Open VS. Closed-Back Headphones: Which Type Should You Buy?

Purchasing overhead headphones seems simple enough as long as you have a good understanding of what open-back and closed-back headphones are. In this short guide to choosing open and closed-back headphones, we will discuss the benefits and features of both so you can make an informed choice.



Most major distributors of overhead headphones offer both types, but each offers a slightly different user experience. Both can deliver excellent sound quality and it really depends on your intention and how you want to use your headphones.

Wondering what type of headphones to choose? Well, it really comes down to your own personal preferences, what they will be used for, and how they will be used. We found some great examples of sites offering comprehensive review guides, like; which focuses on gym headphones for open back use! Others websites for closed back headphones like, offer in-depth reviews, which are worth checking out too.

Below we will dive a lot deeper into the specifications, critically analyze, giving our thoughts and recommendations.

What Are Open-Back Headphones?

Open-back headphones are designed in a way whereby the air can easily pass through the earcup. A positive result of this design is that there is little room for any sort of distortions or echoes. Many say that having good quality open-back headphones delivers much more natural and clear-sounding audio. This could be said because being open and free pressure gets released and doesn’t accumulate which could possibly lead to a high risk of hearing echoes or distortions. As a result of giving your ears decent air circulation, they are less likely to be fatigued enabling you to listen or jam to longer sessions.


  • Critical Listening Experience

Enables you to acutely hear every pitch or tone.

  • Comfort, as a result of your Ear being able to Breath

Fresh air flows freely through the earcups and on to your ear

  • Greater Stamina from the Airflow

Easily being able to comfortably withstand longer use

  • Stereo Balance and Transparency

Stereophonic sound from more definitively locating audio sources

  • Hi-resolution Audio Capabilities

Play, with clarity, audio files no matter the sample rate


  • Less Isolation of Noise

Because of the open-back design outside noises can, with ease, be heard

  • Price Range is often Greater

Price ranges may be higher especially with the higher-end model usually because of the quality of build and the materials.

  • Difficulty in being able to Communicate with Others

Due to the audio of a more stereo sound

  • Sound Tends to Leak

People around you are most likely to hear what you are listening too

  • Less of a Choice when Shopping Around

Popularity is not as widespread so often targeting niche markets


Headphones. Professional over-ear open back earphones on black background

What are Closed-back Headphones?

Closed-back headphones, unlike what is seen above, have their speaker drivers completely sealed in a casing around the back. The effect it has compared to open-back headphones is the sounds you listen to may not be as clear or natural sounding. Although, due to this being the case the noise cancellation of outside noises is much more superior.

There is an ever so slight possibility that when listening to certain bass notes you may hear echoes as the quality of sound is not as definitive. Additionally, in comparison to the latter, your ear may become a bit warmer faster which may result in shorter sessions. If you feel that when you are using your headphones it should be more of a private thing, closed-back headphones are the ones for you. Close to all the sound received by closed-back headphones does not escape. Overall the closed-back headphones are suited to a much wider population of people as they are suited to a greater variety of environments like; office use, jogging, outdoors, studying and commuting.


  • Superior Noise Isolation

The closed-back of these headphones causes external noises to be isolated

  • Little Leaking of Sound

The sealing of the earcup casings blocks most if not all sound from escaping

  • Become Engulfed by the Sounds you are listening to.

The closed-back headphones are designed to be snugger to your ear often making you feel like you are totally immersed in the sounds you are listening to.

  • Mixing Samples or Recording Tunes

As closed-back headphones effectively isolate outside noises your microphone is less likely to pick up extra noises.


  • Can become hotter more Easily

As a result of air not being able to flow easily to your ear it may become hot and cause discomfort

  • Lacks Spacial Perceptiveness

The sounds you are listening too may not have the same depth. It may not sound as natural or clear.

What Type, Design and Style is Best for you?

Firstly you should consider with great thought, factors such as the environment they will be used in, will I be needing them to focus and tune out, or is it a requirement that Hi-res audio can easily be heard?

Open-Back headphones are ideal for:

  1. Producing Music
  2. Being mostly used in one place such as your home
  3. Using them in an environment with little to no outside noises
  4. Needing the ability to hear everything especially if the audio is Hi-res with a high sample rate.

Closed-Back headphones are ideal for:

  1. For people who are more on the go
  2. Travelers
  3. Recording Studios
  4. Students to help them Study
  5. Require Greater Durability
  6. Perfect for DJ’s

Final Thoughts – The best option for you is?

The best option for you is, in reality, that you always keep in mind before buying what their primary use will be. Perhaps, as an idea, before you go looking you write down where, why, and what for, will you be using your headphones. For us, we have concluded, again, through much consideration taking all factors into account, that headphones with a closed-back suit our needs best. We arrived at this conclusion through our analysis of everything that is stated above. we can see that the closed-back type of headphone is much more versatile, durable, portable, and can easily be used by anyone.