Closed headphones, or sealed headphones, have a sealed-back earcup intended to isolate listeners from outside noise.
What You Need to Know:
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• Closed headphones typically block around 10-15 dB, and are an excellent choice for office environments or other areas where some awareness is still desired.
• They also prevent others nearby from hearing music 'leaking' out of your headphones.
• Closed headphones may be either full-size (circumaural) or on-ear/earpad (supra-aural) types.
• Most audio professionals (DJs, sound reinforcement, location recordists, studio producers, etc.) use closed headphones to allow for better concentration without intrusion of ambient noise distractions.
• Nowadays, the very best closed headphones will compete in sound quality with the best 'open-back' headphones.
More closed-back isolating headphones can be found in our HeadRoom selection guides for Noise Cancelling and In Ear headphones.
Top HeadRoom-Selected 'Low-Cost' Closed Headphones
The best "cheap" closed headphones are either the Koss UR20 or the Sennheiser HD201. Frankly, it's amazing both can give you so much music for so little cost. For just a bit more money, the Sennheiser 205 II sounds slightly better and provides fair noise isolation. Bass lovers will rattle their brains with the Sony MDR-XB500, which tastefully explodes the bass, is very comfortable, and looks terrific to boot. Durably and simply built to withstand daily use, the unassuming Beyerdynamic DT235 has way better clarity in the upper mids/highs than anything else at this price. Form follows function with the Superlux HD668B, excellent 'monitoring' headphones with rounded pads and an incredibly good-sounding tone. The no-nonsense looks and behaved but bumpin' bass of the AKG K81DJ will please urban and rocknroll music lovers at an affordable price. Lastly, Sennheiser brings it on yet again with the HD229, superb small portable or office headphones with a marvelously balanced, musical sound.
Top HeadRoom-Selected 'Mid-Priced' Closed Headphones
Music lovers and audio fans will listen agape at the neutral and highly articulate Shure SRH-440 which has become a staple of professionals and enthusiasts trying to stay under $100. Similarly sweet-sounding and slightly warmer-toned, the Audio Technica ATH-M50 are great professional and/or portable cans that also fold for compact transit or storage. The Sennheiser HD449 is a terrific sounding headphone for home and office with cool looks to match. Folks who are typically very active while listening (drummers, runners, construction workers, boarders, etc) will feel secure wearing the Sennheiser HD 25-1-II, with a 'split' headband that will perfectly fit your head. The Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro, is a highy competent full-size, 'semi-sealed' headphones with highly effective low-bass tuning and cool personalization options.
Top HeadRoom-Selected 'High-End' Closed Headphones
Jumping head-first into audiophile-level sealed cans, the AKG K550 is amongst the best sealed headphone 'bang for the buck' values under $300 with a wonderfully pristine, accurate tone at all frequencies and little skimping on bass. The more refined Audio Technica ATH-W1000X are detailed, airy-sounding headphones with large comfortable earpads & headband; both of these models are particularly comfortable for larger heads. The full-size upscale Beyerdynamic T5p is very efficient (32 Ohms) for non-amped use and has a simple tone with an expansive, spatially correct soundstage image. Amongst our favorite sealed 'top-of-the-line' headphones is the Ultrasone Edition 8 which is unique in its ability to be both soulful and directly punchy at the same time. The Edition 8 is exquisitely constructed with exotic elemental materials, is a cosmetic joy to behold, and delivers a private musical vacation at every listen with the top isolation specs of any headphone on this list. At the very top of the sound quality heap, the Fostex TH-900 and the Ultrasone Signature Pro reign supreme in delineated musical detail, extreme clarity and deep resolution power. Simply stunning top-of-category cans.
We've listed our top HeadRoom 'sealed/closed' headphone picks above but click here to see all Closed headphones.