Open-Back vs Closed-Back Headphones for Gaming

Updated: Feb 8, 2024 10:29 AM


When researching an open-back vs closed-back headset for gaming, consider what you want to accomplish while gaming. The best gaming headset includes comfort, quality, and a low price range. The main difference between these two styles of headphones is that closed-back isolates outside noise while an open-back allows for a more airy, natural sound.

Key Takeaways_

  • Open-back gaming headsets feature an opening on the outside of the earcup that allows air to flow through the speaker.
  • A closed-back headset blocks air from passing through the earcup, which can trap heat against your ear.
  • If you frequently record audio or communicate with other players, you probably want a closed-back pair of headphones.

For example, if you frequently use a microphone, you want a closed-back headset. However, opt for an open-back model for long gaming sessions or if you get hot quickly.

If you aren’t sure whether a headset option is right for your gaming experience, learn the advantages and disadvantages of a headset vs speakers for gaming and gaming headsets vs office headsets.

Differences Between a Gaming Headset with an Open vs Closed Back

a closed back headphone next to an open back headphone

The primary difference between these two types of headphones stems from the back of the earcup.

An open-backed model can see holes that let air through the earcup, and as the name implies, a closed-back model includes a solid material along the back of the earcup.

Because of their variations, you want to use a closed-back product for gaming or content in which you want to immerse yourself.

Of course, an open headset’s increased comfort and ventilation still provide a viable option for good audio quality. If you would rather have a surround sound headset, research the differences between a true 7.1 and a virtual 7.1 headset.


It’s no secret that each headset design offers different levels of comfort. However, some do not realize that having an open- or closed-back headset can significantly influence how comfortable you are during your gaming session.

Closed-back headphones cause heat to build up within the earcups, decreasing comfort. You might even notice that you feel warmer or sweatier after a long period.


Closed-back headsets can cause your ears to become warm and sweaty, so you should select an open-back option if you are naturally hot.

An open-back headset offers some ventilation around the ear because the back is not a solid piece of plastic. Because of this design, you can wear your headphones for longer without experiencing pain, warmth, or ear strain.


Many gaming headphones come with a microphone for recording content or communicating with teammates. This option provides an advantage for closed-back headsets that block ambient noise.

In addition, these headsets isolate the sound to your earcups and ears only, so the sound doesn’t leak into your microphone.

Conversely, open-back headphones that come with microphones can pick up sound from your headset because the audio leaks out of the back of the earcups. T

his occurrence can lead to an echo in-game audio that your teammates can hear, music, or any content you may be recording.

Audio Quality and Isolation

Open-back headsets provide a clearer sound. The air passing through the earcups affects the audio you hear. However, this factor leads to an increase in background noise for the user.

These headsets are ideal for people who need to stay aware of their surroundings, but they also leak sound for nearby people to hear.

insider tip

Closed-back headphones provide noise isolation to increase your focus on your game or other content.

Close-back headphones often feature noise cancellation or noise reduction, providing a more isolated, pure sound. The sound does not leak into your surroundings because it features a solid earcup piece.

As a result, you won’t hear as much within your immediate surroundings, but bystanders won’t hear your content.

STAT: Large closed-back headphones with bigger earcups typically deliver a bit more isolation than smaller-sized closed models. (source)

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