- Noise Isolation vs. Noise Cancellation: What’s the Difference?
- Best Headphones that Don’t Leak Sound – Our Top 8!
- Choosing the Best Headphones that Don’t Leak Sound (Buying Guide)
- How to Prevent Headphones from Leaking Sound? 6 Tips to Remember
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
Anyone has a different motivation to search for the best headphones that don’t leak sound. It might be to avoid disturbing other people in public or enjoy music in peace. Either way, it’s vital to choose a pair that can keep up with your hectic routine and demands.
I’ve tested numerous headphones on the market to pinpoint the eight best that don’t leak sound! Let’s see which one can give you the best private listening experience.
Noise Isolation vs. Noise Cancellation: What’s the Difference?
Headphones with noise isolation or passive noise-cancellation block ambient noise naturally. They rely on their padding and earcups to cut off background sounds. Meanwhile, noise-canceling headphones use a built-in mic to record ambient sounds and block them. They do this by sending opposing sound signals to your headphones.
But when it comes to preventing sound leakage, noise isolation is superior. They use closed-back designs instead of open-air, standard in ANC headphones. Plus, headphones with noise isolation don’t need any power to do their magic!
So, even if ANC headphones can prevent sound leakage. Noise isolation is better to a massive extent. They’re more convenient, efficient, last longer, and cut most sound leakage!
Best Headphones that Don’t Leak Sound – Our Top 8!
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Headphones
Product Name: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Headphones
Product Description: One of the best headphones that don't leak sound is Audio-Technica's ATH-M50X. These deliver top-notch audio quality and noise isolation. As a result, they can provide consistent quality for just about any music genre. Sporting a high-end DAC, these headphones guarantee only the best audio quality. Vocals will always be clear alongside just enough bass to not overpower the entire audio. So, even if the mid and highs sound harsh the first time, it'll adjust over time. But the downside of the ATH-M50X is that without the DAC, the headphones can be bass-heavy. And though this isn't a huge issue, it can make your audio sound muddy over time. Audio quality aside, these headphones have excellent noise isolation, thanks to their innovative design. It features a closed-back design, isolating audio up to 36 decibels! And with this, you can go to your realm of solitude without issue. Plus, it saves those near you from overhearing your tunes. Meanwhile, the headphones come with swiveling earcups that make the headphones as comfortable as possible. Plus, they feature a foldable design for easy storage and carry. Overall, enjoy top-notch sound quality even amidst the chaos with Audio Technica's ATH-M50X.
Offer price: $$$
Value for money
Overall, these entry-level Hi-Fi headphones are the all-around piece you need. It has top-notch noise isolation and quality audio for just about any music genre! No wonder why both audiophiles and casual listeners enjoy the headphones.
But the ATH-M50X isn’t the most comfortable option as it sports smaller ear cups. And this can be a hassle for those who have sizeable ears or are always on the go. Anyway, you can quickly address these with the pair’s adjustable build. So, this shouldn’t bother you for long.
- Top-notch noise isolation.
- It comes with a detachable cord, isolating the most vulnerable part of wired headphones.
- Collapsible and durable design.
- The headband is flexible.
- Great sound quality.
- These headphones can get bass-heavy without a premium DAC.
- It has small ear cups, making the headphones uncomfortable over time.
If you’re looking for headphones that let you enjoy your tunes anywhere and you alone, choose Sennheiser’s HD 25 Pro Audio headphones. These can isolate sounds up to 30 dB, allowing you to enjoy your me-time even among a crowd.
Although these are among the best supra-aural headphones, it still lacks sound leakage. Of course, it can still isolate 30 dB of noise, though. So, this shouldn’t be a massive dealbreaker.
Sennheiser’s HD 25 headphones stay well balanced across all frequency ranges. Plus, its bass has a decent response, perfect for casual listeners. Excluding its treble at high volumes, the HD 25 has everything you need in a pair of headphones.
But these headphones might not be the best pick for bass heads. After all, they show aggressive treble at high volume levels. The bass and overall audio should sound fine if you stay at low to mid-range volumes.
