Update Incoming June: 2018
We just recently finished our article on the 8 best open headphones on the market right now so we thought it would only be fair to give a little love to closed headphones as well.
Closed headphones are likely the type of headphones that will best suit the majority of listeners due to their versatility. They can work in a lot of situations where using an open back headphone is just not practical.
In fact, if you want to find out more you can read our article from last week which covered the advantages and disadvantages in between closed and open back headphones.
Closed headphones are more suited for use in noisy environments due to their ability to block out external sound thus leaving you in isolated peace and quite.
They also are generally better suited as a set of travel headphones with most designers and brands who target traveling audiophiles opting to use a closed design. As a result you can get a lot of well made, durable and smaller designs that make them much easier to use on the go.
So what are our pick top 10 picks of the best closed headphones right now? In no particular order, we are going to cover the following headphones.
Best Closed Back Headphone List 2017
- Master & Dynamic MH40
- Audeze Sine
- Oppo PM3
- Audio Technica MSR7
- Beyerdynamic t51
- Bose QC35 II
- Audeze LCD-XC
- Fostex TH900 MK2
- Mr Speakers Aeon Flow
- MonoPrice 108323
Master and Dynamic MH40
Not the best sounding headphone on this list (there is some incredible competition and these still sound very good) but arguably the best looking.
Build quality of and design on the Master & Dynamic MH40 are top-notch making them excellent headphones when you are on the move.
Thes sound warm and energetic and do a great job at blocking out most of the external noise that can interrupt your listening experience on the go.
I personally use the Master MH30 headphones but the MH40 are a big step up and well worth the extra cash.
The baby of Audeze's closed back line up are finally here and they are awesome. Ladies and gentlemen... THE SINE.
For me the EL-8 closed back headphones from Audeze were a bit of a flop with some weird sonic traits and bulky cumbersome design oh and the connectors that snapped (or came close to snapping on 3 separate pairs).
The Sine though are an absolute shining example of why Audeze is one of the best headphone makers in the world. There is almost nothing.
Punch bass - check, detailed mids - check, stunning good looks, all day comfort and stellar build... yup all check.
Simply put they were one of the best headphones released last year and they are every bit as good in 2017.
Despite Audeze's mastery of the planar magnetic driver it was Oppo who were the first ones to perfect the closed back planars.
They took all the great things that we loved about the companies Oppo PM2 and crammed it into a smaller package. This was the first planar headphone that I would consider portable and useable.
The build quality is outstanding and when used in conjunction with the companies HA-2 amplifier the sound is out of this world and a true portable audiophile solution.
Audio Technica MSR7
The have been around for a while now and the price has slowly crept down to the $250 mark making the MSR7 by Audio Technica one of the best buys in closed back headphones today.
Sound is impressively detailed and very well balanced with a soundstage and performance closer to a lot of open back headphones in this price range.
The build is spot on and the styling is excellent (especially in the Brown and Silver version) A classy headphone that is capable of competing with headphone more than twice its price.
These mini Beyers are on of the best portable headphone solutions on this list.
Built like absolute tanks with metal headbands and rock solid earcups the T51i are built to last.
Isolation is excellent as you would expect from a monitor headphone of this pedigree and the sound follows that Beyerdynamic ethos of crisp clarity, intense speed, and tight punchy lows.
The midrange is the star of the show and helps to make the t51 incredibly versatile no matter what your preferred genre of music is.
These are the closed headphones I would reccomend to people who are like to stay portable, want a detailed energetic sound and want their earphones to be pretty much bombproof.
Well, these are closed back so they are going to be good at isolating anyway but on top of that Bose has the best noise canceling technology of any headphone in the world.
The QC35 fixes all that was wrong with the QC25's sound profile and now you get great sound quality in complete and utter silence.
The competition just can't quite catch up as the QC35 builds on the company's in depth knowledge of making great travel headphones.
If like me, you travel a lot and are hopping on and off planes and public transport then these headphones will make your life much much more enjoyable.
Oh look its Audeze again. Don't be so surprised though these are truly awesome sounding headphones.
LCD-XC take the brands LCD-X open back planars and put them into a non-vented ear-cup (with a little bit of magic sauce) and offer some of the best sound quality you can find in a closed back headphone.
Eye catching polished wood and absolutley dripping with high quality leather these are headphones to be experieced by true lover of music.
We found they need a good amp to make them come alive and the price is right up there with the most expensive headphones in the world but if you are looking to drop around 2 grand on a set of closed back headphones we could think of a lot worse ways to spend that cash.
Fostex TH-900 MK2
Fostex are heavy hitters in the headphone world and offer up headphones to suit most price points but the TH-900 Mk2 can be considered one of the brands truly great products.
Designed as a pure audiophile grade reference headphone the Mark 2 is visceral in the way it dissects audio.
They bring out every detail, good and bad, in your music and will present your music in a way you have most likely never heard before.
Listening to the TH900 is an experience not to be missed and its one of the headphones here that can actually keep pace with the highest end open back headphones.
Oh, and did I mention it was beautiful to boot? The carved wooden ear cups are as stunning in the hand as they are on the eye. A true beast of build, style and sound.
MR Speakers Ether C
Mr speakers started off modifying Fostex's planar magnetic workhorse the T50rp some years ago and their range of headphones has now expanded to cover a wide range of price points.
The Ether C are a closed back build and have a wonderfully detailed and rich tone to them. Lots of detail is to be found here as well with instruments and vocals through the midrange sounding super engaging to say the least
The might still have hues of a DIY style build about them but the are a true bang for buck mid-tier audiophile grade headphone in a closed format.
Oh and that carbon fibre finish on the earcups is just beautiful.
Don't think we were going to leave you fans of budget headphones out of this list. For $25 the Monoprice own branded 108324 headphones (Terrible name aside) are outstanding performers.
Sure you are going to be sacrificing some sound quality, style and build from some of the other more outrageous headphones above but at the same time you are going to be saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
All whilst getting a closed back headphone that can outperform most other headphones in the sub $100 price range. An outstanding buy and worth picking up just as a backup, beater or for modding projects.
Audio Technica M50x
Wait.... you didn't think we were going to go through a list of the best closed back headphones and not include the ridiculously popular Audio Technica M50x did you.
The M50x has of course been one of the most highly recommended closed back headphones under $200 in the past few years and for good reason.
There's a detailed and balanced sound, stunning build quality that makes the likes of beats headphones seem woefully inadequate, detachable cables and tremendous isolation.
This is still one of the kings of the closed back headphone space.
Update: For those out there who have been asking for a recomendation for closed back headphones under $100 then we are happy enough after concluding our full review that the Status Audio OB-1 should be included as an honorable mention. At around $80 on the US market that pack quite a punch.