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What Are Closed Back Headphones and How To Choose The Best Ones For You

Headphones are the way to go when you want to listen to music, play video games, edit videos and so on. The flexibility of headphones makes them the right choice for any situation and any place, whether that’s the office, the house or even out in public.

There are different types of headphones, but we will be focusing on closed-back headphones.

 

What Are Closed-Back Headphones

 Closed-back headphones are very distinct because of their design.The back part of the ear cups is completely closed. That way, no outside sound can pass through the headphones. This makes the listening experience much more enjoyable.

The feature that made them so popular is the noise cancellation that they offer. The budget options usually have passive noise cancellation, while the more expensive ones have active noise cancellation. The best thing about noise cancellation is that you can listen to your music without anyone or anything distracting you and interrupting your listening experience.

An issue that some of you may face is the pressure that could be built up. Because of their design, closed back headphones may be damaged if the volume is turned up at a certain level. This will lead to a worse sound quality, which is never fun.

In the past few years, there has been a huge demand for high-end closed back headphones. This is probably happening because we spend most of our time near people. We don’t want to bother others with our music and we don’t want others to bother us.

That’s why we are here to help you find the best product for your needs, so that you don’t have to do the research.

 

What Are The Advantages Of Closed-Back Headphones

 

We believe that the best feature of the closed-back headphones is the noise isolation that they provide. The design of the closed-back headphones doesn’t allow any sound to pass through them. In other words, your ears are fully covered by the ear cups and any outside noise is not able to pierce your ears. This obviously allows you to enjoy your music without any interruptions from the outside world.

Another great feature when comparing the closed back headphones to open back headphones is that the bass is much greater. This happens because the air gets stuck inside of the ear cups and bass can be built up more easily. Another benefit of this design is that those who are around won’t be able to know what you are listening to.

 

What To Consider When You Want To Buy A Pair Of Closed-Back Headphones

When it comes to big purchases, there are many factors that you should take into account before you make the final choice. And headphones are no different. There are many different options that you can choose from, not just open back or closed back.

●    Noise Cancellation or Not

For those of you who don’t know about this, no matter what kind of headphones you choose, there’s two different types when it comes to noise cancellation. There are headphones that offer active noise cancellation and those that offer passive noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation is usually found in headphones of a lower budget than those which offer active noise cancellation. This is because the active noise cancellation headphones have circuits into the ear cups which cut any noise out. These circuits are expensive to make, but they offer much better noise cancellation.

●    Material

Most headphones on the lower end of the budget spectrum will have cheap designs. That’s why they are also cheaper than higher end ones. These headphones are usually built entirely of plastic. Higher end ones are usually made of some sort of metal, so they are more durable. The cheaper ones, however, are usually lighter than the more expensive ones. The ear cups must not be hard and they need to fit your head perfectly. At the same time, they shouldn’t be too tight because they could make for an unpleasant experience.

●    Accessories

There are some headphones on the market that have extra pieces right out of the box. These could range from cables to extra ear pads to cases. You should certainly look out for any extra accessories, as they could really come in handy in certain situations.

 

Budget Options

This category is for those of you who don’t want to spend a ton of money, but still want all the benefits of a pair of closed-back headphones.

At this price range, you can expect some good quality sound. On the lower end, you might see an emphasis on the bass which is usually because of the low cost of production.

These headphones will usually have a cheap design, but still be comfortable to wear on an everyday use. So let’s take a look at them:

 

Product Comfort Design Sound Overall
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x 8/10 8/10 9/10 8.5/10
Sony MDR7506 8/10 7/10 10/10 8/10
AKG K72 7/10 8/10 7/10 7/10
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

 

8/10 9/10 8/10 8.5/10

 

 

1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

When talking about headphones, we have to include Audio-Technica. They are all about pleasing their customers and they deliver again with the ATH-M40x. This is a really solid pair of closed-back headphones.

The pair comes only in matte black colour with a few silver details. The ATH-M40x, despite being large in size, are really comfortable. Despite the headband of the headphones being lightly padded, it doesn’t affect the comfort at all. The ear cups can move around freely, so that you can adjust them to fit perfectly on your ears. The problem with that is that they are likely to break with incorrect use.  The ear pads rarely heat up even on a hot summer evening. When it comes to the sound quality, it can be cut down to one sentence. These headphones were built for listening to music for hours.

When it comes to sound quality, the lows are boomy to a comfortable level. The mids and highs are really clear and accurate, leading to a really enjoyable experience.