Aside from that, these headphones also have an impressive design. It has a simple yet efficient design, and you can store it wherever. Moreover, it’s pretty flexible, spreading out weight evenly for maximum comfort.
I don’t recommend these headphones for long-term use as they’re very flimsy. But with careful use, the HD 25 should be able to last as long as the other brands.
Are you looking for headphones that can keep up with professional tasks? Look no further than Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 headphones. These prevent sound leakage and are also an excellent pick for music production, mixing, etc.
Even if the DT 770 has a closed-back design, it prevents sound leakage well. It can isolate up to 35 dB of noise. But the headphones can generally isolate a broad range of ambient noise while keeping a solid grip on your ears. Moreover, even if you’re not playing any songs, the DT 770 can still isolate noise.
It’s perfect for upcoming music producers who’re just getting started with their careers.
Noise isolation aside, the DT 770’s audio quality is equally impressive. It’s the pinnacle of closed-back headphones, producing refined audio while blocking background noise. No wonder many praises the unit for its stellar sound quality across all frequencies.
Although the headphones may look like typical studio monitor units, it has a higher quality build—and comfort! Its headband uses premium leather padding, maintaining a tight grip on your ears while staying soft.
What makes this stand out is its cable design. Its cable is more advanced than other headphones, boasting a dedicated volume control. As a result, you can adjust your volume without whipping out your audio source.
Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 is a great all-around pick for casual listeners and pros. But a massive downside of this is that you can’t use it on your audio sources alone. I recommend using it with a headphone amp to enjoy its full potential as it has a very high impedance of 80 Ohm.
The V-MODA Crossface 2 is every audiophile’s dream. It’s one of the best closed-back headphones with excellent sound leakage prevention. And its premium, the sweat-resistant fabric will grab your attention!
These headphones sport a unique, contemporary look while maintaining outstanding performance. And even though they consist of metal, they are pretty light and portable. It comes with Cliqfold hinges that let you fold the V-MODA, perfect for those who are always on the go.
Moreover, the Crossface 2 is incredibly comfortable as well. Its headband is wrapped in leather fabric, while the ear pads are foamy and soft. Best of all, all these use sweat-resistant and durable cloth material.
Design and comfort aside, these headphones also boast impeccable sound quality. As I mentioned earlier, it’s every audiophile’s dream, boasting a frequency range of 5Hz to 40kHz. And when combined with its 50 mm driver, you get the perfect pair for music production!
Finally, these headphones are among the few wireless and wired units that prevent sound leakage well. It uses Qualcomm apt audio codec for wireless audio playback for CD-quality sounds. Additionally, it uses SBS codecs for universal compatibility.
Its lithium-ion battery provides more than 14 hours of continual playback and charges up to 4 hours every 30 minutes.
Overall, the V-MODA Crossface 2 are award-winning headphones you wouldn’t want to miss! Each purchase comes with a durable carrying case for easy storage and carry.
At first glance, its modest price might put you in doubt about its quality. But don’t underestimate Shure’s SRH440 studio headphones! It’s one of the best studio headphones on the market now, sporting excellent sound quality and noise isolation.
It can keep your songs continually playing without interruption from the outside world. And it also helps prevent you from disturbing those near you by blocking sound leakage. With this, you can enjoy a private listening experience wherever you are.
The headphones produce enough bass response while keeping higher tones intact. As a result, you get a soft and balanced soundtrack, no matter the music genre!
Sound performance aside, Shure’s SRH440 has an equally as impressive design. It has a retractable formation for easy adjustments to any user. Aside from that, its plastic fabric makes the headphones lighter and easier on the ears—and head.
When combined with its massive ear pads, almost anyone can use these without issue.
Besides that, the earpads and chords of these headphones are 100% detachable. With this, you should be able to carry around the device with ease.
Shure’s SRH440 headphones are the perfect no-frills unit that gives you great features for a modest price.
But be warned, these headphones are not the best for bass heads as their bass is not very prominent.
One of the best closed-back headphones for noise isolation is Sennheiser’s HD 280. It boasts incredible noise isolation despite having a closed-back design. As a result, you may enjoy the best of both worlds: minimal sound leakage and excellent audio quality!
