TV and Audio

The Best Open-Back Headphones in 2021

best open back headphones

If you love natural sounding and can’t stand even the least echoes inside your headphones then you should go for open-ear headphones and enjoy their lifelike sounding. Here you can find the list of the best open-back headphones you can find on today’s market as well as some tips, which will help you choose the best of the lot taking into account your budget and special requirements.

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Last update on 2021-10-19 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon

How to Choose Open-back Headphones

Open-back vs Closed-back

Both open-back and closed-back headphones belong to the category of over-ear headphones. Both of them have their pros and cons and you should know where and when they are the most suitable to use.

Closed-back headphones block out the outside noise, so they can be either noise-cancelling or noise-isolating. They are perfect for public transport and noisy places. Besides, they have minimum sound leakage. Still, they do not sound as natural as open-back headphones and your ears can get tired much faster after wearing them for a longer period of time.

Open-back headphones produce excellent audio with natural sounding. They are great for high-quality files but unlike closed-back headphones they leak sound out and they don’t block the outside noise very well. Thus, choosing open-back headphones you should remember that they are suitable for quiet places.


The variety of open-back headphones is great. Lots of them have similar characteristics and offer decent performance. Still, the factor which will always influence your final choice is the correlation between headphones price and your budget. Those, who are ready to spend a bunch of cash on an expensive model, have a wider range to choose from.

Sure, premium headphones are never cheap. But if you have current financial constraints it doesn’t mean that there is no chance to buy a pair of nice headphones. Some budget models can also deliver great performance. Just be attentive when considering their specifications.


Most top-notch open-back headphones come with magnetic drivers. The point is that this technology delivers consistent output at minimal distortion. What is more, they produce excellent transient response which is important for bass notes. In a word, headphones with magnetic drivers have clear, accurate and natural sound.

Cheaper models have dynamic drivers. They’re effectively a coil of wire attached to a plastic diaphragm, set into a magnet. However, dynamic drivers often produce distorts, especially at higher volumes.

Note that driver size plays an important part as well because it affects the frequency range. So, if you want to have powerful bass then look for drivers which are not less than 40mm.


All open-back headphones are aimed at natural sounding. Thanks to their construction type the air freely passes through the ear cups to the speaker element. Thus, pressure doesn’t affect the sound and there are almost no echoes inside the headphones.

Still, it doesn’t mean that all open-back headphones have the same lifelike audio. Its quality depends mainly on drivers and housing materials. If their quality is high then you will get extended frequency response as well as spatial imaging.

Build Quality and Comfort

Choose models with breathable materials that won’t make your ears suffer after long hours of wearing. Besides, check whether the headphones are durable and will survive a trip in your bag. Size is also another point to consider. It should suit your head and ears as well as your bag.

9 Best Open-back Headphones

Sennheiser HD 599

Next Level of Performance

sennheiser hd 599 open back headphone
The HD 599 combines sophisticated sound with an impressive design and wonderful build quality. Expect to hear natural sounds that are well-placed in space and immersive – the listener is immediately transported in the middle of a virtual recording studio. Furthermore, the open back design is supported by the Sennheiser proprietary transducer technology, which makes these headphones the perfect starting point for audiophiles.

The large earcups cushioned with plush velour (replaceable) enhance the experience and the padded headband lets you enjoy your favorite tunes for hours. While they only support wired connectivity, there are two detachable cables in the package: one is 3m long and the other 1.2m.

This way, you can enjoy amazing sound quality inside the house and outside (the shorter cable is for connectivity to a mobile device). Overall, the HD 599 from Sennheiser is perfect for any type of audio entertainment, from music to movies and games!

  • Incredibly comfortable design
  • Around the ear cushions
  • Powerful and natural sound
  • Two detachable cables
  • Lightweight and solid frame
  • Bass is not obtrusive
  • Some distortions on high volumes

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Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Great Open-back Headphones for Gaming

audio-technica ath-r70x
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x come with hefty magnets. Such pure alloy magnetic circuit design minimizes distortion and guarantees accurate and extended high-frequency response. Note that detailed transient response is gained through structural rigidity improved by carbon composite resin. These open-back headphones have acoustically transparent housings made of aluminum honeycomb-mesh. Due to this Audio-Technica ATH-R70x gets lifelike sounding.

One more thing you need to be aware of is its durability and comfort level. Though Audio-Technica ATH-R70x may look not as impressive as Sennheiser HD 700, its build quality is really nice. These headphones are made of high-grade breathable materials. The ear cushions are quite deep and thick, and it means that your ears won’t touch the driver. As to the headband, its clamp force can be easily adjusted as it’s you who shapes the metal band according to your likes and dislikes. What is more, Audio-Technica ATH-R70x is not only comfortable to wear but also lightweight.

By the by, these open-back headphones come with dual-sided detachable locking cable, which is also L/R signal independent.

  • solid build quality
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • lifelike sound
  • ear pads could be bigger

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Worthwhile Open-back Headphones From HIFIMAN

hifiman he-400i
HIFIMAN HE-400I are one of the best open-back headphones, which have not only a stylish look but also an impressive sound. These open-back headphones have a single-ended planar magnetic driver, which is responsible for top-notch soundstage and spatial imaging. Note that their magnetic force is distributed evenly and this guarantees low distortion and lifelike sounding.

As there is 93dB efficiency, HIFIMAN HE-400I can be driven with a medium and even small-sized amplifier. You can also easily pair it with a smartphone or portable audio player. Thanks to massive diaphragm these headphones come with high signal input and flexible bass and treble. Though the diaphragm is massive, it’s rather lightweight. That is why these headphones have a fast response time.

As to the comfort level, these open-back headphones are designed with ABS polymer ear cups in a gloss charcoal finish and a headband with an improved pressure pattern. Their beveled ear pads are made of pleather and velour.

