Looking for the best closed back headphones of 2020? Our reviews and guide can help you find the perfect pair of headphones. Closed back headphones may not offer the level of high definition sound quality or the compactness of earbuds, but if you’re looking for something to wear in the office, subway, or on a flight that will really drown out the surrounding sound and provide you with an immersive experience, there’s really nothing else that compares.
But the market for headphones can be a bit wild. There are a lot of options on the market, and pricing isn’t always synonymous with quality. Name brands can often charge a premium for offering less, and the technical specifications that audiophile sites offer can be a bit complicated. That’s why we’ve identified the 12 best closed back headphones of 2020 and created this helpful guide for shopping.
- The Best Closed Back Headphones
- 1. Sennheiser HD 569 Closed Back Headphone
- 2. Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones
- 3. AKG Pro Audio AKB K92 HEADPHONES
- 4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
- 5. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
- 6. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphone
- 7. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone
- 8. Shure SRH440 Studio Headphone
- 9. V-MODA Noise-Isolating Crossfade M-100
- 10. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
- 11. Status Audio CB-1 Studio Monitor Headphones
- 12. Edifier H840 Audiophile Headphones
- Best Closed Back Headphones Buyer’s Guide
The Best Closed Back Headphones
1. Sennheiser HD 569 Closed Back Headphone
There are few companies making headphones today that can draw attention like Sennheiser. The German company produces headphones that find a nice balance between quality sound and comfortable engineering, and the HD 569 offers both those things for right around a hundred dollars. The oversized cups are very plush and absorbing, offering great passive isolation without the need for complex and expensive noise canceling technologies. There's a nice form to it that doesn't necessarily look high end but does have a charmingly minimalist aesthetic.
But headphones are ultimately about sound, and the HD 569 exceeds expectations here. The acoustics in particular really shine through, offering a depth and nuance that's far from common, especially in a mid-range model. You won't find the flat sound you'd expect from a pair of studio headphones, but the HD 569 offers a great sense of balance, though there's a bit missing on the bass.
2. Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones
Shure may not carry the mainstream brand name appeal that comes with Sennheiser, but their high-end luxury closed headphones are worth your time. That's because they're worth every single dollar you'll pay for them. The tightness of the fit might be off putting if the softness of the fabric didn't feel so good. Rather than feeling too snug, they offer a roomy cushion that really lets the music breathe. And the lightweight design means that the aluminum band feels barely there.
This is a pair of headphones that are balanced but understand that neutrality is something best reserved for DJs and producers. The bass hits hard, while there's a great level of clarity to notes in the mid and high range. In short, there's a real sense of texture that performs above standard even for good closed back headphones at this top shelf price point.
3. AKG Pro Audio AKB K92 HEADPHONES
AKG's Pro Audio headphones are a tenth the cost of the Shure SRH1540 model. These aren't miracle workers, and you can't expect them to operate on the same level, but the level of value these budget closed back headphones offer for the dollar are hard to match. These are big headphones, but that's more a situational issue rather than a deficiency. They fit solidly on your head and do a great job of soaking up the sound without leakage. You won't want to take them on your daily commute, but you can wear them for hours without discomfort.
And while the build quality isn't top shelf, that's allowed AKG to put their focus squarely on sound quality. The K92 offers an exceptional frequency range, and it does a good job of making the most of it. They can absolutely handle complex songs without turning into a muddled mess.
4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
There's no doubt that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is going to be suited for a very specific type of consumer. These are headphones that are built for studio use through and through. In that respect, they succeed. These are some of the most balanced headphones on the market today. They offer clarity and accurate performance across a wide frequency response range. That's in large part due to the drivers constructed from rare earth magnets. While that makes these closed ear headphones a great choice for producers, that flatness isn't the best suited option for casual consumers just looking to listen to music.
If you're looking for good studio headphones, the design is well suited to your needs as well. The circumaural design is ergonomically suited to trapping in the music and resonating against your eardrums, and they're designed to swivel at a 90 degree angle.
5. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
The Pro designation in the DT 770 is more than just a marketing gimmick. These are high-end headphones through and through, and while the sound reproduction is superbly balanced, it's not so flat and neutral that they'll leave audiophiles disappointed. The padding consists of a lush microfiber that feels very good on the ears, and the tightness holds in sound pretty well. These aren't suited for hours of comfortable wear like the AKB K92, but they'll feel good for most reasonable listening experiences. The metal frame, meanwhile, is incredibly durable and able to take a beating.
The sound quality is exceptional. You can expect something in the range of the aforementioned Audio-Technica sets in terms of sheer performance. Extended bass really captures the depth of deeper sounds, while the mid-range is pitch perfect, and the trebles come in with a distinct sense of aural clarity.
6. Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphone
Sony's MDR7506 closed back over ear headphones are a bit cheaper than some of the other models on our list, but they're still a great listening device with a range that makes them ideal closed back headphones for gaming. That's in large part due to their lightweight design and comfortable fit. These closed back cans can be worn for hours without discomfort, and they can even be folded up to take with you on the go.
But cheap doesn't mean low quality. These headphones perform as well as many more expensive models in the sound department. They're a sensible choice for work in the studio or casual listening due to the generally strong balance. The bass is on the heavier end along with really nicely tuned mids and peak highs. They aren't perfectly flat, but they can serve ably as a backup pair of studio headphones in a pinch.
7. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone
The HD 280 Pro comes in at roughly the same price as our other listed set of Sennheiser headphones, and they may actually trump them in terms of overall quality. Their single form all black design may not make for the most stylish statement in the world, but the full cushioning built into the cans and the tight seal they create ensures both a comfortable fit and some of the best noise isolation you'll find without investing in dedicated noise cancellation technology. They're thick enough that they could functionally serve as a pair of winter earmuffs in a pinch.
That's a huge asset if you want to use these headphones at the office, in the studio, or in any other loud environment, and the quality of the sound performance here will really help you appreciate that isolation. It isn't the most pristine sound Sennheiser offers, but it's still pretty impressive.
8. Shure SRH440 Studio Headphone
Shure shows back up on our list with one of the most competitive pairs of studio headphones you'll find for $100. The design isn't the most comfortable fit we've experienced, but it's undoubtedly durable. These are headphones who can survive just about anything, and if the worst goes wrong, the ear cups are fully replaceable. They're also just a cooler looking pair of headphones than contemporary models like the Sennheiser headphones we have listed here. The metal accompaniment is a nice addition to the otherwise plastic frame.
The sound quality offers a similar balance to most of the headphones we have listed in this price range (and most studio-focused headphones in general): detailed and front-facing mids and highs and present but somewhat muted lows. It's not a choice that will appeal to bass heads, but it offers great sound reproduction for professionals and fans of most music genres.
9. V-MODA Noise-Isolating Crossfade M-100
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 may retail for a quarter of a grand, but it's worth every penny if you're looking to make an investment in a great pair of headphones. The inclusion of an inline remote and microphone make this a rarity on our list while ensuring that these are great closed back headphones for gaming. The fact that you can swap out the cups for engraved and specialized models will especially appeal to the esports crowd.
Durability takes precedent over comfort here, and you can be assured that these headphones won't budge as you move. As you might expect from headphones built with the needs of gamers in mind, this model has some substantial kick to the bass, and it doesn't lose its clarity even at the highest volumes. And while the treble isn't as great as it could be, the mids really hold pace with bass.
10. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
We've focused on relatively cheap closed back headphones with our earlier Sennheiser models, but if you're willing to throw in a little extra money, the Momentum 2.0 is certainly worth your design. It matches a vintage design to the superb sound quality that makes Sennheiser such a trusted name in the business. The ear cups are a bit smaller than average, and that's true for the overall design. This portability combined with a high level of durability lets these serve as exceptional travel headphones.