The headphones boast 64 Ohm impedance and a 105.64 dB sensitivity, making balanced sounds. And though its bass and treble are decently smooth, they’re not prominent. So, if you’re a bass head, I suggest looking elsewhere.
However, its mid-frequency notes are excellent for providing peak sharpness in high notes.
Sound performance aside, these headphones come with a great design as well. It uses synthetic leather for its padding and headbands. Aside from that, the headbands are wrapped with a cushiony layer for more comfort! Finally, the ear pads are wide enough for gentle adjustments.
Besides that, these headphones have a foldable formation for easy storage and carry. In short, anyone can enjoy a comfortable and convenient experience with Sennheiser’s HD 280!
Overall, Sennheiser’s HD 280 is an affordable pick with premium features you’d find in costly units. This unit won’t let your ears down.
However, despite their adjustable design, these headphones remain pretty bulky. And this can be an issue for those with limited space when traveling.
Are you searching for the best headphones that don’t leak sound on a budget? Consider Edifier’s H840 Over-the-Ear headphones. These produce quality audio and noise isolation at a meager cost.
Despite having a modest price tag, these headphones produce professional sounds that rival expensive units! Its 40 mm drivers are fine-tuned to create quality sounds ideal for soothing music or acoustic tracks. And though its bass might be audible, it’s pretty soft and only leaves a slight impact. Not to mention, its trebles won’t be as harsh.
Hence, the H840 isn’t the best for loud genres like hip-hop or metal.
Moreover, these headphones have an ergonomic design that provides excellent noise isolation! Its over-ear paddings are oval-shaped and completely rotatable for a tight grip every time. As a result, you can prevent sound leakage with ease.
Aside from that, Edifier’s H840 has some of the most comfortable designs on budget headphones. It uses comfortable soft leather on its headband and ear cups. So, using these headphones for extended periods shouldn’t be an issue.
Overall, the Edifier H840 is an excellent budget pick for those looking for quality sounds and noise isolation. However, a massive issue with this pair is that it comes with undetachable cables. That means you have to carry the headphones around with their wires intact, which can be a hassle for many.
Although the KRK KNS 8400 headphones don’t have much clout as the other brands, it’s still a great product! It can be an excellent surprise for audiophiles looking for quality audio and noise isolation at a modest price.
These headphones can isolate up to 30 dB of noise, perfect for casual and professional settings. The KRK KNS 8400 can cut off most ambient sounds, allowing you to focus on your tracks.
Aside from that, these headphones produce great sounds with rich details.
The KRK KNS 8400 also does not disappoint in its design! It boasts a unique build, using top-quality plastic and lightweight memory foam, keeping its weight to a minimum. And you can clip these headphones around your neck when out and bout.
Besides that, it’s also convenient thanks to its detachable cables and earpads. Here, you can adjust them as you please while making them easier to carry and store.
So, if you’re looking to take music seriously but don’t have much going, go for the KRK KNS 8400 headphones. They’re cheaper, sound great, and let you listen to more than what you’ve been missing out on!
However, if you like listening to dynamic music, these headphones might feel slightly off. That’s because they have high accuracy and a flat signature. This shouldn’t be a problem when you play the songs at the proper volume levels.
Choosing the Best Headphones that Don’t Leak Sound (Buying Guide)
Searching for the best headphones that don’t leak sound can be challenging. After all, there’s no simple technical specification that implies “zero sound leakage.” So, you’d likely need to test the headphones before deciding. And we obviously can’t test them out when shopping online.
I’ve listed a few factors to help you find the best headphones without sound leakage. Each one makes you one step closer to finding the perfect pair for you:
🎧 Headphone Type
Design and form factors determine how well headphones can keep your listening experience private. So, there might be a particular type of headphones that can block sound well but not sound leakage. Or vice versa.
Either way, familiarize yourself with it to see which is better at handling sound leakage. Below are four types of headphones, which differ in form factor and earcup design.
Here are the two different kinds of headphones based on form factor:
- Over-ear headphones. These headphones have earcups that cover the user’s ears entirely.
- On-ear headphones. Their earcups rest on top of the user’s ears, not fully covering them.
