So, you’ve finally made up your mind and you want to try open-back headphones!
Welcome to a totally different aural experience than closed-back designs.
You will hear a much more ‘sound stage’ kind of audio environment.
Also, the open-back design allows noise to pass both in and out of the ear cups. You won’t have to pay more than $100 for any one of these, and many models are far less expensive than that.
So, let’s take a look at the top 5 best open-back headphones for audiophiles on a budget.
How would you like a pair of open back headphones for less than $100? You’re going to get plenty of extra features as well, too, with this interesting model. They come in black, with a thickly padded head band and chrome accents around the ear cups.
These are not just open back, but over-ear headphones, so you’ll get a great sound immersion. Users have commented that these are soft and comfortable to wear for long periods of time, too.
Natural Sonic Experience
The most distinguishing feature of open back headphones are the speaker backs of the oval-shaped ear cups. This creates that back and forth style sound between what you’re listening to and the audio environment around you. According to Status Audio, the manufacturer, it’s an “intensely natural sonic experience.” These are 54 ohms.
The soft cloth ear cups contain 42 mm drivers for an excellent, dynamic sound. You’ll enjoy the exceptional clarity and detail. It creates a different sense of audio than closed back headphones. You can definitely use these to play games or listen to music; just keep in mind they may not be good for work since others can hear it. They’re really designed for recording and mixing.
What about the sound leak? While that does vary from model to model, with this pair, it’s actually pretty good when the volume is medium to low. You will hear other sounds at a reduced level, and outside listeners will be able to hear what you’re listening to as well. It sounds similar to a filtered speaker.
These headphones come with a 3 meter long straight cable that is fixed and has a 3.5 mm stereo jack at the end. It does not come with any adapters, and the cable isn’t detachable. Also, the cables are attached to both sides of the headphones, as opposed to single side which is more popular.
One possible caveat is that these open back headphones are on the heavy side, especially compared to closed back headphones that are the same size. They are almost two pounds. You don’t get a color or design choice, either, so they only come in the basic black and metal. They don’t fold for storage and don’t have any accessories like an extra cable or a carrying case.
Combining over-ear and open-back headphones into a pair that costs less than $40 is this Koss model. The company has designed them so that they fit like a pair of closed-back headphones, but definitely have the open backs to let in external audio sounds. The ear cups have an outside screen, similar to a speaker.
You’ll also immediately notice the unusual head band shape on these headphones. It has a double-V design that splits into two different straps that form separate convex curved pads over your head. These two straps are connected by mesh that’s similar to the mesh on the backs of the ear cups. The entire head band is adjustable to accommodate different head shapes and sizes.
The ear cushions are made of a soft, plush leatherette (faux leather) material, and are very large to go entirely around your ears. They form a light seal that only lets in outside sounds through the mesh on the ear cups, not from any other leakage points.
As for the sound quality, these have titanium coated and high polymer diaphragms to give you an excellent clarity. There’s a wide frequency response similar to closed back headphones of the same style. It goes from 15 Hz up to 22,000 Hz. For highly accurate sound reproduction and great volume, these have neodymium iron boron rare-earth magnet structures.
This pair of open back headphones comes with a 6.3 mm adapter that fits over the standard right-angled 3.5 mm stereo jack. The cable length is fixed, splits to connect to each ear cup, and is four feet in length.
Collapsible & Foldable
One great feature of these Koss headphones is that the ear cups fold up inside the head band, making them collapsible and foldable for storage or travel. Also, they’re very light in weight and won’t cause strain or headaches from being worn for several hours at a time.
Many users have said how comfortable these are, not just because of their light weight, but due to the design of how the ear cups lightly rest on the ears. If you wear glasses or are prone to migraines, these headphones are excellent.
There is sound leakage, as there always is with open back headphones, and it seems to be greater than other models. When not used for recording, mixing, or in the studio, you will want to listen to music in a private location. They’re not the best for work or public spaces.
As a negative, these don’t come with any accessories besides the plug adapter, so no carry case or extra cables or replacement ear pads. There aren’t any volume controls or a mic to take calls, either.
Looking for an inexpensive pair of headphones that can give you the best of all three ‘can’ designs: open back, closed back, and over-ear? Then try out these headphones from Samson. For less than $40, you can have the best of all possible designs combined into one pair.
Head band shape definitely contributes to overall comfort, and these headphones have an unusual double look to them. You get a wide, thin band, and then a double wire adjustable feature that also extends over the top of the head band.
