Open-Back Vs Closed-Back Headphones For Gaming

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If you go online to shop for a new set of gaming headphones, you may quickly be overwhelmed by the many different options available to buy. Each pair of headphones will advertise their own unique features that they argue make their headphones better than all the rest. But deciding between these many features and choosing which one is the right option for your gaming needs is a big decision, and warrants some extra care.

When it comes to open-back or closed-back headphones, there are many different options to choose from. But with all of the many choices available, you may find yourself asking – are open back or closed back headphones better for gaming? This article will break down the differences and help you to make the right choice for your gaming needs.

What are open-back and closed-back headphones?

Open-back headphones are known for their exposed speakers. They are called “open-back” because there is no casing or covering on the back of the headphone – it is just left open. This allows air to flow through the ear piece and produces a lighter sound.

Closed-back headphones are the opposite. The speakers are sealed and the headphones have a casing covering the back that works to stop sound escaping from the headphones. Generally, most headphones you see worn by the public will fall into this category of headphones.

Open-back headphones: the good

Open-back headphones are often the preferred style for avid gamers, because they have an overall better quality of stereo imaging. Stereo imaging is what lets your brain determine where a sound is coming from when you hear it, which in gaming can give you more situational awareness to be better able to determine where events are happening in relation to your gameplay. A good example of this would be being able to tell based on sound where an opponent is walking in relation to your gaming avatar.

From a comfort standpoint, the airflow that open-back headphones provide can make them easier to wear for long periods of time. For gamers who play for hours on end, this can reduce sweating and discomfort in the ears, especially when compared to closed-back headphone alternatives.

Open-back headphones: the bad

One of the biggest drawbacks to open-back headphones is that they let ambient noise through to reach your ears. So for gamers who may be playing in environments that are noisy or distracting, open-back headphones won’t do a good job of filtering out noises outside of the game. This can make it harder to focus on the game itself.

Open-back headphones also have a tendency to allow sound to leak out, which makes it so that everyone in your immediate vicinity may hear the audio from the game you are playing. This may make it hard to be inconspicuous when gaming around other people.

Closed-back headphones: the good

Closed-back headphones create more of a seal around the ears, which means that they do a far better job at keeping game audio from leaking for others to hear. This makes them ideal for gamers who wish to play around other people, or who are looking for a pair of headphones that is practical for wear beyond just gaming.

Closed-back headphones also tend to be a more versatile form of headphone, which can be used beyond just for gaming to listen to music as you go about your daily life. Open-back headphones would be more disrupting to those around you if you tried to use them to listen to music in public.

Closed-back headphones: the bad

Closed-back headphones produce sounds that are far less natural than open-back headphones. Their stereo imaging is not quite as good as that of open-back headphones either, which detracts from your overall situational awareness while gaming.

Because they press on the ears and form more of a seal, they can lead you to sweat and can make the ears feel hot. This may make them less comfortable for wearing during long-term gameplay.

Which style of headphone do we recommend?

While each style of headphone has its benefits and its downsides, on the whole, open-back headphones are best for people looking for true gaming headphones. Their sound quality is unmatched, and will only help to enhance gameplay rather than detract for it. It is arguable that most gaming is probably done in the comfort of one’s own home, so the troubles with sound leakage are probably less of a concern for the majority of gamers who may purchase them.

This isn’t to say that closed-back headphones aren’t suitable for gaming. If you are a gamer who is looking for a more versatile pair of headphones that can be used in public, closed-back headphones may be your best option.


Which pair of gaming headphones you choose will ultimately depend on your own situation and your individual gaming needs. Either way, having all of the necessary information in front of you will help guarantee that you make the best choice when it comes to choosing the right equipment for your gaming needs. While we recommend open-back headphones for anyone looking for true gaming headphones, which choice you make is up to you in the end. We hope that by reading this article, you have everything you need to make your final choice.

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