If you’re someone who enjoys listening to music at the office, in bed, on public transportation, or in any other shared environment, then you need to start thinking about sound leakage. While audio bleed might not be apparent to you when you’re jamming out to your favorite album, it’s best to assume that someone is listening in, albeit involuntarily. The same goes for sound coming in. That background noise can force you to miss out on subtle musical details. Those mild interruptions can be devastating to anyone who is trying to produce quality recordings. Headphones that don’t leak sound are needed.
Headphones That Don’t Leak Sound On The Market
A quality pair of non-bleeding, noise-canceling headphones will dramatically improve your listening experience. Moreover, these gadgets will keep you from disturbing others. Now, without further ado, here are five phenomenal headphones that don’t leak, or bleed, sound.
Just in case you’re in a rush, here’s a sneak preview:
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Studio Monitor Headphones – Best Overall
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones are studio-ready listening devices with unmatched sound-canceling properties. The ATH-M50x headphones are Audio-Technica’s premium M-series offering. They feature a closed-back, over-the-ear design with three detachable cables and Bluetooth connectivity. We are talking about an undeniably studio-ready audio reproduction product.
Proprietary 45-millimeter large-aperture drivers, rare earth magnets, and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils further improve the quality of sound produced through these studio-ready listening devices. You get an extended frequency range and a richer, more pronounced bass response. You don’t have to settle for less than impressive midrange and high frequencies. The ATH-M50x headphones offer extensive clarity at all frequency ranges.
Keeping Comfort in Mind
The headphones feature an over-the-ear design that perfect for the home and studio. The ear cups swivel 90 degrees for more comfortable single-ear listening. You should have no trouble folding them up for storage and transportation. The soft padding and adjustable over-the-head band make for painless extended listening sessions.
The included cable set lets you better fine-tune your listening experience. The headphones come with a coiled 1.2- to 3-meter cable and straight 3-meter cable, and 1.2-meter cables. Meaning, you can listen in the studio and on the go. Both the cords and the ear pads are replaceable.
Some Final Stats
The headphones produce frequencies between 15 to 28,000 hertz. They boast a 99-decibel sensitivity and a 38-ohm impedance. With such an impressive sensitivity rating, these headphones are only suitable for the most serious audiophiles. Their high impedance rating means they work best with high-powered audio equipment. That copper coil should keep you from worrying about overload.
The only noticeable downside of this offering is the plastic-heavy exterior. While they are not very flimsy, the headphones do have a seemingly cheap aesthetic. We’d like to see Audio Technica give these coveted over-the-ear headphones an outward appearance that matches their performance.
- Critically acclaimed design
- Detachable cable (Bluetooth-enabled)
- Proprietary 45-millimeter large-aperture drivers
- Rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum voice coils
- Extended frequency range offers unmatched clarity and bass response
- 90-degree swiveling earcups for easy one-ear listening
- Circumaural ear cups contour the ears for better sound isolation
- A mostly plastic construction
2. Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones – Best Active Noise-Cancelling Option
The Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones boast a range of smart features that help them produce high-quality, interference-free audio. They would be an excellent addition to any home or studio audio setup.
Sony’s proprietary noise-canceling technology ensures that listeners can hear every detail of their music regardless of outside noise. The sound-canceling system consists of multiple microphones that actively and efficiently redirect high- and mid-frequency interruptions. The Bluetooth Audio SoC (System on Chip) senses and adjusts ambient sound signals to ensure that audiophiles only gain access to the purest, most dynamic audio signals. Moreover, the WH-1000XM4 Headphones are compatible with Sony’s Headphone Connect app. This unique system allows essential sounds, such as overhead messages and back and forth chatter, to momentarily dominate the sound system.
The WH-1000Xm4 headphones use LDAC and Bluetooth technologies to produce high-quality audio over a dedicated wireless connection. The premium setup consists of 1.57-inch drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms. The headphones can reproduce audio signals at a range of frequencies up to 40 kilohertz. The headphones’ speak-to-chat feature automatically pauses your music when you are talking. Likewise, it automatically resumes playback once you’re done with your conversation. Users can also use touch to stop or reduce the volume of their music at a moment’s notice.
The headphones’ conical ear pads and flexible over-the-head band offer users unmatched comfort and relief. When you pair these design improvements with automated playback settings, you get a sound experience that is suitable for extended listening sessions. The ear cups distribute an even amount of pressure. Foamed urethane padding keeps listeners from feeling that pressure. As a result, these headphones protect your ears while passively stopping sound leakage. As Sony says, “you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them.”
Highly Desirable Specs
Like most active noise-canceling audio gadgets, the Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones sacrifice a bit of sound quality for solitude. Still, the 4- to 40,000-hertz leave little to be desired. The 1.57-inch domed driver offers super-crisp bass and high notes. They have a studio-ready 105-decibel impedance. That rating is only reduced down to 101 decibels when the Bluetooth is off.
Keep in mind that a full charge offers you approximately 3 hours of wireless listening. With that said, you can also use the headphones in a powerless corded mode. They have a 30-foot range when Bluetooth is engaged.
