Here are the best open-back headphones at different prices. These are perfect for home listening, studio work, and mixing with open, spacious Hi-Fi sound. We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Previous Next More info Price Design Connection Driver size Sennheiser HD 800 S Best overall Jump down Under $1450 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 56 mm Philips Fidelio X2HR Best under $200 Jump down Under $120 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm 50 mm Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Best studio Jump down Under $160 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 45 mm Sennheiser HD 660 S Best classic Jump down Under $430 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 42 mm (38 diap.) Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Best for gaming Jump down Under $200 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 53 mm Philips SHP9500 Best affordable Jump down Under $80 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm 50 mm GRADO GW100 v2 Best wireless Jump down Under $250 On-ear Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0) & wired (3.5mm) 44 mm Sennheiser HD 560 S Best neutral Jump down Under $200 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 38 mm (36 diap.) RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Best in-ear Jump down Under $240 In-ear Wired 3.5mm, 2.5mm, & 4.4mm 14.2 mm Samson SR850 Best cheap Jump down Under $50 Over-ear Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm 50 mm CONTENTS (show more) What are open-back headphones? A quick explanation Open-back headphones are physically different from the typical closed-back headphones by having the headphone’s drivers open to the environment, giving the sound more room to “breathe. But you’ll also hear ambient noise coming in, so these are only suitable for critical listening at home. In many cases, the drivers inside are visible to the naked eye. They’re usually protected with an aluminum mesh because touching them can cause damage. Read more here. Are open-air headphones similar? No, open-air or open-ear headphones are different from open-back. The open-air headphones leave ears completely open to the environment. Earcups don’t cover the ears; they look much different and are best suited for activity. Find the top models here. Their benefits Open-back headphones have many advantages over closed-back models. Because the air the drivers push around isn’t trapped inside the earcup, there is: Less sound distortion at high volumes, which results in more sonic details. Bigger, spacious soundstage. They can portray a massive soundscape that feels very natural, especially if you like to listen to live recordings or classical music. It benefits all music genres. They’re less sweaty. Most open-back models have velour earpads (that’s not always the case). With the combination of textile pads and no barricade behind the driver, your ears sweat considerably less than with closed leather pads. The sound is airier. Without enclosure, the audio feels less congested and is easier to listen to. Sennheiser HD open-back headphones usually have fully replaceable parts. Because of all these benefits, many of the most expensive high-end audiophile headphones have an open-back design. But you can get them even under $100. See our list. The 10 Best Open-Back Headphones 1. Sennheiser HD 800 S Best Overall Sennheiser HD 800 S are overall the best open-back headphones with accurate audio reproduction for true audiophiles. Sennheiser 800s Sennheiser 800s $1,300.00 in stock Buy now eBay Sennheiser HD 800 S Over-the-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones – Ring Radiator Drivers With… Sennheiser HD 800 S Over-the-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones – Ring Radiator Drivers With… $1,399.00 $1,699.95 in stock 8 new from $1,399.00 2 used from $1,319.99 as of March 1, 2024 5:15 am Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm, 6.3mm, & 4.4mm balanced Driver size: 56mm Frequency range: 4-51.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back desgn: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 300 Ohm | Weight: 330g | Cable length: 3m | Features: / Outstanding audio quality Big soundstage with good imaging Robust construction Expensive These are the best open-back over-ear headphones from Sennheiser. Sennheiser hit the right frequency response with HD 800 S. Nothing sticks too far out to cause sibilance or distortion. While dynamic drivers do have their physical limitations, this is definitely their best headphone implementation. Sennheiser is known for designing out-of-this-world-beautiful headphones. HD 800 S are a clear example of that. Thanks to the headphone design, they’re shaped to ensure a perfect fit for human ears. Dense earpads with soft fabric provide fantastic comfort when wearing headphones for hours. Their exceptional build quality is top-notch, with a quality plastic body, aluminum cups, and removable cables. With good care, these can last for years if not decades. For a long time, these are still a gold standard for excellent imaging and acoustic performance. Check price 2. Philips Fidelio X2HR Best Value Under $200 Philips Fidelio X2HR are the best open-back headphones under $200. Philips Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone – Black Philips Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone – Black $99.99 in stock Buy now eBay Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Headphones Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Headphones $139.99 in stock 5 new from $139.99 4 used from $108.63 as of March 1, 2024 6:07 am Buy now Amazon.com Philips Fidelio X2HR On Ear Wired Headphones High-Resolution Audio, Black Philips Fidelio X2HR On Ear Wired Headphones High-Resolution Audio, Black $147.99 $295.