Difference between open and closed headphones.

Headphones are of two main types - open and closed. What are the features of both?

Facts about open headphones

The main characteristic of open headphones is poor sound insulation. On the one hand, melodies played with the help of devices of the corresponding type are heard by others, on the other hand, a person wearing such headphones hears the sounds of his environment.

The earcups that are present in the design of open headphones usually do not abut the head (if we are talking about full-size or, for example, the so-called monitor headphones).

It should be noted that there is no relationship between the openness or closeness of the headphones and their design. What does it mean?

By design, headphones are divided into such basic types as:

  • "earbuds";
  • in-channel devices;
  • on-ear headphones;
  • full-size devices;
  • "monitor" headphones.

Practically in each of the noted designs, both open and closed devices can be produced.

In the devices of this type, there are no resonating elements that could unambiguously prevent the penetration of sound in one direction or another. Moreover, in the design of open headphones, the side wall of the cups in many cases has the form of a mesh or has a large number of holes (if we are talking, for example, about in-ear headphones), which contributes to the free sound outward.

Open-back headphones are more optimal for listening to tunes in high and medium frequencies. Their design also helps to clean the playing sound from microscopic noises typical for soundproofed spaces. Open-back headphones are best suited for listening to classical music - especially when it comes to orchestral or instrumental compositions.

The facts about closed-back headphones

In turn, closed-back headphones are designed to provide increased sound isolation - both for the user in terms of environmental noise perception and for other people in terms of audibility of the melodies heard by the headphone wearer.

Cups of devices of the corresponding type have certain features. As a rule, they are equipped with ear pads that fit snugly to the head and also fit the ear (again, when it comes to full-size or "monitor" headphones). The side wall of the cups in closed devices usually does not have holes that would, as in the case of the first type, allow sound to escape.

Closed-back headphones are generally better for listening to low-frequency sounds. If the melody contains a tangible proportion of bass, then they will be reproduced by means of such devices sufficiently rich and deep. That is, closed headphones are best suited for playing rock music, metal and other compositions where bass is present.


The main difference between open and closed headphones is that the former do not have elements in their design that provide sound insulation, and the latter are designed just to achieve its maximum level.

Open-back headphones are optimal for listening to the high and mid frequencies found in classical instrumental and orchestral music. Closed ones are best suited for playing songs in which there is a significant percentage of bass. This is, as a rule, rock music, metal.

Open-back headphones are ideal for listening to music at home or on vacation in places where this way of spending time will not disturb others. Devices classified as closed are better suited for use in the office, on public transport, and on city streets.

It should be noted that only the most high-tech models of closed headphones can provide complete sound insulation. Devices related to budget, most often are designed that this function will be performed only at a moderate level of sound volume or environmental noise.

Similarly, the user can expect the reference sound quality of melodies at high and medium frequencies only when using open headphones of the Hi-End category. Devices of budget models, as many music lovers note, are not always able to reproduce songs at the appropriate frequencies so that they sound incomparably better than when using closed headphones.

Having determined what is the difference between open and closed headphones, we enter the conclusions in the table.


Open headphones Closed-back headphones
Do not provide isolation of the reproduced sound, allow the user to hear environmental noisesAssume the achievement of maximum isolation of those sounds represented by the played melodies and the noises surrounding the user
Optimal for playing music in mid to high frequencies - instrumental, orchestralOptimum for playing music in low frequencies, with bass - rock, metal
Loose fit to the head, the wall of the cup is mesh or with holesFit snugly to the head and to the ear, the wall of the cup is without holes