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The Best Open-Back Headphones Under [ $100, $200 & 300 ] In (2020)

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There would always be a debate on the differences between buying an expensive and a cheaper open-back headphone, our perception of judging a quality headphone is different and there isn’t one way to the right answer, for example:

The design or the look of the headphone could be a determining factor for some people, some are swayed by the price tag, while on the other hand, you’ll find a group of subjective users and objective users.

You see, looking at just the looks is a bad idea on judging if it would be a high-quality headphone or not, the only story the looks tell you is how beautifully designed it is, the price tag could also be a determining factor to sift through the cheaper ones but again, you might be wrong in some cases.

A good approach to sifting through the good/bad headphones is to look at the specifications, while they won’t tell the full picture of what a certain headphone would sound like, they make a convenient way to compare some components to one another, say output impedance, the power output, the sensitivity, frequency response, etc.

In this buyers’ guide, we would look at the best open-back headphones under 100, 200 and 300 dollars, the comfort of using the headphone and I’ll also discuss the sensitivity and the impedance of each and every headphone, that way, you would know if an amp is required or not.

Quick Overview: Our Best 3 Picks

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Great comfort with the aid of the flexible raised-fabric earpads
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 45 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 103.74 dB/mW SPL
Check ATH-AD700X Price at Amazon

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Layered motion control driver
  • Self-adjustable hammock & an Ear shell that tilt to fit your ear’s natural geometry
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 30 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
Check Fidelio X2HR Price at Amazon

HIFIMAN HE-400I

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Dual 3.5mm connections with 1.5m removable cable
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB/mW.
Check HE-400I Price at Amazon

Let’s get started with…

Open-Back Headphones Under $100

1) GRADO SR80e


The first open-back headphone on our list is the Grado SR80e, if you’ve been following the reviews on this website carefully, you will notice that Grado is always among our top 5 best open-back headphone.

That out of the way, SR80e is an on-ear headphone that is built with a larger ear cushion and 4 conductor cable, which gives an improved open stage sound.

The Grado SR80e is designed with a new polymer to damp resonant distortion which not only helps to virtually eliminate transient distortions but also, reproduces sound in the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum.

Moreover, you are provided a mini plug with a 1/4 or 6.5mm adapter, we also shouldn’t leave out some crucial specification like the sensitivity and the impedance:

SR80e has a nominal impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 99.8db power, which is considered a fairly lower impedance and a good sensitivity range. So, you don’t need to buy an amp, as this would perfectly work fine with low voltage devices such as Laptops. audio player, and smartphones.

You can still use an amp if you feel you aren’t reaching the desired volume level.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, On-ear
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB/mW
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Lightweight
  • Mini plug with a 1/4 or 6.5mm adapter
  • An improved bass resonance
  • Larger ear cushions for a transparent/natural stage sound

Check GRADO SR80e Price at Amazon

2. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X


Up next on our list is the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X which is a full-size over-ear open-back headphone. The ATH-AD700X is built with a lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing and a flexible fabric earpads that offers excellent wearing comfort and durability.

One of the features I dig about the ATH-AD700X is the highly conductive OFC sided cord with elastic TPE sheath to prevent tangles, this way, you can rest assured of been prone to tangle.

You are provided a Gold-plated stereo 1/8″ (3.5 mm) connector with 1/4″ (6.3 mm) adapter for easy connection.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about some specifications of the ATHAD700X:

A headphone with good frequency response is able to capture all the frequency spectrum (low, mid and high tones), that is to say, a headphone with a good frequency range measures how well the headphone reproduces all of the audible frequency, the ATH-AD700X has a frequency range of 20 – 20, 000Hz, which is the human hearing range, it might differ for others (say someone with hearing loss).

The frequency doesn’t tell the full story about a high-quality headphone, sensitivity and the impedance is important too.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X has a nominal impedance of 45 ohms and a sensitivity of 103.74 dB/mW SPL by the power which is considered a fairly lower impedance and a good sensitivity range. You should be able to use this headphone with any range of devices as it has a fairly low impedance but if you feel you are not reaching your preferred loud volume with the ATH-AD700X, then you can try with an amplifier, but I doubt you will need any.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Great comfort with the aid of the flexible raised-fabric earpads
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 45 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 103.74 dB/mW SPL

Check ATH-AD700X Price at Amazon

3) Sennheiser HD 559


No doubt, Sennheiser has been one of the leading audio equipment companies, when it comes to making good quality headphones.