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: 50mm Frequency range: 5-40.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Weight: 13.4 oz (380g) | Cable length: 118 inch (3m) | Features: / Great sound quality Comfortable for long listening sessions Sturdy construction Velour pads get dirty quickly If you’re looking for the best $200 open-back headphones, Fidelio X2HR are your top choice. These are notorious for lacking low-end, but Philips somehow managed to make these quite bassy. Thankfully, the lower frequencies don’t bleed into the middle range or treble, where you can still find tons of details. Furthermore, you get a good sense of the soundstage, making them suitable for gaming too. Fidelio X2HR are built incredibly well. There is very little plastic on them, providing a premium-feeling experience when you hold them in your hands. Compared to other audiophile models, these are also very easy to drive from a phone. Once they’re on your head, you can feel the exquisite comfort level provided by generous padding inside the velour pads. Since the dirt gets built up quite fast, check how to keep them clean. Because of that, your ears don’t sweat at all, ticking another box under the “great comfort” section. Check price 3. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Best Open-Back Studio Headphones Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the top open-back headphones for mixing. 1PC Beyerdynamic DT-990-PRO-250 Audiophile Studio Headphones w/Bass Reflex 1PC Beyerdynamic DT-990-PRO-250 Audiophile Studio Headphones w/Bass Reflex $107.88 in stock Buy now eBay beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones For Mixing, Mastering, and Editing beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones For Mixing, Mastering, and Editing $169.00 in stock 18 new from $169.00 9 used from $127.88 as of March 1, 2024 5:25 am Buy now Amazon.com Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm Headphones with Splitter and 3-Year Warranty Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm Headphones with Splitter and 3-Year Warranty $175.81 $260.20 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm Driver size: 45 mm Frequency range: 5-35.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 250 Ohm | Weight: 8.8 oz (250g) | Cable lenght: 118 inch (3m) | Features: / Robust build, made in Germany Very detailed sound Non-detachable cable Bright sound can get sibilant If you need a trusted pair of headphones to reveal all the flaws in your studio mix, you should check the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. Bass delivers a good punch and attack, not disturbing the midrange, which is incredibly detailed and accurate. The same goes for the upper mids and lower treble, which are boosted to add clarity, although, at times, it can be sibilant. All studio monitors from Beyerdynamic are made in Germany, which ensures a greater level of quality control. They’re built like a tank, with robust hard plastic ear cups and a metal frame dressed in padded leather. DT 990 Pro open-backs come with velour earpads with thick padding. They really feel comfortable, like wearing a pillow on your head, as long as you get used to the headband pressure on top of the head. For slightly more than $150 (or less), you’re getting a fantastic mixing and mastering tool that you can genuinely rely on. Check price Here are similar options: Best headphones for mixing Best audiophile headphones Best headphones under $100 4. Sennheiser HD 660 S Best Open-Back Classics Sennheiser HD 660 S are the best headphones with an open back under $500. Sennheiser HD 660S2 Wired Over-Ear Headphones – Black – Left Ear Broken Sennheiser HD 660S2 Wired Over-Ear Headphones – Black – Left Ear Broken $294.89 in stock Buy now eBay SENNHEISER HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone SENNHEISER HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone $599.99 in stock 2 new from $599.99 2 used from $592.00 as of March 1, 2024 5:56 am Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: n/a Frequency range: 9-41.500Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 150 Ohm | Weight: 9.2 oz (260g) | Cable length: 118 inch (3m) | Features: Detachable cable Audiophile sound quality Comfortable velour earpads for long listening sessions Fully replaceable parts Amp might be necessary for optimal performance Another fantastic open-back headphone from this German brand that provides an amazing audio experience. HD 660 S combines everything good from HD 600/650 and makes it a little better. Bass has a better impact and control, the midrange is a bit more detailed, and the treble range shows slightly more resolution. Overall a well-balanced performance worthy of a reference headphone title. These share an almost identical design compared to HD 600/650. The good thing about them is their durability and detachable dual-exit cables. You can easily rock these over-ears for decades since the spare parts are always available. The cool thing is that you not only get replaceable cables, but you can also replace the earpads and headband padding. Earcups are huge, providing a comfortable fit for extended periods, even for the most gigantic ear size. They come with velour memory foam earpads, which feel incredibly on your skin, and can also prevent sweating. Check price 5. Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Best Open-Backs For Gaming If you want to hear all the footsteps before your enemy, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X are the best open-back headphones for competitive gaming. audio-technica ATH-AD900X Open-Back Audiophile Headphones,Black audio-technica ATH-AD900X Open-Back Audiophile Headphones,Black $184.00 in stock 8 new from $184.00 2 used from $189.50 as of March 1, 2024 5:15 am Buy now Amazon.com audio-technica ath-ad900x open-back audiophile headphones,black audio-technica ath-ad900x open-back audiophile headphones,black $255.89 $367.94 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: 53mm Frequency range: 5-35.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 38 Ohm | Weight: 9.3 oz (265g) | Cable lenght: 118 inch (3m) | Features: / Airy, detailed sound Impressive soundstage Comfortable and breathable Light on bass Non-detachable cable While you probably know Audio-Technica because of their M50x model, these are typical-looking headphones from this brand. The 3D Wing design might look weird, but the audio is incredible. They lack a bit of bass response, but they make up with a superb mid-range and treble. They’re incredibly resolving in those frequencies, which is why most people use them for gaming since you can hear enemies long before seeing them. These are the most unique-looking headphones on this list. While that 3D self-adjusting wing system looks flimsy, they’re doing a good job keeping the AD900X in their place. They have big and perfectly round earcups with velour earpads that sit gently on your ears. Ear cups are large enough to go around your ears nicely. These over-ears offer excellent breathability, with drivers so thin you can actually see through them. They come with a 6.3mm adapter if you want to connect them to Hi-Fi equipment. Check price 6. Philips SHP9500 Best Affordable Philips SHP9500 the best open-back headphones for $75. Philips Audio SHP9600MB Wired Headphones with Microphone Philips Audio SHP9600MB Wired Headphones with Microphone $56.99 in stock Buy now eBay Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones $140.00 in stock 1 used from $140.00 as of March 1, 2024 7:39 am Buy now Amazon.com Philips SHP9500 HiFi Stereo Over-Ear Wired Headphones, Steel Headband, Black Philips SHP9500 HiFi Stereo Over-Ear Wired Headphones, Steel Headband, Black out of stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: 50mm Frequency range: 12-35.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 11.3 oz (320g) | Cable lenght: 118 inch (3m) | Features: Detachable cable Excellent sound for the price Big soundstage Detachable cable Cushy earpads with breathable fabric Not very portable due to bulkiness and open design Lots of sound leakage A budget-friendly open-back alternative to Fidelio X2HR, with similar sonic capabilities. Like the Fidelio model, these offer wide frequency response, a well-balanced sound signature, and a massive sound stage. They are an excellent option for a gaming headset and listening to music, especially if you want the faintest details in your music. The earpads’ fabric is extremely breathable, preventing them from getting too sweaty after extended listening sessions. They’re also generously padded, providing a cloud-like sensation when you wear them. Their solid build quality is exceptional, considering their low price tag. Drivers are covered with a metallic mesh, on which you can also see big imprinted L/R letters. 1.5m copper cable with gold-plated connectors is replaceable. SHP9500 used to be more expensive, costing above $100, making them a steal at their current $75. They’re top-notch audiophile headphones for an affordable price. P.S. Sometimes, they’re not available at the MSRP price, it’s best to wait for it to drop or get a competitor. Check price 7. Grado GW100 v2 Best Wireless Grado GW100 v2 are the best wireless open-back headphones with an on-ear design. GRADO GW100 v2 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones – Open Back and On Ear GRADO GW100 v2 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones – Open Back and On Ear $337.77 $360.