Sennheiser, a privately held audio company based Wedemark, Germany, pioneered the design of open-back headphones when it launched the HD414 on-ear headphone in 1968. One of the best acoustically sounding open-back headphones in that era, this device was small in size.

Today, a slew of headphones with the open-back design have flooded the market from different manufacturers across the globe. While these devices share identical designs as their backs are open since no barriers exist between the drivers and the outside world, they vary in certain ways. These include sound quality, price, comfort, durability, and others.

We have a good number of the best open-back headphones under $200, which are renowned for delivering the most detailed & authentic audio experience as far as the world of headphones is concerned.

As a matter of fact, some of the appliances are often cited as the most refined examples of headphone craftsmanship sporting an open-back design.

Open-back headphones are constructed with the aim of creating an “all-around” sound experience that attempts to mimic open spaces, like stadiums and concert halls. In this write-up, we take a look at the 7 best open-back headphones under $200.

Top Open-Back Headphones less than $200

AKG Pro Audio K612Pro

AKG Pro Audio K612 PRO Over-Ear, Open-Back, Premium Reference Studio Headphones
  • Open-back design
  • Patented varimotion™ diaphragm technology
  • 120 ohm impedance, 12 hz - 39 Khz responce
  • 101 dB SPL/V
  • Only 238 g in weight

The AKG Pro Audio K612Pro is a fantastic headset, which lies under a price range of below $200. The headphones are comfortable for prolonged use in your office or at home.

Design

This product has a comfortable design, equipped with a varimotion diaphragm that produces soft music. This ensures that you can wear it for long durations. Their leather pads cover the soft cushion, delivering extra comfort for the wearer. Also, the headband’s self-adjusting and that ensures that it perfectly fits on the head.

The K612Pro’s cable runs 3m long, and it’s screwed on the adapter, which holds it firmly. To make sure it can sustain any sudden stress that could break it, the cable is thick. You’ll find that the 3.5mm jack pin of the audio appliance supports nearly all the mobile devices.

In addition to these, the ear cups of the headphones are plastic, with metallic grills at the back. To make sure they can be stored in your bag easily, the ear cups can rotate flat. At the top of the leather headband, the manufacturer has engraved its name.

Features                                             

  • Affordable price point
  • Comfortable design
  • Minimum sound leakage
  • Self-adjusting headband
  • Well balanced audiophile sound
  • Open-back design
  • 120-ohm impedance, 12–39 Khz response
  • Patented varimotion™ diaphragm technology
  • Only 238 g in weight
  • 101 dB SPL/V

The AKG Pro Audio K612Pro has superb sound quality. The patent varimotion diaphragm is the tech the company makes use of in its design, ensuring the sound delivered is natural & well-balanced. The open-back lets you hear goings-on in your surroundings.

Pros

  • Comfortable design
  • Minimum sound leakage
  • Self-adjusting headband
  • Well balanced audiophile sound
  • Open-back design

Cons

  • The cable’s undetectable
  • Uncomfortable for people that wear glasses

Why Buy?

If you need quality sound and an auto-adjusting headset with an open-back design, you can check out the AKG Pro K612Pro on Amazon. Starting at $115.39, it perfectly fits into your ears and is very comfortable for long hours use.


Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

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
  • The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
  • Hard-wearing, durable and robust workmanship - Made in Germany
  • Practical single-sided cable (3.0m coiled cable)

Coming right up is the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro — one of the 7 best open-back headphones under $200. One of its strong areas is the sound output, which is natural, and another important feature is that the headphones are very comfortable.

Design        

One of the fascinating features of this device is its ear pads. It will be hard to find any other headphones in this price segment on the market with velour pads. Its cloth covers the memory foam, giving you a fluffy feel on the ears.

Nearly all the parts of the DT 990 Pro are plastic, but the headband frame is designed using steel, producing a rigid shape. There’s premium leather, which wraps the structure, giving the product an elegant finish.

The grille is produced from plastic, providing a robust open-back for the white ear cups. The headset comes with a 3-m long cable in a bid to make sure that it increases your distance of movement. This cable is also thick enough for sustaining any stress that could cause breakage.

Features

  • Lightweight design
  • Durable
  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Comfortable on the ears
  • Replaceable parts

The sound quality of this audio appliance is outstanding. Not only is it natural but also audible, ensuring the pair of headphones stands tall among the best for studio applications. The diaphragm features a spring that raises its pulses.

