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10 Best Open-Back Headphones with Amazing Sound (2022)

Last updated: 9 months ago
10 min read

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Find the best open-back headphones on the market, and enjoy the open spacious sound.

Rating Price Design Connection More info
Sennheiser HD 800 S Best overall
Sennheiser HD 800 S
4.6
Under $1450
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
4.7
Under $120
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Best for studio
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro wired headphones
4.7
Under $160
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
Sennheiser HD 660 S Best classic
Sennheiser HD 660 S wired headphones
4.7
Under $430
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Best for gaming
Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X
4.4
Under $200
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
Philips SHP9500 Great value
Philips SHP9500
4.7
Under $80
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm
GRADO GW100 v2 Best wireless
Grado GW100 v2 wireless headphones
4.4
Under $250
On-ear
Wireless (Bluetooth 5.0) & wired (3.5mm)
Sennheiser HD 560 S Best neutral
Sennheiser HD 560 S
4.7
Under $200
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
Sennheiser HD 400 PRO Neutral alternative
Sennheiser HD 400 PRO
4.3
Under $250
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
Samson SR850 Best cheap
Samson SR850 wired headphones
4.5
Under $50
Over-ear
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm

If you’re searching for your new pair of headphones, you probably came across some open-back headphones. First thing, if you don’t know what’s the deal with this type of headphones, let us clear up a few things.

As the name suggests, open-back headphones are physically different from the typical closed-back pair that you probably have at home. That means that the headphone’s driver isn’t enclosed inside the earcups, giving the sound more room to “breathe”.

In many cases, the driver inside the open-back headphone can be visible to a naked eye. Sometimes you can even see through the cup when you use a flashlight to shine on the other side. Drivers are usually protected with an aluminum mesh since touching them can cause damage.

Open-back headphones have many advantages over closed-back ones. Since the air, which the driver pushes, isn’t trapped inside the earcup, there is a lesser chance of sound distortion at high volumes.

On the other hand, you’ll also hear ambient sound coming in, so making open-back headphones only suitable for home use.

Sennheiser HD 6xx changing earpads
Sennheiser HD open-back headphones usually have fully replaceable parts.

The soundstage is also an area where open-back headphones excel. They can portray a massive soundscape that feels very natural, especially if you like to listen to live recordings or classical music. Not only that, but big soundstage can benefit all music genres.

Most open-back headphones have velour earpads (however, that is not always the case). With the combination of textile pads and no barricade behind the driver, your ears sweat considerably less than the closed-back option with leather pads.

Having no enclosure, the sound is also airer. It feels less congested and easier to listen to.

Because of all those benefits of the open design, many headphones of this type are also the most expensive. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal even under $100.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Open-back headphones are fantastic for:

    Studio work: If you work in a music studio, you must know how important it’s to listen to your mix with neutral headphones. Since the closed-back solutions tend to have a slightly colorized sound due to bass boost, open-back headphones can more easily achieve perfect neutrality.

    It’s worth mentioning that this type of headphone isn’t suitable for monitoring your singer’s voice, since the sound leak might be audible in the microphone.

    Home listening: Since open-back headphones leak sound, while also getting a lot of background noise in, the best place to listen to them is at home, in a quiet environment. In a room where no one can bother you, you can enjoy your favorite music in peace. Enhanced levels of detail and a big soundstage will give your music a whole new dimension.

    Related:

    The 10 Best Open-Back Headphones

    1. Sennheiser HD 800 S

    1st-place Best overall
    Sennheiser HD 800 S

    Overall best open-back headphones with accurate sound reproduction.

    One of the best pair of open-back over-ear headphones from Sennheiser.

    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

    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-looking 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.

    The exceptional build quality of these open-back headphones is also top-notch, with a quality plastic body, aluminum cups, and removable cables. With good care, these can last for many years.

    Even after a very long time, these are still a gold standard of how an accurate headphone should sound like.

    2. Philips Fidelio X2HR

    2nd-place Runner-up
    Philips Fidelio X2HR wired headphones

    Best open-back headphones under $200.