- Speak-to-chat feature produces buttonless audio pauses when you’re talking to someone
- Adaptive sound control is a smart function that automatically adjusts the volume and frequency of music to produce a better listening experience
- Tunes out all audio interruptions for a more fluid and enjoyable listening experience
- SAves adaptive sound control settings for your favorite locations, such as your workplace, gym, home, or favorite restaurant
- Proximity sensors let your headphones know if you are wearing them (saves battery and reduces playback interruptions)
- Ear cup-based touchpads let you tune in to outside audio at a moment’s noise
- Pressure-relieving urethane ear pads and an adjustable over-the-head strap
- Not the most advanced, high-quality offering by Sony
3. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones – Best Budget PIck
Last but not least, we have the Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones. Sennheiser’s redesign listening interface offers exceptional sound reproduction. These sound-canceling, bleed-resistance headphones are highly suitable for professional environments. It doesn’t hurt that they come at an unbelievably low price.
The closed, over-the-ear headphones offer aggressive sound isolation and elimination alongside accurate sound reproduction. The ultra-soft padded ear cups are suitable for all-day listening sessions.
What You Get
The HD 280 Pros were made for professional recording and listening setups. As such, they only come with a 3-meter coiled cable. This lengthy cord is going to feel awkward to anyone who happens to be looking for a more casual, on-the-go audio listening experience.
- Aggressive ambient sound cancellation
- No audio bleeding
- Comfortable over-the-head fit with an adjustable band and padded ear cups
- More defined audio reproduction, with excellent high-, low-, and mid-tones
- 8- to 25,000-hertz audio frequency
- Side effects include sweaty ears (the connection is that tight)
- Not Aesthetically impressive
4. Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones – Best Power Handling
Sony’s MDRV6 Studio Headphones are timeless favorites. These sound-canceling headphones are 30-year veterans of the music industry. They deliver high-quality, dynamic listening experiences alongside some pretty impressive ambient sound cancellation. Since they are no longer in production, we suggest that you scoop them up while you can.
This model features a CCAW Voice Coil and 40-millimeter drivers for exceptional audio reproduction at all frequencies. Replaceable ear pads make these a mainstay you can stick with for some time. The nearly 10-foot coiled cable that comes with the kit is perfect for sit-down listening sessions, especially those in the studio. Users also receive a removable screw-in 6.3-millimeter adapter.
We love that these pared-down headphones offer little to sound leakage. You can safely rock out in a tightly packed office setting without irritating bystanders. The padded ear cups also do an excellent job of tuning background noise. The well-made drivers allow users to tune into rich bass, midrange frequencies, and high notes without having to listen to coarse and uneven audio interferences.
- Optimal for studio and other critical listening situation, including recording studios
- Rich bass, clear mid-range signals, and extended highs
- Copper-clad aluminum voice coil for improved power handling
- 40-millimeter neodymium drivers produce exceptional sound clarity with plenty of well-defined high, mid, and bass notes
- Closed-back circum-aural, collapsible ear cups
- Sony is a trusted veteran of the audio industry
- 5-30,000-hertz frequency range
- Neodymium magnets and 40-millimeter drivers deliver a powerful, well-rounded sonic experience
- Coil cord is not ideal for recreational listening experiences
- Plastic-heavy design
5. Shure SRH840 Monitoring Headphones – Best Budget-Friendly Studio Backup
Experience the refined solitude offered by these professional-grade passive noise-canceling monitoring headphones. The 40-millimeter neodymium dynamic drivers deliver sounds at all frequencies. User-replaceable cables and ear pads ensure that these monitoring devices will be with you for a long time. The Shure Headphones offer rich low-, mid-range-, and high-frequency audio signals while tuning out ambient sounds. The padded headphones and roomy ear cups provide user comfort over extended intervals. The device’s durable exterior casings are durable enough to withstand everyday abuses. They’re covered by a pretty generous two-year warranty. You get a custom carry case along with the rest of the included accessories.
The Shure Headphones boast closed-back circumaural ear cups that reduce background noises to barely audible signals. This level of the annunciation is ideal for recording and editing. Bayonet clips lock the cables in place. You can detach the cable and fold the design inward for easier storage. The provided carrying bag will protect your headphones when they are not in use.
The Shure Headphones have a frequency response that ranges between 5 and 25,000 hertz. The headphones deliver quality audio reproductions of just about every type of music. You can enjoy your listening experience without interrupting others or being interrupted.
- Closed, circumaural design limits ambient audio interference without the need for circuitry
- Includes a 9.8-foot coiled cable and a threaded gold-plated adapter
- Comes with a two-year warranty and a protective carrying bag
- Rich bass, mid-range, and high notes
- Padded, ergonomic headband and ear cups make these suitable for extended listening sessions
How to Find Headphones That Don’t Leak Sound?
