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10 Best Open-Back Headphones

Although open-back headphones aren’t particularly novel on the market, there has been a noticeable rise in customer interest over the past ten years. It is perhaps because of technological advancements that have made products more accessible and the adoption of open-back designs in gaming headsets. That is why so many people are switching to open-back headphones. 

What Are Open-Back Headphones?

An open-back headset is a headphone design with open ear cups and a flat or slightly curved back. The headband does not obstruct the sound coming from the ear cups; instead, it lets it through. They are, therefore, perfect for those who prefer to listen to music without putting their heads in their ears.

When to Use an Open-Back Headset?

Numerous factors make open-back headphones worthy of their appeal. The following are some benefits of having a set of these headsets.

  • provides a more comprehensive audio experience
  • with excellent breathability for your ears
  • Instead of being in a bit of place, you’ll feel like you’re in the same room as the performer or podcaster.
  • When you use them in a quiet setting, you can get superb sound quality
  • great way to test how your song might sound on different playback systems during studio mixing

When Not to Use an Open-Back Headset?

  • Crowded, noisy public areas, where you may hear the ambient noise through your headphones
  • Quite places, like libraries, as open-back headphones, leak audio
  • Traveling and other circumstances where you might encounter both loud and quiet environments
  • Also noteworthy is that open-back headphones typically have a shorter lifespan than closed-back headphones, primarily due to their increased susceptibility to water damage.

What Factors to Look for While Buying an Open-Back Headset?

Unfortunately, selecting the best open-back headphones is frequently challenging due to the wide range of alternatives available at every price range. But before we get to the list itself, let’s take an in-depth look at the elements to consider most strongly while choosing the best open-back headset.

Impedance

You may already be aware of impedance and how it affects your buying choices. But let us briefly go through why impedance matters.

Without going into too much detail, the impedance of your headphones will determine which gadgets they may be compatible with and whether you require an amplifier or DAC. Since most conventional consumer headphones have low impedance, you can utilize them with a games console or even a cellphone.

Open-ear Wireless Headphones frequently concentrate on offering greater impedance since increased impedance is commonly linked to better sound quality.

Comfortability

With the right headphones, you can listen for hours without needing to take them off. Heavy magnet headsets may cause discomfort over time since they press down on your head. On the other hand, headphones with poor earcup design, excessive clamp force, and insufficient headband padding may even be physically painful.

Listening to headphones might be painful if uncomfortable or have poor ergonomics. As a result, when picking a set of open-back headphones, comfort becomes one of the most important considerations.

Driver Type

Open-back headphones use a variety of drivers, and each driver type offers something unique. The user’s preferences have a significant role in selecting the driver.

While some people enjoy the sonic richness and bass punch of dynamic drivers, others might prefer the slam of planar magnetic drivers or the speed of electrostatic membranes.

Technical Specifications

Technical details are last but not least. We use this as a broad term to describe the soundstage, imaging, and overall resolution of the concerned open-back headsets.

The more information you can pick up in your music, the better an Open Back Headset does in this area. Thus, a deep soundstage can make you feel like you are in a small music hall.

List of Top 10 Open-Back Headphones

1. Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Headphone

The Sennheiser HD600 requires no introduction if you are an audio enthusiast. Although the Sennheiser HD600 primarily comprises plastic, the sensation is of a high caliber. The Sennheiser HD600 is a sturdy, well-made product. It is confirmed by the metal joint that connects the headpiece and ear cups.

Build Quality

The ear cushions are premium velour, while exterior grills shield the drivers. The headphones will feel new after a couple of years of use if you put fresh ones on.

Comfort

Few competitors can match the Sennheiser HD600’s degree of comfort. You can wear these headphones nonstop for days on end without needing to take a break. The headband is made of four pieces of thick foam and is also vital. The weight of the headsets is also evenly dispersed across, which adds to their comfort.

Connectivity

A detachable Kevlar oxygen-free copper wire is included with the Sennheiser HD600. It has a 1/4″ adapter and connects through 3.5mm. The 580, 600, and 660 adapters are compatible, which is good news because the wires can be changed. So, if you have a spare set lying around the house, you could switch out the cables or order brand-new ones online.

