Mixdown’s Guide To: Open vs Closed-Back Headphones

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Mixdown’s Guide To: Open vs Closed-Back Headphones



One of the main advantages of closed-back headphones is that they have exceptional isolation, meaning that even in noisy environments you’ll be able to hear the finest details of the audio coming through. This might be handy for someone who catches public transport during busy commuting times or who lives in an especially loud house or area like next to a train line.


Another advantage is that they have low leakage, which is ideal for a recording environment where its important that the microphones don’t pick up any sound other than the instrument or voice that they’re meant to e.g. a metronome or backing track playing through the headphones. A third reason to use closed-back headphones is that they have superior bass reproduction to open-back.



The minimization of standing waves and reflections means that there is a more natural sound due to less coloration than a closed-back headphone can provide. Similarly, there is a better transient response due to less air pressure against the driver meaning the driver can respond better to changes in the audio signal. This is especially beneficial when listening to sound sources with a lot of voices like a choir or an orchestra.


Gamers like to use open-back headphones because it is lighter on the head and therefore more comfortable for long gaming sessions. Overall though an open-back headphone can provide “a more natural sound with increased soundstage width and depth.”