10 Best Open-Back Headphones for 2021: Buyer’s Guide

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To produce good music, you need a pair of headphones with a good frequency range, sensitivity, comfort level, and clear highs and lows. Before you end up shelling out thousands on a low-quality device, we’ve created this list of the 10 best open-back headphones available right now from Amazon after reviewing dozens of products. 

Table of Contents

What we like!

  • Great for professional audio equipment
  • 3.0 m single-sided coiled cable
  • Robust and durable build quality with a comfortable design

First on our list are the Beyerdynamic DT-990 headphones. Beyerdynamic has a credible name in the industry for producing good quality professional open-back headphones, and the DT-990 model is no different.

Music producers prefer these due to their detailed tonal depth and three-dimensional audio reproduction along with the wide stereo image.

Moreover, the mid-bass of this unit is not overstated, while the treble boost is powerful and doesn’t sound sharp.

The adjustable ear cups are made from soft and comfortable velour, and there’s a single cable on the side for power.

Additionally, these headphones have been handcrafted in Germany. This ensures that you have a device made with a high-quality metal frame and great artistry.

All of this makes them a great pick for professional music editing and mixing. And while their price might be a bit on the higher side, they offer great value for the money.

Pros:

  • Produces strong bass and treble sound
  • Comfortable velour ear pads
  • Great tonal depth
  • High sound clarity
  • Large headphones made with durable materials
  • Three-dimensional audio production

Cons:

  • The headphones can cause pain as they’re tight
  • The sub-bass is poor

What we like!

  • Round ear, reference-class headphones
  • Reduction of unwanted frequency response
  • A structure that damps vibrations
  • Durable build that offers reliability

The HD800S is the latest and most high-tech piece offered by Sennheiser with loads of credible and amazing features.

It has rounded ear cups for starters, unlike the slightly oval shape that is commonly found on these products. These cups are fitted with luxurious and soft pads that are comfortable even after prolonged use.

Secondly,  the cups are vented and designed at an angle for the soundwaves to expand naturally for a spatial sound.

Not only that, but there are radiator transducers that have a 56 mm ring diameter that lets you listen to the sound with incredible details.

The device’s chassis can dampen the extra vibrations, so you’ll always get the best sound quality.

Furthermore, there are two cables attached to each side of the headphones. One is a single-ended, 6.3 mm per cable, and the other is a 4.4 mm Pentaconn for amplifiers, audio interfaces, A/V receivers, etc.

This piece is also made in Germany and offers durable build quality at a reasonable price.

Pros:

  • The cup design directs the sound waves at an angle
  • Fitted with 2 connecting cables; one single-ended and the other 4.4mm
  • Ring radiator transducers for detailed sound
  • Soft and comfortable ear pads
  • 40 mm voice coil

Cons:

  • Slightly heavier
  • The quality is not great

What we like!

  • This unit offers stereo characteristics.
  • 2 detachable cables made from high conductivity copper
  • Can connect with home and mobile devices

Moving on, we have another pair of Sennheiser headphones. These are the HD 660 S originally made to replace the HD 650.

This headphone features elliptical-shaped ear cups that offer a dynamic and detailed sound through the velour-padded cushions.

Moreover, it features all-new transducers made from lightweight aluminum voice coils fitted to stainless steel diaphragms. All of this improves the sound quality while reducing distortion.

This unit can also handle a tolerance of 1 dB and balanced frequency response for unmatched performance.

Additionally, the set is fitted with 2 para-aramid detachable cables made from OFC high-conductivity copper for low handling noise.

One cable is the 6.35 mm stereo option, while the other is a 4.4 mm Pentaconn balanced plug that can be paired with a digital audio player and a headphone amplifier.

Lastly, this lightweight and sturdy headphone is made in Germany and undergoes rigorous testing to ensure quality performance.

Pros:

  • Improved transducers for low harmonic distortion
  • Offers 10 to 41,000 HZ frequency response at 10dB
  • Strong and lightweight construction
  • Elliptical ear cups for maximum airflow
  • Compatible with digital audio player and headphone amplifier

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have much heat insulation
  • The bass output is weak
  • The tonal neutrality is not good

What we like!

  • 30% lighter than other open-back design
  • Earpads made from leather and velour
  • Offers high-quality sound for professional use

Number four on this list is the sleek and stylish HiFiMan HE400i. This is a planar magnetic headphone unit designed for in-home or professional use.

It features a unique pressure pattern made from perforated Leatherette and velour for prolonged, comfortable use. The ear cups have a charcoal finish that is glossy and offers 30% more weight reduction as compared to others on the list.

Moreover, it has a higher signal output due to its massive diaphragm that can produce flexible treble and bass. It also has a faster response due to its magnetic force that lowers the distortion.

Another thing is that the single-ended drivers deliver great sound along with spatial imaging. At the same time, its enhanced efficiency makes it compatible with an amplifier or an audio player.

It comes with 2 cables, 3.5 mm, and a removable 1.5 mm cable.

This headphone works great with tablets and smartphones as well.

