After one of our best reviews, we now have a list of the best available back headphones on the market at the moment. We looked at cans across a huge range of prices and performances. Some of our best picks were expected, but a few will surprise you. From our tests, the Sennheiser HD 599 appeared as the most effective open back headphones for the price.
That is the term I like to use to describe open back headphones.
Contrary to their closed rear brethren, the noise in open back headphones feels like it is”breathing”. Considering that the back is open, noise from the environment can escape and enter the cans. This produces a sense of”roominess” and space that’s missing from closed headset. There’s absolutely no isolation; noise leaks (and passes ) to the surroundings. It is like wearing speakers in your ears.
Purchasing open back headphones isn’t easy. Unless you know precisely what you’re searching for, you’ll quickly get confused with the sheer variety of available choices. And even once you zero down on what you would like, who’s to say you will not be diverted by delicious deal on a set of cans that’s just from your budget?
Which is why I’ve taken a slightly different approach for this review. Rather than categorizing cans by cost — because I did in my best studio cans roundup — I have sorted them based on buying criteria: functionality, price, value for money, etc..
- 1 Best Open Back Headphones
- 2 Best Open Back Headphones Ever
- 3 Best Budget Open Back Headphones
- 4 Best Open Back Headphones Under $500
- 5 Best Open Back Headphones Under $300
- 6 Best Open Back Headphones Under $200
- 7 Best Open Back Headphones Under $150
- 8 Best Open Back Headphones Under $100
- 9 Top Rated Cinematic Headphones
- 10 Best Budget Gaming Open Back Headphones
- 11 Best Value Open Back Headphones
- 12 Best Cheap Gaming Open Back Headphones
- 13 Open Back vs Closed Back
- 14 Frequently Asked Questions
Best Open Back Headphones
Overall, this is an expansive exercise. We ended up searching at more than 30 headphones across a huge selection of prices. I had firsthand reviews of most of these headphones. For many others, I relied upon input from friends and fellow-bloggers in the recording/audiophile community.
Before I do a deep dive into all of the offerings on the market, Here Is a Glance at my best picks for the top open headset:
Just because you are a budget buyer doesn’t mean you have to settle for poor performance and dodgy build quality.
My criteria for this particular category was price above everything else. Although I had a budget limitation, I tried to find the least expensive open back headphones on the marketplace which deliver acceptable performance. After evaluating almost a dozen headphones, here is my list of the top open headset for budget buyers:
Best Open Back Headphones Ever
Sennheiser HD 800 S is a beautiful bit of open-back headphone engineering, there is no other way to put it.
They’re hand-assembled in Germany and represent the evolution of the first Sennheiser HD 800 model released around ten years ago.
We don’t usually review things and headphones in this price range, but because of the exact well-executed press release campaign and many big promises made by Sennheiser — it was hard to discard them.
The HD 800 S is the Sennheiser’s most expensive headset available to the public. There’s also a 55,000 Orpheus, however it is hardly something that you can purchase off-the-shelf.
Although the Sennheiser HD 800 S hasn’t altered much visually in comparison to the original, the quality of the headphones such as materials and construct has jumped to a new level.
Conversely, on the inside, superior Alcantara material is used.
The plan is so’open’ as you can see the driver and nearly touch it. The back is well protected, but you may still want to keep them indoors to be sure they are not exposed to sand, dirt, water or any other debris.
Contrary to its predecessor, the Sennheiser HD 800 S includes an XLR jack cable. The cable layout which works well for equilibrium connectors and amplifiers. A very welcome addition of a handy feature that costs a few hundred bucks by itself.
Sennheiser HD 800 are relatively large, as they would readily cover almost any ear size. At the exact same time, on account of the high-quality materials utilized in structure — they’re also quite lightweight.
The earpads feature a very comfortable design and manage to disperse the strain around the ear perimeter quite evenly and consistently.
The inside ear cushioning and the headband are created from Alcantara, making the cans ultra-soft and comfortable to wear. In reality, they are one of the most comfy full-size headphones we’ve ever tested.
Knowing the operation of the original Sennheiser HD 800, we were prepared for the new version to blow us away. And it did. Again.
The soundstage produced by Sennheiser HD 800 S is quite simply — second to none. Playing with perfection, the cans redefine what a clear, balanced and thorough sound is. Their broad frequency response goes well beyond what the human ear could enroll.