Impedance

While typical consumer headphones have fewer than 50 ohms, the Sennheiser HD600 has a massive 300 ohms. It indicates that the headphones can take higher levels of amplification.

Sound Quality

The Sennheiser HD600 boasts the most explicit and organic representations you’ll likely discover in an audio experience. The bass and treble are appropriately aligned and very neutral and well-balanced. In contrast, the lack of distortion doesn’t imply that the bass is of inferior quality.

2. Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones may be the best open-back headphones for less than $200. For individuals interested in professional mixing, editing, and mastering, the DT 990 Pro has been made. Their robust, open, transparent bass and treble are ideal for studio settings and guarantee comfort for extended sessions.

Build Quality

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro has a robust structure and feels sturdy when worn. Regarding stability, these headphones are not intended for use during sports or other physically demanding activities. However, you shouldn’t have issues using them for casual listening sessions.

Durability

Although the DT990 PRO headband features an open-back top metal frame to prevent them from breaking if you bend them, keeping it in a small space in your backpack could have unfavorable effects. The rest of the design is robust and capable of withstanding the unexpected drop.

Comfort

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro’s spacious, well-padded ear cups are designed to be comfortable for listeners with all types of ear sizes. The 3ft cable is fairly weighty when it is coiled. However, there shouldn’t be any issues if you plug it into a computer.

Connectivity

The coiled 3.5mm cable on the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is 3.77 feet long. Use the provided 1/4″ adapter to connect the headphones to higher-end equipment if you intend to use them.

Sound Quality

Considering its retail price, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro offers superb audio quality. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro keeps the bass in check while allowing vocals to shine. Finally, clarity and distortion can influence your decision to buy headphones.

These headphones offer excellent sound quality despite their isolation and leakage issues. They provide a wide soundstage and rich, clear, and crispy sound quality.

3. Sennheiser HD6XX

The HD6XX from Sennheiser is an excellent starting pair of open-back headphones for audiophiles on a limited budget because it is based on the renowned HD600 model.

Usage

Sennheiser HD6XX open-back headphones are appropriate for quieter settings, such as your studio, gaming console, or workplace. It is because they provide very little isolation and require you to crank up the volume to dangerous levels to hear your music.

Comfort

The big ear cups, soft velour cushioning, and incredibly light weight of the headset make it highly comfy. You may wear them for hours without feeling any heat or headaches. Additionally, these don’t put unnecessary pressure on the wearer’s spectacles, another benefit for goggle wearers.

Connectivity

These headphones are equipped with a 3.5mm or 1/8-inch cable on the source end, making them compatible with almost any gadget. The Sennheiser HD6XX consumes a little bit more power than other headphones. So if you’re using these with your mobile phone, you might have to turn up the volume to a comfortable level.

Sound Quality

These headphones have exceptional sound quality with powerful bass without seeming too fake. Additionally, Sennheiser is an excellent choice for anyone just getting into audiophile headphones because they provide outstanding quality and adaptability for the price.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X

While playing video games, the Audio-Technica Open Ear headphones’ accurate positioning and excellent soundstage make them a perfect choice for gamers. These headphones might be all you need if you’re starting as an enthusiast due to their comfy design, excellent audio quality, and absurdly good price ratio.

Build Quality

Because of its size, you would assume that the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X will be weighty. It is surprisingly lightweight for such a large pair of headsets. The headphones are made of inexpensive but sturdy materials. The earpads are made of soft fabric, the frame is magnesium, the case is aluminum, and the remaining components are made of toughened plastic.

Comfort

The ATH-AD500X stands out when it comes to comfort. You won’t even notice them on your head because they only weigh 8.32 ounces. The great, breathable padding allows you to wear them for extended periods without feeling uncomfortable.

Connectivity

The cable is firmly attached and has 14 amplifier adaptors and a gold-plated 3.5mm socket. Given that the ATH-AD500X has an impedance of 48 ohms, users should typically be able to power these headphones using a 3.5mm connector. The 9.84ft length of the cable is suitable for monitoring and mixing but may not be the best for casual listening.

Sound quality

The overall sound quality of the ATH-AD500X headphones is superior to that of many more expensive rivals. These headphones deliver warm mids and clear vocals for all genres.