    If you’re looking for the best open-back headphones under $200, Fidelio X2HR are your top choice.

    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

    Open-back headphones 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 as gaming headphones too.

    Fidelio X2HR open-back headphones 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 headphones, 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 build 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 for studio
    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro wired headphones

    Well-built open-back headphones for mixing.

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    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

    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 headphones are made in Germany, which ensured a greater level of quality control. They’re built like a tank, with robust hard plastic earcups and a metal frame, dressed in padded leather.

    DT 990 Pro open-backs come with velour earpads with thick padding. Headphones feel comfortable like wearing a pillow on your head.

    For slightly more than $150 (or less), you’re getting a fantastic mixing and mastering tool that you can genuinely rely on.

    4. Sennheiser HD 660 S

    trophy Best classic
    Sennheiser HD 660 S wired headphones

    One of the best open-back headphones under $500 price tag that audiophiles will love.

    Another fantastic open-back headphone from this German brand, providing an amazing audio experience.

    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

    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 headphones title.

    These pair of open-back headphones share an almost identical design compared to HD 600/650. The good thing about that is 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 everything is replaceable on these.

    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 for gaming
    Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X wired headphones

    Best open-back headphones for gaming.

    While you probably know Audio-Technica because of their M50x model, these are actually very typical looking headphones from this brand. 3D Wing design might look weird, but the sound is incredible.

    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

    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.

    Headphones 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 headphones offer excellent breathability, with drivers so thin, you can actually see through them. Headphones come with a 6.3mm adapter.

    6. Philips SHP9500

    dollar Best value
    Philips SHP9500 black headphones

    Best open-back headphones with amazing value for money.

    A more budget-friendly open-back alternative to Fidelio X2HR, with similar sonic capabilities.

    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

    Like the Fidelio model, these open-back headphones offer wide frequency response, a well-balanced sound signature, and a massive sound stage.

    They are an excellent option for gaming headset and music, especially if you want to hear even the faintest sound in your favorite tunes.

    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 also exceptional considering the 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 were much more expensive, costing well above $100, making them a steal at their current $75.

    7. Grado GW100 v2

    wireless Best wireless
    Grado GW100 v2 wireless headphones

    Best open-back headphones under $100 with on-ear design.

    They look like someone brought them from the previous century, but they sound amazing.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: n/a | Features: /
    • Near audiophile quality
    • Wide soundstage
    • Lightweight design
    • Good sound quality at all volume levels
    • No ambient noise isolation
    • Earcups pivot but don’t hinge

    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 completely open-back headphones.

    The design is Grado classic, with on-ear fit and foam earpads. These 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.

    If you want something cheaper and similar-sounding but wired, check our Grado SR80e review from their Prestige series.

    8. Sennheiser HD 560 S

    trophy Best neutral
    Sennheiser HD 560 S

    Extremely well-balanced open-back headphones with excellent value.

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    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

    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 natural 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 headphones from 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 even need to upgrade.

    9. Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

    trophy Neutral alternative
    Sennheiser HD 400 PRO

    Fantastic open-back headphones and a great option for a home studio.

    The latest Sennheiser PRO series headphones with excellent audio quality and neutrality for spotless audio mixes.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 6-38.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Open-ear | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 120 Ohm | Weight: 8.4 oz (240g) | Cable lenght: 5.9 ft (1.8m) & 9.8 ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Neutral sound quality
    • Lightweight & comfortable design
    • Two detachable cables included
    • No carrying case for the price

    Sennheiser continues producing excellent neutral headphones that don’t cost an arm and leg.

    The HD 400 PRO are made explicitly for home studio applications and users who need neutral headphones to check if their mix sounds right. Bass enthusiasts should look elsewhere.

    Headphones have a nice, open sound, with good imaging. They might sound a bit boring to some, but they’re an indispensable tool for music creators.

    They adopt the basic Sennheiser design with a mostly all-black plastic build which keeps them very lightweight. Thanks to massive ear pads that go over your ears, you don’t feel them at all.

    You get 2 cables inside the box, one 1.8 meters straight and another 3 meters coiled.

