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What are semi-open headphones?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by bobran, Aug 13, 2009.
  1. bobran
    Could somebody please explain what semi-open headphones are? I understand that open means they leak sound or you can hear outside sounds while listening, and closed means they shut off sound and leaks. So what does semi-open headphones mean and can you give some examples of semi-open headphones?
  2. oqvist
    Just some marketing term... Supposed to have some form of isolation or give you that idea. However there is "closed headphones" with no discernable isolation whatsoever and more or less "open" headphones so there is no standard on what headphones are being allowed to be marketed as open or closed [​IMG].
  3. Sovelin
    A marketing ploy.

    Semi-Open: You get to enjoy the best of open and closed headphones without any of the downsides!

    Translation: These headphones may or may not leak less sound than full open headphones. They may or may not isolate sound. They absolutely will annoy everyone around you. Many open headphones will isolate sound better and leak less sound. Most all closed headphones will isolate better and leak less sound.

  4. aristos_achaion Contributor
    Oh, I wouldn't say they're a marketing ploy, just one technique to producing sound.

    Open headphones tend to have the whole back of the cup open. Just look at any Grados or the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 or something...a permeable mesh covers the entire back. That makes them very prone to leakage and have very little isolation, for obvious reasons.

    Closed headphones have the entire back closed, like, say, the Audio-Technica ATH-A700 or the Beyer DT770. These offer the potential for isolation and lack of leakage (even if they don't always follow through), but generally aren't as good as open 'phones, at least in the lower price ranges.

    Semi-open 'phones are ones where, while there are holes or slots in the back of the cup, the cup is at least partly closed. Good examples include the AKG K240 Sextett and the Fostex T50RP.

    Really, these are all just guidelines...openness, closedness, and states in between are just tools used to create the sound signatures of specific headphones. I wouldn't use a semi-open 'phone in a crowded environment (just like an open 'phone)...I'd just use it like an open 'phone, to be honest. Don't buy on grounds of being semi-closed, buy on grounds of liking a certain headphone.
  5. GuyDebord
    another example is the dt880
  6. ourfpshero
    semi-open cans generally have an open back and a closed type dense material earpad.

    example- akg k240 - pleather pads, open back.
    regular open air cans usually have a cloth or foam earpad so outside sound can come in from the earpad area also.

    as stated tho, all cans are different in how the sound is tuned and the labels given to the techniques
  7. Sovelin
    I think everyone would agree that, basically, you shouldn't let semi-openness be a determining factor when you purchase headphones. I think headphones that are marketed as fully open tend to sound a bit better, but you'd have to try them out yourself to know.

    If you're looking for the quality of open headphones and the isolation of the closed headphones, semi-open isn't really the way to go. These two things are pretty much mutually exclusive. You are better off purchasing two headphones. I would go for the open ones when you want to enjoy great music, and use the closed ones when you need the isolation.

    Just don't let the semi-open tag be a deciding factor. I tried that with the AKG K240S and was severely disappointed that everyone around me could hear what I could hear, and they asked me to turn down my music. Though at lower volumes they could still hear it, and I just ended up musicless at the library.
  8. ABathingApe
    Semi-open is like a car with 4WD. Don't get the understeer of FWD or the oversteer of RWD [​IMG]. Pure perfection.

    On a more serious note, if you are buying semi-open, you should probably just expect all of the negatives of having an actual "open" headphone.
  9. bobtor
    I have drilled holes in "closed headphones" and experienced the following: Less bass boom but improvement in mid-treble & I perceive a wider sound stage.  BTW the loss in base is less than 15% and imo, the trade off is well worth it!  BTW, I am not a purist, I use equalizers & headphone amps when punch is called for but turn them off when I listen to acoustic program where flat setting is desired. 
    On the other hand, I have wrapped "naked" Grado foam earpads in leatherette (punched 4 holes in leatherette to allow the foam to breathe - vastly improved the already good base and improved the "fit" of these headphones.
    I also stretched & twisted Sol Republic headbands to aim the sound to my ear cavity and decease the pain of the tight clamps.  I now love these headphones ( I considered getting rid of them) - they still need base cut and mid range equalization.
    No one can lay claim to golden ears so I instead conform to the music and how the headphones fit my head.  I am a hiker have about 2000 songs/7 genres that I regularly listen to 3 hours a day.  I wear the humongous AKG 4 inchers outdoors too - don't care if I look like I am from Area 51. (Ctrl/Cmd+V)
  10. bobtor
    Ver zen like response.  I like the deep thought.
  11. bobtor
    I agree about the stiff pads...>> Love sound quality but AKG K242 HD hurts so I ordered pads for JVC HA RX900.  They have an oval aperture and more compliant foam v. the "day-old donut" stock AKG pad.  They arrive tomorrow ...I am optimistic.  Wish me luck. 

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