A true connoisseur of music is like a good psychotherapist. They want to get into the mind of the artists and understand every note of the music they are listening to. But like a good therapist, they need the right tools to gain insight into their subject. Open-back headphones open a unique window into the intricacies of the music by presenting them in an airy and open soundstage. These are the headphones of real audiophiles who tuck in with their amp and DAC on the weekend and lay their favorite tracks on the therapy couch. Though finding the right headphones can be a challenge. Backed by our experience of geeking it out with different headphones, we picked the top 15 best open-back headphones in the market. These are all over the price range so there’s something for everyone.
Open-back headphones vs. Closed-back headphones
The main cosmetic difference that sets open-back headphones apart from the closed-back ones are the vents on the back of the earcups. Most open-back cans have grilles as the backplate which allow a thoroughfare of sound waves through the speakers to the outside environment. Meanwhile, closed-back headphones have a solid plate covering the back of the earcups with no perforations. Since semi-open headphones have gained prominence, we have started looking at the specs to identify closed-back cans from open-back ones.
Advantages of Open-back headphones
There’s a plethora of advantages that open-back headphones have, the main ones being:
Natural audio: Ever notice how open-back headphones sound much like the artist is playing Live around you? While closed-back headphones just don’t sound that natural and realistic. In open-back headphones, the sound waves from the speakers travel out of the vents. In closed-back headphones, they are reflected off the backplate. They have no place to go so they mix back with the other frequencies and color them. But open-back headphones don’t have this accidental coloration and end up sounding more like the original recording. They are also feel more transparent and effortless.
Accuracy: The lack of coloration lends more accuracy to the open-back headphones. But there’s another factor which helps them stay true to the original recording. In closed-back headphones, the reflection of sound waves create a pressure on the speaker. They may bog down the movement of the driver element. This causes inaccuracies in the audio. On the other hand, the drivers of open-back headphones face no such pressure because of the free flow of air. The driver responds quickly to tonal changes and keeps up with complicated music easily.
Soundstage: Soundstage is a measure of the space we perceive our music in, a mental image of the sonic space where the audio is presented. Closed-back headphones tend to sound cramped and in-your-head. While open-back headphones create a sonic image around your head. So they create the illusion of a concert hall. They sound open, airy and immersive compared to closed-back headphones.
Heat: Open-back headphones allow free air circulation to the ear and keep them cool. Closed-back headphones trap more heat over time and sweat your ears. If you live in a warm climate, you will prefer the open-back cans. Increased sweating can be a breeding ground for infections too. However, do note that not all open-back headphones are non-sweaty. It also depends on their design and earpads.
Who are open-back headphones ideal for?
Open-back headphone stand out for their accuracy and neutral sound signature. The open soundstage deserves a clean sound signature that isn’t congested by boosted bass. Music producers, Audiophiles and specifically purist audiophiles prefer the open-back headphones because:
- They listen to and critique music as a hobby and probably make out time in a quiet place to listen to tracks.
- Since these headphones can rarely be used in public spaces due to low noise isolation, these are at-home headphones, so best for a hobbyist than a practical user. They might be useful for runners and joggers who need to stay aware of their surroundings but they are hardly optimized for sports wearing.
- These open-back headphones choose comfort over style, so they look awkward for regular use. They are comfortable for long hours of music-listening and analysis as audiophiles do.
Many of these headphones are also reference class cans. They can be used at home or in a quiet studio to mix audio. These are usually designed for use with audio gear like amp, DACs and studio gadgets with long cables (usually 10 feet) and studio adapters.
Features of high quality open-back headphones
We went through dozens of headphones before shortlisting these 15 best open-back headphones based on:
Audio: We explained the strengths and weaknesses of open-back headphones in the audio department. So we looked that these headphones we selected could make up for the lack of isolation. Clean open audio set in a spacious soundstage were the minimal requirements. Most of these have natural, neutral audio by design. We also checked that the detailing and transparency are up to the mark for the price. We have picked both open and semi-open headphones.
Comfort: Open-back headphones already one-up the others in terms of keeping ears cool. Since most of these are audiophile cans, we also ensured these can be worn comfortably for long hours without hurting the ears. The quality of earpads, the headband pressure, the connection of the cable, all make a difference.
