How to Choose the Right Open Back Headphones

Richard Ellison

No matter what style of music you enjoy, a good pair of headphones is an absolute must. If you’re not into earbuds, then you’ll want to consider headphones. Headphones are split into 2 primary groups, closed back and open back.

In this The Awesome Mix Guide, we’ll be looking specifically at open back headphones. With an ever expanding number of options on the market, it can be hard to know which pair is right for you. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of what open back headphones are, and some factors to consider when choosing a pair.

What Are Open Back Headphones?

As the name suggests, open back headphones have an open design, which allows air to flow freely through the headphone cups behind the speaker drivers. This design keeps the sound more  airy and natural, as resonance and build ups of low frequencies aren’t trapped in the cup as they would be in a closed back headphone.

What Are the Benefits of Open Back Headphones?

Open back headphones offer a unique listening experience that can be beneficial for a number of reasons. First, they provide a more natural sound than closed back headphones. This is because open back headphones allow sound to travel both into and out of the ear cups. As a result, open back headphones tend to have a wider soundstage, which can provide a more immersive listening experience.

Additionally, open back headphones tend to be more comfortable than their closed back counterparts. This is because they don’t apply as much pressure to the ears, which can cause listening fatigue over time, and also, they allow the ears to breathe, resulting in less sweating.

What Are the Drawbacks of Open Back Headphones

Despite the many positive features of open back models, there are a few drawbacks to this type of headphone. First, they are not as good at isolating sound as closed-back headphones, so you are likely to hear more ambient noise. Additionally, open back headphones leak sound, so people around you will be able to hear what you’re listening to.

Features to Consider

The first thing to consider is the frequency response. If you like bass heavy music, you’ll want to pick something with emphasis on the low end frequencies. Conversely, if you prefer a more balanced sound, look for headphones with a flat frequency response.

Next, consider the impedance. This is measured in ohms and determines how much power your headphones need to reach their fullest potential. If you’ll be using your headphones with a portable device like a smartphone, you’ll want to pick something with a low impedance, usually 32 ohms or less.

Choosing between wired or wireless is another big choice you’ll need to make.  If you want the freedom to move around without being tethered to your device, then you’ll want to pick wireless headphones. However, if you don’t mind being plugged in, wired headphones tend to provide better sound quality and reliability.

Comfort is one of the most important things to think of with any type of headphone. After all, you’ll be wearing them on your head for extended periods of time. Look for headphones with soft, breathable ear cushions, and an adjustable headband. Be sure to try on a few different types and brands to figure out which is the most comfortable for you.

Final Thoughts on Open Back Headphones

Open back headphones offer a very specific sound that many audiophiles absolutely swear by. They produce a more organic sound, and better replicate the feeling of being in the room with the performer, plus they’re more comfortable to wear, and they have a wider soundstage. 

However, there are some drawbacks to open back headphones including the fact that they leak sound, and aren’t as good at isolating noise. If the positives outweigh the negatives for you, then we’re sure you’ll love your next set of open back headphones.