The ATH-M40x are for those of you who love listening to music for hours upon hours. On top of that, they offer some great sound quality for those who want to use them professionally for recordings. If you’re looking for a great and durable pair of headphones, this pair is worth every single cent.

Pros

Pros
  • Excellent Sound Quality
  • Great For Long Sessions
  • Replaceable cable

Cons

Cons
  • No microphone/remote
  • Not as tonally neutral as others

 

2. Sony MDR7506

The Sony MDR7506 are an industry favourite. They have been used for two decades all over the audio production industry.

When it comes to their design, we have to point out the obvious, which is that they are almost completely made of plastic. While this does make them lightweight, it doesn’t help the fact that they are fragile. So don’t go throwing them carelessly in your bag. The cable is non removable but it is also super thick and durable. A great feature is that the cups are foldable so they don’t take much space. They do a fantastic job when it comes to adjusting to different head and ear sizes. The headband of the headphones can feel tight to a comfortable level. Expanding to that, the comfort remains good during long sessions. And on top of that, the ear pads are replaceable, so you can find ones that are more comfortable for you on Amazon.

When talking about sound, the MDR7506’s are really good. The only problem some may face is that the lows aren’t really powerful like some of you may like, but they are still pretty clear. Speaking of clarity, we have to talk about the mids and highs. As mentioned before, these are industry favourites for a reason. They excel when it comes to mids and highs.

The Sony MDR7506 are for those of you who will be using them at a desk. Their design doesn’t allow great portability, so use them on a home studio or the office. For their price, you won’t find anything better when it comes to sound quality.

Pros

Pros
  • Great Sound For Mixing
  • Good Isolation
  • Great Cable Durability

Cons

Cons
  • Plastic Build
  • Not really good on lows

 

3. AKG K72

The AKG K72 are for those of you who are on a tight budget. At first glance, you will understand that these headphones aren’t for commuting.

Their design is justified by their purpose. They aren’t fancy wireless headphones. They were made for home usage. The ear cups gently hug your head due to their size making them extremely comfortable for their price. The headband resembles the classic music studio headphones one. The cable is a thick 3 meter non removable one, which doesn’t really allow you to walk around town with them. Another problem is that the noise isolation is not great despite their closed back nature. But, we have to admit that someone could easily convince us that by just looking at them they look much more expensive than they truly are.

When it comes to sound, their neutrality is clear from the start. Unlike most headphones on that price range, they don’t emphasize on the bass. The sound is wide and detailed. An area the K72s lack on are the mids. This leads to the vocals and other instruments that are mid led being suppressed. But, you can’t really expect perfect quality sound for their low price. And that’s what their aim is. To provide great quality for those on a budget.

These are truly the best of the best you can buy if you are on a really tight budget.

Pros

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Affordable

Cons

Cons
  • Boxy mids

 

4. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro were made to be used at home. Their look and design doesn’t allow them to be used outside.

They are built entirely out of plastic, but they still feel high-grade and sturdy. The ear cups feel very comfortable and are removable. They also have some openings which make them even more comfortable. The headband padding is incredibly soft and squishy and has a cutout in the center. This leads to the headband being extremely comfortable when using it for hours upon hours. When it comes to sound isolation, it’s probably the best you can get for their price. They won’t give you the results that some active noise cancellation headphones will, but this is the best that passive isolation can offer.

The great part about these is their sound quality. The bass is clean and accurate without stomping over the rest of the mix, although it lacks an aggressive thump that bassheads would want. The mids are exceptionally clear and detailed which is important since that’s where the bulk of sound information lives in music. The highs have just enough shine to be suitable for monitoring but without the harshness that’s present in some other studio headphones. They have a nice and decently flat signature that’s a real joy to listen to even over extended periods.

These are one of the best closed backs you can get when it comes to

sound quality and overall comfort.

Pros

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Great Frequency Accuracy
  • Durable

Cons

Cons
  • Cable is not detachable

 

Mid-Range Options

 

This category is for those of you who have a few extra dollars to put into this buy. For that extra money, you will get much better sound quality. On top of that, you will get better headphone designs, ensuring your comfort for even the longest of time. You will also notice that these headphones are more of an investment. Even if you use them daily, they are built to last for many years. You might also notice a few extra features like detachable cables, fully rotating ear cups and more. Let’s take a look:

 

Product Comfort Design Sound Overall
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x 9/10 9/10 9/10 9/10
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 10/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 7/10 9/10 8/10 8/10
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus

 

 

9/10 9/10 9/10 9/10

 

5. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are one of the most used pairs of headphones on the market at this moment. They offer crystal clear sound and also come with a great design.

