Closed-back headphones are the most common type of headphones available today. The high level of isolation coupled with an engaging listening experience has made them a firm favorite. From casual listening to serious studio work, they are a great choice.
In this guide, we check out the best closed-back headphones you can buy today. From premium options to budget-friendly choices. Below are some of our favorites but read on to discover even more high-quality options.
The Top Closed Back Headphones Overall
With so many choices out there it can be difficult to find good studio headphones for your needs. But we have you covered with our comprehensive guide. Below we take a closer look at some of the best closed-back headphones on the market.
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X Review
Best High End Closed Back Headphones
- Exceptional Sound – The DT 700 Pro X delivers phenomenal sound quality. Excellent performance across the full range with great neutrality.
- Marvelous Comfort – The super plush padding on the ear cups is among the best in the business. Ultra-comfortable and perfect for long listening sessions.
- Polished Design – Sleek modern design that retains class. No gaudy colors or accents. Clean and refined design that is timeless.
- Plays Nice – The low impedance level means these closed-back headphones work well with a vast array of devices.
- Not Portable – Unfortunately these don’t fold. While highly durable they are not a great choice for on-the-go listening.
The Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X is a firm favorite amongst both casual users and professionals. And it is not hard to see why.
The impeccable sound quality is a real stand-out feature that sets it apart. Punchy and warm lows that are not overbearing. Mids that are full and defined. And highs that are not overly bright and sharp.
The excellent comfort level is also appealing. Plus there is enough passive noise isolation present to keep ambient noise out. A fantastic pair of studio headphones that can tackle any task.
With exceptional build quality, these are easily one of the best closed-back headphones you can buy today.
Read our full Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X review for more detailed information.
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X
Shure SRH1540 Review
- Neutral Sound – These closed-back headphones offer excellent neutrality. This makes them perfect headphones for music production due to the high level of accuracy.
- Generous Imaging – Closed-back headphones often suffer from a cramped soundstage. These are surprisingly wider than most options out there. Very good soundstage.
- Excellent Accessories – Hardshell case as well as a spare set of ear pads and another cable. Fantastic inclusions which add to the value offering.
- Breathability – Another area where these headphones set themselves apart from the competition. Highly breathable ear pads that do a good job of minimizing heat build-up.
- Not Ideal For Casual Listening – The neutral sound profile results in a restrained bass profile. Not as lively as some may want for casual listening.
These over-ear headphones from Shure are a standout option for music production. Closed headphones suffer from a few issues which these address very well. Breathability and imaging.
The neutral sound helps define lead instruments for precise production work. The build quality is also high and parts are replaceable. This makes them an appealing option if you need long-lasting studio headphones.
But, the detachable cables are on the short side. I would have loved to see a longer option included.
It is also worth mentioning these are a little pricey compared to some other options. If you are on the hunt for budget headphones you’ll need to look elsewhere. But for everyone else, these are among the best closed-back headphones you can pick up.
Read our full Shure SRH1540 review for more detailed information.
AKG K371 Review
- Wonderful Midrange – Fantastic delivery in the midrange frequencies. Considering this is the frequency most listeners focus on it is ideal for mixing and mastering.
- Clean Sound Reproduction – Clarity is high and delivery is neutral across the full band. Good choice if you want an accurate response when mixing.
- Value For Money – Well-priced option that isn’t as expensive as many highly recommended closed-back headphones.
- Low Clamping Force – The relaxed fit is great for people with larger heads. But as a result, the isolation isn’t the greatest.
- Acute Highs – To some people, the top-end may come across as a little bright. Good for picking out details but can be fatiguing.
The AKG K371 is an excellent pair of over-ear closed-back headphones with high-quality audio. It is also one of the most commonly recommend headphones for mixing and mastering.
The sound profile is generous and precise. The low-end features punchy bass. The midrange is very detailed and accurate. The top end is a little bright. How much this is an issue will come down to personal preference.
Comfort is also another standout feature. Good padding on both the self-adjusting headband and the ear cups. Plus the low clamping force is ideal for people that don’t want a supreme seal.