The sound landscape is pushing the limits of what the cans can physically produce. It’s expansive, with fantastic breadth and detail where you are able to hear and feel every single instrument down to its each note.
The treble sounds a lot more natural yet still notable compared to the predecessor, which has been slightly overwhelming and piercing.
The bass response is slightly emphasized, but insufficient for your bass fans to enjoy. If you are among them, you may need to have fun with EQ amounts to acquire more of it. In the end of the day, Sennheiser has pursued sound authenticity, clarity, and fidelity with this headset and they’ve definitely done it. The result is superior sound to any pair of open backs we’ve ever tested.
With near perfect sound balance across the frequency array , the cans manage to maintain their composure even in the highest volume. Whichever soundtrack we threw at Sennheiser HD 800 S and no matter how loud or busy it was, the noise remained distortion and resonance-free.
Best Budget Open Back Headphones
We have heard many great things about Samson SR850 headphones. In fact, perhaps too many, considering that the headphones sit well within the $50 price range.
The plethora of positive comments has made us very curious and we’ve decided to provide these budget headphones a fantastic run for their money.
The cans have reasonably plain, cheap and fairly boring packaging.
From the box, except that the cans itself, you receive a 1/4 jack adapter and that is pretty much it. Not much to be excited about so far…
Visually, you may notice some resemblance with AKG K240 headphones (which we’ve also reviewed below) since they both share the double metal band design.
The material quality does not blow you away, yet the cans feel durable and hardy both wearing and holding them . They are also surprisingly lightweight, which isn’t typical for headphones of this size and level of ruggedness.
The Samson SR850 comes with a semi-open-back design which is ultimately a compromise between a closed back and open back kind headphones. This means that they do block some ambient noise, yet not as far as closed-back headphones.
The good thing is that the headphones are designed to operate with portable devices. They’ve a minimal amount of impedance, so you do not need an expensive amplifier to drive them.
Wearing the headphones at first feels a bit tight. It does ease off over time, yet in the event that you would like to speed up this procedure, you are able to bend the metal framework just a little bit to reduce the pressure on the ears. The leather headband may be used to adjust the height to make sure a comfortable and secure fit.
Once you get your ring tightness sorted and have the headphones on, the ear cups with velour padding feel very comfy. You can easily wear them over extended intervals, which is particularly surprising given the headphone’s price point.
The quality of the sound? That is where Samson SR850 excels compared to the competition in its budget. The headphones instantly surprise you with a wide and generous soundstage. Not the widest and mot the most immersive we’ve experienced, but undoubtedly the best in the price range.
The cans are capable of generating frequency response from 10Hz to 30kHz range which is great for headphones with 50mm drivers. The audio quality is largely balanced and comprehensive across the frequency spectrum. The highs may come across as overly bright for some, as we feel they’re somewhat overemphasized.
Overall, the sound quality is unmatched within the budget range. We discovered that some headphones which are double the cost find it hard to match the audio performance of Samson SR850, which is quite impressive.
Speaking of the audio quality drawbacks, it’s a challenge to complain, particularly considering that SR850 would be the cheapest cans in our inspection. However, if we had to be picky, we believe the noise is missing some’depth’ and can come across as somewhat blunt at times.
Samson SR850 are extremely inexpensive headphones which sit amongst the best budget available back headphones on the market. Yes, visually they’re fairly plain and borderline dull. At the same time, the noise they figure out how to create will leave some of the mid-range headphone jealous.
Best Open Back Headphones Under $500
Sennheiser HD 660 S is the latest set of high-end open-back headphones from Sennheiser. The cans are released to replace the current cans at the HD 6xx line, for example HD600 and HD 650.
This is a major deal, since the former line-up has shown some serious staying power. It was recognized by enthusiastic audiophiles searching for the very open and dynamic audio experience.
Let’s see if they’ve.
The plan is very similar and at times identical to the older agents of the HD 6xx line-up. In reality, the design goes all of the way back to 1997 when the original HD 600 was released. Since that time, only some minor changes have been made to the headset design.
The headphones are built by a quality matt plastic that does not leave stains or fingerprints. The open metal mesh grills around the outside have the Sennheiser logo engraved into it on every side. Overall, the all-black look feels classy and more premium than the prior models.
