By Lauren Dragan
Music lovers looking for the ultimate headphone listening experience have more options today than ever. Many high-end audio aficionados prefer the sound of open-backed headphones above all others. What makes open-back so special? How do you know if they’re right for you? Here are a few pointers to get you acquainted.
First, a word on what open-back means: open-backed headphones have exterior shells that are not made of solid material in the way that most headphones are commonly designed. Whether it’s mesh or fabric, open-back headphones allow air into (and some sound out of) the space between the drivers and the outside air. While this does mean that one needs to enjoy open-backed headphones in a quieter listening space, it also adds a unique sound quality. By allowing some of the air in and the sound waves out, open-back headphones often have a more “authentic,” airier, or “bigger” sound.
By enabling the sound waveforms to complete in the exterior air and not slam against the wall of the ear cup and reflect back into the headphone enclosure, open back designs avoid the frequency cancellations and other distortions that closed back designs can be prone. Fans of open-backed headphones describe the experience as granting the music “space to breathe.” This can be heard on any recording but especially well in live club recordings, concert hall, and theatrical performances, where a listener can be transported to the center of the event.
For many, this is the sweet spot where one can have the large, high-end detailed and three-dimensional sound of a fine speaker system without the room-swallowing footprint or the commitment to listen in just one place. It also is a fantastic solution for those who like their music loud but share a wall with a volume sensitive neighbor. Experience your music like never before with open back headphones.