Best Closed-back Headphones in 2022 - Buying Guide

Best Closed-back Headphones in 2022 - Buying Guide

Whether you’re an audiophile, music professional, or simply in the market for a new set of headphones, the choice is endless. From style and design to weight and tonal balance, there are many key factors to consider when choosing the perfect pair of headphones.

The following is a list of closed-back headphones I feel are the most easy to recommend within their given price bracket. For a more general buying guide on what to look for when shopping for high end headphones, check out our Headphone Buying Guide. We also have a list of open-back recommendations that's already available for those who don't require the conveniences of a closed-back setup, and you can also find our in-ear headphone buying guide here.

What are closed-back headphones?

Closed-back headphones are completely sealed in the back, only allowing sound to emit from the section that reaches your ear. They are designed to block out external ambient noise while minimizing sound leakage from the earpieces.

Who should use closed-back headphones?

While the music won’t sound as natural as with open back headphones due to their isolating nature, closed-back headphones are ideal for those who commute on subways, trains, or other loud, public places. Most audio professionals like DJs, mixers, and recordists also prefer closed-back headphones for their noise isolation.

What are the best closed-back headphones?

I’ve listed out my favorite closed-back headphones at a variety of price points below. Before we get into my list, however, it should be noted that there may be other headphones that would make the list, but for one reason or another we haven't had the chance to evaluate it yet. This list is therefore subject to change (for example, I haven't had the opportunity to review the ZMF Closed-backs yet, but maybe when I do they'll get added). But as of right now, these are my picks for the best closed-back headphones in 2022.

$200 and Under

DT770 Pro (Under $150)

What we like

High Value for Money

Great Technical Performance

Great Passive Noise Attenuation

Comfortable, Durable Build

What we don’t like

Cable is Non-Dettachable

V-Shaped Sound Signature Might be Bothersome for Some

A headphone used widely in professional recording studios for monitoring, and a classic audiophile pick, there’s few other headphones that can really compete with the DT770 Pro in the sub $200 range.

It delivers a v-shaped sound signature that paired with the DT770 Pro’s technical performance makes for a listening experience that is both very exciting and nuanced. One of its most prominent features is its soundstage, which for a closed-back headphone actually feels rather spacious. In fact, this soundstage and the precise left-right directionality that the DT770 Pro provides is the reason why this headphones also happens to be a popular pick for gaming applications.

I should caution that the v-shaped tonality could be a little bright-sounding or too bassy for some listeners, but other than that, this is a very well-rounded headphone that offers tremendous value.

Check out the review:

AKG K371 (Under $150)

What we like

High Value for Low Price Point

Exceptional Tonal Balance

Solve Closed-Back Use Case Situation

What we don’t like

Pads are Small

Build doesn’t Feel Premium, or Sturdy

The high value pick at this price point, and indeed every price point, goes to the phenomenal AKG K371. In some ways this headphone is the easiest recommendation on this list, since not only does it solve the closed-back use case situation, it has such an exceptional tonal balance that it seems to unveil all the finer nuances in the music.

For a recording professional or anyone needing a closed-back reference headphone for pro applications, I keep coming back to the K371 — truly an outstanding headphone.

Some minor downsides, the pads are quite small, the headphone feels on the whole a bit rickety and I wouldn’t feel comfortable throwing it around as much as say a beyerdynamic DT 700 — but for the price, there’s really nothing better.

Check out the review:

$500 and Under

Drop X DCA Aeon X Closed (Under $500)

What we like

Great Tonal Balance

Lightweight, Comfortable Build

Ideal for Scenarios Where Sound Isolation is Beneficial

Strong Bass Shelf

What we don’t like

Lacks Sense of Contrast and Dynamic Impact Compared to Dynamic Driver Headphone

DCA (formerly mrspeakers) have done a great job in tuning their Aeon series of headphones — especially the closed-back variants. Notably, they’ve been able to achieve great sounding tonal balance in a closed-back headphone without incurring the massive weight tradeoffs that are typical of high end planar magnetic headphones. The Aeons therefore make for great office headphones, ideal for those needing to be isolated from their surroundings and wearing headphones all day (like me!).