Compatibility: Since these are audiophile headphones, we checked that these respond well to the amps and DACs. In fact, a few might even be difficult to drive with portable devices. We tried to pick the headphones that aren’t very picky about the amps and have long or detachable cable for connecting to the gear.
Features: The cabling is one of the prominent features that we checked. Detachable cables are easier to replace. Headphones that come with cables of different lengths were preferred. Velour earpads also earned them brownies points. Foldability is another such feature.
Budget: The best open-back headphones selected here are spread over the budget range. They were compared based on their value for money.
TOP 15 BEST OPEN BACK HEADPHONES IN 2022
1. Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Audiophile Stereo Headphones
The Beyerdynamic T1 2nd (T1.2) generation open-back headphones are the very image of perfection. Though there are open headphones below and above their price-tag, none of them bring the unique sound signature of T1 to the table. It’s a modern competitor of the old nearly-unparalleled open-back favorites like the HD600s except it has all the contemporary features. We couldn’t think of a better choice for the top spot on the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Beyerdynamic T1.2 open-back headphones retain all the good stuff from generation one and make some important upgrades. Being premium headphones, these are handcrafted in Germany. The lightweight aluminum walks a tight balance of weight and strength. The earcups are round and hang off metal brackets. They are opulently padded but the pads run deep. So your ears can sit comfortably inside them. The pads are sheathed in soft and airy velour. The clamp is just enough to keep them stable on the head. In spite of the heft, these look low-profile on the head. The earcups are only semi-open at the back with a fine metal grille.
These open-back headphones have wide headband with lavish padding sheathed in pleather. There are dots to help resize it equally from both sides. The cable is detachable. It is a Y-cord that attaches to both sides. The sides are clearly marked and color coded. The cord runs 3m long and is braided in fabric. It also has stiff sheathing with discourages damage and signal interference. There are 3.5mm leads on both ends.
These come with zippered case that has snug contours to store them. A ¼-inch adapter is the only extra accessory.
The audio of Beyerdynamic T1.2 open-back headphones is full of contradictions in a good way. They manage to balance opposing notions in music. They are tastefully fun while being perfectly neutral. They are exceptionally detailed but also forgiving on bad recordings. The powerful Tesla drivers hit a sweet spot with audio signature. The bass is finely controlled by dynamic. It has excellent extension and adds that hint of fun into the music that sets the T1.2 apart from the clinical-sounding HD800. The bass is very fast on its feet with quick decay so complex tracks sound effortless on these.
The midrange of these open-back headphones are spot-on flat. They are deliciously detailed and set in a very deep and open soundstage. The slightly forwards bass complements it to create a rich emotional listening experience. The treble is also extended deep into high frequencies but roll off just before they get too sparkly. They are less bright than the DT990s. The T1.2 sound stunning and a slight tip in the premium direction will make them sound analytical. Form a purist’s point of view, the next-best cans are HD800s. But they cost much more and sound too flat to us.
- Neutral but musical
- Tight, agile but bold bass
- Highly revealing yet forgiving
- Handcrafted Aluminum build
- Detachable braided cable
- Fewer accessories
2. Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x open-back headphones are their first so-called Professional set. And A-T went all out to make them as neutral and comfortable as possible. Audiophiles, purists and casual listeners will be equally enamored by the audio since A-T takes calculated risks with the sound signature. They are very revealing and transparent without losing out on fun. These are a close second on the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x open-back headphones are surprisingly lightweight for Pro headphones. They weigh barely 7.4 ounces. The earpads are removable and they look emaciated without the earpads. These have a rare suspension-type headband. There are two headbands. The outer one is a slotted metal band. Then there are two padded ‘wings’ that touch the top of your head and adjust to its shape. The metal headband restrains the stretching of the wings. The metal band can be enlarged a little bit but they don’t have a lot of headspace for really large heads. The earcups are round and mounted with pads. They are sheathed in velour, the microfiber that improves breathability and comfort. But these are a little shallow compared to Beyerdynamic T1s. So the pads may sit over the edges of the ears rather than around them. Fortunately, these can be replaced for pads with more depth.
These open-back headphones have detachable Y-cable. A-T claims that these automatically maintain proper stereo orientation. That is, these preserve the correct stereo orientation no matter which side which half of the Y-cable plugs into. Of course, a smarter trick would have been to mark the cable and earcups with ‘R’ and ‘L’ clearly. The cable extends 10 foot long and end in a headphone jack. Since these are meant for home use, they come with just a fabric drawstring bag.