Although the back is very open and you may see the driver mounting through the grill, the headphones have a strong and a sturdy feel.
The most important update to mention is the new neodymium drivers. Sennheiser has halved the first impedance from 300 Ohm to 150 Ohm in an endeavor to generate the headphones more portable device favorable. I would, however, refrain from using cellular devices to electricity HD 660 S as 150 Ohm is still a lot to ask. At the same, if you’re seriously interested in using these headphones while on the head, a portable amplifier is highly recommended.
The earpads are now slightly softer and deeper. This leaves them more comfortable for extended use compared to the earlier models.
The cans clamp firmly around the head with sufficient power to sit closely and firmly without affecting the comfort or falling away.
The Sennheiser HD 660 S possess a medium-wide soundstage, second to only the powerful HD 800 S we’ve reviewed previously. The instruments sound quite detailed, different and precisely positioned. They are clearly separated allowing you to capture individual notes with relative ease.
The new model includes a number of improvements to tackle some of the week points of HD 600 and HD 650. They no longer seem to possess the rattling in the midbass department as the sound reproduction is a lot clearer now. With the help of computer-optimized magnet system, Sennheiser has addressed that the harmonic and intermodulation distortion that has now greatly diminished. Additionally, the lightweight voice coils made of aluminum assist to improve transient response.
Overall, the headphones deliver a more lively sound experience which makes the transients faster, clearer and more elegant. There’s now more energy at high frequencies, and the low-mid range section comes out full and rich.
The same as with the earlier versions, the mid century frequencies are the highlight of HD 660 S. Even though the mids aren’t as’in front’ as using all the previous models, they are still quite prominent. It makes the entire sound more balanced and fun. Vocals and violin come across so clear, natural and distinct that it gives you goosebumps. Overall, those are one of the best mids you can purchase under $500.
The sub-bass, nevertheless, feels slightly unfulfilled at times, which can be a feature on most open-back headphones including most of HD 6xx headphones, so not much has changed in this department.
If you are a solid purist looking for the most natural audio experience you might want to think about other possibilities, for example Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. They have a slightly wider soundstage, more heat, equilibrium, and more neutral sound. However, if you are seeking reference headset perfection with the most comprehensive noise and simply stunning mids — that the Sennheiser HD 660 S is among the very best open-back cans under $500 on the market.
Best Open Back Headphones Under $300
Grado SR325e is a flagship model in the Prestige Series lineup replacing the formerly prosperous SR325 famous for its excellent sound quality.
There’s most likely no need to introduce Grado, since the firm has been hand-crafting headphones in Brooklyn since 1953.
They are family owned and run company that takes pride in high-quality sound, customs, and their generation-long heritage.
The outside style of SR325e hasn’t changed over the past 50+ years and carries proud family attributes.
Grado is quite proud of the iconic Prestige Series design from mid last century. It has not changed for a very long time, and as anticipated, it hasn’t altered for SR325e.
Actually, we found that the Grado unique layout will polarize people as some love the retro appearance whereas others quite openly dislike it. We fall into the former category as we believe it provides a certain charm to cans.
The build quality is exceptional as the headphones feel quite strong, sturdy and composed.
It is worth mentioning the cups could rotate 360-degrees. Initially, we did not think it was a notable characteristic, but after we have discovered it to be useful when sporting the headset around the neck.
Among the distinct features of SR325e is their foamy ear pads, that can be plain and perfectly round. Grado has confirmed that those earpads contribute to the overall Grado’s noise signature and their heritage.
We found that it does not fit all ear kinds perfectly because of not being big enough to cover the entire ear and not little enough to rest comfortably on the ear. Besides, the extended use tends to tire the ears a bit. Nothing important, just not like other headphones have it.
Despite the metallic ear cups, the SR325e feel reasonably lightweight on the mind. The grip is good but not too tight as the headphones feel well secured even when turning your mind quickly. The headband can be easily adjusted to find a better match.
Speaking about Grado’s heritage, it is predominantly their sound signature that’s notable across their product range. They aren’t about a punching bass, warmth or exquisite hights. The business has spent decades refining what they believe in — lively and detailed sound.
