Are open-back headphones worth buying?

Are open-back headphones worth buying? |

Want to upgrade your current headphones? Learn how open-back headphones vary from closed-back models and if you’re a good candidate for them.

Listening to music with a high-quality set of headphones is the best way to experience it, as the isolation and immersion created by the sound are unrivaled.

If you’ve ever owned headphones before, they were probably closed-back models. Unfortunately, open-back headphones are rarely seen compared to their common closed-back counterparts. Read on to learn more about these headphones and decide if they’re right for you.

Are Open-Back Headphones Worth Buying?

If you’re used to using closed-back headphones, you’re in for a big change when you try open-back headphones. However, if you’re serious about your music and want to invest in a pair of headphones for your music production, you should check out some open-back headphones because the sound quality is better.

They typically provide a more pleasing sound than similar closed-back headphones. It is challenging to regulate all the resonances that occur when making sounds in a small, enclosed environment, like an ear cup. For example, when the driver is in the front seat, there is no way to contain the sound waves behind them.

So designers focus on managing (damping) the resonances instead, which ultimately affects the quality of the sound you hear because what travels forward must move back, which causes air movement.

When compared to closed-back headphones, open-back models offer several benefits. First and foremost, they have a considerably more distinct tone. Second, open-back headphones have an advantage over closed-back ones regarding sound quality and clarity since air can freely circulate to the speaker.

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  • Better Sound
    My research has shown that open-back headphones are the best option for most people looking for high-quality audio while wearing headphones. Of course, there are a few outliers, but audiophile-quality headphones generally have excellent ventilation.
    Open-back headphones, unlike their closed-off counterparts, allow the driver to breathe freely without impedance, and the listening experience is typically more out of the head and open.
  • No More Sweaty Ears
    Consider this. If you don’t have a little box over your ears, you’ll feel much more at ease if they can open the windows and let some fresh air in. Open-back headphones are the way to go if you want to listen to music for extended periods without getting too hot.
    The ventilation grills on the headphones’ backs do double duty, cooling the drivers and your ears. Because of this, passive cooling and heat dissipation are both simplified. However, many people need a break every few hours because their ears start to grow heated while wearing closed-back headphones. If this is something you’ve experienced, open-back headphones are something you should look into.
  • Weight
    Since the outer shells of the ear cups aren’t included, you can save weight without sacrificing durability. As a result, the earcups on a closed-back set of headphones tend to be bulky, but that’s not the whole story.
    Manufacturers of closed-back headphones face the additional challenge of reducing the possibility of chamber resonance; as a result, these headphones typically feature additional sound-dampening material in the space behind the ear cups.
    In this situation, the weight is distributed further from your ears on the exterior of the cups, making them feel heavier than they are due to the principle of leverage. As we discussed with the accumulation of heat, weight can also play a significant role in comfort over extended periods.
  • Flatter Sounding
    Open-back headphones transport you to the realm of unadulterated sound, satisfying those with such a preference. Hearing a recording “flat” can help you appreciate the care with which the musicians and engineers crafted the sounds. Open-back headphones are ideal if you want to learn about the creative process of musicians.
  • Enhance The Video Game Experience
    Open-back headphones are great for gaming because of their durability and long use time. For gamers, this means a more immersive experience with a sense that the sounds are coming from all directions. The space faithfully reproduces the enormous soundstage of the video game, delivering an immersive experience. In addition, the sound is more authentic when using open-back headphones.


  • Lack Noise Cancelation
    The inability of open-back headphones to block out ambient noise is one of their many drawbacks. Unfortunately, all open-back headphones have this issue, which is sad.
    Even though some users may be okay with this, it can be an issue for individuals who need to concentrate without distractions. Considering the simplicity of the answer, relocating to a quieter location is the next best option to think about when using open-back headphones.
  • Sound Bleeds
    Open-back headphones have a disadvantage in that sound can escape through the rear. As a result, sound from the speakers leaks out of the headphones just as naturally occurring acoustics from the space can seep in.
    Use caution if you live in a shared space; open-back headphones let your roommate listen in, which can be a major annoyance. Even though it’s not as loud as listening to speakers, it might still be a nuisance to those looking for quiet.
  • Bass Response
    You may find that the bass could be better when listening to music with open-back headphones. You can try utilizing an amplifier with a built-in equalizer if you listen to music on a device other than a smartphone or computer. These equalizers are often more basic, with only bass, middle, and treble knobs. You should set mid and treble in the center, and you can adjust the bass frequency from there.

Source: Sweetwater


How long a pair of open-back headphones will last highly depends on the quality of construction and design. You get what you pay for, as the adage goes. However, low-quality open-back headphones will only last for a while. This is because low-priced headphones often use flimsy plastic parts, which can fail anytime. Open-back headphones with a higher price tag generally have a longer lifespan, but this can be reduced with improper maintenance.

The quality of open-back headphones varies widely depending on the manufacturer and how they are maintained. If taken care of, they will endure longer, but the construction quality is still important.

