrowed it down to a bunch of them that have been rated as the best closed-back headphones by several users and professionals widely. These headphones are also from some of the most reliable brands in the audio equipment industry which can boost up your confidence in buying them.
Here’s the list of the over-ear headphones:
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: (All rounder best closed-back headphones)
ATH-M50x is a versatile pair that makes a great pair of closed-back studio headphones, and for casual listening alike. The headphone is known for superior comfort due to the thick ear cup padding and incredibly well-defined sound quality.
The noise cancelation offered by these pairs of cans is pretty effective which helps you to focus on the audio content and get a crystal clear sound of every detail included. The headphone is a favorite of several professionals and sound engineers worldwide which alone speaks of its quality and ability to deliver the best.
Additionally, it comes with a detachable cable that is beneficial for storage and increases the life of the headphones by preventing the damage caused due to accidental pulls while using them. Moreover, it also facilitates you to use cables of different sizes at your convenience. For instance,
- 45 mm drivers with copper dressed aluminum voice coil ensures a high quality sound reproduction.
- Comes with three different cables for different uses.
- Extended frequency response with prominent and accurate bass line.
- Swivelling ear cups for one-ear monitoring.
- Comfortable for an all-day wear.
- Well-rounded pair at an affordable price.
- While it has a great sound, it does have a slightly heightened bass which may be an issue with some music producers who prefer an absolutely neutral sound profile.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro: (Closed-back headphones-a great bang for buck)
Sennheiser, a well-known name in both the professional and consumer industry, and HD 280 Pro one of the best closed-back headphones from the company’s economic lines. The headphones have been known for their exceptional sound quality with an extended low and upper-frequency response of 8Hz to 25 kHz. They have a neutral soundscape which means that these are great for production work as well.
These closed over-ear studio headphones do not have weight and designed specifically to withstand long hours of usage. The swiveling ear cups with plush padding and the flexible, self-adjusting, cushioned headband assures ultimate comfort. The closed-back around the ear style also reduces the external noise up to 32 dB, so you can hear clearly what is coming through the headphones.
They have a price tag of $99.95 which is pretty competitive for its performance.
- Dynamic sound with a wide soundstage.
- Super comfortable to wear.
- Suitable for audio production work.
- Affordable price.
- Good noise isolation.
- Doesn’t have an aesthetic look.
- The extra thick padding makes it a bit inconvenient to take along.
- The headphone may get a bit warm with constant use. Due to the thickly cushioned ear cups.
Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2 : (Best closed-back headphones for gaming under $100)
If you are into gaming and need to pick up a good pair of closed-back headphones for gaming, then here’s a great offering from Turtle Beach that you can completely rely on. The headphone is a complete package of what you need to have a wonderful gaming experience and all for $99.95.
Packed with 50 mm large speakers, the headphone reproduces a powerful sound with deep bass thumping bass, and equally well-sculpted mids and highs. The drivers are engineered to give you an immersive surround sound experience making them one of the best surround sound headphones on the market.
The headphone’s high-sensitivity and high-performance microphone offer superior voice clarity ensuring that you have clear communication with your teammates. You can just flip the mic when you want to mute it, pretty easy right? With a battery life of 15 hours, you can enjoy long gaming sessions without worrying about low power.
- Excellent immersive sound with closed back design.
- Wireless headphones give you independence to move freely.
- Great battery life.
- Sturdy build with easy to use control buttons on the headphones.
- Breathable fabric of the ear pads reduces head production making it more comfortable to use.
- Some users stated that the headphone could have done better in the noise isolation sector.
Sony MDR 7506: (Best closed-back headphones from Sony at an affordable price)
You may expect to see this model from Sony in several broadcasting studios or production houses. Meeting all the professional requirements and the industry standards, these headphones have been standing strong in the industry for a good number of years now.
With thick headband, adjustable sliders to swiveling ear cups, these pairs of cans are one of the favorites of the studio professionals who like an all-rounder pair at a reasonable price.
Most Sony headphone offerings are for consumer use with deep accentuated bass that can give you the oomph on your favorite tracks. However, this pair of closed-back studio headphones primarily engineered for a neutral tone where there is an accurate bass response along with a defined and balanced mid and highs. In conclusion, the overall sound is rich and very detailed owing to the extended frequency response.
Moreover, priced at $124.95, this one is ideal for audio editing if you are looking for an efficient pair to detect all the minor flaws in a recording.
