Best Closed Back Headphones
If you’re a painter, you want the best paints and brushes for the job. The various masterpieces of art from the Italian and Dutch Masters to the Impressionists to Pop Art and beyond owe just as much to the materials used as the genius of the geniuses using them.
Likewise, if you’re an audiophile, you want to give yourself the best equipment with which to enjoy your favorite tunes.
For many audiophiles, that means closed back headphones.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes the best closed back headphones so great and which ones offer the best listening experience.
Why Closed Back Headphones Rock
There are many reasons why closed back headphones are among the best out there, not the least of which being that they are excellent at blocking out external sound. When you’re listening to music, you want to be able to, you know, actually hear it – and not a bunch of car horns or people chatting or other external noise. This is a common problem with earphones and headphones in general, and one that closed back headphones solve nicely by creating a seal around your ears. The ear cups are big, cushy, cover your ears entirely and, most importantly, do not feature openings for airflow on the backside.
On the one hand, this means that these headphones can get pretty warm over time, so if you’re planning on wearing them for an extended period of time, you might need to give a thought to how you’re going to keep your ears cool.
On the other hand, however, that closed back design allows for excellent noise cancellation. If you want to immerse yourself in your sound editing or music listening as much as possible, closed back headphones allow you to do just that.
By comparison, open back headphones have openings on the backside of their ear cups that allow air and external sound to rush in. They have their place, but that doesn’t mean that they have the same noise cancelling capabilities as closed back options. In addition, a closed back design not only tends to be bigger and bulkier, but also sturdier than an open backed one.
Top 8 Closed Back Headphones
With that in mind, let’s take a look at eight closed back headphones and why I think they’re worth the look (and the listen.)
1. Sennheiser HD 569 Headphones
The first thing that can be said about these closed back headphones is that they definitely fit the description of “bigger and bulkier.” To be fair, these aren’t the kind of headphones that are the easiest to take around with you.
If you just plan on using them at home, however, this model could prove to be one of the most comfortable. It has huge soft ear cups, and the large design fits nicely atop your head. In addition, those large, closed back ear cups do a good job of blocking out sound.
Down to the more technical side of things, this model features 23 Ohms and gives you sound performance that’s good and balanced. It also comes with two cables – one of which is 3 m and the other 1.2 m, both of which are detachable.
2. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Headphones
This DT 770 Pro model comes in three Ohm levels, 32, 80, and 250, of which the latter two are the most balanced and offer the best performance in terms of providing deep bass and nice, rich sound. On top of that, these headphones do a great job of blocking out sound. Add to that the comfy plush ear caps and it isn’t hard to see why this is a favorite of studio music junkies and more casual listeners alike.
If you are using these with a smartphone e.g iPhone, Samsung or Android then choose the 32 ohms model as this doesn’t require as much to power it to get good sound.
3. Shure SRH440 Closed Back Headphones
Rest “as-Shured,” this model has impeccable noise cancelling abilities. This is another model that’s a bit more rigid and on the larger side, but the flip side of that is that they’re very durable. These may not be the kind of headphones you’d want to wear on the go, but they could be great choices for home use. The large ear cups trap sound well, preventing sound leakage and blocking out external sound. They also feature 40 mm neodymium drivers that can deliver powerful acoustic performance, which provides you with clear, crisp bass.
They are definitely on the pricier side, costing several hundred dollars, so they’re not the kind of headphone you buy on a whim or for first-timers. Instead, these headphones from Shure are best for audiophiles who know what they want and find it in these excellent closed back headphones.
4. Aeon Flow Closed Back Headphones
Of all the headphones on this list, these definitely stand out as being among the most unique from a size standpoint. That being said, I love uniqueness, and after all, who doesn’t? These headphones can help you stand out in a crowd with their unique oblong shape, and in an industry that is dominated by aesthetic copycats, that’s something to applaud.
Looks aside, this model also features V-Planar and TrueFlow driver technology that allows users to experience less distortion than with other models. If you’re looking for closed back headphones that allow for lower levels of distortion and greater frequency response, then these are the ones you want.
5. Focal Stellia Circumaural Headphones
Did someone say they wanted a Premium closed back?
Here we have a model that’s great for use on the go as well as hind use. They are also another pair of headphones that are able to boast an absolutely rocking aesthetic design, eschewing the same old greys and blacks that everybody uses to introduce some robust red (well, actually, two shades, “cognac” and “mocha,”) into its design. It’s the little things like that which can help a headphone brand really stand out, and as with the Aeon, I’m all in favor of that in this model as well.
But where this model really shins is in its ear pads. They make use of memory foam, meaning that they conform to your ears, thereby providing you with an unparalleled degree of personalized comfort. Say goodbye to ear cups slipping or not quite fitting – once you wear these a couple times, they should fit like a glove every time. On the flip side, the headband is made of quality leather, offering another layer of aesthetic beauty and comfort.
You get great frequency response with this model, and the headphones do a good job of mitigating extreme highs and lows while providing you with a smooth, even bass.
6. Sony MDR-Z1R Headphones
If you’re looking for a model that has huge spherical cups, congratulations, you’ve found them. The MDR-Z1R is another one of those big-and-bulky models that aren’t great for portable use but are ideal for home and studio use by audiophiles and sound editors. The design itself makes use of a magnesium dome along with an edge made from liquid crystal polymer that is both sturdy and does a good job of providing excellent playback up to 120 kHz.
It also has an acoustic filter that helps control reverberations and stops your ears from becoming an echo chamber for the booming bass this model provides. As a result, you can listen to bass with ease with this model.
The headband itself is even stronger and it’s made from beta titanium, which is somehow as flexible as it is durable. That said, while these headphones are marketed as being a bit bendable, I wouldn’t test them too much in that regard, as these are the priciest headphones on this list.
7. V-MODA M-100-U-Shadow Closed Back Headphones
This is a headphone model that can be used for everything from listening to music to answering calls. It offers very clear bass and is especially good at delivering clear, crisp vocals.
In addition, these black headphones offer a degree of sleek chicness that is second to none. If you are looking for a model that will offer you great sound and make you look great while you listen, this is a good model to consider. They are also incredibly comfortable with an ergonomic shape and design.
The ear cups do a great job of reducing sound leakage while analog noise isolation helps you focus on whatever you’re listening to with unparalleled precision.
8. Audeze EL-8 Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
Let’s close with a slightly less expensive high-end model. These durable aluminum headphones from Audeze offer great warm sound quality. Even better, while the faux leather ear cups are huge and comfortable, this model is surprisingly lightweight. The speakers are able to reduce distortion and improve the overall sound clarity and quality.
As you can see, these headphones offer a wide range of features, but the two things they all have in common is the great deal of comfort they provide with their huge ear cups and their fantastic sound cancelling capabilities. Some of these headphones are better for portable use, while others are better for use in the studio. Some are better for casual listeners, and some are meant for more experienced (and wealthy) audiophiles.
We could have included the enormously well liked Audio Technica ATH-m50x which are one of the best selling closed back headphones but we’ve included it on many of our lists so it seemed time to step out a little.
But whatever your audio tastes may be, you can bet that you’ll be able to find a pair of closed back headphones that can fit them perfectly.
This post was last updated on 2021-04-22 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.