The ATH-M50x’s are offered in a fairly large selection of colours ranging from a fiery, vibrant red to the classic all-black we are all used to. There are enough options for everyone to find their favourite one. Their design is beautiful. Even though the headphones are made of plastic, they feel very lightweight. Add to that some great soft padding and you have the recipe for a pair of really comfortable headphones to use for many hours at a time. The headphones themselves are really sturdy, despite the plastic build. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should be piling up books on top of them. Another great feature is that the ear cups have a 90 degree rotation. This is optimal for those of you who want to leave them hanging on your neck when you’re not using them, but also allows slight adjustments to make them more comfortable for you. A drawback that you may face is that you’ll need to take them off every now and again or else you will have sweaty ears . This happens because the ear pads don’t allow a lot of air to pass through, so the heat gets trapped inside of the ear pads.

Their sound is truly incredible. While the lows are good, the ATH-M50x’s really shine in the mids and highs. They never miss even the slightest detail. Something you might experience is that the people around you may hear what you’re listening to because the ear pads are shallow and their seal might get disrupted.

These headphones are for those of you who commute by bus or by train. The design of the ATH-M50x’s and their soft padding cancels out most of the outside noise. And on top of that you can safely fold them and throw them in your bag, without them taking much space. These are also for any of you who are just starting out on audio production. They are truly an amazing pick for anyone who wants a light pair of headphones with noise cancellation.

Pros

Pros
  • Excellent sound
  • Good build quality
  • Good looking

Cons

Cons
  • Thick Sound

 

6. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

When it comes to headphones, Beyerdynamic follows a simple design etiquette. They want their headphones to last. The same can be seen on the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO’s.

The design of the headphone uses a bunch of metal, mainly on the headband and the parts that connect the headband to the ear cups. The ear cups themselves are mad for a thick layer of durable plastic. The cable is surrounded by rubber and plastic, making this the perfect design for  closed back headphones. When it comes to the padding, you will see that it is made of velour. This is a positive for all of you who wear glasses, as it is much more preferred than the earpads which are leatherette, because the velour ones don’t squeak when you move your head. This also allows the heat to not be trapped inside the headphones that much. The pads are also easily removable so that you can clean them. These are some really comfortable headphones. You will be able to use the DT 770 PROs for many hours without any problems. For you music creators reading this, these are made for you. Beyerdynamic knows that you will need to wear them for hours and that you will be taking them off and putting them on a lot of times. That’s why they made them as comfortable as they can be.

When it comes to sound, many have criticised that it is muddy. Do remember that these headphones need to be powered correctly and sufficiently. What you need to know is that the DT 770 PROs are really bass-heavy. In other words, their lows usually excel. The mids will usually take a backseat to the bass. but that won’t happen in a well mixed track. These headphones are better to be used on a computer or a recording booth. This happens because when mixing a track, they tend to highlight the mids compared to the poor highs. Usually, during the transition from mids to highs there’s a significant drop in emphasis, which is a feature that Beyerdynamic decided to use, to avoid any damage done to your ears The highs are by no means bad, it’s just the way Beyerdynamic built them.

The DT 770 PROs are for any music creators who want a high-end pair of incredibly durable headphones  to use in their recording booth. They can also be used by all of you casual listeners out there, who just need a really comfortable pair of closed back headphones to use at their computer.

Pros

Pros
  • Extremely Durable
  • Very Comfortable

Cons

Cons
  • Bulky
  • Not very portable

 

7. V-Moda Crossfade M-100

The V-Moda M-100 allows you to give your personal touch on them. You can choose to customize every part of the actual headphones, form the material used to the colour of every single screw. The quality of the M-100 is excellent, as we are used to by the V-Moda products.

The headband can be twisted to every direction without breaking. This build also allows the pressure to be spread equally along the head of the user, preventing any hot spots. The earcups can be easily folded making them small enough to fit on the palm of your hand. Another great feature of the M-100 is that the cable can be plugged into both ear cups. This is really helpful to those of you who don’t want a cable to always be across your whole body.

When it comes to the sound, the M-100s are superb. They produce a very clear and full of detail sound. The bass is strong, while the mids are usually really clear and the highs are well balanced. Add to that a great passive noise cancellation and you have a very solid pair of headphones.