The headphones can hit a frequency of up to 35 kHz. Due to the open-back design, the audio won’t over-blow. Apart from that, the noise distortion is minimal, which makes sure that you enjoy the best sound quality. You’ll also find the mids and the bass of the device spectacular and the bass rich.

Comfort is one of the most important features users are looking in a pair of headphones to ensure they can wear them for long hours without experiencing any discomfort and pain. With its lightweight design, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

The headset is adjustable, making them fit perfectly on your head. Due to the use of memory foam, you will find the earpads fluffy and very comfortable. Also, velour padding shows a very significant impact as it ensures that your sweating levels are reduced to barest minimum, as much as possible, and that the device is soft on your ears.

Pros

  • Robust audio production
  • Lightweight design
  • Durable
  • Comfortable on the ears
  • Replaceable parts

Cons

  • A bit heavier than other models in this specific price segment
  • More areas are covered by plastic, which makes it fragile

Why Buy?

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is a pair of headphones that offer you a pleasurable experience listening to your favorite vibes. Nearly all studios that use this headset chose it for its clarity as well as remarkable frequencies.


AKG K 240 MKII

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AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones
  • Over-ear designfor comfort during long work sessions
  • Semi-open technologyfor solid bass and airy highs
  • Patented Varimotion 30 mm XXL transducerfor accurate signal transfer and great dynamic range
  • Self-adjusting headbandfor optimum fit
  • The choice of professionals around the worldstage and studio standard for more than two decades

The AKG K 240 MKII is a pair of professional semi-open studio headphones, released to succeed its aging predecessor AKG K 240.

Design

The AKG K240 MKII’s design toes the same path as the other devices in the K series, and this specific kind of design has remained largely unchanged over the last 4 decades.

The materials used in the design of these headphones are of average quality, and that’s slightly disappointing. But the headphones have a sturdy feel, and when you consider their price point, it’s more than reasonable.

The K240 MKIII comes with 2 cords, 3m and 5m respectively, which are long and coiled. The cords can be interchanged without breaking a sweat due to the quick-release mechanism that’s integrated into the left cup.

These headphones are comparatively large yet interestingly light. You will find this trait quite beneficial over your long music listening sessions. Their ear cups are circular, and the headband also utilizes a retro-style slider.

AKG has provided 2 pairs of ear pads to accommodate nearly all users. These earpads, which are fitted, are designed using vinyl. Also, they’re relatively firm. The second pair of earpads have a bigger size, in addition to softer texture because the outside is built using velvet.

Features

  • Detachable cable
  • Affordable price point
  • Very comfortable if the fit’s right for your ears
  • Great mid-frequency texture
  • 2 pairs of comfortable ear pads

Almost all the complaints that trailed the release of the original model had to do with the comfort level & fit. This newer model, the AKG K240 MKII, aims to correct these flaws, and it has been able to do so successfully.

The comfort level is now better with ear pads of higher quality, and the maker has included an extra pair of softer & larger ear pads in the package. Thanks to the self-adjusting headband, the product naturally follows the contour of the head.

Though the fit is still an issue in a way, and the earcups still have an exactly round shape that doesn’t align with all ear shapes perfectly. Almost all the time, we found that the ear pads are either too big or too small for the ears.

As regards sound quality, the overall sound performance of these headphones are smooth, balanced, and the frequency response clear & flat.

Still on the sound performance: This audio appliance features highs that are bright and sharp on nearly all tracks, delivered in a refined yet slightly brittle way. The wearer won’t be able to escape a feeling that these highs are advancing too close to the “harsh” region, but they never end up crossing the line.

The headphones do stand out in the mids, which come out rich, thick still quite natural and smooth. Also, instrument sounds come out detailed and separated, without stepping on each other even when the scene becomes busy. Apart from these, the vocals reproduction is decently detailed, and that should be ideal for most critical listeners.

In the bass department, there’s lack of drive and punch. And that’s the major drawback of the headphones.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Detachable cable
  • Very comfortable if the fit’s right for your ears
  • Great mid-frequency texture

Cons

  • Lacks bass
  • Not ideal for listeners that need the most detailed & dynamic sound

Why Buy?

The AKG K240 MKII is a pair of amazing headphones with a lot to offer you in the mid-range price segment. These devices are ideal for you if you’re an audiophile, who is shopping for a smooth & tranquil sound.