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com GRADO GW100 v2 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones – Open Back and On Ear GRADO GW100 v2 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones – Open Back and On Ear out of stock Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Driver size: 44 mm Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz Type: On-ear | Battery life: 40h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX | Water resistance: None | Features: Touch controls, AUX port Great, open sound Excellent battery life (40h) Lightweight and comfy No carrying case for the price Mediocre call quality They look like someone brought them from the previous century, but they sound amazing. Grado’s are known for their airy sound with an open soundstage. The bass is a bit lacking, but that’s something to be expected from an open-back design. The design is classic Grado, with on-ear fit and foam earpads. They are comfortable headphones, even for long periods, thanks to light clamping force. Since they’re geared towards audiophiles, they use high-quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX. That also ensures minimal latency for watching videos. The battery life is pretty impressive, lasting for around 40 hours on a single charge. Just be aware that the microphone quality is nothing to brag about. Check price 8. Sennheiser HD 560 S Best Neutral Open-Back Headphones Sennheiser HD 560 S are extremely well-balanced open-back headphones for natural sound. Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones $90.00 in stock Buy now eBay Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones – Neutral Frequency Response, E.A.R…. Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones – Neutral Frequency Response, E.A.R…. $149.95 $229.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones – Neutral Frequency Response, E.A.R…. Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones – Neutral Frequency Response, E.A.R…. $159.95 $229.25 in stock 11 new from $149.95 11 used from $126.36 as of March 1, 2024 5:25 am Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired – 6.3mm Driver size: 38mm (36mm diaphragm) Frequency range: 6-38.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 120 Ohm | Weight: 8.46 oz (260g) | Cable length: n/a | Features: E.A.R. tech Exceptional neutral sound Comfortable Big soundstage Velour earpads Detachable cable Can get sibilant at times Sennheiser nailed it with the HD 560 S, giving you a comfortable pair with exceptional neutrality for the price as well as a spacious soundstage. A welcoming new addition to the Sennheiser HD lineup, the HD 560S headphones provide an excellent neutral listening experience under $200. You get a very neutral sound, albeit slightly warm, and with plenty of detail retrieval in the treble. They’re the new audiophile’s choice on a “budget.” The design is similar to other models in the HD lineup. They’re lightweight and have comfortable earpads, making them a great choice for hours of extended use. Their open-back design ensures breathability and also widens up the soundstage. With a detailed treble, you can easily use the HD 560 S for gaming. Also, the cable is quickly detachable if you need to upgrade it. For incredibly natural sound, consider these. Check price 9. RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Best Open-Back In-Ear Monitors RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X are fantastic open-back in-ear monitors we’ve tested. These are great for detail-rich sound on the go. RAPTGO HOOK-X IEM In Ear Monitors earphones Green From Japan RAPTGO HOOK-X IEM In Ear Monitors earphones Green From Japan $236.69 in stock Buy now eBay RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… $239.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Linsoul RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… Linsoul RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… out of stock Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired 3.5mm & 2.5mm & 4.4mm Driver size: 14.2mm planar magnetic & piezoelectric driver Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz Type: In-ear monitors | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 15 Ohm | Weight: | Cable lenght: 4.1 feet (1.25 meters) | Features: Interchangeable connectors, removable cable Natural, controlled, and detailed sound Easy to drive even from a smartphone or laptop Replaceable cable with different connectors Made from high-quality build materials Comfortable & stable for everyday listening Great passive noise isolation for an open-back design Occasional sizzling treble (only on cymbal-intense tracks) No built-in mic or controls in the cable RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X review The latest RAPTGO IEMs (in collab HBB) output excellent audio quality with tons of details and control across the entire frequency response. Hear the RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X A/B Sound Test: RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict If you seek small details in your music for around $200, then HOOK x HBB should be on your radar. They’re slightly V-shaped but very controlled, thanks to planar magnetic and piezoelectric drivers. Furthermore, they’re comfortable and stable thanks to the over-the-ear cable design. Speaking of the cable, it’s thick and braided for extra protection. It uses 3.5mm unbalanced and 2.5mm & 4.4mm balanced interchangeable connectors. The