Best Open Back Headphones For Mixing [Compared]

Diane Myers

Are you looking to get into music production & mixing? If so, one of the most important things you need to get is the best open back headphones for mixing you can get your hands on. That’s why, we tested & reviewed the 5 top picks for you. Let’s get started!

Which Are The Best Open-Back Headphones For Mixing?

5. ASTRO Gaming A40 TR + MixAmp Pro

Best For Gaming

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

Open-back headphones deliver one of the best and the clearest sound experience in the market, with a wide soundstage and mostly neutral but beautiful responses, however, they are mostly made for home and studio use as their nature allows the outside sound in and all the sound out, so they are not the best pick for commuters and office use. If you are going to use them in the house, or the studio they are your best bet. For gamers I have the best pick here the ASTRO Gaming A40 TR headset that comes in a bundle with the MixAmp Pro TR, to deliver the best experience for gamers. They deliver perfect sound, a super-wide soundstage, a beautiful and intuitive amp, and great implementation and operation for both consoles and PC.

The package of this set comes with a large set of components, with tons of cables, the amp, headphones themselves and replacement parts. The headphones are quite large and deliver a great and comfortable experience, however, from the design perspective, they are not the best since they are a little large and not very pleasing to the eye. On the outer part of the earcups, you will spot the plates that allow you to transform the device between closed back and open back, however, even with the plates on they are mostly open-back headphones, and they leak a lot of sounds out and vice-versa.

The MixAmp has a beautiful design, with its rectangular design and two dials placed to deliver a pretty intuitive experience. One of the dials is for the overall volume and the other one is for the game and chat volume which is the biggest selling point of this amp. You can also get the Xbox or PS4 version of the preamp depending on your needs because as we know Xbox has more of a complicated system when it comes to headphones.

In terms of gaming performance, the ASTRO Gaming A40 TR is amazing delivering a super-rich soundscape filled with various sound effects, game scores, directional sounds, dialogues, and of course the chat was extremely clear. It is the very best gaming headset when it comes to surround sound with the games that support it at least, everything was very vibrant and clear.

Despite being a gaming headset, the ASTRO Gaming A40 TR could also pump out a beautiful music performance with pretty neutral tones and a great sense of tempo, solidifying itself as one of the best headsets for gamers.

4. AKG Pro K702

Most Comfortable

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
80%
Value
85%

For those that want one of the most neutral sounds in the market and on top of that want the most comfortable experience, I would recommend the AKG Pro K702. These open-back headphones come with great sound performance and flat response, interesting studio grade design, affordable price, and overall one of the best open-back headphones for mixing in the market.

First, off I should mention the large design of the AKG Pro K702, which is obnoxious when you think about it, however, these headphones aren’t designed to be attractive or beautiful, but they are designed to be as comfortable as possible and deliver the best sound experience. In a studio or home setting, it will not look out of place, however, I wouldn’t recommend you to take them on your commute, besides that the open-back design is not the right choice for commuting. In terms of comfort, the AKG Pro K702 is amazing however, delivering comfortable fit even for people with larger ears thanks to its large earcups that are thickly padded and covered with super-soft velour. In addition to that, the headband delivers excellent support and comfort, thanks to its leather design and padding, definitely one of the best.

The AKG Pro K702 comes with a 10-foot coiled cable that connects to the headset with three pins, and on the other side you get the gold plated 3.5mm stereo jack, and in its package, you will also find a 6.3mm screw-on adapter to make it compatible with other devices. It is worth mentioning that the AKG Pro K702 is hand-built in Austria and the build quality of the product is off the charts and one of the best you have ever seen.

The sound performance of the AKG Pro K702 is truly amazing delivering a super-wide soundstage, solid dynamics and plenty of depth. However, they are extremely neutral, meaning that these are not the best choice for those that want super loud sounds and bass-drops, these are designed to experience the music to its roots, and if you want just that an audiophile-grade experience these are a safe bet.

3. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Best Value

Our Ratings:

Durability
85%
Quality
85%
Value
95%

Next up we have another pair of excellent pair of open-back headphones, that deliver amazing value for their price, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. These headphones are extremely comfortable, deliver plenty of detail in their sound, and are extremely neutral, the bass response is not as powerful as I expected but for the price, you realistically can’t complain about these exceptional cans.

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro’s have a pretty rugged and ready to go build, and they will take a lot of beating before they give up, and another thing worth noting is that these headphones have been first released in 2004 and since then they have been favorites. They have a mostly plastic build, except the metal band that is used for connecting the ear cups, the back of the earcups have a two-tone filter design, with a grille on top of it. In terms of aesthetics, these are not the most attractive pair of cans since they are built to be functional and comfortable, and since we are at it I should state that the clamping force is a little high, but even so, they are pretty comfortable.

