All of us love gadgets. All of us are awestruck when that new technology, which seems nothing less than magic, is unveiled. We try to grab that latest piece of tech at the earliest to add to our comforts and pleasure.

If you are an audiophile, the chances are that you will never be satisfied with those stock earphones which come bundled with your high-end smartphone or your portable music player. Like me, you will be looking to improve your listening experience by buying some high-quality headphones to create that immersive experience.

But as soon as you are in the market, you realize that the task is nowhere near as simple as you had thought it to be. There are hundreds of brands and thousands of models. Complicating things further is the jargon used to describe the different types of headphones available. Unless you are a regular customer of aural technology or an expert in the matters of sound, you can hardly tell the head from the tail of it all.

Let’s try to decode some of it together.

Understanding the Different Headphones


After Over-ear, On-ear and In-ear headphones, the most common types of headphones that you might hear about are open-back and closed-back headphones. So what do these mean? Here goes.

Open-back and closed-back are sub-types of over-ear headphones. The difference lies in the design of the ear cups. As you may have guessed by now, open-back headphones have an open cup design, i.e. the cup is made open on the backside (outer covering) by way of perforations or some such design. Closed-back headphones have a completely sealed outer shell with no perforations or openings.

The speakers in your headphones give out a sound in both directions: towards, as well as away from your ears. Open-back headphones let this sound pass out into the world. The distinct disadvantage of this is that your privacy might be compromised as people around you can hear what you are listening to, or what the person at the other end of your phone call is saying. However, some listeners prefer the open; natural feel this adds to the music. It’s like listening to music in your room.

How does Closed Back Headphones Work?

Here is a rundown of how closed back headphones differ from other ones.

  • Unlike open-back headphones, closed-back headphones do not let any air pass through the ear cups to the speaker. This also prevents leakage of sound, ensuring your privacy.
  • Closed-back headphones isolate you from the outside world and leave you alone with your music. Most regular commuters of public transport, like yours honestly, prefer this.
  • These headphones reproduce a more substantial bass. So people, who love the lower frequencies, might prefer these too.
  • Because of the sealed design, audiophiles may notice little echoes in the sound, especially in the bass, when using closed-back headphones.
  • These echoes won’t bother you in the open-back type. Also, because of the air movement, there will be no pressure build up between the ear cups and your ears.

The Too Things to Note

Open-back headphones need more care than the closed-back ones. You will need to be especially aware of water or moisture entering your headphones, and reaching the circuits, through the openings/perforations at the back.

Additionally, closed back headphones may offer good noise cancellation technology but you do need to find the right fit.

When should you buy them?

Closed back headphones are useful in certain situations, more than others.

Open back vs closed back

Finally, closed-back headphones are more suited for use in the following situations:

  • At the office
  • While Commuting
  • For DJing
  • Music production
  • When you want to focus without being distracted

The Closing Note

Nowadays, you can also buy semi-open-back headphones that seal off the back only partially. These may be a good buy for people who can’t make up their minds between the two types.

However, before investing your money, decide your purpose for buying headphones. Think about where you are going to use them. Your ultimate goal should, of course, be the unbridled enjoyment of music/movies. With hopes that this was a useful discussion, we wish that you score a perfect can.