If you are looking for an excellent pair of closed-back headphones, with the versatility to accommodate all of your listening needs then look no further. A budget of under $500 provides you with a wide range of studio-quality headphones with some fantastic features that enhance your audio experience.
Let us talk you through our recommendations of the best closed-back headphones under $500 to help you find the right pair for you.
Why Choose Closed-Back Headphones Under 500
Closed-back headphones, as the name would suggest, are built with earcups that have a completely solid exterior shell. While there is much debate among audiophiles as to whether open-backed headphones are superior in sound quality, closed-back headphones come with a range of advantages that open-backed headphones do not match.
Better Background Noise Isolation
Background noise isolation refers to your headphone’s ability to block out any ambient sounds around you, allowing you to become completely immersed in your audio without distraction. As well as the closed-backs blocking soundwaves from traveling through the ear cups, the quality of the seal around the ear also helps to passively isolate you from the outside world.
As the above diagram illustrates, open-backed headphones provide poor levels of noise isolation due to the vented design of their earcups. When used in a quiet space, the low levels of ambient noise open-backed headphones provide can create a more natural feel to your audio.
However, this is not practical if your surroundings are loud, making closed-back headphones a much more versatile choice.
Less Sound Leakage
As well as being able to block out the noise of your surroundings, closed-back headphones are also better able to prevent sound from leaking out of your headset. If you want your audio to remain private or you do not wish to disturb those around you then open-backed headphones will not be your best option.
As you can see above, closed-back designs are superior when it comes to reducing sound leakage, making them more practical for everyday use. That being said, some amount of sound leakage provided by open-backs can be beneficial for immersive listening. Allowing the audio to acoustically interact with the environment around you, creating a wider soundstage for your audio, mimics the sound of a speaker set up rather than over-ear headphones.
While open-backed headphones can completely change the way your music sounds, they lack the versatility of use that closed-backs provide.
Better Bass Response
While there are a number of factors that impact the level of bass your headphones can produce, such as driver type and frequency range, the ear cup design also plays its part. If you like a heavy bass that packs extra power when producing the low notes in your favorite music, then generally speaking closed-back headphones are the better option. This is thanks to the way they seal the ear within the earcup, containing the sound within them.
Open-headphones lack the ability to produce this same power due to their ventilated design, meaning the low-end frequency notes tend to roll off without the same intensity as closed-back headphones. While some open-backed headphones combat this by using Planar Magnetic Drivers, these are typically more expensive with pairs available in the thousands.
For high-quality bass at an affordable price, closed-back headphones are a dependable option for most listeners.
Where To Use Closed-Back Headphones
When listening at home you have the freedom to decide whether you want to use open or closed-back headphones. Providing you do not have noisy roommates or need to keep sound leakage to a minimum, open-back headphones are great for at-home listening.
Closed-back headphones on the other hand are much more versatile and easy to take with you on the go for when you want to listen to your audio outside of the home. On top of this there are a few scenarios where closed-back headphones are clearly superior such as the following:
Listening In Public Places
Whether you need to block out the sounds of heavy traffic or rumbling trains. Or perhaps you are a jet setter looking to minimize the level of airplane engine noise during your flight. Closed-back headphones help to passively isolate the noises around you that may otherwise interrupt your listening.
The reduction in sound leakage in comparison to open-backed headphones also makes closed-backs ideal for taking with you to the library or the office. You can hang out in your local coffee shop or sit on the bus without disrupting others around you, no matter where you go you can keep your audio private with a good set of closed-back headphones.
If you spend a lot of time in the recording studio creating vocals for music tracks, then you will probably already know the benefits of a closed-back design. For those of you that may be just starting out, although open-backed headphones are often better for critically listening to your music, they do not provide adequate sound isolation when you are recording. After all, the last thing you want is your backing track leaking onto your vocal recordings.