Pros:

  • A uniquely designed headband with an improved pressure pattern
  • Low distortion and high signal audio output
  • Dual detachable cables; 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm
  • Steel reinforced lightweight and sturdy frame
  • 3 months extra warranty through the official website

Cons:

  • Not enough bass
  • The clamping force can be painful to some
  • The cable quality is not good

What we like!

  • Handcrafted, wooden ear cups
  • 180 degrees rotation for the ear cups
  • Soft pads for prolonged use

If a unique design is what you’re after, the SIVGA SV007 Headphones offer a classic style in the form of handcrafted natural wood for a proper acoustic experience.

The classic wood ear cups and 50 mm drivers offer a perfect balance of the frequencies and a stellar performance for all types of music such as pop, country, hip-hop, classical, and jazz.

Not only that, but the earpiece can swivel 180-degree, while the protein leather pads are comfortable to use. They also cancel external noise. The stretchable headband offers a comfortable fit.

Moreover, it comes with an in-line microphone for high-definition voice analysis and controls for volume and play/ pause.

Lastly, there are 2 cables; one for the microphone and the stereo music cable made from oxygen-free copper with nylon weaving. It also comes with a 12-month limited warranty.

Pros:

  • Fitted with an in-line microphone with high-definition audio
  • Offers deep bass audio for all types of music
  • Offers 50 mm drivers for the speakers
  • Offers volume control and pause and play options
  • Comes with a 12-year warranty

Cons:

  • Foam padding is flimsy
  • The frame quality is no good either
  • It produces a damped sound

What we like!

  • Comfortable leather headband with big earcups
  • Good for metal and classical music
  • Great build quality

Moving on, we have the retro-styled AKG K 701 headphones that offer great value for your money.

They have a lightweight and sturdy build made from plastic that reduces strain on your head, for starters. Simultaneously, the large ear cup with 3D foam cushioning and the leather headband provide comfort and durability.

Despite the reasonable price, it has a decent sound quality. The high and low tunes are crystal clear and smooth, which is great if you like working with classical or metal genres as it plays every note distinctively, which helps catch errors during recordings.

Moreover, an open-back headphone set has decent noise cancellation properties for in-home use.

Not only that, it has a wide frequency range due to the patented Varimotion dual-layered diaphragm.

Lastly, this lightweight and portable design come at a comparatively cheaper price range.

Pros:

  • Offers a wide frequency range
  • Good for studio and in-house use
  • High-sound quality with clear highs.
  • A lightweight frame made from plastic
  • A balanced sound profile

Cons:

  • Some customers had a problem with the thin padding
  • Not efficient in mixing different genres of music
  • The bass isn’t clean

What we like!

  • Sleek, matte black design
  • Reduction of sonic reflections
  • A 3.5 mm headphone jack

Another quality product from HiFiMAN is the Anada Magnetic headphones. These units are a by-word for great audio performance.

The headphones feature asymmetrical ear cups that follow your natural ear shape. At the same time, the shade grill design for the windows reduces the sonic reflections.

Moreover, the signature weight dispersing straps can withstand long listening sessions while being comfortable. While the metal construction adds to the sturdiness of the frame.

Additionally, the ear cups store the magnetic, lightweight drivers that offer enhanced sensitivity up to 103 dB with a frequency response range of 8-55 kHz.

These drivers are compatible with any smartphone device as well as other portable audio devices.

Furthermore, their new Neo Superano Diaphragm has a faster and more detailed response, thanks to its unique design, 80% thinner. Due to this diaphragm, the headphones offer higher sound quality and low distortion.

Pros:

  • 8-55 kHz frequency response
  • Sensitivity up to 103 decibels with 25 impedance
  • Asymmetrical shade grill ear cups
  • Fitted with an ultra-thin diaphragm
  • Compatible with a smartphone and other audio devices
  • Offers low distortion and good sound quality

Cons:

  • No in-line controls for the microphone
  • Not enough noise cancellation while recording

What we like!

  • Handmade in Brooklyn
  • Low impedance that can work with smartphones
  • Adjustable leather headband

The Grado SR 325e series is handmade and manufactured by a Brooklyn-based company known for making stellar headphones.

The headphones are well-engineered and produce high-quality, detailed sound. It can also be connected to your smartphone due to its low Ohm impedance.

Moreover, the construction consists of leather, plastic, and foam. The ear cups are made of powder-coated aluminum with grills.

Not only that but the ear cups are cushioned with foam, while the adjustable headband is made from sturdy leather that keeps the shape of the unit intact.

The diaphragm produces detailed sound in the mid-range and sharp sound in the highs.

The headphones have a high sensitivity of 99.8 dB, which can smoothly transition between multiple frequencies.

Furthermore, it is fitted with a non-detachable cable with a standard 3.5mm connector.

Pros:

  • Round, cushioned ear cups made from aluminum
  • Produces a bright sound
  • A detailed mid-range and sharp highs
  • Offers a smooth transition between different frequencies.
  • A sensitivity of 99.8 decibels

Cons:

  • Bass is not suitable for heavy bass music.
  • Some customers had issues with the cable flexibility
  • Has low noise isolation

What we like!