These certainly aren't studio headphones. That's to say that they aren't neutral in design. The bass quality is a little more prominent than in other Sennheiser headphones, and the mids also take a prominent position in the center stage. There's a placidness to the trebles that's a bit unique and will certainly be appealing to a certain breed of listener as well.
11. Status Audio CB-1 Studio Monitor Headphones
If you're working on a tighter budget but you demand a professional level of performance from your headphones, the Status Audio CB-1 will meet your needs. It's a deal at $60, but you aren't getting some cut rate headphones with your investment. The design is utilitarian and far from fancy, but the exceptional padding around the ear cups makes these some of the most comfortable closed back headphones you'll find, especially for this price point.
The sound quality is better than you might be expecting, and like many of the options on our list, these are monitor-style headphones. That makes them great for people who like to listen to a variety of music and allows them to serve as a secondary set for an audio professional. The neutral sound doesn't quite have the precision of more expensive models, but they're still up to most tasks.
12. Edifier H840 Audiophile Headphones
The Edifier H840 is the cheapest pair of closed back headphones we feel comfortable putting on our list, but budget-oriented customers will find a lot to love here. Cheaply priced doesn't mean cheaply manufactured in this instance. The H840 is actually distinctively and attractively designed, even in comparison to some of the mid-range headphones on our list, and both the cups and the bands are decently cushioned for comfortable hearing even over extended periods of time.
That said, don't come in expecting a pair of headphones built for audiophiles. The sound quality is undoubtedly good and more than generous for the price Edifier's offering, but it doesn't have the precision you'll find with more expensive models. The highest highs and lowest lows are going to lose some of their clarity, but these headphones excel in pop music where the mids tend to reign supreme over the rest of the band.
Best Closed Back Headphones Buyer’s Guide
Finding the top closed back headphones isn’t that different from shopping for any type of headphone, but we’re going to cover the basics to make your shopping experience easier.
What is Frequency Response?
Frequency response refers to the spectrum of sound that headphones can reproduce, starting in the lowest bass registers and extending to the treble highs. Human hearing is limited to a range of 20 Hz to 20 KHz, so you should look for at least that when buying new headphones.
So why do some headphones offer a wider frequency response range than that? A range that extends beyond human hearing can cause the frequencies that people can hear to sound richer and more authentic. While wider frequency ranges are generally a good thing, sound quality is affected by a number of different variables, so it’s not a singular spec you can use to determine sound quality.
What’s the Difference Between Noise Isolation and Noise Cancellation?
Noise isolation merely refers to how well a pair of headphones block out sound. The tightness of the fit, the thickness of the ear cups, and the seal they make around your ears can all affect how good the noise isolation is. And since they completely cover your ears, they’re usually a better choice for listening in busy places than other types of headphones.
Noise cancellation, by contrast, is an advanced and generally expensive technology that listens for outside sound and deploys frequencies that neutralize them before they can reach your ears. Due to the cost and the fact that most closed back headphones offer pretty great noise isolation anyway, we chose to prioritize sound quality and comfort over noise cancellation tech in our closed back headphones reviews.
Should You Get Studio Headphones?
A lot of the headphones on our list are marketed as studio headphones. What that means is that they replicate a sound that’s neutral rather than evocative. The most neutral sounds replicate the exact sound of the music you’re listening to, and that’s a great choice for producers who are trying to edit music with as much accuracy as possible.
Non-studio headphones, on the other hand, often move away from neutral sound, either because it’s easier to accomplish or because it tunes the music in a particular direction. Bass heavy headphones are great for hip-hop, while strong mids are a good choice for more melodic rock. If you have a preference towards music that leans in towards one end of the frequency response range, you may want to look to less balanced headphones, but pro headphones are a sensible choice if you want more versatility.
That’s it for our guide to the best closed back headphones of 2020. When you want to listen to music the way it was meant to be heard without distraction from the outside world, there’s no better option than closed back models. If you’re curious about whether closed back headphones are the right fit for you, be sure to check out our article on open back vs. closed back headphones.