Best Open Ear Headphones : Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

In Headphones

There’s nothing like a pair of open ear (sometimes known as open-back) headphones to give you audiophiles that premium music listening experience. The over-ear, open design allows you to immerse yourself in your audio as if you’re at a great party or a concert. However, as this particular headphone style doesn’t close itself around the ear, it allows some sound to leak out and stops you from being totally isolated from the world around you (unlike closed-back headphones). It’s as if you’re listening to music on a hi-fi, on the go! If you consider yourself an audio aficionado or a connoisseur of concerts, you’ll have to invest in a solid pair of open-ear headphones for your listening adventures.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “How do I know which pair of open-ear headphones is the best for me?!”

We understand it’s a huge dilemma in the age of internet purchases. When you’re looking to buy yourself a brand new product, how do you know which brands to invest in? How do you know which options to avoid? This is exactly why we’re here.

Thankfully we have compiled a pristine list of the best open-back headphones you can buy in 2020. We’ve got headphones to suit your every whim and budget, so whether you’re looking to save some cash or looking to splurge we’ll have you covered. We will also go into detail about the key things to consider when buying your first pair of open ear/open-back headphones and answer a few Frequently Asked Questions.

Keep on scrolling to see our top 15 open ear headphone picks!

15 Best Over the Ear Headphones of 2020

1. Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X Open-Air Headphones

Connectivity: Wired

Audio-Technica has produced the new open-air headphones in the ATH-AD500X, They have newly designed 53 mm, drivers, with CCAW voice calls that help to create absolutely stunning sounds. The high-quality audio has a deep, impactful bass sound and truly outstanding vocal projection. A completely natural sensation is received when wearing these over-ear headphones with no sense of pressure on the ears when you are wearing them, even through long durations of wear.

This natural sensation is helped with the lightweight honeycomb aluminum casing, which is both stylish and durable. An overall more enjoyable listening experience is provided from the self-adjusting 3D wing support housing that has been specifically designed for more comfortable wear. There are also raised-fabric earpads that offer an excellent comforting feeling when being worn, and also bring a lot more durability to the headphones overall.

The cable has tangle prevention from the highly conductive OFC oxygen-free copper that is a single-sided cable with elastic TPE sheaf. This technology is great for anyone who has that stress of reaching for their headphones and finding that they are in knots, tangled up.

A completely wired connection for no potential interruptions in the Bluetooth technology, and with a gold plated stereo 1/8-inch connector and a 1/4-inch adapter ensure sounds are better quality.

Pros:

  • Anti-tangle wire technology
  • 3D self-adjusting wing support housing

Cons:

  • Some bass sound lacking

2. Motorola Escape 220 Wireless Headphones

Connectivity: Wireless

You will be connected from morning till night with the battery power that is given from the Motorola Escape 220 wireless headphones. They include a 300mAn Li-ion battery that can produce up to 23 hours of non-stop playtime, never leaving you without your favorite songs.

Featuring an integrated microphone that captures your voice during calls loud and clear, creating distortion-free conversations whether its an important business call, or just catching up with your family and friends. All of this is boasted with the Bluetooth connectivity that delivers a complete sense of freedom with no wires tieing you down.

The 40mm sound drivers on the over-ear headphones let listening to your favorite tracks crisp and clear with crystal clear audio delivered every time. The Bluetooth connectivity means there are no more tangled wires, the sound doesn’t lack in quality due to the wireless connection but allow you to be completely free with a strong and stable connection given.

The cushioned earcups and adjustable head band ensure a comfortable fit that provides long durations of wear without having any discomfort or strain on the head. These headphones over ear have passive noise cancelation technology built into the material that provides a more immersive listen letting you really focus on the songs you are listening to or the phonecall you are in.

Pros:

  • 40mm sound drivers for better audio quality
  • soft ear cups for a comfortable fit

Cons:

  • Hinge mechanism made from plastic

3. Philips SHP9500 Open Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wireless

The Philips SHP9500 HiFi stereo headphones are one of the best open-back headphones for high precision sound, with over 50 years of technological developments in headphone acoustics boasted by Philips they have been ergonomically designed for better sound and wear performances. Philips guarantee to refine and innovate all of their products, integrating all of your own preferences and experiences into the signature designs they create.

