Which headphone system is right for me: open, semi-open or closed?


Which headphone system is right for me: open, semi-open or closed?

Which headphone system to prefer always depends on your personal listening preferences.
Open-back headphones are ideal if you want to listen to music as naturally as possible in an undisturbed environment at home or if you need high fidelity in the studio. These headphones shield little from the outside and noises from your surroundings also penetrate the headphones and you can hear them. In return, they have a better spatial image and stereo stage and fewer distortions due to resonances and reflections, as is the case with closed headphones.

• Advantages: Transparent sound, very good spatial imaging, good ventilation
• Disadvantages: Sound penetrates almost unhindered from the outside in and from the inside out

• Suitable for: Home use, studio monitoring, mixing and mastering
• Not suitable for: Recording rooms in studios, commuting on public transport

Closed headphones seal your ears more tightly and isolate you better from your surroundings. Thus, hardly any music comes out and ambient noise hardly penetrates the inside. However, the closed housing can cause resonances and reflections that falsify the sound. Another side effect of the closed housing can be a more emphasized bass range.

• Advantages: powerful sound, good external damping
• Disadvantages: less neutral/natural sound, heat accumulation under the ear cups when worn for a long time

• Good for: Studio recording rooms, drummers, DJs, live engineers
• Not good for: Road traffic, audiophiles, mixing and mastering

Semi-open headphones are a compromise between open and closed headphones and try to combine the advantages of both systems. They are more comfortable to wear than the closed variants, the isolation from and from the outside world is okay, and the sound is also more natural.

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• Advantages: Good wearing comfort, good sound
• Disadvantages: Due to its design, deep external noise can penetrate inside unhindered

• Suitable for: DJs, for monitoring, mixing and mastering in the studio
• Suitable for: recording rooms in studios

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