The headphones function similarly to many open-back headphones regarding sound isolation and leakage. The ATH-AD500X offers no sound isolation, whereas sound leaks are common.

5. Grado Labs GW100

Both music producers and audiophiles love Grado Labs’ line of high-end headphones, which are well known for their audiophile-caliber construction. The Grado Labs GW100 is the first open-back, on-ear Bluetooth headphones of their genre. 

Comfort

Because they are primarily made of plastic, they are lightweight in design and also powerful and cozy. The ear pads are not overly thick or thin, and the headset is leather-padded.

Connectivity

The Grado Labs are wireless open-back headphones, an incredible addition to your headphone collection and a fantastic choice for casual listening at home. On the left ear cup is a mic and remote for talking on the phone hands-free and managing the audio on smartphones. You can use it with or without an amplifier; it also arrives with a detachable cable.

Sound Quality

The audio is crystal clear, organic, and bright while remaining rich and smooth. Grado Labs cut the amount of sound leakage in these open-back headphones by 60% so that they won’t leak as much sound as other open-back models. However, due to the Bluetooth functionality, you won’t be able to mix music on these.  But with these, music lovers may play music hands-free.

6. The Astro A40 TR

The A40 TR was introduced to mark Astro Gaming’s ten years of offering excellent headphones and headsets to gamers and others. Regarding the headphones’ audio quality, the A40 TR utilizes Astro Audio V2 for tuning. Astro Audio V2 reproduces game audio, including sound effects, speech, and music, with a clean, natural, and neutral sound.

Compatibility

The Astro A40 TR is an open-back gaming headset with comfortable ear cups. It works with various gaming consoles, including Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Mac, and even cell phones. It is a high-end gaming headset created in collaboration with live broadcasters, content creators, and players competing in eSports.

Comfort

Considering the headphones’ style, they are pretty portable and robust. The headband and ear cups are padded with leather and linen for comfort. Despite being an open-back pair of headphones, the A40 TR can be converted to closed-back headphones with a Mod Kit by switching the headset microphone in and out.

Gaming Performance

Astro A40 TR open-back model is one of the Best Open-Back Headphones for Gaming. They are durable, comfortable, and don’t put unnecessary pressure on the head. These headphones will also appeal to beginning podcasters. Simply put, these are a reliable set of open-back headsets for gamers and audiophiles.

Sound Quality

These headphones have a frequency response range of up to 20 kHz, which is adequate for a gaming headset. They have excellent sound quality considering they are among the best open-back headphones for gaming. A unidirectional boom mic that may be removed or repositioned is included with the A40 TR. It is susceptible and effectively blocks out surrounding noise.

7. AKG K240 MkIIs

The AKG K240 MkIIs, a pair of semi-open-back, over-ear headphones, is an example of an open-back headset. They are a replacement model for one of AKG’s hallmark headphones, the K240 Studio. Thanks to the semi-open construction, you may enjoy the powerful bass of closed-back headphones and the airy, clear, natural highs of open-back headphones.

Build Quality

With its intricate plastic structure and strap-style headband, the K240 MkII’s design is remarkably similar to that of the Samson Technology SR850. The headphones’ rounded ear cups have thick velour cushions for maximum comfort when working in the studio for extended periods. The headband can be manually adjusted, or it can adapt itself. Because it is only a strap, it is light and doesn’t strain the head.

Comfort

Overall, the K240 MkIIs are light enough to wear for several hours while being relatively comfortable and highly durable.

Sound Quality

AKG K240 MkII semi-open headphones are another terrific-sounding, more affordable pair of headphones that will help you create a superb mix in the studio. They make an excellent all-purpose pair of headphones if you enjoy the sound of semi-open-backs or even prefer them.

Since they are weak in loudness, you should probably need an amplifier with them.

They are a standard in today’s studios because they accurately reproduce sounds. The K420 MkII headphones have a frequency range of up to 25 kHz, which is about average for a pair of headphones at this price point.

8. HIFIMAN Edition S

HIFIMAN could be one of the most costly headphone manufacturers, but they also have some less expensive options that won’t drain your bank account of dollars while still giving you a fantastic sound. The Edition S from HIFIMAN is a superb illustration of that.

