Open vs. closed headphones

which is the best type for me?

When buying headphones you are faced with a plethora of choices. One such choice is the question of capsule type: open or closed back, which should it be? At ULTRASONE we offer both options. Our flagship model <a href=”https://ultrasone.com/edition-15/?lang=en” target=”_blank”>Edition 15</a> , for example, is available in both open and closed back variations. We are often asked which system is superior. The short answer is: it depends. Both concepts come with specific characteristics, so the choice between open and closed headphones boils down to personal listening preferences and depends on the intended use.

Open back headphones

Open back headphones (like our Edition eleven) are just that: open. The backsides of the capsules do not pose much resistance to sound waves. The sound emitted from the headphones driver will not only reach the ear, but also spill out of the headphones in every direction – and vice versa: sound from the outside can pass through the headphone capsules and reach the ear. The main advantage of open back headphones is a particularly clear, linear and transparent reproduction with high detail. They also provide a better ventilation for the ears. This avoids trapped heat and leads to a more comfortable listening experience. This very lack of isolation can also be considered a downside: While the headphones’ sound permeability is usually unproblematic in quiet places like a living room, outside noise in public environments may severely impact the enjoyment. Open headphones will let environmental sound reach the ear almost unhindered – be it street noise, co-workers in large offices or other travellers on a plane or train. Furthermore, the sound produced by the headphones’ drivers will spill out of the headphones and potentially bother others. This problem must be considered in particular when the headphones are meant to be used for studio recordings or podcasting, as playback might spill out of the cans and into the microphone.

Closed back headphones

Closed back headphones (like our Edition 8EX) differ from open back models in their capacity to sonically isolate the listener. A number of construction criteria, in particular contact pressure and the materials used for the ear pads, can result in very high isolation. Many closed headphones users appreciate the more intense listening experience that allows them to delve even deeper into the musical worlds without distractions from the outside. Depending on their setup, closed back headphones can also achieve a more powerful and deep bass reproduction. Closed back headphones are especially suitable for mobile use and are the first choice for studio recordings. One disadvantage is the build-up of trapped heat that occurs due to a lack of ventilation in the headphones. Closed designs also generally offer a tighter stereo image. But our patented S-Logic® technology averts the latter, providing an outstandingly vivid spatial impression even with closed back headphones.

Closed back headphones

Closed back headphones (like our Edition 8EX) differ from open back models in their capacity to sonically isolate the listener. A number of construction criteria, in particular contact pressure and the materials used for the ear pads, can result in very high isolation. Many closed headphones users appreciate the more intense listening experience that allows them to delve even deeper into the musical worlds without distractions from the outside. Depending on their setup, closed back headphones can also achieve a more powerful and deep bass reproduction. Closed back headphones are especially suitable for mobile use and are the first choice for studio recordings. One disadvantage is the build-up of trapped heat that occurs due to a lack of ventilation in the headphones. Closed designs also generally offer a tighter stereo image. But our patented S-Logic® technology averts the latter, providing an outstandingly vivid spatial impression even with closed back headphones.

Spoiled for choice – mind the application!

Choosing between open and closed back headphones is a matter of personal preference and the intended application – there is no “superior” or “inferior” type. Before purchasing new headphones, you should always ponder how you are meaning to use them. For audiophile listening at home with transparent sound characteristics, and maybe an additional headphone amplifier, our open back manufacture models Edition eleven and Edition 15 are the ideal choice. Those looking for the finest sound reproduction while travelling might find their perfect companion in the compact Edition M. Our closed back model Edition 8EX for example sound great at home and on the road. A variation on our Edition 15, the Edition 15 Veritas, features all the collected manufacturing and engineering know-how of ULTRASONE in a closed-back format. Audio professionals like to rely on our open-back PRO 1480i for mixing and mastering. For recording and DJ purposes, the handmade models of our Signature series act as reliable workhorses for everyday studio and club duties. Open or closed back: your perfect headphones are out there – you just need to know what you want!

Spoiled for choice – mind the application!

Choosing between open and closed back headphones is a matter of personal preference and the intended application – there is no “superior” or “inferior” type. Before purchasing new headphones, you should always ponder how you are meaning to use them. For audiophile listening at home with transparent sound characteristics, and maybe an additional headphone amplifier, our open back manufacture models Edition eleven and Edition 15 are the ideal choice. Those looking for the finest sound reproduction while travelling might find their perfect companion in the compact Edition M. Our closed back model Edition 8EX for example sound great at home and on the road. A variation on our Edition 15, the Edition 15 Veritas, features all the collected manufacturing and engineering know-how of ULTRASONE in a closed-back format. Audio professionals like to rely on our open-back PRO 1480i for mixing and mastering. For recording and DJ purposes, the handmade models of our Signature series act as reliable workhorses for everyday studio and club duties. Open or closed back: your perfect headphones are out there – you just need to know what you want!