Meanwhile, here are the other two kinds of headphones based on ear cup design:
- Closed-back headphones. These send audio signals in one direction only, usually toward the user’s ears.
- Open-back headphones. They have open-back ear cups welcoming air flow. As a result, they can direct sounds toward or away from a user’s ears.
Generally, closed-back and over-ear headphones are best for sound leakage prevention. They have better sound barriers on their ear cups, keeping your tunes private. Not to mention, these have better audio quality, thanks to their sizeable drivers.
🎧 Sound Quality
Open-back headphones are superior in audio quality as they let air flow in more freely. But they aren’t the best in preventing sound leakage. And unfortunately, only a few closed-back headphones can mimic their audio quality. So, even if you opt for expensive models, they won’t be able to deliver.
That’s why set your expectations when searching for headphones without sound leakage. I’m not saying they have terrible quality, but they tend to produce louder low frequencies. And though this might sound terrific for those who like bass-heavy tracks, too much can affect its overall sound quality.
Often, closed-back headphones might sound muddy at mid and high volumes. However, this doesn’t mean that closed-back headphones will always sound terrible! They’re still able to produce quality sounds, after all.
For the best results, I suggest choosing closed-back headphones with EQ. These allow you to tweak the device’s sound profile, making them sound better. And you don’t need to do much as equalizers are easy to set up for headphones! So, if audio quality is vital for you, look for this feature.
Often linked with sound quality, impedance showcases if headphones match your audio sources. Headphones with 75 ohms below are low and are ideal for devices like tablets and smartphones. On the other hand, anything more than 75 ohms are mostly for audio techs.
🎧 Noise Isolation or Noise Cancellation
Noise isolation is the ability of headphones to cut off background noise naturally. And it uses a pair of headphones’ physical design elements like the ear cups and padding to do so. Hence, noise isolation is also commonly referred to as passive noise cancellation.
Meanwhile, active noise cancellation is when headphones block noise via their built-in mics. As mentioned earlier, these are superior when reducing ambient sounds.
But since we’re focusing on sound leakage, noise isolation is far superior. After all, passive noise-cancellation guarantees quality audio for you to hear alone!
In short, look for a pair of headphones that excels both ways! They should be able to block outside noise from coming in and cut off any sounds coming out.
Drivers or transducers convert electrical signals into sound waves. Generally, the smaller these are, the less likely the headphones will leak sounds. Aside from that, when combined with closed-back ear cups, you get the least amount of leakage. After all, this unique mix lets the headphones produce bi-directional sound waves.
🎧 Padding Design, Comfort, and Quality
Padding is a massive contributor to blocking sound leakage in PNC headphones. It’s the part that directly wraps around the user’s ears and covers them up. So, you can see why sound leakage depends a lot on this material.
Plus, if you’re focusing on noise isolation, you might get stuck with a pair that feel warm over time. Not only will this impact the device’s comfortability, but also your breathing. So, before anything else, see how well-ventilated the ear cups are.
The best padding material is memory foam, regardless of the brand or type of headphones. It’s a particular synthetic foam consisting of polyurethane and other chemicals. And this unique mix results in a flexible cushion that perfectly molds your body parts.
But even if memory foam is excellent at preventing sound leakage, it’s not the most comfortable. After all, the material can absorb body heat, accumulating it after prolonged sessions. Hence, always check the other materials covering the padding aside from memory foam.
I suggest looking for headphones with memory foam wrapped in breathable fabric. If not, you can settle for velour ear pads as they’re as efficient as memory foam. But best of all, you can always switch the padding up when needed.
🎧 Design (Comfort & Fit)
While audio quality and noise isolation are vital, there’s nothing worse than uncomfortable headphones. Besides irritation, these might affect your overall listening experience. And this is especially common if you often wear your headphones for prolonged periods. Therefore, you should always consider comfort and fit when choosing headphones.
Moreover, headphones fit determines how well they can rest snugly on your ears. Aside from that, it can also contribute to noise isolation.
