Closed and Open Backed Headphones

Despite the wide range of different headphones that are available across the market today, they will all fall under one of two core categories; closed back headphones or open back headphones. But which is best suited to what listening environment?

What are closed back headphones?

Closed back headphones feature ear cups that fully encapsulate your ear and have an insulated shell exterior. This makes closed back headphones much more efficient at blocking out external sounds, making for a much more isolated listening experience. The sounds themselves sound a lot ‘closer’ to the listener because of this enclosed listening space. Closed back headphones are best for those who are using their headphones in loud environments, like on public transport, or for critical listening, such as an audio engineer completing a mix.

What about open back headphones?

As you can probably guess, open back headphones do not feature the same level of isolation offered by closed back headphones. Many open back headphones feature perforations in the physical design to accommodate the easy flow of sound in and out of the headphones. This means that your music will sound much more ‘in the world’ than the close, isolated sound of closed back headphones. Listeners will have a much more increased space and sense of realism whilst using open back headphones, but they do suffer from more bleed than closed back headphones, both for external sounds getting in to your ears, and your music getting out to those around you. Probably not the best choice for the bus!

Do you have some good examples of each type?

At Advanced MP3 Players, we have a wide range of both closed and open back headphones to choose from. Here are a few of our favourites:

Sony MDR-1000X – £369.00

MDR1000XLARGEA powerful pair of Hi Res closed back headphones that work with either a cable or via Bluetooth. The isolated listening space created by these headphones is compounded by the addition of active noise cancelling technology for a truly intimate listening experience.

HiFiMan HE-400i – £359.00

HE400iLARGEWe’ve discussed planar magnetic design methodology before, and these open back headphones take full advantage of this technology to create a lifelike soundstage and spatial imaging. They are also very efficient and are compatible with smartphones and portable audio players.

Audio-Technica MSR7BK – £199.00

ATHMSR7BKLARGEThe MSR7BK’s housing is designed to mirror the full shape of the ear using a layered aluminium/magnesium mix. This means that despite being closed back, they are very lightweight, and have some small vents within these layers to help control air flow and dynamic range.

HiFiMan Edition S – £209.00

HE-EDITIONSLARGENot a brand to stick to traditional headphone design, HiFiMan have created a pair of headphones with a removable logo cap on the ear cup, meaning that these headphones can be either closed or open back headphones. The best of both worlds!

All of these models are available now at Advanced MP3 Players. Be sure to drop us a line if you need any further advice choosing your next audio product!