Best Open Back Headphones for Mixing and Mastering

Do you want to know the best open back headphones for mixing and mastering? Check out our article now for your answer and a helpful buying guide.

Introduction

The best open back headphones for mixing and mastering can help you make transparent sound and accurate mixes. This type of headphones normally sounds precise and lifelike, which is suitable for a home studio. 

But the question is, how to choose the most suitable open back headphones for your preference and demand? Don’t worry; we are here to help you out. 

We have compiled a list of the top open back headphones available on today’s market, along with a helpful buying guide. Of which, we consider the Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone as the winner for its exceptional performance in every aspect. 

Not only does it offer outstanding tonal depth for incredibly spacious sound range, but it is also comfortable when wearing for an extended time. Thanks to reproducing precise sound, it is an ideal choice for making mixing and mastering decisions.

Things To Consider When Choosing Open Back Headphones for Mixing and Mastering

Mixing and mastering is a complicated stage of audio that involves lots of variables. If you don’t take it seriously, it can become daunting. That’s why it is imperative to choose the best tool like open back headphones to mix and master. 

If you, for instance, get a badly-tuned open back headphone, you can have unbalanced frequencies, harsh highs, or muddy bass. There are various key factors you should keep in mind for the best open back headphones for mixing and mastering.  

Sound Quality

Sound quality is one of the most important elements of a headphone. If your headphones cannot reproduce a transparent and natural sound, there is a 100% chance that you will make a wrong adjustment during mastering and mixing sessions. 

It is advisable to avoid mixing headphones featuring enhanced frequency and sweeteners. You do not want anything like that for tracking mix yet flat frequency responses that allow you to listen to a real frequency for more balanced and emotional mixing.

Comfort

The lack of comfort can defeat the aim of great sound quality. Lightweight headphones with soft foam pads are ideal for optimal comfort when wearing for an extended time. 

It is best to choose headphones with rotating and adjustable earcups. Besides, you can go for those with ear shells tiltable to fit your ears’ shape. 

Durability

The durability is an important feature when buying an open back headphone, greatly relying on the materials. Some headphones earpads can make you sweat because of fake leather or heavy usage. 

That’s why you need to choose headphones with breathable ear pads made of foam or authentic leather for extended use. 

Transparency

Most open back headphones exaggerate the bass and treble response to make them sound more flattering and more polished. Nevertheless, referencing your music on this kind of headphones can leave you with imbalanced and dull mixes. 

These mixes will not sound right on various playback systems or listening devices. It is imperative to go for transparent headphones to produce mixes translating well on various systems.

Accuracy

We also recommend headphones that can provide a proper idea of what’s going on with your music. A good pair of open back headphones needs to provide clear, deep, and detailed sound so that you can make professional mixing and mastering decisions. 

The headphones sounding indistinct or muddy or exaggerating certain frequencies can hinder you from creating quality mixes.

Drivers

The driver is a critical part of open back headphones as it takes the electrical signals and turns them into sound. It is basically a small monitor on your ears. Its size varies on the headphones but is usually from 20 mm to 50 mm. 

The larger the driver, the louder the headphones and the better the bass. However, it does not mean it delivers better sound quality. And the bigger size can make the headphones have a more difficult time to higher frequencies. 

See more:

Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone
Open over-ear headphones, ideal for professional mixing, mastering and editing; The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
$159.00
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
Carbon composite resin improves structural rigidity to provide detailed transient response
$349.00
Sale
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Improved frequency response is 10 39,500 Hertz ( 10 dB); Lightweight aluminum voice coils for very fast transient response
$499.95 −$100.95 $399.00
Sale
Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones Black
53 mm drivers reproduce clear treble and midrange. Connectivity Technology: Wired; Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils for superior power handling. Impedance: 38 ohms
$199.95 −$81.23 $118.72
SENNHEISER HD 559 Open Back Headphone - Black
Open back, around ear design. Connectivity Technology: Wired; Powered by proprietary Sennheiser 38 millimeter, 50 ohm transducers
$99.95
Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone 50mm Drivers- Black
Hi-res Audio Certified with extended response frequencies; Engineered double layered ear-shells with pre-tilted speaker plates
$148.99
Sale
Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)
50mm neodymium drivers deliver full spectrum of sound; 1.5m cable gives you freedom of movement for indoor use
$90.00 −$16.00 $74.00
Sale
AKG K 701 Ultra Reference Class Stereo Headphone Level 1
Revolutionary flat-wire voice
$469.00 −$265.51 $203.49
 

Best Open Back Headphones For Mixing And Mastering Reviews

This section will cover our reviews of the best open back headphones for mixing and mastering, along with their pros and cons.

#1. Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Open Studio Headphone – Best Overall

We will start with our best overall – Beyerdynamic DT 990 Open Headphone. This pick is one of the best open back headphones for mixing we have ever used. This suggestion is designed for stress-free listening to meet the needs when mixing and mastering. 

