June 28th, 2018 | Updated on December 30th, 2023
Heated debates still loom regarding which open back or closed back headphones are better. As expected, the option that produces a more natural sound takes the crown.
Both headsets offer a couple of benefits and drawbacks. But if you’re looking for a pair of headphone that sounds authentic, consider purchasing the open-backs. These not only offer a crisp, natural sound, they’re also quite comfortable to wear.
What Makes Open Back Headphones Sound So Natural
1. Open Back Headphones Have A Perforated Ear Cup Design
Unlike closed back headphones which have an enclosed ear cup, open back headsets have an exposed design.
The speaker section is surrounded by a perforated metal grill, allowing you to hear everything that’s happening around you. The closed back headphones have sealed ear cups.
Therefore, you only get to listen to music/sound through the earphones – ambient sound is effectively eliminated.
In light of this fact, open back headphones sound more natural compared to their closed back cousins.
2. Sound Doesn’t Bounce Around Creating Echoes
Sound quality is an important element that can either enhance or spoil your listening experience. With open back headphones, air flows freely through the speaker component.
Consequently, the undesired pressure buildup that’s typical in closed back headsets is not experienced. Normally when the speaker is enclosed within a plastic cover, small incoherent echoes are generated.
But when it’s exposed, these echoes are eliminated. This enhances the sound quality significantly.
3. They’re Best For Audio Mixing And Mastering
All song producers strive to attain the best quality tracks. To achieve an excellent final product, frequency and tuning issues need to be ironed out completely.
Closed back headphones are unreliable when performing track mastering and mixing, mainly because they tend to camouflage tuning issues and frequency inconsistencies.
Majority of people use headphones to listen to music. Therefore, creating the perfect tune for this audience is paramount.
Open back headphones produce sound that’s true and crisp, making them ideal for audio mixing and mastering.
4. Open Back Headphones Offer More User Comfort
When it comes to headsets, comfort is key. Closed back headphones are notorious for generating enough heat to warm up users’ ears, making them uncomfortable to wear.
It’s not uncommon to see people “taking a break” from their headphones because their ears got warm or sweaty.
Luckily, such occurrences don’t usually happen with open back headphones. Their perforated ear cups facilitate maximum aeration, offering listeners amazing comfort.
5. They Deliver A Wider Soundstage
Soundstage simply refers to a surreal musical recreation that produces a more immersive feel. Closed back headphones produce music that feels unreal, like it’s emanating from within your head.
Open-backs, on the other hand, sound more crisp and genuine. It’s almost like you’re listening to a live band playing in some concert hall.
You’ll certainly notice the difference between open back and closed back headphones once you try them both.
These 5 facts prove that open back headphones still sound better and more natural.
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10 Best Open Back Headphones
1. Avantree 40 hr Wireless Wired Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones
Audition features aptX streaming technology and an ultra-light custom fit design, allowing you to enjoy up to an amazing 40 hours of music.
Review: James D.
Comfortable headphones that are also affordable. The sound is good and not too heavy. I bought this specifically because it can be wired or wireless.
I can use these headphones while moving around the house or on the go, or while sitting at my desk or couch.
My biggest complaint with wireless headphones is that it is something you have to charge with the rest of your electronics.
My headphones usually sit around for a while and I need them ready to go when headphones are required.
I don’t want to have to remember to charge them before I use them or worse, find out that they are not charged while out of the house.
The wired option still lets me use these headphones even after the batteries die. I mostly use these for playing video games so they are sitting most of the time.
2. Audio-Technica ATHAD700X Audiophile
Unsurpassed comfort and a completely natural listening experience make the ATH-AD700X headphones by Audio Technica ideal for long listening sessions.
Designed with a lightweight honeycomb aluminium casing, these open-air headphones produce no sense of pressure on the ears.
Audio Technica’s newly designed 53mm drivers with bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils deliver spacious sound with superior highs and mids.
Review: Joseph Wilson
I love these! I had the Logitech G933 Artemis wireless headphones (gift) and I couldn’t tell where anything was in Rainbow 6 Siege.
The bass in the Logitech’s would always drown out all other sounds and I never felt like I knew where the noise was coming.
