Closed-back headphones are highly regarded in professional fields and hobbies such as gaming and audiophile hobbies. This is thanks to their versatility and excellent sound quality.
They aren’t as popular as open-back headphones once you reach a certain price point. However, lots of enthusiasts and professionals suggest having at least one closed-back headphone in your collection. If you want to learn about the difference between closed-back and open-back headphones, make sure to head to our dedicated Open and Closed-back FAQ.
In this article, we will be going through our top picks in the sub $200 price range. Our top picks include the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and the Audio Technica ATH M50X. But, of course, we have plenty of options in store for you. So make sure to keep on scrolling to find out more.
Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
The first model that we will be tackling is the legendary Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. This model has been in production since 1985 and has been widely considered as one of the industry standards when it comes to professional headphones.
What separates the DT 770 Pro from the other studio headphones is its sound quality. The DT 770 Pro has great sound quality across the board and has great bass response without throwing off the overall accuracy.
Its imaging and soundstage also rival open-back headphones. Its open sound helps these headphones sound a lot closer to studio monitors, making them great for mixing. It won’t outperform its open-back counterpart, the DT 990 Pro, in terms of the soundstage. However, the DT 990 Pro isn’t as versatile as the DT 770 Pro, so that is a fair tradeoff.
Aside from its sound quality, the DT 770 Pro also offers robust build quality. These headphones are predominantly made of high-quality plastic on most of the body, with metal reinforcements on the headband and hinges. It is built to take any kind of abuse in any kind of situation.
However, take note that there are some outdated design elements with these headphones. These include the non-removable cable and non-foldable design. The cable is sturdy, but it would have been nice to have the option to swap it out for third-party cables, swap it for a balanced cable, or replace it in case it gets damaged.
The non-foldable design can be a deal-breaker for those who are looking to transport the DT 770 Pro. But for people who will mostly use them inside the studio, it shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, having foldable hinges adds a point of failure to these headphones.
Unlike other studio headphones, the DT 770 Pro comes in different impedances. You can read our dedicated headphone impedance article for those who are not familiar with the term impedance. But headphone impedance is basically one of the factors that determine the power requirements of a headphone.
The DT 770 Pro comes in 32-ohm, 80-ohm, 250-ohm, and 600-ohm versions. The 32 and 80-ohm versions are perfect for tracking instruments.
They can be directly connected to your mixing console, digital mixer, or audio interface since they do not need a lot of amplification. The 250-ohm and 600-ohm version is perfect for those who already own a headphone amplifier and plan on using the DT 770 Pro for mixing and mastering.
Overall, the versatility and reliability of the DT 770 Pro make it our top pick.
Audio Technica ATH M50X
The Audio Technica M50X is arguably Audio Technica’s most popular and most successful headphone. Since its inception in 2007, the ATH M50 has been the go-to headphones for musicians, sound engineers, producers, and even casual listeners.
The latest revision, the M50X, gives the M50X the much-needed detachable cable, which further enhances its versatility. The ability to swap to a shorter cable makes the M50X also applicable in a portable setting. The sturdy plastic construction and folding design help the M50X keep up with the often harsh and unpredictable portable environment.
The popularity and influence of the M50X can be seen outside of the professional field. Many YouTubers, for example, are using the ATH M50X as their primary output device. Even gamers and Twitch icons such as Timthe Tatman are using the M50X during his streams.
Despite its popularity, the sound signature of the ATH M50X has received some criticism.
The sound signature is not entirely flat and is leaning towards a more V-Shaped sound signature. This is not unheard of as even other studio monitors such as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro also have a V-shaped sound signature.
However, with the constantly evolving market, enthusiasts are expecting more out of these benchmark headphones. Nevertheless, the ATH M50X is still a very competent headphone. Its technical ability may have been surpassed by other closed-back headphones, but its popularity won’t die anytime soon.
The ATH M50X has already cemented itself as the standard studio monitoring headphone. It is a tried and tested design that has been used by countless professionals around the world. If you are looking for a headphone for your next professional project, or even just for casual listening, then you won’t be disappointed with this one.
Audio Technica ATH M40X
The second most popular headphones from Audio Technica are, of course, the ATH M40X.
Despite being in a lower-tier compared to the M50X, many consider this to be the superior headphone. It is largely due to the flatter tuning of the M40X.
The M50X is known to have a bit of an over-exaggeration in the low-end. This low-end bump helps keep the music exciting. This is also the main factor that made it on our list of top DJ Headphones.
However, some users consider this to impact the accuracy of the headphones negatively. The added energy on the bass may lead to incorrect mixing, especially if headphones are your only source (which is the case for most beginners). This is why some users prefer the more accurate sounding ATH M40X instead.
The downsides of this type of sound signature may, however, sound too flat or boring to casual listeners. Having the most accurate representation of sound does not always result in an enjoyable experience. This is largely the reason why the ATH M50X is still the higher-end model.