Weak Points

Cables and speakers are open-back headphones’ two biggest weaknesses. A primary concern would be cables, especially if they tend to droop or become entangled frequently.

The speakers are also a potential issue, especially for those who have never used open-back headphones:

  • Since open-back headphones have a greater propensity to soak in environmental noise, those who aren’t used to them often reduce the volume to make up for the extra noise.
  • The speaker coils in headphones are more vulnerable to damage when subjected to increased power.
  • Your open-back headphones may be unrepairable if they are damaged beyond repair and no replacement parts are available.

In general, open-back headphones are more delicate than their closed-back counterparts. Since they lack a shell, this makes perfect sense. Things like dust, liquid, and other possible irritants can do greater damage to them.


At first sight, the price tag seems steep, and high-quality headphones will increase that price significantly. In any case, we’d like to offer some advice on maintaining them best to get the most out of your time with them.

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Regularly clean your headphones

Because of the exposed vents, cleaning your headphones is essential. The open backs attract dust and can become clogged; the ear cups can become soiled with sweat and oils.

Here are some suggestions for maintaining the cleanliness of your open-back headphones:

  • Use a soft towel moistened with alcohol or hand sanitizer to wipe your headphones after each use.
  • Clean the headphones by brushing off any dust that may have accumulated on the drivers and cracking open the ventilation slots.
  • You can use a compressed air spray or a thin paper clip with double-sided tape to clean the jack. The open-back headphones have vents that can be dusted out with compressed air.

As a result, you won’t have to worry about the sweat that builds up on your headphones after a particularly strenuous period of recording or gaming.

Better Cable Management

If you listen to music or podcasts on wired headphones, the cords connecting your device to your ears are crucial and should be well-managed.

Some models allow you to replace a broken cable with a new one, but it’s still annoying to deal with a malfunctioning cable and figure out where the issue is coming from. In addition, repairing broken cables is a pain, especially if you want to retain the original components in pristine shape.

Tips about how you should wind your wires and cables:

  • A cable loop can be made quickly and easily using an overhand motion.
  • Make an underhand loop after you flip.
  • To reach the other end of the cable, repeat the above procedures in reverse order.
  • When you reach the end, use hook-and-loop fasteners to keep it in place.

In addition to winding your cables up, here are some more things to keep in mind:

  • You can damage the internal wires if bent at an angle or dangling.
  • Check for tangled cables; if they are, untangling them could put stress on the internal wiring.
  • Do not yank on the wires, but on the plug itself.

Learning how to coil your cables for storage is the first and most crucial step in cable management.

Adjust the volume and equalization settings properly

Open-back headphones require careful volume management. As the headphones take in ambient noise, they will likely compete with your audio source within the earcup. People who need to learn how open-back headphones function may turn up the volume too high. However, in the long run, that will be an issue.

Increased loudness causes greater vibration, which eventually causes the speakers to wear out. Also, keep in mind that open-back headphones’ speakers are more susceptible to damage at higher volumes. That’s why you should only use open-back headphones inside, where the noise level is more likely to be out of your control.

What are open-back headphones?

Unlike closed-back headphones, open-back models let air flow freely between the ear cups and the speaker driver. This eliminates the need to worry about resonances and low-frequency buildup brought on by the enclosure’s placement at the back, so open-back produces a more natural, undistorted sound.

However, that is only true when there is no other background noise. With open-back headphones, you can still hear everything going on around you. Sound also escapes through these gaps. In terms of seclusion, they offer very little. If you have an office job, your coworkers can hear what you’re listening to and hear them groaning about your music selection. Leave these headphones at home, no matter how good they may sound.

Furthermore, there is less barrier preventing moisture from entering the sensitive circuitry in open-backed headphones, making them slightly more fragile than closed-back headphones. Therefore, taking good care of these headphones is essential.

What’s The Uses of Open-Back Headphones?

Open-back headphones provide a fully immersive experience, making them a good choice for various uses, including gaming, mixing, music listening, and video watching. This means that, for a moderate investment, the Drop + Sennheiser 6XX, EPOS I Sennheiser GAME ONE, are the best open-back headphones for gaming.

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is a go-to premium headset for both gaming and music. The Sennheiser HD 559 (the best open-back headphones under $100), the Sennheiser HD 660S, and, for more serious users, the Hifiman Sundara are all excellent options for listening to music exclusively.

Regarding serious music production, the AKG K712 Pro and DT 1990 Pro are not only the best open-back headphones for mixing but also the best headphones for casual music listening.


The open-back design of these headphones creates a more enveloping listening environment. They let more of your environment seep in, creating a soundscape that expands and fills the space as though you were listening to speakers rather than headphones.

However, even at a moderate volume, they leak a significant amount of sound, which can annoy those around you. Even more so, they have a hard time blocking out ambient sounds.

This makes them a great choice if you don’t require them for use outside the studio or in a quiet location to listen to music, as noise reduction isn’t a priority.

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