There are 50mm drivers featured that employ high power neodymium magnets that reproduce all of the dynamics within your music to deliver a well-balanced sound with crisp bass tones, a transparent mid-range, and pristine high frequencies. The diaphragm is given greater freedom of movement from the acoustic open-back design that eliminates and air pressure that can potentially build up behind the drivers. This design enhances the sound transparency a high amount while also smoothing the extended high frequencies produced.

The driver casing design has been engineered to fit the natural geometry of the ear which improves the sound making it more precise and accurate. Audio signals are then immediately channeled into the ears ensuring the listening experience is authentic and dynamic.

A comfortable headband cushion is provided on the SHP9500, it is a double-layered headband that is made from soft and breathable material. This helps for longer durations of wear and listening time and Philips have also engineered the SHP9500 with breathable, deluxe ear-pads which add to create comfort for longer as they are comfortable but also improve breathability while dispersing heat and pressure. For strength and durability, the Philips SHP9500have a cold-rolled steel that provides the perfect amount of tension when being worn. This tension can be dispursed no matter what size your head as the headband can also be adjusted for an optimum fit.

Pros:

  • Deluxe, breathable ear-pads create longer comfortability
  • 50mm drivers featured for higher sound quality
  • Amazing build quality

Cons:

  • Sizing is off for some users
  • Some sound leaking

4. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

Connectivity: Wireless

Philips has developed the Audio Fidelio X2HR that includes 50mm high power drivers. These drivers are carefully handpicked, tuned, and tested for each speaker making sure that the sound is natural and detailed. Inside the 50mm drivers, there are high power neodymium magnets that reproduce the dynamics of the music you are listening too, delivering balanced crisp bass, transparent midrange, and pristine high frequencies.

With an acoustic open-air design that has been developed to eliminate air pressure build-up behind the drivers which allows the diaphragm to move more freely. This open-air design also helps to improve sound transparency while also extending high frequencies. There is layered-motion control in the drivers that have a multi-layered polymer diaphragm, this encases a layer of damping gel. This gel and flexible boundary that is formed from the layers absorb and dampen any exaggerated frequencies which make a smooth and flatter frequency response to create a more balanced sound overall from the natural and refined range of high-frequency sounds.

The ear-cups have been engineered to tilt 15 degrees that fit your ear’s natural geometry that helps you to fully immerse yourself in a precise and unadulterated audio delivery. The audio signals are directly routed into your ears, which then creates a dynamic and authentic listening experience. A perfect fit is ensured nearly every time with the self-adjusting hammock that is lightweight and features an airy, 3D mesh that is both flexible and breathable.

The Philips Fidelio X2HR has been designed with the best materials combining both comfort and functionality from the deluxe memory foam earpads that have been paired with a velour material with an optimized density. This material is a high breathability fabric that helps to get rid of any pressure and heat that can occur in longer durations of wear.

Build and quality has been fueled with exceptional acoustic performance developments from Philips. The ultimate ergonomic fit is given with a newly enlarged headband and a hinge system that has been coupled with metal tubes in genuine calf leather.

The double-layered ear shell design has been created to reduce any resonance and vibrations so that you are brought a flawless sound that has uncompromised detail and precision. These best open-back headphones are also durable so will last you a long time, from the solid, layered construction making sure the X2HR is here to stay.

Pros:

  • Strong durable design
  • 15 degree tilted ear cups for better hearing

Cons:

  • Treble heavy
  • Bulky design

5. Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

Connectivity: Wired

If you are wanting a pair of headphones that are going to give you studio-quality sound, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO has a wide stereo image that creates a balanced, transparent sound. This makes the DT 990 PRO a reliable sound source for both the studio and everyday life being a trusted companion for a lot of producers and audio engineers. These ear over headphones are a reliable tool for in the studio used for monitoring, mixing, and mastering. They are great for this due to the highly sensitive transducers that give the smallest adjustments in panning, EQ, and how the dynamics can be heard.