The Sennheiser HDD 559 is an over-ear open-back headphone that is powered by their propriety Sennheiser 38mm, 50-ohm transducers.  Sennheiser engineered transducers do not only help in delivering high-quality sounds but an extremely low to no distortion.

An eye-catching feature of this headphone is the E.A.R or ‘Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement’ technology, which is built to channel audio directly into your ears for a more ‘in-room’ like listening experience. If you are an avid open-back headphone geek, then you know the usefulness of getting an in-room like experience, and if you don’t know, it feels more like a natural sound or a live stage like experience, you get the idea 😉

The Sennheiser HD 599 has a sensitivity of 106 dB per milliWatt of power and an impedance of 50 Ohms, which is considered lower impedance.

So, if you are the type of user that is looking for a headphone to use with your devices (smartphone, laptops, audio players) without any dedicated amp, then I’ll recommend you stick to the range of 16 – 80 ohms with a sensitivity of at least 95 dB/mW, there aren’t any hard rules but generally, the lower the impedance, the better the match with battery-powered devices, e.g. Smartphones.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • E.A.R Technology (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement)
  • Lightweight
  • Frequency Response: 14 – 26,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW

Check ATH-AD700X Price at Amazon

4) LyxPro OEH-10


Lyxpro OEH-10 is one of the cheapest open-back headphones at just under 60 bucks.

Yeah, been cheaper doesn’t mean its crappy, in fact, the OEH-10 is more common among audio engineers or music producers, and this is due to the fact that it is made to sound as transparent as possible.

One of the features I dig about this headphone is the interchangeable ear pads and plush, which let you enjoy your listening experience with great comfort even if worn for a more extended period.

LyxPro 0EH-10 has an impedance of 54 ohms with a sensitivity of 95 dB by the power, which makes them easily driven by lower voltage devices. Like I said previously, there aren’t any hard rules but generally, the lower the impedance, the better the match with battery-powered devices, so 0EH-10 should perfectly be fine with lots of devices.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Interchangeable ear pads and plush
  • Lightweight and delivers true dynamic sound
  • Frequency Response: 15 – 30 000Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 54 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 95 dB/mW

Check LyxPro OEH-10 Price at Amazon

5) Philips SHP9500


The last open-back headphone under $100 on our list is the Philips SHP9500 Hi-Fi over-ear headphone. The good thing about this headphone is that it is extremely lightweight and has a new comfortable double layered headband cushion that isn’t only breathable but it can also be used for a longer period of a listening session.

Powered by 50mm high super drivers which utilize a neodymium magnet to reproduce all audible dynamics and deliver a well crisp bass, tighter mid and pristine high frequencies.

That out of the way, Another badass feature of the SHP9500 is the way the driver is engineered, the audio channel is directly channeled into the ears, even if your ears aren’t perfectly in position, they are designed to fit the ear’s natural geometry.

Philips SHP9500 is made to work with any number of devices, whether you are using a laptop, smartphone, audio player or even in the studio, it’s made to be a universal open-back headphone for ranges of devices.

It has a sensitivity of 101 dB per milliwatt of power and an impedance of 32 ohms, which makes them a perfect fit for any device without the need for an amp.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • A precisely angled driver that is engineered to fit the ear’s natural geometry
  • Double layered headband cushion
  • Frequency Response: 12 – 35 000Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB/mW

Check Philips SHP9500 Price at Amazon

Open-Back Headphones Under $200

6) Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

beyerdynamic

The first open-back headphone under $200 on our list is the Beyerdynamic DT Pro.

You will mostly find the DT Pro headphone used among audio expert or even anyone interested in a hi-fi sound due to the way they deliver a transparent and unmatched quality in audio reproduction.

The DT 990 Pro doesn’t stand behind in comfort; it is extra lightweight, has adjustable ear cups. On top of that, the sturdy steel headband gives the headset a secure fit.

Please note that the Beyerdynamic DT Pro comes in different impedance for different application, which is available in 32, 250 and 600 ohms.

