Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones – Which is Best ?
There are many types or styles of headphones in the market that you can buy. The options are many such as wired or wireless, open-back or closed-back, active noise-canceling or passive, and many more.
Sometimes it is not that simple to choose the right one, although it looks so easy.
The selection of the right pair of headphones mainly depends on how you are planning to use them.
People who work in an open environment will need a different headphone compared to those who use headphones in the bedroom. Similarly, if you like to sit in your room and enjoy your favorite tunes, then your needs will not be the same from a person who wishes to use headphones while working out.
In this read, we will answer the most discussed question ‘which is better of the two’; the closed-back headphones or open-back headphones.
So let’s find out the major differences between the closed-back headphones and open-back headphones.
Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones
- Sound Quality
When it’s about the quality of sound, most users prefer the open-back design of headphones. The sound is quality of open-back headphones is superior to the closed-back headphones. Because of their open design, they deliver a more realistic sound. This happens because the air passes through the earcups; hence the distortion is minimal, and the headphone offers natural and clear sound.
Furthermore, open-back headphones have less pressure of air; consequently, the drivers present in the cups retort rapidly and proficiently in the signal. Whereas, in the closed-back headphones, the earcups are not open, so they have air and sound in them. This reproduces bass; hence closed-back headphones are crispier than open-back headphones.
However, this also can be a drawback of closed-back design because the sound waves or signals get stuck in the earcups and might cause distortion or lack of clarity in the sound.
- Sound Isolation
The sound isolation level is great in the closed-back headphones. Once you wear them, the earpads form a tight seal on your ears; thus, there is no sound or air around your ears. If, somehow, the sound leaks into the earcups, then the earpad’s quality or material is not good.
Because of this, people like to use them in noisy places such as stations, malls, airports, etc. Most professionals, including DJs, mixers, usually use closed-back headphones because of excellent sound isolation.
The leakage of sound in closed-back phones is at a minimum. So, you can also use them at places like a plane, car, or bus without disturbing anyone around you. Since there is no leakage, privacy is much better when you use a closed headphone.
On the other hand, open-back headphones are not that good when it comes to sound isolation, especially when you use them in busy places. Due to their open design, you can hear the surrounding noises while using these.
Due to this reason, using open-back headphones can be a little difficult when you want to use them in busy places. But when you use these in quiet places, you can enjoy the rich and true sound without any distortion.
However, for those folks who love to exercise while wearing headphones, open-back units are the best. You can jog or walk wearing these headphones.
Another aspect where open-back headphones have the upper hand is the soundstage. The soundstage is referred to as the capability to identify the depth of speakers or musical instruments.
Open-back headphones feature a deep and open soundstage because of their open design and not sealed back. The soundstage of open-back headphones gives the same feeling that you get when you are listening to a high-end stereo system.
Conversely, the soundstage of closed-back headphones is small and less airy. It gives you a feeling like someone is banging the music ‘in your head.’ The effects of the soundstage in these headphones also depend on the material, quality, and construction of the headphone.
A portable headphone is the one that you can easily carry on your trips or anywhere. In this feature, closed-back headphones have the upper hand because you can safely use them anywhere, even in noisy environments. The isolation of sound is also better in these headphones, and there are no leakages of sound.
Open-back headphones tend to leak sound. Besides, the sound isolation is also not good, and they are not that good to use in noisy places. For this purpose, open-back headphones are more suitable to use in-home or office or at any home where no one can interfere.
When it comes to the level of comfort, the build quality and quality of materials used in the construction of the unit is essential. Both open and closed headphones offer super comfort, and it varies from brand to brand.
However, comparing both open-back and closed-back headphones have their positives and negatives. For example, in hot conditions, the open-back design is perfect because it is open, so there will be no problem of sweat. Though, in cold conditions, closed-back headphones are suitable. Comfort-wise, both are excellent, and it depends on the brand.
What Are Closed-Back Headphones?
Closed-back headphones are completely sealed from the backside, perhaps it is the biggest difference between the two. Noise-canceling properties in the closed-back headphones are great, and it blocks all the outside noise. You might notice echoes in sound, but it will not affect the quality.
