When searching for a new pair of on-ear or over-ear headphones, one important step to making the best selection is to consider all the headphone types available. A functioning knowledge of headphone type, also known as acoustical principles, allows buyers to make a selection that best satisfies their expectations as listeners while meeting the demand of a headphone’s intended use. The three main acoustical principles found in modern headphones are closed-back, open-back, and semi-open back designs. Each principle offers users a unique and markedly distinct experience suited for particular environments and applications.
Audio Technica ATH M50s/LE, Excellent Closed Headphones
Perhaps the most ubiquitous acoustical principle, one of the primary advantages of closed-back headphones is minimized sound leakage. Whether in an on-ear or over-ear design, the closed-back headphone prevents music from spilling into your surroundings and keeps ambient noise from penetrating the reproduction. The resulting effect is described as sound isolation and is defined by a reproduction that is minimally colored by ambient noise.
Because they are among the best suited for quality reproduction even in noisy environments, it is of little surprise that sealed headphones are among the most common. Closed-back headphones are particularly well suited for studio engineers and DJs who demand a focused sound despite loud surroundings and are also of great benefit for travelers and office use.
Of course, for all the benefits of being able to listen to high quality audio in raucous environments there are some trade-offs. Most notably, the acoustic character of sealed headphones can have a constricted quality with a compressed sound stage leading to less resonant high and mid frequencies. Nonetheless, the limited space of the chamber does have some advantages particularly for enthusiasts of lower frequencies and robust bass. For such individuals, closed-back headphones may provide the most satisfying experience.
Grado GS1000I, Top of the Line Open Headphones
Open-back headphones are the inverse of closed-back headphones. Unlike sealed headphones, open-back headphones allow sound to flow freely through the drivers allowing more sound to emanate from the headphones. The effect of this acoustical principle is to achieve a broadened sound stage with organic and realistic sound character. While bass frequencies are not particularly accentuated, they tend to be properly balanced with higher frequencies which are allowed to ring and develop over time and space because of the free flow of air through and around the transducers. To many listeners, the freedom and natural development of the sound waves offers the highest quality sound.
While the convincing realism of the open-back sound stage can be impressive, it practically relegates the open-back headphone to the private and silent rooms of a home. Not only might people nearby find the sound leakage of the open-back headphone distracting, open-back headphones also allow ambient noise into the transducer resulting in sound so tainted by noise that it is hardly enjoyable.
beyerdynamic T5p, Exemplary Semi-Open Headphones
Certainly one of the most polemic principles available, semi-open back headphones attempt to reconcile the opposing acoustical principles by blending certain qualities of each. The semi-open headphone offers some sound isolation without fully enclosing the chamber and allowing sound to develop organically. While this certainly creates a more dynamic sound character, semi-open headphones might still leak enough sound to be a nuisance to others and should be considered as open headphones with better isolation.
In other words, semi-open headphones are more than likely to be a better fit for private listening than something one might use in a quiet library or office.
Conclusion: Choosing Yours
Knowing the distinct characteristics of each acoustic principle, it is time to think about what your demands are from your headphones. When choosing, be sure to consider the environments you are most likely to be in while enjoying your headphones.
If you know that you will be in busy and loud environments, DJ-ing the next block party, or monitoring a live performance, no other type of headphone will better serve your purposes than a fully closed, enclosed ear design. On the other hand, if you wan to unwind after a long day at work to the immaculate sound of your headphones in the privacy and quiet of your favorite lazy chair, open-back headphones might be the perfect companions (as I know they are for me!).
Most importantly, the acoustic principle of a pair of headphones is meant to help you get the most out of your music. Be sure to consider the types of music you are most likely to listen to. For instance, if you prefer classical or acoustic performances with balanced and rich sound textures, perhaps a semi-open or open design will be your best fit; whereas if you are into electronic and bass heavy music, a closed principle may better reflect the robust bass frequencies you are seeking.
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If you’ve ever wanted to get into audio recording, but were intimidated by the vast variety (not to mention the often high cost) of gear and software, your solution has arrived! With the Audio Box Studio by PreSonus, you get a high-quality selection of gear and software from a brand that’s trusted by audio professionals around the globe that doesn’t weigh too heavily on your wallet.
First up is the AudioBox USB interface. This impressive little guy has two XLR/TRS combo jack inputs for both microphones and guitars and MIDI I/O for, well, any instrument that utilizes MIDI. MIDI‘s not just for keyboards, you know! Anyway, its Main and Headphone outputs are 1/4″ TRS, and it hooks up to your computer via USB. Honestly, with this interface, you’re pretty well set in just about any recording situation.