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Open Studio Headphone

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 features a pleasant sound with rich bass, soaring highs, and clear mids. In particular, the bass isn’t overstated but rather precise. Besides, the treble is powerfully present with no sounding sharp.

On top of that, it stands out with the high-quality three-dimensional sound, properly reproducing each instrument’s details in the wide spatial image. It comes with a wide frequency range from 5 – 35kHz. 

In terms of design, this pair of studio headphones is rigid yet creates less pressure on wearers’ head. The ear pad design is quite soft and replaceable.

We also like its outstanding tonal depth to ensure small changes in the acoustic source’s positioning that can be perceived as mixing.

Moreover, its lightweight diaphragm and moving coil feature similar pulse characteristics as electrostatic headphones. More surprisingly, these consumer headphones come at a quite affordable price range that will not hurt your budget a lot and are quite durable.

This suggestion would be better if it came with an improved noise cancelling system.

Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone
  • 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

Pros:

  • Outstanding tonal depth
  • Incredible spacious sound
  • Extreme comfort
  • Wide frequency response
  • Offer pleasant sound
  • Affordable price

Con:

  • Not good noise cancelling system

#2. Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Open-Back Headphones – Best For Design

Our runner-up is the Audio Technica ATH R70x. It wins our hearts for the robust yet lightweight design. It provides a feather-light weight of approximately 1.63 pounds, perfectly suited for professional use.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70X Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-R70X Headphones

In particular, these professional headphones feature alloy magnetic circuit construction with high-efficiency magnets. It is made of carbon composite to enhance structural sturdiness to offer clear transient responses.

The comfortable headphones offer acoustical transparence, thanks to the aluminum housings with honeycomb mesh. It delivers wide open back sounds. 

We also love its breathable earpads and enhanced wing support to deliver optimal comfort when wearing for a long time. It also has a unique and dual-sided removable locking cable to ensure the right stereo orientation.

On the downside, this suggestion is not loud enough because of its high impedance.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones
  • High-efficiency magnets and pure alloy magnetic circuit design reduce distortion and ensure accurate and extended high-frequency response
  • Carbon composite resin improves structural rigidity to provide detailed transient response

Pros:

  • Robust and lightweight design
  • Carbon composite material to enhance structural rigidity 
  • Clear transient response
  • Wide open back sounds
  • Breathable earpads
  • Unique and dual-sided removable locking cable

Con:

  • Not loud enough

#3. Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Headphone – Best For Frequency Response

The next position belongs to the Sennheiser Pro Audio HD650 for its frequency response. In particular, it features an improved rate of 10 – 39,500 Hz (about 10dB). 

Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Headphone

Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Headphone

We are also impressed with its special design of acoustic silk to ensure precision damping over the whole frequency range. Besides, this design helps reduce THD to a significant 0.05 percent.

The HD650 is the successor of the award-winning HD600. It comes with enhanced materials for better sound reproduction. Plus, it can captivate the listeners with emotion and expressiveness.

These consumer headphones also stand out with its highly optimized magnet systems for the minimum harmonic and intermodulation distortion. Notably, the high-power neodymium magnets can provide optimal efficiency.

We are pretty sure you will love it for its lightweight aluminum voice coils to provide a quick transient response. Its specially-modulated connecting cable made of highly conductive OFC (Oxygen-free copper) also provides very low handling noise and low structure-borne sound sensitivity.

However, we found that the relaxed mid-range can make you tend to increase the vocals in the mix, causing a vocal-concentrated mix that might not be favorable for several genres.

Sale
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
  • Specially designed acoustic silk ensures precision damping over the entire frequency range and helps to reduce THD to an incredible 0.05 percent
  • Improved frequency response is 10 39,500 Hertz ( 10 dB)

Pros:

  • Extended frequency response
  • Acoustic silk design for greater precision
  • Better sound reproduction
  • Highly optimized magnet systems 
  • High-power neodymium magnets 
  • Lightweight aluminum voice coils 

Con:

  • Vocal concentrated mix

#4. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Headphones – Best For Comfort

The ATH-AD700X, also from Audio Technica, presents on our list for a reason. These headphones set themselves apart from other competitors for optimal comfort thanks to its unique 3D wing support. 

 ATH-AD700X Headphones

 ATH-AD700X Headphones

Accordingly, you can automatically adjust the head size for a comfortable listening experience and lower the pressure. Moreover, its full open-air design produces no sense of pressure on your ears. 

Thus, you will feel comfortable when wearing it for an extended time and get an entirely natural sensation. Its 53mm drivers can reproduce clear midrange and treble. There are Bobbin-wound copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils to deliver superb power handling. 

