Open Back Headphones – All You Need to Know – Ultimate Buying Guide With Top 5 in The Market

Open Back Headphones – you must have heard that term. Ever wondered what it is? Well, with a flurry of headphones available in the market claiming to be the best, it’s often a big task to sieve out the one that’ll suit your needs the most. To top it up, there are a number of headphone types including, open-back, closed-back, on-ear, in-ear, etc which makes the choice all the more confusing. So, if you were looking to get a headphone for yourself and were in a fix as to which one you should choose, you’ve come to the right place.

In this excerpt, we will especially focus on open-ear headphones and why you should consider them above all other types. In addition, we’ll try to answer all your doubts about the same. As a bonus segment, we have also provided a list of the top 5 open-back headphones that are currently the best in the market depending upon a whole spectrum of features. So, let’s dive right in!

What are Open-Back Headphones?

Consider a scenario, you’re riding your bike on the road with a set of closed back headphones on. You cannot listen to the traffic and therefore, it becomes quite dangerous as you have totally been isolated from the outside noise. However, with open back headphones, the outside noise is not filtered. What does it mean? Well, you can listen to let’s say a song, but it feels as if it’s coming from around you, which is pretty cool. Also, you’ll also be able to hear the conversations, noise, traffic around you. So, open-back headphones have a completely different set of priorities than regular headphones. 

Open-back headphones have either vents or opening that allows the sound to come from the outside world and allows sound to go to the outside world. Of course, you can’t use it on a public transportation or a flight. Because obviously, people around you would not want to listen to whatever it is that you are listening. Then why should you get the open-backs? Well, it all boils down to the sound quality which is one of its biggest pluses. This is the sole reason why they are generally placed above all other types of headphones.


What are Closed-Back Headphones?

Closed-back headphones are one of the most common types of headphones out there in the market. All of us at some point in our lives have made use of such headphones. Their backs are sealed with cups made of plastic or other material, thereby isolating you from every other noise present around you. The bass is good in the high-quality ones and it has been the choice of most of the people out there.

Advantages of Closed-back headphones – 

  • Good bass
  • Noise cancellation if the quality is good
  • Best for recording or producing music

What are Semi Open-Back Headphones?

On the other hand, semi-open back headphones are a combination of both closed-back and open-back. The speakers, in this case, are not completely sealed which still allows room for some air to enter your ears. This makes them a bit more comfortable as the air influx causes less sweat.

Advantages of semi-open back headphones – 

  • Good to hear at home.
  • Causes less sweat without compromising on sound quality
  • You can even listen in public at moderate volume

Advantages of Open-back Headphones

Let’s look at some of the obvious advantages of the open-back headphones that make it rank a tad bit above all its peers:

Sound Quality –  According to our experience with open-back headphones, there is no denying the fact that open-backs have superior sound quality as compared to its competitors. Now, there might be some exceptions to this but most of the good quality headphones have vents in them. The open design enables the drivers to breathe better providing the user with studio-grade sound. Also, the airy nature of these headphones helps provide clearer sound and a well-balanced treble and bass.

Less Sweat In-Ears – Another very amazing feature of this kind of headphones is that they don’t contribute to sweat formation in your ears. A lot of people face this issue of sweat being formed on their ears after using normal headphones. In an open-back headphone, one can get the proper ventilation that stops sweat formation. Sweat causes irritation in your ear and also hampers your music listening experience so it is always a good idea to go for these headphones. Closed-back headphones have a closed design that does not allow any air to get inside the covered area. On the other hand, open-back headphones work on the opposite principle and keep your ears cool while you enjoy your favorite song.

Overall Weight – The weight of one’s headphones is also a very important issue for many consumers out there. People want a product that is lightweight and does not cause strain to their head or neck after long usage. The open-back headphone in this case serves as the answer to such people. These headphones are light by design. This is owing to the fact that these headphones use fewer materials in their manufacture.  The cups are open so a considerable amount of weight remains off these sets making them very comfortable for people who want a lighter alternative.