It also has +48V phantom power for use with condenser microphones, which is certainly good news considering that the included M7 high-definition, large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone requires it! This package includes a 9 foot cable, and a protective cloth carry bag for the microphone, making it nicely portable and perfect for recording on the road. To read more on condenser microphones and the cardioid polar pattern, check out these two previous blogs of ours: Demystifying Microphones & Polar Patterns (Demystifying Microphones, Part 2).
Plus, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality set of headphones like these. With high-resolution neodymium drivers, precision-tuned acoustic chambers and an extended bass response, you’ll hear everything you need to hear with the clarity that professionals require. These babies are lightweight, comfortable and have a single-sided 8 foot cable, giving you plenty of room to move around if necessary.
Finally, we come to the software; which, in my opinion, is the highlight of this package. Many other DAWs have finite amounts of tracks you can make, but not Studio One Artist! You can have unlimited audio, MIDI, virtual instruments, buses and FX channel tracks. Studio One Artist boasts the “most intuitive MIDI-mapping system available,” real-time audio timestretching and resampling, not to mention automatic delay compensation which is fantastic for sessions that have a lot of effects in them. If all that wasn’t enough, the Studio One Artist DVD-ROM comes with 4+ GB of third-party software, loops and virtual instruments. How’s that for value, hmm?! So, what are you waiting for? A top secret jambalaya recipe or something?!
Well, hilariously enough, PreSonus actually does include a jambalaya recipe on page 81 (all the way at the bottom) of their quickstart guide for the AudioBox Studio. I think they’ve become my new favorite manufacturer. Frankly, I’ll be picking one of these AudioBox Studio packages up myself soon, because bundles as great and affordable as this one don’t come around very often. Hurry before they’re all gone! What are you doing wasting time still reading these last sentences?! Go! Go! Go! And make jambalaya!
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For the music enthusiast there are literally hundreds of headphone companies to choose from. Some companies specialize in a particular style and design of headphones, while others mass produce just about any style you can think of. If you care about the style and fashion and at the same time the quality and performance that comes with on-ear headphones, then On-Ear Wang’s by Fanny Wang are the headphones for you. Fanny Wang engineers and designers have brought over 40 years of experience and have designed an on-ear headphone that not only creates a fashion statement, but also delivers high quality and performance. Fanny Wang has taken a trend that was started by Monster Cable’s ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ and have made it all their own. It is fair to say that these On-Ear Wang’s rival Beats by Dre in fashion, sound quality and price. For most of us headphones are just a device that we use to listen to our music, but Fanny Wang has taken this category and has made it into an accessory that redefines the way we look at headphones.
On-Ear Wang’s are constructed to deliver a natural bass and at the same time deliver highs and mids that are clean and clear. This is done by the use of Titanium-plated 40mm matched drivers. These drivers provide a rich bass without compromising the rest of sound spectrum by enhancing the overall sound and quality that you don’t find in other on-ear headphones. Headphones are usually associated as a personal audio device, since we mainly only use them when we want to isolate our music from any ambient noise. On-Ear Wang’s have integrated a Duo Jack in-line cable splitter that allows for social media to be incorporated into music listening. The Duo Jack is very unique and something that is rarely found in any headphone, whether it be high-end or low-end. With the Duo Jack you can share your music with virtually anybody at anytime without losing the quality and sound that comes with these headphones. A tri-fold design that features secured Aluminum hinges and removable cord, allows for the easy and quick stashing and protection of these headphones making them safe to carry and extremely portable when put into their personal carrying pouch. The engineering that went in to the sound production of these headphones is abundantly obvious and with a reasonable price range, On-Ear Wang’s are not to be passed by.
Everyone does not have the same taste in style or fashion, Fanny Wang has addressed this issue by making their On-Ear Wang’s available in three different colors, red, white, and black. Allowing for a more personalized look that still allows for a unique sense of character for every person. These headphones feature a unique and glossy wave design that makes them stand out above the rest. The design can be seen on the outside from ear cup to ear cup. Fashion is not important without comfort; along with their iconic design a svelte and classy modern headband provides comfort during all listening sessions. Cushioned ear cups not only ensure enjoyment while listening but also create a seal around the ear that enriches the quality and sound of any genre of music. With these comfort features and unique presentation, On-Ear Wang’s will allow you to make a definitive statement to the music world around you.
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