Aug 8, 201813630 views

Interest Check: Closed Back Headphones


Hey guys,
We want to know what Closed Back Headphones all of you are into. We already source a variety of brands, types, and styles, but are always looking to stay in tune with the interests of the Audiophile Community.
· What do you look for in a closed-back headphone?
· What kind of strap/headband do you prefer?
· Are there particular brands you like?
Your suggestions and feedback are taken into account when we look for products to put on the site so tell us what you like, what you don’t like and any preferences you have in between.

Check out our past and current drops here:
trimatrasec, Zelig, and 63 others

1st Focal Elegia ... I save up for this since months - it sounded perfect a few times with my own setup 2nd Mr Speakers Ether C Flow - heard these again a few days ago at Munich High End 2019 and had a chat with Dan. These and the AEON Flow Closed look best and have the best comfort. The big ones are not in my budget and the AEON Flow Closed are a step behind the Elegia. 3rd - Massdrop/Beyerdynamic 177x Go because i joined the drop and will sure be an update over my old 770 Pros for the moment until I saved up enough for the Elegia in general: enough base, forward mids and sparkling highs - not too dark - balanced sound good isolation - have enough good open backs so closed has to be really closed great comfort - I listen at office, on the go and at home on the couch next to my wife for hours strong buildquality - if it is expansive it should be build like Beyers not like Stax wide/deep soundstage - can be more wide than real microfibre or velours pads - love the leather pads from Mr Speakers but I sweat easy easy changeable pads - I sweat easy balanced cable - nothing super strange strong headband - nothing complicated, because I want to use them weight is not important foldable is ok but I want to listen to them and not hide away - flat is better than smaller can be harder to drive - prefer details and scaling with better dac/amps shipping in europe - I won´t pay extra taxes for a headphone that is something between 177x and Elegia budgetwise
Lightweight, full-size over ear, cushy faux leather padding, suspension strap, planar magnetic.
Focal ElegiaX. Most of my collection is open-back, because I prefer an open sound with maximum detail resolution and a balanced / neutral voicing. The Focal Utopias are my current all-time favorites, but they are ridiculously open, which means I can't use them in the office. I own the Fostex TR-XOO in Ebony and Purpleheart, and I like them for what they are, but there's room for improvement. They don't stay put when I move my head, and the cable microphonics are pretty bad. They have good amount of detail and the bass is full and satisfying, but their voicing is not my personal favorite. I recently picked up the Focal Elegia because I wanted the "Focal house sound" in a closed-back design. OMG, they exceed my expectations in every way! The level of detail and sense of openness is simply unreasonably good for closed-back headphones!
These are pretty much my ideal closed-back headphones. To give them the Massdrop treatment, start by replacing the stock cable (it sucks--too short and too stiff). I picked up a 2m black-and-silver KK cable from Amazon, terminated in a 2.5mm balanced connection, and it's perfect in every way--length is ideal for office use, the cable is light and flexible, there are NO microphonics at all, and the balanced termination gives me the option of using a short adapter to use either an XLR or 1/4" jack on my headphone amps (or the 2.5mm on my Astell&Kern DAP). Naturally, a color change would help to cement the Massdrop co-branding. You could reuse the same headband and yokes as the Elex and go for a similar subdued / blackened look and feel. The Elegia comes with Focal's excellent case and I would definitely recommend keeping it rather than ditching it to save costs. However, instead of the standard dark-grey color that comes with the Elegia, black it out to match the headphone colorway. Focal is bundling a color-matched case with Stellia, so I know they can do it, lol. I've been half tempted to attack one of their aftermarket cases with some RIT to make a blacked-out case for my Elex. :-) And whatever you do, tread lightly with the tuning. Elegia already sounds pretty much perfect to me, so I wouldn't spend too much effort trying to tweak / improve the sound.
How rich are you ?
I exclusively use ATH MSR7NC's right now (the noise cancelling model) and they're really amazing. It seems to me that the MSR7's may be the best closed back headphones within a certain price bracket. I consider them to be like a closed back counterpart to the HD600's, they have similar sound signatures and sound quality, though the Sennheiser is "softer" sounding.
