Best Open Ear Headphones

What are open back headphones, and what is the difference between open and closed back. The difference is that open-back headphones do not have a solid enclosure on the backside of the ear cups. Instead, they are ventilated to allow sound to have a more realistic sound. This provides a sound that is significantly larger and more open sounding than closed-back headphones, similar to a concert in your room, instead of a concert in your head. If planning on purchasing a new pair, this article reviewing the best open headphones might be able to help.

27
Models Considered
6
Hours of Research
3
Experts Interviewed
222
Reviews Analyzed

Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Headphones — Best Overall Product

Best Choice
Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Headphones
Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Headphones
Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Headphones are a great deal for its price tag, therefore being one of the best open back headphones under 100 dollars. The brand has been in the industry for over fifty years and has been improving their products ever since. When buying a pair of open ear headphones, it is important to check for a product that will deliver a full spectrum of sound. To give its sound the precision that its name promises, this product has 50 mm high power drivers that utilize neodymium magnets when producing music. The drivers create balanced dynamics of the audio being played. The drivers are precisely angled and engineered to fit the natural shape of an ear. The design build quality allows signals to be directly channeled into the ears to create an authentic listening experience.
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Not to mention that these open-air headphones do not only have padding on the ear cups, but they also have one of the most comfortable headband cushions. The cushioning is made from a soft and layered material for maximum comfort during long listening sessions. The ear cushions are breathable, so they do not create unwanted pressure or heat around the ear. Above the cushioning is a steel headband that can be adjusted and tailored to the user. Its material makes it durable, strong, and long-lasting. Finally, this product can be used with or without headphone amplifiers to further increase sound transparency and high frequencies. The overall key features of this device make it one of the best open ear headphones on the market by far.

PROS:
  • 50 mm high power drivers creates an amazing, clean sound
  • Drivers are angled to deliver the sound in the best way possible
  • Cushioned headband provides maximum comfort for long wear
  • Adjustable headband for optimal fit
  • Ear cups are breathable to prevent pressure or heat
  • Can be used with a headphone amplifier

CONS:
  • None

Customers’ Reviews from Amazon:

“I wanted a pair of open back headphones for gaming. I am online all of the time and needed something that is reliable. These headphones have changed the game. I can hear as clear as day, and the sound delivers like a stereo without the burden of bothering my roomates.”

“I thought I was going to have to spend a ton of money for my son’s christmas present but then I came across these open air headphones. They were not that expensive and my son loves them! These are the best open back headphones on a budget.”

“I’m a music lover, and I listen to all sorts of music. I’ve recently been hearing an echo noise in my music. I found these headphones hoping for better bass performance, and they really deliver. These headphones have totally transformed my listening experience.”
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Sennheiser HD 599 SE Open Back Headphone — Best Frequency Range

Best Open Ear Headphones

Sennheiser HD 599 SE Open Back Headphones are another great choice. They are not as budget-friendly as our first pair, but they are still one of the best open back headphones under 200 dollars. It is actually an Amazon exclusive because it is a special edition. The Sennheiser headphones have exceptional quality in terms of its frequency range (12 to 38,500 Hertz.) It delivers exceptional clarity and detailed sound. The drivers provide a balance of tones with outstanding spatial performance. The product can achieve this because of its specially engineered transducers that use aluminum voice coils to deliver high efficiency and low distortion.

The design is also a well-done aspect. Its sleek black and silver look adds style to its functionality. The headbands curve naturally into the earcups giving it a cool, put-together look. These headphones are also extremely lightweight with padded ear cups to prolong listening sessions. This will provide superlative comfort especially for users who listen for hours upon hours, and its smaller weight makes it a good option for travel. The headphones also come with two detachable cables making it a favorable choice to be a user’s next open back gaming headset. The first cable is 3 meters with a 6.3 mm jack for home entertainment. The second cable is perfect for use with any personal devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops, being a 1.2 m cable with a 3.5 mm jack. For those who want to look good while also listening to a powerful sound, these could be the right choice.

  • Product
PROS:
  • High frequency range
  • A stylish look that adds flair to anyone
  • Padded ear cups for great comfort
  • Padded headband for maximum support
  • Comes with 2 detachable cables for different usages

CONS:
  • A bit pricey for those on a budget

Customers’ Reviews from Amazon:

“Best open back headphones for gaming! I’ve been using these headphones for a week now, and they were definitely worth the buy. The sound from my TV is 10 times the quality it was with my old headphones. I highly recommend. They really are the best open back gaming headset.”

“These headphones are turning me into an audiophile. I have tried brands like Audio Technica and Bose in the past, but ended up spending way too much money. These are so much cheaper than brand names, but they totally outperform them. Don’t waste your money on brand names!”