If you have not heard of Grados earlier, it might be worth trying and probably buying. The amount of details that the headphones can reproduce is simply incredible.
SR325e reproduce any music genre superbly (possibly except hip-hop), however they like instrumental music the most. Musical instruments come out in a delicate, sharp and perfectly imaged method. The sound is deep, clear and as accurate as it ever gets producing a really amazing pure audio experience.
Conversely, the low carb is the place where SR325e lacks the most. At precisely the same time, we have heard Grados earlier, and the lack of performance in the bass section was somewhat expected. The bass accent is simply part of the Grado’s home sound pedigree. Do not get me wrong, the bass is within the frequency range, but it lacks a punch.
Grado SR325e is an exceptional bit of sound technology. If you’re looking for sparkling details, crystal clear audio and beautiful depth, look no more. Unless you happen to be a bass lover, these are the greatest open headset under $300 by a country mile. In fact, they can easily challenge other headphones that cost twice as much.
Best Open Back Headphones Under $200
The original version of Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Premiered over a decade ago, in 2004.
Some might think the headphones are obsolete, but we believe that getting them stick out for so long means a whole lot.
The cans have been intentionally built for professional studio mixing and mastering, yet they are equally as great for home use.
Although Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the second most expensive open headset in Beyerdynamic’s line up, they signify a staggering price.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro studio cans are built predominantly using plastic, except the metal headband that holds them together. Although it does manage bending nice, they do not instill the ruggedness we would love to see.
Additionally, the wire linking the headset cups is subjected to an old-school way. Be mindful not to hinge it on something by accident as it could get damaged.
The headband has soft padding wrapped round it which is secured with two bolts at each end.
All in all, the layout is minimalistic featuring a truly retro/classic layout.
The cups are comparatively big which should fit around most consumers’ ears. Unlike a number of different headphones, the earpads on DT 999 Pro are made from memory foam and wrapped in velour material which makes them very soft and plush. The combination of memory foam, velour covered ear pads and padded leatherette headband, creates an amazing feeling of comfort allowing you to wear the headphones over long sessions easily.
Regardless of the above-average clamping force and tightness to provide a secure fit, the DT 990 Pro supply long-lasting comfort. In fact, they are the most comfortable headphones in our inspection, by quite some margin.
The audio quality is the thing that makes DT 990 Pro truly special. Actually, it is the only reason that the headphones have stayed around for such a long time.
The lows are present, but not highlighted, which is typical for most open headset. Some audiophiles may argue that the cans have insufficient bass, others think there is too much of it. We believe that it is dependent upon the soundtrack. In case the soundtrack has reduced frequencies, then they’ll get replicated.
The mids are great, yet sound slightly emphasized on all the soundtracks we’ve played. The vocals are clear and comprehensive, and the musical instruments are well separated. This is partially because of not having overpowered lows or highs, maintaining the sound balanced across the frequency range.
The highs are also well current, perhaps slightly elevated, but not too. They’re delivered consistently across the volume range with no distortion observed.
The cans have an impressive dynamic range that makes them very effective at replicating detailed sounds at both low and high volumes. This is one of the chief reasons that put DT 990 Pro among the most effective open-back cans for mixing and studio monitoring.
DT 990 Pro are definitely the most comfortable studio headphones in our review by a long shot which makes them ideal for listening. They were originally designed for studio applications, but we discovered they operate at home just also. The headphones deliver a well-balanced, clean and precise audio across the frequency range making them the best open headset under $200. But, remember that with relatively high impedance level, you want an amplifier to allow them to really glow.
Best Open Back Headphones Under $150
AKG K 240 MKII would be the specialist semi-open studio cans which have been released to replace the aging predecessor AKG K 240.
Even though the last version had its issues it was widely employed by many top recording studios for many decades.
The headphones still represent the most prosperous example of this K series in AKG’s range. It sells the best and has generated the heritage the company is well known for.
The plan of AKG K240 MKII remains true to K chain roots and hasn’t changed a great deal during the past 40 years.
Materials used are of an ordinary quality which is a little disappointing. At the exact same time, headphones feel sturdy and given the price point, it’s more than realistic.
From the box, there are two cords which are 3 and 5 meters long and coiled. The strings are easily interchangeable as a result of the quick-release mechanism integrated into the left cup.