It also outcompetes with the lightweight honeycomb casing made of aluminum and great acoustic properties. You will also love these professional studio headphones for the ability to prevent tangles, thanks to the conductive OFC cord and elastic sheath.

Moreover, there is a chance in a million that you need a headphone amplifier for louder volume as it features a lower impedance of 40 Ohms and higher sensitivity than the Sennheiser HD650.

However, these audiophile headphones are not a good match for fans of EDM or hip hop music as it lacks great bass.

Sale
Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones Black
  • 53 mm drivers reproduce clear treble and midrange. Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils for superior power handling. Impedance: 38 ohms

Pros:

  • Optimal comfort with 3D wing support
  • Comfortable listening experience 
  • Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils 
  • Lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing 
  • Conductive OFC cord for no tangling

Con:

  • Lack of bass

#5. SENNHEISER HD 559 Open Back Headphone – Best For Technology

The Sennheiser HD559 is named on our list thanks to the application of astonishing technology. Particularly, it features the EAR (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology to enhance the user experience by directly tailoring audio into the ears.

SENNHEISER HD 559 Open Back Headphone

SENNHEISER HD 559 Open Back Headphone

This feature produces a near-audiophile sound quality, allowing you to enjoy a more lifelike sound as if you are immersed in a live concert.

On top of that, it features a lower impedance of 50 Ohms and a sound sensitivity of 106 dB, which serves up a satisfyingly deep bass sound. We also like its premium components, particularly aluminum voice coils. 

It can offer excellent dynamic range, extremely low distortion, and high efficiency. Its open acoustics design can bring an amazingly spatial accurate representation to enhance the natural listening experience. Besides, you will love this suggestion as it can work well with no amplifier.

Nevertheless, there is no detachable cable, which can cause a bit of inconvenience when using it.

SENNHEISER HD 559 Open Back Headphone - Black
  • Open back, around ear design. Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Powered by proprietary Sennheiser 38 millimeter, 50 ohm transducers

Pros:

  • EAR technology for better listening experience
  • High comfort with lightweight design
  • Provide satisfyingly deep bass sound
  • Aluminum voice coils
  • Open acoustics design for natural sound

Con:

  • No detachable cable

#6. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open-Air Headphone – Best For Resolution

The Phillips Audio Fidelio X2HR is an ideal option for those seeking high-resolution sound. With these headphones, you can immerse yourself in every pristine detail and enjoy plush comfort. 

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open-Air Headphone

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Open-Air Headphone

The high-end memory foam earpads with a velour material provide high breathability and dissipate heat and pressure for extended wearing comfort. It integrates the iconic design paired with the impeccably detailed and clear sound range.

Plus, its acoustic open-back design lowers air pressure build-up behind the drivers. This construction will allow the diaphragm ample free movement to significantly improve the sound transparency and smoothen long high frequencies.

We are also impressed with the layered motion control drivers. They come with a multiple-layered polymer diaphragm encasing a damping gel layer. They generate a flexible boundary and the gel to absorb and dampen the exaggerated frequencies. 

As a result, you will get a more natural, refined, and balanced range of sounds. 

That said, we found that these headphones are comically big.

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone 50mm Drivers- Black
  • Hi-res Audio Certified with extended response frequencies
  • Engineered double layered ear-shells with pre-tilted speaker plates

Pros:

  • High-resolution sound
  • Highly breathable materials
  • Impeccably detailed and clear sound range
  • Improved sound transparency
  • Layered motion control drivers for better sound
  • Provide optimal sound reflection

Con:

  • Comically big

#7. Philips SHP9500 Over-Ear Headphones – Best For Precise Mixing

We cannot forget to mention the SHP9500 from Phillips – the best value open back headphones for most accurate mixing. It is prized for its high precision in sound delivery. 

Philips SHP9500 Over-Ear Headphones 

Philips SHP9500 Over-Ear Headphones 

You can get audio signals directly channeled into your ears for a dynamic and real listening experience. There are also 50 mm neodymium drivers to offer a full spectrum of sound. 

These studio headphones deliver well-balanced crisp and accurate bass response, pristine high frequencies, and transparent midrange. Their architecture can eliminate the air pressure build-up behind the drivers to give the diaphragm better freedom of movement. 

The over-ear open-back headphones greatly improve the transparency of sound and smooth long high frequencies. The SHP9500 comes with a comfortable padded headband cushion that is breathable and soft for long listening sessions. 

Its deluxe earpads enhance breathability and dissipate heat and pressure for extended wearing comfort. We also like the durable steel headband made of cold-rolled steel to provide the proper tension, ensuring durability and strength. 

The size of the headband is easily adjustable with markings for optimum fit. On top of that, as the Philips SHP9500 comes at a very budget-friendly price yet does not compromise the sound quality, it is one of the best affordable open back headphones for mixing today.

That said, this suggestion tends to have a low-quality treble.

