Closed back headphones are popular with consumers due to their excellent sound quality, passive noise isolation, and general affordability. With so many models on the market to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which are the best closed back headphones for your needs.
After taking hours of research and testing with dozens of different models, we determined the top closed back headphones overall (no max budget) is Sennheiser's HD 820. This was our editor's choice due to the attractive look, unique design, and exceptional performance.
Dropping to the $500-$1000 price range, our editor's choice is the Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back. These headphones are designed to offer the same quality and performance that Audeze is known for with their open-back headphones, but with a closed back design.
If you are in the $200-$500 budget, there are many great options although our best pick would be the V-Moda Crossfade M-100. What we like most about these headphones is their attractive, robust design and performance that will satisfy most audiophiles.
Our editor's choice for the top closed back headphones under $200 are the Audio-Technica MTH-M50x. These are a popular choice with consumers and have a phenomenal reputation in the audio community for their reasonable price. Not to mention, they look great in several colors and can be driven straight from a mobile device.
Editor's Choice Under $200
Popular closed back headphones from a trusted brand in the professional audio market.
Offering a great mix of both form and function, the M50x headphones from Audio-Technica pack some serious value on the dollar. With a sleek look, comfortable fit and excellent performance, these closed back headphones are tough to beat for under $200.
Editor's Choice Under $500
A sleek pair of noise-isolating headphones that offer excellent bass reproduction & build quality.
The Crossfade M-100 headphones from V-MODA are a pair of award-winning closed back headphones sporting two 50mm dual diaphragm drivers which help separate the bass from the mids/highs. Their durable design is made of metal and offers customization shield kits.
Editor's Choice Under $1,000
A powerful pair touted to be the “most neutral closed back headphones” on the market.
Known primarily for their assortment of open back headphones, the LCD-XC is the company's take on a closed design without sacrificing the quality and performance they are known for. While elegant and excellent sounding, these headphones are rather heavy and expensive.
Editor's Choice Overall ($1,000+ Budget)
A pair of high-end headphones that offer some of the best closed-back performance at a high price.
Known primarily for their assortment of open-back headphones, the HD 820 is Sennheiser's take on a closed design without sacrificing the quality and performance they are known for. With elegance & excellent performance, these are impressive if you can afford the steep price.
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Best Closed Back Headphones (2019)
Best Under $200 Budget
The HD 280 Pros from Sennheiser are a newer pair of budget-friendly, closed-back headphones offering decent performance at a reasonable price. Their design is all-back with generous padding on both ear cups as well as the headband (both replaceable) constructed of synthetic leatherette.
On the right ear only is where the audio cord is attached (single-sided) and it is replaceable to help ensure the longevity of these headphones. The fit is lightweight with an ergonomic design and dynamic, closed ear cups giving you up to 32 dB reduction in outside sound.
Sennheiser advertises this model for professional monitoring applications and as “professional DJ headphones”. They offer an extended frequency response from 8-25,000 Hz with a sound pressure level of 113dB and less than 0.1% total harmonic distortion. The impedance is 64 ohms thus low enough to drive without a dedicated amp although one would improve performance.
One of the most popular pair closed back headphones for consumers would be Audio-Technica's ATH-M50x which are priced just under $150. Created by a very well-known and respected brand in the audio industry, these headphones offer a great balance of form and function.
The ATH-M50x's offer a closed back design with sleek appeal offered in black, blue, white or gun metal (they have been offered in red in the past). Both the ear cups and headband offer excellent padding with professional-grade materials. The cable is detachable and single-sided offering great versatility alongside the swiveling earcups.
Internally, Audio-Technica utilizes 45mm large-aperture drivers coupled with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. This combination results in exceptional clarity throughout the extended frequency range and offers deep, accurate bass performance which many consumers seek.
Another pair of closed-back headphones that have become a favorite among consumers is the DT 770 Pros from beyerdynamic. While they are designed originally to be studio headphones primarily, they have become a favorite among the gaming crowd many thanks to their use by Ninja, the Fortnite and streaming legend.
