When it comes to open back vs. closed back headphones and which one better? You might need to know first what open back and closed back headphones are and what are their features, advantages and disadvantages. Then you will be able to see the difference.
Technologies have progressed a great deal in the past decades and are continually making advances in critical features comprising clarity, ambience, and vocal systemizations. As the saying goes by, music warms up thoughts and heals the soul.
The modern-day headphones deliver absolute perfection in healing the spirit and mental blockages when comes down to it.
The cutting-edge headphone systems are stupendous in delivery awesome vocals, true sounds, and soft bass to make your isolated listening hours amusing to ears and soul. Here this post is all about the open vs. closed back headphones.
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In theory, there are two kinds of headphones: the open back headphones and the close back headphones. Both the headphone types feature various pros and cons, purposes, and healing properties when listening through them.
There’s also an in-between kind, the semi-open headphones. We will get started with the open back headphones:
What is an Open Back Headphone?
First thing first: Open back headphones aren’t dissimilar in design when compared with the close back ones. The salient distinguishing features are actually the sound deliverance and internal ear cup design, air channeling, and ambience controls.
Open ear headphones are impeccable performers in quiet and isolated settings, such as at home or studio. They feature adequate spaces left for air to pass through when the sound touches eardrums, hence delivering clean, natural, and noise-free vocals without building unnecessary air pressure on your eardrums.
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In isolated surroundings, open back headphones enhance the sound quality and communicate exquisite vocals and music to eardrums.
The open back headphones do not have ambient sound controls because of the gaps left out behind the ear cups. This means that the music will be clearly audible once you wear them around people.
So what’s the purpose? The top advantage of an open back headphone is its spaciousness and clarity. Also, it won’t itch when worn for longer durations. In addition, you can always hear external sounds as the melodies get going.
Another best thing about open back headphones are that the tiny rear holes cancel out the resonances formed by low-frequency sound wave accumulations inside them, which result in true-to-life enchanting sounds throughout.
However, open back headphones aren’t the 10ft water-resistant, shock enduring, and tough-boned devices that get advertised on Amazon every other second. They can be as fragile as a headphone set can get. The significance is clarity rather the toughness.
Open back headphones do not resist moistures from accumulating the sound drivers and must be worn and kept with care.
- Open back headphones bring awesome vibes when worn indoors
- Incredible sound quality
- Airy feel and spacious design extends listening sessions to hours without burns and itches
- Best headphones for studios i.e. mixing, audio effects, or lyrical edits
- The open back airflow reduces pressure and provides comforting listening experience
- Open back headphones cannot be used outdoors
- The perforations do not allow air pressure be accumulated inside the headphones and leaks sound to the surroundings.
- The open back headphone circuitry is always exposed to rust and moistures.
- The airy back grills allow free air passage, thus allowing more distractions when listening with open back headphones.
- A bit fragile; requires additional care.
What is a Close Back Headphone?
Close back headphones, as the label implies, have a closed, practically sealed rear. The airtight back blocks most of the outside noise and concurrently restricts the internal sound drivers from flinging the echoes outside.
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This creates a near-perfect isolated listening environment when commuting in public, jogging, swimming, at gym, or in the office cabin.
When buying a close back headphone, compare ear cup diameter, the bigger is always the better here. Bigger ear cups completely enclose earlobes and deliver stunning isolation from ambiance.
They are also quite rugged in constructed, thanks to their vacuum-packed exteriors that avert moisture and rust from entering the internal circuitry.
Close back headphones are multipurpose instruments for outdoor listening, studios, and at times for professional sound mixing. The audio professionals utilize them to prevent echoes in studio environment. Being the widely preferred listening devices, close back headphones are more sophisticated in design and body compared with open back headphones.
Contrariwise, sealed back headphones aren’t as classy in sound production as are open ones. The internal sound jam swells low-frequency notes which eventually result in unnatural vocal obstructions.
These sound reverberations result in heat dissipation inside the close back headphones and disturb the tones and melodies of the sound drivers.
The bass production is quite phenomenal in close back headphones yet the plusses are squared off by low frequency humming inside the ear cups.