  • clear and detailed sound
  • low and high-frequency extension
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • too short cable
  • fingerprint magnet

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Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

The Best Open-Back Headphones for Mixing

beyerdynamic dt 990 pro
Need open-back headphones at a reasonable price? Lucky you are as you have just found them. Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO cost less than $200 but its features make them one of the best open-back headphones on today’s market.

Beyerdynamic is well-known for their high-quality audio which always comes with detailed resolution. DT 990 PRO is not an exception and can also boast of transparent and spacious sound. This pair of open-back headphones would be suitable not only for long listening sessions but also for professional mixing and editing. There is a wide stereo image as well as highly sensitive transducers which provide well-balanced audio.

Note that despite its affordable price DT 990 PRO are made of great materials which guarantee comfort and durability. Its soft and velour earpads are replaceable, and its connecting cable is coiled. These open-back headphones also come with a solid steel headband and super lightweight construction.

  • transparent and detailed sound
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • affordable price
  • high build quality
  • build quality could be better

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Philips Fidelio X3

Designed for Audiophiles

philips fidelio x3
Open back design, premium finishes, and solid build are some of the features that put Fidelio X3 on top of the list for anyone looking for high-quality. However, the 50mm acoustic neodymium drivers and the double-layered ear shells are among the elements that make the Fidelio X3 a must-have for audiophiles.

The drivers are engineered to tilt at 15-degrees to fit the natural geometry of the human ear (for a natural resonance), while the ear shells help reduce resonance and vibration. Also, the open back is covered with acoustically transparent Kvadrat speaker fabric, which eliminates air pressure buildup and helps create an amazing, spacious sound.

Overall, the diaphragms are perfectly balanced, delivering impactful bass, smooth midrange frequencies, and well-detailed high frequencies.

Lastly, the headphones are extremely comfortable due to the combination between the light and soft inner headband and the slightly more rigid outer one. In addition, the memory foam ear cushions perfectly cup your ears, into a soft & light embrace.

  • Amazingly well balanced audio quality
  • Solid design
  • Spacious sound due to the open back construction
  • Comfortable to wear for long periods of time
  • 5 – 40,000 Hz frequency response
  • Detachable cables
  • It takes a bit of work to find the right fit
  • The cables are microphonic

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Shure SRH1840

The Best Open-back Studio Headphones

shure srh1840
In case you need studio headphones we recommend you to pay attention to Shure SRH1840. These open-back headphones are equipped with individually matched 40mm neodymium drivers, which provide unparalleled acoustic performance. It’s also one of the best options for those who like deep and accurate bass.

Shure SRH1840 has an open-back circumaural design that comes together with the wide stereo image and increased depth of field. It can easily handle complex recordings and goes loud without losing control. By the way, its steel driver frame that comes with vented center pole piece provides improved linearity and reduces internal resonance. As a result, you get top-notch performance.

As to the build quality, you won’t be disappointed as well. These open-back headphones have light construction. They are made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke and stainless steel grilles. Such a combination makes them durable and long-lasting. Shure SRH1840 has an ergonomic design, so you won’t get tired wearing it for a long period of time. It’s also one of the best open-back headphones for gaming.

  • natural sounding
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • solid build quality
  • precise monitoring
  • removable cable
  • expensive
  • require high-quality equipment

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AKG K702

Great Open-back Headphones Under $200

akg k702
Another pair of open-back headphones for a reasonable price is AKG K702. It comes with flat-wire voice coils and a patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm. Together they bring extremely accurate response and spacious sounding. Keep in mind that its pre-selected transducers guarantee minimum channel tolerances as needed for professional audio applications. Besides, AKG K702 have a completely open design and a high-performance cable.

AKG K702 are designed with a cushioned genuine leather headband for improved comfort. What is more, there is an individually tested attached cable. Its specially shaped 3D-foam ear pads provide comfortable fit during long hours of wearing. Note that its ear pads are also replaceable.

  • great audio
  • affordable price
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • high build quality
  • large
  • lacks bass

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

The Best Open-back Headphones Under $100

audio-technica ath ad700x
If you are not ready to pay a pretty penny for a pair of new headphones then have a look at Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X. These open-back headphones are really cheap as they cost less than $100.

ATH-AD700X have 100dB/mW sensitivity and leaves no sense of pressure on the ears. This results in comfortable wearing and natural sounding. There are well-designed 53mm drivers, which come with bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils. Together they deliver clear treble as well as midrange.

These open-back headphones are wired. They have lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing with great acoustic features. Thanks to total ear-fit design as well as self-adjusting 3D Wing Support Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X provide a comfortable fit.

  • great audio
  • low price
  • comfortable and lightweight
  • too sensitive to external noises
  • bulky
  • poor cable quality

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Grado SR60e

Great Budget Open-back Headphones

grado sr60e
These open-back headphones come with lightweight ergonomic construction which makes their wearing comfortable even during a long period of time. As well as Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Grado SR60e are cheap. Though its audio quality is quite decent for such low price, there is sound leakage.

Its plastic ear cup housings and fake leather headband padding look rather elegant. Though its materials aren’t of the highest quality, Grado SR60e is rather durable. The only thing we do not like is the cable quality.

As to the sound quality, these headphones have clear imaging and treble. Bass is fairly deep. Still, remember that buying headphones which cost less than $100 you cannot expect anything spectacular.

  • good audio
  • low price
  • comfortable fit
  • poor cable quality

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Open-back headphones are a must if you prefer natural sounding. So, hurry up to choose a model that will suit your pocket and taste.

About author

In her work, Mirela studies, tests and reviews the latest releases in audio, video, gaming, gadgets, and more. Mirela has been writing about tech for over 5 years now, during which she collaborated with people all over the world on various projects.
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