Sale
Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones (Black)
  • 50mm neodymium drivers deliver full spectrum of sound
  • 1.5m cable gives you freedom of movement for indoor use

Pros:

  • Provide high precision in sound delivery
  • Dynamic and real listening experience
  • Improve the transparency of sound 
  • Smooth long high frequencies
  • Adjustable headband
  • Affordable price

Con:

  • Low-quality treble

#8. AKG K701 Ultra Class Reference Headphone – Runner-Up For Precise Mixing

We will continue with the AKG K701 Headphone. This suggestion is another choice for accurate sound. This feature is thanks to the flat-wire voice coil technology with the exclusive Varimotion technology from AKG. 

AKG K701 Ultra Class Stereo Headphone

AKG K701 Ultra Class Stereo Headphone

It leads to accurate reproduction with spatial imaging and high frequencies. Its flat-wire technology is a state-of-the-art technology that moves within the neodymium magnet system. 

The coil makes the headphone motor more efficient and allows the headphones to be compatible with an amplifier. Meanwhile, the Varimotion technology comes with two layers made of different materials. 

The first enhances the motion of the diaphragm while the second dampens breakup modes. This diaphragm has different thicknesses. Its 80-micrometer center zone delivers well-balanced headphone frequency response.

Meanwhile, the 40-micrometer zone can deal with the power for proper production of midrange and bass frequencies. The headphones come with a wide frequency response of 10Hz – 39.8 kHz. Thus, you can reach frequencies beyond human listening ability.

We also love its innovative design with adjustable padded leather headbands and 3D foam ear pads. The pads can fit right around your ears to deliver optimized acoustic transmission and accurate listening location.

The imaging is impressive that you can gain a greatly enjoyable listening experience when paired with the sharp and crisp high sound and smooth but punchy bass.

It would be better if the headphone came with a detachable cable for more freedom when moving.

Sale

Pros:

  • Exclusive Varimotion technology for proper sound reproduction 
  • Neodymium magnet system
  • Provide well-balanced sound
  • High comfort
  • Optimized acoustic transmission 
  • Provide enjoyable listening experience 

Con:

  • No detachable cable

#9. Shure SRH1840 Open Back Headphones – Best For Durability

Our last pick is the Shure SRH1840 – one of the most durable mixing and mastering open back headphones. It is extremely robust thanks to its steel driver frame, helping you use it for a long time. 

Shure SRH1840 Open Back Headphones

Shure SRH1840 Open Back Headphones

This perfect pair of headphones comes with an oxygen-free detachable copper cable covered in the Kevlar-reinforced jacket. As an open-back model, this suggestion doesn’t have low-end pressure problems, often happening in closed-back headphones.

That’s why it is perfect for mastering and stereo field as it offers a natural sound experience. Using these studio headphones can help you get a mix that can translate well on specific speaker systems.

On top of that, this pair of headphones provides rich bass, detailed highs, and clear midrange. It is overall accurate that it can effortlessly replace the studio monitors due to neodymium drivers. It is perfect for critical listening and monitoring. 

However, we found that it is not suitable for live performances as it does not feature sound isolation.

Shure SRH1840 Professional Open Back Headphones (Black)
  • Individually matched 40 mm neodymium drivers for unparalleled acoustic performance with smooth, extended high-end and accurate bass
  • Open-back, circumaural design for exceptionally natural sound, wide stereo image, and increased depth of field

Pros:

  • High durability
  • Perfect for mastering and stereo field 
  • Provide rich bass, detailed highs, and clear midrange
  • Critical listening and monitoring
  • Ample for mastering
  • Lightweight design for high comfort

Con:

  • Not suitable for live performances

FAQs

What Are Open Back Headphones?

Open back headphones cannot entirely enclose your ears. They let the air pass between the ears and ear cups. This design keeps the pressure from forming within earcups affecting the sound. 

There are audio escapes to provide you a more proper sound, which is ideal for a home studio. That said, this type of headphones cannot block the background noises.

And due to the sound leakages, the open back headphones are not suitable for tracking as you can get some microphone bleed. 

Are Open Back Headphones Ideal For Music Production?

For mastering and mixing, open back headphones are definitely a go-to choice. That said, for recording and tracking, closed-back models are what you will need. 

In the circles of music production, your option of headphones really relies on what you are going to do with them in the home studio.

Final Thoughts

So that’s all about our best open back headphones for mixing and mastering reviews. We consider all of the headphones mentioned above as the best open back headphones for mixing under 2000.

Of which, the Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 is the best overall. These headphones can provide optimal studio quality sound with high accuracy and transparency for you to make the best mixing and mastering adjustments. 

One more thing, before buying an open back headphone, it is best to consider the key factors we mention in the buying guide to help you choose the most suitable product.

Anyway, if you have any further questions, please feel free to let us know. Thank you for reading!

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