- Perfect isolation to external ambience
- Best for outdoors
- Sealed back protects internal elements, extending the lifecycle of headphones
- Rocky construction
- Excellent bass boost
- Effective noise isolation
- Little to no sound and air leakage in close back headphones
- Enhanced acoustics with low vibrations in high-end close back headphones
- The close back design prevents echoes when recording vocals in studios
- A tad affordable than open back headphones
- The acoustics get mixed up when worn for longer durations
- Not as brilliant and symmetrical sounds as in open back headphones
- The closed back generates excessive pressure on eardrums
- Not advisable to wear close back headphones when driving
What is a Semi-Open Headphone?
There’s another category that promises to deliver the accuracy of open back and the isolation properties of close back headphones.
The semi-open headphones differ slightly from close back buds for their small openings in the rear, which make them pass enough air through the rear chambers to reduce resonance and low-frequency accumulation when listening through them.
The natural sound in semi-open headphones is somehow retained alongside delivering enough bass boosts alongside preventing music leakage.
Semi-open headphones, however, retain the fragility featured in full open headphones. They aren’t as rugged as close back but somehow better equipped to endure slight shocks when tested.
Also, semi-open headphones aren’t resilient against the moisture and rust accumulation. Extra care must be kept in order to keep them up and running. Semi open back headphones are slightly affordable than open backs.
They are somehow great for home listening, they do not fare well when commuting in public or at a busy office.
Open Back vs. Closed Back Headphones: Key Differences
Both the headphone types are ideal for certain listening conditions. Open Back is perfect for home and studio listening/mixing purposes. Close back, however, are best for listening to music when there are distractions around you.
The Open back headphones deliver enhanced bass boost for multiple genres, whereas close back headphones are optimal for classical and soft musical experiences.
The frequency disturbances are eliminated by airy back in open headphones, hence delivering itch-free and soothing sound quality for hours.
Close back though passively isolate background noises, but still produce contextual hissing and humming phenomenon because of the low-frequency build-ups inside the sealed back of the ear cups.
If you are a bass enthusiast, close back headphones are must-have; go for them. Otherwise, find a good airy headphone to delight your auditory feelers when no one’s around.
Scientifically, the air leakage in open back headphones is a disguised blessing as it tips over the air pressure on your eardrum and let listeners the real feel of the sound quality.
Open back headphones are lightweight and efficient when processing musical notes and tones to audiophiles. The bass isn’t that good as in close back because of the sound leakage through the airy medium.
The sound seepage in open headphones might also be discomforting for your colleagues or partner. So, it is suitable to wear open backs for exquisite musical vibes when no one’s around.
The vital difference is that close back headphones deliver measured isolation without any active noise cancelling circuitry in the device.
In contrast, open back headphones are not so good in isolation but they produce accurate sound compared to close back counterparts.
Noise cancelling in-ear headphones are designed with closed ear cups to provide maximum passive isolation from surroundings. They are compact and comprise additional circuit elements to convey maximum clearance from various outdoor disturbances.
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Though close back headphones create expressively secluded ambience when worn, they lack spaciousness and freedom offered by open back headphones.
Open back headphones are larger in size and impressive in vocal distributions throughout the listening zones.
The sound emanations are in complete harmony with the environment with open headphones. The excess bass and sounds are diffused to the outside environment with only the clear-pitched tones hitting your eardrums.
In contrast, close back headphones accumulate all the sound notes and channel it to the listening buds for maximized audibility from the sound drivers to eardrums.
This eliminates ambience from entering earholes and generate exquisite milieu even with packed crowds surrounding the listener.
The strengths and weaknesses of both the headphone types visibly determine users’ choice on which one to go for. There are instances when both the open and close back headphones would do the job well enough.
Make your choice appropriately when going for a purchase. Analyze the usage and buy accordingly to get the best out of your investment.
Faizan Ali is a Master in Computer Sciences and has been writing content for computing, gaming and mobile technologies since 2016. He has written content for number of online magazines, websites and blogs and now writes for “the buyers trend”. Feel free to contact him for any sort of writing for your technology related blog, website or magazine.