In this guide, you will learn about TOP-10 best closed back headphones and how they differ from each other. For your convenience, the product review is divided into three price categories and a separate category for gamers. Why noise-canceling, equalizer and Bluetooth are that important? Are there models designed specifically for hip-hop and what is the best model for gaming? The guide will provide you with answers to these and other essential questions. A chart containing the most popular products on the market will help you make the right choice.
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- Why it is hard to find the right closed back headphones
- How do closed back headphones work?
- What are the types of closed back headphones and their differences?
- What to look for when buying a product?
- TOP-10 Best Closed Back Headphones
- Best closed back models under 500
- Best closed back models under 200
- Best closed back models for gaming
- Best closed back models under 100
Why It Is Hard to Find the Right Closed Back Headphones
Finding the right model can often be a stressful search. This is because there are often so many different types geared to different activities that you might feel compelled to purchase multiple sets. For instance, having a pair of headphones for studio mixing, one for gaming, and another pair for listening to music is something that many consumers do, regardless of how obsessed they are with nuanced sound.
This is why it can be so difficult to find a model that will help you with anything you might need, as most brands out there market their products for specific purposes. To know which pair is right for you, you have to go beyond what the marketing says and find out which aspects you personally value, then find a pair that fulfills all of those requirements.
Because this is a lot of effort to go through to just find a new pair of headphones, I'm here to help. As a musician who not only works in studios, but also frequently travels and plays video games, I have a history of using a single pair for many different purposes. This is why I've taken it upon myself to hit the market in search of the best pair of closed back headphones so you can know just which product you should be looking at the next time you're in the market for something new.
How Do Closed Back Headphones Work?
These devices work just the same as any other pair of over-the-ear models: the headphones themselves are essentially mini speakers that are encased in a foam circle for comfort and acoustic space, then powered by electricity. They're connected to music via an auxiliary cable that not only powers the devices, but also sends the audio to the mini speakers.
The name closed back headphones doesn't necessarily refer to how the the unit transmits sound, but rather what they do with that sound. To put it simply, they are surrounded by a plastic shell that closes the back off from ambient space surrounding the user. This also prevents the sound from bleeding out, allowing the user to hear the music directly as it was recorded.
This is a distinct difference from open back models that don't have the covering, avoiding separation between the music coming from the headphones and outside ambient noise. These types technically give you a more natural, fluid sound, but can quickly become counterproductive if somebody has extensive noise around them while listening (i.e. riding public transit). This is why used for recording spaces that have dampened acoustics or by people who want specifically to hear the outside acoustics while listening (i.e. if you are walking in the forest and want to hear the sounds of birds mixed in with your music).
What Are the Types of Closed Back Headphones and Their Differences?
The different types are distinguished not by how the headphones themselves work, but what features they have. The biggest difference between models is often whether or not they are wireless and/or if they have noise-canceling capabilities.
Bluetooth. For some, Bluetooth capable models are more trouble than they're worth, but many consumers prefer to have headphones that don't bring pesky cords with them.
Noise-canceling. The other type are noise-canceling ones, a type of technology that essentially creates a soundwave that is 180 degrees out of phase with the signal coming from the ambient noise, therefore making the inside of the unit feel much quieter. Some types also use small microphones inside of the product to achieve a similar effect.
Noise-canceling models are great for those situations where you're on a plane, in a loud subway, or similar types of high noise situations where it might be difficult to hear the music otherwise. They're also just a great option for those who truly want to hear just the music and not have any ambient noise interfering.
An equalizer (EQ) to even out the sound. Certain types of these devices also specialize in different types of music. For example, models built for hip-hop such as Beats by Dre will not be as good for classical music, as they typically are set up to emphasize the bass and beats that appear more often in hip hop aesthetics. However, I prefer to find models that either had adjustable EQs or simply a standardized EQ that is fit for all types of music. In the review section of this article, I'll be helping you with just that, providing reviews of products that are inherently versatile.
What to Look for When Buying a Product?
When looking for a pair of headphones that's right for you, the main three elements you should be concerned about are the ones I've listed above: wired/wireless, noise-canceling capabilities, and potential EQ specializations.