  • Offers wired and wireless connections
  • The integrated mic works with the Apple remote
  • Cushioned ear cups with adjustable headband
  • Good budget pair

Now we have the  Denon AH-MM400 headset, another addition on our list made from wood. These headphones deliver a natural balance that is tuned for a flat equalizer.

Moreover, the ear cups are made from hand-carved walnut wood with low resonance with good acoustic isolation so that you can listen to your favorite songs without any disturbance.

It also has a lightweight adjustable headband that is made from aluminum alloy with high durability and rigidity.

Another great feature to enhance the durability is that the ear cups can be collapsed via the foldable aluminum die-cast hangers on the headband.

These headphones are also supplied with 2 detachable low oxygen copper cables. One of which features a built-in mic with volume controls and smartphone controls.

Additionally, the headset features 4mm drivers made from carbon composites and magnets that can deliver a frequency response of up to 40 kHz.

Lastly, this headphone comes with a free downloadable app with a 5-band equalizer for a better mixing experience.

Pros:

  • Free-edge drivers for a flat equalizer
  • Sturdy aluminum construction
  • Real wood cups for low resonance
  • 2 detachable oxygen-free copper cables
  • Diaphragm with a 40 kHz frequency response
  • Comes with a downloadable app

Cons:

  • The user reviews  suggest poor build quality of the gear
  • The cup design not suited for people with larger ear size

What we like!

  • Good for professional music producers
  • Comfortable to wear with a durable build
  • Cushioned ear cans with adjustable headband
  • High-quality neodymium drivers

Last but not least, we have the AKG K240 STUDIO  headphones. These headphones have retained their signature sleek retro look since the 90s.

Not only that, but they have been used and recommended by several musicians and professionals.

Their ear cups are made with 30mm XXL transducers that have patented Varimotion diaphragms. These diaphragms have high sound levels due to their semi-open structure.

Moreover, it also provides a solid bass and crystal clear highs with a sensitivity of 91 decibels. It can also produce high levels of volumes with its 55-Ohm impedance level.

Additionally, the ear cups are cushioned for comfort, and the headband is adjustable to allow you to work on your music for long hours without a headache.

It also comes with a 3m detachable cable and a convertible jack that can connect your portable devices with ease.

Pros:

  • A high-sensitivity diaphragm
  • 30mm XXL transducers for a solid bass range.
  • The high sensitivity of 91 dB
  • 3m in length, detachable input cable
  • Sleek black retro headphone design
  • High levels of volume with 55-Ohm impedance

Cons:

  • Bass performance is subpar
  • The construction is mostly plastic

Frequently Asked Questions

The benefit of having open-back headphones is that they allow air to pass through the speaker, which reduces any effect of pressure on the audio quality. This produces a natural sound and a better sound experience.

A major flaw of the open-back headphones is that they do have a sufficient amount of sound leakage due to the airflow, so they are not the best option for wearing outside. Not only that, but they also have poor noise-canceling properties. That is why they are made and marketed to be used inside a studio or your house.

Due to their flatter response, the open-back headsets are a good choice for mixing music. The airflow also allows you to listen to the natural tone of the music, which affects the outcome after mixing.

Not only that, but they can give you a better perspective on how the music will feel coming out of the listener’s headphones.

This depends on the difference in your surroundings. If your gaming sessions are in your room without external noise, the open-back sets have a greater advantage than gaming headsets.

However, if you’re outside or in a gaming zone with lots of background noise, then closed-back headphones are the best, as they provide good sound isolation.

In this category, the models reproduce the sound and frequencies at the highest level of accuracy. These audiophiles are a lot more expensive than other headsets on the market made from high-quality custom-made materials.

Buying Guide

Common Parameters:

Soundstage

In simple terms, the sound stage is the distance between the vocals and the instruments in a soundtrack.

Keep in mind that the headphones with wider soundstages can accurately produce the distance between the sounds to make the record sound more realistic.

Impedance

Impedance is the level of sensitivity your headset has with regard to the source music. If you’re just using your mobile device to play the tracks, you don’t need high impedance. Pretty much anything below 50 Ohm is good.

On the other hand, if you’re in a studio producing music, then a high impedance is required.

Frequency Range

Frequencies determine the capabilities of a device to generate sound. Generally, we hear frequencies in the range of 20 to 20, 000 Hz. In other words, you would want your headset to produce frequencies that you can respond to.

Amp

The amp basically raises low-voltage sound from the source to a level that can be compatible with your headphones.

If your headphones are good, 50 Ohm amp is sufficient for a good quality sound.

Sub Bass

Sub-bas has fewer harmonics and can be an octave below the bass. It is also defined as the lowest frequencies we can hear. This range is from 20 to 60 Hz. Instruments that produce sound in this range are bass guitar, drum machine, and bass drum.

Conclusion

We hope this detailed guide on the best open-back headphones helped you pick the one most suited to your needs.