- Dynamic sound.
- Heavy-duty headphones that can go long.
- Affordable studio-grade headphones.
- Not a great option for bass lovers.
- It may not work great for casual use.
- The coiled cable is pretty long and may feel heavy.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro: (Best closed-back studio headphones for Audiophiles)
DT 770 Pro, is a well-rounded pair of closed over-ear headphones that are geared towards critical listeners who need accuracy and detail in the sound profile for effective monitoring. In conclusion, the headphone is a combined package of ultra-comfortable design and transparent yet powerful sound with effective noise reduction.
You will get these headphones in 3 different impedance variants 32, 80, and 250 ohms. 32 ohms is ideal for those who usually connect the headphones with smaller devices or even a smartphone. 80 ohms is usually the most preferred one- you can turn up the audio level without having to connect to an external power source. While the 250 Ohms range is often an audiophile’s choice and usually needs an amplifier to get the best results.
With a well-balanced sound stage and in-depth sound output, you can do your production work with accuracy.
Even though the headphones have a closed-back design, it reproduces a transparent sound with a flat frequency response across the entire frequency range of 5 Hz to 35 kHz. These closed-back studio headphones retailed at $159.00 cheaper compared with some of the other studio headphones from Beyerdynamic.
- Transparent and precise audio.
- sturdy build for durability.
- Thick padding suitable for an all-day wear.
- Reasonable pricing.
- Wide soundstage.
- The cable is not detachable.
- The thick padding makes the headphone a little bulky making it less travel-friendly.
V-MODA Crossfade M-100: (Best closed-back headphones from a not-so-big brand name)
This mid-priced pair of closed-over ear headphones is an interesting piece to keep an eye on. The headphone features 50 mm large audio drivers that deliver clean low range, crisp mids, and seamless highs. The vocals and the instruments are audible and do not overpower each other. Engineered for an exceptionally defined high-resolution sound, the headphone will receive appreciation from those who need one for pleasant music listening.
Along with a visually appealing look, they have hexagonal plush ear cups and thick padding in the headband for ultimate comfort. The overall build with a metallic finish ensures longevity. The noise isolation performance is excellent- it helps reduce a decent amount of external sound with a combination of mid-level volume and closed-back over-ear design.
Above all, if you are looking for great headphones for casual listening or for playing single-player games, then this is well worth considering. It has a price tag of $310.00.
- Metallic frame for durable build .
- Excellent sound profile.
- Stylish look.
- Detachable cable for ease of use and storage.
- Foldable, compact design makes it a travel-friendly option.
- Not ideal for production purposes.
Bose QuietComfort II: (Best closed back headphones for those who like wireless)
Bose’s headphones are always on the lead when it comes to wireless and superior noise-canceling audio gears. QuietComfort II, one of the finest closed over-ear headphones that are packed with some solid features that you can enjoy at a mid-level price.
Known for superior comfort and a noise-free ambiance with excellent bass-rich sound, it is a great option for casual use. You can also consider this if you are looking for closed-back headphones for gaming. There are 3 different levels of noise-canceling, so you can adjust the exact ambient you prefer. The two integrated microphones in each ear cup cancel the noise efficiently ensuring clear communication while improving the voice quality.
One of the other features of these Bluetooth closed over-ear headphones are Smart Voice Control, an app that is useful in many ways. The headphones will cost you around $179.00.
- Superlative noise-cancelling technology.
- Mighty sound with boosted up bass.
- Adaptable as wired and wireless device.
- Great Bluetooth connectivity for seamless audio streaming.
- Amazing battery life of 20 hours. You will get close to 40 hours if you turn off the ANC.
- Not for studio use.
SteelSeries Arctis 7: (Wireless closed back headphones for gaming under $200)
Here’s a great one if you are looking for high-performing closed-back headphones for gaming. While this is marketed as a gaming headset, you can use this for other applications as well, like for your weekend movie marathons or even for listening to music.
While the wireless models do not bestow a lot of confidence among the buyers when it comes to using the headphone at a stretch for several hours, this one will not let you down. With a lossless wireless connection and a 24 hours long battery life on a single full charge, you can use it the entire day. Unlike most of the other wireless ones supported by Bluetooth for the wireless connection, this headphone gets its wireless connection by plugging in a dedicated USB dongle for a lossless wireless connection.
