Open-back headphones are not your average headphones, they come in different designs.
They are designed to leave the air breath in the headphones, although that might be a flaw for some people.
They tend to bleed the sound outside, they can’t effectively block the ambient sound.
However, I would consider this one a plus from my perspective because your ears will thank you.
Open-back headphones are better for your ears since their design lowers the intensity of the sound sent to your ear canal.
Nevertheless, they have been favored among many professional studio workers and audiophiles thanks to their sound quality.
If you are on the market for a pair of open-back headphones you came to the right place
In today’s article, I will highlight what I think are the best open back headphones under $200.
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Top 5 Open Back Headphones Under $200
5. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X – Best Soundstage
When it comes to Audio Technica, we all know how wonderful their products are, thus I don’t think the brand has to be introduced.
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X is the first on the list, a pair of over ear headphones designed for critical listening. Don’t use them for gaming or in noisy environments, they won’t perform there.
However, its design also plays a role in that fact; it appears that Audio Technica did not want to build a pair of stylish over ear headphones.
Due to their timeless style and lightweight construction, the ATH-AD700X are complete open-air type headphones that might attract attention from passers-by, but that’s all only due to their unique design.
Because of their lightweight and loose fit, they may appear to be unpleasant and poorly constructed, but don’t be fooled; Audio-Technica knows how to produce a comfortable pair of over ear headphones.
The self-adjustable 3D wing support ensures a perfect fit with low pressure and eliminates the risk of over ear headphones dropping down.
Also, the Earpads made of flexible cloth give an extra layer of comfort.
When it comes to performances, this is something else.
The newly developed 53 mm drivers, together with bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils, produce the finest soundstage of any open back headphones in this spectrum, they sound too good for being a pair of budget headphones.
The mid-range and high frequencies will be the most obvious, as they will be very sharp and pure, yet they all remain balanced throughout all frequency ranges without swallowing one another.
So, yeah, those over ear headphones sound great without any coloration in specific frequency ranges.
To get the most out of them, make sure you use them in a quiet environment, such as a studio because outside noise can interfere. Definitely one of the best open back headphones under $200 you can buy this year.
4. AKG K 240 MK II – Best Hybrid
Being an audio enthusiast, you should be pretty much familiar with the name AKG, or even the prominent lineup, the K240 studio headphones.
Next on the list comes the K240 MK II studio headphones, a pair of over ear headphones that have a combined design, and they are barely open-back design.
Those over ear headphones are perfect for those who don’t want something that is open throughout.
Design-wise As soon as you look through them, you will spot the signature design of AKG, quite minimalistic with white accents around the earcups.
There’s nothing groundbreaking to see here, but you will notice that they are a pair of over ear headphones that belong in the studio and for professional use.
They have great comfort in being targeted specifically for studio monitoring.
They sport leatherette and velvet earpads, so they can make those long listening sessions a breeze and way more pleasant.
Thanks to the self-adjusting headband, the AKG K240 II won’t have a problem fitting all head sizes, be it a small or a large head.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is the XXL transducer that offers a great signal transfer.
When it comes to sound quality they sound great across frequencies. Being a pair of studio monitoring open back headphones they will produce the sound as it comes.
Sometimes they might provide a little extra bass, but I don’t think anything at fault for them being rich at bass, actually, the bass heads might like them even more for that.
3. Shokz OpenRun Pro – Best For Athletes
I know that I might receive some hate for sneaking those wireless headphones on this list, but I know for a fact that athletes out there will love me.
Anyway, I decided to delight in this list of the best open-back headphones with a pair of open-bone conduction headphones from Shokz.
Something worth mentioning is that Shokz is the prominent brand AfterShokz that we are all familiar with.
For some reason, they decided to rebrand the name and logo, but the quality of the bone conduction headphones remains the same. After all, Aftershokz is synonymous with bone conduction headphones.
For a long time now, the Aeropex of Aftershokz has been the monarch of bone conduction headphones, but now things are a bit different.
The OpenRun is better than its predecessor due to having those innovative bass transducers on the pads that send some pleasing vibration to the aural nerves, something we haven’t seen before.
As a result, we can say that the OpenRun Pro is the best sound bone conduction wireless headphones available.
Shokz (Aftershokz) has perfected a design that works, and the OpenRun Pro doesn’t stray from it.
They contain a pair of pads that sit on your cheekbones and deliver sound via vibrations to your auditory nerve, leaving your ear canals open.
It pretty much follows the same OpenFit blueprint as the company’s other wireless headphones.
A flexible but springy titanium band connects the pads, keeping them firmly in place.
This is quite important for bone conduction headphones since they need to be worn firmly on your head.
