Open-back vs. Closed-back Headphones – Which One Should You Get?

When buying headphones, what do you look for first? Perhaps you’re considering over-ear vs. in-canal, or you’re keeping a close eye on the sound quality specifications for the best sound. There’s one specification that’s not immediately obvious as to what it means: open-back vs. closed-back headphones. These may sound somewhat foolish, but they both have their advantages and disadvantages and should be considered when purchasing a pair of headphones.

Open-back vs. Closed-back Headphones



Closed-back headphones have a solid shell around each speaker to stop any sound from leaking out. As a result, when you listen to music on a pair of closed-back headphones, the sound doesn’t escape out into the environment and creates a feeling as if the music is “in your head.” At the same time, any sounds from the outside are muted out as you’re listening to music. The end result is a sound that dominates your hearing and leaves little room for anything else.

Closed-back headphones are great if you want to keep the sounds of the outside world from interrupting your audio experience. From people who enjoy getting lost in the music to those who use music for meditation, closed-back are the perfect choice for users who want to silence everything around them for a brief moment. Due to how closed-back headphones trap sound, they also have a positive effect on those around you. If you plan to listen to music in the library or on a train, for example, closed-back headphones will keep the music from leaking and prevent people from getting aggravated.



If closed-back headphones have a solid shell, open-back are what you might expect: headphones where the back is more open to the air. While closed-back headphones make music sound like its coming from inside your head, the openness of open-back headphones to the outside world gives music a more natural sound. Also, because air is circulating around your ears better, it stops them from getting hot and sweaty during use.

Open-back headphones don’t block out outside noise as much as closed-back does, which makes them perfect for people who don’t want to shut out the world. Perhaps you’d like to listen to music while doing work, but you still want to hear when people call your name. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, as open-back headphones leak sound very easily so other people can hear what you’re listening to. This makes it the worst pick when you want to keep the noise down for your fellow commuters!

Which Should I Pick?


When it comes to open-back vs. closed-back headphones, which one should you go for?

If you’re interested in listening to music in public, or you want to block out the sounds around you while you listen, a closed-back pair of headphones is ideal. The closed backs will ensure that outside sounds are muffled, while also keeping the people around you from getting annoyed at you.

However, if you want a more natural sound to your music, or you want to be able to hear what’s going on around you, open-back headphones are best. These will keep your ears open to the outside world, including keeping them from getting too sweaty.

Highlighting Headphones

It’s not obvious what open or closed-back headphones are; even when you know, the advantages and differences of each can be puzzling. Now you know the differences of open-back vs. closed-back headphones, and which one would suit you more.

Do you, or would you, prefer open or closed-back headphones? Let us know below.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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