The Drop collaboration has yielded a slight tuning change with a perforated pad design, giving the Aeon X Closed a bit more of a bass shelf than the original Aeon, and making it one of the best measuring closed-back headphones available — something that again can be very difficult to do on planar magnetic headphones.

Simply put, for those looking for the image separation and distinction of a planar transducer in a closed-back, with an outstanding frequency response, the DCA Aeon X Closed nails it. Considerations? In order to achieve the kind of tonal balance this headphone has, it requires some concessions when it comes to the technical performance, in particular they tend to lack the sense of contrast and impact that you might get with a dynamic driver headphone instead.

Check out the review:

$1000 and Under

DCA Aeon 2 Noire ($900)

What we like

Improvement to Microdynamic Clarity

Fairly Open-sounding for Closed-Back

Very Comfortable During Long Listening Sessions

What we don’t like

Needs Amplifier

While this price bracket is seemingly dominated by open-back headphones, there are a few closed-backs that stand out from the rest, headlined by the DCA Aeon 2 Noire.

Essentially the Noire is just a black Aeon 2 Closed with perforated pads and you could theoretically get the Aeon 2 to have the same tuning so long as you choose the perforated pads. One thing to note though is that the same cannot be said for the Aeon 2 Open, as it has a noticeably different and markedly more esoteric frequency response.

In any case, the Aeon 2 is a noticeable step up in terms of detail when compared with the Aeon X or the original Aeons.

In particular, when it comes to the clarity of trailing ends of tones, the microdynamics, it's a big improvement. Additionally, the Aeon 2s don’t sound all that closed-in like many closed-backs typically do. Add to that long-term comfort and DCA have come out with a real winner in the sub-$1k price bracket.

Just make sure you run it with a decently powerful amplifier — again, nothing crazy is needed, but it does need an amp.

Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire

Regular price $899.99
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Check out the reviews:

Focal Celestee ($990)

What we like

Punchy and Dynamic, Yet Well-Balanced

More Isolation Compared to Other High-End Closed-Backs

Easy to Drive from any Source

What we don’t like

Lack of Spaciousness

Not Ideal for Users With Larger Heads

The Focal Celestee is the punchier, 'slammier' option around this price, and has a frequency response that’s generally well-balanced, if not perhaps slightly mid forward overall. With the Celestee, Focal got the closest yet to their open-back counterparts in the Clear and Elex, so if you want that punchy and dynamic kind of presentation, along with a generally well-balanced tuning, this is the way to go. The only downside is that it’s not a particularly spacious presentation, coming in a bit on the forward and intimate side of things.

Personally I index more for detail and punchiness — the kind of engaging contrast you get from large volume swings, and so for me the lack of spaciousness isn’t an issue, but it is something to be aware of.

Additionally, those with larger heads may prefer the Focal Radiance, as the Celestee has just slightly more clamp. The nice thing about this though is that the Celestee is one of the more isolating high end closed-back headphones out there, all the while being super easy to drive from any source. This makes it one of my most recommended office headphones.

Focal Celestee Closed-Back Headphones

Regular price $999
Sale price $999 Regular price $999.00
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Check out the reviews:

Radiance ($990)

What we like

Beautiful Build and Design

Excellent and Impactful Bass Dynamics

Warm but Balanced Tonality

Great Passive Noise Isolation

What we don’t like

May Not be Most Comfortable for Users With Larger Heads

Bentley Logo Might be Bothersome

Originally a limited-edition headphone, the Radiance is born rather curiously from a collaboration between automobile manufacturer, Bentley, and audio company, Focal.