Better Drivers – Closed-back headphones utilize more advanced technology for their manufacture as compared to closed-back headphones. In a closed-back headphone, the sound and the technology are more reliant upon the drivers and how they function. But, by making use of an open-back headphone you make yourself more open to newer and exciting technology.


Open Back Headphones vs Closed-Back Headphones: A Detailed Look


Most of the people who have used headphones have used one of the closed-backs the most. These are the very common types of headphones in the market. This is because they are easily available and most importantly are robust for our day-to-day use. However, the open-backs are getting more and more attention and for all the right reasons!

The Back Side of the Headphones: 

The back of the speakers is sealed and there is only one way which is open from where the sound comes. Due to the sealed back the vibrations are there. This means that the sound is not as natural sounding as on an open-back headphone.

However, the open back headphones don’t have a sealed back. At times when you flash the light, you’ll basically be able to see the light pass through it. Therefore, there is space for the air to go in and out, enhancing the quality and over-all experience.

Sound Quality:

The best thing about open-back headphones is that they have vents that allow air to pass through them. Many open-back headphones are of great quality and they give the listener a natural sound. Due to them being open there is not a lot of pressure building around your ears. This reduces the echoes produced inside the headphones.

Open-back headphones give you a more natural-sounding experience whereas in closed-back headphones the bass takes over as the chief ingredient. Also, using these for longer periods can cause sweat that can be really uncomfortable. Some people also get warm ears after using these for longer time spans. 


Open-back headphones work well till there is no noise around you. This is because open-back headphones lack the capability to block any surrounding noises making the user head everything around him. 

Closed-back headphones help block out outside noise. This makes the listening experience better as there is no outside interference to cause any disturbance. Closed-back headphones also are a better alternative for people who are traveling or want a headphone to use when there are people around you.  So, if you want a headphone to use in your office or while commuting then this is the type of product you should go for. 


With the open-back headphones, there is an issue of sound leak. These headphones leak sound to the outside and this basically means that people around you may listen to what you are listening to. 

This causes disturbance in some cases and in worst cases it will cause you major embarrassment. So, if you are someone who works at an office with co-workers around you then buying these might not be the best idea. 

Therefore, it is best that you use these at home or in closed environments. However, closed-back headphones are best suited for recording and producing music as they totally isolate the outside sound without any issue of leak. All the top producers and artists use these to make music. 

Durability and Practicality:

Open-back headphones are usually more fragile as compared to normal headphones.  This is because of their unique design which is able to provide user comfort but lacks robustness to tackle a fall or even moisture. 

If you accidentally drop water on these or if you sweat too much then there might be a chance of water entering inside and damaging the electronics of the product. Hence, these headphones are meant to be treated with all the care and it is best that you use these in closed environments.

Closed-back headphones are more robust than open-back headphones. They are more practical in our day-to-day lives and better suited to most of the conditions. Also, they come at a cheaper price tag if you go for the entry-level ones.

In Essence:

So, the debate between which headphone is better depends upon the consumer and their needs. For people who want a product for outdoor use then closed-back headphones serve them better in terms of practicality. Whereas, if you are someone who wants a headphone for home-use then go for the open-back ones.

Pros of Open Back and Closed-Back Headphones:

Open Back Headphones

Closed-Back Headphones
  • Good for listening in closed environments. 
  • The audio quality is good. 
  • Works well for critical listening.  
  • Good for everyday use and easily available.
  • Go to product for recording and mixing.
  • Practical while commuting.

Cons of Open Back and Closed-Back Headphones.

Open Back Headphones

Closed-Back Headphones
  • Not good for outside use.
  • Fragile.
  • Don’t expect it to give you the best experience while you are traveling.
  • Sweating around my ears.
  • Heavier in comparison to others.
  • Might also cause redness and heating around the ears.


