Open Back Headphones for Great Quality of Sound

open back headphones

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?

What Do They Do?

How Do They Work?

Where Can You Buy Them?

open back headphones

How We Reviewed

We reviewed the following products based on the following parameters:

  • Features & Quality
  • Pros & Cons
  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

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

HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphones...
  • Get an extra three-month extended warranty by registering your products on our official website.
  • 30% lighter than comparable headphones
  • Newly-designed headband with an improved pressure pattern

Features

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.

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a one year repair or replacement warranty for typical use.

Pros

  • 30% lighter than many other headphones in this class.
  • Recent redesign for comfort and long wearing.
  • High-quality sound with a budget price.

Cons

  • May not be as durable as more costly models.
  • Price fluctuates.

HIFIMAN HE1000 Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone
  • World’s First Diaphragm in Nanometer Thickness
  • "sounded remarkable and may motivate me to do a lot more headphone listening" -Jim Hannon《The Absolute Sound》
  • Advanced Asymmetrical Magnetic Circuit offering perfect reproduction of live music

Features

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.

Warranty

One-year full warranty for either repair or replacement of headset under normal use.

Pros

  • They design the circuit for flawless sound.
  • Fine-tuned diaphragm.
  • One of the top open back headphones in the market.

Cons

  • Pricing puts them out of range for many customers.
  • They can fill the market with imposters.

Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)
  • 50mm neodymium drivers deliver full spectrum of sound
  • 1.5m cable gives you freedom of movement for indoor use
  • Comfortable double layered headband cushion, breathable ear cushion for longer wearing comfort

Features

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.

Warranty

Any warranty work goes directly through Philips with no upfront promise of a year-long warranty like some other headphones.

  • Big sound quality on a budget.
  • 50mm neodymium driver.
  • Built to last.
  • Pros

    • Big sound quality on a budget.
    • 50mm neodymium driver.
    • Built to last.

    Cons

    • May not compare to the HiFiMan in sound quality.
    • The design looks like just an average headset.

    Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones
    • Natural, spatial and accurate sound. Connectivity Technology: Wired
    • Silvery, clear cymbals
    • Pleasantly natural trebles

    Features

    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.

    Warranty

    One year replacement warranty.

    Pros

    • Improved sound quality when compared to a closed back headphone.
    • Under fifty dollars.
    • Easy to find at most electronic stores.
    • Not as fragile as some other designs.

    Cons

    • Not fully open-backed.
    • A little clunky in design.
    • Sound does not compare to higher end open back headphones.

    Koss UR40 Collapsible Over-Ear Headphones
    • Frequency Response - 10-20,000 Hz and Impedance - 60 ohms
    • Wide, 15 to 22,000 Hz frequency response
    • Titanium-coated, high-polymer diaphragms deliver accurate sound

    Features

    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.

    Warranty

    Limited warranty as expected at this price point. Shipping paid by customer and almost makes it worth it to just buy a new pair.

    Pros

    • Hybrid design.
    • Budget priced.
    • Decent quality sound.
    • More portable than some other products listed.

    Cons

    • Not truly an open back design.
    • The overall look of the product is fairly plain.
    • Not the best quality, but this is expected at this price point.

    Samson SR850 Semi-Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones
    • Professional studio Reference semi-open headphones designed for tracking, mixing, mastering and playback.
    • Proprietary large 50mm drivers with rare earth magnets deliver an extended frequency response and great dynamic range
    • Circumaural, over-ear, design with velour cushioning provides outstanding comfort for long listening sessions

    Features

    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.

    Warranty

    Limited 90-day warranty.

    Pros

    • Durable.
    • Good studio quality headphones.
    • Offers some of the best studio range and stereo imaging.
    • Brand dependability.

    Cons

    • Not a full open back.
    • Lacks the quality of the higher end headphones.
    • Shorter warranty.

    Comparison Table

    The Verdict

    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.

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