Open-backed headphones are generally used when mixing, however, as they have a lower rate of distortion than closed-back headphones. Distortion can be caused by air pressure build-up within the ear cups, whereas open backs provide a more clear and natural sound for reference.
That doesn’t mean to say closed-back headphones are not a useful tool to have in your mixing toolkit. If you do not have a private studio or often work on the road, closed-back headphones will give you the versatility to mix no matter where you are. They are also fantastic for checking the low-frequency balance of your mixes thanks to their excellent low-frequency response.
check out music production headphones
If you are an aspiring podcaster or one of the 28% of podcasters who do not already use headphones when recording, they offer some definite advantages to quality that you need to know about. Accurately being able to monitor your sound will help you to keep the static, volume, and other audio levels within range so you can routinely deliver high-quality podcasts.
We recommend closed-back headphones when recording podcasts, again for their superior noise isolation in comparison to open-backed headphones. This will prevent any sound leakage or bleeding together of the audio. While sound isolation is important we do not recommend active noise cancellation as it can misrepresent the audio you are monitoring.
Headphones also pick up a wider range of frequencies than the human ear, so you can quickly pick up on any buzzing or ambient noises that you can then edit out of your recording. Our final recommendation when using headphones while recording podcasts is to opt for a wired connection to avoid any latency, this will ensure there is no delay in audio during recording sessions.
Review of the Best Closed-Back Headphones under $500
1. Best Overall Closed-Back Headphones Under $500 – Bowers & Wilkins PX7
If you are looking for a good all-around pair of closed-back headphones under $500 you cannot go wrong with the Bowers and Wilkins PX7. With 43mm Legend drivers that were built by the same engineers who designed the diamond speakers used in Abbey road studios, you are guaranteed high-quality sound.
Not only do the PX7’s deliver an exceptional range of bass and mid-tones to complement your music, but they also come with cleverly adaptive noise cancellation so that you never miss a beat. Using intelligent sensors, the headphones will automatically adapt the noise cancellation and tuning to provide audio specifically enhanced for your surroundings.
If you are looking for versatility, the PX7 Ambient Pass-Through setting will allow you to stay aware of your surroundings, so you won’t miss train announcements or other safety alerts. Whatever you choose to listen to, be it music, a podcast, or your favorite movie, the aptX adaptive codec will ensure you receive accurate audio no matter where you are or what you are doing.
The PX7s are connected with wireless Bluetooth and hold 30 hours worth of battery life for extended listening, and a 15-minute quick charge will give you 6 more hours of listening pleasure. With additional features such as detection sensors, the ability to pair two devices simultaneously, and a strong but lightweight carbon fiber body, these headphones are a smart and sturdy overall great closed-back headphone.
- 43mm Legend Drivers
- Adaptive Noise Cancellation
- Ambient pass-through mode
- High-quality accurate audio
- AptX adaptive codec
- 30-hour battery life
- 15-minute quick charge for 6 additional hours
- Some reviewers found the sound quality lower than the wired alternative
2. Best Closed-Back Headphones For Podcasting Under $500 – Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7GM
When creating podcasts, you want a reliable pair of headphones that can consistently produce high-resolution audio that won’t leak out onto your recording. Audio-Technica have built a fantastic pair of closed-back headphones that will allow you to monitor and analyze your podcast recordings in detail so you can edit out any imperfections that your listeners may otherwise pick up on.
Closed-back headphones are usually more susceptible to distortion, however, the ATH-MSR7GM’s have been built with three precisely placed vents within the architecture of the headphones to improve the airflow and reduce pressure build-up. The 45mm True Motion Drivers also use incredibly lightweight voice coils along with a specially designed diaphragm to ensure the truest reproduction of audio.
These headphones come with a detachable cable with a 3.5mm gold-plated audio jack to ensure a strong connection with reduced issues of latency, helping to minimize any audio delays while you are recording. This is particularly helpful when recording live audio and editing whilst you record, to ensure the highest-quality podcasts are presented to your fans.