The headphones are comparatively large, but surprisingly light, which functions well over the long sessions. The earcups are still circular, along with the headband still uses a retro design slider.
The earpads that come fitted are all made from vinyl and are comparatively firm. The next pair features a larger size and softer texture as the outside is made from velvet.
The majority of the complaints with the original version were related to the comfortable level and fit. The new version aims to address those issues and mainly succeeds at it.
The relaxation has been enhanced with better quality earpads and an extra pair of softer and bigger earpads being contained in the box. The headband is self-adjusting and obviously follows the contour of your mind.
The fit remains an issue to a certain degree. The earcups still feature an exactly round shape which doesn’t perfectly align with all ear contours. Most of the time, we discovered the earpads to be too large or too small for the ears.
The total sound performance could be described as balanced and smooth whereas the frequency response as clear and flat.
The highs are bright and sharp on many tracks that are delivered at a refined but a somewhat delicate method. You can’t escape a sense that the highs are walking too close to the’harsh’ territory’, yet they never end up crossing it.
If we had to select a frequency range at which we think the AKG K240 MKII stands out it would be the mids. They come out rich, thick yet very smooth and natural. Device sounds are delivered separated, detailed, and they do not step on each other when the scene gets active. The vocals reproduction is fairly detailed which ought to be enough to please most critical listeners.
The bass department is lacking punch and drive which is our principal dilemma with AKG K240 MKII. Although we are far from being bass fans, the entire low-frequency range comes across as too subtle.
AKG K240 MKII are great and they have a lot to offer in the mid-range department. The headphones are suited to audiophiles searching for a tranquil and smooth sound. It is going to also suit studio sound engineers using the headphones for monitoring, mixing and editing. All in all, the headphones are well-priced which makes them among the best open headset under $150.
Best Open Back Headphones Under $100
If you are looking for the greatest open-back headphones under $100, then ATH AD700X should be surely in your shortlist.
The headphones are designed and marketed for audiophiles but predominantly target users.
They include a two-year restricted end-user guarantee in the bundle for additional reassurance.
However, has this pair of budget cans were able to deliver the above budget results? Let us find out.
The first thing you notice is how large the headphones are. The ear cups are big and circular featuring metallic mesh grills on the outside making the cans almost entirely open-air.
The casing is constructed from lightweight aluminum, which reduces weight and also slightly enhances the audio quality.
The highlight layout feature is both self-adjusting 3D support paddles. Those flaps replace the timeless leather or cloth strap typically found on other over-ear headset.
Aside from the 3D paddles, the ATH AD700X appears dull and a little boring. If you’re interested in finding eye-catching headphones, then this is probably not the cans for you. In the event the appearances aren’t that important for you, keep studying, better things are coming.
Thanks to self-adjusting 3D wing service paddles, the headphones feel light and generate a comparatively small workforce. In fact, this lightness produces a false sense of match insecurity, which makes you excessively cautious with your head movement until you get used to it.
The paddles allow tailoring a good fit for most head shapes with ease.
To further improve comfort, the ATH AD700X feature soft cushions with additional cushioning. Despite the massive ear cup size, the padding takes a fair bit of distance which means that people with bigger ears might not have a perfect fit.
The ATH AD700X includes the newly designed 53mm drivers coupled with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. This combination makes a really distinctive and vivid sound experience. The soundstage width is outstanding, unlike anything else in this budget.
The vocal and musical instrument separation is exceptional and will rival the cans that are just two or three times the cost.
The general frequency response range is largely neutral. The lows exist but are missing a punch. The highs are comprehensive but sometimes can come across slightly piercing depending on the soundtrack. At precisely the exact same time, it is likely to improve with the longer running-in times. Mids are reproduced slightly emphasized with vocals being clear and present.
All in all, the ATH AD700X are great for listening. Their selling point is a very wide and airy soundstage which does not possess a contest at this price point. The headphones figure out how to replicate soundtracks with amazing fidelity which makes them among the finest available back headphones under $100 to purchase.
Top Rated Cinematic Headphones
The Philips X2HR is an upgraded variant of a well-known Philips X2, that was, in its own turn, a replacement of the mythical X1.
X2HR have obtained some rather subtle upgrades this time around. In reality, a few audiophiles also fail to hear the differences in audio reproduction between X2 and X2HR.