There is a spacious open design giving a sense of depth and ambiance that truly compliments the acoustics of a room that can be captured in recordings. There is controlled bass and enhanced treble that gives an exceptionally detailed frequency response overall giving a well-balanced, high-quality sound. The headphones come with precise and powerful low frequencies that are not overbearing, while still providing top-end that is clear without sounding too sharp.

On top of all the listening qualities, there is also a sturdy steel headband that provides a secure fit and also soft, adjustable ear cups that create a comfortable wearing experience for longer periods of time. They are connected completely with wire which is attached to only one side of these pair of headphones that supports frequent adjustment and removal without cables being tangled. The construction is also extra lightweight making them really easy to wear.

Specifications:

  • Transmission Type: Wired.
  • Impedance: 80 Ohm
  • Headphone Weight (without cable): 250 g
  • Headphone Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Sound Pressure Level: 96 dB
  • Sound coupling to the ear: Around the ear
  • Cable and Plug: Coiled Connecting Cable with mini-jack plug (3.5mm) and 1/4″ adapter (6.35mm)

Pros:

  • Studio Quality sound
  • Super Lightweight construction

Cons:

  • If you want a laid back sound, avoid this headphone

6. Samson Technologies SR850

Connectivity: Wired

The Samson Technologies SR850 are semi-open headphones designed to provide a linear frequency response that makes them extremely accurate, perfect for critical mixing or music playback. There is a smooth and sweet high-frequency response that creates warm and tight bass responses, all thanks to the exclusive 50mm neodymium drivers.

Ear fatigue is reduced from the semi-open circumaural design giving easy listening for longer periods of time if you were having long mixing or listening sessions in the studio. Soft velour material is used in the ear-cushions creating a comfortable and snug fit perfect for nearly every pair of ears, which is also promoted with the self-adjusting headband. The SR850 wired headphone pair is the perfect choice for recording, mixing, or just relaxing listening to your favorite songs.

Proprietary 50mm drivers, deliver an extended frequency response between 10Hz-30kHz that can handle any kind of music source. They have been specifically designed for reference use studio headphones, presenting listeners with an overall balanced sound fro the airy high-end brilliance, a true midrange that highlights any subtle changes made, and also low-end sound deliveries that are punchy and pronounced.

The semi-open back headphone design helps to deliver a wide sound stage with a bass response and extended highs that result in a truly dynamic listening experience. All of these listening features are combines with the ultra-lightweight, over-ear design that provides hours of fatigue-free listening, especially paired with the plush velour ear pads and self-adjusting headband.

Pros:

  • Comfortable snug fit
  • Dynamic listening experience

Cons:

  • Some sound spill
  • Overpowering bass

7. Sennheiser HD 599 Special Edition

Sennheiser is a classic audio device brand, and the HD 599 Special Edition model mixes a timeless design with the magic of modern music technology. It’s powered by Sennheiser proprietary transducer technology and features the unique ‘Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement’ (E.A.R) design. These headphones are a comfortable, high-quality experience and music to any audiophile’s ears (quite literally).

On account of the open ear (open back) design, the tonal balance when listening through the HD 599 is exquisite. You will pick up every note and detail in your music library and enjoy your classic playlists like never before. The spatial performance is also excellent.

The headphones are decked out with large ear-cups that are fitted with plush velour ear cushions as well as a padded headband, giving you an uber-comfortable listening experience all day. The classic black and silver-accented design is stylish and a visual representation of the product quality. The headphones look and sound stunning.

These headphones are wired and come with two different detachable cables. The first of these is a 3m cable with a 6.3-mm jack specifically for use with your home entertainment system, and the second is a shorter 1.2m cable with a 3.5mm jack which you can use with smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players.

Additionally, when you purchase these from an authorized dealer such as Amazon.com, you get a 2-year warranty. If for some reason your headphones stop working, you can get them replaced for free if you’ve had them for less than 2 years.