I don’t know how these Audio Technica ATH-AD700X have done it, but they nailed the directional audio. I can feel when someone is in front of me to the right… or behind me to the left.
The way the noise hits in the headphones is amazing! It’s greatly improved my game since now instead of hearing footsteps and trying to guess where it’s coming from I can actually know with 100% assurance that they’re to the right and in front of me or whatever, the case may be.
3. Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Over-Ear Studio Headphones
The DT 990 PRO (250 ohms) is an open dynamic headphone that is ideal for professional use in studios. Headphone frequency response – 5 – 35.000 Hz.
Review: Minghong Li
I currently own this (DT-990-Pro-250 Ohm), Sennheiser HD598, and AKG K702. By comparison, this headphone has a V-shaped frequency (pitch) response, which means that lows and highs are more enhanced than mids.
The resolution of this headphone is very good; I would say on par with Sennheiser HD598, but a little bit less analytical than AKG K702.
For users who never used $100+ headphones will be really amazed.
And it is really comfortable (I have a bigger head than most people). However, there are two things I want to mention that I do not like: cable and highs.
For cable, it is hard wired to the body itself, so you cannot simply swap 3.5mm cable when the original cable is broken.
Second, the highs, it can really cause fatigue in your ear (around 10kHz, there is a Huge peak in relative frequency response) it is Piercing high.
Some people may like it because boost at 10kHz gives clear and accurate sounding highs without distorting music too much. But people like me, who is more used to Sennheiser’s famous signature sound, may feel too piercing to ears.
4. Sennheiser HD 599 Open Back Headphone
Powered by Sennheiser’s proprietary transducer technology for truly excellent sound performance, the open back HD 599 delivers impressively natural spatial performance.
Topping Sennheiser’s 500 series, the full sized premium headphone offers near-audiophile levels of sound quality and exceptional wearing comfort thanks to the large ear cups and soft replaceable ear pads.
Finished in a distinctive Ivory color, with matte metallic detailing and a brown stitched headband, it is a great choice for those wishing to enjoy entertainment with sophisticated sound, design and build quality.
Review: Daniel Rafferty
From my experience so far, these work really well with the set-up that I have.
The bass is audible without being obtrusive, and the highs are very clean and pleasant.
Mids are not as detailed as I would prefer but are acceptable. The ear cups are super comfortable, and personally, I like the style and colorway.
The colors look better in person than they do in the pictures online. I previously bought (and returned) the m50x and 598cs, but I will be keeping the 599.
5. AKG K240STUDIO Semi-Open Over-Ear Professional Studio Headphones
AKG K240 Studio Headphones feature a classic design that has become a standard in monitoring.
This newer, lower impedance, 55-ohm version provides remarkably higher volume level when used with portable studios, keyboards, drum machines and other project studio gear. It’s a professional level of performance for the home studio.
Features include an integrated semi-open air design with a highly accurate dynamic transducer for naturally open sound quality, and circumaural (around-the-ear) pads for hours of wearing comfort.
Frequency range: 15 Hz to 25,000 Hz. Stereo (1/8-inch minijack and 1/4-inch) connections.
AKG K240 Studio Features Low, 55 Ohm impedance, plug-in cable, Self-adjusting headband for optimum fit, Single cable for ease of use, Semi-open, circumaural design.
Review: Chris Talbot
This is a 5-star headset, The saddest part about it is the cord supplied with it is such low quality it had to drag a star off the review.
This cord has started to go out and is self-coiling to the point it cuts in and out. The cord is replaceable so it’s whatever.
6. Samson SR850 Semi-Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones
With a self-adjusting headband for a secure, natural fit, the SR850s provide total comfort for extended studio sessions. A 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch gold-plated adapter is included with the headphones.
Samson’s SR850 Professional Studio Reference Headphones offer an outstanding listening solution for musicians, sound engineers and general music enthusiasts alike.
With solid bass response, ultra-clear highs and an open-ear design, the SR850s ensure complete comfort and accurate headphone monitoring.
Review: B. Walters
Purchased to accompany a new portable piano to practice in ‘silence’. It came highly recommended by the piano seller and was an excellent choice as a beginner headphone!
The headphones adjust to fit many different head shapes and sizes comfortably and gives a clear, sharp stereo sound.