The headset, which costs less than $150, is also suitable for studio sound engineers using headphones to track, mix, and edit.


Fostex USA T20RP MK3

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Fostex T20RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones, Open
  • Refined Fostex proprietary Regular Phase (RP) diaphragm driver using copper foil etched polyimide film and powerful neodymium magnet
  • Maximum input level of 3000mW to comply with various professional uses
  • Open for deep bass sound
  • Low repulsion ear pad and head pad for maximum comfort
  • Comes with 3m 1/4-inch plug detachable cable for best serviceability and 1.2m mini plug cable for portable audio use

The Fostex USA T20RP MK3 was released as RP MK2’s successor, and the headphones have been in use for some time now in a lot of production studios.

They feature a refined diaphragm, providing you with better sound performance, accurate for audio production. Their ear pads, as well as the headband design, enable maximum performance.

Design

The earcups are designed using lightweight plastic materials of top-quality. The ear pads come covered with foam and also padded with leather. Apart from that, the headband’s gunmetal frame is padded and covered with faux leather, with the name of the brand (Fostex) engraved at the top of the headband in bold.

Additionally, the device’s headband is adjustable, which allows it to fit on wearers that have heads of various sizes. Screws are used to fix the plastic components together, ensuring they are strong and durable. These headphones have removable cables, and once you install the cables, turn 900 to the left to lock them.

Features

  • Replaceable parts
  • Produces well balanced & quality sound
  • Affordable
  • Detachable cable
  • Lightweight design
  • Superior & comfortable padding
  • Low sound leakage

The T20RP MK3 is adequately padded with a soft cushion and is covered with leather material, making it easier for you to wear it for a longer duration. The headband is the adjustable, which can be adjusted to fit on the head firmly. This makes it comfortable for you to move around with the headphones.

The sound quality this audio appliance brings to the table will dazzle your ears, making you fall in love instantly with the device. The treble is both clear and detailed. Further, you’ll be able to hear any imperfections that are on the vocals of the songs you’re listening to. The highs are straightforward and the mids authoritative. Also, it offers you frequencies of up to 35,000 Hz.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Replaceable parts
  • Produces well balanced & quality sound
  • Detachable cable
  • Superior & comfortable padding
  • Low sound leakage

Cons

  • The clamping force could be high, especially if you just bought the headphones new
  • Uncomfortable for users that wear glasses

Why Buy?

The Fostex T20RP MK3, which goes for $159.99, is a fantastic pair of headphones for listening to music. A lot of studios prefer making use of these headphones for their clarity and spectacular frequencies.


Audio Technica ATH-AD700X

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones
  • 53 mm drivers reproduce clear treble and midrange. Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils for superior power handling. Impedance: 38 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW . Full open-air type headphones produce no sense of pressure on the ears, resulting in a completely natural sensation
  • Lightweight aluminum honeycomb casing with excellent acoustic properties
  • Self-adjusting 3D Wing Support provides a comfortable listening experience; total ear-fit design minimizes pressure. Maximum Input Power: 700 mW

The Audio Technica ATH AD700X is one of the best open-back headphones under $100. It deserves a look-in from you if you are looking to buy a budget audio device with an open-back design. The product is built and marketed for audiophiles; however, they mainly target home users.

Design

The first thing you’ll notice in this device is its big size. Not only are the ear cups big but also are circular and feature metallic mesh grills on the outside. This makes the headphones almost entirely open-air.

The casing of the ATH AD700X is designed using lightweight aluminum, thereby cutting down on weight, slightly improving the sound quality.

The highlight of the design is the 2 self-adjusting 3D support paddles, and the flaps replace the fabric strap or classic leather, which is typically featured on other over-ear headphones.

Furthermore, the ATH AD700X has dull looks, which you might find drab. If you need headphones with an eye-catching design, then this product may not be the best option.

Due to the self-adjusting 3D wing support paddles, this pair of headphones feels light and produces a comparatively small clamping force. As a matter of fact, this lightness will give you a false sense of fit insecurity that makes you excessively careful with your head movement until you become accustomed to it.

Features

  • Amazing build quality
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • Incredibly open & spacious soundstage
  • Clear & detailed sound reproduction
  • Cheap
  • Copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils
  • Self-adjusting 3D wing support paddles

These paddles ensure tailoring a good fit for nearly all head shapes easily. Along with the low clamping pressure, the device is comfortable to wear over long listening sessions.