Pros:

  • Stylish, timeless design
  • Extremely comfortable
  • 2 differently sized cables and jacks
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • Non-compatible with Bluetooth devices

8. GRADO SR60e Prestige Wired Open-Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wired

Everyone wants to have the best audio quality from low thumping bass and kick-drums to high-quality subtle trebles but at an affordable price, and the Grado SR60e is the perfect choice for entry into the world of full-spectrum audio. Even hearing notes that you may have never heard before, from a clearer sound with more clarity. Try these best open-back headphones for a fuller, more realistic sound at a price you can afford.

Grado is one of the leaders in creating headphones, and the new driver design featured in the SR60e has a new polymer that dampens any resonant distortion in a plastic housing with a new cable design from plug to the driver.

The driver’s plastic housing is created to move air and react to sound vibrations that virtually eliminate transient distortion. This design also allows the signal flow over a new cable to create a sound that has tight control of both the upper and lower frequencies. All of this dynamic sound quality is also supported by the renowned midrange from Grado.

The sound from the SR60e is pure Grado, creating warm harmonic colors, rich-bodied vocal sounds, excellent dynamics around the entire song, and an ultra-smooth top end sound.

Pros:

  • High-Quality Grado sound
  • Strong and durable design

Cons:

  • Entry-level headphones
  • Not the most attractive

9. AKG Pro Audio K245 Wired Open Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wired

Built on 70 years of continual design innovations, the AKG Pro Audio K245 delivers unmatched sound quality and comfort in the series of foldable studio headphones. These best open-back headphones are a true representation of years of refinement in the entire listening experience from the transducers, to the porting, to the fit, and the finish.

The new convenient design takes the studio-quality listening out of the studio and into your ears in any kind of listening scenario, whether its the commute to work, out doing a shop, or just relaxing at home. Superior sensitivity and low impedance offer a maximum sound output before they begin to distort, this allows you to use them on lower-powered mobile devices.

If you are serious about your music and especially if you are listening in a practical way such as mixing or mastering, a thumping bass sound is always desired. The K245 delivers 50mm transducers that are the largest in the range. This larger size creates a low-frequency extension and a detailed bass reproduction. All of this makes it easy to define and listen to each instrument you are hearing through your headphones.

Best headphones like this are built to last, from the intensive driver stress tests given to the exaggerated drop test, giving you peace of mind knowing these headphones are going to last the test of time, taking a few knocks along the way. Each of the critical pieces of metal, such as the hinges are guaranteed to last through heavy usage, plus the cable is replaceable that further extends the lifetime of your headphones if they are in better condition than your cable is.

The foldable design makes these headphones convenient to take around and completely portable. The three-axis hinge on the K245 collapses for compact transportation, but also with how it has been designed there is minimum exposure to damage that could come from being thrown inside a bag in the mobile lifestyle of a musician, producer, or audio engineer.

Pros:

  • Foldable compact design
  • Top range audio quality

Cons:

  • Not the most attractive
  • Thin, and easy to tear protein leather material

10. GRADO SR80e Prestige Wired Open-Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wired

Grado has an upgraded version of the SR range with the Grado SR80 Prestige wired Open-back headphones, they utilize a 4 conductor connecting cable and large ear cushions. This helps to give more of an open stage overall. The bass resonance has been improved which helps to enhance the overall detail of the sound of any track.

This headphone features a vented diaphragm, no resonant air chamber, a mini plug with a 1/4″ adaptor, a standard copper connection cord, and a standard copper voice coil wire, making the overall listening and wearing experience much higher than ever before.

Lightweight comfortable design allows for longer durations of listening time, and you are also given a 1-year warranty giving safe security that ensures you have a product that will last.

Pros:

  • Grado’s best high sound quality
  • Vented diaphragm

Cons:

  • Warranty only available in the US

11. Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar Magnetic

Connectivity: Wired

A phenomenal headphone design, the Drop + HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar Magnetics is designed for complete versatility. The open-back headphones use magnetic drivers for impactful sound when listening. The technology is some of the most advanced in the headphone world and this brand is known for its high efficiency.

