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Why do people like open-backed headphones?

It just seems to me that closed designs are better since they have better noise isolation and generally are less breakable.

Mar 30, 2022
I prefer open back because if my wife starts talking to me and I don't respond in a timely fashion, well, let's not go there.
Jul 23, 2021
Closed-back: if you don't want to disturb others or you are mixing in an environment where ambient noise is an issue. Open-back: if you are mixing and want soundstage. To get a closer idea of what your mix will sound like on real speakers. If you are mixing or producing music professionally you should check on all three. Closed and open back headphones as well as reference monitors.
May 1, 2021
time to add nothing to this conversation by saying... yikes.
Apr 30, 2021
It depends on the environment. In a studio, the main requirements are suppression of noise and durability, not sonic quality and nuance. Performers just need certain parts of the track depending on their part. You get great overall sound reproduction in the control room where larger monitors are used. In the home, if noise is not an issue, use a large set of 5 way speakers with a separate woofer. If that's not an option, use open back cans. The open back design allows for the drivers to move freely and provide better reproduction of the program material. If durability in the home is a concern while wearing headphones, either change your listening habits or pad the walls. Store them in a case when not wearing them.
Apr 30, 2021
Idk about “generally less breakable” that’s just an overall build quality question. You can have open backs that are structurally 90% as strong as any closed back. Though I don’t know anyone who buys headphones for their strength… as for Noise isolation, that’s not always a factor of need. Generally you would always want less things from outside to bleed into your music or whatever you are listening too. Closed backs definitely serve a purpose, but I wouldn’t say that one or the other are superior because in both situations one can outshine the other. But open backs generally offer a better and wider soundstage, which is great for music, media and gaming. What they typically lack in bass response is made up easily in clarity and separation. one is not better than the other, they both serve a purpose and have a place on my head!
Feb 2, 2021
Different answer: I work in an office where I'm (unfortunately) required to answer my phone. Talking to people on the phone is probably the worst aspect of my job, and my phone sits rather far away from my desk. I can listen to music at a decent volume in my open back cans while still also able to hear my phone with the ringer set at a lower volume. Different answer 2: Closed backs are my preferred way to listen to music, but I live in a rather warm climate. Open backs offer excellent sound, but also allow air into the cups. For me, this is a must have during the summer months.
Closed back headphones are great in the studio (or on stage) when noise isolation is primary.
Nov 11, 2020
If you take the same driver arrangement, you will notice better low end response in the open back design. Overall frequency response tends to be more accurate as well due to the elimination of potential phase issues. The reason for better low end response is that the diaphragm can move more easily because air movement is not restricted. A closed back design is used in the studio and for live performances because of sound isolation and making it easier to hear program material in a noisy environment. IEMs are used for the same reason, but typically at the cost of low end response. In a live performance environment, the drummer and bass player will want closed back headphones while everyone else is well served by IEMs because low end material is not needed. In a quiet room where ambient noise being picked up is not an issue, or disturbing others sitting in the same room, open back headphones are the way to go. You will get more accurate sound reproduction. To really hear full program material, people using closed back headphones tend to require higher sound pressure levels to hear the low end as intended. This, over the long run, is not a good thing for your hearing. Open back headphones are usually noticeably lighter than their closed counterparts. This lighter weight is easier on the head and neck over extended listening sessions. Listening out in public? That can present safety issues. It's best to be aware of your surroundings when out and about.
Nov 25, 2018
Open backs only struggle with some bass but open backs are better for everything else when it comes to soundstage, inoffensive treble and tonal balance.
Nov 24, 2018
The real question is, why are places like this obsessed with headphones first and foremost, opposed to speakers?
Apr 30, 2021
Yes it does, but a lot of people don’t want to sink money into sound proofing, that they could otherwise use to buy better equipment. That’s and some apartment complexes have walls entirely too thing where even good sound proofing wouldn’t actually help. For example, I lived in an apartment in Sacramento, CA where my neighbors (absolute asshats) banged on my wall and bitched I was being too loud when my Nokia phones alarm went off… soundproofing helped, but still wants nearly enough for me to enjoy loudspeakers. However, I can be a bit petty and spiteful, after they pissed me off enough I bought a 1000w surround sound setup and repeatedly played COD and watched loud movies like Top Gun all the way up to the 10pm noise curfew. They stopped complaining, and I stopped being an asshole.
Apr 30, 2021
it is all dependent upon space and environment. I listen to all three, closed back, open back, and speakers. In the house and not at the desk, I am generally listening to speakers. The living room has a simple 2 speaker plus sub, and in the 'media room' room a full 6 speaker array plus sub for home theater and gaming. Speakers are not an option when at work, on the morning commute, or in my work from home office, and sometimes my wife does not want to hear the gaming. As for closed back vs open back, it depends upon the listening situation. I find that open back do have better sound stage, but also have bleed, which I may not want my co-workers or others to hear. I wear closed back for the commute when I want to block out the sound of public transport. If this is not an issue, my go-to headphones are open backed Grado SR-80. I think I have had these since about 1987 or so. My go-to closed backs were the ATH-M40X, but since those broke, have been the E-MU purple hearts, since they are comfortable, were $75 when I bought them, and I like their sound signature for the music I enjoy, but are terrible commuting cans. As for build quality, this depends upon the specific manufacturer and model.
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