The problem is that Philips did not disclose the changes made, but according to our testing and research, the fluctuations are restricted to the headband and the earpads.
The headband currently features soft padding for enhanced comfort. The earpads are now more breathable but may no more be replaced as they’re glued to the cup.
The cans feature an all-black layout which looks elegant and sleek. The adjustable headband currently features a genuine leather giving it a marginally premium feel.
The build quality is strong, and the materials used are all top-notch. The frame feels rugged and composed that gives it a fantastic amount of resistance to physical damage.
The cups have been put at 15-degree angle to ensure that the sound is projected into your eardrums.
Staying true to the very best traditions of this Fidelio X lineup, the headphones feature 50mm drivers using layered motion control diaphragm. The diaphragm hosts a special layer of gel designed to soften the overstated frequencies. It guarantees that a smoother, more elegant and authentic sound experience throughout the frequency range.
The headphones have been designed with a wide assortment of playback apparatus in mind.
Comfort and fit are among the strongest regions of X2HR. The upgraded earpads are made of a memory foam wrapped in soft velour. The new material makes cushions exceptionally breathable and assists with pressure distribution in addition to heat dissipation.
The headband includes a self-adjusting headband suspension system that stretches out the headband for you. In general, they feel very comfy to wear over longer intervals.
The X2HR are great at creating a open and spacious soundstage. They give you an authentic feel of standing in the front of the speakers instead of wearing headphones. The drums, piano and other central instruments come out very separated with loads of space between them.
The midrange is very dynamic as it could smoothly and promptly transition to higher or lower frequencies with ease. It is slightly recessed, but it doesn’t impact the frequency range too much as it feels balanced.
With mids being pushed back slightly, the vocals sound somewhat further away than normal. But they’re very clear and carry a true sense of realism.
As advertised, the treble is transparent, and although slightly emphasized, it is not piercing and doesn’t hurt the ears. The highs come out detailed keeping a good and constant composure even at higher volumes.
The low end is the place where cans truly glow. What’s more, it might be X2HR’s calling card. If you have read other reviews, you might have discovered that open-back headphones are notoriously weak in the bass section as it’s technically tricky to make an open, airy soundstage and possess a prominent bass response.
The bass becomes delivered with pristine precision and a ideal punchiness. It is tight, detailed but does not feel overpowering and blends with the remainder of the frequency range well. The taut bass provides a level of enjoyment into the overall accurate and precise sound reproduction. It is most likely inadequate to make the bass happy, but for the individuals who welcome that extra touch of lows or likes gaming — that the Phillips X2HR are nearly perfect.
Phillips X2HR are one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve ever tested. They supply a solid build quality and an wonderful all-black look. They create an incredibly wide sound stage which provides an wonderful feeling of varying thickness an width. The frequency response is geared towards a general use with mids being slightly recessed and lows somewhat elevated.
Overall, the exceptional sound signature makes Phillips X2HR perfect for general usage and definitely among the best open back headphones for gambling.
Best Budget Gaming Open Back Headphones
The audio for this song featured a comfortable pair of cans: the AKG K240.
The AKG K240s were enormous from the’80s. They had been the recording gear of choice for several of producers. For a while, they were AKG’s flagship model (a mantle now taken over by the K702).
That you’ll be able to purchase those iconic, decade-defining headphones for under three amounts is a testament to just how much audio technology has improved through the years.
Although unchanged, the K240s still maintain a big following among producers and casual listeners alike. They are flat, nimble, and have well-balanced sound. Casual listeners might find this a little dull, but for critical listening, you will find several better options in this price range.
The dual headband design together with the broad padding makes these one of the more comfy headphones you will wear. These are semi-open headphones so they’re not as open or breathable as fully open-back headset. Considering that the design is literally unchanged from the 70s, the K240s possess a decidedly retro look. This is an iconic design. It might lack the flair of more modern cans, but it is instantly recognizable. The build quality is not exceptional but good enough for this price range.
The mid century and trebles are highly well-balanced in the K240s. The bass, however, is mediocre and lacks thickness. Besides bass-heavy genres, you’ll delight in using them for pretty much everything.
