Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones: Which is the Best For You?

Open-Back and Closed-Back are the two predominant types of over-ear headphones. We got a lot of requests from our friends to clarify their doubts about the difference between open-back and closed-back headphones.

They are entirely different in design, performance, and the consumers they aim for. Here we have a unique comparison on open back vs closed back headphones.

open back vs closed back headphones

If you ever looked for headphones in Amazon-like shopping sites or any other offline shops, you might see the terms open-back and closed-back headphones.

Actually, what is the difference between open-back and closed-back headphones?

Also see: Tips to pick the best water-resistant headphones.

If you get tricked by these terms and purchase one instead of the other, seriously, you are wasting your hard-earned money. Even if you have bought the best open-back headphones and the requirement is different, you will waste money.

We have already seen the working of headphones. This article will help you to find which is the best one for your needs. Each type of these headphones has its own pros and cons.

Difference Between Open Back and Closed Back Headphones

Now let’s go deep into each type.

Open-Back Headphones

open back headphones

As the name indicates, the backside of the ear cups is perforated. It is usually made with a mesh-like material allowing free audio and air passage into and out of the earcups.

They are the best option to listen to natural, unpressurized, and unmanipulated sound. If you are a true music lover and wish to feel the real soul of the songs, this type is for you.

Just close your eyes and wear your open-back headphone, and you don’t even feel like the music is coming from a headphone; instead, you experience it coming from your room.

You can distinguish the vocal and music of every instrument like the violin, flute, guitar as well as you can even locate their position in the studio.

Totally a concert-like experience. Rather than in the head, it feels like the musicians and singers are performing around you exclusively for you—what a royal affair!

One of the main disadvantages associated with even premium quality closed-back headphones is the sweating problem.

It is completely eliminated in this type of headphones by providing your ears space to breathe. So it can be used for a very long time without a break.

Since the earcups are made with grill-like material, they are light in weight and convenient. The open-back does not reflect (echo) the audio because the audio coming from the earpiece is escaping into the surrounding.

No, wait! Now you may think they are the best in the business and I’ll go for it. But it is not the case. They have got some downside too.

First of all, they are not noise isolating. You can hear even slight noise while wearing these headphones. So they are recommended to wear in the outdoors like jogging, commuting, etc. 

Can you hear yourself with open-back headphones? Yes, they are also not recommended for gaming because the sound coming out from the headphone may be picked back by the mic and create chaos.

It can not offer privacy. The guy sitting next to you can hear which music you are listening to or communicating. 

Note: Never think of chatting with your girlfriend/ boyfriend through them unless you are alone in your room.

Pros
  • Natural and realistic sound
  • Lightweight compared to closed-back
  • No sweating or heat
  • Do not reflect the audio
Cons
  • No noise isolation
  • No privacy
  • Can not use outdoors

Closed-Back Headphones

closed back headphones

The majority of the headphones are closed-back types. It has a solid layer on the rear side of the earcups.

In this design, the audio going out into the environment is blocked by this solid enclosure. Unlike the previous one, closed-back feels like the music is in the head. It helps in safer listening in a noisy area.

The main advantages of these headphones are noise isolation and privacy. It lets you feel the music alone even if you are in the middle of a crowded bus or a noisy street.

Altogether they ensure a two-way seal; it never lets the music escape out of the earcups and never permits the external disturbances to enter into the headphone and torture your music.

While travelling on flights or subway trains, they are the best option because they can eliminate the humming noise.

The audio coming out from an open-back headphone may be absorbed by the mic and trouble the audio, so closed-back headphones are the best for gaming and recording purposes.

They can be used for calling because of zero sound leakage. The best closed-back headphones can ensure absolute noise isolation and zero sound leakage.

Since the closed-back headphones attenuate the ambient noise, you can enjoy your favourite music, movie, or podcast at a lower volume without damaging your ears.

On the downside, the perfect seal of the earcups pressurizes your ears and echoes the music. The nearly-zero air movement inside the earcups causes sweating.

So you may be forced to remove and re-wear the headphone periodically. They may hear you some extra punchy and bassy sound.

Active and Passive Noise Cancelling headphones are two types of closed-back headphones.

Pros
  • Highly recommended on public use
  • It can seal the outside noise
  • Suitable during gaming and recording
  • Ensure privacy
Cons
  • Manipulate the audio
  • Pressurise the audio
  • Heating and sweating problems

Semi-Open Back Headphones

Technically there are no semi-open back headphones.

Closed-back headphones that fail to seal the audio leakage out of the earcups are usually considered semi-open back headphones. It also can not block the noise entering into the headphones.

Open Back and Closed-back Headphones for Mixing

If you compare the efficiency of open-back vs closed-back headphones for mixing, you can’t say one is superior to the other in all cases.

But open-back can account for minor audio below 80 Hz in a better and more natural way. It never allows the sound to pressurize your ears and helps in mixing safely at a safer volume.

It keeps you free from ear fatigue and hearing loss. That is the main advantage of op-back headphones in mixing.

In contrast, closed-back ensure more detailed sound because the audio is delivered directly into the ear canal. They are more suited if you mix in a noisy area and don’t want your neighbor to disturb by the audio coming out from the headphone. 

Open Back and Close-back Headphones for Gaming

If you wanna compare open back vs closed back headphones for gaming, it is much more complicated.

We have already discussed in the early part of this session that headphones open back is not fair gaming. But it is only valid if your earphones’ sensitivity is exceptional and you are playing with your friends in your room.

Because the sensitivity of your headphone is high, it can grab the audio coming out of the headphones, and in the second case, the audio coming out may disturb your friends who are playing next to you.

Otherwise, you can use open-back headphones for gaming. It’ll give you an exact location of the sound of your enemy and offer you a fatigue-free user experience.

Our Inferences

We believe this article will help you to make the perfect type of headphones solely for your requirement.

When we compare open back vs closed back headphones, both have their unique benefits and problems. So it is crucial to understand the service provided by each type and what class of consumers they are aimed at. 

The difference between open back vs closed back headphones is not simple as it looks. It is a bit complicated but necessary to understand. We hope, next time, you won’t waste your money on an irrelevant product.

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