The M-100s are truly for everyone. The gamers will appreciate the design of the headset as well as the mic that is attached to the headphones, which produces really good quality. Another group of people that will love the M-100 is the DJs. Because of the SharePlay feature on the audio cable, they will be able to mix multiple tracks at the same time with no extra cost. Lastly, the M-100s are for those of you who travel. Because of their small and compact size, you can carry them anywhere you want to go, whether that’s travelling by airplane or commuting by bus

Pros

Pros
  • Great Sound Quality
  • Good Build Quality

Cons

Cons
  • Not Comfortable for long sessions

 

8. Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus

As we’ve mentioned before, Beyerdynamic are all about making headphones that last for years. The Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus is no different.

The headband is made of thick metal and covered by a soft leatherette material made by velcro, allowing for an easy removal if you wish to change the colour of the headband. The headphone’s size adjusters can be found next, which are covered entirely by thick plastic. The side arms are also made of black metal, just like the headband. On the inside of the side arm, you will find a few little dots, which display the size you have chosen. There are eight dots in total, so these headphones can fit on your head, no matter how big or small it is. The ear cups are fairly big and your ears can easily and comfortably fit inside of them. The ear pads are made of the same leatherette material we saw on the headband, which offers great comfort and really good noise cancellation. Both cups are covered by a layer of felt on the inside. The real selling point of the Custom One Pro Plus is that they are really customisable. The headphones themselves come in black or white, but the box that they come with has different sets of covers, which can be placed on the exterior of the ear cups. These sets range from graffiti to a green leopard pattern. On top of that, you can purchase different patterns on their website. Even the cables, the ear pads and the headband covers are replaceable, so you can have a personalised pair of headphones.

This level of customization can also be found on the sound quality. You can choose what kind of bass response you want to have, using a switch on the headphones. There are four different positions: “Light Bass”, “Linear”, “Vibrant” and “Heavy”. As you can understand, the higher the position, the harder the bass will be. Their overall sound quality is also superb. They are tonally accurate, and you will notice that the mids and highs are really detailed while the lows feed the other two really well.

These headphones are for those of you who really want to personalize your headphones. Their quality is great, but in reality, if you love to tweak your tech, these are your best pick.

Pros

Pros
  • Solid Balanced Sound
  • Really Comfortable
  • Super Customisable

Cons

Cons
  • Need more excitement and dynamic flair

 

High-End Options

 

This is where the fun begins. These headphones are usually chosen by professionals. They are made for people who have to work with audio every day. Music producers, radio producers, youtubers. All of them are using these headphones. The sound quality will be the best out of all the categories. These are also built to last for really long, so you can expect some metal designs. On top of that, they are made with extra attention to comfort, to ensure that the producers can work for hours upon hours using them. So, let’s take a look at them.

 

Product Comfort Design Sound Overall
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-ear 10/10 9/10 10/10 9.5/10
Sony WH-1000XM3 10/10 8/10 10/10 9/10
Bose QuietComfort 35 II 9/10 8/10 9/10 8.5/10

 

 

9. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-ear

The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 are the best you will find in this category.

When it comes to their design, you’ll see that they are made for your absolute comfort. The headband is coated by two different types of leather. The bottom part is covered by a very high quality leather, whereas the top part is covered in this rugged leather that could be found on one of your wallets. Moving downwards, we’ll take a look at the sidearms. They are made from stainless steel and they attach to the headband with  a few hinges, increasing the stability of the headphones and enabling them to fold up. These hinges are extremely durable and can easily bend so that the headphones can fit your head perfectly. The ear cups can be moved around a lot for the ideal fit on your ears. You can’t, however, contort the ear cups so that they rest on your neck, which might disappoint some of you. The ear cups house a lot of different features. They are both built to aid the active noise cancellation, while you can also find an input for charging, one for wired listening, a power button and a multi-function/ volume control button. The active noise cancellation on the Momentum 2.0 isn’t the best out there, but it is certainly adequate. On top of that, it doesn’t have any effect on the sound quality.

When listening to music on these, it is an amazing experience. For their price, these truly offer the best sound for Bluetooth headphones. The bass is usually strong but never dominates the other frequencies. The mids and highs are perfect and their clarity is extraordinary.

The battery life on the Momentum 2.0 is exceptional. With just a 3-hour charge, you will be getting at least 22 hours of performance. These headphones are a must for those who have the budget for it. They are the best wireless option no matter what you will use them for.

