The differences between open back and closed back headphones

What type of user are you?

Open-back headphones allow sound to pass through the back of the ear cups, while closed-back headphones do not. Choosing between open-back and closed-back headphones has many implications. Depending on what you plan to use the headset for, one type of headset may suit your needs better than the other.

Open back headphones provide a more open sound

People who love to hear music the way the artist intended, so called audiophiles, usually prefer to use open back headphones. The tone is generally less harsh on these headphones. Open-back speakers also tend to have a spacious soundstage, which means that sounds seem to come from all directions, making it easy and pleasant to distinguish between different instruments. You can really immerse yourself in the music your are listening in your own private place at home. A great example often to be found on sale over at Amazon is the Sennheiser HD599 which was reviewed on the site.

Open back headphones are really ment to be used inside.
One of the classis open back headphones by Sennheiser

Closed back headphones give you more bass

I you are someone who loves bass you should consider looking at a closed back headphone. Because of the closed construction of these type of headphones the air gets trapped inside which improves the bass. So if you plan on watching an action movie or listening to some bass heavy hip-hop music a closed back headphone would probadly be the better choice.

Open back headphones are less private

Since the construction of an open back headphone allows the sound to pass through, other people will be able to hear your music as well. This can be really bothersome to others. Another negative aspect would be that things like wind will pass through the headphones would you use them outside. Open back headphones are not made for commuting.

Closed back headphones provide passive noise cancelation

You probably know about noise cancelation on headphones and earbuds like the Airpods pro. Most of the advertised noise cancelation on these headphones are of the active noise cancelation type. This means there are microphones positioned on the outside of the headphone which measure ambient sound and replace this with the opposite sound waves. Closed back headphones have a passive way of isolating unwanted sounds because of their closed construction.

A pair of closed back headphones is more private and better suited for outside usage


Open back headphones are better for music listening while closed back headphones are generally better for watching movies. Since the sound quality of open-back headphones is better than that of closed-back headphones, and the sound is more transparent, they are the first choice for audiophiles. Open back headphones are better suited for at home for private use, while closed back headphones can be used without bothering other people.