Open Back vs Closed Back Headphones: Which Headphones Are Better?

Headphones are one of the most popular ways we listen to sound and music on our computers, whether we use them for gaming or for work purposes or even just for social networking, even more so than speakers or headsets.

The reason why headphones are so popular is because they are super simple to use and don’t require much tweaking or hassle in order to set them up. For example, headsets come with multiple cables rather than just one headphone jack which you have to plug into your PC, and don’t get me started on bulky speakers…

It’s the simplicity of the headphones and a single headphone jack which makes them so popular with people. However, not all headphones are equal… there are quite a few different types of headphones, but the two most popular types are open back and closed back ones. In this post, we are going to find out what these are, and which type is better for you.

In Favour of Closed Back Headphones

We’ll start with closed back headphones first of all; these are pretty much headphones where the ends of the ear cups are sealed up tight. Because of this, the sound coming from these headphones will be isolated inside the cups, and fully focused on your ears.

Because of this, the sound will be very direct and will excel at drowning out sound outside the headphones; this is one of the biggest reasons why so many people opt to using closed back headphones as opposed to open backed ones.

For example, imagine you are on public transport and countless people are chit-chatting around you; if you use a pair of closed back headphones to listen to music on your phone or laptop, the isolated noise will help immensely at drowning out the people talking around you.

Furthermore, the sound won’t escape from the headphones, so if you’re listening to music which would easily put your reputation in a bad light (don’t worry, your secret is safe with me 😉 ) then you won’t have to worry about other people hearing it with closed back headphones.

Another pro about the isolated sound that you get with closed back headphones is that they make bass sound very deep and low in tone; if you’re somebody who really likes their sound bassy and containing a lot of vibration, then closed back headphones will be the better option for you.

When it comes to gaming as well, closed back headphones are a big benefit; as the sound doesn’t leak out from the ear cups, there won’t be any annoying sound feedback when you are using your microphone to speak to other players.

This will be a huge benefit if you are giving out important information or tactics to your teammates as the leaking sound won’t drown out what you are saying.

In Favour of Open Back Headphones

Now we move on to open back headphones; when compared to closed back ones, these ones pretty much have grilles on the sides of their ear cups rather than having the sides sealed up tight like closed back headphones. Because of this, sound and air can move freely in and out of the cups, creating a more natural sense of sound rather than it being isolated.

Basically, instead of sound being isolated and directly in your ears like closed back headphones, it will instead sound like everything is further out around you, creating a more life-like and immersive experience. However, because the ear cups are ultimately exposed, sound can leak out from the headphones.

Because of this, open back headphones aren’t suitable for public use because the sound will leak out from the headphones, and sound from outside the headphones will leak in and interfere with your listening experience too; unless you want people to hear what you are listening to, don’t use open back headphones in the middle of a crowd.

However, while open back headphones are nothing short of a disaster when it comes to public use, they excel at private listening, especially when you’re listening to sound-intensive things like music or video games.

Thanks to the sound not being isolated and being allowed to leak, expressive sounds like music or video games will be heard far more clearly and vibrantly when compared with closed back headphones.

For example, if you listen to a music track with closed back headphones, then listen to the same song with open back ones, chances are you will catch some instruments or vocal tracks that weren’t as noticeable when you were wearing closed back headphones.

This small detail is why so many people use open back headphones as opposed to closed back ones; they will find some extra sounds and vocals in music and games that closed back headphones just simply won’t catch due to its isolated sound.

Which Headphones Are Better for You?

So, now that we have gone through two of the most popular forms of headphones, which one is the better one for you?

When it comes to closed back headphones, they are the better option when you want to listen to music and games out in public and don’t want to disturb other people as their isolated design won’t cause any sound to leak out.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest cons to closed back headphones is that they usually feel very heavy against your ears and head, and the isolated design of the ear cups can leave your ears feeling stuffy and may even start to hurt them after excessive use.

Furthermore, if the weather in your area is generally hot, then closed back headphones may not be such a good idea as this stuffy feeling will make you feel horrible in the heat…

However, when your typical weather is cold, closed back headphones may be the better option for you thanks to their “stuffiness” as they will keep you ears warm from the cold air; cold ears are very uncomfortable, so I would know how important this may be to you. 😉

Alternatively, if you are somebody who appreciates music or sound – you would be known as an audiophile 😉 – open back headphones will be the much better option for you. They will be able to pick up more subtle things in music better than closed back headphones.

Furthermore, open back headphones are lighter on your head and ears; if you live in a warm climate, or the weather where you live gets hot quite often, these will be the better option for you as the lightness of them won’t make you feel stuffy like closed back headphones would; plus, they won’t hurt your ears after excessive use either.

Sadly, when the weather is cold, these types of headphones may not do much to keep your ears warm; you may need to opt for closed back ones to keep your ears warm…

So, to recap: closed back headphones are more for public usage and if you want to hear more bass in your sound, plus they will keep your ears warm in cold climates.

Open back headphones, while not suitable for public use (unless you want others to hear your tastes in music), are the superiour headphones if you want better sound quality in your music and games; they will also keep your ears cool and comfortable in warmer weather.


Finding the right headphones for yourself all boils down to your preferences, where and when you listen to music or play video games, and what the weather is generally like in your area. I hope with this post you have a better understanding of the two most popular forms and know which one is more suited to your current situation.

Thank you so much for reading this post, and if you have any questions or pros / cons of your own in regard to these kinds of headphones, then jot a comment down below in the comment section.

Happy gaming!

Jamie – the PC Gaming Nerd


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