“I am always listening to music. My friends and family almost never see me without my headphones on. I am so glad I switched to these. These headphones are lightweight and have such a soft, comfortable headband. They don’t hurt my ears even after I wear them all day long.”
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Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones — Most Comfortable Option

Best Open Ear Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones is just another exceptional option to consider. They are in the mid to high pricing range. The model offers impressive spaciousness and sound quality. They create a dimensional sound with outstanding tonal depth. The open-back design ensures satisfactory production of both bass and higher frequencies. The makers of the headphones want each sound to be precise instead of overstated. This being said, the bass is accurate and the treble is present without sounding too sharp. They make sure even tiny shifts in acoustic positioning can be noticed by its users.

The product comes in two different colors so it can suit the style of all of its users. The main base of the headphones remain the same color; it is the color of the ear cup padding that you can choose. The options are black and gray. The black gives the headphones a sleek uniform look for those who want a classy design. The gray provides a dual-tone look that makes the headphones stand out slightly more. Comfort is not forgotten in this pair either. The earcups and headband are soft and adjustable. The padding around the ears is extra thick acting as a pillow for the users’ ears. These will definitely not create any tension or pressure after wearing them for a long time. Nonetheless, the headband is made from steel and is still strong and durable for a long last. The headphones also have a single-sided cable to prevent tangles in the cords. These really are a comfortable, good quality option.

  • Product
PROS:
  • Extra thick ear cup padding making them super comfortable
  • Precise sound quality so music is not overemphasized
  • Comes in two colors
  • Single-sided cable for minimum tangles

CONS:
  • A bit bulky and not as lightweight as the Sennheiser headphones

Customers’ Reviews from Amazon:

“I really care about all different types of digital consumption and wanted to finally invest in a good pair of headphones. These exceeded my expectation. The sound quality is no joke. I’ve listened to music and watched TV and the sounds are so much more prominent than before.”

“I use these headphones for music and gaming. They are so comfy and fluffy on my ears. Open-back headphones are definitely the way to go. The sound is big, and I feel like I’m right there on the battlefield when I’m playing. These are fantastic!”

“The padding on these headphones are so comfortable! They feel amazing. I got them in gray and I get so many compliments whenever I wear them outside the house. They look good, feel good, and sound good. I highly recommend these for anyone wanting to get open back headphones.”
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Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open Air Headphones — Best Headphones for Balanced Tone

Best Open Ear Headphones

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open Air Headphones lets users immerse themselves in the details of the music. They have 50 mm high power drivers to ensure a big but natural sound. The makers of the headphones hand test every speaker to ensure that it is up to standards. The drivers are tilted to fit the unique shape of the ear. This decreases echos and unwanted noise clutter. Audio signals can be directly channeled in the user’s ear. The music produced is crisp and clear with pristine frequencies.

The acoustic design architecture eliminates pressure around the ears and allowing the diaphragm in the ear to be able to move freely. This enhances the sound transparencies and smoothes out any higher frequencies that extended for long periods. What makes this pair stand out from others is its layered motion control. The drivers feature a multi-layered polymer system that encases a layer of damping gel. Together, these layers work to form a boundary that is flexible with the ability to absorb and dampen any exaggerated frequencies. This creates a smoother frequency response. Users will be able to notice a more balanced sound.

  • Product
PROS:
  • 50 mm high power driver for big sound
  • Layered motion control design for a more balanced, natural sound
  • Padded cushions around-ear cups
  • Sleek design

CONS:
  • Lacks in fine-tuning adjustments
  • The shape is aggressively clamped and could be slightly uncomfortable for those with larger heads.
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AKG K240STUDIO Semi-Open Professional Studio Headphones — Best Headphones on a Budget

Best Open Ear Headphones

AKG K240STUDIO semi-open professional studio headphones are great open back headphones on a budget. They are priced amazingly for all of their features. This model has updated transducers to create a diaphragm that is more elastic to create a thicker bass, and pure high frequencies.

The design features a non-twisting headband so it remains stable on the user’s head. This is ideal for people who move a lot while listening to music. The headband is self-adjusting and made from steel to ensure durability and strength. It has a detachable cable making it easy to switch out when needed. The ear cup padding is this product’s claim to fame. The padding will mold to the user’s ear, so they will not create unnecessary pressing or fatigue the ears after hours of listening. The pads envelop the ears nicely for optimal comfort.

  • Product
PROS:
  • Non-twisting headband for stability
  • Great fine-tuning controls
  • Moldable ear cup padding for tailored comfort
  • Great for professionals or studio usage

CONS:
  • Design is not as sleek
  • May not be the best option for casual listeners
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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open Air Headphones — Headphones with Biggest Drivers

Best Open Ear Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open Air Headphones provide a completely natural listening experience. The size of the drivers is mind-blowing. They are 53 mm to provide excellent precision and detail in the music. The sound is as natural as possible and has a great frequency range.

