I have trouble knowing what to call this because it seems fairly uncommon, hence the question. Once I find the correct vocabulary I can update the question title.

I am looking for the best type of audio-listening equipment, for either one ear or two ears, which makes it the most difficult for others in proximity to the wearer to hear what the wearer is listening to. Basically, noise canceling in reverse. The use case for this is for a developer to listen to music etc in an office with many others which is usually very quiet, without distracting other workers with small background noises. I like to be polite to others working conditions.

For the purposes of this question I am not concerned with price, wireless capability, or superb audio quality.


This made for a bit of interesting research. It's challenging to phrase the search terms appropriately, but this may be of assistance.

Noise cancelling headphones are "obviously" not your objective, but you may find a product that is designated as such that will work.

The key term I found was "closed back headphones" which is distinct from open back headphones. In the latter, sound from the drivers (speakers) travel both inward and outward, while in the former, the sound is directed only to the ears.

What I've also found is that closed back headphones are typically fully-over-the-ear design, although you may find a few earbuds that purport to direct sound inward only.

There were so many returns and good reviews for specific products that I didn't feel it appropriate to list dozens of links. There may be features of a product that you prefer along with the closed-back aspect that I would overlook.

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