To enhance the listener’s comfort further, the headphones have soft cushions that comes with extra padding. In spite of the large earcup size, you’ll find that the padding occupies a fair bit of space. That means wearers with bigger ears may not get a perfect fit.

As regards sound quality, this headset offers the newly designed 53mm drivers, which work in conjunction with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. With this combination, you get to enjoy a truly remarkable and vivid sound experience.

Also, the soundstage width the headphones provide is outstanding, unlike any other option in this price segment. The device also features awesome vocal and musical instrument separation, which competes with the headphones that cost 2 or 3 times its price.

The ATH AD700X’s overall frequency response range is almost neutral, and the lows are present, but they don’t have a punch. Also, the highs are detailed, but occasionally, you could come across a bit of piercing depending on the kind of soundtrack you’re listening to. This could get better with longer running-in times.

As for mids, they’re reproduced with a slight emphasis on vocals being clear as well as present.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Amazing build quality
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • Incredibly open & spacious soundstage
  • Clear & detailed sound reproduction

Cons

  • Has slightly brash treble
  • Features weak low end

Why Buy?

Overall, the Audio Technica ATH AD700X is a great option for home listeners, and its major highlight is the amazingly wide and airy soundstage that beats the competition at this price range.

These headphones can reproduce soundtracks with awesome fidelity, which is one of the features that make them one of the 7 best open-back headphones under $200 to purchase.


Audio Technica ATH AD900X

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Audio Technica ATH-AD900X Open-Back Audiophile Headphones,Black
  • Open-air Headphones Deliver Clear, Natural Vocal and Instrumental Reproduction.Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Large-aperture 53mm Drivers and CCAW Voice Coils For Superior Sound Reproduction
  • No Sense Of Pressure On The Ears, Resulting In A Completely Natural Sensation
  • 3d Wing Support Housing Offers A Vibration-proof Mechanism That Provides Comfortable Support For A Better Listening Experience
  • Extremely Comfortable Ear-fitting Pads

One of the big names in the headphone industry is Audio Technica, a Japanese company that has churned out a wide variety of quality headphones and earbuds. The Audio Technica ATH AD900X is among the prestigious headphones from the maker.

Design

Thanks to the open back design, there’s no free flow of air, thereby making it possible to enhancing audio played via the cans. While it features round earpads, you’ll find them comfortable to wear owing to the big size, and these earpads don’t put stressful pressure on the ears.

One of the first things you’ll notice in its design and build quality is the 3D Wing Support, which adjusts to your head size. The 3D Wing Support is coming as a solid alternative to a typical headband that may be uncomfortable for every user.

Features

  • Delivers clear, natural vocal & instrumental reproduction
  • Connectivity technology, wired
  • Extremely comfortable ear-fitting pads
  • Large-aperture 53mm drivers and CCAW voice coils
  • Superior Sound Reproduction
  • Affordable pricing
  • There’s no sense of pressure on your ears, creating a 100% natural sensation
  • 3D Wing Support housing provides you with a vibration-proof mechanism, ensuring comfortable support to aid an enhanced listening experience

These headphones come with a very large 53mm driver in the 2 cans, allowing them to provide natural and stress-free sound. In the box, there are no accessories except the 3.5mm to 6.3mm converter.

While there could be some users that won’t find Audio Technica ATH AD900X’s design and build quality/structure fanciful. But this product doesn’t disappoint at all when it comes its sound. Just like all open-back headphones, the AD900X also features a wide sound stage, difficult to be matched by its closed-back counterparts.

Its sound is bright and breezy, which makes it a great option for listening to jazz, rock, acoustic, and related genres. Thanks to its low impedance (pegged at 38 Ohms), you’ve no need for an external amp to power it. Simply plug and play straight out of the box!

Pros

  • Connectivity Technology, Wired
  • Affordable
  • Extremely comfortable ear-fitting pads
  • Large-aperture 53mm drivers and CCAW voice coils
  • Superior Sound Reproduction

Cons

  • Some users might find the design and or build quality unattractive

Why Buy?

Starting at $144.50, the Audio Technica ATH AD900X is a great option in terms of audio quality, and it’s a type of headphone you can wear for a longer time without discomfort or fatigue.


