Open Back Vs Closed Back Headphones

Open Back Vs closed Back Headphones

Headphones abound in today’s ultra-modern environment. They are equipped with smart gadgets and computers, and they display the user’s individuality. But how do you decide which headphones to buy for yourself? Should you go with the hefty, yet attractive, style used by sportsmen before games, or the nearly undetectable earphones worn by groups of teenagers in the mall? Unfortunately, like with most things in music, the answer is based on your unique taste. You may, however, cut down your selections based on how you intend to utilize them.

“Open-back vs. closed-back headphones… what’s the difference?” you may be wondering. The difference is in the manner their houses are built. A closed-back design will be your greatest friend for personal listening and professional applications when external noise or utilizing your phone’s speaker is an issue. You might appreciate a set of open-backs for casual listening at home or behind closed doors. Take it from the audio gurus at Sweetwater: knowing the difference between closed-back and open-back headphones is important before investing in a beautiful setting.

What are open-back headphones?

Air can travel through the ear cups of open-back headphones from the rear of the speaker driver. This implies that the rear enclosure’s resonances and low-frequency build-up aren’t a problem. Many pricey high-end headphones have open-backs to produce a more natural and transparent sound.

However, this is only true when there is no neighboring noise. Because open-back headphones can’t effectively filter out outside noise, you’ll be able to hear everything going on around you. Furthermore, they allow sound to escape. In terms of seclusion, they have very little to offer. If you work in an office, your coworkers will be able to hear what you’re listening to, and you will be able to hear them moaning about your musical selection. While they may sound wonderful, you should leave these headphones at home.

Furthermore, open-backed headphones are more delicate than closed-back headphones since there is little to prevent moisture from entering the sensitive circuitry. These headphones must be handled with care.


Open-back headphones’ better sound reproduction comes at the sacrifice of isolation. Because open-back headphones do not block out ambient noise, anyone close will be able to hear what you’re listening to.

This lack of isolation, however, results in a listening experience that is in a class of its own. Instead of sounding like you’re in an isolation booth with a singer, they sound like the singer is presenting you to a private performance in the comfort of your living room. Open-backs are ideal for critical listening, mixing, and everyday use at home.

Open-back headphones are good for:
  • Critical listening
  • Mixing and mastering
  • High-quality audio files
  • At-home listening
Open-back headphones are not good for:
  • Commuting
  • Blocking outside noise
  • Listening on the plane
  • Listening at the Office and gym

What are closed-back headphones?

Closed-back headphones are sealed around the back, enabling sound to escape only where it may reach your ear. This implies that, while your music may not sound as natural as it would on open-backed headphones, closed-back headphones will filter out a lot more outside noise, resulting in considerably greater isolation.

Due to the resonance of the enclosed back chamber, low frequencies may sound magnified, or “bumped-up,” and will not sound as natural. Another factor to consider is that using closed-back headphones for extended periods might cause your ears to become heated. However, on the whole, they are the greatest options for commuting or listening to music in public areas.

If you travel by airline, metro, or vehicle regularly, you should invest in closed-back headphones. Furthermore, if you’re producing music in a studio, closed-back headphones allow you to listen to yourself while recording without worrying about your microphone picking up extra noise.


Closed-back headphones are popular because they block out the outside world, allowing the music to take center stage. You’ll notice a minor increase in bass response as well as some passive isolation. Closed-back headphones provide passive noise reduction, making you feel as though you’re in the studio with the people you’re listening to.

This performance trait is ideal for situations requiring a high level of attention and concentration. Closed-back headphones are also the preferred option for studio use.

They allow you to monitor quiet instruments or voices without having to worry about the sound from your headphones being picked up by your microphone.

Closed-back headphones are good for:
  • Casual listening
  • Listening at the office
  • Commuting
  • Recording audio
Closed-back headphones are not good for:
  • Venting heat around your ears
  • Working out

Open Back Vs Closed Back Headphones

More breathableIsolation from external noise
Stereo imageExtended low end
Less ear fatigue Immersive listening experience
Open soundMinimal sound leakage

Difference between open and close back headphones

An open-back headphone has a more “open” sound whereas a close-back headphone has better noise isolation.
Open-back headphones have more sound leakage whereas closed-back headphones have less or minimal sound leakage.
Open-back headphones can be used in quiet surroundings, Home listening, Music production (mixing/mastering). On the other hand, closed-back headphones can be used while Commuting/Travelling, DJs, Musicians, Music production (recording), etc.

What are semi-open-back headphones?

Semi-open-back headphones are more or less closed-back but do not entirely seal the rear of the speaker parts, allowing some air to move in and out of the chamber. While this gives the headphones some of the advantages of open-back headphones, it also gives them all of their problems. Semi-open-backed headphones leak sound and allow noise in, but not as much as open-back headphones.

