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Best Open-Back Headphones

The best open back headphones are particularly suited to providing a transparent listening experience. Whether you are aiming for a natural sound image or a relatively flat mix, the following open and semi-open headphones can help you achieve this goal.

If you are looking for advice on the best open-back headphones available today, you have come to the right place. In this guide we list our recommendations for a wide range of budgets to help you make a sensible buying choice. But before we get to those recommendations, let’s clarify what open-back headphones are and why you should want to buy them.

Over-ear headphones come in two varieties closed-back and open-back. What is the difference? Closed-back headphones have fully closed ear cups, which means that when you put them on, they completely enclose your ear with a hard outer shell. Although they do a good job of blocking out unwanted outside noise, they can tend to overemphasize bass due to the air pressure that builds up inside the housing. Also, it can seem like the music you’re listening to is coming out of your head.

Open headphones feature vented ear cups that allow air to flow through the outer shell via a mesh of sorts. Many claim that this breathability creates a more natural, open sound with better stereo reproduction, making you feel like you’re in the same room as the musicians you’re listening to. The headphones with the most balanced soundstage may not have the best soundstage or imaging. On the other hand, Studio headphones with spectacular resolution may require a much more expensive amplifier to drive them.

Check the list of Best Open-Back Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X

Beyerdynamic’s new PRO X-series headphones and microphones are intended to complement, not replace, the company’s popular PRO line. Accordingly, Beyerdynamic Studio headphones pains to point out that the DT 900 PRO Xs are not simply a more expensive replacement for the DT 990 PROs(opens in new tab), but rather advanced headphones in their own right.

Aside from the higher price, the main differences are a brand new STELLAR.45 transducer designed for improved performance, and a radically redesigned new look – all smooth matte plastic and slightly deeper versions of the famous soft velour ear pads. The DT 900 PRO Xs offers an impedance of 48 ohms, making it very loud and punchy when connected to a cell phone or laptop, but it’s also more than capable of being connected to an audio interface or studio headphone amplifier.

Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

Maintaining Sennheiser’s preference for large, egg-shaped earcups, the new open headphones in the professional studio monitoring category have impressed critics and customers alike with their lightweight, modern design, neutral and open sound, and ability to deliver mixes that translate well to other playback environments. The best Sennheiser headphones we have tested are the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless.

This capability is further enhanced by the HD 400 Pro’s compatibility with dearVR MIX virtual monitoring software, which can simulate top-of-the-line virtual stereo mixing rooms with carefully engineered acoustics in your DAW and in conjunction with your headphones. In addition, the angled transducer design – a principle inherited from the flagship HD 800 S – enables unique stereo imaging that faithfully reproduces the spatial sound of your mix.

Philips Fidelio X3

The Philips Fidelio X series has been around for many years, and now there’s the X3s – a set of audiophile open headphones that do a lot without spending a lot of money. These Philips headphones are designed to impress with luxurious materials like Scottish Muirhead leather for the headband, acoustically transparent speaker fabric for the outside of the ear cups, and velvet-covered memory foam for the ear cushions.

They also provide a great listening experience. With extra-large 50mm neodymium drivers angled at 15 degrees to match the natural geometry of your ears, they reproduce recorded material with a full, detailed and open sound that makes them a great choice for listening at home.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Featuring specially designed drivers and acoustically transparent aluminum honeycomb fabric housings, the ATH-R70xs are the flagship of Audio-Technica’s Professional Studio headphone series. They deliver accurate and natural open sound and feature a new, improved version of Audio-Technica’s unique “3D-wing” headband design for added comfort during the extended use often required in professional environments.

Since these headphones are designed specifically for professionals, they have an impedance of 470 ohms, which means you’ll need a separate headphone amplifier to get the most out of them. So if you’re looking for headphones for your phone, you might want to look for a different model – perhaps the cheaper, lower impedance ATH-AD500X.

HIFIMAN SUSVARA Over-Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphone

Hifiman’s flagship planar magnetic headphone, the Hifiman Susvara, offers some of the best and most natural sound you’ll find in the TOTL range. The proprietary nanometer-quality gold-coated planar magnetic diaphragm offers premium timbre and very pleasant tuning. The Susvara are also nothing to sneeze at from a technical standpoint, featuring top-notch reproduction and resolution.

The Susvara have a best-in-class midrange that is highly transparent and resolving, without even a hint of graininess or streakiness. Voices are placed directly in front of the listener with great clarity, and even the smallest nuances can be picked up. Acoustic guitars sound sublime, with every single note reproduced with precision.