The design allows for long listening capabilities because of its flexible raised-fabric earpads that offer excellent wearing comfort and durability. The headband is rodded but has 3D wing support which is self-adjusting to fit the user’s head. This type of design is used to minimize pressure around the head. The speakers are made from a lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing to deliver amazing acoustic properties while also losing bulk. For those who prioritize a big sound, these could be the best option.

PROS:
  • Durable ear padding for long last
  • 53 m drivers produce huge sound with great bass and treble
  • Wing supported headband relieves pressure

CONS:
  • Design is not that sleek because of the rodded headband
  • No fine-tuning, and automatically adjusts to music
  • The headband may feel unnatural because of dual-sided support
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Grado SR80e Prestige Series Open Back Stereo Headphones — Most Simplistic Style

Best Open Ear Headphones

Grado SR80e Prestige Series Open Back Stereo Headphones have thousands of happy customers vouching for their product. This product provides an improved bass resonance in an offer to embrace the overall detail of the music. The drivers help to eliminate the feeling of isolation when listening to music and increase the sense of openness that most people want in these types of headphones.

The design features oversized cushioning on the ear pads. Larger cushions give the result of more open stage experience. This way the music can be listened to as authentically as possible. However, the ear cushions are flat and do not have a molded fit on the user’s ear. Some users may like this feel, but others tend to enjoy a contained ear cup. These headphones are an excellent choice for those who want something simplistic.

  • Product
PROS:
  • Large ear cushions for more open stage
  • Durable material for long last

CONS:
  • Dual wired so may tangle more
  • Design is not as stylish
  • Flat ear cup which could cause some discomfort
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Grado SR60e Prestige Series Open Back Stereo Headphones — Lightweight

Best Open Ear Headphones

Grado SR60e Prestige Series Open Back Stereo Headphones are an older model of the previously reviewed headphones. They have very similar features and few differences. Since it is older, this model is cheaper and is another great choice for shoppers who are on a budget. This model also weighs less than the newer model, making it a better option for those who do not enjoy too much weight on their heads.

Nonetheless, it has many of the same features. These headphones also include large earpads that are also flat, so they do not encircle the ear. They also have an attached wire on both of the ear cups. For potential buyers that liked the previous model, but it was slightly out of their budget, these may be a better option to accommodate all of their needs.

PROS:
  • Lightweight
  • Slightly cheaper than the newer model

CONS:
  • Dual wired so may tangle more
  • Design is not as stylish
  • Flat ear cup which could cause some discomfort
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Hifiman HE-400I Planar Magnetic Headphones — Best Avoidance of Distortion in Music

Best Open Ear Headphones

The Hifiman HE-400I Planar Magnetic Headphones are intended for high performance listening at home or even in a studio. The cool thing about these headphones is that they incorporate a new technology that allows for an even better listening experience. Planar magnetic headphones are actually a new technology that is extremely resistant to all kinds of electronic and audio distortion. This happens by suspending a material evenly in between the drivers. There is a very fast response time due to its lightweight design.

The headband is designed to improve pressure. It has a leather strap with a metal band for additional support. The ear padding is thick and made from imitation leather to provide maximum comfort and support for your ears. No more fatigue after hours of listening to music. These headphones can also be used with an amplifier or portable audio player if users would like. This is just another great choice on the market today!

  • Product
PROS:
  • Adjustable headband for optimal fit
  • Planar magnetic technology provides a premium listening experience

CONS:
  • Design is not as sleek with a metal headband
  • Headphones are slightly bulky
  • They are a bit pricey for those on a budget
  • Padded ear cups have a plastic-like feel
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Sennheiser HD 559 Open Back Headphones — Best in Terms of Comfort

Best Open Ear Headphones

The Sennheiser HD 559 open Back Headphones is an older model to one of the previously reviewed headphones on this list. Because they are made from the same company, they have some similarities, yet few differences. This model has a slightly smaller frequency range. Its response is 14 to 26,000 Hertz. This range is still great, and if a potential customer is not looking for as big of a range, this could be a great option. The quality and lack of total harmonic distortion are still unbeatable. The newer model also came with two detachable cables for different devices whereas this pair has only one. A second cable can be purchased separately if necessary. Because of the changes, this model is slightly cheaper than the newer model, so it makes it a cheaper alternative for some small sacrifices.

