Updated

The 7 Best Open-Back Headphones - Spring 2020
Reviews

Best Open-Back Headphones
445 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
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Open-back headphones deliver an immersive listening experience through their unique design. As they lower the level of isolation between you and your surroundings, they can produce a wide and spacious soundstage that can feel like you're listening to speakers in your room rather than something in your ears. On the downside, they leak a lot of sound, even if you're listening to music at a reasonable level, and can distract people around you. They also struggle to reduce background noise and these headphones perform best in a quiet room. Open-back headphones lack additional features like a microphone or wireless design, which can hurt their versatility. If you're looking for something for mixed-use, check out our recommendations for closed-back headphones, but if you're looking for a great sound experience from your headphones, this is the place to be.

We've tested over 400 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best open-back headphones you can buy. If you're still looking for headphones, take a look at our recommendations for the best audiophile headphones and the best headphones for music.


  1. Best Open-Back Headphones: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    5.3
    Mixed Usage
    8.5
    Neutral Sound
    4.0
    Commute/Travel
    5.5
    Sports/Fitness
    4.8
    Office
    4.8
    Wireless Gaming
    6.9
    Wired Gaming
    1.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best open-back headphones we've tested so far. Their exceptional and immersive sound is perfect for experiencing your audio to the fullest.

    Thanks to their premium design, their audio fidelity is well-balanced and bright, which will especially please fans of jazz and classical music. Their outstanding soundstage is spacious and natural, creating an immersive listening experience without external speakers. The headphones themselves are very well-built and feel premium thanks to their dense plastic and metal frame. Their large, spacious ear cups are well padded with suede-like material and should be able to get you through long listening sessions.

    Although these headphones are among the best open-back headphones out there, they're incredibly expensive. If you're serious about sound, you may also want to purchase an amplifier to really get the full experience. However, if the high price tag isn't a problem and you're looking for the best quality you can get, these are a great choice.

    See our review

  2. Less Expensive Alternative: HiFiMan Ananda

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Planar Magnetic

    If you're looking for open-back headphones with a great, immersive sound at a less steep price, check out the HiFiMan Ananda. They slightly lack in build quality and soundstage when compared to the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but have a similarly well-balanced sound profile for a considerably lower price. The HiFiMan are still very comfortable and even have a bit more bass than the Sennheiser. However, they can have inconsistent quality control and a few users report that they have issues with their units. Still, if you can get a properly functioning pair, these headphones can give you a great listening experience that's on par with other more expensive over-ears.

    If you're looking for premium headphones that can give you a unique and immersive listening experience, get the Sennheiser. However, if you're looking for something more wallet-friendly and aren't worried about quality control issues, then check out the HiFiMan.

    See our review

  3. Best Open-Back Headphones For Gaming: Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019

    5.7
    Mixed Usage
    7.7
    Neutral Sound
    4.4
    Commute/Travel
    5.5
    Sports/Fitness
    5.2
    Office
    6.3
    Wireless Gaming
    8.0
    Wired Gaming
    7.1
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best open-back headphones for gaming we’ve tested so far are the Astro A40 TR + MixAmp Pro 2019. These comfortable open-back headphones come in both PS4 and Xbox One variants and are designed to give you an immersive gameplay experience, especially over long gaming sessions.

    Their spacious, well-padded ear cups feel soft on the skin while their wired design helps to keep you in the game without worrying about battery life or lag. They also have a USB dock that offers a variety of connectivity options. Their added bass can also add more vibrancy to your gameplay as it can make gunshots and explosions sound boomier. If you like to shotcall while you play, the boom microphone is superb too, even in noisy environments.

    While their sound profile lacks detail and presence because of their reduced treble, they luckily come with a companion software called the Astro Command Center, which makes it easy to EQ this sound to your liking. You can even assign custom EQ presets to the MixAmp. If you're looking for open-backed headphones to help immerse you in your game, these are a solid choice.

    See our review

  4. Best Open-Back Headphones Under $200: Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee

    5.1
    Mixed Usage
    8.0
    Neutral Sound
    3.8
    Commute/Travel
    5.5
    Sports/Fitness
    4.5
    Office
    4.4
    Wireless Gaming
    6.5
    Wired Gaming
    1.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best open-back headphones under $200 we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. As they're a collaboration between Sennheiser and Massdrop, you can only find these headphones on Drop's website, but their lower price point and great sound offer great value.