While it possesses specs and technical performance similar to those of the Focal Celestee, which also falls in this price bracket, the Radiance has a unique voicing that sets it apart from its sibling. It’s got a more pronounced bass response, slightly warmer upper mids, and a more even treble range.

If the Bentely branding doesn’t bother you, then this is another fantastic closed-back offering from Focal!

Check out the review:

Focal Radiance Closed-Back Headphones - Limited Edition

Final Sale
Regular price $1,290
Sale price $1,290 Regular price $1,290.00
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$2000 and Under

Meze Audio Liric ($2000)

What we like

Strong Attention to Detail and Design

Great Instrument Separation

Very Comfortable and Easy to Wear

What we don’t like

Technical Performance a Little Lacking for Price

Bright Sound Signature Might not be for All Users

For those looking for style, form factor, comfort and build quality, in addition to competent sound quality, the Meze Liric is worth consideration. Meze's Liric is one of the most impeccably well-built closed-back headphones available, with extreme attention to detail for its industrial and mechanical design. For sound quality, it's certainly not the best value option out there — especially given some of the other headphones on this list — but the Liric is one of Meze's most mature and complete offerings to date.

From Chrono

"Sure, it might not boast the same level of technical performance as the open-back Elite and Empyrean, but of the three it's the one that I found to be the most enjoyable. In addition to its compact, elegant, and precision-crafted design, it strikes a really nice balance between its warm bass, linear mids, and nuanced, well-extended highs. Undercutting the Vérité Closed by roughly $500, and the Focal Stellia by nearly $1,000, it makes for a very interesting option for those who are looking for a truly outstanding closed-back option--especially if planar magnetic headphones tickle your fancy."

Meze Audio LIRIC Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones

Regular price $2,000
Sale price $2,000 Regular price $2,000.00
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Check out Chrono's review here:

Check out Resolve's impressions here:

Audeze LCD-XC 2021 ($1299)

What we like

Reduced Weight and Improved Tuning

Can Handle a Bass Shelf

What we don’t like

Still Quite Heavy

The LCD-XC may have had somewhat of a bad reputation in years past due to being both heavy and a strange frequency response that definitely required EQ to sound right.

Unfamiliar with EQ? check out this video here.

While the LCD-XC is still a massive and heavy headphone, the 2021 update has reduced the weight and dramatically improved the tuning such that it's much more balanced overall. Moreover, it still has some of the very best technical performance of any closed-back headphone available.

With that said, personally I still add a bass shelf, in part because of how well the these full-sized Audeze headphones can handle it. Those willing to adjust the tuning to their taste, and who can handle the weight will walk away with sound quality that's up there with the very best closed-back headphones, and so that's why it's one of the better value picks in this section. Considerations? As mentioned, they're still heavy.

Audeze LCD-XC 2021 Creator's Edition with Economy Travel Case

Regular price $1,299
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Check out Resolve's review and comparison here:

Price No Object

Focal Stellia ($2990)

Key Features:

What we like

Warm, Bassy Tuning

Dynamic, Punchy, Impactful Sound

Exceptional Technical Performance for a Closed-Back

What we don’t like

Timbre is a Little Off Due to Lack of Treble

Clamp Force Could be a bit Tight for Certain Users

On the face of it, the Focal Stellia is the closed-back counterpart to Focal's famous Utopia open-back flagship, largely because they both use beryllium drivers.

The Stellia fills a somewhat different role, being a closed-back, easier to drive, more comfortable, and with a warmer and bassier tuning. To some (myself included) it may even be a bit too bassy, but it can't be denied that the Stellia is one of the most detailed closed-back headphones available.

What these Focal drivers can all hang their hat on is how dynamic, punchy and impactful they sound. So with the Stellia, you add more bass level to that excursive quality and you get a headphone that slams like nothing else when called upon.

Focal Stellia Closed-Back Headphones

Regular price $2,999
Sale price $2,999 Regular price $2,999.00
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Check out Chrono's review:

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