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70x open-back headphones walk a tight balance with a lot of grace. On the one hand, they are technically neutral and accurate. On the other, these are distinctively fun and musical. This combination is difficult to achieve without a few spirited protestations from the purists. The R70x go a little soft on the treble and greatly extended in bass. The bass has a good presence without muddying the mids the slightest bit. It may sound a little fuller than the clinically flat headphones. But its bass isn’t quite as forward as the A-T MSR7.
The midrange has excellent detailing which shines with the beautiful and accurate imaging set up by these open-back headphones. It is dynamic and only loses a small amount of details compared to Sennheiser HD700s. The soundstage is quite open, maybe not as much as the HD800, but they also cost more than double. The soft-handedness on treble makes them fatigue-free for long hours of listening.
A unique selling point of the R70x is that it requires no burn-in time.
- Very musical and neutral
- Full bass and detailed
- Excellent imaging
- Very lightweight
- Removable cable and earpads
- Earpads are shallow
3. Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
The Sennheiser HD600 open-back headphones are a classic that have made it to many such lists. But they refuse to quit because of their neutral airy audio that to this day is trusted for critical listening. Apart from the slightly aged look, their audio is still the weapon of choice for when you want to hear your music as it was recorded. These titans wrap themselves up in an unbeatable price point too. They are overqualified for the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser HD600 open-back headphones gave us mixed feeling about the aesthetics. In a certain light they look retro and cool. The granite finish can be a little unsettling in comparison to the sleek metallic finish of the newer headphones. These weigh a measly 9 ounces. The headband and earcups are made of quality plastic while the earcups grilles are metal. These headband adjustments are reinforced with metal. The headphone is padded with memory foam throughout the headband arch and the earcups. The earpads are sheathed in soft breathable velour. Comfort-wise these headphones are a 10. The clamp is strong for large heads at first, but they ease up within a few days of wearing.
The cable of these open-back headphones connect to both earcups. It is removable and replaceable, in that the HD600 were way ahead of their time. But the cable is proprietary and the replacement is a bit costly. The cord runs 9 feet long and terminates in a 3.5mm jack. A 3.5mm-6.3mm adapters is provided. The earpads are replaceable too. The headphones seem to last forever, so if your velour earpads wear out, you have the option to change them.
The Sennheiser HD600 open-back headphones play it like is. This is perhaps their single most important quality that distinguish them at their price-point. They are the budget alternative to every high-end unit before them in this list. We use them to critique important recordings and iron out the imbalance. An amp is a must for them. Schiit Asgard 2 headphone will do just fine. The soundstage is airy as with open-back headphones. But these maintain a slightly intimate feel. The imaging is accurate and adjusts well to the space in the soundstage. The detailing is awe-inspiring. We could hear the briefest of sighs and slightest of hesitation clearly.
The sweet spot of these open-back headphones is their midrange. The tonality, the dynamics, the detailing, all shine. The vocals flow smooth and the string instruments sound live. Mids-centric genres are a delight on these. The treble has enough sparkle but they aren’t as jarring as the DT990s. We found the quantity of treble enough but some purists find it slightly veiled. The bass is tight and responsive but tends to be a little lean. It rolls off close to 70 Hz so sub-bass is somewhat weak compared to Beyerdynamic T1.2. But the overall audio is still pretty enjoyable, except maybe to bass-enthusiasts.
- Detailed, liquid midrange
- Accurate imaging in an intimate stage
- Revealing and accurate
- Detachable cable and earpads
- Bass tends to be lean
4. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 250 ohm HiFi headphones
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium open-back headphones have been around long enough for us to receive conclusive feedback on their durability. On the other hand, their audio and design are still up to date in most aspects. These headphones are a steal for the price with their revealing and effortless audio and strong bass response. The unique blend of price, comfort and audio help it take the top spot on the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium open-back headphones have a cool black and grey which wouldn’t look out of place in the age of drone taxis. The earcups are large and round and suspended on brushed aluminum forks. The ear pieces are made of plastic and reinforced with metal. The vent at the back reminded us of the blinds on windows. The ear pieces tilt forward and swivel a tad for proper fitment. The headband is broad and padded along the arch. It can be extended on both sides with a number of dots for guidance so that both sides are uniformly extended.