With a wide frequency range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and a 360 surround sound, you will get a gorgeous immersive experience with precise audio that gives you a competitive edge over your enemies. One of the best closed over-ear headphones for gaming retailed at $149.99 which is decent pricing considering the various features the headphone brings in.
- Stellar sound.
- Great looks.
- Outstanding battery performance.
- The closed back design offers superior noise isolation for better listening.
- Phenomenal microphone performance which cancels external noise and helps in crystal clear communication.
- The mute button is a bit sub-standard.
Sennheiser HD 859: (Best closed back headphones for casual use)
Different from the usual Sennheiser headphones lines most of which are oriented for professional use, HD 859, a decent pair of headphones from the brand suitable for anyone who loves to listen to music or watch movies all tucked up under a blanket.
The headphone has a clean, sturdy look with closed-back ear cups that not only makes it durable but also ensure superior noise reduction during your movie time. Additionally, the thick and soft ear padding boasts solid comfort even if you wear it for long hours.
As for the sound, the quality is excellent with a defined sound stage and rich bass. The notes seem clean and crisp with no distortion on the mid and upper frequencies when the volume is turned up.
- Oversized ear pads offer extra comfort and superior fit.
- Thumping bass, and refined treble.
- Clean vocals.
- Good noise isolation.
- Replaceable earpads.
- The headphone has a strong and hefty build which makes portability inconvenient.
Neumann NDH20 closed back studio headphones: (Closed over ear headphones under premium category)
This premium closed-back headphone from Neumann is a premium offering with brilliant performance and is a perfect tool every producer must-have.
This headphone is engineered to suit the professional or the production needs perfectly. Neumann is a well-established brand that has been serving the professional industry for several years now and is known for its high-quality microphones and studio monitors.
These studio headphones deliver exceptional sound quality and their closed-back design has absolutely no shortcomings as in the case of some of the other headphones. In addition, the skillfully designed model offers a soundscape like an open back headphone along with all the advantages of its form factor. This means that the sound is powerful yet transparent, a natural acoustic presentation ideal for editing and mixing.
The extended frequency response lets you hear every little detail you need for accurate editing. Do remember that the brand recommends a headphone amp for this device to bring out the best.
The headphones are supremely comfortable to wear with a lightweight build and foldable design for easy portability. The sliding head adjustments and softly padded ear cups make it even more convincing to go for it if you have the budget. In conclusion, the headphones have a mark-up of $495, which is a premium price tag, but if you need a premium performance with an excellent outcome, this one’s a great bet.
- Stellar acoustics with an open soundstage.
- Extremely comfortable design.
- Suitable for long hours of studio work.
- Solid durability.
- Musicians or recordists love it for its audio detailing and realistic sound.
- The cord movement makes some noise which is quite noticeable.
Some of the other headphones that are solid contenders to the best closed-back headphones list are:
Focal Elegia High-Fidelity closed over-ear headphones
Beyerdynamic MMX 300 closed-back headphones for gaming
Various Factors You Need to Consider When Looking for the Best Closed-back Headphones:
Choosing a good headphone can be critical given hundreds of different options to go through. Most of the manufacturers have closed-back headphone lines but not all of them are worth investing in. That is why you need to understand a few technical aspects and keep a few parameters in mind, so you know exactly which one to pick up.
Here’s a List of Those Factors That Will Help You in Your Search for the Right One:
The closed-over ear headphones are generally larger because of their typical design and construction. This is why it is very important to get a headphone that is extremely lightweight as the bigger size paired with bulkiness can get uncomfortable if you have to wear it for several hours a day.
The closed-back headphones with circum-aural design are known for their noise isolation ability. It is one of the most important features of these types of headphones. When you look for a headphone, ensure that the headphone fits you properly and sits around the ears forming a good seal which in turn will reduce the external sound.
Earbud Padding and Pad Material:
Go for a headphone that has thick and soft padding on the ear cups, so it doesn’t hurt the ears or cause inflammation. Since the closed-back design with the over-ear contour doesn’t have any space for ventilation, some models tend to generate a lot of heat than the others. Therefore, choose a headphone with ear pads made with breathable and comfortable fabric that reduces heat production. It is even better if you get one with changeable and washable ear pads that allows you to maintain hygienic listening.
Storage and Portability:
Since these types of headphones already have a bigger size than their on-ear counterparts, it is usually challenging to carry them around. It is always a good idea to go for a headphone that has a folding or retractable design with removable cables so to make it travel-friendly and easy to store.
