How to Choose Closed-Back Headphones for Isolating Sound in Recording Studios”

Are you looking to purchase a pair of closed-back headphones to keep your recordings pristine? Look no further!

This article will guide you on how to choose the right pair of closed-back headphones for optimal sound isolation in recording studios. So, if you want to achieve studio-level sound quality in your recordings, keep reading!

In the modern world of music production and recording, having the right tools or equipment is essential to producing quality audio. Some musicians choose to use headphones to monitor their recordings while they are at the mixing board. If you are looking for a way to minimize external sounds that could interfere with your recordings, then closed-back headphones may be the best choice for you.

This guide will provide an overview of closed-back headphone types, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type, explain how to choose a headphone set for isolating sound in recording studios, and discuss other important factors when making your decision. By understanding these characteristics of different models, you can decide which closed-back model is perfect for your recording needs.

Importance of choosing the right headphones for recording studios

When it comes to recording audio for both live and studio applications, the quality of your equipment plays a vital role in getting the best sound possible. This is especially true when it comes to headphones. Studios looking to achieve optimum audio results must select the right headphone model for their needs. Closed-back headphones offer the greatest level of sound isolation – a critical factor when trying to capture the perfect take in studio conditions. In this guide, we will examine some of the key factors to consider when choosing closed-back headphones for recording studios.

Closed-back headphones lack any kind of vent area that allows sound leakage between the earcups and your ears, making them ideal for recording environments where absolute silence is required due to their ability to keep outside noise from entering and contaminating recordings. Furthermore, closed-back headphones are typically well-padded, allowing for greater comfort during longer sessions without interfering with your performance or ability to hear precisely what is going on in a mix.

Besides these key benefits, there are many other features you must consider when selecting closed-back headphones for use in recording studios:

  • Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) – not all sets are created equal – be sure to take SPL into account before making a purchase;
  • Impedance – lower impedance offers better sensitivity while higher impedance models offer greater accuracy;
  • Frequency response – this measures how well your headset can produce bass tones and highs;
  • Design – lightweight materials provide greater comfort while durable construction ensures longevity;
  • Customization options– look into headphone customization packages offered by brands like Beyerdynamic which let you customize cable lengths, ear pads and even headbands as you need them.

Ultimately, choosing the right set of headphones means looking at all of these factors and more depending on particularly demanding needs such as monitoring 5.1 surround sound mixes or using more than one set simultaneously. With so many important criteria in play, going through this guide will help you narrow down which model may work best for your needs as well as inform you about some basic aspects that play a role in selecting great closed-back headphones for use in professional recording studios.

Overview of closed-back headphones and their benefits

Closed-back headphones are a type of headphone that have been designed specifically to help isolate external sound and provide more accurate and real-listening experiences in recording studios. They have become the go-to choice for many studio engineers and musicians, due to the way they offer a balance between portability, sound quality, isolation, design features, and comfort.

The main benefit of closed-back headphones is their ability to isolate sound from the outside environment. This helps reduce distractions when tracking or mixing vocals or instruments in a noisy environment such as a residential studio. Additionally, since the outside world is effectively blocked out by the headphones’ closed design and tight seal around your ears, you will be able to hear all the nuances of your audio far better than with open backed ones. With a closed back design comes acoustic bleed control which means you don’t need to worry about feedback or outside noise impacting your recordings as much.

Closed back headphones also generally provide an experience similar to speakers with natural sounding highs, mids and lows that are well-defined without any sharpness or harshness in their frequency spectrum response. The comfort level offers an extra layer padding on each earcup for longer hours of wearing them while tracking vocals or instruments on set projects. Furthermore design features such as higher sensitivity drivers enabling lower distortion while delivering deeper bass response will bring clarification into music production sessions with minimal external background noise interference providing more accurate monitoring results thus improving overall mixes and recordings performance.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Closed-Back Headphones

Before you invest in closed-back headphones for recording, consider the following features:

