Best Review Guide / Articles / Home / Headphones / What are open-back headphones and how do they operate?

What are open-back headphones and how do they operate?

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated May 9, 2021

Headphones on a desk


Headphones are one of the best gadgets for listening to music. They are comfortable to wear, they sound great, and they also look great. Sometimes, they may even come in multiple forms as to accentuate your style.

Aside from aesthetic customizations, headphones also have variations in terms of design for your ears. It can be either an open-back or a closed-back headphone.

What are open back headphones?

Open-back headphones are those that allow air to circulate within your ears. It is naturally designed to allow some noise from outside to still be heard by the ears. In contrast to how closed-back headphones allow audio to echo within your ears, open-back headphones can make some of the audio spill outside.

Pros of using an open-back headphones

Open-back headphones are a popular choice for most people. Some of the reasons include:

  • Critical listening – Open-back headphones allows better audio to be played. This is because their audio can freely play around your ears and have a more natural sound. Most of the highest-quality headphones are open-backed ones.

  • Better airflow – By using an open-back headphone, you can have better circulation around your ear. This prevents you from having sweaty ears after a long session of listening. This can also make it good for exercising as it gives less heat to your areas.

  • Weight – Open-back headphones are lighter than closed-back ones. This is because they do not have outer cups which makes them weigh less. This makes it easier to wear them and to carry them around.

  • Blends in with the sounds in your environment – In case you would like a casual listen while sitting somewhere peaceful, an open-back headphone allows outside noises to mix alongside your music. This allows you to still be aware of your surroundings and not get the feeling of shutting down all sounds from around you. For safety reasons, it may also be better for you.
Disadvantages of using open-back headphones

Unadvisable for commuting – Open-back headphones are notorious for making some audio spill. If you do not want your music to be heard by the people in a subway or in a bus, you may want to refrain from using open-back headphones. This may be a disadvantage especially for those who want to listen to music at max levels.

Listening when in the office – Because open-back headphones make it possible for some audio to spill in your environment, you may refrain from listening to music at all while in the office.

Blocking exterior noise – If you are easily distracted by outside noises, you may find yourself at a disadvantage whenever using open-back headphones. Aside from making people near you hear the music you are playing, you may also hear audio that comes from outside. 


In the end, open-back headphones are mostly recommended for those who are okay with having a little audio heard near them. This, along with the benefits of better audio quality and lighter weight can make it an instant recommendation for some.