Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones – What’s The Difference?

Here we’re going to discuss the main differences between open back vs closed back headphones or over-the-ear studio headphones to help you understand which to use in some key music production scenarios.

Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones by

The microphones computers and audio interfaces are undoubtedly some of the most important pieces of studio gear. The headphones are equally as important in both tracking and mixing stages with all tools. Headphones essentially are is critical to picking the right tool for the job. So, which studio headphones should you use, open or close back? well, it depends on your need.

This is everything you need to know about open backed vs closed back headphones.

There are only two types of headphones:

  1. Open back headphones
  2. Closed back headphones

and if you’re in the market to make a decision it’s a pretty good idea to understand the basic differences between the two. 

Choosing headphones very much boils down to personal taste. What makes a model you can afford and what applications do you want to use them in?

I recommend if you’re serious about producing music, you really should invest in both styles and then use them in the areas where their strengths are most apparent.

Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones Which One is Better?

Pros of Closed Back Headphone 

Best For Listening to Music

Best Headphones For Workout

Can be Used while Running

More Natural Sound


Mix The Real World Sound With Playing Music 

Pros Open Back Headphones

You Can hear yourself while listening to the music

Can have a conversation with the person next to you.

In the room, You can hear them but they can’t hear your music


(Sound Leaking) In a silent environment, the next person can listen to your music

Can’t be Suitable to used in Public gatherings

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Closed Back Headphone Design

The easiest way to spot the difference between the two is to look around at the headphones. Most headphones you’ll see are closed back and that’s because most of us listen to headphones to just hear our music and not anything else.

So, whether we’re on a commute or we’re working out, or whatever we’re doing listening to music we just want to hear the audio and not our environment.

So, closed back headphones do this by creating a seal around your ear to isolate the noise and separate the inside from the outside.

In a studio or in some other quiet solo listening environment, you don’t need that isolation between yourself and the outside noise. So, that’s when you might explore open back headphones.

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Open Back Headphones Design 

The Open back as the name implies means the back of the headphones is literally open. There’s no barrier between the drivers and the outside world.

So, sometimes in some pairs, you can actually see straight through from the inside to the outside of the headphones.

There is no seal instead there’s a perforated design that allows air and sound to move freely in and out of the headphone cups. They’re the best option for serious gamers and music lovers.

This design gives a much more natural sound as there’s no pressure build-up within the structure of the headphone. So, when should you consider using open backs over closed backs and vice versa?

Environment & Sound Quality

If sound quality is the priority and you’re working in the comfort of your own studio then open-back headphones are best as these provide more open and immersive sounds but if you’re mixing in an environment that’s not private, then don’t be that annoying person, please! Put on some closed-back headphones and keep your music to yourself.

It’s easy to see why open back headphones are often overlooked in favor of closed back studio headphones by the nature of their design. Open back headphones don’t isolate very well which limits their appeal in tracking sessions.

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