TOP-10 Best Closed Back Headphones
Take a look at a review of a TOP best products on the market that can be purchased at a price ranging from $50 to $500. Some models are more suitable for listening to music while others are recommended for gaming. It is noteworthy that only a few products in this list have the Bluetooth and noise-canceling capabilities but all of them have a good sound quality. As for the items intended for gaming, consider such features as a built-in microphone and the level comfort as well.
Best Closed Back Headphones Under 500
Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones | PHILIPS SHB9850NC/27
If you're somebody who wants to pay for models that are incredibly durable and able to cancel noise effectively, this pair of Philips headphones are great for you. The soft ear cushions are incredibly comfortable, with the design looking not just sleek, but being able to also be compactly folded with ease.
The Bluetooth capability with this product is also pretty solid, having built-in AAC and aptX codec support. The only issue I have with this model, though, is their price. $500 isn't the worst price in the world for a truly wonderful set of headphones, but when you can purchase a model that are just as good for a significantly lower price, it starts to feel like it's not worth it. However, something that Philips does have going for itself is a wonderful customer support system that will give you extensive input and help regarding any questions you have.
PHILIPS SHB9850NC/27: Check the current price
Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation | Sennheiser HD1
When referring to cheaper noise cancelling models in the previous review of the Philips SHB9850NCs, I was alluding to this Sennheiser HD1 one. This is because they are truly wonderful thing that are not on my personal favorite, but a great option for someone who is looking for their first pair of truly luxury headphones.
Their design is truly luxurious, being incredibly comfortable and fitting around any type of ears seamlessly. On top of this, the 22 hour battery life even with the Bluetooth and noise-canceling capabilities is just another reason as to why this model is truly the best that the market has to offer. The price might be prohibitive for some, but if you're looking for the best pair of headphones you can buy and don't mind paying the price for them as well, I highly recommend this product.
Sennheiser HD1: Check the current price
Best Closed Back Headphones Under 200
Close/Open Back Portable On-Ear Dynamic Headphones | HIFIMAN Edition S
This product is unique in the sense that they allow you to change between open and closed backs by just removing the logo on the side, something that other brands don't really do. However, it should be stated that the reason why other brands don't include this feature is likely because of how the closed back function feels a bit flimsy, with sound sometimes leaking out. However, these are still good headphones for those who want to try out the best of both worlds. They're also very portable and have a good design.
HIFIMAN Edition S: Check the current price
Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones | Monoprice Monolith M560
The design of this model has always felt clunky to me. Between the awkward arch above the head and the very circular, not-ear-shaped cushions, putting them on didn't feel very intuitive. However, the sound quality you get absolutely negates any possible negative aspects of the design.
You can still do the open or closed situation like the aforementioned HIFIMAN model, but I still ran into similar issues. They're pretty well-priced for what they are, though, meaning that those who are looking for something that will give them quality for a decent price should look into this option. They're also very good for mixing audio, making them a great steal for studio work.
Monoprice Monolith M560: Check the current price
Surround Sound Professional Closed-back Headphones with Transport Bag | Ultrasone HFI-580
Though I consider the two best headphone brands to be Philips and Sennheiser, I feel like I can always make an exception for Ultrasone. Their products usually run very cheap but still emulate the sound that more luxurious models come with, proving to be an efficient pair for anyone who is looking for headphones on a tight budget.
The design is incredibly sturdy, being able to fold and be portable just as easily as rest securely on top of your head. I also love the transport bag that this pair comes with to ensure that you're able to bring them with you and avoid any potential damage. It doesn't contribute to the success of the model, but certainly makes a good case for their durability, especially given their already-affordable price.
Ultrasone HFI-580: Check the current price
Premium Closed-Back Headphones Stereo | Philips Fidelio M1i
For those who want the quality that Philips model provides but don't want to dig deep into your wallet to get a pair, these are a great option. They have a great, clear range from 15Hz to 24KHz that I absolutely adore, supporting a large range of different types of music. And, with a 3.61ft long cord, I don't have to worry about not having enough space when I'm working from home or at the studio and have to do some drum recordings that are a few feet away from the computer.
Philips Fidelio M1i: Check the current price
Best Closed Back Headphones for Gaming
PC Gaming Headset | Sennheiser GAME ZERO
If you're somebody looking for quality gaming option, this pair of Sennheisers is just for you. They're very high-quality and come with a great built-in microphone that is adjustable, making them a perfect option for anyone looking for a pair of headphones specifically for playing online games with.
