The Best Closed Back Headphones Under $200

The Best Closed Back Headphones Under $200

Features To Look For In Closed Back Headphones

Closed back headphones have a wide range of benefits if you know what's really necessary when buying a pair. And if you're on a budget of less than $200, knowing what you REALLY need is paramount to getting the best headphones you can for your money!

Customization

This is one of the best features to look for in this type of headphone. Because even if you're only buying the headphones as a shell, much like when you buy a low value car or computer, then you can add value to the headphones later.

Most headphones should be customizable; however, some companies skimp on the build quality of their headphones, and you end up with a pair of headphones that seems to be cast iron in their flexibility.

So make sure you get headphones that can be taken apart completely to customize as you go.

Ear Cup Materials (Plastic, Wood, Graphite, Dark Matter, etc.)

Believe it or not, the materials you use on the ear cups of your headphones affect the quality of the sound! Wood helps bring out natural resonance much better than plastics, making sounds warmer, clearer, and of course, more natural.

And since wood has the ability to absorb sound, it is a unique material for producing sound.(source)

Plastics don't exactly help the sound production from the headphones, but they don't hurt it either.

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Doesn't Need An Amp

Some closed back headphones can be confused with high-fi studio headphones that need an amp to get the true sound quality out of your music. While that may help the people who use these headphones professionally, we're doing our best to help the average listener.

Although, if you are interested in taking your listening experience to the next level with some ​higher quality music that's boosted by an amp, they are a fun little treat ;).

Features To Avoid 

Bluetooth

Active Noise Cancelation

If you're a true audio junkie, then you know what's coming next.

You get enough passive noise cancelation from the fact that the headphones will be closed back headphones made of decent material. Noise cancelation is a just a gimic that people use to try to upsell their product. When in reality if the headphones are built correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about that too much.

Not to say that they'll cancel out noise just by being closed back headphones, but they'll prevent enough noise from getting through to make a noticeable difference.

Best Options

Monoprice Monolith M560 Review

As a somewhat recent member of the $200 price range club, the Monolith M560 packs quite a punch with the quality and features it offers. From interchangeable ear cup covers, to planar magnetic drivers, some say this is the successful revision of the Hifiman version S.

One of the biggest surprises the M560 holds is that it's a versatile open and closed back headphone! All you have to do is remove the customizable magnetic ear cup backs to enjoy free flowing open back headphone style listening.

Amazing!

Sound Quality

Since these headphones can be open and closed back, it sounds distinctly different when you make the switch between open and closed. When the headphones are left closed back the bass has a tendency to get jammed in the ear cups, and causes bass hits that run back to back to almost blend together. However,  when you take the backs off the bass is much tighter and more distinct.

The treble is the second most noticeable when switching between open and closed back with these cans. When the backs are attached the treble is noticeably uneven, and seems to take dips when it hits the lower frequencies and makes the recession at the top of the mids even more noticeable. However, when the backs are removed there's a much more notable "laid back" feel to the headphones. The treble doesn't rise hardly at all.

Finally the mids are the most affected when switching between open and closed back with these headphones. the mids are a bit muddied either way, but when the backs are attached, the mids move almost in a plateau shape instead of linear as you go from lower to higher frequencies. When listening to the vocals, the sound comes across a bit unnaturally and almost sounds as if you're cupping your hands over your ears while listening to the vocals.

It's pretty clear that these headphones were meant to be open back, but the designers got greedy.

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Features

It's funny that what hurts the sound quality of these headphones is also what makes one of their best features, the ability to make them closed or open back easily. Just by taking off the magnet you can transition from being a considerate member of society, to a full fledged audiophile soaking in natural sounds and vibes!

The wood and metal build of these cans also helps you enjoy a richer sound rather than listening with cheap plastic ones.

The larger on ear style means you get the directness of the drivers, but the sound is contained and allowed to resonate just enough.

Comfort

Another amazing customization feature that comes with these headphones is the detachable ear cups! Monolith has made style a priority with these cans, so take advantage of it while you can. The metal suspension headband is amazing for comfort, and if needed you can bend the frame of the headband to reduce any leakage that might happen. 

Some people have said that having the headphones slide down after a few hours of listening has been an issue, but have recommended slightly bending the headband to easily fix the problem.

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Audio Technica ATH-M50

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Sennheiser Momentum (On-Ear)

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Cory H.

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