Closed-back units are excellent for traveling purposes as they have a sealed and closed design so you can enjoy the music on the go.
For studio uses, closed-back headphones will allow you to hear the sound without any noise, or you can say the mic will not pick the noise from outside. You can also use them for mixing purposes, but it depends on the type of music. For casual listening, closed-back headphones are perfect.
Advantages of Closed-Back Headphones
Noise isolation is another significant difference between these two designs of headphones. Due to these features, you can isolate all the unnecessary noises from any source, and as a result, you get a true sound. The closed design of the earcups in closed-back headphones seals your ears completely, so it is you and your music only. This makes them ideal to use in public places.
Apart from the great noise cancellation/isolation feature, closed-back units are excellent for normal uses. When you are about to purchase a headphone, portability is the main concern of many users.
Closed-back headphones are portable, and you can comfortably carry them with yourself. Some of these are foldable and flexible. As they block all the outside noise, people love to carry them on the trips and other noisy places.
Though the overall sound quality of open-back headphones is exceptional; however, closed-back has incredible bass support. The closed-back headphones can make a much better impact when it comes to bass by ensnaring the air in the small space. And we all know, the bass is the main selling point of the manufactures.
Great bass support means an excellent sounding headset. The bass support is a vital consideration for you if you enjoy listening to all music genres, and no one offers it better than the closed-back headphones.
No Sound Disruption
These headphones offer you a ‘Closed’ feeling when you are using them. Because it blocks all the other sounds of the world from entering into the earcups, it also prevents leakage. So, if you love to listen to music alone and without any disturbance, these offer exceptional sound quality.
You also use them in places like a library and enjoy your music without disturbing anyone. So, in a privacy feature, closed-back headphones are the winner.
You might like: 10 Best Closed Back Headphones for Everyone
Overall clarity/accuracy is not rich.
The soundstage is airy or open.
You will feel like ‘the music banging in your head.’
You might get annoyed due to sweat and warmness when you are using them for long hours.
What Are Open-Back Headphones?
In an open-back headphone, the air flows through the cups until the speaker’s element. As the air flows through, there is no air pressure that can affect the sound. In this way, you can get a natural and more realistic sound.
In simple words, these headphones are specially made to offer realistic sound experience. It allows the few noises from the outside into the headphone, offering a mesmerizing experience.
The feel of using the open-back headphones looks the same as listening to high-quality speakers. Furthermore, these headphones will not isolate you from the outside world.
However, as the Open-back headphones are not sealed, so they are unable to block the outside noises. And you can hear the others while listening to music. These tend to leak the sound, so there are possibilities that anyone sitting next to you can hear what you are listening to. So, there is no privacy like you will get in the closed ones.
Advantages of Open-Back Headphones
These headphones are light in weight as compared to the closed-back headphones. This is mainly due to the less material used in the earcups. For long sessions, open ones are more comfortable to use. There will be no heat or sweating issues.
With these headphones, you will not notice any sweat or heat building up on your ears even if you use them for hours. This is something that you will not get in closed ones. So, it makes you more comfortable and relaxed.
Overall Sound Quality is Great
Because it features the open earcups, there is no pressure of any kind on the earcups. This non-building up of air pressure results in excellent sound quality. You will notice any minor echoes inside the unit. The sound feels natural and realistic. Open-back headphones have an incredible sound quality, and we can say much better than the closed ones.
Best for mixing and Studio Uses
The sound quality of these headphones is high and crisp. That’s why professionals such as musicians or dubbing artists like open-back headphones. The audio support is also excellent in these headphones. For high-quality audio formats, these are the best.
The last but the most significant difference between the two is of the soundstage. In an open-back headphone, the soundstage is bigger, wider, and deeper than the closed-back headsets. The sound originates from all the sides; hence it is true and deeper.
Open-back models provide a rich and realistic soundstage experience that feels nice. So, if you are using the closed ones, then try these. We are sure that you will like the true and rich sound experience, and it will be something new for you. If you want to experience the magic in sound quality, open headphones are the best for you.
Read more: 10 Best Open Back Headphones
Less isolation than closed headphones.
Sound leaks through these headphones; hence can disturb the others.
No privacy as it leaks sound.
Not suitable for noisy places.