Although they are all under 200 bucks, it doesn’t mean the one you select would work as expected, Here are some use cases:

  • The 32 ohms is ideal for mobile devices such as smartphone, audio players and it would also work well with laptops/computers.
  • The 250 ohms is ideal for a home stereo system, and if you want a reasonably loud volume from this headphone, you better consider pairing with an amp.
  • The 600 ohms is ideal for professional use cases, such as audio interfaces, or profession mixers. If you are trying to pair with a portable device, you should get ready to buy a special headphone amp, as low voltage devices aren’t good at driving this kind of headphone.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Lightweight and an adjustable ear cup
  • Soft, replaceable velour ear pads for exceptional wearing comfort
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Gold vaporized stereo 3.5 mm mini-jack & 6.35 mm adapter
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms / 250 ohms / 600 ohms

Check DT 990 (32 ohms) Amazon

Check DT 990 (250 ohms) Amazon

Check DT 990 (600 ohms) Amazon

7) Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR


The next gentleman on our list is the Fidelio X2HR over-ear acoustic headphone which is designed with an unmatched detailed sound range.

One of the features you can’t ignore is the Layered motion control drivers, it features a multi-layer polymer diaphragm that absorbs and dampen any unwanted or exaggerated frequency, which in turn results in a transparent and a flatter frequency response.

We also shouldn’t ignore the comfort of using this headphone, it features a self-adjustable hammock, which is not only breathable but ensures a perfect fit on your ears. As if that is not enough, it also has an ear shell that tilts at 15-degrees, fitting your ears natural geometry and in turn ensures a pleasing sound performance.

The Fidelio X2HR has a sensitivity of 100 dB per milliWatt of power and an impedance of 30 Ohms, which is considered lower impedance and somewhat higher sensitivity. So, you should be fine without an amplifier.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Layered motion control driver
  • Self-adjustable hammock & an Ear shell that tilt to fit your ear’s natural geometry
  • 3.5mm (mini-jack) detachable cable (3-meter) 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter and cable management clip included.
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 30 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW

Check Fidelio X2HR Price at Amazon

8) Sennheiser HD 599 SE

Sennheiser has been creating remarkable audio equipment for over 70 years, and we can fairly say, they are one of the best audio equipment manufacturers in the world. The HD 559 Edition is an open back over-ear headphone that delivers spatial and exceptional detail sounds.

To start with, the HD 559 headphone features an Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement, which is also referred to as the E.A.R technology, helps in improving the headphone experience by tailoring the audio channels directly to the ears, which in turn, makes the headphone sound natural and transparent as possible.

Comfort is of utmost importance in any headphone a user is planning to use for a long period of time, the HD 559 Special Edition is built to be extremely lightweight plus a soft, and a replaceable ear pad for exceptional wearing comfort and a long period of a listening session.

The Sennheiser HD 599 has a sensitivity of 106 dB per milliWatt of power and an impedance of 50 Ohms, which is considered lower impedance.
This can work fine without an amplifier. Again, if you feel you aren’t reaching the desired volume level, then you can add an amplifier, always remember to check the recommended ohms by your source amplifier.

Key Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • E.A.R Technology (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement)
  • Lightweight
  •  3-meter detachable cable and a 6.3-millimeter jack
  • Soft, replaceable ear pad for exceptional wearing comfort
  • Frequency Response: 14 – 26,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW.

Check HD 599 SE Price at Amazon

9) HIFIMAN HE-400I


The last headphone under 200 bucks on our list is the HIFIMAN HE-400I Over-ear open-back headphone which looks a little bit rugged and heavy when viewed from the above image, but that view is really just deceiving because they are made to be extremely light and built to have a newly-designed headband with an improved pressure pattern.

To start with, the HE-400I uses the planar magnetic technology, which helps to resist all kind of electronic and audio distortion, this way, the headphone would always reproduce a natural, fast response time and a pristine quality sound.

Also, the HIFIMAN HE-400I features a polymer ear cups in a gloss charcoal finish, which makes it a beautiful design headphone combined with a crystalline metal 3.5mm premium cable for easy connection with portable devices such as smartphones, table or even audio players.

That said, the ear pads are made of leatherette and velour, which not only increase the sound quality but an increase in comfort even if worn for a longer period.

This headphone has a sensitivity of 93db per milliWatt of power and an impedance of 32 Ohms. HIFIMAN HE-400I can be easily driven by low voltage devices (smartphones or audio players), if you feel the volume isn’t loud enough, you can always pair with a modest size amplifier for increment in the efficiency of the headphone.

Note: If you are the type of user that really loves listening at a high volume, then you might consider getting an amp for more efficiency.

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Dual 3.5mm connections with 1.5m removable cable
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB/mW.

Check HIFIMAN HE-400I Price at Amazon

Open-Back Headphones Under $300

10) Massdrop x AKG K7XX

Massdrop

 


The first open-back headphone under 300 bucks is the Massdrop x AKG K7XX. This is inspired by the AKG K702 headphone which features the same dynamic driver technology, with even more features in regards to comfort and sound improvement.

