Open or Closed Headphones – Which Ones to Choose?

Open or closed headphones – which ones to choose? Headphones are sound output devices through which you can hear sounds from your computer, tablets, or smartphones. Today, we have decided to compare the features of open, closed, or half-open headphones, with their advantages and disadvantages.

If you are going to invest a large amount of money in buying a portable headphone for you, please spare some time and read this article. It will help you to get familiar with standard concepts. In this article, we will discuss different types of open and closed headphones with their features also.

Shure SRH1840 Open-back headphones
Shure SRH1840 Professional Open-back Headphones | Source: Shure

1. What are open headphones?

Open headphones allow the transmission of air into the headphone cups, which ultimately reach the speakers. It will remove any pressure on the cups in the result of which no echo is generated in the headphones. Open headphone design is a very prevalent design nowadays among high-quality and expensive headphone manufacturer. Open headphones allow more natural and clear sound.

But the open headphones can only work in the absence of any external noise source because the open headphone design is unable to block external noise. That is why you will hear everything which is happening around you. The open headphones also allow the music to come out, which can also listen to by your neighbors, and yes, you don’t like that.


Open headphones are less long-lasting in comparison to closed headphones. They have very poor protection against moisture. Moisture is the enemy of electronic material.


Open headphones are good in the following situation:

  • Analytical and alone listening;
  • Hi-Fi audio listening;
  • Listening at home.


Open type headphones are not suitable for:

  • Usage for daily trips;
  • Avoiding external noise and voices;
  • Music listening in office.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Closed-back Headphones
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Closed-Back Headphones | Source: Bowers & Wilkins

2. What are closed headphones?

In closed headphones, the output of sound is directly oriented towards your hair and not go outwards from your ears. It means that your music will be your music; it will not be natural and cannot listen to others. You can say that you will experience protected music in closed headphones.

There are many issues with closed headphones. If you wear these headphones for a long time, it will cause the warming of your ears due to echo in bass parts. However, if you travel by subway, bus, or want to listen to music on an Airplane – you need closed headphones. Closed type headphones are suitable for studio recording.


Closed type suitable for:

  • Every day and long time listening.
  • Music listening in the office
  • Listening to rack in transport
  • Studio recording


Closed headphones are not suitable for:

  • Cooling the ears.

Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Semi-Open Headphones
Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Semi-Open Headphones | Source: Klipsch

3. What are half-open headphones?

The semi-open or half-open headphones are very similar to closed headphones, but in half-open headphones, the speakers are not entirely isolated. This will allow some air transmission through the camera. Half-open headphones are intermediate between open and closed headphones. They can weakly block external noise and can also cause some ear warming. Half-open headphones have some advantages and disadvantages, like the other two headphone types.


Half-open headphones are good for:

  • Suitable for everyday listening.
  • Favorable for home listening.


Half-open headphones are not suitable for:

  • You cannot use them for listening during trips of work or office;
  • Not suitable for music listening at work.
  • Not good in blocking external voice and noises as it can partially block the external noise.


You can easily choose a suitable headphone for you as you have learned the essential concepts about all three types of headphones. Always choose the best quality headphone for you, which is compatible with your device.

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