  • Product
PROS:
  • Slightly cheaper than the newer model

CONS:
  • Slightly lower frequency
  • Only one detachable cable
  • Higher total harmonic distortion by less than0 .1 percent
  • Slightly bulky pair
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Buyer’s Guide

When purchasing a new pair of headphones, it is important to consider and weigh out all of its desired functions. There are many aspects besides a brand name to pay attention to when buying a frequently used product such as headphones. Features such as sound quality and comfort are what most people look into. These factors are some of the most important contributing factors because they severely influence the experience of using the product. Sound quality is typically on the top of the list for most customers buying this type of product. Make sure that the product produces audio that is crisp and delivers the largeness that open-back headphones should give. The sound should emanate from all around you and be wider and deeper in comparison to music from closed-back headphones. This sensation is known as a “soundstage” because it mimics the feeling of an at-home stereo system.

Comfort is also a feature to pay attention to. Open-back headphones should provide space to breathe. Users do not want tension build up in the ear cups during extended listening sessions. Instead, a good pair of headphones should allow airflow to decrease heat and moisture buildup around the ears. This will for sure create a more enjoyable and pleasant listening experience. Another feature to consider is wirelessness. Many customers love open back wireless headphones. This provides users the ability to be more mobile without tangling their wires. Many people are also looking for an open back wireless gaming headset, so they can use them for entertainment purposes. However, not everyone likes open back Bluetooth headphones or wants a truly wireless pair. Some prefer wires, so they can be guaranteed instant connectivity every single time without fail. Whatever choice the customer makes, they can be sure they have picked a good pair if they choose from our reviewed list.

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FAQ

What makes open-back headphones different from closed-back headphones?

Open-back headphones allow air to pass through the ear cups. This makes sure that pressure does not build up around the driver and affects the sound of the music. This also prevents echoes or any distortion of sound, making music sound more natural. Closed-back headphones are enclosed on the outside of the driver keeping the sound within the ear and the cup.

Are Bluetooth enabled headphones better than headphones with a cord?

Both Bluetooth and corded headphones have their separate advantages. For people who like to move about, a Bluetooth option may be better, so they do not have to deal with the struggle of tangling, restricting cords. For others, if they are near their device at all times, a chorded pair would not be a problem. Cords might also help users that have frequent connectivity issues.

Is there a downside to using open back headphones?

Because airflow is a big part of open-back headphones, air goes in but also goes out. This means that these types of headphones will not be as noise-canceling as closed-back headphones. Additionally, they may leak sound outward and other people can potentially hear the music. Because of this, they are not the best option to choose if in a silent area such as a library.

How big should I want the drivers to be in a new pair of headphones?

A larger driver is going to create a more accurate and louder sound. This is preferable to many because users typically want open back headphones to have as precise of a sound as possible. However, large drivers obviously need more space in the ear cups leading to a bulkier pair of headphones. Slightly smaller drivers won’t affect the quality of the sound as much and are still a good option.

How is the bass and treble frequencies affected with open-back headphones?

Open-back headphones create an accurate and precise depiction of sound. When listening with these types of headphones, the bass will not be as emphasized as it would be when listening with bass headphones. The treble and higher frequencies will be very apparent, but they won’t be overbearing or sound too sharp. The bass and treble will be as true as possible, the way they were intended in the music.
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How We Tested

These reviews are products that have scored the highest through our testing methods. We decided to analyze a few different qualities of the products to find the best open-back headphones. We tested sound quality, comfort, and fine-tuning. During the first round of sound quality testing, we wanted to find the products that really had the best performance. Sound is arguably the most important factor, so this test was highly weighted. If the headphones produced a crisp and clear sound that was as authentic as possible they were given a higher score. Next we tested each product’s comfort. We wanted all of our top picks to have maximum support and comfort. We checked the durability and material of the earcups making sure they were soft, but would still be long-lasting. A good pair of headphones should also be lightweight and not bulky. This way a user will have a more satisfying experience. If a pair of headphones were uncomfortable or caused unwanted pain or tension around the ears or head, they were given a lower score. They were also given a low score if the material was not strong enough to last multiple wears. Lastly, we tested the fine-tuning of the headphones. This is an important feature because open-back headphones should have the ability to be customized to the users liking. If the headphones had controls that were functional and easy to use, they were scored higher.

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Conclusion

To get the best experience through your music, it is a must to find a pair of headphones that fit all of your needs. Open-air headphones can drastically improve users’ listening session by creating an open, natural sound with boosted clarity, rather than the isolated sound of closed-back headphones. In general, open-back headphones are the most comfortable option as well since they are more lightweight and create less tension around the ear area. There are many factors to consider such as size, comfort, and usability. Users should understand what is most important to them and what they should prioritize. This article has hopefully given insight on what to look for in a new pair of open-back headphones, and what decisions a potential user should make before their purchase.

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