OPEN VS CLOSED-BACK HEADPHONES

Where is the difference between Open VS Closed-back Headphones?

As the name suggests, open-back headphones have an open back, which enables audio to leak in and out from the earpieces. They do not shut out background sounds. On the other hand, open-back models frequently sound airier, clear, and expansive than closed-back models. If you need to be aware of your surroundings, open headphones are helpful.

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

While the term obviously corresponds to the physical form of the headphones, it does a poor job of expressing what those designs deliver regarding the audio experience. Let’s look at the pros and cons of open vs closed back headphones, beginning with closed-back.

Closed-back headphones

The sound output by the speakers inside a set of closed-back headsets is focused directly into the user’s eardrums due to their sealed shells. Audiophiles have commonly described this audio experience as immersive, as if the music is „in their head.“ Closed cans‘ key selling feature is isolated sound with significantly reduced background noise. Closed headphones are used by the majority of audio professionals (DJs and producers) to improve concentration and isolation. Nevertheless, it is always important to carefully evaluate on which model to choose. The following list of pros and cons will be your guide! 

Pros

  • Audio recording. Closed-back headphones are also the preferred option for studio use. They allow you to monitor quiet devices or voices without having to worry about your mic picking up the sound from your headphones
  • They are suitable for listening for fun
  • Suitable for commuting or at the office
  • Isolation from the outside world. It separates the listener from the cacophony that surrounds them.
  • Low-end extension
  • An entirely immersive listening experience
  • There is minimal sound leaking. Your music is also not audible to anyone around you. 

Cons

  • Air cannot be circulated inside, causing ear fatigue
  • Sweaty and hot ears

Open-Back Headphones

Open-back headphones have a close resemblance to closed-back headphones, but there is one key difference. Built-in holes in the outer shell let air and sound pass through the ear cup freely. The perforated housing reduces pressure buildup and promotes a more natural sound, great for critical listening. They’re very comfy and easy to wear for extended lengths of time.

This design has the advantage of drastically altering the hearing experience. Open-back headphones can provide an „in the world around me“ listening experience, rather than the „in your mind“ one provided by closed-back headphones. You’ll hear whatever is happening around you if you use open-back headphones because they won’t block out outside sounds very well. Furthermore, they allow sound to escape. Especially, if you don’t have monitor speakers, open-back headphones are a great alternative since they have the flattest response of all. 

They are not very discrete when it comes to solitude. If you work in an office, your colleagues will be able to hear what you’re listening to, and you’ll listen to them criticize your musical selection. You’ll need to consider leaving these headphones at home, despite how good they sound. Furthermore, open-backed headphones are more delicate than closed-back headphones since there is less to prevent moisture from entering the sensitive electronics. These headphones must be handled with caution.

Pros

  • Suitable for mastering and mixing
  • Enhanced airflow and ventilation for your ears, especially during long listening/ production sessions
  • Listening critically
  • Listening at home
  • Ear fatigue is reduced
  • An open sound

Cons

  • Not recommended for commuting
  • Doesn’t perform noise isolation from the outside
  • Leakage of sound
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Fewer models to pick from

What do we recommend?

To conclude this, for each situation and user type, there is the right pair of headphones. Personal preference is essential, but your listening surroundings and goal are as important. Closed-back headphones are recommended for noisy areas. Open-back headphones are a terrific choice if you like to tell what’s going on around you as you listen. Nevertheless, due to the sound exiting the headphones they should not be used for listening at the office, gym, or a plane. It’s not always a good idea to expose others to your guilty pleasure songs of Britney Spears while shooting through the air in a metal can. 

Closed-back headphones are ideal if you’re producing with some sort of background noise around you, and you want to be laser-focused on details in your mix. If you are planning on working on your music for multiple hours in one session and your surrounding is quit, open-back headphones are the way to go. Even producers like Hannes Bieger, one of the most respected sound engineers and producers, has gone on the open-back bandwagon with the Audeze LCD-5 model. But there are clearly cheaper models to choose from. We are personally loving the DT 990 PRO from Beyerdyanamics. You can’t really get a better pair for such a cheep buck. Open-back headphones will deliver already a solid sound for producers on a small budget, especially if you don’t have monitor speakers in your studio for whatever reason. 

Since you probably already know your listening habits, such as when and where you are planning to listen to music the most. You can now make a decision based on our guide.  

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions whatsoever, we are happy to help you!

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