  1. Frequency response: Since the sound from closed-back headphones is reflected inside the earcups, its accuracy depends on how well they replicate audio frequencies in playback. Look for headphones with a flat frequency response curve so you can get a truer representation of what’s being recorded. Models with extended bass response will increase low-end presence—a necessity for mixing and mastering applications.
  2. Comfort: When dealing with lengthy sessions, comfort should be at the top of your priority list. With most closed-back designs providing superior isolation, wearing them all day won’t give you the same fatigue as open-back headphones due to the decreased amount of sound bleeding in or out of your ears. Most models come equipped with padded earcups and adjustable headbands making them fit securely around your head without putting any excessive pressure on your ears.
  3. Sound leakage: Closed-back headphone designs reduce spill and interference from outside sources more effectively than open ones. Since all sound from these headphones is contained within the enclosure, bleed entering microphones is virtually eliminated even at high sound pressure levels (SPLs). Some models provide a tight seal that ensures minimal leakage and keeps outside noise from seeping into your music recordings.
  4. Connection type: Evaluate which connection type best suits your needs when choosing between household connectors like 1/4″ (6 mm) jacks, 3/8″ (9 mm) jacks or 1/8″ (3 mm). Many models now include multiple connection types as well as converters allowing you to switch between them with ease while others may offer wireless versions depending on what type of device you’re plugging into (like laptops or phones).

Sound quality

When choosing closed-back headphones for recording studios, sound quality is the most important factor. To get an idea of how they will sound, you can consult user reviews and look at specifications such as frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance.

It is important to note that since all headphones have individual sonic characteristics, the best way to judge sound quality is by listening to them with your specific equipment. Make sure to assess the overall balance and fidelity of the sound as well as its clarity and dynamics. Imaging is also important in reproducing a realistic image of the original source without any “coloring” or manipulation.

Another thing to consider when choosing headphones for recording studios is whether the type of music being recorded requires a linear or wide frequency response. For example, those who are working on lower-frequency sounds will need headphones with a much wider frequency response compared to those who work on high pitches. Additionally, it’s important to know whether these phones are compatible with digital-to-analog converters as well as soundcards — some models require an extra adapter for these connections.

Frequency response

An important factor to consider when selecting closed-back headphones is their frequency response. Audio engineers and producers often look for headphones with a flat response; this means that they reproduce sound unbiased across the frequency spectrum.

Closed-back headphones with a flat frequency response are ideal for monitoring music while in the studio since they provide accurate details and help ensure a balanced mix.

In addition, closed-back headphones with extended bass or low-end frequencies help bring out sounds at the low end of the spectrum, making them suitable for bass heavy genres of music such as hip hop and EDM.

Lastly, extended treble response can help pick up subtle sound nuances in the studio mix but could lead to unpleasant listening experience if you don’t have good quality ears.9 Best Closed Back Studio Headphones in 2023


Impedance is the unit of measurement for electrical resistance from an audio device to an external speaker. It is a measure of ohms, similar to voltage, and the lower the impedance, the more power an amplifier needs to push enough volume to your headphones. Lower impedance is particularly important when using portable audio devices with limited power output.

When looking for closed-back headphones with isolation capabilities for recording studios, you should look for models with a low impedance rating that ranges from 16-32 ohms. When you buy headphones with higher than 32 ohms you’ll want a headphone amplifier or other hardware device that can increase your sound level. In addition, most professional studio engineers recommend models of 50 ohms or greater in order to accurately monitor and obtain clear sound quality during recording sessions in a studio environment.


Headphone sensitivity or sound pressure level (SPL) is a measurement of the amount of sound pressure required to reach a specified level, typically rated at 1 kHz and measured with an artificial head setup. On average, closed-back headphones can produce 102 – 105 dB of SPL per mW.

Typically headphones in this range are used for general listening purposes and not recordings as most headphones with low ratings will distort audio signals when recording. For recording purposes, it’s best to use higher sensitivity headphones that can deliver up to 120–125 dB SPL/mW, as this will provide more accurate sound reproduction without any distortion or clipping during the recording process.

Driver size

Driver size, also known as transducer size, is the diameter of the cone in the headphone. This is an important indicator of how powerful or loud the headphones will be. Smaller drivers are not generally used for studio monitor headphones (open or closed-back) because it does not produce sound powerful enough for critical listening.

The best choice would be larger drivers, between 40mm and 50mm in diameter. With larger drivers, you are likely to get better bass response and sound quality due to their higher power output capacity.

Comfort and fit

When selecting closed-back headphones for sound isolation, comfort and fit are extremely important. First, assess how your ears feel when the headphones are on. Do they feel good after a few minutes? Is the padding on the band and ear cups comfortable? Is there any discomfort around your ears or the top of your head?