    These headphones have a good build quality that's both dense and durable while their ear cups have a microfiber-like fabric padding that gives them a more premium feel. Their impressively well-balanced sound has slightly more of a punchy bass than other open-back headphones we've tested such as the Sennheiser HD 600 or AKG K702 but is well-suited for most genres of audio. They also have a decent soundstage, which can be rare at this price point.

    Some may find these headphones uncomfortable as they have a tight fit. Their ear cups are large, and if you have a smaller head, they can extend past the jaw. If you damage the audio cable or just need a new one, similarly thick replacement cables are less common and can be difficult to find online. However, if you don't mind the tight fit, their price-to-performance ratio is great for those on a budget.

    See our review

  5. More Comfortable Alternative: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you're looking for more comfortable open-back headphones at this price range, then consider the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. While they don't have the same balanced sound as the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, they still have a more comfortable design overall, even though they also have a tight fit. Their headband does a better job of distributing pressure across your head too and the ear cups can give you more room to breathe, which is great if you're trying to cut down on headphone fatigue. On the downside, their sound profile can be sharp, especially if you're listening to brighter tracks, but this can vary across users.

    If you need a more neutral sound profile that won't sound too sharp, stick with the Sennheiser. However, you're looking for something comfortable enough for long listening sessions, get the Beyerdynamic.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Open-Back Headphones: Philips SHP9500

    5.2
    Mixed Usage
    8.1
    Neutral Sound
    4.0
    Commute/Travel
    5.3
    Sports/Fitness
    4.8
    Office
    4.7
    Wireless Gaming
    6.8
    Wired Gaming
    1.7
    Phone Calls
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best budget open-back headphones we've tested so far are the Philips SHP9500. Although the open-back design can be associated with a high price tag due to their audiophile features, these headphones offer good performance at an affordable price.

    Even at their price point, these headphones deliver a great neutral sound that's spacious and well-balanced. They produce a surprisingly good soundstage that's open, although still somewhat small and narrow, and they're easy to drive so you don't need a fancy amp to get the best sound from them. Their comfortable, durable design also makes it easy to wear these headphones for long periods.

    On the downside, these headphones lack in low-bass and they don't have a companion app to EQ for it. The fabric coating on the ear cups can also feel a bit rough to the touch and can bother users with sensitive skin. Still, their performance is impressive at this price point and they're a good option for those who want to try open-back headphones at a more affordable price.

    See our review

  7. Even Cheaper Semi-Open Alternative: Superlux HD 681

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Semi-Open
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you're really limited in your budget, the Superlux HD 681 are an even more affordable, semi-open option to consider. While they feel more cheaply built in comparison to the Philips SHP9500, they're still decently comfortable. Their semi-open fit still manages to create a spacious soundstage while leaking slightly less sound. Their sound profile also produces good presence for vocals and lead instruments although the treble can be bright and piercing.

    If you don't mind paying a few dollars more, the Philips are a better choice if you're looking for something more comfortable with better build quality; however, if you're on a tight budget, the Superlux are a cost-effective choice.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO: Impressively well-built, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO have a sharp and piercing sound profile but are more pricey than the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. See our review
  • HiFiMan Sundara: The HiFiMan Sundara are more affordable than the HiFiMan Ananda and while their sound profile is almost as good, they have some issues with quality control and failing drivers. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 599: While the Sennheiser HD 599 have a lightweight design that's comfortable, they sound less balanced than the Beyerdynamics DT 990. See our review
  • AKG K702: The AKG K702 are comfortable headphones that sound great but don’t feel as well-built as the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO for the price. See our review
  • AKG K712 PRO: The AKG K712 PRO are comfortable and balanced headphones but don't offer a good price-to-design ratio. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport In-Ear: The Bose SoundSport In-Ear are sports in-ears that are lightweight and stable but lack a lot in bass. See our review
  • Grado SR80e/SR80: The Grado SR80e/SR80 are on-ear headphones that lack durability and have a slightly sharper sound. See our review
  • Sennheiser Game One Gaming Headset: As a dedicated gaming headset, the Sennheiser Game One Gaming Headset has a well-balanced sound but is slightly pricey compared to its features. See our review
  • Audeze LCD-1: The Audeze LCD-1 have a smooth sound with good build quality, but some may find their treble to be dull and dark. See our review

Recent Updates

05/05/2020: Verification for accuracy; only small updates to the text.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best open-back headphones for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for open-back headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste and preference will matter more in your selection.

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