On the whole, the AKG K240s are iconic headphones that appear decidedly retro and boast a known, balanced audio profile. There are far better sounding options on the market (even in AKG’s very own stable), but with this price, the K240s are impossible to conquer.
I would recommend the AKG K240s to anyone from the budget range. They’re ideal for critical listening and boast a classic, proven design and sound profile. And all for a cost in the double digits.
Best Value Open Back Headphones
The HiFiMan HE-400i is an upgraded model of a hugely successful HE-400 which were the best selling headphones at the history of the brand.
The original HE-400 audiophile-grade, planar magnetic headphones were published in 2012.
They’ve created a great deal of excitement when they came out and now, half a decade after, are due for a makeover.
Has HiFiMan managed to enhance their iconic headphones? The short answer is’yes’ and they’ve managed to get it done in every respect.
The same as the original version, the HE-400i homes single-sided’planar magnetic’ flat drivers. This invention had caused a stir after the original HE-400 came out. The new drivers are designed from scratch with the objective to enhance the very low end and supply a better audio image overall.
The headphones have been designed for home and basic usage including watching films, playing games or listening to music. Additionally, it usually means that the receiver or an amplifier was assumed to drive the cans. This is not to say that mobile devices cannot drive HE-400i since they could. But if you want to uncover the full potential of this outstanding set of headphones, an external amp will be highly recommended.
The cable is now shorter, reduced from 3 to 1.5 meters however, it comes with gold-plated 3.5millimeter connectors. It features a Y shape end with detachable straps. It usually means that both cups have to be linked to the cord, unlike other versions where the motorists are emptied via the wire hidden in the headband.
Although HE-400i are mostly made of plastic, they still have a fantastic sense, and the overall headphone construction seems to be hardy.
Comfort has greatly improved in comparison with original headset. HE-400i are now 30% lighter which makes them comfortable to wear over long listening sessions.
The headphones feature a brand-new headband design that also improves the overall match. They clamp consistently around the head evenly distributing pressure and practically eliminating fatigue. Many listeners, however, may get the workforce slightly surplus.
The earpads also have been updated with better, softer and more refined materials like high-quality synthetic leather and velour.
The HE-400i produce a more refined and balanced sound when compared with the predecessor. As a result of this planar magnetic drivers, the sound carries a fantastic deal of clarity and transparency.
The midsize tends to be placed slightly forward and can be delivered with an incredible amount of details. The vocals are crystal clear and lively making the mid-range reproduction among the very realistic in our review.
The treble isn’t very pronounced and possibly slightly over-extended because it provides a lot of room to the mid-range. Regardless, it is quite precise and detailed, yet more like sitting at the back.
The lows are well defined, but like most open-back headphonesthey lack a while. The bass is reproduced quite consistently, yet slightly more sub-bass would have made the noise experience more’full body’. The lows are nicely separated and might work for almost any listener except that the bass lovers.
They aren’t cheap, but if you are looking for an audiophile-grade, high-end quality, HiFiMan HE-400i packs an incredible amount of value. Sterling sound reproduction, excellent build quality, comfortable fit, and good looks make them among the very best worth open-back headphones on the market for casual listening or even professional use.
Best Cheap Gaming Open Back Headphones
The Philips SHP9500S is a smaller brother of the mightly X2HR that we’ve reviewed previously.
The cans share a similar layout, build quality and looks.
The SHP9500S is positioned as a budget alternative for audiophiles and critical listeners.
The headphones are designed for general use including gaming, movies, music and pretty much anything as long as you are using them inside.
With a price tag well below $100 — what do you expect from SHP9500S? Let us find out!
The first thing you notice is a strong build quality which you don’t generally see at a budget range. Maybe the earpad padding is the only thing which looks and feels somewhat out of place concerning quality.
Despite their reasonably large dimensions, the headphones feel sturdy and lightweight. The headband is constructed from steel and holds the cups securely together giving a good sense of ruggedness.
The headphones are powered by 50-millimeter high-precision neodymium speaker drivers designed to provide a balanced, hi-fi sound across the frequency range.
The cups are extremely large, even for a full-size, over the ear headphones. They let tons of air through, maintaining the ears cool and ventilated.
Not often do you obtain budget headphones with premium relaxation qualities and SHP9500S has done exactly that.
The headband is extremely comfortable due to the double-layered soft padding. It features a self-adjusting mechanism that offers an even clamping pressure distribution.