The stand-out feature of these well-constructed headphones are the velour earpads. The soft grey microfiber earpads allow better movement of air and keep the ears well-ventilated. They also do not retain sweat like the leather earpads. The one bone of contention we have with the DT990 Premium is their permanently fixed cable. This is attached to the left earcup. The cable runs 10 feet long too, so they are best used at home. These open-back headphones come with a ¼-inch adapter and soft and contoured carry case. It has a handle on the outside for portability.
The Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium come in three different models with three impedance ratings: 32 Ohms, 250 Ohms and 600 Ohms. As the impedance increases, the ability to be driven by portable devices decreases. Only the 32 Ohms model can be driven well by smartphones. Beyerdynamic claims that the accuracy of high mids and highs improve as the impedance increases. But the difference that brings to the audio is almost negligible. So we prefer the 32 Ohms version.
There’s also the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro version at 250 Ohms. But these are geared for studio use with very few under-the-hood changes, if any.
We tested the 32Ohms version of Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium open-back headphones. What immediately locked their place in our list is the strong bass response. It’s not overwhelming or casual. Rather bass has excellent impact while being tight and agile. It never bleeds into the mids but it doesn’t sound as diffused as with other open-back cans. The dynamic bass is full of body and supports all genres, not just the classical. The soundstage is not traded off bass here. It has been unequivocally praised for being spacious.
These open-back headphones also presented clear and detailed mids. We were able to discover the nuances of our favorite tracks all over again. There’s a slight brightness towards the highs mids and highs that probably give them their revealing nature. The jury on bass is out. While we agree treble is a tad harsh, it sits just below the fatigue point for us. But some people may find it a bit aggressive for their taste. We highly recommend using a suitable amp and DAC with these. Their clever musical insight is elevated highly with this gear.
- Amazing soundstage
- Strong bass
- Detailed and effortless audio
- Metal-reinforced design
- Choice of 3 impedances
- Velour earpads
- Permanently attached cable
5. ETHER Flow Open Back Headphone
The Ether Flow open-back headphones are an ultra-premium set that sound engineers can gush about and audiophiles can fawn over. These are timeless headphones created with technology that’s way ahead of their time. The result is a relatively lightweight headphone with excellent, lively audio. The balance is maintains while giving each frequency range the space to stand out. This orchestration of rich audio is what earns them a place in the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Ether Flow open-back headphone look like the beast that their price calls for. They have large round earcups with a honeycomb grille pattern at the back. The subdued black design is livened up by blue highlights around the edge of the earcups. The earcups are mounted with soft, plush and deep memory foam. Even large ears can sit within the pads without any pressure points. The pads are sheathed in high quality soft leather. While velour is nice, we found this leather quite comfortable for long hours of music playback too.
These open-back headphones distribute the weight of their ear pieces via a unique solution. They are connected by two strong NiTinol memory metal cables. This leaves the headband to be a thin strip of leather. It is strong and comfortable as opposed to the beefy headbands of other headband. The 400g weight of these headphones is barely felt. It helps that for a premium audiophile can, these are lightweight.
The Flow headphones come with a DUM cable. This Y-cord run 6 feet long and is braided in fabric. It’s a heavy duty cable that connects to the headphones via the rare Isamwoo SN-8-4(P) connector. They terminate in a 3.5mm jack. A clamshell case is part of the package. It strangely reminds us of a boxing glove.
The Ether Flow are planar magnetic headphones. They use MrSpeakers’ V-Planar driver and TrueFlow wave guide technology for reduced distortion and a greatly improved transient response. The result is a pair that’s independent of genres and handles all kinds of music with equal panache. In spite of being truly high-end, these cans do not sound analytical. They have full and punchy bass that plays tight and fast. Whatever be the genre, the bass keeps up and has good definition. We are glad that they stuck with a slightly upfront bass without upsetting the balance with mids and highs.
The midrange of these open-back headphones is favored slightly. The male vocals really shine with this bit of extra attention. The soundstage is open but still has a tinge of intimacy. The imaging goes deep and slightly above in the head. The imaging places the vocals in the center and the strings are separated with layers of air. The high-mids are toned down a bit to avoid sibilance. The treble is exceptional in that it retains its sparkle without getting too sibilant. The audio is very natural and the instruments are easy to pick from the mix.
