Whether for work or pleasure, regular headphones users cite ear fatigue as one of their primary concerns – luckily, open-back headphones allow you to enjoy music without it. Moreover, the high-quality audio of open-back headphones does not always require exuberant spending. You can buy durable, solid performing open-back headphones for under $200 – and in this article, we guide you how!
Read on as we discuss our top 5 picks for the best open-back headphones under $200, as well as elaborate on crucial considerations before you set on purchasing one. Let’s get to it.
What Are Open Back Headphones?
As the name suggests, in open-back headphones, air ventilation is allowed from the back of the speaker driver, unlike their closed-back counterparts that are completely sealed from the rear. The open-back design helps produce clear and a natural sound, as there is no worry of low-frequency and resonance build-up.
However, this particular headphone style is best to use in isolation, as they do poorly blocking external noise. Moreover, the exposed back requires extra care if you want the headphones to last you long.
Open Back Headphones Buying Guide
Despite their usage restrictions, open-back headphones are unmatched in sound quality – but there are varying factors that you should consider when looking to buy a pair.
Since open-back headphones need good care, go for ones made from quality material for extended durability. For wireless options, choose one that is compatible with a 3.5 mm cable. Look for open-back headphones with velour pads. While you can make accurate quality determinations genuinely after usage, reading customer reviews is always a safe bet before making the purchase.
Weight and Fit
Headphones come in varying sizes, and while many people think overstuffed padding is a good thing, it might not always be the case, as it tends to make the headphone heavier. Similarly, heavier models do not always reciprocate in quality, especially with the advent of technology.
Fit is also just as crucial for more prolonged use of headphones. From mesh to leather, you can opt for varying headband materials. Since preferences differ personally, try out several pairs until you are happy with the comfort level of the headphones you are buying.
If you intend to receive calls with your headphones, then go for an option that includes a microphone for accessible communication. This is also a great feature if you want to use headphones while playing video games.
Frequency Response and Device Compatibility
As far as frequency response is concerned, good-quality headphones should produce clear sound from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz. Moreover, you also need to ensure your headphone is compatible with various devices, like something compact as your mobile phone or an elaborate home studio setup.
Why Should You Own Open Back HeadPhones?
While open-back headphones may not be the best choice to use outside, there are still various benefits to owning them.
In most cases, the open back allows for well vented, clearer sound, which is almost unanimously better in quality than closed-back headphones. Since no pressure hinders the driver, the listener experience is closely matched to HiFi speakers in terms of sound quality.
Heat Mitigation For Comfortable Listening
Air circulation makes for a much more comfortable listening session with no sweaty ears. This allows longer continuous use of the headphones.
Since the design does not include whole ear cup shells on the outside, it is automatically lighter than models with earcups. Lightweight headphones are much more comfortable as they do not weigh in on your head and ears.
5 Best Open Back Headphones Under $200
Keeping the considerations mentioned above in mind, here are our top five picks for open-back headphones.
Sennheiser PXC 550-II
- Superior sound quality and active noise cancellation: The PXC 550-II Wireless delivers Sennheiser legendary sound quality. Active noise cancellation reduces the ambient noise around you and can be adjusted to your preference
- Exceptional battery performance up to 30 hours: The PXC 550-II Wireless delivers up to 30 hours of battery life. You can travel from London to Hong Kong and back with just one charge
- One touch access to voice assistant: With the touch of a single button you have access to your AI helper: Siri, Hey Google and Alexa
- Touch pad control: A touch pad on the right ear cup provides volume, play, stop, pause and track skipping control. Touching the ear cup allows you to take an incoming call. Controlling this headset is instinctive and easy
- Smart pause (activated via the app), auto on:off: Swivel the ear cups to turn off, sensors detect when you wear the headphone and play, pause music
With its excellent 30-hour battery life, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is not your average headphone. This model is an audio engineer’s dream with great high-tech features like smart pause, anti-wind ANC, and on/off by toggling the right ear cup.
Users love this model’s control; I love the Sennheiser controls, “the touch controls and motions are intuitive, it’s precisely as responsive/sensitive as I’d like.”
The controls might get triggered when chewing and breathing at times. However, they are much easier to use than the traditional switch.
- 50mm neodymium drivers deliver full spectrum of sound
- 1.5m cable gives you freedom of movement for indoor use
- Comfortable double layered headband cushion, breathable ear cushion for longer wearing comfort
- Finishing of connector: gold-plated, acoustic system: open, Magnet type: neodymium
The Philips SHP9500 is great for everyday use thanks to its comfortable headband and ear cushions with an open-back, over-ear design.
The 50mm high power drivers allow clear sound with no pressure on the rear. The acoustic architecture is excellent for high frequencies – with authentic sound in the range of 12 – 35,000 Hz. It is also adjustable for a custom fit. The 1.5 m removable cable is excellent for indoor use.
Customers boast of comfort, thanks to its steel headband, fitted with a cushion for ease of wear and long listening sessions. The pads may be a little shallow but allow for a better fit.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
- Open over-ear headphones, ideal for professional mixing, mastering and editing
- Perfect for studio applications thanks to their transparent, spacious, strong bass and treble sound
- The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
- Hard-wearing, durable and robust workmanship - Made in Germany
- Practical single-sided cable (3.0m coiled cable)
For excellent mid and high-frequency transparency, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is the headphone of choice. The velour + memory foam ear pads are comfortable with a 1m coiled cable that adds ease of movement to this set’s growing list of positives.
Users love the sound quality, especially for the price, “I bought these cans because I needed a good open-back set for mixing and mastering in the studio, and they are the most transparent and accurate set of headphones I’ve ever used.”
Even though the build material is almost plastic (less durable), they are great for longer listening sessions thanks to lightweight comfort.
Audio Technica ATH AD700X
- 53 mm drivers reproduce clear treble and midrange. Connectivity Technology: Wired
- Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils for superior power handling. Impedance: 38 ohms
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW . Full open-air type headphones produce no sense of pressure on the ears, resulting in a completely natural sensation
- Lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing with excellent acoustic properties
- Self-adjusting 3D Wing Support provides a comfortable listening experience; total ear-fit design minimizes pressure. Maximum Input Power: 700 mW
With its 53 mm drivers, Audio Technica ATH AD700X reproduces superior, stress-free sound. The earpads are rounded but do not feel uncomfortable. Instead of a usual headband, this pair has 3D Wing Support for better adjustability.
With 71% 5-star ratings, consumers love this pair’s directional audio; however, some do not enjoy the build quality as much as other options in this list, it doesn’t skimp on sound, and that is what matters.
AKG K612 Pro
- Open-back design
- Patented varimotion diaphragm technology
- 120 ohm impedance, 12 hz - 39 Khz responce
- 101 dB SPL/V
- Only 238 g in weight
The AKG KG12 Pro is another mention on my list with a 3D Wing Support design. The velour padding makes it lightweight, as does the faux leather headband cover. With the Audio frequency bandwidth of 12 – 39500 Hz, they reproduce crisp and clear sound. AKG’s patented Varimotion Diaphragm Technology is excellent for the low-end response.
Users appreciate the sound quality for the price; however, it comes with an undetachable cable, which, if it breaks, results in the headphones being rendered useless.
Open-back headphones are fabulous for more extended wear, thanks to the open-air design and excellent voice quality. However, when buying such a set, make sure you look for build- quality, comfort, and fit, suitable for extended use.
Even though the Philips SHP9500 is a close second, the battery life and smart features of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II are hard to beat, making it my favorite of the five.