But overall, if you are looking for the most analytical sounding studio monitoring headphone for the price, then the Audio Technica M40X is very hard to beat. Apart from the different tuning, the M40X has the same components as the M50X. This means that the M40X is still the same well-built pair of headphones that can be taken to live gigs or any demanding environment that may potentially break the headphones.
If a neutral sound is your priority, then we highly suggest the M40X over the M50X. However, if you want a more versatile option and if you do not necessarily mind the bass bump, then the M50X is the better choice. Either way, you are getting an industry-standard monitoring headphone.
Sennheiser is a manufacturer that is known for making industry-standard headphones. One of their most famous models is the Sennheiser HD25. It is the gold standard when it comes to DJ headphones and has been the number one choice of professionals ever since its release in 1988.
Its deep roots in the DJ and electronic scene alone make it one of the best pairs for listening to EDM. With its thundering bass, it is able to deliver clean, punchy, and precise bass. It does this without sacrificing other key frequencies, such as the midrange.
More complex electronic tracks with lots of elements going on in the mix are still accurately reproduced by the HD 25. Its only weakness is arguably its soundstage. And to be fair, most of its closed-back competitors suffer from the same issue.
It isn’t the best at reproducing wide-sounding and airy tracks. But it still surely holds its own and is able to deliver an enjoyable experience.
Additionally, the HD25 only has an impedance of 70 ohms. It is low enough to be powered by most modern devices such as smartphones. But it is high enough to ensure that you do not overload the drivers when using more powerful sources.
The sound quality isn’t the only reason why the HD25 is such a well-regarded headphone. It is built like a tank making it an amazing everyday carry pair as well as for stage use.
It is mostly made of plastic. However, the plastic material used is very high quality and is guaranteed to last. The usage of plastic also ensures that the HD 25 are kept lightweight and flexible for different use case scenarios. Replacement parts are also user-replaceable and sold by Sennheiser in case anything goes wrong.
Lastly, the HD25 is one of the best headphones for sound isolation. The HD25 significantly cuts out most ambient noise, giving you better enjoyment of your music.
However, take note that the HD25 has an on-ear design. Despite the HD25 being known as a comfortable headphone, on-ears are quite notorious for being uncomfortable for a lot of people. So keep this in mind if you are interested in the HD25.
Overall, the HD25 easily sets the bar for EDM headphones. If you want a pair that is trusted by professionals and is even often used to make the tracks that you listen to, the HD25 is one of our top recommendations.
The MDR CD900ST was first produced in the 80s and shares a lot of design elements with the MDR V6. It was manufactured in 1987, one year after the V6. There are some differences, such as the non-folding design, different pads, straight cable, and different build, but overall, they mostly look the same. However, the real difference is found in the sound quality.
The MDR CD900ST is considered to be the more detailed and more revealing pair. Like the V6, they also have a bright signature with more emphasis on the mids and highs. However, the quality of the mids and highs are a considerable upgrade compared to the MDR V6.
Due to the better mids and highs, these headphones are considered to be the more analytical and a more revealing pair. However, they will also be showing more flaws in your sources. So if you are going to be using these for casual music listening, then you might not have a great time when listening to lower quality music files.
Like the V6, the bass on the CD900ST is not overemphasized. It does its job in completing the sound, but it does not try to compete with the mids.
There are, of course, downsides since it shares a lot of design elements with the MDR V6. But unlike the MDR V6, some differences indicate that the CD900ST was designed to primarily stay inside the studio. The long straight cable, for instance, is non-detachable. The headphones also do not feature a non-folding design, which can make transporting these headphones a bit harder.
However, having the vintage design and imperfections are part of the appeal of these older Sony products. These cons have not stopped professionals from using and recommending these legendary headphones.
These headphones can be seen in various professional productions such as the Japanese YouTube Channel, The First Take. Overall, if you are a fan of Sony’s vintage design and want an even better-sounding version of the Sony MDR V6, then the Sony CD900ST is a good fit.
If you are looking for a budget alternative to the M50X and M40X, then the Shure SRH 440 is the next best model that you can buy. This headphone shares a lot of similarities to the M50X and M40X in terms of design. But one key difference is that these are flat sounding, making them more optimized for studio use.
Just like the M40X and M50X, the SRH440 features a foldable design and a removable cable, making them very easy to transport and easily repairable in the long run.
However, the build quality isn’t up to par with the other models on this list. It is still decent as it is made of high-quality plastic. However, the hinges are more prone to snapping since there are no metal reinforcements. The overall quality of the plastic and leather used is also a step below its competitors.
But the main highlight of these headphones is the sound quality. Its flat sound signature means there are no specific frequencies highlighted. This means that the sound that you get from these headphones is exactly how your sources should sound like.
However, given its lower price, the detail retrieval won’t be on par with the M40X or DT 770 Pro. But for its price, it should be good enough with monitoring whatever you throw at it.
Overall, if you are willing to sacrifice sound quality and build quality, then the Shure SRH440 is still a great and reliable alternative.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s