Don’t expect groundbreaking or audiophile tier sound quality from them, they will never match the sound quality of regular wireless headphones. However, that’s the whole point here, they are made in a “open-back” system, hence why I put them on the list.
Shokz has one thing in mind, to provide athletes with wireless headphones that let them be aware of their surroundings.
There are many athletes who are put daily on different fall hazards or accidents due to their wireless headphones doing a great job at isolating the outside noise.
2. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR – Best Runner Up
Philips is known for manufacturing some of the greatest open-back headphones, and it has specific line-ups that carry the same design while getting better with each release.
The Philips Fidelio X2HR is a pair of open-back headphones that have been popular since the original X1.
Before we get into the design, you’ll see that the headphones are labeled as X2 or X2HR. There’s not much to it other than Philips changed the headband shape to be more egg-like and suit larger heads, enhanced the padding, and obtained hi-res certification with the HR version.
For the price, the craftsmanship of those wired headphones is excellent; they are quite well crafted.
Metals predominate in the material choices, with only a small amount of plastic in the ear cups and calf leather surrounding the headband.
Although the ear cups only swivel up and down, the headband is flexible enough to allow for some lateral head movement. It has memory foam ear pads, which bring you all day comfort.
The entire comfort they provide is incredible; I adore the aesthetics as well as the comfort of those wired headphones.
You’ll be hard pressed to find wired headphones that sound as excellent as these at this price point.
Although these are still open back headphones with a airy sound, they will reward you with excellent sound quality if you use them for professional use in a quiet studio.
A natural and strong bass response, with a neutral bass that has just the perfect amount of punch, is the sound signature’s highlight. The midrange has a surprising amount of clarity, while the highs are a little forward but, nothing offensive.
They do, however, have a well-balanced overall sound.
The brand new 50 mm drivers with new composite diaphragm and neodymium magnets have enhanced damping and gives, according to users, this give a nice touch to the headphones.
1. Philips SHP9600 – Best Overall
Yet another pick comes from Philips, and you can see how capable Philips is when it comes to over-the-ear headphones.
The SHP9600 is the successor to the well-known SHP9500, a set of open back headphones that received high recognition for their versatility and ability to deliver a lot of value at a low price.
The Philips SHP9600 is attempting to replicate its brother’s success, but you will have to decide for yourself whether it is superior.
The SHP9600 does not like the look of its brother and wanted to get rid of it, so it now has an all-black design that is rather minimalistic, with only the thin bronze rings on the earcups standing out a little, but generally, I like it.
The SHP9600 is primarily composed of plastic, but it is a nice plastic that does not feel fragile or cheap. On the bright side, this is what makes the open back headphones extremely lightweight, making them easy to transport.
People were constantly talking about how comfortable the SHP9500 was, and the good news is that the SHP9600 inherited the same levels of comfort, despite the design change.
Lightweight and comfortable are two words that go hand in hand, and the SHP900 has them both.
They provide a detailed and spacious sound due to their open-back design. Furthermore, the SHP9600’s Bass is improved over its previous brother, which was lacking.
However, after having the opportunity to test both open back headphones, I discovered that the SHP9600 is superior in several areas based on sound quality.
There isn’t much to say about the sound quality; it is just outstanding. All these features make these one of the best open back headphones under $200.
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Headphones:
When selecting a pair of headphones in general, you must choose between open-back and closed-back models.
The fundamental difference between closed-back and open-back headphones is the earcup enclosure.
In open-backs, the earcup vents allow air to flow freely inside and out of the enclosure.
With Closed-Back ones, on the other hand, the earcup protects the headphone’s drivers.
Closed-back and open-back headphones have various sound characteristics, in addition to the design.
Open-back headphones produce a more open, natural sound that allows you to immerse yourself in the experience.
While closed-back headphones provide an “in your mind” sound, it appears to be flowing out of your ears. It’s less melodious, but it provides better isolation and bass.
In the end, it mostly boils down to preferences and what you planning to use them for and where. Both types have their benefits and drawbacks.
This brings us to the end of today’s article. I am confident in my list, and I believe there is something for everyone.
For open-back headphones, I believe the ones listed above are among the best, as I took the time to study and compile the entire list based on my own testing and knowledge.
However, you must pay attention before purchasing them to ensure that you make the best decision possible.
If you want to get isolated from the outside world, you need a pair of noise cancelling headphones instead. Open back headphones let a lot of sound come in from the outside, whereas noise cancelling or closed back headphones try to block all external noise and ambient noise. Noise cancelling headphones are suitable for studying, meditating or anything else that requires focus.
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This is it. Enjoy!
Mix & Mastering
I love to get my hands on all sorts of audio equipment, from headphones and speakers to audio interfaces. I love putting these products through their paces and seeing what they can do.