From a cosmetic standpoint, the DT 770 Pro headphones are subtle yet elegant with large circumaural ear cups offered in a grey or black finish. The earpads are made of velour which is soft and comfortable. Much like the competition, the cable is single-sided and replaceable.
One of the big differences with the DT 770 Pro is the ability to choose from several different variants in impedance. The three options include 32 ohms, 80 ohms or 250 ohms which allows you to decide whether you'll want to invest the additional funds into a dedicated amp or not.
Best Under $500 Budget
A popular choice for closed-back headphones in the $200-$300 price-range is the Crossfade M-100s from V-Moda. This model is award-winning and the sound is a result of being tuned by 200+ audiophiles. The aesthetic is unique and sleek with optional custom shield kits that allow you to add a personal touch to the M-100's look.
V-Moda has put a huge emphasis on high craftsmanship and durability. These headphones are designed to last through much abuse with a steel frame, wear-resistant headband/cables and are resistant to high/low temperatures, humidity, salt spray, and UV exposure.
Internally, you've got two 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers with inner and outer rings that help separate the bass from the mids/highs. The earcups are oversized and build to fully surround your ear offering minimal sound leakage thus resulting in a more immersive experience without intruding others around you.
The flagship of the M-Series for Audio-Technica, the M70x improves upon the M50x with more realistic and accurate sound tuning. From a cosmetic standpoint, the M70x look sleek with a black base and nice contrasting silver metal elements. The craftsmanship of these headphones is high with durable components build to last and provide comfort.
Unlike the M50x which are more of a consumer-style headphone, the M70x is more for professional use such as in a studio, live recording, mastering or audio forensics. The circumanural earcups offer a 90-degree swivel for easy storage or one-ear monitoring in addition to their excellent sound isolation.
Internally, the M70x headphones offer two 45mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnents and a copper-clad aluminum wire. The cables can be detached and each headphones include three different cable types (one coiled and two straight plus a 1/4″ screw on adapter) as well as a nice carrying case.
Shure is a notable brand in the consumer and professional audio industry and we couldn't leave their SRH1540 closed back headphones off this list. Priced just under $500, these headphones offer a great look with solid sound performance.
From a cosmetic standpoint, the SRH1540 are slick with a lightweight construction comprised of aluminum alloy yoke and a carbon fiber cap for enhanced durability. There is also a steel driver frame with a vented center pole which improves linearity and helps to eliminate internal resonance giving an equal listening experience.
Each ear had a 40mm neodymium driver providing an expansive soundstage with clean bass and clear highs. The closed-back design offers excellent sound isolation thanks to the circumaural design. Comfort is high due to the plush padding on the headband and earpads.
Best Under $1,000 Budget
The T5P is the second pair of beyerdynamic closed back headphones on this list and the more expensive of the two. They offer a sleek design with striped housings and ample padding on the ears and headband.
Unlike a lot of the models on this list, the T5P is designed particularly for audiophiles who want to experience the best sound quality out of mobile devices. This is due to the low impedance levels coming in at just 32 Ohms which is more than enough to properly drive these headphones from a standard smartphone without the need for any third-party accessories.
The resulting sound signature can be described as balanced, neutral, spacious for closed back headphones. This is the 2nd interation of this particular model and these offer smoother high-frequency production, better bass response and improved spaciousness.
One of two pairs of Audeze closed back headphones on this list, the LCD-2 is the cheaper of the two. From a cosmetic standpoint, they look good with a primarily black design with contrasting white and chrome accents. The build of these headphones offers a good mix of comfort and rigidity thanks to the steel suspension headband and memory foam earpads.
Internally, you've got 100mm planar drivers which offer excellent impulse response, bass response, and a realistic sound signature. Audeze utilizes their glass-infused nylon rings which are rugged and help to further improve performance.
The manufacturer markets these headphones as the “most neutral closed back headphone available”. The diaphragms are thinner than a human hair for fast response times, reduced distortion, higher resolution, and improved imaging. As with all Audeze headphones, the LCD-2 ships with rigorous testing and calibration prior shipping from a US facility.
Another pair of closed back headphones from Audio-Technica, the ATH-W5000 are designed for audiophiles and professional use. From a design standpoint, the circular housings are rather basic yet have a unique look thanks to the striped ebony wood.