Generally, the tighter the fit, the better for sound leakage prevention. Below are three things you can check to determine a pair of headphone’s design and fit:
- Adjustability. No user has an exact head shape or size to another. That’s why adjustability is crucial for headphones. It can make the device not too loose—or too tight. I suggest headphones with adjustable headbands or rotating ear cups for your convenience.
- Weight. Generally, headphones below 0.55 pounds are the best choice as they’re light and easy on the head. Plus, they don’t weigh your head down as much.
- Tactile sensation. See how the headphones feel and react to your skin to ensure a comfortable experience. Typically, the best materials for this are synthetic or genuine leather and velour.
Finally, don’t forget to check sensitivity. I don’t suggest listening to music beyond 100 decibels for prolonged periods. After all, it might damage your ears over time. That’s why headphones with sensitivity are better. You don’t need to tone up the volume as much as you would on those with low sensitivity.
How to Prevent Headphones from Leaking Sound? 6 Tips to Remember
Aside from getting the best headphones that don’t leak sound, there are tricks you can do to prevent it. Below are six of my proven tips for reducing to stopping sound leakage completely:
✅ Cover them up
Covering your headphones with your hands gives them an extra protective layer. This way, you’ll be able to prevent any sounds from leaking out actively. Therefore, even if it’s an old-school trick, it hasn’t lost its efficiency!
✅ Use foam ear pads
As I mentioned earlier, memory foam is the best material for noise isolation. It offers better sound isolation and prevents sound leakage more efficiently. So, if you see that your headphones have padding not made of this material, replace it.
✅ Go for bone conduction headphones
Bone conduction headphones let you listen to different tracks through vibration. And this also reduces your chances of sound leakage.
✅ Noise isolation over noise-cancellation
Noise isolation offers you both audio quality and sound leakage prevention by keeping your music in and background noise out. It’s better for sound leakage as it naturally blocks noise via its build instead of canceling sound waves.
✅ Add another layer
Cover your headphones with ear-protection earmuffs. These keep the device intact, preventing any sounds from leaking out. I suggest doing this during the colder months as it keeps you warm and invested in your music.
✅ Crank it down
The simplest yet overlooked method of preventing sound leakage on headphones is turning the volume down. Obviously, the louder your blast your tunes, the higher the chances of audio leaking. When out in public, I suggest cranking it down a notch. You can keep your songs to yourself and not annoy those around you.
Although this can be challenging if you commute, it’s better for your health—and ears. So, this tip is 100% worthwhile to try.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it normal for a pair of headphones to leak sounds?
A: Sound leakage is quite common for most headphones. However, even though it’s frowned upon, it doesn’t always refer to an issue. For instance, open-back headphones typically deliver high sound leakage. But many still use them as they offer a natural and immersive listening experience. Still, that doesn’t mean you should settle for headphones that leak sound often.
Q: What does bleed in music mean?
A: Bleed in music refers to sound leakage from an audio source to external devices like headphones. It can occur randomly in all genres, but it’s primarily prevalent onstage. So, expect parts where drums or cymbals play to leak out of your headphones.
Q: Are headphones that don’t leak sound worth it?
A: If you want to protect your hearing or enjoy your tunes, you’ll need headphones that don’t leak sound. Essentially, these provide a better overall listening experience. And if you don’t want to bother those near you, headphones that don’t leak sounds are 100% worthwhile.
Q: Can earbuds leak sounds?
A: Since earbuds rest outside of our ears, it’s natural that they have poor isolation. Hence, you can expect yours to do the same. But certain types of earbuds that sit inside your ear canals should do better. After all, they don’t leak as much noise.
Q: Are there headphones that can block background sounds and leaks?
A: Noise-canceling headphones cut off most ambient noises and can reduce leakage. After all, manufacturers create them intending to deliver comprehensive audio. And some might use active noise cancellation, countering low-frequency backgrounds sounds.
Whether you want a more listening immersive experience or wish to stop bothering those around you, you’ll need headphones with top-notch noise isolation. My picks for the best headphones that don’t leak sound can help you enjoy your tunes—and you alone. Each one boasts impeccable noise isolation, keeping every note to yourself.
Choose carefully to find the best pair that can keep up with your audio demands—and others out of it.