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Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones – Which You Should Pick?

The open back vs closed back headphones debate is more important than anything for some people. Do you know the difference between these two headphone types? If you wear headphones daily, it’s essential to get the right product that suits your needs.

Choosing the right set of headphones takes more analysis and research than you’d think. You are trying to achieve the full listener experience. It’s about a combination of comfort, reliability, and sound quality. So, what’s the difference between open back and closed back headphones? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

Open Back Headphones Overview

Open Back Headphones Overview

Did you know that some of the most expensive headphones in the world are the open-back variety? These headphones are great for conveying a very natural and crystal clear sound quality. Open back headphone models allow air to pass through the cups, which creates a more comfortable listening experience with less pressure-build up in the cups.

This open-back design is the ideal headphone type if you are usually in a quiet environment with no background noise. However, if you use your headphones at work or in public regularly, open back types are not so effective.

The design of this product means that noise can get in and seep out more easily. If you are wearing your headphones on public transport, expect to overhear conversations from those around you.

Beware of moisture buildup…

Open-back headphones can also be flimsy. There is less material and cover for the cup, which can make the headphones fragile. Because of the lack of protection, moisture can also build up in the headphones. Therefore, you need to be more careful with open-back headphones.

Open Back Headphones Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Natural and clear sound quality.
  • The best audio flow listening experience.
  • Perfect headphones for listening at home.

Cons

  • Fragile and flimsy design.
  • Not good for listening at work or in public.
  • Less Protection against moisture buildup.

Closed Back Headphones Overview

Closed Back Headphones Overview

In the debate regarding open back vs closed back headphones, you need to understand both varieties. Closed-back headphones are the most common type. As the name suggests, these headphones are completely encased, only allowing sound to flow towards your ears. They offer you a more personal listening experience.

Closed-back headphones are the best…

If you are always on the move and listening to music in public or at work. They are the best headphones for noisy environments.

The closed design eliminates outside noise, which is why they are so popular when compared to open back products. The vast majority of headphone products are closed-back, so that should give you a good indication right there.

Not suitable for hot climates?

One of the niggling negatives of wearing closed-back headphones is they can feel claustrophobic. Because this type is encased, there is no flow of air which means they can rapidly become warm. Wearing these headphones in hot climates can quickly become uncomfortable.

Closed-Back Headphones Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Next to no outside noise gets in.
  • No sound gets out.
  • Best headphones for public transport and noisy environments.

Cons

  • No air or sound flow.
  • Uncomfortable in a hot environment.

Do you Need Semi Open-Back Headphones?

If you are looking for a viable compromise, how about purchasing semi-open-back headphones? Is there such a thing? Yes, and they might be a great solution if you are still undecided. Semi open-back headphones are essentially a closed-back type that does allow some air through the backs of the cups.

These are the type of products that merge some of the best and worse qualities of both closed-back and open-back products. For instance, they let in some noise but not as much as open-back headphones. But they do not heat up so quickly and are more comfortable in hot climates.

Highly Recommended Open Back vs Closed-Back Headphones

Open Back vs Closed-Back Headphones

Now we understand the advantages and disadvantages of open back and closed back headphones; we need to find a product that suits you. We have researched some of the most highly recommended market-leading headphones for your perusal.

Philips Audio Fidelio L2 Open-Air Headphones

These are some of the best open back headphones you can buy from a leading brand.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Open-Back Headphones

These ultra-lightweight open-back headphones are comfortable, high-quality, and affordable, all in a single package. For more information, take a look at our in-depth Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Review.

HIFIMAN Deva Open-Back Planer Magnetic Headphones

When it comes to the most high-end open-back headphones, these are unbeatable. They might be expensive, but these headphones take it to the next level.

Audio-Technica Professional Closed-Back Headphones

When you need a world-class product, these are some of the best closed back headphones from a top brand.

Tascam TH-02 Closed Back Studio Headphones

These are one of the most affordable yet high-quality, closed-back headphones products you will find online.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Closed-Back Headphones

In terms of high-quality headphones, this closed-back product is studio-level and highly recommended by experts.

AKG Pro Audio Semi-Open Back Headphones

These are some of the best semi-open headphones that offer a professional listening experience.

Samson Technologies SR850 Studio Headphones

If you are looking for highly recommended semi-open back headphones, these are one of the best in terms of professional sound quality. Check out our detailed Samson SR850 Review for more information.

Superflux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones

Semi-open back headphones that are affordable for any budget. Look no further than these beauties in terms of value.

Need Some Great Headphones?

Open-back, closed-back, semi-open back, we got you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Headphones with Microphone, the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Commuting, and the Best Headphones with Google Assistant you can buy in 2021.

You may also enjoy our reviews of the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones Under $1,000, the Best Headphones Under $100, and the Best Headphones Under $20 currently available.

And don’t forget our detailed reviews of the Best Lightweight Headphones, the Best Headphones for Mixing and Mastering, the Best Ear Hook Headphones, the Best Podcast Headphones, and the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal for more headphones on the market today.

Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones – Final Thoughts

The open back versus closed-back headphones debate is now well and truly closed. Now you understand the varying open-back, closed-back, and semi-back options; you can make a well-educated choice. And who would’ve thought there would be so much difference between these product types?

If you live in a hot country, open-back headphones are perfect. However, if you use headphones in public or busy places with lots of noise, you need to buy closed-back products. But semi-open back headphones are also an option if you are undecided. It’s all about your specifications and your regular listening environment. How does that sound?

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Jennifer Bell

Jennifer is a freelance writer from Montana. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and English, as well as an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Games and Simulation Design.

Her passions include guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments she has been playing since at school. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, yoga, eating well, and spending time with her two cats, Rocky and Jasper.

Jennifer enjoys writing articles on all types of musical instruments and is always extending her understanding and appreciation of music. She also writes science fiction and fantasy short stories for various websites and hopes to get her first book published in the very near future.

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