Home Resources Closed Back vs. Open Back Headphones | THE DIFFERENCE?

Closed Back vs. Open Back Headphones | THE DIFFERENCE?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Hey friend and Welcome!!

Today I’ll be barreling towards you like Donkey Kong with a super informative post on Closed back vs. Open back headphones!

Before we get started though, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this article

  1. Introduction
  2. Closed-back
  3. Open back
  4. Some recommendations

Let’s get started!


Way back when I didn’t know a whole lot about headphones, I just kind of assumed they were basically the same.

I recognized the fact that there were better quality headphones out there, but I really couldn’t wrap my head around it.

All I knew was what I saw in stores, so buying a pair kind of always turned into a roll of the dice.

“Are these any good? I hope so!” Lol.

Even over the last 10-15 years, times have changed dramatically. Yay internet!

It’s weird to think that I once had no clue about the many different variations in type, model, fit, impedance, style, etc.

It really does become endless! Luckily for you, this website organizes things in a really simple way 🙂

My knowledge was confined to mostly low-end Sony, Philips, and other department store brands, and I went through quite a few pairs of the infamous Sony MDR-V150 because I liked its sound and build.

The problem with those was the headband issue, near the ear cups.

They could only withstand so much abuse before SNAP!

Circa 2005-2006:

That probably didn’t help matters, but it was only for a second so I could take the picture I swear!

Don’t ask me why I was putting headphones on a bowl of cereal and then taking a picture of it. Lol.

“Well I guess it’s time to buy another pair”, I told myself.

The great thing about them was they were always pretty affordable, and the sound was of a higher quality than low-grade dog food.

My other complaint however was that the ear-cups were prone to peeling after some time, not unlike the Sony MDR- 7506, which is made from similar materials.

I used to sleep with them on, but they could never take the pounding.

The models I own nowadays can withstand a pretty good amount of wear and tear. Many of them are closed back.

Closed Back

Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

Normally this will be your first introduction to headphones, as most entry-level models are closed-back, meaning they block out the majority, (if not all) of outside noise, while also making it so people can’t really hear what you’re listening to.

Some closed-back headphones can be used for mixing to fine effect, but be aware that the sound sort of gets trapped in your head and doesn’t have much room to breathe.

This is why mixing over a long session can become exhausting for your brain and ears.

If you’ve ever mixed down a track, you’ll know that after a while, the mix may start to actually sound bad, the longer you tinker with it!

This is when it’s a good idea to step away for a while. It’s also generally better to mix down on studio monitors.

Closed-back literally means that the back of the headphone is closed off, allowing no sound to escape towards the outside world.

All of the sound is aimed into your ears, and you can imagine now very clearly why this might become tiresome after a while.

Closed-back headphones also can either rest on your ears (supra-aural), or around your ears (circumaural).

With an open back, they will almost always be circumaural.

A great example of a popular closed-back model would be the Audio Technica ATH-M50!

Open Back

The benefit of using open-back headphones (such as the Sundara above) is that by contrast, they have room to breathe.

Rather than sound getting trapped inside your head, the headphones create an airy, open atmosphere that is conducive to mixing.

This also means that the music will sound more realistic as if it’s actually being played right in front of you!

This is also known as Soundstage.

Many people prefer this to closed back.

When you hear the term sound-stage, this is precisely what it means:

With a really good headphone and amp, it has the potential to feel as if you’re right there, placing each musician in their respective role on stage.

The drawback to open-back cans is that the people around you will be able to hear everything you’re listening to, even at a semi-low volume.

This is why they are less common at lower price points. Don’t let that dissuade you from purchasing a pair.

If you’re in an isolated environment and it’s just you and the music, open back is the way to go.

In fact,

in my opinion, it’s almost preferred. The sound is much clearer, crisper, and more precise.

It means you can comfortably mix on headphones without having to worry about how the song gets translated on studio monitors.

Open-back models are also generally more comfortable than their closed-back counterparts.

This is mainly due to the materials used.

Closed-back headphones usually come with some sort of faux leather/pleather material, which is prone to peeling, cracking, and breaking down over time.

What is so exciting about a good pair of open-back cans, is that they will usually come with velour ear padding.

This is some of the comfiest material in existence.

Many have likened it to having mini pillows resting against your head!

Did you just get a boner after reading that? I know I did! 😀

Need a recommendation? Contact me!

For now, here are some of my favorites.

Learn More:


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Closed-Back vs. Open-Back Headphones Article and came away with some valuable insight.

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

Which type of headphone do you prefer? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!



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