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The best open back headphones allow you a different kind of listening experience than closed back headphones. The best open back headphones replicate a fantastic sound quality and create an effect that feels like the performers are playing a private concert in your room just for you. Open back headphones leak sound and prevent musical distortion caused by sound waves bouncing off the inside of your earphone cups. In this list, we will take a closer look at the best open back headphones available.

wireless headphones
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Best Open Back Headphones Product FAQ

The best open back headphones allow a warm feel to your music that lets you experience your favorite tunes within the context of your current environment. Here are some terms and concepts you need to familiarize yourself with in order to understand our discussion of the best open back headphones.

1. What Are Open Back Headphones?

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Open back headphones are headphones that allow sound to leak out of the back of the ear cups. Music in a confined place has a physical component, and many listeners prefer the best open back headphones because they create a smoother listening experience. One problem with open back headphones is that people sitting next to you will hear the music escaping from your ear cups. Even the best open back headphones are therefore not ideal for use in public places like airplanes.

2. What Is Frequency Response?

girl using a headphone
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Frequency response is a measurement of the way headphones to replicate musical frequency. The human auditory range is around 20 to 20,000 Hz in a healthy young individual. However, the best open back headphones exceed that range to allow for a sensory listening experience. Even though you cannot hear frequencies out of the auditory range, you can still feel and respond to the sense of the frequencies.

3. What Is Impedance?

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Impedance is the resistance of an electrical circuit measured in Ohms. The best open back headphones have a high impedance both to improve sound quality and to prevent the headphones from blowing out when hooked up to high powered studio equipment. High impedance comes with a trade off of needing a lot of power to function. If you are looking for the best open back headphones to pair with your mobile device, choose ones with impedance in the range of 30 Ohms.

How We Reviewed

black and gold headphone
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We reviewed the products in our list of the best open back headphones on a variety of features. Price and audio performance were the key factors to consider. We also considered comfort and overall aesthetic. We paid specific attention to the frequency response and impedance ratings for all the headphones in our list.

Overall Price Range

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The products in our list of the best open back headphones ranged in price from $80 to $2,400. The higher-priced headphones were of studio quality with higher frequency response and impedance. However, the more economical headphones offered comparable performance and warrant the consideration of audiophiles on a budget.

What We Reviewed

  • HiFiMan HE1000 Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
  • Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System
  • Audeze LCD-X Over Ear Open Back Headphone
  • GRADO GS1000e Statement Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones
  • AKG K701 Open2DBack Reference Class Stereo Headphones
  • Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones
  • Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones
  • Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
  • Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones
  • HIFIMAN – HE-400 Headphones

HiFiMan HE1000 Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones

HiFiMan HE1000 Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

With its silver body and leather accents, the HiFiMan HE1000 is a beautiful and stylish set of headphones sure to earn some praise every time you don them in public. But these headphones don’t just look great, they are also fantastic performers. The nanometer thick diaphragm creates a near perfect dynamic response. The frequency response is an unbelievable 8 to 65,000 Hz, and the 35 Ohm impedance means you can use these headphones with anything. This is a pair of professional, studio quality headphones you can plug into your mobile device and enjoy anywhere.

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Outstanding frequency response
  • Good impedance
  • Compatible with many devices

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Large for storage
  • Consume lots of power

Price $$$

Where to Buy

Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System

Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

Sennheiser makes some of the best performing audio equipment in the industry. The Sennheiser HD 800 S is the perfect choice for audiophiles who want great performance in a modern looking package. The HD 800 S features a patented ring radiator that drives the powerful bass and crisp high tones. The frequency response is 4 to 51,000 Hz, which means these headphones are great for mixing as well as listening for enjoyment. The impedance is 300 Ohms, so you’re going to need a high powered amp to use them. These headphones are not great for mobile devices.

Pros

  • Terrific frequency response
  • High impedance so these won’t blow out
  • Attractive, modern looking design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not for mobile devices
  • Don’t fold for storage

Price $$

Where to Buy

Audeze LCD-X Over Ear Open Back Headphone

Audeze LCD-X Over Ear Open Back Headphone with New Suspension Headband and Travel case
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The Audeze LCD-X blend an old school vibe with a very modern look. Large, comfortable ear cups are connected by a minimal head band. The design is attractive, but the connection points between the cups and the band is minimal and might lack durability. The sound quality is phenomenal, as you would expect from a pair of high quality headphones like these. The frequency response is 10 to 50,000 Hz, and the impedance is 20 Ohms. The Audeze LCD-X are some of the best open back headphones you can use without causing an excessive drain on the battery of your mobile device.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Low impedance doesn’t draw as much power
  • Comfortable ear cups

Cons

  • Low impedance could be a problem with powerful amps
  • Weak clasp connecting ear cups to headband
  • Expensive

Price $$

Where to Buy

GRADO GS1000e Statement Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones

GRADO GS1000e Statement Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The GRADO GS1000e are a lovely looking set of headphones with a hand crafted mahogany earpiece. There’s something about a wood finish on your audio equipment that seems to bring about a warm undertone to anything you listen to. Wood on your headphones is like the difference between drinking beer out of a can and out of a glass. The GRADOs don’t just look great, though: they’re also high performers. With a frequency response of 8 to 35,000 Hz, you’ll get the feel as well as the sound of your music. Impedance is 32 Ohms, so these are acceptable for use with a large range of products.

