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The Best Open-Back Headphones of 2023

Stas Knop/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated February 2023

You might need high-quality headphones for gaming or music production, and closed-back headphones dominated the industry for too long. Innovative open-back headphones could be your best sound option depending on personal preference and utilization. Dive into a new world of sound with the best picks for open-back staples.

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  Best Overall Best Budget Best Premium Best for Gaming Best Wireless
HD 800 S Over-the-Ear Reference Headphones
DT 990 Pro 250
Utopia High-Fidelity Over-Ear Open-Back Headphones
Drop + Sennheiser
Our SummarySennheiser offers quality sound for audio listeners of all kinds.For a more affordable option, beyerdynamic delivers comfortable and attractive headphones.Focal's luxurious Utopia headphones offer high-quality sound and craftsmanship.Drop + Sennheiser's collaboration is optimal for gamers looking for great sound and comfort.For those who prefer earbuds, Sony's LinkBuds prioritize environmental awareness and superior sound.
Pros✓ Large earcups and replaceable pads
✓ Industry appreciation for longevity
✓ Clear sound
✓ Top-level soundstage
✓ Stylish
✓ Reasonably priced
✓ Comfortable
✓ Easily replaceable parts
✓ Luxurious experience
✓ Unique sound immersion
✓ Large soundstage
✓ Lightweight and flexible
✓ Double-padded for comfort
✓ Precise treble for gaming sounds
✓ Inexpensive
✓ Fits different ear sizes
✓ Waterproof
✓ Tap feature controls
✓ App connectivity
Cons✗ Top padding less comfortable
✗ Bass could use improvements
✗ Expensive
✗ Potentially overhyped from sponsorships
✗ Non-detachable cords
✗ Harshness in frequencies
✗ Niche market
✗ Potentially high shipping fees
✗ Very expensive
✗ Doesn't come with a carrying case
✗ Delicate materials
✗ Earlier model is similar and cheaper
✗ No multipoint Bluetooth connectivity
✗ No wireless charging
✗ No noise canceling qualities
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The Best Open-Back Headphones of 2023

Open back headphones on a table.
Stas Knop/Shutterstock.com

What to Look For in Open-Back Headphones

These are the most critical aspects of top-tier open-back headphones you’ll need to order for your priorities before spending money:

  • Breathability: The open earcup and speaker housing allows the inside of the headphone to retain less heat, which is great for wearing for long periods without needing to vent. Consider the housing quality alongside the headphone pad material for maximum comfort and feeling preference.
  • Ambient awareness: The perk of open-back headphones is it allows wearers to be aware of their environment. Closed-back headphones isolate listeners so they can’t hear doorbells and sometimes even their voices. Decide how much sound you want coming into your headphones from the environment.
  • Microphone pickup: Because sound can escape more easily through open-back earcups, it isn’t ideal for public environments or if users intend on using microphones frequently. Figure out how often you’ll use them in conjunction, and consider seeking high-quality earpieces with microphones that don’t pick up a lot of feedback.
  • Price: Cost is arguably the most influential factor in how much you’re willing to spend for an open-back headphone experience. If you’re second-guessing, test-run different models at local stores.
  • Soundstage: How large do you want the sound field to be? Larger soundstages are necessary if you want to feel surrounded by a large sound space. If you want the sounds to feel closer, maybe a wide soundstage isn’t as vital.

Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 800 S

Sennheiser hd 800 s headphones on a white background.


  • Large earcups with replaceable pads
  • industry appreciation for longevity
  • Top-level soundstage with crisp clarity
  • Adequate for multipurpose use


  • Top padding isn't as plush
  • Bass isn't as resonant
  • Hefty price tag

In the headphones space, few have as recognizable of a design and reputation as the Sennheiser HD 800 S. It has a lushness that transcends years of wear, making it great for gamers and music enthusiasts. With crisp clarity and a top-tier soundstage, audio listeners of all kinds will experience a high quality listening experience.

While these aren’t the cheapest open-back headphones on the market, their sound and material quality are worth the price tag. It all comes down to preference, but these headphones champion dynamic sound in a way that will keep it a relevant headset for many years.

