What headphone buyers need to know, Part 2

Open-back Sennheiser HD 800 (left), closed-back AKG K 272HD (right)

(Credit: Steve Guttenberg/CNET)

There are many types of headphones, and if you understand the pros and cons of each before you go shopping, you’ll make a more informed buying decision. Closed- and open-back headphones sound very different and serve different needs. To learn more about how they differ I spoke with two engineers, Sennheiser‘s Axel Grell and AKG‘s Philipp Schuster, and thanks go out to them. Today I’ll look at open- and closed-back headphones; I covered on- and over-the-ear headphones in yesterday’s blog item.

Closed-back headphones’ ear cups have no openings, so they hush outside sound by creating a tight seal around your ears. Open-back designs are just the opposite, the ear cups are open to let you hear the world around you. So where you listen may determine whether you’d prefer open- or closed-back headphones. Generally speaking, open headphones sound better when you’re listening in quiet settings. If you try to listen to an open-back headphone on a bus you’ll have to turn the volume way up to overcome the bus’ noise. Open-back headphones’ sound can be heard by people nearby; c… [Read more]

Related Links:
What headphone buyers need to know, Part 1
Sennheiser’s HD-25 Aluminum and HD-26 Pro: Two knockout headphones from Germany
Ooh la la: The Aedle VK-1 headphones
How small can a bona fide high-end headphone amplifier be?
HiFiMan’s advanced headphone tech at CES 2014 improves sound quality


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