- Balanced, natural audio
- Beautiful imaging
- Exceptional transient response
- Fun ad detailed sound
- Leather earpads and headband
- No extra accessories
6. Philips SHP9500S HiFi Precision Stereo Over-ear Headphones
The Philips SHP9500S HiFi open-back headphones are friends of the modest purse. Philips is known for churning out some maverick products at reasonable price-points. This is one such brilliant unit which offer neutral audio at an unbelievably affordable price. The comfort fit and the inoffensive sound land them in the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Philips SHP9500S open-back headphones are designed in all black. They have round ear pieces mounted with mega-sized racetrack oval earcups. The verdict on these earpads is open. They are made of foam and sheathed in fabric. They are sweat-magnets but not as hot as pleather or leather in our opinion. They are less ventilated than velour though. The headband has floating padding. It’s made of the same material. The headphones are pretty lightweight so you don’t notice them on the head. But they aren’t cool enough to wear in the public. The headband can be extended.
A great feature for the price is that these open-back headphones have detachable cable. It plugs into one earcup using a 3.5mm jack. The 5-foot cord terminates in a 3.5mm jack too. These common connections allow us to replace the cable easily. The stock cable is nothing to write home about. You also get a 6.3mm adapter and a carry bag with these cans.
The Philips SHP9500S open-back headphones reflect the real strengths of this type of cans. The soundstage is expansive and creates a sonic image right outside the head. It might not match up to the ATH-R70x but given the price gradient, we will not complain. The instrument separation of the image set in tis wide space also belies expectation from the price. We were able to place the major instruments with our eyes closed.
The bass has punch in these open-back headphones. It has plenty of quality and definition. It also extends very well into the lower frequencies without rolling off suddenly. But its slightly lean earns lesser focus than the mids and treble. That’s probably why it sounds slightly recessed compared to the mids and treble. The mids and treble are beautiful detailed and smooth. The mids sound fluid and relaxed and they are too musical for the price. The treble is pleasing and well-extended. There’s only an occasional jump which may sound harsh.
Overall, the SHP9500S headphones are a great performer. They can be used with portable sources and bridge the gap between bass-infused and neutral headphones.
- Highly affordable
- Detailed and balanced
- Open soundstage
- Accurate imaging
- Detachable cable
- Pad are slightly shallow
7. HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones
The Hifiman HE-400I are planar magnetic open-back headphones. Their price is constant source of wonder given the novelty of this technology. The Chrome finish and the premium design only add to its awesome value. The audio is superb by the grace of all the elements. These are the affordable version of high-end headphones, hence their place in the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Hifiman HE400i are very fancy-looking for open-back headphones. They look their price every bit. The earcups are large over-ear round type. They have beveled edges highlighted in glossy chrome finish. This is a fingerprint magnet but we’ll take the bargain. The earcups are padded opulently and these surpassed all expectations in terms of long-lasting comfort. The part that lies over the ears is done in velour and the rest is draped in leather. This combination keeps the ears cool and also gives them a quality touch.
The earcups are connected by a metal band while the actual headband is quite wide, flat and sheathed in leather. The weight distribution hits the nail on the head with this particular headband design. There are extension holes on both sides of the metal band which ensure uniform extension. These open- back headphones have a detachable cable. The Y-cord plugs and locks into ports on the headphone. The 59-inch cable ends in an L-shaped 3.5mm jack. A 6.3mm adapter is provided. The earcups fold flat for easy storage and also for when you need to hang them around your neck.
The Hifiman HE400i open-back headphones are comparable to the HD600 but they don’t have the ‘veil’ in treble that many people accuse the HD600 of having. The soundstage is more intimate than that of the HD600 so we staved off some points there. The imaging is on par.
The close-ness of the soundstage lends more power to the bass of these cans. They are extremely well-extended on both sides of the frequency spectrum. The sub-bass influence is very evident at low volumes. They have a very accurate bass which also suffices in quantity. The audio sound fuller and more present than the HD600. The midrange is slightly warm. They remain smooth and eloquent but do not compete with bass for attention.
The treble is highly extended and sparkles with delight. Some people may find it a bit much. But for clarification, it’s not the quantity of treble but the extension which makes it sound prominent. The bite of treble did liven the music up without adding any harshness.