Massdrop x AKG K7XX uses the same driver as the K706 edition with an improvement in extended frequency response and a wide, locational specific sound stage, that sounds truly natural and accurate in audio reproduction.

Also, it is built with an adjustable leather headband plus a memory foam earpads which ensures you wear them for several hours without thinking of fatigue.

Massdrop x AKG K7XX has a nominal impedance of 62 ohms and a sensitivity of 105 dB/V SPL by the voltage or roughly 92.92 dB/mW SPL by power, lower voltage device (smartphones, tablet or audio players) wouldn’t drive this kind of headphone to a reasonable volume, so, you might consider getting an amp for improved efficiency.

Key Features:

  • Open-back, Over-Ear
  • 1/8 in (3.5 mm) to 1/4 in (6.35 mm) adapter
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 39.8 kHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW
  • Varimotion two-layer diaphragm

Check AKG K7XX Price at Amazon

11) Sennheiser HD 600


The last open-back headphone on our list is the Sennheiser HD 600 over-ear headphone. The HD 600 is mostly used by mixing/audio expert or anyone that is interested in hi-fi professional stereo headphone.

The reason why open-back headphone is adopted by anyone interested in high fidelity sound is that it provides more comfort with lighter pressure on the ear, and for audio expert, they are ideal for making a better decision during audio mixing/mastering session, Sennheiser HD 600 is an open design headphone, which makes it perfect for home/studio use.

Sennheiser HD 600 has a nominal impedance of 300 ohms and a sensitivity of 97 dB/mW SPL by power, lower voltage device (smartphones, tablet or audio players) wouldn’t drive this kind of headphone to a reasonable volume, so, you might consider getting an amp for improved efficiency.

Note: This headphone isn’t suitable for portable or low voltgae devices because they aren’t suitable to drive it to a modest volume, and if you really want to use the HD 600 with your portable device, you would need a good amplifier.

Key Features:

  • Open-back, Over-ear
  • Frequency Response: 12 – 39000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 97 dB/mW
  • Lightweight aluminum voice coils
  • 1 adaptor to 1/4″ (6.3 mm)

Check Sennheiser HD 600 Price at Amazon

Open Back Headphones Guide

Factors To Consider When Buying An Open Back Headphone

Selecting a high-quality headphone can be quiet daunting if you are inexperienced, and moreover, things can easily get confusing when you don’t know the difference between specifications, although you necessarily don’t need to know what a spec means, but specification helps make it convenient in comparing some components to one another, say output impedance, the power output, the sensitivity, frequency response, etc.

Specifications aren’t the only factor you need to consider, a good sound quality headphone with no comfort is a no-no, durability is also of utmost importance; your headphone needs to serve you for a long period of time with little to no damage.

Before jumping into the selecting of a good quality studio headphone, here are some factors to consider:

Your Budget:

You might be pondering on the reason why some headphones are way too expensive, the bitter truth is that the more you pay doesn’t equate to a good quality headphone, most of this hype on an expensive headphone is just plain bs, marketing tactics, and whatnot, they know you will fall prey for silly marketing tactics.

Know your budget range, they are good quality open-back headphones under 150, well, I listed different ranges in this guide, just got through them, and select the range your budget fits in. If you would be using a headphone solely for portable use, note that the lower the impedance, the better the match with battery-powered devices.

The price point I’ll recommend for an open-back headphone is from $50 – 300 depending on the features you want, anything more, then you are just showing off.

Comfort: 

The structural design and the size of a headphone can affect the balance between the ease of use and the fidelity (the accuracy/transparency of the audio signal). Which is why I would recommend opting for an over-ear type of headphone.

An over-ear doesn’t rest directly on the ear, they provide more comfort with lighter pressure on the ear are, unlike a supra-aural or on-ear headphone that adds pressure on the ear are, that doesn’t mean on-ear headphone is good, we all have a different ear/head geometries, so, you should gauge on the one that would soothe you.

Durability:

Durability is of utmost importance, and this greatly depends on the material they are made from, e.g. some ear pads can cause sweating due to cheap leathers or sometimes heavy usage, in this case, an easy replacement of the cushions or the pads would suffice.

I hopefully guided you through buying a good pair of quality headphones, and I recommended some of the best ones in different price ranges, hopefully, you would find one that is useful for your use case.

Good luck with good music!

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