Open-back headphones are widely used in the audio industry, particularly among audiophiles and audio engineers. When it comes to earbuds, however, the convention favors noise isolation, portability, and convenience of usage.
It seems that sound quality and convenience are two opposing forces that never get along. However, owing to open-back earphones, this is changing. Let’s look at what they are, how they function, their advantages and disadvantages, and if they are worth the money.
Difference Between Open-Back and Closed-Back
So, before you choose open-back earbuds, you should understand the difference between open-back and closed-back headphone styles. The former is intended to allow air and ambient noise to travel through the speaker driver and into your ears, whilst the latter is intended to restrict it for greater isolation.
Most consumer-grade headphones (in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear) have a closed back because customers like it that way, and it’s also less expensive to manufacture. Closed-back headphones allow you to tune out the outside world while listening to music.
However, this design has a flaw: it doesn’t feel natural.
You’ve probably observed that after a lengthy period of listening with closed-back headphones, your ears begin to warm up and sweat. Because the enclosure enables the ear cups to retain heat, perspiration occurs as a normal physical response to cool down.
Open-back headphones overcome this issue by allowing air into your ears, allowing them to “breathe” and providing a more immersive listening experience. This design is used in high-end headphones because it improves soundstage and audio image. If you want the highest sound quality, open-back headphones are highly recommended by audiophiles.
They are, however, not without restrictions. Because of the open design, sound from the drivers may be heard (albeit not loudly) by the person sitting next to you. Furthermore, if you’re in a loud area, all of those noises will interfere with your listening session.
To truly appreciate the capabilities of open-back headphones, you’ll need a calm setting (or one with soothing ambient noise) with few distractions. As a result, most individuals who own them only use them inside. They’re just not suitable for outside activities such as the gym, running, commuting, and so forth. Furthermore, most open-back headphones and earbuds are not water-resistant and do not come with a rating. When you consider their design, it makes sense since they feature a large, open vent on the back that enables water to enter key components.
Is It Worth It to Buy Expensive Headphones? What You Should Know Before Purchasing
So, Why Make Open-Back Earbuds?
At first look, open-back earbuds make little sense since TWS earbuds now have Transparency Mode, which enhances ambient sounds utilizing the mic on the earpieces so you can hear your surroundings clearly.
Open-back earphones, on the other hand, offer one significant benefit over the alternatives: they make the open-back experience portable and suitable for outdoor usage. You may enjoy the natural sound that audiophiles like while paying attention to your surroundings while conducting outside chores and activities with them.
In other words, they provide the sound of open-back headphones in the form of TWS earbuds. The Sony Linkbuds and the Audeze LCDi3 are two examples of this design factor. The former are open-back TWS earbuds designed for general users, while the latter are open-back in-ear monitors (IEMs) designed for audiophiles.
Open-back earphones, as clever as they are, remain a niche product. They are attempting to address an issue that has already been handled, although in a “better” manner. Furthermore, since they are plainly incapable of having Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), they will not adapt to your changing demands for when you need to separate yourself from ambient noise.
Open-Back Earbuds Require Commitment
Unless you’re an audiophile searching for a tiny version of open-back headphones, you shouldn’t purchase open-back earbuds right now. The technology is still in its early stages and will need many tweaks before it is considered useful.
Even still, it’s not a good match for most casual users since you’re foregoing ANC for what is essentially a natural version of Transparency Mode. Most individuals would not be willing to make that kind of sacrifice.
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