Finally, if you plan to spend long periods of time wearing your headphones, these are incredibly comfortable. The padded memory foam earcups are large enough to sit over the ear, mirroring the full natural shape for a secure fit with good noise isolation. Made from a lightweight aluminum and magnesium mix and held in place with a soft headband you can record for hours with no ear fatigue.
- High-resolution audio production
- 45mm True Motion Drivers
- Specially designed diaphragm
- Wired with a 3.5mm gold plated audio jack
- Good noise isolation
- Constructed of lightweight aluminum and magnesium
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Not foldable so harder to store
- Bass is not as heavy as other headphones
3. Best Closed-Back Wireless Headphones Under $500 – Master & Dynamic MW60
If you want freedom of movement when you listen to your audio or do not want to deal with the frustration of tangled cables, the Master & Dynamic MW60’s are a great option. Wireless Bluetooth connection can sometimes lead to latency issues in your audio, however the MW60’s offer a best-in-class connection with 3x the industry average in signal range. They are also equipped with Aptx technology and an aluminum antenna for the best connectivity reliability.
With 16-hour battery life, you can still experience studio-quality sound for extended periods of time. Listen to the 45mm neodymium drivers produce rich audio that sounds incredibly natural, every detail of your music is delivered with exceptional detail and clarity allowing you to hear your audio exactly as intended.
The MW60’s are tuned to suit a variety of music genres but on top of the top-of-the-range function, these versatile headphones are also incredibly stylish. There are 9 color options available, each made from premium materials to also provide a comfortable listening experience. Constructed using premium leather as well as lambskin memory foam earpads, you can enjoy your music for hours on end in comfort with great background noise isolation.
When on the go you can easily accept calls with the touch of a button and the built-in microphones give you the ability to communicate clearly with whoever is on the other line. When you have finished using the MW60’s the stainless steel hinges allow them to fold almost completely flat for easy storage within the sturdy case provided.
- 3x Industry average Bluetooth signal range
- Equipped with Aptx Technology
- Aluminum antenna
- 45mm neodymium drivers
- 9 color options
- Good passive noise isolation
- Built-in microphones
- Foldable for easy storage
- Shorter battery life than some other models
4. Best Closed-Back Studio Headphones Under $500 – V-MODA Crossfade M-100
If you want a quality pair of studio headphones for under $500 then take a look at the Editors Choice award-winning V-MODA Crossfade M-100’s. Both stylish and practical, these premium headphones have been built with musicians in mind. The clarity in the audio the M-100’s deliver has given them Japan Audio Society High-Resolution Certification, allowing you to hear every detail of your music.
Built with 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers, these closed-back headphones offer some of the best bass deliverance as well as clear, sharp highs so you can listen with precision while recording or mixing. The passive noise isolation helps to eliminate any background noise that may disrupt your listening, along with minimal noise leakage that will not bleed into your voice recordings.
With dual input, you can decide where you want to attach your cable and also accommodate any equipment you may have. When performing you can also rep your own personal brand by purchasing custom shields that can be 3D printed in a range of colors and engraved with your own logo or design choice.
The structure of the M-100’s has been designed to offer superior comfort, with ergonomically designed memory foam ear cushions. The headband, made from premium vegan leather and SteelFlex is both secure and durable. You can also easily transport your headphones from the home to the studio with portable CliqFold technology, simply fold and pop them into the Exoskeleton Carry Case for safe travel.
- Editors choice award winners
- High-resolution audio certified
- 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers
- Good passive noise isolation
- Dual input ready
- Customizable earcup shields
- CliqFold Technology and Exoskeleton Carry Case
- Premium comfort
- Some reviewers found uncomfortable on larger heads
5. Best Closed-Back Headphones For Recording Under $500 – Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO
Beyerdynamic has been developing and manufacturing quality audio technology in Germany for more than 90 years, so if you are looking for a dependable brand this is one of the best. The DT 1770 PRO’s are approved by both sound engineers and studio users who have been impressed with the use of Tesla 2.0 technology to create sensational sound quality.