Top 5 Open Back Headphones

Now that you have a basic idea of what the open-back headphones are and how they differ from the closed-back, let us look at the top five in the market currently:

Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Headphones

If you’re an audiophile, The Sennheiser HD600 probably is the best pick when it comes to open back headphones and all the more if you are an avid audiophile. The most amazing aspect about this beauty is that it was first launched in 1996. Now we know that the question that might come to your mind is how will a headphone that was released about 25 years ago fare against the modern ones? However, the HD 600 became a staple, a godfather, and it set the stage for all the upcoming headphones.

Build Quality – Mostly built of plastic, the Sennheiser HD600 provides a premium and high-quality experience. It is very sturdy and the metal cups are a testament to its robustness.

Durability – There is little to no match to the Sennheiser HD600 when it comes to durability. Although manufactured 25 years ago, you can still easily find all its parts.

Connectivity – The Sennheiser HD600 comes with a cable that is detachable. It is an oxygen-free copper Kevlar cable that can be connected using the 3.5mm jack. 

Sound Quality – The Sennheiser HD600 open back headphones are quite blanched in terms of sound quality. It has a nice and relaxing bass with functions to adjust it as per your liking. 

What’s in the box?

  • Sennheiser HD600 Headphones
  • ¼” adapter

Other Details

  • Weight – 9.1 oz
  • Frequency – 12 Hz to 39 kHz
  • Sensitivity – 97 dB
  • Impedance – 300 ohms


Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO

What’s better than a good quality headphone with a price tag that is completely affordable? Well, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones are excellent not just in terms of their features but also that it comes for just under 200 dollars. Yeah, you heard that right! Handcrafted with meticulous craftsmanship and packing some great quality materials, the headphones find their origin in Germany. If you are someone mixed up in the professional editing business and want something that offers a strong bass, look no further.

Build Quality – When you place these amazing open back headphones on your head, one of the first things that you’ll notice is it’s exceptional build quality. The headphones are very comfortable even for prolonged sessions of use because they are feather-light.

Durability – The fact that the DT990 PRO comes with a metal frame and plastic ear cups makes it almost unbreakable. However, it’s important to not store it in a restricted space that might put unwanted pressure on its body.

Connectivity – The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro has a coiled 3.5mm cable approximately 3.77 ft in length. On high-end gear, you can attach a ¼” adapter.

Sound Quality – Oh, one thing that will totally not disappoint you in these open back headphones is the sound quality because it’s exceptionally good. The treble is amazing and it offers enough kick for the price that it retails at. 

What’s in the box?

  • Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones
  • ¼” adapter
  • Soft carrying case

Other Details

  • Weight – 8.8 oz
  • Frequency – 5 Hz to 35 kHz
  • Sensitivity – 96 dB
  • Impedance – 250 ohms

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X

This list of the best five open back headphones in the market is getting all the more exciting. What if we said you can get excellent headphones for just under 100 dollars? You wouldn’t believe it right? But the  Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X headphone is totally going to leave you stunned. With an outlandishly fascinating sound quality and versatile bass, the ATH-AD500X is a great option if you are just starting out. Oh, if you are a gaming freak, this beauty is definitely for you especially because of its great sound sense that’ll help you decipher the exact position of your enemies in-game.  At such a ridiculously good value, what more can one ask for!

Build Quality – Although large in size and built, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X is anything but heavy. The headphones comprise a variety of materials like the frame is magnesium, the casing aluminum and the rest of the thing is hardened plastic. The earpads have quite a nice foaming which definitely makes it comfortable for long-term use.

Connectivity – The permanently attached cable is a gold-plated 3.5mm plug and includes a separate ¼ adapter for amplifiers. Although the cables are permanently attached, that may be a drawback for many in these open back headphones.

Sound Quality – When it comes to sound quality, the ATH-AD500X headphones surpass many of their expensive peers. So, don’t be surprised if it beats the likes of Beats headphones. A thumping bass, crisp vocals and bright sound, there is hardly any comparison. Catering to all the genres of music, this excellent piece is definitely a win for its price tag.