- Well-extended bass and treble
- Accurate imaging
- Strong bass
- Stylish design
- Detachable cable
- Short cable
8. German Maestro GMP 435 S High Performance 35 Ohm Headphones
The German Maestro GMP 435S open-back headphones are crafted with high-quality materials in Germany. These are mid-fi headphones that deliver plenty of details and balanced audio on a budget. The lightweight comfort combine with these to give you one of the best open-back headphones.
Design and Features
The German Maestro GMP 435S open-back headphones are lightweight and portable. They are mostly made of plastic. The earcups hang from the headband using rubberized hands. This brings the kind of flexibility that make them more comfortable. The earcups are round and mounted with soft foam. These are sheathed in vinyl. While these did fine for us, we prefer the feel of velour. It also takes the edge off of highs. Fortunately, the earpads are replaceable and you get velour replacements meant for the GMP 435S. The stock earpads do provide a decent bit of noise isolation though.
The headband of these open-back headphones has a suspension design. The inner leather band adapts to the shape of your head. The outer one bears the weight of the earcups and keeps them stable. The clamp force is very low. The cable connects to both the earcups. Right below the Y-junction, you have a coiled stretch of wire for stress relief. The cable ends in 3.5mm and runs 3m long. A 6.3mm adapter is supplied with them.
The German Maestro GMP 435S open-back headphones give the high-end headphones a good run for their money. These put you in a wave of natural sound without requiring an amp with portable devices. The audio is set in a wide soundstage but not a very deep one. The sound feels very up close and personal. But the instrument placement has plenty of space and is very accurate.
The bass has a lot of energy but it holds back tight without bleeding into the mids. It can keep up with the thick mix of instruments and deliver sufficient low-end details. The midrange benefits from the airiness of the soundstage. The vocals are not very relaxing though. They sound very direct. The midrange is warm and enjoyable because of the active bass. To hear the highs better, it’s recommended to invest in the velour pads. The treble really opens up and you can hear the details without sibilance.
- Wide soundstage
- Accurate imaging
- Energetic bass
- Removable earpads
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Velour earpads better than stock ones
9. Sennheiser HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone
The Sennheiser HD660S open-back headphones are an upgrade on the popular HD650. These are highly comfortable, beautifully toned headphones that are hard to recreate, much like the HD600. These quickly became our go-to headphones for music and movies alike. These have plenty of modern features and that warm retro sound that we like in our best open-back headphones.
Design and Features
Since these are at-home headphones, the Sennheiser HD660S are designed purely for comfort. They ditched the greys of the HD650 and switched to charcoal black in the 660S. The earcups are large racetrack oval. They are mounted with super-plush padding and velour drapes. The headband has slightly stiff padding along the arch that makes soft contact with the head. The ears remain cool due to the open back and the velour. These are headphones you can wear for hours without fatigue.
The 3m cable of these open-back headphones is detachable. It connects to the earcups via proprietary jacks. The cable ends in a 6.3mm jack and 3.5mm converted is separately packaged. You also get a cable with the Pentaconn jack for balanced output. There’s no case because these aren’t meant to be portable.
The Sennheiser HD660S open-back headphones have one of the most dynamic and rich audio signatures we have heard. If we want to recommend a good set for movies and music alike, these would be it. They come closest to emulating the feeling of speakers. They have a wide open soundstage with enormous depth. The imaging shines in such a spacious stage. The bass has a pleasant thickness, although tightly controlled, which might sound a bit forward compared to the steely neutrality of AKG Q701s. The HD650s sounded a bit dark because treble didn’t have the same enthusiasm. However, the HD660S has ramped up the treble to match.
- Rich, full, exceptionally fun sound
- Tight an punchy bass
- Great soundstage and imaging
- Replaceable cable and earpads
10. Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones
The Superlux HD668 are super-affordable semi open-back headphones. The lightweight design is up for hours of music listening. The noise isolation is almost at par with some closed-back headphones. The audio signature is surprisingly mature for the price. It is our budget piece for the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Superlux HD668 open-back headphones are reminiscent of Audio Technica R70x or AKG K240s. They have the same suspension headband and large earcups. There are large vents at the back of these round earcups. They are amply padded although the pads are a little shallow so they will press against the edges of your ears. The headband has two cables supporting the ear pieces. Two wing-like padded structures make contact with the head. The headphones are very lightweight so they remain stable. The pads are sheathed in vinyl which isn’t as cool as velour but is cooler than pleather.