Tesla Technology has created a transducer with an extremely strong magnetic drive that Beyerdynamic has integrated into the DT 1770 Pro’s design. This enables audio production with high-level accuracy and incredible sensitivity, so if you are recording in the studio, you will hear your vocals with exceptional clarity. Helping you to monitor and record your tracks to sound exactly how you want them to be heard.
If you are in front of the microphone use the artificial leather earpads for a closed sound that will also create a solid seal around the ear. This will isolate background noise and also reduce any sound leakage that could bleed into your recording. When you are ready to listen to or master your track, switch to the velour earpads for a more spacious and open sound. You can also choose between a straight or spiral cable for a sturdy connection without latency.
The DT 1770 Pro’s also deliver long-lasting comfort thanks to the optimized contact pressure coupled with the soft finish of the exterior of the earpads. The headband is also firm fitting but comfortable, made with hand-stitched leatherette cushioning that is incredibly durable for extended use that will last for years.
- Built with Tesla 2.0 technology
- Transducers with strong magnetic drive
- High-level accuracy
- Artificial leather or velour interchangeable earpads
- Good background noise isolation
- Low sound leakage
- Comfortable earpads and durable headband
- Straight or spiral cable for a strong connection
- Leather earpads can make ears hot after extended use
6. Best Closed-Back Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $500 – Sony WH1000XM3
Sony are industry leaders when it comes to noise cancellation. If you want to enjoy every note of your music or every word of your podcast no matter your surroundings, then the WH1000XM3 are a fantastic choice for taking with you on the go. Built with a proprietary HD noise-canceling processor, you can enjoy quality sound without any disruption.
The headphones come equipped with smart listening by SENSE ENGINE. This clever feature will detect what you are doing and automatically balance the noise cancellation to an optimum level. They also personalize the noise cancellation based on the sonic characteristics that are impacted by head size, hair, glasses, and other features to optimize the feature specifically for you.
Whether you are popping out for coffee or riding the subway, these headphones can be used wirelessly or with the provided cable to create your perfect companion for excellent audio. The battery life lasts up to 30 hours when used wirelessly so you can relax knowing you can keep on listening without constantly needing to recharge. If you are in a pinch and low on battery, just 10 minutes of charge time delivers an impressive 5 hours of playback!
They are also extremely comfortable to wear, thanks to the large, deep, ergonomically designed ear cups finished with a smooth pressure-relieving earpad. For closed-back headphones, they deliver a sense of spaciousness around the ear. Finally, when you are done listening, simply fold these lightweight headphones and place them neatly into the handy protective carry case for effortless storage and portability.
- Industry-leading proprietary HD Noise Cancelling Processor
- Built with mart listening by SENSE ENGINE
- Personalized noise-canceling optimization
- 30-hour battery life
- 10-minute quick charge for 5 hours playback
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- Handy protective carry case
- Can be used wirelessly or with a cable
- The touchpad is too sensitive for some
- Can feel too large for those with smaller head/ears
To Wrap Up
As you can see for under $500 you can find a combination of the best sound, technology, and design in closed-back headphones. Each of our recommendations will allow you to experience your audio with exceptional clarity. Here is a quick recap of our top choices for the best-in-category closed-back headphones available today –
- Best Overall Closed-Back Headphones Under $500 – Bowers & Wilkins PX7
- Best Closed-Back Headphones For Podcasting Under $500 – Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7GM
- Best Closed-Back Wireless Headphones Under $500 – Master & Dynamic MW60
- Best Closed-Back Studio Headphones Under $500 – V-MODA Crossfade M-100
- Best Closed-Back Headphones For Recording Under $500 – Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO
- Best Closed-Back Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $500 – Sony WH1000XM3
Whether you are planning on recording music, creating podcasts, mixing tracks, or just need to block out disruptive noises around you, we hope these recommendations help you find your perfect pair of closed-back headphones.