    10. Samson SR850

    dollar Best cheap
    Samson SR850 wired headphones

    Semi-open back headphones with well-balanced sound.

    If youe seek the best price-to-performance ratio, Samson SR850 are your best budget option.

    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

    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 some much more pricey headphones. To cut down the cost, build quality is only decent.

    They’re entirely made of plastic, which can also be a good thing. That makes these budget open headphones very lightweight for their size. Comfort is also decent, especially if you don’t wear glasses.

    SR850 are also quite sturdy, despite lacking high-quality materials. We have them for years now, and the only thing that feels slightly loose is the spring for the self-adjusting headband.

    Samson SR850 review

    Honorable Mentions

    Superlux HD668B

    Popular headphones with excellent sound 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 HD 600 providing one of the best vocals on headphones, and HD 650 being the kings of laid-back sound. Sadly, they don’t make HD 650 anymore, but you can still get the brand new ones 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 sound 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 sound from planar magnetic headphones is nicely balanced, with a clear focus on intimate vocals and instrument rendition. (Check HE-400i price)

    HIFIMAN Ananda

    Headphones are built exceptionally well, with a beautiful design that never gets old. The bass is tight, controlled, with a powerful impact. Realistic midrange and crystal clear treble, combined with an accurate soundstage, provide a listening experience as if you’re sitting in a room with the band right in front of you. (Check Ananda price)

    Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

    Open-back headphones that are made for critical listening, with detailed frequency response range and slightly brighter overall sound. They’re expensive, but an excellent addition to your music production workflow. (Check DT 1990 Pro price)

    How to Pick the Best Open-Back Headphones for You?

    As you can see, open-back headphones aren’t only 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.

    If you haven’t found your next headphone on our list, try to follow these pieces of advice when browsing the web.

    Intent

    First, you need to know why you need them. Is it for casually listening to music, watching movies, playing games, or professional work?

    Lots of these things can stir you in a different direction when it comes to headphone search. For instance, if you need something for a studio, you should probably look for other options with a flat sound. If you need them for movies, you’re better off with a more bassy headphone, or even trying the ones with a closed-back design.

    Home studio

    Budget

    Give yourself a budget limit. Everyone wants the latest and greatest, but you can quickly find yourself browsing through more expensive headphones that you can’t afford. It’s easier to tell yourself that you want, for example, something under $100, and then start searching.

    That way, it’s much simpler to browse, since many websites, including ours, sort headphones based on their prices. And we always try to present you with the best price-to-performance deals for a given price bracket.

    Reviews and Forums

    Try to seek reviewers that aren’t biased. Thankfully, there aren’t as many of them, but some might still favor a specific brand without knowing, giving a false product image. Seek for reviews that are honest and don’t only talk nice things. No headphone is perfect, and there are no perfect scores.

    Forums can also be helpful when trying to decide if you want to buy that specific headphone or not. However, people tend to like different things, and while some might love a particular headphone, you might end up hating it entirely. So try to search through many forums before forming an opinion.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What are the differences between open and closed-back headphones?

    Enclosed ear cups trap sound waves, developing a more powerful bass impact, while also extending deeper into the sub-bass region. There’s also better sound isolation.

    Open-back headphones can be very detailed and natural, but can’t reach those deep notes to provide an immersive sound experience with a music genre like hip hop or rap. Therefore, they aren’t suitable for bass lovers.

    What are semi-open headphones?

    The semi-open style is a hybrid between closed and open-back headphones. They should be better at providing external noise isolation while also minimizing sound leaks.

    In practice, the difference is noticeable, especially in the bass, which is much deeper than a fully open design. However, isolation is only slightly better. Therefore, semi-open headphones are still not suitable for taking on a bus and jamming your music out loud.

    Can you improve your existing cheap headphones?

    There are ways to improve your existing headphones by changing their earpads with compatible ones.

    Looking at the Samson SR850, the earcup shape is precisely the same as the AKG Kxxx lineup. That is how you can achieve the sound and comfort of $100 worth of headphones with an upgrade that cost you around $10.

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