Production Advice – Open Back Vs Closed Back Headphones

Welcome to our in-depth exploration of headphones tailored for music production. Seasoned producers and engineers unanimously consider production headphones as a cornerstone of any recording studio setup. However, the significance of a high-quality pair of full-frequency headphones extends beyond the studio walls. They serve as a valuable alternative to premium speakers for those constrained by budget or space. Furthermore, in instances where room acoustics are less than ideal, headphones emerge as crucial reference tools for accurate track assessment and stereo imaging.

Closed-Back Headphones

Immersion and Focus – There are two distinct types of headphones: closed-back and open-back. Closed-back headphones feature sealed earpieces that shield external noises, ensuring an immersive and focused listening experience. These headphones are particularly useful in noisy environments or when you wish to confine your audio within your auditory space. For instance, when working on public transport or in bustling locales, closed-back headphones can effectively block out disturbances and maintain your creative flow.


Open-Back Headphones

Expansive Acoustics – In contrast, open-back headphones allow sound to escape from the earpieces, providing a more expansive auditory experience akin to working with speakers. This design grants users the privilege of capturing the natural ambience of the room, imparting a sense of airiness to the audio. This spatial quality is advantageous when seeking a broader, more organic sonic representation. However, the choice between open-back and closed-back headphones is a matter of personal preference, influenced by factors such as your working environment and the need for noise isolation. It’s worth noting that open-back headphones may not be suitable for recording vocalists or scenarios where external sound bleed could interfere with the recording process.


Headphones and Impedance

Unveiling Clarity – One vital factor to consider when selecting headphones is impedance (measured in ohms, Ω), which measures an electric circuit or component’s resistance to alternating current. In simpler terms, higher impedance requires more power to operate optimally. If you predominantly use the headphone jack on your laptop or PC, lower impedance headphones are recommended, particularly if you plan to employ them for general listening. However, if you possess an audio interface or headphone amplifier, higher impedance models can offer enhanced clarity and detail, making them an excellent choice for the discerning audiophile.


Exploring the Range

Budget to Premium – While price often reflects quality, the audio landscape is nuanced, and value can be found at every tier. Trusted by industry-leading audio engineers, several mid-range options offer remarkable performance without breaking the bank. Ultimately, the decision should align with your preferences and demands. We are going to provide a small list to give you an idea of the best value for money. We haven’t listed prices as they tend to fluctuate and will vary based on your location but this should give you a good starting point for your research. 


Budget – Sony MDR-7506/1

Midrange – Beyerdynamic DT 770

High End – Audio Technica ATH-M70x


Budget – Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Midrange – OLLO Audio S4X / Sennheiser HD 650

High End – Audeze LCD-2

Comfort and Fit

A crucial consideration beyond audio prowess, the comfort and fit of headphones are paramount. Investing in headphones that deliver exceptional sound but leave you uncomfortable during extended usage is counterproductive. To ensure a harmonious partnership, consider physically trying out demo models at your local music store. Ergonomic design can significantly impact your overall experience, making this aspect worth careful consideration.




As you embark on your headphone selection journey, remember that the choice between open-back and closed-back models is nuanced and driven by your specific needs. Both options offer distinct advantages, from immersive focus to expansive acoustics. Impedance considerations guide you toward optimal audio clarity, while the price range accommodates various budgets. Comfort and fit serve as the final touch to your decision-making process. It’s our view that open-back headphones are much more beneficial for music production and will provide a more accurate reflection of how your mix will translate to other playback systems. By choosing headphones tailored to your preferences and creative environment, you’ll elevate your music production experience and pave the way for sonic excellence.

Always Searching For That Extra Ten Percent

At ZNL Mastering we offer full analogue and digital mixing & mastering, as well as audio restoration and sound design services for all creative industries.

If you have any questions regarding how mixing and mastering can help your productions read our FAQ, or contact us directly.

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