The only downside about this pair is that they're a bit on the pricey side for gaming models, but you do get the quality that you pay for. They also have a really great muting feature that occurs when you raise the boom arm up!
Sennheiser GAME ZERO: Check the current price
Closed-Back Gaming Headphones | Koss GMR-540-ISO
As a gaming option, these work quite well, but aren't that versatile for any other type of activity. However, the main reason you would get these is if you're on a budget, but still want some good headphones. Something that I love a lot about this model is how effectively they're able to isolate noise, giving you a high-quality effect that feels like noise-canceling, but isn't.
The design is also pretty lightweight, but that also means that they can easily be knocked off your head. They are very comfortable, though, allowing you to wear them for many hours at a time!
Koss GMR-540-ISO: Check the current price
Affordable Gaming Headset | Corsair Raptor HS30
As the cheapest item on this list, this pair of Corsair Raptor HS30 is the best budget gaming model you'll find. They can also listen to and mix music pretty well, allowing them to be versatile headphones for a pretty solid and general at-home listening experience. The design of this item is also pretty effective, providing comfort and a strong grip so they won't fall off of your head easily.
Corsair Raptor HS30: Check the current price
Best Closed Back Headphones Under 100
Closed-Back Over Ear Headphones | Sennheiser HD 206
As far as budget models go, these are truly the best available if you want a versatile product. Sennheiser is by far the leading company for headphones and I always love their products. If you can't get the $300 pair that I listed earlier in this Buyer's Guide, I highly recommend you look into these Sennheiser HD 206s.
Not only are they great option for music, but they're also good for gaming. The only downside for gaming is that they don't have a microphone to talk into, but that's really it — affordable, high-quality, and comfortable!
Sennheiser HD 206: Check the current price
Comparative Chart of the Effectiveness of Closed Back Headphones
HIFIMAN Edition S
Allow changing between open and closed backs
Monoprice Monolith M560
High quality of sound
High quality of sound
Philips Fidelio M1i
Sennheiser GAME ZERO
Lightweight and comfortable
Corsair Raptor HS30
Best budget gaming option
Sennheiser HD 206
Passive noise isolation
What are the best closed back headphones?
Out of all of the items I've taken a look at for this article, I keep coming back to the Sennheiser HD1 model with active noise cancellation. This is because they provide you with the most luxurious models you can currently buy for an incredible price. They come with Bluetooth 4.0 technology that does not drop the signal or lose quality at all, making them an incredibly good example of how wireless does not necessarily compromise on sound quality.
On top of all of this, the noise-canceling feature is simply superb, with the design of this item also making them an incredibly comfortable fit for anyone's ears. On a visual level, this model also look pretty slick and elegant!
Are they good for gaming?
Yes, they are! Not only do they allow you to hear music and sound effects pretty clearly, but the added built-in microphone also allows you to communicate seamlessly with your fellow gamers.
Which one is best for listening to music?
Even when looking at just the category of listening to music, the Sennheiser HD1 still are the best. They're just incredibly versatile headphones that work well for any type of music. I listen to a large range of different genres but never found myself wanting better EQ'ing when I used these!
Can you use closed back headphones for mixing?
Yes, you can! You might not get as clean of a natural sound as you would if you were using open back models, but the versatile benefits that closed back ones provide overall make them a much better choice. The Sennheiser HD1s I recommend in this article are also great options for mixing, as they offer really good clarity of the sound.
Which is better, open or closed back headphones?
Because of how many different ways in which you can use closed back models, I consider them better than open back ones. However, if you are somebody who needs a pair only for mixing or working in incredibly soundproof, quiet spaces, then perhaps open back models are for you.
Pros & Cons of Using These Products
- Have incredible clarity in sound
- Listen to music on-the-go
- Use them for a wide variety of different purposes
- Listen in almost any situation
- Might be price prohibitive for a more luxurious pair
- Might not be as good for mixing as an open back option, but still good if you get the right pair
These devices are a great pick if you're looking for headphones that not only give you immense flexibility, but also great quality overall. In this article, I've given you 10 different options to choose from that span not only a variety of different purposes, but also various price points and other features. In reading this, I hope you've become more informed on the subject and know which item to look into the next time you're in the market for a product that gives a truly versatile listening experience!