At an affordable price, the AKG K371 is among the best closed-back headphones available today.
Read our full AKG K371 review for more detailed information.
Neumann NDH 20 Review
- High-Quality Sound – The NDH 20 provides fantastic sound quality. Plenty of richness and life across the full range. Punchy and warm low-end is a highlight.
- Stable Fit – The clamping force is on the tighter side but this ensures a reliable and secure fit. Plus it assists with isolation.
- Great Noise Isolation – The high isolation of up to 34dB makes these an ideal candidate for recording sessions in the studio.
- Resilient Build – Tough construction with high-quality components. A pair of headphones that should last you a long time.
- A Little Expensive – Top-notch build quality and sound do result in a high price tag. Not the best value for money.
The NDH 20 from Neumann is another fantastic pair of closed-back headphones.
With high noise isolation, they are a perfect choice for recording. But equally great for studio work when you don’t want any distractions from external noise.
The sound quality is also very impressive. Detailed and clean top-end. Full and generous midrange. Plus warm bass that offers a satisfying punch.
While the fit is a little tight the good isolation is worth it. One of the best closed-back headphones on the market.
Read our full Neumann NDH 20 review for more detailed information.
Sennheiser HD 300 PRO Review
Best Portable Closed Back Headphones
- Balanced Sound – Excellent sound with minimal dips and bumps throughout the range. Rather neutral but still providing plenty of life across the audible spectrum.
- Superb Noise Isolation – Background noise is not an issue with these closed-back headphones. Perfect for noisy environments.
- Transport Friendly – These headphones collapse into a compact profile. Great for travel and storage when not in use.
- Good Build Quality – Component quality is high while the price point is reasonable. Excellent value.
- Short Cable – The shortish cable might be a bit restrictive for some people. But it is ideal for on-the-go listening.
The Sennheiser HD 300 Pro is a closed-back headphone with a lot going for it. The combination of affordability and features is fantastic.
The sound delivery is better than you’d expect at this price point. Neutrality is there making it a good choice for monitoring. But there is also definition for enjoyable casual listening.
The robust construction also scores a few extra points in our book. Plus the high level of noise isolation is perfect for eliminating unwanted noise.
Super portable and offering a pleasant listening experience. A worthy addition to this best closed-back headphones list.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 300 PRO review for more detailed information.
Sennheiser HD 300 Pro
Blue Microphones Mix-Fi Review
Best Closed Back Audiophile Headphones
- Pleasing Sound Quality – These closed-back headphones provide a pleasing listening experience. Lots of clarity and an excellent balance across the full range.
- Powerful Sound – With a built-in amp these headphones deliver plenty of headroom. If you like loud and powerful music these are a good choice.
- High Comfort Level – Despite coming in at 1 lb. (453 grams) these are surprisingly comfortable. Intelligent design and weight distribution.
- Unique Design – An unusual design that catches the eye. Might not be to everyone’s taste but certainly unique.
- Bulky – These headphones are large and heavy. If you prefer more slimline headphones you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Blue Microphones has done what many high-end microphone companies have done and stepped into the headphone market. And what an entrance.
The Mix-Fi closed-back headphones offer a unique aesthetic that takes a different approach to headphone design. The rechargeable built-in amplifier ensures powerful sound no matter what device you use.
The headband adapts and cradles your head for both security and comfort. Sound-wise these also deliver. A well-defined audio profile that is very satisfying. With deep bass and premium sound, these are ideal for music lovers.
If you want to enjoy music powered by an analog amplifier these are among the best closed-back headphones available.
Blue Microphones Mix-Fi
AKG K553 MKII Review
- Detailed Sound – The sound profile of the K533 MKII is very detailed. Plenty of precision and accuracy. Perfectly reflects the source material.
- Metal Construction – Super durable construction with an abundance of metal. Great for people that tend to be a little rough with their headphones.
- Detachable Cable – Gone is the hardwired cable from the original model. In its place is a long detachable coiled cable. A big improvement.