Most importantly, is the seal around your ears tight enough to block out sound from entering or leaving? You’ll want to make sure you have a good fit if you are looking for excellent sound isolation. A snug fit is also necessary for accurate frequency response. If possible, test alternative designs with different sizes and shapes of ear cushions.

The headband should apply even pressure without feeling tight. Some manufacturers offer models with adjustable bands so that you can customize the fit to your preference. In addition, you’ll want to select a pair of headphones with frame materials that don’t cause discomfort after long periods of wear.

Earcup padding

Comfort is key when it comes to selecting closed-back headphones, especially if you’ll be using them for extended periods of time. Look for earcups that are padded with soft materials such as memory foam or synthetic leather. Some models also come with adjustable padding that lets you customize the fit and comfort level of the earcups. You should also consider the overall size and weight of the headphones; heavy sets can cause fatigue over long listening sessions.

The benefit of investing in a quality, comfortable pair of closed-back headphones is that they’ll insulate your ears without diminishing sound quality. This means you won’t have to worry about external noise interfering with your recording or live performance.

Headband padding

The headband padding on closed-back headphones plays an important role in noise isolation by absorbing any soundwaves sent toward the ears. For this reason, the types of materials used in the headband padding are carefully chosen and often vary based on the headphone model.

Many closed-back headphones use headbands padded with soft foam or velour fabrics to reduce sound leakage and provide comfort for long recording sessions. Some fan favorites are leather headbands, which are made from animal skin that is wrapped around a sturdy metal base for added durability and noise isolation. Leather bands also often offer more flexibility than other materials and provide better stability when placed against your head.

Additionally, there are some models that feature memory foam padding which contours to your skull shape and provides an even better seal for maximum sound isolation.

Clamping force

Clamping force is the tightness with which headphones fit comfortably on your head. Too little clamping force and the headphones will be uncomfortable, fit poorly and sound subpar. Too much clamping force and the headphones will be painful after a short amount of time due to creating too much pressure against the ears.

The ideal amount of clamping force should be firm enough to stay in place without creating discomfort or exhaustion. Typically, good closed-back headphones should have a moderate level of clamping force, approximately 15–20 newtons (N). This can be tested by putting the headphones on without music playing and taking them off again without assistance from your hands — they should still stay in place firmly throughout this process.

It also helps if the headset comes with adjustable headbands giving you more fine-tuned control over this feature.How To Choose The Right Headphones For Your Studio Recording - Shure USA


The decision to choose closed-back headphones for recording in a studio is ultimately up to you. However, this guide provides valuable information about the characteristics of headphones and the differences between open-back and closed-back models.

When selecting closures for a studio, consider sound quality, price range, comfort, design, build materials and isolation ability. This will help you select the right model with the best audio performance while fitting your budget and goals.

When used correctly and given quality materials that are durable, reliable and well-built, closed-back headphones can help you produce professional audio that sounds great on any recording device or application.


Can you record with closed-back headphones? 

Yes, you can record with closed-back headphones.

Are closed-back headphones good for recording vocals? 

Closed-back headphones can be good for recording vocals as they provide better isolation from outside noise.

What are the best closed headphones for recording vocals?

 There are many options, but some popular closed-back headphones for recording vocals include the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, and Sony MDR-7506.

Do closed-back headphones block noise? 

Yes, closed-back headphones can block outside noise to some extent due to their design.

Do you need special headphones for recording?

 It is recommended to use headphones specifically designed for recording to get the best results.

Do producers use open-back headphones?

 Yes, producers often use open-back headphones for mixing and mastering as they provide a more natural sound and better soundstage.

Do headphones block background noise out for microphones?

 Closed-back headphones can help reduce background noise picked up by microphones, but they will not completely eliminate it.

What is closed-back studio headphones? 

Closed-back studio headphones are headphones designed for recording, mixing, and mastering, with a closed-back design that provides better isolation and a more focused sound.

Are closed-back headphones good for mixing and mastering? 

Closed-back headphones can be good for mixing and mastering, but open-back headphones are generally preferred for their more natural sound and better soundstage.

Is closed-back better for mixing? 

It depends on personal preference and the specific headphones being used, but open-back headphones are generally considered better for mixing due to their more natural sound and better soundstage.

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