Pros

  • Mahogany finish
  • Superior frequency response
  • Comfortable
  • Compatible with a large range of products

Cons

  • Don’t fold for storage
  • Heavier than plastic headphones

Price $$

Where to Buy

AKG K701 Open2DBack Reference Class Stereo Headphones

K701 Open%2DBack Reference Class Stereo Headphones with Varimotion and Flat%2DWire Voice Coil Technology
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The K701 open back headphones are headphones fit for an old school radio mogul from the golden age of broadcasting. The silver design and amply sized round ear cups suspend from a comfortable leather head band with wire supports. Economically priced at under $500, the K701s represent high quality at a good overall value. The frequency response is 10 to 39,800 Hz, and the impedance is 62 Ohms. These headphones draw a bit of power, but can still be used for mobile devices, and the impedance is high enough you aren’t likely to blow them out with powerful professional studio equipment.

Pros

  • Superior frequency response
  • Old school design aesthetic
  • Mid range impedance

Cons

  • Draw extra power from mobile devices
  • Don’t fold for storage
  • No longer made in Austria

Price $

Where to Buy

Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones

Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

There was a time when every college student had a Philips TV. Philips made a great quality product at a fraction of the price of other manufacturers. The Philips SHP9500 represents a similar model of high performance and low cost. At under $100, these are a nice pair of headphones to consider if you are on a budget. The ear cups are ample and comfortable, and the headband is well-padded. With a frequency response of 12 to 35,000 Hz and a 32 Ohm impedance, the Philips SHP9500 have the technical specs to compete with much more expensive headphones.

Pros

  • Superior frequency response
  • Compatible with many devices
  • Economical

Cons

  • Loose fit
  • Don’t fold

Price $

Where to Buy

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones

beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 feature a sleek black design and produce excellent sound from 45 mm dynamic Tesla neodymium drivers. The ear cups are loud and almost ample enough to create an echo effect. The frequency response is 5 to 40,000 Hz, and the bass comes through loud and clear. The 250 Ohm impedance means that these headphones are great for professional work in the studio but not ideal for use with portable devices. The purchase price also includes two cables and a carrying case.

Pros

  • Superior frequency response
  • High impedance ideal for studio work
  • Ample ear cups

Cons

  • Not ideal for use with mobile devices
  • Ear cups are too large for some tastes
  • Draw a lot of power

Price $$

Where to Buy

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones

 Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
Image Source: amazon

Features

Audio-Technica offers a lightweight set of headphones that rest on your head with a dual flap design supported by a mesh style headband. The head mount allows maximum versatility for all head sizes and is very comfortable. The ear cups are flat and relatively small. These headphones have a fantastic high frequency response because of their pure alloy magnetic circuit design. The 5 to 40,000 Hz frequency response is fantastic. These headphones have 470 Ohm impedance, which allows for an astonishingly pure sound but also means they are compatible only with high powered studio equipment.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Superior frequency response
  • High impedance for great quality sound
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Require a lot of power
  • Small ear cups
  • Made in Taiwan

Price $

Where to Buy

Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones

Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones, Semi-Open
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The Fostex T50RP MK3 are a set of semi-closed back headphones that endeavor to give you the best of both worlds between open back and closed back performance. The design is bulky, with large ear cups that adjust on slides mounted to the padded headband. A red cable is visible on each ear cup, and that cable is exposed and vulnerable to damage. Frequency response is 15 to 35,000 Hz and impedance is 50 Ohms. These headphones are a terrific choice if you want the warmth of open back headphones combined with the precision of closed back headphones.

Pros

  • Semi-closed back
  • Superior frequency response
  • Good impedance for mobile compatible headphones

Cons

  • Exposed red cable
  • Draw a lot of power
  • Bulky design

Price $

Where to Buy

HIFIMAN – HE-400 Headphones

HIFIMAN - HE-400 Headphones
Image Source: amazon.com

Features

The steel and leather construction of the HIFIMAN HE-400 headphones make them both durable and heavy. Some users might not like the size and weight, but others might prefer the solid construction and hefty feel. These headphones create exceptional sound from planar-magnetic drivers. A Y cable connects each of your ear cups to your amp. The frequency response is 20 to 35,000 Hz. Impedance is only 35 Ohms, but these headphones are not optimized for efficient use with mobile devices. The price is mid range for high performing studio equipment.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Superior frequency response
  • Leather ear pads

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not optimized for mobile players
  • Cumbersome Y cable

Price $$

Where to Buy

The Verdict

Any of the items in our list of the best open back headphones would make a perfect choice depending on your listening needs. We picked the GRADO GS1000e as our choice for the best open back headphones. The mahogany finish adds a kind of warmth and resonance to the sound that the plastic body headphones can’t replicate. At $1000, the GRADOs are not inexpensive, but they represent a good mid point price for professional headphones and their performance specs are the equivalent of higher-priced headphones. The GRADOs are a great choice for getting the most out of your music collection.