- Anemic Bass – Despite a large driver and low impedance the bass profile on these is a little light.
- Sharp Top End – Much like many AKG headphones the top end may be a little harsh for some people.
The AKG K533 MKII closed-back headphones are a big improvement over the previous model. It offers a transparent sound that is both detailed and accurate.
But this is where some people may have issues with these. Accuracy reveals flaws. As a result, these are not the best for casual listening. But well suited to studio use thanks to the neutral sound profile.
The comfort level is also quite good for headphones that on the surface appear bulky. Padding is sufficient and the clamping force is just right.
These over-ear closed-back headphones are worth considering if you desire natural audio.
AKG K553 MKII
The Best Budget Closed Back Headphones
High-end headphones can be expensive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a serious set of closed-back headphones on the cheap. Below are some of the best closed-back headphones that won’t hurt the wallet.
Mackie MC-250 Review
- Good Sound Accuracy – Normally budget closed-back headphones are not ideal for the studio. But these headphones are surprisingly neutral while retaining a lively sound profile.
- High Comfort Level – Great for long sessions. Either in the studio or for casual listening. Firm yet forgiving padding adapts well and blocks background noise.
- Foldable – Easy to fold these down into a compact package. Pop them into the included pouch and you are good to go.
- Appealing Price – An aggressive price point that is budget-friendly. Great value for money.
- All Plastic – As with many budget offerings there is an abundance of plastic. It feels solid enough but not sure how they will hold up after aggressive long-term use.
Mackie has an excellent reputation for producing budget-conscious products. But they don’t just focus on price. There is a distinct focus on providing top-notch value.
The Mackie MC-250 is a closed-back headphone that is equally capable in the studio as it is for day-to-day listening. Satisfying bass, rich mid-tones, and clear highs. These headphones sound good.
Other notable features like detachable cables and foldability add to the appeal. For over-ear headphones this cheap they are also surprisingly very comfortable.
There is a lot to like about these headphones. One of the best closed-back headphones for budget-conscious buyers.
Shure SRH440A Review
- Wide Response – The SRH440A delivers a broad response and, more importantly, delivers great neutrality and balance.
- Long-Lasting – The build quality is also very good. The ear cups feature dependable padding, and the frame is solid.
- Good Design Features – These headphones feature swiveling earcups along with cables that detach. Great features for this price point.
- Clean Appearance – The slick and restrained design aesthetic blends in seamlessly in any environment. Modern and refined.
- Bright Highs – The top-end leans rather bright. If you are sensitive to sharp highs you may want to look at other options.
Shure is a dependable brand that consistently delivers high-quality products. The SRH440A is a closed-back headphone with impressive build quality when you factor in the price.
But even more impressive is the sound profile. Meaty low-end and boisterous mids combine with a slightly bright top end. Overall a very balanced and neutral pair of headphones. A good choice if you want a set for the studio that isn’t expensive.
Once you add in the portability of these there is little to fault. A solid pair of budget closed-back headphones that are worth adding to your shortlist.
Read our full Shure SRH440A review for more detailed information.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Review
- Authoritative Bass – As with most Audio-Technica ATH headphones these offer a substantial and satisfying low-end response. Good thump without muddiness.
- Good Price – A pleasant listening experience that punches well above its price point. Good value headphones.
- Replaceable Cables – Secure cables that easily detach. Choice of both coiled and straight is a welcome inclusion. Both of which offer plenty of length.
- Mobile Device Friendly – With a low impedance rating these are easily powered. From your PC to your smartphone these won’t disappoint.
- Average Isolation – Audio-Technica ATH headphones tend to offer decent isolation. But these are average at blocking ambient noise.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones offer an affordable entry point. A good balance between features and price that other headphones struggle to deliver.
These over-ear headphones don’t do a great job of keeping out background noise. But they do provide a satisfying sound profile that is full of punch and life. Not the most balanced sound but great for casual listening.
The inclusions at this price point are also generous. Plus the build quality is also better than you’d expect at this price.
