Entering the world of professional headphones can be a dizzying experience. You’ll find a bevy of specs, model numbers and features that represent unique performance and listening possibilities. So, in a sea of options, how do you find the perfect headphone to suit your needs? Simple. Just keep reading…
Open or closed?
The journey begins with understanding that all headphones fall into one of three categories: closed-back, open-back or semi-open-back. These three types describe how the headphone ear cups allow the drivers to interact with the environment outside the headphone. Simply put, each headphone type is uniquely designed to handle different applications in the studio or on stage.
Closed-back headphones are perhaps the most common and familiar configuration. The “closed back” refers to the solid enclosure around the driver that “closes” it off from the outside world. The design completely isolates your sound—the music you’re listening to won’t bleed out, and outside noise won’t bleed in. This type of headphone excels when tracking instruments in the studio, mixing live sound, as monitors for musicians on stage, and for DJ setups or any other situation where you want to keep the sound just in your ears.
Examples of premium closed-back headphones include K271 MKII, K171 MKII or K181 DJ UE.
When it comes to detailed sound, open-back headphones are in a league of their own. Whereas closed-back phones utilize solid casings to isolate sound, open-back headphones feature vented enclosures, giving you a more natural and spacious listening experience. Unwanted reflections in the cup are minimized, and the sound stage is very open and clean. Imagine the power and dimension of live sound, right in your studio. Open-back headphones are ideal for studio mixing, mastering and precision listening.
Some of our most popular open-back headphones include the K812 (pictured above), K712 Pro and K702.
Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Semi-open-back headphones deliver a more isolated sound similar to closed-back headphones, but with the natural sound image of their open brethren. They’re the perfect solution if you’re a home or project studio owner looking to track, mix and master with one set of headphones. And when you’re done in the studio, they’re great for enjoying your favorite music.
Our semi-open back headphones include K240 MKII, K141 MKII, and more
On-ear or over-ear design?
Another important factor to consider is earcup design. Again, there are multiple choices. On-ear models have earpads that rest on your ears, while over-ear designs are built circumaural.
While circumaural models like the K812, K712, K702 and the K271 MII are usually considered more convenient for longer listening sessions, on-ear models like the K171 MKII or K141 MKII are really easy to store.
Headphones for every application
The next thing to consider before buying a new pair of headphones is what exactly you’ll be using them for. Stay tuned for the next installment in our series!