What’s in the box?

  • Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X Headphones
  • ¼” adapter

Other Details

  • Weight – 8.32 oz
  • Frequency – 5 Hz to 25 kHz
  • Sensitivity – 100 dB
  • Impedance – 48 ohms

GRADO SR80e Prestige Series

Although not very well-known, Grado Labs definitely boasts of some great quality products in their line. Keeping up with their excellent lineup, the GRADO SR80e open-back stereo headphones are an excellent pick for a beginner. Get ready to be dazzled and blown-away with an amazing stereo quality sound at a very affordable price range.  

Build Quality – One of the first things to notice about this beauty is that these open back headphones are quite retro-looking giving it a great appeal. It’s not just the looks of these headphones that is premium but also the build. The earcups have foam earpads and it keeps from the formation of sweat even in humid and warm conditions. It has a plastic driver unit and the overall built quality is quite durable.

Connectivity – The GRADO SR80e has a 7ft rubber cable and a Y-splitter. The cables connect to both the ear cups so they are not handy when you are commuting. So, if you plan to sit on your desk and get some work done while listening to good music, you can definitely pick these.

Sound Quality – The vocal presence in the GRADO SR80e open back headphones is outstanding. Whether it’s classical rock or hip-hop and rap, you can easily enjoy all the genres without any complaints. The bass is deep and pretty strong and you will be vowed by the clarity of the guitar tunes that these headphones amplify. Although there is quite a substantial sound leak on the GRADO, there it is important to listen to the music on the correct ambience settings. 

What’s in the box?

  • GRADO SR80e Prestige Series Headphones
  • ¼” adapter
  • Owners manual and warranty card

Other Details

  • Weight – 8.2 oz
  • Frequency – 2 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity – 99.9 dB
  • Impedance – 32 ohms


Philips SHP9500 Open Back Headphones

Open-back headphones

Philips is a well-renowned name in the electronics market. Over the years, it has boasted of some great products in every range. In line with this, the Philips SHP9500 is an outstanding delivery coming from Philips’ side. Not just for it’s great sound and sturdy build, but also about everything else. There is nothing that goes wrong with these open back headphones and the promise of an established brand is another factor that you cannot ignore. To top it up, the SHP9500 is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. 

Build Quality – Although these open back headphones have simpler designs in comparison to the other headphones on the list, the metal frame and the black colour body instantly catches your eyes. With excellent padding on both the earcups, you will not feel any stress or pain during prolonged use. 

Durability – Because of its metal frame and predominantly plastic body, this headphone is quite durable and sturdy. Itcan take up a great amount of stress unless and until you visibly want to break it. Jk! The ear cushion offers great ventilation and the headphones are partially waterproof. 

Connectivity – The Philips SHP9500 comes with a cable that is 10-foot long and gold plated. Plus, it’s removable! The 3.5mm jack also allows for easy removal of cable for adding a microphone, which is obviously not included in the box. 

Sound Quality – Because of the 50 mm large driver, the Philips SHP9500 offers pretty amazing sound quality with clear lows and highs. However, it amplifies the mid-range vocals best. If you are someone who plays instruments like piano or a drum, then you are in for a delightful ride.

What’s in the box?

  • Philips SHP9500 Headphones
  • Detachable cable
  • ¼” adapter
  • Mesh pouch

Other Details

  • Weight – 11.29 oz
  • Frequency – 12 Hz to 35 kHz
  • Sensitivity – 101 dB
  • Impedance – 32 ohms

To Wrap It Up On Open Back Headphones

So currently, these are our picks for the five best open back headphones in the market. We have provided a detailed guide with the pros and cons of the open back headphones. In addition, we have also tried to compare and contrast the open back headphones with the closed backs and the semi-open backs. Go through the guide and make up your mind. So, what are you waiting for?