Not too many closed backs worth looking at IMHO. Only ones I'd ever recommend are, in increasing price order: ATH M40X (Brainwavs pads are basically mandatory though - A drop that came with a set would be cool), DT770 Pro (Massdrop version with removable cable and/or balanced would be dope!), and the T50RP (although the stock model basically needs to be modded to be an acceptable pair of cans - Made by Massdrop MKIII's?). As an extension of the latter, I'd love to see a drop of the newer T60RP's. From what I've heard they're as good as if not better than any of the modded T50's.
I look for comfortable, isolating closed backs with really any type of headband. I've heard that Fostex, Audio Technica, and JBL make good stuff, but my real preference (since I don't have much experience with the forementioned brands) is the Status Audio CB-1.
I've got some semi-open and closed back headphones. Fostex t50rp, EEMU Teak, Audeze Mobius, ATH-M40x, Sennheiser HD25 1 ii, PSB M4U1/M4U8 (own both). I had the TH900 for a bit, and loved them. · What do you look for in a closed-back headphone? I want the sound stage be bigger than I would expect from a closed back. I hate feeling claustrophobic in a pair of cans. Comfort should be good, too strong of a clamp hurts to wear too long, not enough clamp means I'm constantly worried how far I tilt or bow my head while reading. With open backs, I can forgive a bit of brightness because the sound pollution helps dilute it a bit, but with closed backs, I prefer a neutral-warm sound. PSB nailed the basic signature, but stage is tiny, imaging wasn't the best, and details weren't top notch. There was more I took issue with, but for the price, and efficiency, it was hard to dislike. OH. I want them to be efficient! Critical! I only use closed backs when I'm out and about. VERY VERY RARELY at home. I want that sound isolation while studying at a library or something. Needs to be performing at peak off of a DAP for me. · What kind of strap/headband do you prefer? I enjoy the suspension systems like on the newer Hifiman, The newer Fostex t50s, and the LCD2C. I can live with well or decently padded bands, like on the EEMU or th900, or cushioned segments like on the Sennheiser HD6xx. · Are there particular brands you like? For closed back? Fostex is my go-to, but I love LOVE the sound on MrSpeakers Aeon Flows (open and closed). I'm waiting on the Meze's, but the ones I tried for a short period at CanJam were pretty solid, just wish I had more options than WARM. I like some warmth, but a bit more balance. The Audio Technica closed-back I have has a decent balance, but the stage isn't the greatest, and the clamp is next level (same complaint for the Senn HD25).
I have two closed back over ear headphones. The Sennheiser HD569 and the Takstar Pro 82s. I almost always grab the Pro 82s when I need a closed back. Closed backs should fold flat at the very least. I recently took a trip to Vietnam and took the Takstars because not only do they sound better but they fold flat, thus taking up less room in a carry on bag.
Maybe not always fold flat as sometimes you just need something that won't bother your significant other - but it sure is nice when flying to be able to fold flat.
Here a killer idea for you. i doubt i am the only one to ask for an audeze closed back. Give us a fully passive Audeze mobius equivalent with a different build (less gamer look and different cup shaped/pads . Hopefully slightly bigger pads ) but similarly mostly neutral tuning for like $200. Audeze can afford surely. Mobius is $399. hyper x cloud is $299 and still has all the fancy electronics and software. A full mobius may be the only good close back planar at the price point that is still production. pm3 is discontinued. El8 is discontinued. sine is expensive and uncomfortable. T50rp and its one thousands different mods would be the main planar competition. A passive mobius not held back by its tiny/noisy internal/dac amp would outclass most t50rp mods. T50rp tech has it day. Enter the new gen. Besides Audeze NEEDS a full size headphone that doesn't weigh over a pound . Weight is the only reason i havent touched lcd2closed back. Make it happen massdrop.