housing is also beautiful to look at, with all metal construction and open-back mesh that shows a little bit of that planar magnetic driver inside. You can easily drive the IEMs using a smartphone, but you must use the grey ear tips to get the best sound quality. If you’re looking for amazing audio from open-ear earphones for a reasonable price, check out the RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X. RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X review Check price 10. Samson SR850 Best Cheap If you prefer a cheap pair, the Samson SR850 are the best cheap open-back headphones we’ve tested with a well-balanced sound. Samson Technologies SR850 Semi Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones, Black Samson Technologies SR850 Semi Open-Back Studio Reference Headphones, Black $39.90 in stock 14 new from $39.90 4 used from $29.95 as of March 1, 2024 5:34 am Buy now Amazon.com Samson SR850 Professional Semi-open Studio Reference Monitoring Headphones Samson SR850 Professional Semi-open Studio Reference Monitoring Headphones $39.90 $56.99 in stock Buy now eBay SR850 Professional Studio Reference Headphones, 10Hz-30kHz Frequency Response SR850 Professional Studio Reference Headphones, 10Hz-30kHz Frequency Response $39.90 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: 50mm Frequency range: 10-30.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Back design: Semi-open | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 9.7 oz (276g) | Cable length: 98.4 inch (2.5m) | Features: / Fantastic sound for the price Lightweight construction Decent durability 6.3mm adapter included in the box Price All-plastic construction feels cheap Below average comfort and fit Bad noise isolation Samson SR850 review These might not be drop-dead gorgeous, but if you seek the best price-to-performance ratio, Samson SR850 are your best budget option. In this price category, the audio fidelity is outright fantastic. While you can get similar performance from other best cheap headphones like Superlux HD668B, Samson’s neodymium drivers are more balanced, with more bass and controlled treble. Supposedly, these use the same drivers as much more expensive headphones. To cut down the cost, build quality feels very cheap. They’re entirely plastic, which can be a good thing. This makes the budget cans very lightweight for their size. Comfort is decent, especially if you don’t wear glasses. SR850 are also quite sturdy, despite lacking high-quality materials. We have had them for years now, and the only thing that feels slightly loose is the spring for the self-adjusting headband. Samson SR850 review Check price Honorable Mentions to Consider Superlux HD668B Popular headphones with excellent audio performance for their price point. They feel a bit cheap since they’re mostly made from plastic, but they come with a removable cable, which adds to overall durability. Check HD668B price AKG K240 Studio These headphones are proving you don’t need the latest and greatest to get excellent sound quality. Once a more expensive model is now much cheaper, making it a good choice for a music producer on a budget. AKG K240 Studio review Sennheiser HD 600/650 Both models are classics among music lovers, with the HD 600 providing one of the best vocals in headphones, and the HD 650 is the king of laid-back sound. If you want something similar to the HD 650 but for a much lower price, check the Sennheiser HD 6xx on the Drop website. Check HD 600/650 price Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Beautifully crafted headphones that are extremely comfortable and have a neutral-to-warm audio profile. Tuning is mostly suited for vocal-oriented music and wind instruments. However, they’re a little hard to drive and a bit soft when it comes to rendering electric guitars. Check ATH-R70x price HIFIMAN HE-400i (2020 Version) The new version comes with an improved leather headband design with better padding. The sound quality is the same as the previous model. The high-quality audio from planar magnetic headphones is nicely balanced, with a clear focus on intimate vocals and instrument rendition. But they’re harder to get. Check HE-400i price HIFIMAN Ananda Headphones are built exceptionally well, with a beautiful design that never gets old. The bass is tight and controlled, with a powerful impact. Realistic midrange and crystal clear treble, combined with an accurate and wide soundstage, provide a listening experience as if you’re sitting in a room with the band right before you. Check Ananda price Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro DT 1990 Pros are made for critical listening, with a detailed frequency response and slightly brighter sound. They’re expensive but an excellent addition to any music production workflow. Check DT 1990 Pro price Open-Back Headphones are Good for: Studio work: If you work in a music studio, you know how important it is to listen to your mix with neutral headphones. Since closed-back models tend to have slightly colorized audio due to bass boost, open-back headphones more easily achieve perfect neutrality. This makes them great for mixing and mastering in a studio environment. Home listening: Because