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Best open-back headphones in 2024

With a modern and pretty unique design, open-back headphones provide you with an outstanding listening experience. In other words, they are designed to produce a broad range of soundstages that interact with your surroundings.

However, this is often an issue as they easily leak sound if you listen at higher volumes. Due to this, we’ve come up with the top open-back headphones. So, let’s see how each of them performs and which ones are worth your money and attention.

Top 5 open-back headphones – shortlist

How to choose the best open-back headphones?

As open-back headphones are known for their sound leaking, you will need to focus on a few aspects to choose the best ones. Here are the main criteria:

  • Sound quality. The most important factor to consider when choosing open-back headphones is the sound quality. Open-back headphones are known for their superior soundstage, which means they provide a more natural and spacious sound. This is because the open design allows sound waves to move freely, unlike closed-back headphones, which can make the sound feel trapped.
  • Comfort. Since headphones are often worn for extended periods, comfort is a crucial factor. Look for headphones with padded ear cups and adjustable headbands. Open-back headphones are generally more comfortable than closed-back ones because they allow for better air circulation, reducing heat and pressure on the ears.
  • Open-back design. This is the main characteristic that makes them recognizable. So, you should pay attention to the design, as it contributes to other factors, as well, such as comfort and sound quality.
  • Durability. The durability and build quality of the headphones are also important. High-quality materials not only ensure longevity but can also enhance sound quality. For instance, headphones with metal or wood components often provide a richer, more resonant sound than those made entirely of plastic.
  • Impedance. Impedance is a measure of how much power your headphones need to deliver high-quality sound. Lower impedance (less than 25 ohms) is suitable for use with portable devices like smartphones and laptops. In comparison, higher impedance (over 25 ohms) requires a dedicated amplifier to get the best sound quality.

7 Best open-back headphones – our detailed list

In order to provide you with the best open-back headphones, we tested a few headsets based on their sound quality, comfort, and open-back design. So, here are the 7 best open-back headphones!

1. Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X – sound-rich open-back headphones

Main features: Great sonic transparency, circumaural, dynamic
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:48 ohms

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X headset delivers clear and crisp sounds and an incredibly durable design. Let’s see what else they offer.

Sound quality. The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X offers a great frequency response and comes with STELLAR 45 dynamic drivers. The frequency response shows more treble than is ideal but also greater sub-bass extension than many other open-back headphones. This means the headphones can deliver a wide range of frequencies, from the lowest bass notes to the highest treble notes, providing a rich and detailed sound experience.

Comfort. The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X is described as very cozy to wear. It comes with comfy velour ear pads, which can enhance comfort during long listening sessions. The comfort of these headphones can allow users to enjoy their music for extended periods without discomfort.

Open-back design. The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X is an open-back headphone. This design allows for a more natural sound experience, as it lets some sound escape and prevents pressure build-up in the ear cups. This can result in a wider soundstage and a more immersive listening experience.

2. Samson SR850 – professional recording-compatible open-back headphones

Main features: 10Hz–30kHz frequency response, suitable for various activities, adjusting headband
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:32 ohms

Samson SR850 offers frequency response between 10Hz and 30 kHz, which is accompanied by immersive sounds.

Sound quality. The Samson SR850 is described as having clear, detailed sound, making it great for enjoying music or gaming. They also have a wide soundstage. This provides value to the user by offering a high-quality audio experience, enhancing the enjoyment of music or gaming. The detailed sound can help users pick up on nuances in music or audio cues in games.

Comfort. They’re light and don’t clamp onto your head with too much pressure, but the ear cups are small, so they feel almost like on-ear headphones instead of over-ears.

Open-back design. The Samson SR850 is an open-back headphone, which allows for a more natural and spacious sound. This design can enhance the user’s listening experience by creating a more immersive audio environment.

3. AKG K240 Studio – reliable open-back headphones

Main features: Bass-heavy, Patented Varimotion Transducers, detachable cable
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:55 ohms

The AKG K240 headphones come with an open-back design and some superb sound qualities. Therefore, your listening performance will be great.

Sound quality. The sound is less accurate to studio standards these days, with not a ton of bass volume as expected. However, the voices are very crisp and clear, and you’ll get a natural soundstage.

Comfort. The tension self-adjusting headband, lightweight (only 240g) and generous ear cup size mean they feel comfortable.

Open-back design. Technically, the K240 Studio is considered semi-open back headphones. Effectively, you get the same benefits as well as the sound leakage and absence of isolation you’ll find on any set of open-back headphones.

4. Grado SR80x – open-back headphones that are suitable for different music genres

Main features: Natural sounding, easy to power, open air
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:38 ohms

Grado SR80x has a bit of old-fashioned design, but you’ll still enjoy great and natural-sounding audio content.

Sound quality. The Grado SR80x offers an engaging, detailed midrange and crisp, clear treble. It is recommended for Rock, Folk, and acoustic genres to get the most out of them. The sound quality is a significant upgrade from standard headphones.

Comfort. Some find the Grado SR80x uncomfortable, but this can be fixed by changing the pads.

Open-back design. The Grado SR80x is an open-back headphone that is known for creating a natural and open space when listening to music, much like you would get with full-sized audiophile speakers.

5. Hifiman HE400SE – feature-rich open-back headphones

Main features: Stealth magnets, relaxed mids, treble extension
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:25 ohms

The Hifiman HE400SE headset comes with numerous features that contribute to its amazing sound quality. Here is what else you can enjoy.