Well, if we're talking affordable and realistic to the masses, priority would definitely be sound quality, isolation, comfort, easy to drive, build quality and portability to a certain extent IMHO. ANC is nice, but usually negatively affects SQ and affordability, same goes for Bluetooth. Personally, I find that a good set of in-ears will be best at passively blocking out sound anyways. My daily drivers for commuting are actually just some $100 truly wireless Treblab X5 earbuds with Comply tips. Their beryllium drivers are actually very nice, battery life too and the Comply tips isolate better than my ANC BT over ear cans. But… they’re not perfect and only really excel at listening to music. I know this is a different topic, but if Massdrop could put together some truly wireless earbuds that sound as good or better than the X5’s but with a better design, Aptx LL and with an excellent microphone and connection stability, I’d be all over them. I find that the best closed, over ear brands/models in terms of value would be the Sennheiser 58X/59X/6XX, Fostex T50RP MK3, NAD Viso HP50, Beyerdynamic DT770 pro, Audio Technica ATH-M50X (of course there are a few others too). The NADs are really nice in that they sound much like open headphones in terms of a very balanced sound stage yet isolate very well, are easy to drive and don’t bother your significant other while listening to music next to them in bed (the cable remote also allows one to easily stop the music before taking them off and finally falling asleep too). One can also plug in the cable to either ear which is more convenient than I would have imagined. The detail on the Fostex’s is very good but I find myself analyzing music instead of enjoying it and the low end just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not a fan of Sennheiser sibilance and occasional sterile sound stages in general either but they make many great cans. The DT770’s have great isolation and sound stage while the M50X’s have the multiple cables and ‘’oomph’’. If Massdrop could offer a ‘’best of’’ the brands and models I’ve mentioned in one pair at a very affordable price, I’d be all over them too… Apparently Beyerdynamic is soon releasing a pair of Bluetooth ANC headphones that will make Sony and Bose sweat a bit… All I can say is ‘’finally’’ lol! I’d definitely check them out… who knows, I might go back to enjoying ANC cans.
the dt1770 is good.
ModHouse Argons!
This would be cool, except the fact that modhouse audio is just 1 guy named Ryan and his wife. The logistics would be nuts.
After all of the Stax Earspeakers that I have owned my family really likes my Audeze LCD-XC. We can all be in the living room at the same time. Right amp, right DAC, right cable, right phone. What could be better than that? For those who say they are too heavy try leaning back and relaxing. The XC are far too distracting for work anyway. At work I have the Oppo PM-3 or the Heir 8a IEM. And just for fun, the Audeze LCD 4i; that's for portable use.
Aeon flow closed. In a closed I just want it to be dumb comfortable and have as clear and uncolored sound as possible. But sometimes I want that bass too lol.
Aeon Flow Closed or Campfire Audio Cascade :)
My faves were Sony 900s or 7509s and are long gone..definitely open to new things but they were perfect.
Audio Technica's ATH-M70x Always looking for comfort for long-periods and ones that don't get too hot around your ears
Sennheiser HD 630VB.
dt1770 im a fan of, especially for gaming. Music im in love with my LCD 2 Closed backs.
I'd really like high end closed Beyerdynamics. t5p or 1770s.
I think Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic & Sony all made great examples. In terms of headbands, I prefer a leather one but some of the new synthetic leathers Sony uses are pretty nice. I look for great levels of isolation but realize some porting may be needed to get a audiophile level sound signature. Also, I'm not too concerned with impedance as most of us own quality portable amps/dacs at this point.
Aeon flow closed back, and the price would be more affordable than original pricing (e.g., below 500 would be the stealth of the century for real)! And shipment to Europe (de) free of costs :)))
I use Shure SRH1540s. I would consider any good deals on reference cans at or below $500.
Aeon flow closed or 1060c's would probably do damage to my wallet....
Would love to see a massdrop X beyerdynamic. They do closed perfectly, with non-leatherish pad (those are imo disgusting), hands down the best headband in the industry (why do they care to "innovate" just copy the germans dammit) and excellent sound. would love to see a 88X closed model with detachable cables (beyer's only weakness)
Please bring back the Ebony fostex
I would love a set of Sony MDR-Z1R’s. From what I’ve read they’re pretty unique.
Monoprice 1060c
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On the Meze 99 get Meze to put the better sounding pads on them .... not the current bass cannon pads.
its gotta be the monoprice for me just because i dont know much about the meze's but ill look into them. i just want some decent midfi headphones from more reputable brands like we have the senheiser 'X' varients and hifi man but would like to see the next step up around $200-300 rather that going straight to the $400+
AEON Flow Closed Headphone