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Courtesy of `Round Magazine

Open-Back Headphones Sound Best

There are two main kinds of over-the-ear headphones: open-back headphones and closed-back headphones. Most headphones are closed-back, meaning that the outer part of the headphone cups have a hard enclosure that fits snugly around the entire ear. Open-back headphones do not separate your ears from the outside world. Designed so sound is able to resonate from the rear of the speaker diaphragm, the unique design of open-back headphones reduces distortion and sound coloration that is often associated with closed-back headphone sets. Open-back headphones are able to not only produce a wider soundstage, they also deliver a more transparent sound.

Why Open Back Headphones are the Best Choice

Closed-back headphones make music sound like it is coming from inside your head. Open-back headphones allow sound to pass through the back of the ear piece, creating an open, accurate and natural sound. This soundstage seems wider and has more presence. That extra air flow is able reduce the effect of sound "bouncing around" inside closed back headphones - creating a more natural and realistic listening experience, while also increasing the accuracy of the audio.

Not only does the added airflow increase the sound quality produced by open back headphones, the design also provides more comfort for the listener than the box-like experience of closed back headphones, which can get hot and even sweaty.

Due to the accuracy of the sound created and the experience provided to listeners, open-back headphones are the first choice amongst musicians, professional audio engineers, as well as avid video game players. The accurate, real-life sound created by open back headphones allow gamers to better judge the position of an off-screen sound source. They allow sound engineers to accurately mix and master music and they provide musicians with a wider sound stage and a more transparent sound.

Record with closed back cans, mix with open back

If recording a vocal for your band you'll need to use closed back headphones to avoid sound leakage back into the microphone. But when it comes to mixing tracks use a good set of monitors, or some high quality open-back headphones. This is because the isolation of closed-back works against you during mixing and mastering, camouflaging frequency clashes and tuning problems. You'll be in for a rude surprise once you play that song on your car audio system.

Many audio engineers advise against using headphones at all when mixing, but these days the audience is often wearing headphones so you need to cover your bases. The true sound of open-back headphones is the best choice if you are working in a small studio or even a hotel room with a laptop.
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Be open minded, try a pair of Grado open-back headphones and hear what you've been missing.