Sound quality. The Hifiman HE400SE is tuned to be highly transparent and neutral, impressing with its natural and detailed presentation. The lows are punchy but controlled and never bleed into the midrange, while the treble extension is also great, improving the headphones’ overall energy and soundstage.

Comfort. The Hifiman HE400SE is very well-made and highly comfortable. The air circulates through the open back grills and the hybrid earpads that have velour touching your head instead of leather, keeping the user nice and cool. This feature enhances the user’s listening experience by allowing for extended periods of use without discomfort.

Open-back design. The Hifiman HE400SE features an open-back design, which allows for air circulation and contributes to its sound quality. This design provides a more natural and spacious soundstage, enhancing the user’s listening experience

6. Drop Sennheiser EPOS PC38X – headset with well-balanced soundstage

Main features: Great recording quality, excellent tuning, fantastic mic quality
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:28 ohms

Drop Sennheiser EPOS PC38X cares about the audio quality it produces. Here is everything you should know.

Sound quality. The Drop Sennheiser EPOS PC38X has a well-balanced sound profile with a bump in the high bass range that can help bring out boomy sound effects in games. However, they lack low bass, which is normal for openbacks. The balanced sound profile ensures that all audio elements are heard clearly, enhancing the overall listening experience.

Comfort. The Drop Sennheiser EPOS PC38X is described as very comfortable. They even come with a choice of microfiber or velour ear cup padding, which is nice if the user has a preference. This comfort allows for extended periods of use without discomfort, which is beneficial for long gaming sessions or listening to music for extended periods.

Open-back design. The open-back design of the Drop Sennheiser EPOS PC38X allows for a wider and more spacious passive soundstage than most closed-back gaming headsets. However, it won’t feel as natural as what you get from the higher-end audiophile options on this list.

7. Hifiman Sundara – affordable open-back headphones

Main features: Sound clarity, great bass depth, great design
Sound quality:Excellent
Impedance:30 ohms

Hifiman Sundara are the last headphones we’ve chosen, but this doesn’t make them less worth it. For an affordable price, you’ll enjoy an amazing listening experience.

Sound quality. The Hifiman Sundara is described as having a highly transparent and neutral sound, with punchy lows that don’t bleed into the midrange. The treble extension is also great, improving the headphones’ overall energy and soundstage. It is a very detail-oriented headphone with excellent imaging and separation.

Comfort. The Hifiman Sundara is described as highly comfortable. The air circulates through the open back grills and the hybrid earpads that have velour touching your head instead of leather, keeping the user nice and cool.

Open-back design. The Hifiman Sundara features an open-back design, which allows for a natural and detailed sound presentation. The open-back design also allows for air circulation, keeping the user cool during use.

Comparison of top 3 open-back headphones

Model Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO XSamson SR850AKG K240 Studio
Sound qualityExcellent Excellent Excellent
DurabilityGreat Great Decent
Impedance48 ohms32 ohms55 ohms
Main features
  • Great sonic transparency
  • Circumaural design
  • STELLAR 45 dynamic drivers
  • 10Hz–30kHz frequency response
  • Supports various listening activities
  • Self-adjusting headband
  • Bass-heavy
  • Patented Varimotion Transducers
  • Replaceable parts

How we selected these open-back headphones?

Making the right choice can be difficult, so we narrowed down our selection according to these crucial aspects. Let’s explore them together:

  • Sound quality. This is the most important feature of any headphone. We tested the sound quality by listening to a variety of music genres, from classical to rock, to assess the clarity, depth, and balance of the sound. We also checked for any distortion at high volumes.
  • Build quality. We examined the materials used in the construction of the headphones, looking for durability and quality. We also tested the flexibility of the headband and the strength of the hinges, if any.
  • Design. While this is subjective, we considered the overall aesthetic of the headphones. We looked at the design of the ear cups, the headband, and the cable. We also considered whether the headphones were bulky or sleek.
  • Comfort. Open-back headphones are often used for extended periods, so comfort is crucial. We wore each pair of headphones for several hours to test the comfort of the ear cups and headband. We also considered the weight of the headphones and whether they caused any discomfort over time.

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Benefits of open-back headphones

Open-back headphones come with a number of benefits, superior sound quality being one of them, but not limited to.

  • Superior sound quality. Unlike closed-back headphones, they allow air to pass through the ear cups to the speaker element. This means they don’t produce any pressure build-up or echo, resulting in a more natural and clear sound. This is particularly beneficial for audiophiles and sound engineers who require accurate audio reproduction.
  • Comfort. Open-back headphones are generally more comfortable to wear for long periods. This is because they allow for better air circulation, which prevents your ears from getting hot and sweaty. This is beneficial for anyone who uses headphones for extended periods, such as gamers, office workers, or music enthusiasts.
  • Natural acoustic experience. These headphones provide a more natural acoustic experience. They allow some ambient noise to enter, which can make the audio feel more like it’s coming from the environment around you rather than from inside the headphones. This is beneficial for those who prefer a more natural listening experience or for musicians who want to feel more connected to their surroundings.

The difference between open and closed-back headphones

Open-back headphones produce sounds closer to what we normally hear because their open design allows air to flow through, giving you a clear and lifelike audio experience. Due to this, they are great for mixing, mastering, or simply enjoying high-quality content. They simply offer high-end clarity that’s hard to match.

On the other hand, closed-back headphones block outside noise. Therefore, they’re suitable for a wide range of activities. You should also consider such headsets if you want to have a more heavy-bass experience. More precisely, the sealed design highlights low frequencies, giving you a more robust sound experience.


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