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10 Best Open-Back Headphones with Spacious Sound in 2024

Last updated: 3 months ago
11 min read

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.

More info Price Design Connection Driver size
Sennheiser HD 800 S Best overall
Sennheiser HD 800 S
Under $1450
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
56 mm
Philips Fidelio X2HR Best under $200
Philips X2HR Fidelio
Under $120
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm
50 mm
Under $160
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
45 mm
Sennheiser HD 660 S Best classic
Sennheiser HD 660 S headphones
Under $430
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
42 mm (38 diap.)
Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Best for gaming
Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X
Under $200
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
53 mm
Philips SHP9500 Best affordable
Philips SHP9500
Under $80
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm
50 mm
GRADO GW100 v2 Best wireless
Grado GW100 v2 wireless headphones
Under $250
On-ear
Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0) & wired (3.5mm)
44 mm
Sennheiser HD 560 S Best neutral
Sennheiser HD 560 S
Under $200
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
38 mm (36 diap.)
RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Best in-ear
RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X small image
Under $240
In-ear
Wired 3.5mm, 2.5mm, & 4.4mm
14.2 mm
Samson SR850 Best cheap
Samson SR850 headphones
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:

    1. Less sound distortion at high volumes, which results in more sonic details.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. The sound is airier. Without enclosure, the audio feels less congested and is easier to listen to.
    Sennheiser HD 6xx changing earpads
    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

    1st-place Best Overall
    Sennheiser HD 800 S wired headphones

    Sennheiser HD 800 S are overall the best open-back headphones with accurate audio reproduction for true audiophiles.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm, 6.3mm, & 4.4mm balanced
    Driver size icon Driver size: 56mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    2. Philips Fidelio X2HR

    2nd-place Best Value Under $200
    Philips Fidelio X2HR

    Philips Fidelio X2HR are the best open-back headphones under $200.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    3. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

    trophy Best Open-Back Studio Headphones
    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro wired headphones

    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the top open-back headphones for mixing.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 45 mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    Here are similar options:

    4. Sennheiser HD 660 S

    trophy Best Open-Back Classics
    Sennheiser HD 660 S

    Sennheiser HD 660 S are the best headphones with an open back under $500.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon 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.

    5. Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X

    trophy Best Open-Backs For Gaming
    Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 53mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    6. Philips SHP9500

    dollar Best Affordable
    Philips SHP9500 black headphones

    Philips SHP9500 the best open-back headphones for $75.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    7. Grado GW100 v2

    wireless Best Wireless
    Grado GW100 v2 wireless headphones

    Grado GW100 v2 are the best wireless open-back headphones with an on-ear design.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 44 mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    8. Sennheiser HD 560 S

    trophy Best Neutral Open-Back Headphones
    Sennheiser HD 560 S

    Sennheiser HD 560 S are extremely well-balanced open-back headphones for natural sound.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 38mm (36mm diaphragm)
    Frequency range icon 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.

    9. RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X

    trophy Best Open-Back In-Ear Monitors
    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X IEMs and the case

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired 3.5mm & 2.5mm & 4.4mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 14.2mm planar magnetic & piezoelectric driver
    Frequency range icon 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.

    10. Samson SR850

    dollar Best Cheap
    Samson SR850 headphones

    If you prefer a cheap pair, the Samson SR850 are the best cheap open-back headphones we’ve tested with a well-balanced sound.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon 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.

    Honorable Mentions to Consider

    CCA Trio

    CCA Trio IEMs

    Trio IEMs have three 8mm dynamic drivers in each earbud, producing a punchy and spacious sound.

    Switching the tuning filters adds more bass or more midrange/treble, so you can find the sound that best suits you.

    CCA Trio review

    AKG K240 Studio

    AKG K240 studio headphones

    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

    Sennheiser HD 600

    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

    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 Ananda

    HIFIMAN Ananda planar magnetic headphones

    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

    Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones

    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.

    Home studio

    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 193 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.

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