Large 50mm Drivers
The ear cups are very large, have padded rims, and extend over your ears. You’ll notice the open mesh on the backs of the ear cups, but the total mesh area isn’t as great as traditional open back headphones.
Rather, it’s broken up into small sections that allow a little bit of the audio spectrum to pass back and forth.
Encased in each ear cup are the large 50 mm drivers for exceptional sound reproduction and a wide dynamic range for mixing or personal music listening. The frequency response is also wide, going from 10 Hz up to 30 kHz. There’s a 32 Ohm impedance as well. This makes the sound really balanced, giving you excellent bass, a wide mid-range, and plenty of highs as well.
Less Sound Leakage
One great advantage to having a smaller open back is less sound leakage. You could actually take these to work or use them in a public location like the subway without others being able to hear your tracks. It’s only noticeable at very high volume levels.
There is a fixed 8 foot, 4 inch cable attached to these headphones, which is a good gaming length, and it’s longer than a standard headphone length. At the end of the cord is a 3.5 mm stereo jack, and there is an 1/8” to ¼” gold plated adapter included.
These are plastic headphones, so they’re not as durable as other models. While the faux leather ear cups are soft and padded, they’re not the most comfortable pair of headphones you can get within this price range. Also, they don’t come with any accessories other than the different plug adapter sizes.
You’ll definitely get noticed when wearing these strikingly designed headphones from Superlux. They are black with bold red accents on the outsides of the ear cups and the bottom edge of the head band. The ear cups are really large and are semi-open to allow less sound leakage. The mesh is perforated in a three-prong fan shape, in circles around the central headphone joint.
The double head band shape is also interesting, and you’ll find it on several brands. There is a solid wide band that curves over your head, and a row of double wires or cables extending up above those. They’re also connected to the head band joint, where you can find the section to adjust them.
Semi Open Black Design
The large over-ear pads on these headphones are circular in shape. It is recommended that you get a pair of replacement pads, since they’re not as comfortable as some other models. The sound leak is greatly reduced, thanks to the semi-open-back design, so those near you won’t be able to hear what you hear unless it’s up on loud volumes.
The sound technology in these headphones is great for the low price range. They’ve got 50 mm neodymium drivers and a great dynamic range. The treble is boosted, and the bass is slightly higher than the midrange. You’ll get the immersive ‘sound stage’ quality that open back headphones give you. Sound leak is minimal compared to full open-back headphones, but these are not sound isolating or noise cancelling.
3.5 mm Stereo Jack
What about the cable? As with many open-back headphones, it is attached to the headphones, is a fixed length, and has a 3.5 mm stereo jack at the end. It attaches to the left ear cup. They come with a ¼” gold-plated, screw on adapter.
The cable length is about 96 inches, which is almost 8 feet. It’s a good length for gaming, mixing, recording, studio engineering use, and personal music listening, too.
There are a couple of negatives with these headphones. One common complaint is that they’re not made as sturdily or as durably as some other brands. They feel a bit on the ‘cheap’ side. Another is that they don’t fold and aren’t collapsible for storing or travel.
A sleek, modern design with a shiny black exterior makes these Shure semi-open-back headphones suitable for both men and women. The round ear cups are an on-ear shape, sitting right on top of the ears and cushioned for long term comfort and wear. The ergonomic padded head band is also comfortable. For less than $40, these are some of the best budget open back headphones.
Without a lot of extra design features, these headphones are very lightweight and are also foldable and collapsible for easy storage and portability. These are also the only headphones on this list to come with a 2 year warranty, so you can enjoy them for months of hassle free listening.
Stereo Mini Jack
These headphones come with an attached and straight 1.52 meter (5 foot) cable that has a nickel plated 3.5 mm stereo mini jack. The cable is a bit on the short side if you’re a gamer looking for a longer cord to connect across your living room. These headphones do not come with a jack adapter of a different size.
They also don’t have replacement ear cushions in the box, although you can purchase them separately.
How is the sound quality? Well, it comes from what’s inside these headphones. The driver size is quite small, only 36 mm, and is dynamic, made from neodymium magnet. The impedance is 34 Ohms and the frequency response range is between 30 Hz and 20 kHz, so it goes up pretty high. The sound signature is extended range audio with enhanced sensitivity up to 96 dB.
Great for Gaming
They are not noise cancelling, however, as no open back headphones are. Other people can hear your music, so they’re not suited for libraries, public spaces, and for using at work.
These are, however, great for gaming since you can hear sounds and other players around you. They’re also suitable for private audio listening at home.
A couple of negative things. One, they don’t come with a carry case or adapter. Two, the driver size is much smaller than other models, so that affects the sound quality.