Best Budget: beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250

Beyerdynamic dt 990 pro 250 headphones on a white background.


  • Easily controlled with good clamp force
  • Replaceable and stylish parts, like the leather top and silver pads
  • Reasonably priced
  • Comfortable for long periods of time


  • Reviews claim they're overhyped because of frequent streamer brand deals
  • Non-detachable coiled cords above and below ears
  • Users can experience harshness in high frequencies

For a budget pair of headphones, the beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250’s give wearers the best investment for the cost — but know what you’re getting for that price. Some find the sounds muddled and less crisp, and depending on the sound wave frequency, it may cause piercing sounds or distortion. However, less attuned ears may not notice these moments among its other benefits.

Where sound quality may lack, the DT 990 Pro 250’s make up in construction. With attractive physical features and replaceable parts, these headphones will always look like you just bought them. Stylish looks and extreme comfort make the lower price justifiable.

beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones For Mixing, Mastering, and Editing

For a more affordable option, the beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 delivers comfort and aesthetics.

Best Premium: Focal Utopia High-Fidelity Over-Ear Open-Back Headphones 

Focal utopia high-fidelity open-back headphones on a white background.


  • Luxurious experience and design
  • Beryllium driver provides unique immersion
  • Lightweight, comfortable and flexible
  • Massive soundstage


  • Niche market, mostly for attentive music listeners
  • French origin could cause higher shipping or import fees
  • Hard-to-justify base price tag

For exquisite headphones fashioned through artistry, few compare to the French expertise of Focal’s Utopia. With its unique beryllium driver, this headset gives a sound unlike most headphones, reliant upon titanium or steel. Its musical intensity isn’t reflected in its weight, carrying lightly on the head without compromising durability.

All the luxury of Focal comes at a high cost, which won’t be suitable for everyone. This rings true as these headphones are best suited for very attentive music listeners. The grand listening experience — and potential to hear aspects of songs you’ve never noticed before —- are worth it for the price.

Focal Utopia High-Fidelity Over-Ear Open-Back Headphones (2022)

Focal Utopia High-Fidelity Open-Back headphones offer high-quality sound and craftsmanship.

Best for Gaming: Drop + Sennheiser PC38X

Drop + sennheiser pc38x headphones on a white background.
DROP + Sennheiser


  • Double-padded for comfort
  • Precise treble for gaming sounds
  • Inexpensive


  • Doesn't come with a carrying case
  • Delicate materials
  • Earlier model is similar and cheaper

This dream collaboration produced one of the most famous headphones in the gaming sphere. The Drop + Sennheiser PC38X sits comfortably with minimal pressure and double padding, made for long and intense sessions of competitive, seamless gameplay.

This set has a unique appearance from many other options that will easily match the classic gamer aesthetic. The yellow mesh is distinct and colorful while still being understated.

The mic has one of the best sound qualities in the open-back headphone market with no noticeable feedback, so those in voice chat aren’t frustrated. It optimizes for sounds gamers want to hear, flexing its defined treble for sharpshooters in an FPS and thick environmental soundscapes for open-world experiences.

Best Wireless: Sony LinkBuds

Sony linkbuds on a white background.


  • Recycled plastic composition
  • Comes with five sizes of supporters for different ear sizes
  • Waterproof
  • Wide area tap feature for controls
  • App connectivity


  • No support for multipoint Bluetooth connectivity
  • No wireless charging
  • Does not have noise-canceling qualities

If you’re looking for a less bulky listening vibe, the Sony LinkBuds prioritize wearability and the environment, as it is one of the few on the market made with recycled materials. It has a similar price as some AirPod variants, making it competitive with even the most dedicated Apple fans, despite being unable to connect to multiple Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

Its ring design promotes environmental awareness without compromising sound. Plus, it includes unique features like app connectivity to adjust for bass and treble, wide area tap, and a stemless design for a snug fit.


April Miller April Miller
April Miller is a senior writer at ReHack Magazine with 3+ years experience as a technology writer and editor. Beyond Review Geek, you can find her work across the web on sites like Due, Training Industry, KnowTechie and more. Read Full Bio »