Even though the earcups aren’t made of the same quality material as the rest of the headphone, it suits the purpose nicely. The cushions are breathable and soft helping distribute the pressure around the ears equally.
Overall, the relaxation that SHP9500S be able to create would be best in class. Moreover, they are easily able to rival more superior versions that are 3 times the price.
The soundstage delivered by SHP9500S is decent for the budget range headphones since it’s fairly broad and spacious. It features an extremely clean and true musical instrument separation.
The total sound signature could be considered as somewhat midrange-centric. The vocals are put slightly forward sharing the stage along with different tools, nevertheless keeping a fair distance. The mids are reproduced clearly without any sibilance.
Like most other open headset, the SHP9500S deficiency a sub-bass region of the low-frequency range. At the same time, they lack it a lot less than most of the competition. The lows are reproduced in a balanced and detailed manner, which makes the bass current and textured. The slight downside is the bass reproduction is not very consistent sometimes leaving you wondering — is it soundtrack or the headphones?
Lastly, the treble is doing a normal job. The highs may come across as slightly piercing and sharp occasionally. They’re also a little over-emphasized. The fantastic news is that the treble can be adjusted together with the EQ along with the headphones respond nicely to those changes.
The Philips SHP9500S are truly wonderful. In fact, this is the closest one will ever get to true audiophile headphones under $100. They are among the very versatile open-back cans in our review so long as you stick to home applications. So far as gaming is concerned, the mightly X2HRs are still the best, however if you want a cheaper alternative, the SHP9500S are the best budget open-back cans for gaming you’ll discover.
Open Back vs Closed Back
Whether buying an open-back or closed-back cans, a good pair may set you back a tiny fortune. As the majority of us don’t buy high-end over-the-ear headphones every week, you wish to ensure that your new pair matches the function that the very best way possible.
There is a lot of sound jargon on the market, and it’s easy to become lost, or even give up trying to comprehend what it means. The fantastic thing is that you just have to know a few terms to ensure a superb match for your needs and the headset kind (open-back, closed-back) is just one of them.
Knowing the difference between closed and open back designs is essential since the sound experience that they provide are substantially different. One is better than another; they are simply different and serve two separate purposes.
Here are some great applications for closed-back headphones:
- When traveling or commuting
- At work or at the workplace
- When recording or mixing music
The most common program of open-back headphones really are:
- Any program when you are alone
- When you want to experience the most natural sound, There’s
In summary, open-back headphones are not for everyone, and also the experience they deliver is hard to explain. Before deciding to buy a pair, it is recommended to experience them for real.
On the flip side, if you are an audiophile who enjoys pushing the boundaries of a near to real life audio, the open-back headphones ought to be unquestionably on your list to test. But be careful, you might decide never to go back to closed-back headphones .
Alternatively, there’s something in between, which is referred to as semi-open headphones or semi-open back headphones. They’re a sweet place and a fantastic compromise for someone who finds open-back design too’airy’ and closed-back design too’enclosed’.
Nevertheless, when testing, we stuck into the next main principles, which we think are important to any consumer:
It is made up of collecting data from two distinct sources. Those are expert reviews and real, hands-on end users. The accumulative approach lets us create an objective picture of the functionality of the particular pair of open-back cans, its advantages, and its weaknesses.
we do know that to find a better sound quality, the majority of the time you’re needed to pay more money and we are absolutely fine with this. What we do evaluate as part of the criteria is the relevance of the cost and the sound quality. Quite simply — it’s worth the asking price?
As part of the criteria, we research and learn what the actual consumers are saying. Consuming vast amounts of information we all attempt to identify patterns, week spots and even repeating defects.
The more comfortable your cinematic or benchmark cans are, the longer you can wear them.
It’s important to note that most completely open-back cans in this inspection demand a bigger power supply than a telephone to drive them. Don’t get me wrong, you can still use your iPhone with a lot of these and get a high-quality sound. At the exact same time, if you really want to uncover its full potential concerning sound volume and quality, an amplifier is a must.
But testing the headphones both ways is essential. On the 1 hand, not a lot people have digital amplifiers. On the flip side, most of us have mobile phones, yet most of us probably wouldn’t utilize open-back headphones using it.