These open-back headphones have detachable cables: a 1m mobile cord and a 3m cord for studio gear. They attach to a single earcup through a female 3.5mm port and terminate in a 3.5mm male jack.
In spite of the low-price, the Superlux HD668 headphones take the high road and go for a neutral signature. They eve tend a bit toward analytical which is unheard of at this price. The bass is tight and punchy. But these are reference-class lows so it doesn’t bleed into mids. They might sound leaner than other similar headphones. The midrange is peppered with fine details. It sounds pretty transparent with good formats. The treble rolls off just before it hits sibilance. The soundstage and dynamic range are both wide for the price.
The impedance is moderate at 56 Ohms but they can be driven by smartphones. You just won’t get very high volume range though.
- Detachable cables
- Highly affordable
- Balanced and neutral
- Detailed and dynamic
- Plastic build
11. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio open Reference Headphones
The Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro open-back headphones are high-quality studio reference cans. These are everything you can ask for when you are in the box. We lean on these when we want to break down the tracks and analyze them. The long-term comfort helps you sit through hours of recording, all contribute their place in the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro open-back headphones have gigantic earcups that cover both your ears like pillows. Obviously they will look dorky for public use but they are pretty stylish. The round earcups are mounted with soft and plush earpads sheathed in velour. The earpads are replaceable. The DT1990 come with two pair of earpads, one is for neutral sound signature and the other is for enhanced bass. They are identifiable only through the density of holes on the inner membrane. The headband is also padded and finished in leather. The earcups can swivel forward and lean towards the ears.
These open-back headphones come with two detachable cables: a 10-foot straight cable and a 16-foot coiled cable. Both terminate in 3.5mm jacks. A 6.3mm adapter is enclosed. The cables connect to the earcup via mini-XLR jack. They come with a large carry case.
Changing the earpads of the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro open-back headphones makes a real difference to the lower frequencies. We tried them on with the neutral earpads first. The resolution throughout the spectrum is breathtaking. Within their wide soundstage, they set up a pretty realistic image of the audio. We tried them out with movies just for kicks and we were blown away by the spatial cues. We just enjoyed the audio even while critiquing them. We could spot every irregularity. If we wanted to draw the line of where to stop spending on headphones, the buck stops here for us.
The bass earpads drummed up the excitement much more. They gave the bass that bit of an edge which made movies that much more enjoyable. The bass is deep and powerful and still doesn’t bleed into the mids. For the clinical signature, the other earpads are preferred.
- Outstanding natural audio
- Replaceable tuning earpads
- Highly resolved
- Detachable cables
- Studio use only
12. Beyerdynamic Amiron home high-end stereo headphone
The Beyerdynamic Amiron open-back headphones are oddly reminiscent of the T1.2 at half the price. These are exceptionally fun with their warm and relaxing audio. They don’t pretend to be reference headphones. If you are looking for the best open-back headphones for leisure listening, we recommend these over DT1990s.
Design and Features
The Beyerdynamic Amiron open-back headphones are designed to perfection. They are comfortable and reasonably stylish. Durability is evidently one of their strong suits. Style-wise, these go for black/grey combo with brushed metal brackets. The earcups are large and round. They are mounted with ample padding sheathed in Alacantra and microvelour. Both feel like velvet but are lighter and cooler. These are headphones you can put on and forget they are there.
The cable of these open-back headphones attaches to both the earcups but it is removable. The cord runs 3m long and terminates in a 3.5mm jack. A 6.3mm screw-on adapter is included. A hardy zippered carry case is provided for portability. We wouldn’t mind taking these to work. We bought a smaller replacement cable to use them without hassles at our desk.
The Beyerdynamic Amiron Open-back headphones are balanced, fun and relaxing, a rare combo. Usually either such headphones are too neutral or too energetic. Amiron somehow hits a sweet spot with a decadent audio signature. Tight and oomphy bass can support bass-heavy genres like EDM. But they are not for the basshead. But since they are neutral you can push the bass up. There’s sufficient detailing and extension to support a bass boost on the equalizer.