Listen directly using a laptop, phone, or PC and experience your music at the next level. With a smooth audio profile across different frequencies, the sound has never been more clear. The premium aesthetic that comes with this design, makes the headphones all the more appealing.

Focus hybrid earpads are used to provide ultimate comfort. An attached headband made of flexible steel allows you to adjust the size with ease too. Overall, these headphones really are worth investing in. While they come at a slightly higher price, they provide everything you’d expect from a premium product.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • They require a low of power
  • Some sound leakage

12. AKG Pro Audio K702 Wired Open-Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wired

In the center of any pair of headphones or microphones is the diaphragm. It’s the area that handles the task of turning mechanical motion into an electrical signal that goes to deliver sound. There is a varimotion design from the AKG headphones that is a unique technology that allows the production of the diaphragm to precisely tune the capsule for the highest level of performance to provide accurately, and clear sound that is free from feedback.

There is flat-wire voice-coil technology that AKG has produced that gives the K702 a transient response that he’s to deliver the amazingly accurate and spacious sounds. The AKG flat-wire is different from conventional voice calls that normally use round wires. The technology has allowed the company to build very rigid yet lightweight voice coils which improve the pulse response overall. Another plus to the flat wire is that it has a higher packing density in the magnetic gap, this helps to increase the efficiency due to less power being lost to heat.

There is no comfort lost with these headphones, They have been designed to fit you perfectly with a unique, 3D-form earpad that has an ergonomic padded, genuine leather headband that completely ensures there is a pain-free experience for comfortable wearing in long-wearing sessions. The earpads also feature a soft lining with an innovative gel construction that combined with the self-adjusting headband you’ll never have to worry about fiddling for a position or experience discomfort again.

Pros:

  • Longer wearing times with the comfortable design
  • Flat wire technology

Cons:

  • Not so well balanced sound

13. Riwbox WB5 Open-Back Headphones

Connectivity: Wireless

If you’re seeking a pair of wireless open-back headphones that provide an immersive experience, look no further. The Riwbox WB5 Open-Back Headphones feature 5 EQ modes allowing you to define how you want to listen to your music.

The volume optimized EQ ensures complete balance when it comes to performance. If comfort has been an issue for you in the past, these headphones come with a built-in cushion that will never cause your ears any pain. They perfectly cover the ears and block out external noise allowing you to relax and truly enjoy the music you’re playing.

With a battery that lasts up to 20 hours after a single charge and a mic too, the headphones really are impressive and practical. The foldable design means full portability, ideal for students, office workers, and for traveling. Bluetooth enabled, the headphones work with iPads, iPhones, Androids, PCs, TVs, and tablets.

Pros:

  • Crisp, clear sound with excellent external noise isolation
  • The foldable design adds practicality

Cons:

  • Only available in one color

14. Shure SRH1440 wires open-back headphones

Connectivity: Wired

The Sure SRH1440 wired headphones contain 40 mm neodymium drivers that deliver full-range audio with a rich controlled bass sound. The Open-back, circumaural design has been created for an exceptionally natural sound, that provides a wide stereo image, and increased depth of field.

The Impedance has been optimized for direct connection to a wide range of portable audio devices, even lower power units. For comfort, there is a fully adjustable, premium padded headband that has a steel frame which is sleek, ergonomic, designed for hours of listening comfort

There are superior performances given along with the durability for the oxygen-free copper cable that has been Kevlar reinforced jacket. A completely wired design so will need an audio connector if you was wanting to use with later model Apple products that do not contain a jack input.

Pros:

  • Kevlar reinforced for durability
  • Ergonomic design for increased comfort.

Cons:

  • Sound quality not as good as some others

15. Koss 155524 UR40

Connectivity: Wired

The Koss UR40 gives digital quality sound in an ultra-lightweight device suited for listeners on-the-go. The UR40 has dynamic elements for wide frequency response. A 2 mil. titanium coating features on the diaphragms that increases the rigidity of the elements, this minimizes mechanical distortion and guarantees extremely accurate sound reproduction.