open-back headphones leak music while also letting in a lot of background noise, the best place to listen to them is at home. In a quiet environment, in a room where no one bothers you. So you can enjoy your favorite music in peace. With enhanced details and a big soundstage, your music will reach a whole new dimension. They’re not good for: Open headphones aren’t suitable for monitoring because the sound leak is audible in the microphone. Bad at blocking out background noise because they have little noise isolation. Unsuitable for listening in loud environments, like public places, streets, and on a commute; they let in all sounds. How to Pick the Best Open-Back Headphones for You? Open-back models aren’t limited to premium prices. You can get an excellent pair for as much as $40. However, we know it can be tricky to find yourself a perfect headphone without trying them upfront. Ask yourself this: What do you intend to use them for? First, you need to know why you need them. Is it for: Casually listening to music Watching movies Playing games Professional work Knowing these things is important when looking for a new pair. For instance, if you need something for a studio, you should probably look for options with a flat sound. If you need them for movies, you’re better off with bassier headphones. For single-player gaming in a quiet room, open-ears are great, but if playing with friends, the microphone might pick up the sound leakage from open drivers and annoy your friends. What’s your budget? Give yourself a budget. Everyone wants the latest and greatest, but you can quickly find yourself browsing through more expensive headphones than you can afford. It’s easier to set a limit, for example, under $100, and then search. This is the best way to find the best price-to-performance headphones for a given price range. Check out reviews and forums Read reviews based on testing. There are many that favor a specific brand, giving a false product image. Look for reviews that are honest and point out the bad things. No headphones are perfect, and there should be no perfect scores. Forums are also helpful when trying to decide if you want to buy a specific model or not. However, people tend to like different things, and while some might love a particular model, you might end up hating it entirely. How We Test We test headphones on 9 key decision-making categories, which you can read all about here: Our testing and scoring methodology. We take into account different use cases and types of headphones. In this case, most of them are wired over-ear models. By comparing their performance in different categories, we pick the best performers we can confidently recommend. How did we choose the models? We primarily focused on 1 key decision-making category, and that is audio quality. With comfort being secondary and other categories tertiary. We chose from 184 tested headphones and those we tried and have hands-on experience with. Admittedly, we didn’t take all the measurements for all models yet. Many of these were only available to us on Hi-Fi headphone events. Then we ranked them for different user needs and prices: from general to specific and cheaper towards the bottom. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions Are open-back headphones worth buying? Open-back headphones are worth buying if you prefer a more spacious, airy, and detailed listening experience and don’t mind high sound leakage. They’re great for mixing, mastering, and listening at home. But you should avoid them for using in loud places. What are the differences between open and closed-back headphones? Open-back headphones have more spacious sound with more details and generally more natural sound but no noise isolation. Closed-back models have a smaller soundstage, a more powerful bass, and better noise isolation, but they often distort their sound, with fewer details. What are semi-open headphones? Semi-open headphones are a hybrid between closed and open-back designs. Their ear cups have small openings, making them neither fully closed or open. In practice, the bass is much deeper than in a fully open design. However, isolation is only slightly better. Therefore, semi-open models are still not suitable for taking on a bus and jamming your music out loud. Are Sennheiser headphones really good? Sennheiser headphones are among the best and most popular open-back headphones for professionals and audiophiles alike. They offer affordable under $80, mid-range, and expensive $1000 models. Can you improve your existing cheap headphones? You can improve your existing headphones by changing their earpads with better ones. For example, the Samson SR850 earcup shape is precisely the same as the AKG Kxxx lineup. That is how you can achieve the same sound and comfort of $100 headphones with a $10 upgrade. Peter SusicFrom a childhood fascination with sound, Peter’s passion has evolved into a relentless pursuit of the finest headphones. He’s an audio expert with over 5 years of experience in testing both audiophile and consumer-grade headphones. Quote: “After many years, I can confidently tell which headphones are good and which are terrible.” Find his honest opinion in his reviews.