Pros

Pros
  • Comfy, rugged build
  • Best-in-class sound
  • Everlasting battery life

Cons

Cons
  • Nothing of Note

 

10. Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony has been producing headphones for a very long time, and we can see that on the WH-1000XM3’s. These headphones are really well designed.

The WH-1000XM3 are made of plastic. Some of you may wonder how they can be so expensive and be made of plastic. Their price is justified by the tons of features that they offer. For instance, you can control the playback through touch controls that can be found on the right ear cup, which is a really clever and innovative way to do that function. The outside of the headphones is made of semi-reflective plastic, so that you might think that it is made of some sort of leather material. There are two different colours that you can choose from: a stealthy all-balck and a vibrant champagne coloured one. Both of them look really cool. When it comes to long-term comfort, Sony has taken care of it. You can use the WH-1000XM3 for a lot of hours at a time without any significant problems. The only issue that you might face is that, like every closed back headset, they can build up heat if you walk around a lot, especially if they don’t fit you perfectly. The leatherette that the ear pads have does a great job to minimize this problem, though. The WH-1000XM3 actually fit much better than they might look at first sight.

The battery life on the WH-1000XM3 is amazing. You can easily get 24 hours of performance, with active noise cancellation enabled. Speaking of active noise cancellation, these headphones have the best one out there. The drivers are aligned with your ear canal, so the outside noise can be cancelled much more accurately. And even though this isn’t new, it’s still noteworthy.

When it comes to sound quality, the responses are mixed. The default is heavily emphasized on bass and the mids and highs are usually just there in the background. This can be altered however through Sony’s app. The WH-1000XM3 are for those of you who need a pair of headphones on the go.

Any of you who commute by bus or by train will enjoy  the noise cancellation that is offered. Those of you who travel around the world will also enjoy the comfort that the WH-1000XM3 provide.

Pros

Pros
  • Supremely Comfortable
  • Best Noise Cancelling

Cons

Cons
  • Touch controls feel fiddly at first

 

11. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

For those of you who have never heard about Bose’s headphones, you’ll immediately notice a different design than usual. This is actually the design that has been used by Bose for years now. The oval shaped ear cups and the uniqueness of the headband are just a few details on these headphones that makes them stand out.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are quite big compared to older models. The headband is a bit thicker, the ear cups are slightly larger and you will notice that they are a bit heavier. Comparing them to older models, the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIhave almost everything incorporated inside of the headphones. For example, the microphone and the playback controls are built-in. Since these are Bluetooth headphones and they have active noise cancellation, you’ll need to charge them.

The older models used AAA batteries, while the QuietComfort 35 II use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is integrated into the headphones. This is obviously a huge benefit, as you need to go searching for AAA batteries when they die. But, for any of you who travel, it could potentially be bad, because you won’t be able to enable active noise cancellation if the headphones die mid-flight. Going back to the headband, you will notice that it has a bunch of padding. At the same time, it is very flexible. The ear cups have a rotation of 90 degrees and they can fold in towards the headband, because of the flexible hinges that connect them with the headband. Speaking of the ear cups, everything can be found here. You will notice that on the left one, there’s an audio input, on the occasion that the battery dies and a small microphone. On the right one, you will notice that there’s a power button and a bluetooth switch along with a few small indicator lights and, of course, the playback controls. A great feature is that the volume buttons are built in a way to be more distinct than the multifunction button, so that it won’t be hard to find them.

The battery life is pretty good. It is estimated at around 20 hours of performance, with max volume and enabled active noise cancellation. Now let’s talk about sound quality. The bass was never the best on Bose’s headphones. If you have the volume on max, you will notice a rattle, so you shouldn’t really do that. When listening to music on regular levels, however, you won’t experience any problems. The mids are amazing again.

The sound magnificent with a great amount of detail and clarity. The highs are as good as the mids. The detail on them is truly incredible. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are for those of you who just want a solid pair of Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation. They are extremely comfortable and it is a great pick.

Pros

Pros
  • Great noise cancellation
  • Extremely Comfortable

Cons

Cons
  • Plain Design
  • Bad in the lows

Conclusion

Closed-back headphones are usually the best option for any of you who want to be a pair of headphones. They are very versatile and you can potentially use them wherever you go, from travelling to going to the office. You might have noticed that you can’t always fulfill all of your needs, so you’ll need to think about what you are really looking for in this purchase.

Our list of the best-closed back headphones highlighted some of the most well-known choices out there for different budget levels, so I hope that it has helped you make the best decision based on your needs

 

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