Final Audio D8000 Pro

Final’s flagship D8000 Pro features a revised orthodynamic driver design inspired by Yamaha’s magnetic planar headphones from the 1980s. They have a clean design language and build quality is as good as it gets at this price point. Wearing comfort is also good, although the heavy ear cups combined with the heavy cable can cause discomfort during prolonged use.

As for the sound, it is almost neutral with a slight dip in the upper mids. In terms of bass and treble performance, the D8000 Pro are very competitive with other TOTL headphones in this price range. It is the midrange that takes a back seat compared to our first choice, the Susvara. However, these are minor differences, and when you consider the significantly lower retail price compared to the Susvara, the D8000 Pro becomes a true second choice.

Sennheiser HD650

The Sennheiser HD650 has been on the market for almost 20 years now and is still loved and recommended by many audiophile circles. The dynamic 40mm drivers have a relatively older design and the headphones themselves look utilitarian. The old driver design is not a problem, as the HD650 still performs well in measurements, and the no-frills look makes it perfect for professional use. There are different types of earbuds, from Sennheiser earbuds for small ears to in-ear headphones.

What sets it apart is its midrange performance. The HD650’s midrange is breathtakingly beautiful. Every subtle articulation of voices, the strumming of acoustic guitars, the undertones of piano keys – they are presented in all their glory. Treble is relaxed, yet airy and expansive. Nothing is forced on the listener; instead, the listener can absorb most of the details at his or her own pace. For the asking price, this level of performance is nothing short of incredible.

HIFIMAN Edition XS

The best mid-range open headphones we tested are the HiFiMan Edition XS. These well-made headphones are usually available for less than half the price of our test winner. They also use planar magnetic drivers instead of dynamic drivers, which makes them more voluminous but allows them to reproduce bass more accurately.

They have a very balanced sound profile with clear, detailed vocals and lead instruments. They also produce a wide, spacious and fairly natural passive soundstage. The headband, while comfortable, feels heavier than other headphones from this manufacturer, which can be uncomfortable during extended listening sessions. They are also less expensive, but deliver less consistent sound and have a poorer passive soundstage.

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

The best open-back headphone under $200 that we tested is the Philips Fidelio X2HR. These over-ears have a very good passive soundstage that seems natural and spacious. Thanks to the auto-adjusting headband, they sit very comfortably and are suitable for long listening sessions. They have a very balanced and neutral sound profile that accurately reproduces voices and lead instruments.

Although like most open-back headphones they struggle to reproduce deep bass, they have a touch of extra warmth and punch in the mid and high bass to balance out their sound. They are also well made and have a detachable audio cable, so you can easily replace the cable if it gets damaged. Unfortunately, they have a very bulky design that is not very portable. They also produce a less natural sounding passive audio than the Sennheiser HD 800 S. However, they are a good choice if you are looking for affordable audiophile headphones.

Koss Porta Pro

Koss has a long history with headphones, and they were the first brand to popularize portable headphones. The Porta Pros were originally launched in 1984 and later replaced with a driver update. The modern version of the Porta Pros are still current and has set standards in the ultra-budget space. They have a V-shaped tuning, which means that the bass and treble are in the foreground. Despite the bass emphasis, the mids are not too recessed and voices come through well.

The highly acclaimed Koss Porta Pro has set global standards for performance and comfort for personal listening. Designed for people with more refined musical tastes, the Porta Pro remains one of the most popular headphones in the world. Known for its high level of comfort, the Porta Pro features adjustable temple pads that relieve pressure on the ears. The lightweight, air-permeable pads keep the listener aware of their surroundings while providing excellent sound.

Final Words

We hope you understand this list and like open-back headphones. The best open-back headphones are better suited for audiophiles as they offer an intense listening experience due to their unique design. Right from the start, you get the impression of being surrounded by a band of musicians, as the natural sound sensation comes from the reduced resonance and moderate ear pressure.

To avoid noise-induced hearing damage, it’s important to purchase Over-Ear headphones that are appropriate for your environment. Open headphones are a great option for people who want to use their headphones in a quiet environment and maximize sound quality.

Kevin Hawk
Kevin Hawk
Over the past several years, Kevin Hawk has been writing about various technology-related topics, including computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys, and smart homes. Outside of his professional life, Rob is quite enthusiastic about riding motorcycles, skiing and snowboarding, and participating in team sports, with football and cricket being two of his favorites.

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