Computer-optimized neodymium iron boron rare earth magnet structures allow the UR40 to produce higher volume, even with low-voltage portable devices. Oxygen-free copper voice coils enhance signal transmission and conduction for precise, clear sounds. The hybrid design, the UR40 blends the best of closed-style and open-style headphones.

Closed leatherette ear cushions create a light seal around the ears, that enhances bass frequencies. Screened earcups provide an open, hear-through sound that allows listeners to still hear the world around them. The result is a full frequency, clean sound that turns any recording into a “live” performance.

The lightweight design of just 6 ounces allows the UR40 to be worn comfortably for many hours of continuous listening. They have an airy mesh sling that provides soft breathable support that is perfect for people with touch-sensitive scalps. The headband is also fully adjustable making it perfect for any sized heads of any user.

When they are not being used, the UR40 can be conveniently folded into a protective configuration that is easy to carry and store away. Ideal for travel, the UR40 introduces a straight dual-entry eight-foot cord and a gold-flashed 3.5mm (1/8″) plug, L-shaped that minimizes cord stress. The UR40 will please listeners looking for a heavyweight sound in a comfortable lightweight package.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design
  • Blends both closed back and open back qualities

Cons:

  • Some sound leaking
  • Some cable problems

Considerations for Buying Open Ear Headphones

Connectivity

Connectivity in a lot of open-back headphones can vary, in most cases for more high-quality listening you re going to have a wired approach, there are some Bluetooth connectivity options in certain headphones but these, in general, are not as good quality as the wired versions. You can receive a well-balanced sound from these wired studio styled headphones, they may cost a little more when it comes to price but the quality cannot be rivaled, making them the effective choice for people who mix, master, or record music either at home or in the studio.

Sound Quality

A lot of the best open-back headphones are perfect for studio use mixing, mastering, and recording songs. These studio-specific pairs of headphones are going to provide the best audio quality and clarity letting you sometimes hear things that you haven’t in the past from headphones that don’t rival the quality. Bluetooth headphones have the added bonus of wireless freedom but in general, these wired studio versions are the going to provide you with the best sound quality.

Comfort

Some of the best open-back headphones have been chosen with the best quality materials to provide better comfort when wearing. Advanced deluxe materials such as velour and memory foam earcups can help to mold to the contour and shape of your ears which will allow longer durations of listening time. The use of an adjustable head strap and lightweight components are also a great way to know you are purchasing a pair of headphones that are going to be comfortable.

Noise Isolation and Sound Leakage

Noise isolation and sound leakage are sometimes problems found in open-back headphones, the larger size of the speakers sometimes causes this sound leak which can be annoying to other people who are not listening to the headphones you are using. Some open-back headphones have been specifically designed with a tilting earcup that helps to isolate any sound so you have a more immersive experience letting you solely focus on what you are listening too.

Battery Life

Battery life is only a worry when it comes to Bluetooth headphone devices. When the Bluetooth versions first arrived onto the headphones market they were more of a gimmick with the actual headphones being of less sound quality. As the technology has been developed you can now buy wireless headphones that equal, if not improve on the sound quality than some of the wired versions produce. And with technologies also improving in the battery life, you can now listen to music in a completely free way for up to 40 hours of continuous playtime, which is more than you would need before having to recharge.

FAQs

Do open-back headphones sound better?

Open-back headphones overall of a soundstage that is much wider with more presence. This extra airflow is great in reducing the sound bouncing around inside such as closed-back headphones do. This helps to create a more natural and realistic listening experience while simultaneously increasing the overall accuracy of the audio that you are listening too.

What are open ear headphones?

Open-back headphones are designed to allow some outside noise in which mixes with the headphones output. This kind of natural sound rather than the isolated sound received from closed headphones are preferred by some listeners. These open-back headphones can also boost clarity depending on the style of music you are listening too. In general open-back versions are a lot more comfortable to wear with lighter pressure given on the ears. The downside is that open-back headphones do have a little sound seak, so people around you will be able to hear the music you are listening too, so may not be best suited for certain environments.