Design and Build Quality

The Edition S is a set of open-back, on-ear headphones. The Edition S headphones include detachable ear cup coverings that change the open-back design of the headphones into a closed-back design for a different listening experience and sound staging. It has 50 mm dynamic drivers that give you the same iconic HIFIMAN sound as a model that costs much more, such as the HE1000 or Edition X.

Comfort

The Edition S’s plastic solid construction and asymmetrical ear cups make them incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods without causing skin problems. The headphones are highly portable and fold up for simple storage. For an on-ear pair of headphones like the Edition S, the ear pads are thick, and the headband is lightly cushioned.

The headphones include a remote control and microphone incorporated into the wire for convenient hands-free music and phone control.

Sound Quality

The Edition S’s frequency response range is 15 Hz to 22 kHz, which is very generous for an affordable pair of open-back headphones of audiophile caliber. The Edition S produces a natural, crystal-clear, and clean sound. Due to these headphones’ extremely high precision in sound reproduction and low power consumption, you can obtain fantastic sound even if you’re merely using a mobile device with a low-powered amplifier.

HIFIMAN Edition SA is another good pair of open-back headphones in the lower to mid-range price range. These headphones are for you if you desire convenience, excellent sound, and high quality without paying a lot.

9. Samson SR850

For costing considerably under $100, Samson Technologies’ SR850 headphones are a perfect pair of studio headset gaming. The SR850 are over-ear, semi-open headphones appropriate for gaming and studio recordings.

Build Quality

They are constructed of solid plastic and have a weighty appearance in terms of design. Although the headband is not padded and is made of two wires and a synthetic material strap, it is incredibly comfy. Because the ear cushions are so large and velour-made, you shouldn’t experience any irritation even after wearing them for a long time. Overall, compared to more expensive models, the build quality is average.

Sound Quality

If you need to cut costs but don’t want to compromise on sound quality, the Samson SR850 semi-open headphones are an excellent solution. They leak less audio because they are semi-open-back headphones, making them better for recording than many other open-back types.

Thanks to this semi-open design, you get a beautiful blend of the advantages of both closed-back and open-back headphones. You get a very open and natural sound staging and a considerable amount of audio isolation from background noise.

These headphones are excellent for mixing and monitoring. They will fit well with your workflow if you’re a sound engineer, whether you operate in a commercial studio or a home studio. The SR850s would also be a fun choice for anyone who podcasts or Livestream while playing video games.

10. Philips Fidelio X2HR

The Philips Fidelio X2HR is an improved model of the popular over-ear headphones Philips X2, replacing the illustrious X1. The headband now has incredibly plush padding for greater comfort. The earpads are also more breathable now, although they are bonded to the cup and cannot be removed.

Build Quality

The materials utilized are of the highest caliber, and the construction is robust. The frame has a strong sense of stability and toughness, which increases its resistance to physical harm.

The cups are angled at a 15-degree inclination to direct the music into your ear canals.

A unique gel layer embedded in the diaphragm is a dampener for the overemphasized frequencies. It guarantees a more seamless, refined, and authentic sound experience throughout the sound spectrum.

Comfort

Some of the best features of X2HR are its comfort and accommodate. The modern earpads are constructed of memory foam and covered in plush velour. The new material makes cushions highly breathable and aids heat dissipation and consistent pressure distribution.

The headband has a suspension mechanism that self-adjusts and stretches the headband for you. X2HR feels highly cozy to wear for extended periods.

Sound Quality

The X2HR is excellent at producing an expansive soundstage and roomy audio. Rather than using headphones, they give you the sensation of being in front of the speakers. The piano, wind instruments, and guitars emerge separated from one another.

Conclusion

Getting a comfortable pair of headphones is essential to suit your circumstances. Open-back headphones are an excellent choice for people who wish to maximize their involvement and sound quality while wearing their headphones in a calm setting. The headphones discussed here are great options for high-quality performance on various budgets.

You’re sure to discover something you love with all these fabulous open-back headphones for everything from music creation to casual listening. If you’re having trouble finding your ideal headphones, keep in mind that newer versions are constantly being launched.

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Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.

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Abdul Wahab: Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.