Open Back Headphones vs Closed Back: Choose the right one

Open Back Headphones vs Closed Back

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything is as smooth as sailing on open waters? Oh yes! it definitely will make life easy, but all are not as easy as it seems. Just like open back headphones vs close back headphones, the similarities and differences can be very confusing. One can easily develop a personal love for these headphones design and functionalities, that is the simple reason we have a duty to tell others more about them. So, let’s dive in together and explore in more detail. Read the updated Bluetooth safety, Is Bluetooth Safe?

What is the difference between Open Back Headphones vs Closed-Back?

The closed-back headphone has a completely sealed back or cup allowing only the sound around the ears and not letting air in, air can build up pressure and can affect the natural sound with very little echo sound. This helps to eliminate out noise while maintaining a natural sound. The open-back headphones are opposite, they allow air to flow or pass into the speaker element through the ear cups, pressure can’t buildup, the sounds can be affected, and tiny echo sounds but still produce a natural and clear sound.

There are 3 main different types of headphones

  • The open-back headphones
  • The close back headphones
  • The semi open-back headphones

What are open-back headphones?

Open Back Headphones vs Closed Back

The name open-back headphone is generated from the design of the headphones, this is because it allows air to flow or pass into the speaker element through the ear cups. This is because when air passes through to the speaker element, pressure can’t buildup, the sounds can’t be affected, and no tiny echo sound, and produces a more natural and clear sound.

Here are the tricky bits, open-back headphones can sound really good especially when there is no external noise around just like when you’re indoors. The reason it is called open back is that it does not block external noise enough, and it leaks sounds and people around you ‘let’s say on the bus or in the office’ can hear what you’re listening to, and you can hear others speaking around as well. Check out some of the best open-back headphones for gaming.

The open-back headphones are good when it comes to sound and clarity, but bad when it comes to external noise cancelling. They can be quite fragile in the sense that dust, moisture, and other particles can easily penetrate into what is supposed to be a protective electrical mechanism in the speaker. This is because there is no protective cover to guard the headphone as you will soon discover with close back speakers.

It is best to use while you at home, but if you don’t mind those negative effects and just want true sound, then there is nothing stopping you. There are other headphones design specifically as noise-canceling headphones, just like close back.


  • It delivers a very high-quality sound for your listening pleasure
  • The sound is crystal clear when the is no disturbance from external noise
  • It is best used when you are home enjoying quietness listening to music or movies
  • It can be worn for long periods at one time. Check out some of the best open-back headphones under 100


  • It doesn’t block external noises, can hear people talking around you or sound of cars
  • It is not the speaker for traveling on the plane or train
  • It is not the best for the gym or office, you can still hear all the gossips around. Check out some of the best open-back headphones with detachable cables.

Best open-back headphones

Open Back Headphones Rating Shop
Sony MDR-Z1R WW2 Signature4.4 out of 5amazon
Focal Utopia Open Back3.9 out of 5amazon
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro4.6 out of 5amazon
Sennheiser HD 5794.6 out of 5amazon
Sennheiser HD 598 SR4.7 out of 5amazon
Audio Technica ATH-AD900X4.2 out of 5amazon
LyxPro OEH-104.3 out of 5amazon
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro4.6 out of 5amazon
Grado SR80e Prestige Series4.4 out of 5amazon
Sennheiser HD 6504.7 out of 5amazon

What are close back headphones?

Open Back Headphones vs Closed Back

The close back headphones can be described as the opposite of open-back headphones. The close back is sealed around the back/cup completely allowing only the sound around the ears. For not letting air in which can build up pressure and can affect the natural sound with very little echo sound.

The price to pay for using close back headphones is it eliminates outside noise and the natural sound.

Remember, there may be very tiny echoing from using close backs, quite good if you commute a lot, can make the ears sweety because of the enclosure which prevents air from coming in. The close back headphones can be used to listen to music anywhere especially those places not ideal with open-back headphones.

Close back headphones can be good for many things, like everyday travels like on trains, cars, planes, gym and working out. Even with all good stuff, there would be other snags to contain with. Check out the ultimate headphone buyer’s guide.


  • It is good for listening to music while in the office, plane, and commuting
  • It also serves well for a recording studio, because it helps eliminate background noise giving an accurate sound of the recording
  • It helps protect those sensitive electrical components of the speaker


  • It can easily cause heat around the ears due to lack of ventilation
  • It can reduce the clarity of sound
  • Because it eliminates outside noise, there is a possibility it could eliminate any sound of danger

As many possible would like the closed-back headphone, so are many more who would like the open-back headphones.

Best close back headphones

Close Back Headphones Rating Shop
Bose QuietComfort 35 II4.6 out of 5amazon
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x4.6 out of 5amazon
Sennheiser HD 8204.2 out of 5amazon
Focal Clear Professional 5 out of 5amazon
Denon AH-D7200 Reference4.3 out of 5amazon
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H94.1 out of 5amazon
PSB M4U 84.2 out of 5amazon
Master & Dynamic MW604 out of 5amazon
AKG Pro Audio Professional4.3 out of 5amazon
Sony MDRV64.6 out of 5amazon

What are semi open-back headphones?

Open Back Headphones vs Closed Back

The semi-open headphones are the inbetweeners of open back and close back headphones. They are more similar to the open back headphones even though it doesn’t seal off noise and speaker components completely. They do leak sound and has a slight enclosure. They produce good sound and noise can still go through it.

These semi-open headphones have holes or slots in the back of the cup and are partly closed. They have an open back with a closed type dense material earpad.


  • Produce good sound just like the open back headphones
  • Doesn’t cause sweaty ears just like the close back headphones
  • Can be used to listen to music and movies
  • Ideal for home use


  • Not very good for use outside because noise can go in
  • Not the best for commuting on any public transport
  • Doesn’t protect components from heat

Best semi-open back headphones

Semi-Open Back Headphones Rating Shop
Fostex T60RP4.5 out of 5amazon
Beyerdynamic Dt 8804.5 out of 5amazon
LASMEX L-853.8 out of 5amazon
Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar4.3 out of 5amazon
Fostex T50RP MK34.4 out of 5amazon
AKG K240 Studio 4.2 out of 5amazon
Superlux HD 681 Dynamic4.2 out of 5amazon
AKG M220 Pro Stylist4.6 out of 5amazon
Samson SR8504.3 out of 5amazon
Astell & Kern AK T1p5 out of 5amazon


By now the decision to make can be more clearer for you, choosing either open back versus close back versus semi-open back is made easy. They are all very good headphones but remember they do carry their pitfalls and advantages. Do not hesitate to leave your comments and questions, and please do share them.


Charles is passionate about blogging and technology, he studied Marketing and Computer Science, worked with other companies like Data Race Hero. Charles also manages few websites including He likes Working with Gadgets, Music, and Football.

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