7. Brainwavz Alara Open Back Planar On-Ear Audiophile Headphones
Treat yourself to state-of-the-art sound with the brainwavz alara planar magnetic headphones.
The alara use planar magnetic speaker technology for better a dynamic frequency response, that kicks out the sound with perfect reproduction.
If you love music, you’re gonna feel perfection every time you put on the alara!
I don’t think these get nearly enough love. They are a no-nonsense planar with a solid low end.
A narrow sound perspective and enough detail to rival all the bigger planars.
The only thing that makes them odd is the headband is default a bit long and that the SendyAudio Aiva’s exist.
Which basically take this formula, turn it up to 14 and add Two Hundred dollars to the price tag. If you can throw money at those, ignore these.
If this pair is in your price range and you want to support Great headphones that lived a short run. Do it. You can do nothing wrong with either pair.
8. LyxPro OEH-10 Open Back Headphones Hi-Fi Audiophile Over-Ear Comfortable Headphones
The definition of open back headphones is that it’s not fully sealed and isolated, it allows ambient noise to get into the headphones, the benefits are that it has a more natural sound it makes you feel more like you are listening to music in a room and less like music beamed into your head, so if you are in a quiet environment where you will not be disturbed by the noise that’s coming into the headphone for example if you are mixing in a quiet studio, then it will be perfect, or if you are watching a movie in a quiet environment it will be excellent.
Review: Chris G
Update to my review, I purchased a second pair as I saw them available for only $30 and for that price these headphones are phenomenal.
However, I did notice the fabric replacement pads that came with these had some stiching blunders and some of the inner padding is a little lower than it should be.
They still work perfectly but the build quality is a little hit or miss on these, the sound from the drivers appears to be of equal quality though and when the price is taken into consideration these still deserve five stars.
9. Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones
The HD668B is a semi-open dynamic headphone whose sound quality meets the demands of even professional recording studios.
Its patented sturdy construction provides long-lasting durability even in challenging conditions, yet the headband’s lightweight and optimized mechanical pressure provides long-term wearing comfort.
The HD668B comes equipped with 2 detachable straight cables: the short one is 1 meter long for personal sound source on-the-move applications and the long one is 3 meters long for professional monitoring applications.
Both cables can be connected together for even more distance if desired.
The headphone/earphone competition today is fierce. The quest to offer better sound quality has been heating up since the introduction of the iPod and subsequent DAPs (digital audio players).
Back then, the “pay more money for more performance” was the mindset. $20 headphones sounded like $20 headphones.
$200 headphones put $20 headphones to shame, $500 headphones were better than $200 headphones and so on.
10. Koss UR40 Collapsible Over-Ear Headphones
The UR40 delivers digital quality sound in an ultra-lightweight design for listeners on-the-go.
The UR40 features dynamic elements for a wide frequency response from 15-22,000 Hz. A 2 mil. titanium coating on its diaphragms increases the rigidity of the elements, minimizing mechanical distortion and ensuring exceedingly accurate sound reproduction.
Computer-optimized neodymium iron boron rare earth magnet structures enable the UR40 to deliver greater volume, even with low-voltage portable devices.
Oxygen-free copper voice coils improve signal transmission and conduction for cleaner, clearer sound. With its hybrid design, the UR40 combines the best of closed-style and open-style headphones.
Closed leatherette ear cushions form a light seal around the ears, enhancing bass frequencies.
Screened earcups provide an open, hear-through sound that lets listeners stay in touch with the world around them.
The result is a full frequency, clean sound that turns any recording into a “live” performance.
At just over six ounces the UR40 wears comfortably even after hours of continuous listening. The airy mesh sling provides soft breathable support, ideal for those with touch-sensitive scalps.
amazing open back sound without the high-end price. I do recommend buying some velour earpads, the stock pads are very thin and uncomfortable.
After that simple mod, I find these to be very lightweight and easy to wear for hours of music or gaming.
The sound is very good considering the price. The treble is not harsh, the mids seem very balanced, and bass is “good enough”.
The sub bass is light but clean. The open back design gives life to the sound, minimizing all of the unwanted reflections and resonances typically found in closed backs.
There is no isolation, so be sure to have a quiet computer, otherwise, you will hear all the fan noise. 9/10 (needs better stock earpads)
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