That is mostly thanks to the memory foam badding that is wrapped with velour to deliver a great listening experience. On top of that, the memory foam padding allowed me to wear these for extended periods of time without any discomfort. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro comes with a 1m coiled cable that was a little heavier than I expected, but it is not a major issue for static applications.

Coming to the main selling point of these headphones, these headphones sound amazing, and when you consider its price they are just remarkable and exceptional. The bass as I said is not as powerful or punchy, but super deep at that, and it sounded just perfect, and the open nature makes the bass and treble deliver an aggressive response which was perfect. The response has tons of drive and it may sound aggressive for some, but I think that it is very clear and detailed, with super sharp highs, that may tire some users.

These headphones definitely deliver tons of character and speed, with tons of push and I just couldn’t stop listening to music with these, I should also state that the mids are super accurate and precise, really close to perfect. However, these are not the best headphones to use with a smartphone or any other mobile device, and I would recommend you to use an app for that purpose, to get the best possible sound experience of these amazing headphones.

If you are after aggressive, speedy and open-sounds, but also want to get the most bang for your buck, you have to opt for the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro.

2. Audio Technica ATH-AD900X

Most Critical

Our Ratings:

Durability
95%
Quality
90%
Value
95%

Audio Technica has been one of my favorite headphone manufacturers, and it is also the manufacturer with the clearest and flattest sound response in the market, and for a matter of fact, other manufacturers use these as a benchmark for their products. If you want the best open-back experience from the company’s lineup with the best critical listening experience you should take a look at the Audio Technica ATH-AD900X. These headphones have a perfect studio design, lightweight, large drivers, perfect frequency range, solid impedance, and simply one of the best audiophile-grade performance.

I can comfortably say that the Audio Technica ATH-AD900X has a pretty futuristic look and it makes quite the first impression with that. The earcups are pretty large round-shaped with their open-back honeycomb design, making the drivers pretty visible from there. These cans, however, lack the classic headband system, and instead, they come with a 3D wing support system that has a rather weird look, but after a while, it will grow on you. The design is not the most important part of these headphones though, as they are meant to be used indoors.

In the comfort department, these cans are the best in the company’s lineup, thanks to their lightweight body that weighs just 0.58-pounds in total, and on top of that, you get a pair of ultra-thick padding on its large earcups and the wing support structure that allows you to get a perfect fit. You will be able to listen to these for a long time before feeling any kind of discomfort.

Thanks to their open-back design the soundstage of the Audio Technica ATH-AD900X is super wide, and not just that since it is also pretty deep and high, delivering one of the most powerful performances I have ever heard. An almost concert-like feeling, which made listening to everything perfect, also watching movies was just beautiful, taking the whole film to another level. The whole sound response is extremely flat and neutral which is the focus of this headphone, delivering a superb critical listening experience, and besides that, I was super impressed with the music listening experience as everything was enjoyable.

1. Sennheiser HD 650

Best Overall

Our Ratings:

Durability
100%
Quality
90%
Value
95%

On top of this list, we have the Sennheiser HD 650 which have been around for a while now, but they have achieved legendary status when it comes to open-back headphones, and the German manufacturer has always managed to deliver the best of the best. These headphones come with amazing levels of detail, great clarity, flat response, superb comfort levels, and great value for the price.

As always Sennheiser has delivered a professional-looking pair of headphones and the earcups on this one are pretty large measuring about 4.5-inches at its longest point with their oval shape. On the outside of the earcups, you will notice the dark gray grille that houses the large drivers inside of it. However, in terms of comfort and these headphones deliver plenty of desirable qualities and are suited for professional environments such as studios, and on top of all these headphones are extremely durable and sturdy, will survive a long time in a studio environment.

The pressure that the headphone applies to the head is just adequate and the padding takes the comfort to another level combined with the large oval sized earcups that I mentioned earlier, making them comfortable to use even with glasses still on.

The biggest selling point of the Sennheiser HD 650s is that they have a super solid sound performance, most notably the frequency response range that spans from 10 Hz to 39.5kHz to deliver the best sub-harmonic and bass frequencies you want to hear. These headphones also have a high impedance rating of 300 ohms, meaning that you will have to pair them with a digital to analog converter or any audio interface or even a small amp will do the trick, but you need that to get the superior and realistic soundstage combined with the flattest response I have ever heard. These headphones are just amazing, top of the class. Definitely deserve the number 1 spot in this best open back headphones for mixing list.

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