Semi-open-back headphones are good for:

Casual listening

Listening at home

Semi-open headphones are not good for:


Listening at the office

Blocking outside noise

What to Use in the Real World

Knowing how the construction affects the overall sound is a fantastic place to start when looking for a new set of cans. However, when it comes to the dispute between open-back vs. closed-back headphones, you need to know more. Because we know you’ll be using your headphones in the real world, we decided to create some common listening scenarios and propose the sort of headphones we’d use.

  • Studio use

The studio is a location where you’ll want to have a good pair of headphones. For the most part, closed-backs reign supreme. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x monitoring headphones are excellent for reducing click bleed while recording quiet instruments and vocalists. And if you’re shredding solos into a dime Marshall, a set of Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80s will keep your ears safe.

Open-back headphones, on the other hand, are the way to go if you’re mixing and mastering at home and don’t have a pair of studio monitors. They feature the flattest response of any headphones you’ll come across. Furthermore, they are an excellent depiction of how your tunes will sound when played via the headphones of your listeners. We propose that you experiment with the AKG K240 semi-open studio headphones.

  • Listening at home

When you’re at home, you have the flexibility to wear any headphones you choose. When you’re alone or with someone who doesn’t mind hearing some weak music, use Shure SRH1840s. If you have overnight guests or need some peace when your upstairs neighbors are having a party, Sennheiser’s HD 280 Pro closed-back headphones will come in handy. They give 32dB of isolation and will work wonderfully.

  • Listening in public places

Allowing others to listen to your music in public isn’t always a smart idea, especially when you’re 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. While we think the Beastie Boys are wonderful, the rest of the passengers on your trip don’t. In any situation when playing music over your phone’s speaker is improper, you should wear closed-back headphones. Try out the JBL Lifestyle Live 400BT on-ear headphones for public transportation and other circumstances.

  • Listening in the office

Unless you have a door, this one is simple: closed-back. Closed-back headphones ensure that nobody else can hear your music except for you. Take it from us; your neighbors will thank you for wearing a stylish pair of AKG K92 closed-back headphones. If your office is loud and you have a hard time concentrating, try a pair with active noise cancellation like the Shure AONIC 50 wireless headphones.

  • Streaming

You’ll want headphones that are comfortable to use for extended periods whether you’re gaming, producing music, or cooking. In this case, the decision between open-back and closed-back headphones is entirely up to you. Closed-back headphones are ideal if you’re streaming with loud roommates or need to be laser-focused. Choose open-backs if you need to hear what’s going on around you or if you need to keep your voice at a moderate level. Professional gamers, such as Ninja, have also gone on the open-back bandwagon. Onstream, he wears Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros to monitor his vocal loudness.

Wrapping Up

When it comes down to it, everyone has a personal choice. Someone may prefer to utilize closed-backs regardless of what they’re doing, whilst another may favor open-backs. It is ultimately your decision. However, your listening environment and intent, as well as a personal choice, have a role. We recommend closed-back headphones in noisy areas. If you enjoy hearing what’s going on around you while listening, open-back headphones are a terrific option.

However, before committing to a pair of headphones, we strongly advise you to look beyond your typical big-box electronics store and see if there are any small-time record shops, music stores, instrument stores, or other shops in your area that are both more knowledgeable about headphones and have a variety of headphones for you to try out. Best wishes on your search for the ideal cans!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What sounds better open-back or closed-back headphones?

Are open-back headphones better for mixing? Yes, generally speaking, open-back headphones do have a more accurate sound than closed-back, but it doesn’t guarantee they all have the kind of neutral response that’s best for mixing.

Q. What are the benefits of open-back headphones?

Air can travel through the ear cups of open-back headphones from the rear of the speaker driver. This implies that the rear enclosure’s resonances and low-frequency build-up aren’t a problem. Many pricey high-end headphones have open-backs to produce a more natural and transparent sound.

Q. Is open-back better for gaming?

Open-back headphones are generally more popular with gamers precisely because they create a wider sound stage and have better stereo imaging. Wearers find them more comfortable, too, and appreciate the more natural sound.

Q. Are open-back headphones better for listening to music?

Open-back headphones sound better than closed-back headphones because they allow sound to escape more freely. Sounds aren’t muffled with closed-back headphones, resulting in a clearer and more immersive listening experience.

Q. Are Astro a50 closed or open?

The headphones feature Dolby 7.1 surround sound, and because of that can deliver nice and immersive audio in any gaming situation. … On top of that, the headphones are open-back, which helps them sound a little more realistic. The headset also offers a small switch with three different EQ modes — Astro, Pro, and Studio.

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