The midrange is just so..musical. It has all the great qualities on paper: detailed, smooth, open, transparent. But the one quality you can’t explain on paper: their musicality, blew us away. The mids are simply playful but fatigue-free. We wanted to go back over all our records just to hear them out with the Amiron again. The treble is so precisely handled that it spots the harshness in the recording but doesn’t elevate them to jarring notes. These headphones are good at spotting the flaws but also tactful in presenting them.
- Highly musical and natural
- Detailed and relaxing
- Exceptional comfort
- Detachable cable
13. AKG K702 Reference Class Studio Headphones
Handcrafted in Austria to perfection, the AKG K702 are reference class open-back headphones. These have the tonally flat, neutral audio signature that excited purist audiophiles and studio jocks. These stand out with their open presentation and accuracy. Their place in the best open-back headphones list in well-deserved.
Design and Features
The AKG K702 open-back headphones are the epitome of comfort with their suspension-style headband and large earcups. The all-black design has two metal cables holding the ear pieces together. But the actual headband is a wide and flat piece of wire. The earcups are round and finished in black with white highlights. They are mounted with soft velour earpads. These cushions are gigantic and deep, so they sit outside the ears. They are pretty lightweight too, so this adds to the comfort.
These open-back headphones have a detachable cable. The 10-foot cord connects to a single side via an XLR jack. The other side has a 3.5mm jack. A gold-plated 6.3mm adapter is included.
The AKG K702 open-back headphones pride themselves for the studio-grade sound signature. The response is flat as humanely possible with an extra-wide soundstage. The bass has great definition and detailing but it feels a bit lacking for casual listening. It’s also inconsistent with different source material occasionally. The mids have luxurious layers of detail but sound transparent because of the soundstage. The treble sparkles without any of that bite. The spacious imaging made these sound extremely speaker-like.
- Ultra comfy
- Detachable cables
- Reference class audio
- Speaker-like soundstage
- Bass could be stronger
14. Sennheiser HD 579 Open Back Headphone
The Sennheiser HD579 open-back headphones are surprisingly musical and clear. And they are the casual listeners’ high-end headphones. The design is really classy and meant for public display. They can be easily driven by portable devices. They have the warm smooth audio signature of the precious HD598s presented at a budget. All reasons to out them on the best open-back headphones list.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser HD579 open-back headphones are modeled much like the HD598 but they look really gorgeous in their cool grey color. The earcups are large racetrack oval. They are mounted with plush velour earpads. The headband is wide but relatively flat. The earcups can swivel enough to make the fit comfortable. The clamp is just enough to keep the stable on the head. These headphones have a detachable cable that plugs into one earcup. The cord runs 10 feet long and is easily replaceable.
The Sennheiser HD579 open-back headphones play their strength with a wide open soundstage and airy imaging. In terms of the sound signature, they try to balance casual and audiophile tastes. The bass is tight and punchy. It might some extra body to it. But it doesn’t bleed into the mids. Compared to the high-end headphones on this list, the mids of HD579 have decent detailing. They are smooth and revealing. The treble has good detail and a decent amount of bite. But it rolls off before being too fatiguing.
- Comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing
- Fun and detailed
- Good bass
- Detachable cable
- Detachable cable is too long for mobile use
15. Audio Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Headphones
The Audio Technica ATH-AD700X are analytical open-back headphones on a budget. They present an open and dynamic audio. They are lightweight and comfortable. The flexible fitment also contributes to making them one of the best open-back headphones in the market.
Design and Audio
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X open-back headphones look much like the R70x. They have the suspension headband design too. Metal cables hold the ear pieces together. There are two plastic wings that make contact with your head. These have foamy cushions to support them. They have large round earcups. These are mounted with soft velour pads which are deep enough to house moderate and large ears. The cable is unfortunately permanently attached. It does run 3m long and has a nice durable feeling to it. While it’s thick, it’s not unnaturally stiff. A 6.3mm adapter is supplied.
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X open-back headphones are exceptionally clear and open, courtesy their design. We use them to analyze the detailing of our favorite tracks often. They offer a lot of nuances in their spacious imaging. The bass could have had more power though. It sounds a little lean compared to the slightly brash treble. The midrange shines as the true performer in the mix. It is smooth and airy which helps pick out the detailing pretty well. The AD700x have good dynamics and they are quick in their response, so you can play complicated mixes without losing out on details.
- Very open-sounding
- Excellent clarity
- Brash treble
- Cable is not detachable