This combination of features makes the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x one of the best closed-back headphones in this price bracket.
Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-M40x review for more detailed information.
PreSonus HD9 Review
- Thumpy Low End – The HD9 delivers a thumpy and full low-end. But it retains good clarity and no distortion. Good for bass lovers.
- Cheap Price – At this price, these perform extremely well. Decent build quality and an included pouch present a firm value offering for budget buyers.
- Engaging Sound – Beyond the healthy bass, the rest of the sound profile is also lively. Balanced sound that does lean more toward a consumer-style profile.
- Non-Detachable Cable – The hardwired cable is a disappointment. This means you’ll be stuck with just the one cable choice.
- Not Very Neutral – If you need a pair of headphones with high accuracy these are not the best choice.
These over-ear headphones from PreSonus are another excellent budget option. The low price is appealing but it is backed up by a solid sound profile.
No, these are not ideal for analytical listening. But for light studio work and casual listening, these are a joy. A high level of comfort is another strong feature. Reliable padding on the ear cups and a secure fit for long sessions.
Component quality is also very respectable for headphones this cheap. The hinges are solid and the driver housing is robust. Good balance between price and quality.
Despite the more consumer-style sound, the PreSonus HD9 is still an excellent low-cost pair of closed headphones.
Read our full PreSonus HD9 review for more detailed information.
Our Expert Buying Guide
Choosing the best headphones comes with tricky decisions. You need to balance price, sound quality, comfort, and more. You may also be seeking a wireless option. While these may be appealing they are not ideal for DJing or for studio work due to latency.
Closed headphones have one distinct advantage over other types of headphones. And that is isolation. Below we cover isolation in more detail.
Benefits of Isolation
Closed headphones don’t allow much air to escape from the ear cups. As a result, there are several benefits of this type of design.
- Better Bass – Since there is nowhere for the air to escape closed headphones tend to deliver a deeper and more thumpy bass response. Ideal for electronic music or hip hop.
- Blocks Background Noise – If you are in a noisy environment you can enjoy your music without interference. Helpful in crowded areas or when traveling.
- No Sound Leakage – Closed headphones provide a seal to prevent sound from escaping. This is great if you want privacy. But also ideal if you don’t want to disturb anyone else. Plus these are perfect when recording.
- Longer Lasting – The closed-back design helps to minimize the chance of dust and moisture getting to the drivers. This means your headphones will last longer than open-back options.
Closed-back headphones are great for DJs and producers due to their strong isolation.
Passive Vs Active Noise Cancelling
Closed headphones will either offer passive or active noise canceling. Passive noise-canceling means no extra components are trying to suppress outside noise.
The combination of clamping force, ear padding density, and sealed back usually does a great job of minimizing noise.
Active noise-canceling headphones will feature technology to actively block noise. This is achieved via a microphone that will detect the noise. It will then produce a phase inverted sound that will then cancel out this exterior noise. They may also have other features like Bluetooth connectivity.
Active noise canceling does produce better isolation but often at the cost of sounding more restraining and unbalanced. If you need studio headphones passive isolation will be a better choice.
Do Closed-Back Headphones Sound Better?
Closed-back headphones offer an engaging and in-your-head approach to sound. Whether they sound better is debatable. A lot of this will come down to personal preference. Closed-back headphones are a great choice if you like big bass and need isolation.
Are Studio Headphones Closed Back?
Both closed-back and open-back headphones are appropriate choices for the studio. Studio headphones need to deliver a neutral and accurate sound so you can make educated decisions when working. Both of these types of headphones can deliver in this area.
Which One Should You Buy?
As you can see there are several enticing options when it comes to closed-back headphones. Some specialize in certain elements while others attempt to please everyone. Which one is right for you will depend on your needs.
But there is one pair that I can confidently recommend above the rest. The Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X is our choice for the top spot. The stunning sound coupled with the supreme level of comfort set it apart from the competition. The quality on display is superb. Easily one of the best closed-back headphones you can buy today.
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X