The top headband offers plenty of room to mold to different head shapes or those who like to listen with a hat on without being a burden. Each ear pad is cushion with leather offering Audio-Technica's total ear fitting design. Coupled this with a light magnesium alloy frame and 3D wing support you get a sturdy and satisfying fit.
Internally, you have two powerful 53mm drivers with a Permendur magnetic circuit. The design offers double air damping which allows for improved bass reproduction. The native y-cable offers an elastomer sheath that helps to prevent tangles and is tipped with a gold-plated 1/4″ (6.3mm) stereo connector.
Best Overall ($1,000+ Budget)
With the most expensive budgets, you can splurge on closed-back headphones that not only sound amazing but look and feel great too. In this case, the HD 820 from Sennheiser offers no compromises when it comes to performance, fit and sheer beauty. Sennheiser has always done a great job making even their more budget headphones look great.
The HD 820 is a newer model of headphones from Sennheiser and it offers a unique design. What the company did was take the same original concept from their HD 800s which are open back and close off the drivers using a piece of Gorilla Glass. This approach attempts to offer a nice blend between the sound performance of an open back mixed with the privacy and lack of external noise distractions gained by closed-back headphones.
Most of the build quality is a high-quality plastic, which isn't ideal for such a price-point yet the reason for this is to keep the pair lightweight as they are bulky and would be taxing if made with anything heavier. If you are going to be considering buying the HD 820 headphones, we'd assume you already have a quality amp to power these 300-ohm headphone beasts.
At the top end of the closed-back headphones market, the Fostex TH-900 has been a popular choice and their mark 2 version harnesses all the strengths from the original while improving upon a few of its weak points.
One of these changes is the new detachable connectors which allow you to remove the standard unbalanced cable from the headphones and replace it with an optional balanced cable (sold separately) for amps that offer a balanced 4-pin XLR output.
From a cosmetic standpoint, the TH-900mk2 look similar to the LCD-XC model listed above with circular housings. These exterior housings are made of Japanese Cherry Birch which has an Urushi lacquer. Each ear cushion is comprised of protein leather made from an eggshell membrane.
The internal headphone hardware includes Fostex's Bio-Dyna diaphragm is known to produce fine and high-resolution audio reproduction. There is neodymium magnetic circuitry with 1.5-tesla magnetic flux allowing for wide dynamic range.
The Audeze LCD-XC is a popular paid of premium closed-back headphones that are designed to be used for recording engineers, musicians and audiophiles. The LCD-XC uses the same drivers offering the same transparency and detail level as their popular open-back LCD-X model.
From a design standpoint, the LCD-XC isn't as sleek as the Sennheisers listed above. They offer a basic design with oval earcups that have three different finishes: Maple (wood) or Alligator skin (blue or grey). If you have the extra budget, these headphones are sold as standalone or with a rugged travel case which is designed for safe transport.
Internally, the LCD-XC are planar magnetic headphones harnessing a near weightless diaphragm. They benefit from the use of Fazor Elements which produce more realistic sound imaging and phase response. Each pair is handcrafted, tested and calibrated prior to shipment to ensure the best performance out of the box.
Why Closed-Back Headphones Over Open-Back Headphones?
As you likely already know, there are two main design types for headphones: closed-back and open-back. Both have their own time and place, but most consumers tend to lean towards the closed back side when it comes to casual listening for a few reasons:
- Closed back headphones offer a complete seal which isolates outside noise passively and allows deeper audio immersion.
- Closed back headphones are designed to minimize noise leakage thus keeping those around you from being disturbed by any of your music or audio that you may be listening to.
- Closed back headphones are great for sound mixing and live recording as you are able to precisely capture and monitor your resulting audio without have any outside noise become a factor.
Ultimately, the closed back headphone market is highly saturated with many different models to choose from spanning across all different price-points. Depending on your specific needs and budget, we think the following models are the best closed back headphones available right now:
In most cases, you can't go wrong with any of the models that we have covered this list of the best closed back headphones.
We hope this guide helped you find the right closed-back headphones for your needs.
As a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.