High-quality noise-canceling headphones isolate ambient sound at a wide range of frequencies. Most headphone manufacturers specify the level of sound isolation offered by each headphone model. This number is expressed in decibels. A higher rating means more ambient sound attenuation. Keep in mind that the rating may not represent the level of sound isolation offered at all frequencies. Look for
Passive vs. Active Attenuation
Headphones may boast active or passive noise cancellation technologies. Passive noise-canceling headphones use materials and design features to block as many ambient sound waves as possible. Active noise-canceling headphones use materials and electronic circuitry to circumvent high and low ambient sound.
Audio experts seem to have mixed feelings about passive and active noise-canceling headphones. Passive noise-canceling headphones tend to offer better acoustics and more limited ambient sound attenuation. Passive noise-canceling headphones do not need to be powered up to work their magic. The active variety offers improved ambient sound attenuation alongside mediocre sound reproduction. These models tend to have limited battery lives.
Many active noise-canceling headphones offer an additional array of smart features. These models may use internal circuitry and compatible apps to give users a more fine-tuned listening experience. These features are usually desirable to individuals in professional and shared settings. They may enable a worker to briefly communicate to a coworker or tune into essential overhead announcements.
Don’t forget to assess the comfort of your new audio listening devices. Padded ear cups and flexible over-the-head bands are essential to the comfort of any audiophile who enjoys extended listening sessions. Swiveling ear cup designs enable users to enjoy the occasional one-ear listening experience. Collapsible models are preferred by frequent travels and commuters.
A Bit About the Specs
The spec-side of headphones can be overwhelming to anyone who lacks extensive audio knowledge. You may come across a jumble of ratings, including ones for audio impedance, frequency response ranges, driver dimensions, and headphone weight.
Try not to get too carried away with these numbers. Most studio-ready headphones offer similar if not identical stats. These numbers tend to be less defining than manufacturers make them out to be.
Think about where and how you’ll be using your new headphones. A Bluetooth connection might enable you to connect your headphones to your phone. A lengthy coiled wire connection is going to be ideal for the studio.
How to Find Headphones Without Sound Leakage?
During ordinary listening experiences, sound leakage can infringe upon a listener’s privacy or disrupt the people in their close vicinity. In a recording studio, leaky headphones can cause undesirable spillage (aka bleeding). Bleeding can even be heard in some vocal recordings in which the vocalist used open-back headphones to listen to accompanying music. Here’s what you need to look for when shopping for recording studio-worthy headphones that won’t leak sound.
What types of headphones prevent audio leakage?
Passive noise-isolating headphones use thick, closed, over-the-ear insulation to prevent noise from leaking in and out. Active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones use built-in microphones to reduce the amount of passive sound heard by the listener. This process is also called destructive interference.
Keep in mind that noise isolation and noise cancellation are both measured decibels. The average noise-canceling headphones block anywhere from 15 to 20 decibels.
Types of Headphones
Over-the-ear headphones with thick, insulated cups tend to perform best when it comes to reducing sound leakage. You can reduce some of that sound leakage by upgrading to a pair of noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones or in-ear monitors. In-ear monitors are the types of headphones used by live performers and studio artists. They slide into the ear cavity. They do an excellent job of isolating sound.
Open-back and semi-open headphones are the most likely to leak sound. Don’t dupe yourself into thinking all closed-back headphones provide the equivalent levels of audio isolation. The foam and exterior casing both play a part in sound dampening. Scrutinize the size and materials that make up those circumaural (over-the-ear) cups. Make sure you can adjust the pressure of the cups to suit your head size.
Driver (aka Transducer)
Headphones use drivers to convert electrical signals into listenable sound waves. There are five different kinds of transducers. Headphones with planar magnetic transducers and closed backs tend to create the smallest amount of sound leakage. This is because they create bi-directional sound waves. A smaller transducer (like the ones in earbuds) is also less likely to leak sound.
While materials play a huge part in noise isolation, no one wants a fortress of foam and plastic on their head. Leak-resistant headphones should still be comfortable and functional. Simply make sure that the headphone cups completely cover your ears.
Impedance is mostly linked to sound quality. You’ll need to pay close attention to your headphones’ impedance to be sure it is a good match for your sound production equipment. Impedance is measured in ohms (Ω). Headphones up to 75 ohms are considered to have low impedance. These are ideal for pairing with smartphones, tablets, and other consumer-grade listening devices. Anything higher is more likely to be used by audio techs.
Don’t forget to check your headphones’ sensitivity. It’s not recommended that you listen to music above 100 decibels for an extended period. If headphones have a high sensitivity, you will not need to crank up the volume as much as you would on headphones with low sensitivity.
Leaky, ambient sound-filled listening devices can deter you from enjoying your favorite music. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable headphone options that offer exceptional sound reproduction alongside ambient noise cancellation. If you’re in a rush, check out our top pick, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones. As one of Audio Technica’s top offerings, the ATh-M50x offers unmatched passive noise-cancellation alongside crisp, detailed audio reproduction. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones are perfect for any audiophile looking for active noise cancellation.
How will you be using your leak-free headphones? Will you be spending your time in the studio, the office, or somewhere else? Let us know in the comment section below.