If you want to buy a new set of good headphones, you’ve probably heard the terms “open-back” and “closed-back.” We decided to write this article because there are a lot of options on the market, but these terms aren’t well known because they are aimed at people with more money or audio experts.
First, you need to know that these two types of headphones are made for different people and different uses. Some people like them because of what they do, while others like them even though they use them in places where they weren’t meant to be used.
1. What are the pros and cons of open-back headphones?
As simple as it sounds, open-back headphones are just headphones that let air flow through the ear cups to the speakers and your ears. They can do this because they don’t have a closed back like most around-ear headphones do. Instead, they have a mesh or grill that connects the inside to the outside.
There are some good things about it, so let’s talk about each one.
First of all, because your ear cups are open, there is no echo inside them. This helps make the sound clearer and more like you’re in a music studio instead of having a studio in your head.
It just sounds clear and normal.
Because of this, open-back headphones are good for people who want to listen to high-quality audio files without any echo or distortion. You’ll hear better sound.
This comes at a cost, though, because open-back headphones are usually more expensive than closed-back ones.
A side effect of an open-back headset is that it keeps the ear cups from getting too hot, which can be annoying for some people. As air moves through the mesh of your ear cups and into your ears, you won’t get that annoying feeling of having hot ears after listening to music. No more ears that sweat!
But a lot of people don’t even care about that or they live in cold places where you don’t even sweat when you wear headphones.
The weight is another side effect of using open-back headphones. Since they use less plastic or other materials to cover the ear cups and block out outside noise, the headphones will be lighter, which can make a big difference in how comfortable they are to wear for long periods of time.
But some people might not be able to tell the difference in weight, so this is more of a personal nuance, just like the heat was.
Let’s talk about the bad things…
You always trade one thing for something else. If you have open-back headphones, you won’t be able to block out outside sounds, which could make it harder to enjoy your music.
For example, open-back headphones are not for you if you commute or listen to music in places where there is a lot of outside noise, like people talking or other sounds.
They won’t stop outside sounds from getting in, and some of your music will also get out. Do you want a set of headphones so you can listen to music at work? Don’t use headphones with open backs because other people will be able to hear what you’re hearing.
Do you want a good set of headphones so you can use them on a plane? Open-back headphones are not a good idea.
As you can see, it all depends on how they are made and where they will be used. Open-back headphones are great for quiet places, but they don’t give you the privacy that closed-back or noise-canceling headphones do.
Let’s talk about headphones with closed backs now.
2. What are the pros and cons of closed-back headphones?
Closed-back headphones are much more common, and it’s likely that you already have a pair with you right now. Here’s an illustration:
Closed-back headphones are a good choice for most people because they block out outside noise and give you some privacy. If you choose headphones that block out noise, you can feel like you’re in heaven while you’re on a plane. Not so much for headphones with closed backs.
This makes them a good choice for trips, commuting, and places where there are a lot of people, like the office, school, or other similar places. DJs also use closed-back headphones because it would be impossible to hear the music with all the people screaming and making noises in the club.
Most people also like the bass power you can get with a closed-back headset. Bass is very important in a lot of types of music, and closed-back headphones tend to have more impact and a deeper bass experience because they trap the air inside.
As we already said, this comes at a price, since having a richer bass experience doesn’t always mean having high-quality music that sounds real. Still, a lot of people change the bass on their equalizers.
You can pretty much only think of two cons: the weight and the heat.
If you like light headsets because you can’t wear heavy ones for more than a few minutes at a time, it will be harder for you to find a good pair of closed-back headphones. Luckily, there are still a lot more options than there are open-back headphones.
This also means that headphones with closed backs are usually cheaper.
Also, if you have sweaty ears or feel like your ears are burning after a rock and roll session and you live in a hot place, the closed-back option might not be the best for you.
3. Headphones that are open or closed
To sum everything up:
The benefits of open-back headphones
- Quality of sound (realistic sound)
- You’re getting fresh air through your ears
- Headsets that are light. Don’t get headaches.
- No noise reduction or noise cancellation
- You can hear sounds from the outside through the grills.
- People around you can also hear your noise
- Less variety and higher prices
Advantages of a closed back
- Privacy (great for crowded places and office)
- Deeper bass
- Great for traveling or getting to work
- More models available at cheaper prices
- Block outside noise
Drawbacks of a closed-back
- The music isn’t as good, but most people don’t mind.
- If your ear cups are closed, your ears can get sweaty.
- Some models are heavy and can make you feel sick.
If you can, go to a store and try out a pair of each kind before you buy a pair online. You never know, but some people will always choose one design over another, no matter what.