Compatibility with Other Devices:
Make sure that the headphones are compatible with two or more devices and are not just limited to one. This way you can use it in multiple fields be it your studio set up, laptop or phone. However, it is important to see if the impedance of the headphone is right because it is directly related to being compatible which takes us to the next point.
The impedance is important when you get a mobile phone. For instance, If you are getting a headphone with a high impedance say 150 to 250 ohms, you will need to get a headphone amplifier for increasing their audio level best results.
Closed-back Vs Open-back Headphones:
The type of the ear cup, open or closed back, makes a lot of difference in the sound reproduction which is why both have their uses in different fields. While both these designs are the most popularly known ones that are available in the market, there is something in the middle which is the “semi-open” back which balances the qualities of both the primary types of ear cup style.
That said, which type of headphones you should go for requires you to first understand the difference between the open back and the closed-back headphones. In addition, Here’s a comparison table for you to understand them in a better way:
|The back of the ear cups is open- either have mesh or grille.|
The openings allow the sound to enter and exit the headphones so you get a transparent and airy sound with less pressure build-up.
Ambient noise isolation is not great as the external sound can easily enter the headphones.
Works great in a silent space like a studio or a recording room where there is not much outside noise.
Accurate and balanced bass tone.
These headphones are usually lighter in weight.
Doesn’t produce heat around the ears.
Not great for recording because of weak noise isolation.
|The back of the ear cups is completely closed with no opening at all.|
The sound cannot escape and circulates inside with a lot of pressure build-up which makes the sound more closed and narrowly focussed.
Great passive noise-canceling.
Since the headphones isolate the external noise, they can be used in any type of environment and do not necessarily need a silent ambiance.
The bass is naturally emphasized because of the closed design.
The headphones are normally larger and bulkier than their open ear counterparts.
The ears may get warm with long hours.
Suitable for recording in the studio.
Some of the common problems with closed-back headphones:
Just like every other type of headphone, closed over-ear headphones have their limitations which primarily revolves around their design:
- Closed back headphones can get bulkier depending on the design and the construction materials used which may bother you when you wear it for longer hours. If you are looking for something simpler, convenient and portable, these are the best earbuds for watching movie, listening to music or podcasts on-the-go.
- Due to the closed design, some of the cheaper closed back headphones release heat around the ears because there is no other ventilation. However, The head generation leads to sweating which can be really annoying.
- These types of headphones can cause major ear fatigue when used for a long period of time.
- Because the sound stage is narrow and most of these headphones have an accentuated bass, it restricts them from those applications that require a flat frequency response like in production. Although, some high quality closed back headphones are engineered for neutral sound presentation making them ideal for sound mixing etc.
- Owing to their closed back nature, these headphones also have lesser driver options when compared with the open back counterparts. Despite multiple different types of speaker driver availability today, these headphones are not compatible with all of them.
It is hard to tell which headphone is better than the other, the closed-back over-ear or the open back ones because both the headphones have their benefits and downsides. If you are wondering which type you should go for then, go through this article and take a look at the differences between the two to see which suits you the most. With that said, if you are looking for a good pair of headphones for recording, making a podcast, or gaming, then take it for a word that the closed-back headphones are your best bet.
While these types of headphones are not picked by audiophiles, the manufacturers are using cutting-edge technology to make these headphones more versatile and fit for wider applications. Our list above includes some of the best closed-back headphones that are suitable for different applications. You might also want to check out our best infrared headphones article from here.
For sound mixing, you will need headphones that have a flat frequency response or a neutral soundscape. While many closed-back headphones do not have a neutral presentation and have an emphasized bass, some manufacturers these days are integrating the sound quality of an open-back headphone into the closed-back to make them suitable for mixing and mastering. You need to make sure to check if the closed-back headphone is made for studio purposes before buying it.
Technically, because of their closed nature, the drivers of all of these types of headphones produce heat as they cannot vent from anywhere like the open screens present in their open back counterparts. The heat generation also depends on the type of fabric material used in the ear pads. Some good quality or premium headphones have breathable fabric that allows the flow of air reducing the heat in the areas around the ears.
The closed-back headphones come in different price ranges. There are budget-friendly affordable options, mid-priced headphones, and expensive ones. Their features and the construction quality often vary with the price, so sometimes a very cheap headphone may have the durability traded off due to the low-quality build material. Therefore, it is advisable to go with headphones that are mid-priced rather than the very cheap ones.