Open back headphones are known for being some of the best-sounding headphones on the market. This is because there is little to no resonance because the drivers are not covered or sealed in. While there usually is a screen to protect the drivers, there is not a cover to interfere with the deep and authentic sounds users enjoy.
While the higher-end products on this list offer a fully open design, the more budget-friendly models turn to a hybrid between an open and close back. This allows for a better level of sound quality without the cost.
Open Back Headphones Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Open Back Headphones?
Open back headphones are easy to spot. The back of each earphone is left uncovered by anything beyond a screen. Some headphones enclose the entire head piece but this can change the way they sound.
What Do They Do?
Leaving the back open means the headphones deliver a more true sound when listening to music and television. This reduces the resonance and muffling sound effect many enclosed sets deliver.
How Do They Work?
The missing enclosure allows sound to travel to the ear without resonance and interference. It also means sometimes the headphones have a higher level of base and treble that produces an authentic experience.
Where Can You Buy Them?
These higher end headphones can be ordered through Amazon or bought directly from the manufactures. There are also many larger electronic stores that sell them. It is important to buy from an authorized retailer to avoid knock-offs.
How We Reviewed
We reviewed the following products based on the following parameters:
When comparing these models, we wanted to give readers a full range of prices for a great sounding open back headphone. We also wanted to make sure these sets were relatively easy to find and have a solid warranty since many are a sizeable investment.
Because the fully open back designs run at a higher price point, we also explored reliable brands that offer a hybrid between a closed and open back design. These products are significantly lower priced. The warranty for the lower-priced products also varied significantly.
What We Reviewed
Key Features of this product include a stylish design made to wear for extended periods of time. The new design is 30% lighter so these headphones are easy to wearing for watching television or listening to music. This pair stays true to the quality one expects from this brand as they deliver amazing sound that includes being great for listening to live music.
Users report these open back headphones have a wide sound base that means music sounds even better as each instrument stands alone. They balance the sound at 93 dB. They also designed them to deliver a higher level of both treble and base quality due to a larger diaphragm.
The manufacturer offers a one year repair or replacement warranty for typical use.
You can tell just by looking at these headphones they are high end and something special. The combination of wood and metal set them apart. While the 4001s deliver some amazing sound, this headset fine tunes each part of the sound experience. This is due to the "Advanced Asymmetrical Magnetic Circuit" design that produces live music samples you can not tell apart from being there. The design also has the first diaphragm measured in nanometers to support superior sound.
This is the only headset of the list to carry a zero distortion label and back it up. They are the top of the line and not something users soon forget. The drivers are open but still protected by a window shade weave that was years in the making.
The problem with this headphone is not that there is anything wrong with them, but instead once you try these you may not settle for anything else. They are an investment but many customers report it being one of the best purchases they have ever made.
One-year full warranty for either repair or replacement of headset under normal use.
This headset is one of the best budget-friendly open back headphones around. While they may lack the flash of the HiFiMan headphones, they do the job in delivering quality sound. They use a 50mm neodymium driver to support a higher sound quality. The overall design is comfortable enough to use for a few hours at a time. They are also highly sensitive in picking up a variety of sounds so you are not missing anything with this product.
Many online reviews point to this being one of the most comfortable headsets Philips makes. The double padding and breathable design helps makes these headphones something you can wear all day.
Any warranty work goes directly through Philips with no upfront promise of a year-long warranty like some other headphones.
While this headphone set delivers decent sound, they are actually only partially open. There is a section of the driver that has more protection as you might expect in a closed design. It balances the sound but not really anything special compared to an open back design.
The overall look of this set also leaves a lot to be desired. They make them to match the sound quality of an open back without the higher price.
They make these headsets durable through long-term usage. They come equipped with a flexible cord connection. It can be swapped out for personal or studio use. They are adjustable and look like a standard headphone.
One year replacement warranty.
This is another hybrid between a closed and open back headphone. The inner magnetic structures add to the sound quality without being as easy to damage as some open designs. The overall look of these headphones is standard, they make them to deliver a partially open sound experience. They are a better sounding headset than something that is fully closed.
This design relies on titanium diaphragms that produce a true and accurate sound. The internal working of this headset are a high quality despite the low cost.
A meshy type design and the flexible sizing makes this a good fit for anyone that doesn't want a tighter band on their head. It is sturdy enough for work use but also adaptable for use by kids at home.
Limited warranty as expected at this price point. Shipping paid by customer and almost makes it worth it to just buy a new pair.
Samson has been in the business for 80 years, and this dependable studio headphone set shows it. They do not make them to be pretty, but they make them to get the job done. They used a hybrid between the closed and open back to bump up the sound from an average pair of headphones.
A wide dynamic range is supported by the 50 mm driver. The over the ear design also helps to isolate sound while in the studio. They are fully adjustable and a solid go-to headset for studio use. They also make studio use easier as they ship with both the 1/8 and 1/4 inch adaptors.
The comfortable fit makes them easy to wear to work or play. They also have a frequency response range that goes from 10 Hz to 30 kHz. This is one reason their sound range is so good.
Limited 90-day warranty.
For buyers looking to invest is an amazing set of open back headphones, the HiFiMan HE1000 Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones deliver on every aspect of sound. In a perfect world where price is not a deterrent, this the best choice for sound quality you will duplicate nowhere else. Getting beyond the sticker shock is the worst part of these headphones.
The other HiFiMan headphone to make the list, the 4001, is much more friendly to the budget. It still delivers amazing sound you expect from the open back design. The hybrids on the list offer the average shopper a chance to enjoy the more authentic sound of an open back design without the initial investment.
The hybrids on the list have about the same level of sound. Any of these headphones would deliver a higher level of sound quality than an average close back design. Each had a slightly different take on overall design and comfort but the sound was the same.
Beyond the sound difference, the styling of the higher-priced made them stand out. For the price they appeared very different from any of the hybrids down to the way they look. The available warranty for the top end models also supported the investment to get that quality.