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Headphone Buying Guide: Open vs. Closed Headphones

Open vs Closed Headphones

Open vs. Closed Headphones

Open Design Headphones

  • Open Headphones are designed to allow some outside noise to mix with the headphones' output.
  • Some listeners prefer the open natural sound (think listening to speakers in a room) rather than the isolated sound of closed headphones.
  • Open headphones may also boost sound clarity depending on the type of music you are listening to.
  • In general, open headphones are more comfortable with lighter pressure on the ear area.
  • Open headphones do allow sound to leak out, therefore people around you may be able to hear what you are listening to.

Grado SR80i Headphones - Open Design

Grado SR80i headphones are an example of open headphones.

Closed Design Headphones

  • Closed Headphones are designed to isolate your ears from outside noise.
  • This isolation is useful for DJs, critical listening (ie. music production), and "zoning out".
  • Closed headphones generally provide a heavier bass sound.
  • Commuters who use headphones may prefer closed headphones because outside listeners will not be able to hear your music.

AIAIAI TMA-1 DJ headphones are an example of closed headphones.

Further Reading On Headphones