Philips X2/27 Fidelio

Philips X2/27 Fidelio Over Ear Headphone, Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
  • Powerful 50mm neodymium drivers for wide yet precise range. Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Acoustic open-back architecture for pristine audio fidelity
  • Double-layered ear shells engineered for sound precision
  • Dedicated cable management clip for tangle-free ease
  • Deluxe memory foam ear pads for long-wearing comfort

The Philips X2 Fidelio is among the most durable headphones on the market and is also one of the best open-back headphones under $200.

Design

This device is designed with acoustic open-back architecture, which provides superior sound quality. Its double-layered ear shells are constructed to enhance precision sound. The headphone comes with deluxe memory foam earpads that ensure long-wearing comfort.

While it’s on the heavier side that weighs 380g, the kind of built quality and audio quality ensures it’s definitely worth trying out. But it’s the heaviest open back headphones on this review article; we think Philips should’ve put more focus on a lightweight design.

Features

  • Deluxe memory foam ear pads offer you long-wearing comfort
  • Connectivity technology, wired
  • Powerful 50mm neodymium drivers that bring wide but precise range
  • Acoustic open-back architecture that ensures pristine audio fidelity
  • Dedicated cable management clip for tangle-free ease
  • Double-layered ear shells built for sound precision

The Philip X2/27 promises you high-resolution sound that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home. The headphones deliver an authentic listening experience, which is immersed in pristine sound details and built-in custom-fit design, crafted for your pleasure.

As regards Hi-Res Audio this product offers, the objective of a High-Resolution Audio system is to ensure the playback of audio files without any compromise in quality as the signal is passing along the audio chain via the electronics & headphones or speaker.

The origin of high-res audio files can be traced to the music recording industry. And this type of audio files features a higher bit depth as well as sampling rate, more than 16bit/44.1kHz CD file format.

Apart from that, it has 50mm drivers, large enough for producing large frequency response that lies within the range, 5 – 40000Hz. Since these headphones are the top-of-the-line model in the Fidelio line, you won’t find any compromise in their build quality, specs, and audio quality.

Also, the headphones offer an impedance of 30 Ohms only, ensuring that you don’t have to use an external amp or DAC to drive them. They are compatible with your smartphone.

Why Buy?       

Starting at $159.99, the Philips Fidelio X2/27 Fidelio is reputed for its bassy response. However, it features a linear sound presentation that doesn’t overpower other frequencies.

While the majority of people use this audio device as a primary gaming headphones, they have to be wary of this habit because, during long gaming sessions, its weight will put stress on the neck muscles.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Advantages of Open -Back Headphones?

Natural audio

You might have noticed that headphones with an open-back design sound much like the artist’s playing live around you. Closed-back headphones, however, just don’t have that kind of natural and realistic sound.

Heat

Unlike closed-back headphones that trap more heat over time and also sweat your ears, open-back headphones allow free air circulation to your ears, keeping them cool. Hence, it’s better to choose open-back cans, especially if you live in a warm climate.

Also, increased sweating can serve as a breeding ground for infections, and no one anticipates that. But keep in mind that it isn’t all open-back headphones that are non-sweaty. And you also have to consider design and ear pads while trying to determine headphones that don’t sweat the ears.

Soundstage

This is a measure of the space that we perceive our music in and represents a mental image of the sonic space in which the audio’s presented.

While closed-back headphones often sound cramped and in-your-head, their open-back counterparts bring about a sonic image around your head. Thus, this latter class creates the illusion of a concert hall, allowing them to sound open, airy as well as immersive unlike the former.


Wrapping up

The design of open-back headphones was pioneered by the German brand, Sennheiser, when it released the HD414 on-ear headphone in 1968. The appliance, which was one of the best acoustically sounding open-back headphone in that era, was small in size.

In modern times, we now have several headphones with the open-back design on the market from different companies around the world. While these headsets have a number of similarities in their design as their backs are open since no barriers exist between the drivers and the outside world, they vary in some ways.

These include sound quality, price, comfort, durability, among others. Using these criteria, we’ve reviewed the 7 best open-back headphones under $200.

Our picks include the following:

  • AKG Pro Audio K612Pro
  • Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
  • AKG K 240 MKII
  • Fostex USA T20RP MK3
  • Audio Technica ATH-AD700X
  • Audio Technica ATH AD900X
  • Philips X2/27 Fidelio

These devices are renowned for delivering the most detailed & authentic audio experience. As a matter of fact, some of them are often cited as the most refined examples of headphone craftsmanship featuring an open-back design.

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