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Whats the purpose of open back headphones?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Whats the purpose of open back headphones? Why do they exist in the first place? Are they supposed to have higher sound quality since some of the sound leaks out from the back? Is this the purpose of the design?

 

Some disadvantages Ive found so far are it annoys people around you when they are working, can't use at a library, etc.

post #2 of 7

This reminds of kids on youtube calling it speakers on the outside.

 

Anyway, the biggest advantage of open headphones is soundstage. 

post #3 of 7

My friend uses open headphones at home for gaming. If you're fortunate enough to afford multiple pairs of headphones, you can use open cans in appropriate situations and use closed cans when the need to keep quiet arises. 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by krzkrzkrz View Post

Whats the purpose of open back headphones? Why do they exist in the first place? Are they supposed to have higher sound quality since some of the sound leaks out from the back? Is this the purpose of the design?

 

Some disadvantages Ive found so far are it annoys people around you when they are working, can't use at a library, etc.

 

Precisely.

 

As diaphragms make sound via vibrations, it does so bi-directionally so some sound is directed away from the ears; completely open headphones allow those sounds to escape, but closed headphones have them trapped inside the cup which causes resonances and ringing and distortions, which is the main cause of the soundstage difference, as well as the difference in transparency and refinement.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by krzkrzkrz View Post

Some disadvantages Ive found so far are it annoys people around you 

 

That could be a feature...

 

Ok seriously, what jerg said. Open = avoid weird resonance.

post #6 of 7
Also open headphones let your ears breathe and not sweat as much smily_headphones1.gif
I also found that most open headphones have a lighter clamp than closed headphones as well.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by krzkrzkrz View Post

Whats the purpose of open back headphones? Why do they exist in the first place? Are they supposed to have higher sound quality since some of the sound leaks out from the back? Is this the purpose of the design?

Some disadvantages Ive found so far are it annoys people around you when they are working, can't use at a library, etc.

The point is basically, as others have alluded to, control of the back-wave. It's similar in theory to open-baffle speakers. Not all open-back designs are free of resonance though, and not all closed headphones are ringing bells, but the generalization still stands up fairly well. Getting a closed headphone majorly right takes a lot more than getting an open headphone majorly right.

The downside however is that they do leak, which means they aren't really ideal for mobile or portable use (as lots of younger people these days use headphones for); and that's where IEMs or closed-back headphones would be better considerations. But if you're at home or work somewhere that doesn't care about the noise (e.g. you have your own office, or work in the audio industry) or some other scenario where the lack of isolation and leakage isn't a problem, very generally speaking, open back headphones are going to give you better performance per dollar.
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