How Durable Are Open-back Headphones? (With Examples)

Are you considering getting open-back headphones? As these headphones have more exposed parts, you might wonder if they are durable.

Does the more exposed nature make these headphones weaker or is it negligible?

How durable are open-back headphones?

Here’s What You Need to Know about the Durability of Open-back Headphones.

Open-back headphones have relatively good durability, as the majority of manufacturers of open-back headphones are big-name, dependable brands. While there are some cheap models, the durability of open-back headphones is dependent on how they are maintained.

How Long Do Open-back Headphones Normally Last?

The lifespan of open-back headphones depends on the build and model.

As they say, “you get what you pay for.”  With that said, you’re not likely to get a long life from cheap open-back headphones. Cheap headphones have plastic components that are low quality, which can be hit-or-miss when it comes to durability.

More expensive open-back headphones are likely to have a longer life, but they can be cut short if not taken care of.

Do They Last as Long as Other Headphones?

Open-back headphones can be a hit or miss, and it really depends on the brand and how you care for them. 

They can last longer with proper care, although the quality of the build will just be as crucial.

What Typically Breaks First on Open-back Headphones?

There are two weak points for open-back headphones: cables and speakers.

First would be the cables, especially if they often dangle or get hung up. Another weak point would be the speakers, particularly when the user is unfamiliar with the nature of open-back headphones.

  • As open-back headphones tend to absorb ambient noise in your surroundings, those who don’t know how open-back headphones tend to increase volumes to compensate for the noise in the background.
  • When headphones are pumped with more power, their speaker coils wear out faster, eventually damaging them.
  • Once damaged, your open-back headphones might be irreparable, if there are no available parts.

How Long is the Warranty Normally on Open-back Headphones?

The warranty depends on the manufacturer of the open-back headphones, but on average, you can expect a warranty that spans from one to two years. 

When it comes to refurbished open-backs, the warranty is likely to be good for 90 days from the date of purchase.

What exactly does the warranty cover?

Warranty coverage, when available, covers any manufacturing defect that may be found on the headphones.

This warranty does not cover misuse or deliberate actions that may destroy the headphones, including attempts to repair by an unauthorized repairman.

Are Open-back Headphones Worth Buying?

Open-back headphones are worth buying if you often do critical listening. 

  • That is why many studio engineers prefer open-back headphones because of their ability to integrate part of the room’s acoustics or environment into the sound that they’re listening to.
  • It’s not ideal, however, for those who use headphones outdoors, as the outdoor noise will blend with what you’re hearing.

Do Open-back Headphones Need Maintenance from the Owner?

If you want your open-back headphones to last longer, then you need to provide care for them.

  • You get more value for your money if you know how to care for your headphones.
  • You also maintain a certain resale value for the sought-after open-back headphone models.
  • And lastly, taking care of your headphones ensures that you don’t void the warranty.
  • You may also want to check out our article 3 Typical Problems With Open Back Headphones.

How Do You Care for Your Headphones?

Because you want to get your money’s worth, here are some tips to care for your headphones.

Regularly clean your headphones

Cleaning your headphones is important, especially with the open vents present. Dust tends to accumulate and clog the open backs, and sweat and oils can accumulate on the earcups.

If you want to clean your open-back headphones, here are a few tips.

  • Wipe your headphones after use, ideally with a soft cloth that’s dampened with alcohol or hand sanitizer.
  • Brush off any dirt on the drivers and open vents on the headphones.
  • Clean the jack by spraying with compressed air, or use a thin paper clip with double-sided tape to collect any particles. You can also use compressed air to clean the vents of the open-back headphones.

Proper cable management

For those using wired headphones, proper cable management for your cables is very important, as they serve as the link between your media player and your ears.

And while you can swap out cables for some models when they break, it can be frustrating to have a broken cable, as it can be hard to trace where the problem is. If you’re trying to keep the original parts in mint condition, having broken cables ruins all that.

The most important step in cable management is knowing how to coil your cables when storing them.

Here’s how to coil your cables:

  • Get your cable and create an overhand loop.
  • Flip and make an underhand loop.
  • Repeat these steps in the same order until you reach the end of the cable.
  • Once you reach the end, secure with hook and loop cable fasteners.

Aside from coiling your cables, here are other tips to consider:

  • Avoid dangling the wires, as these also put pressure on the internal wires, especially when bent at an angle.
  • Make sure your cables are not tangled, as untangling them may also cause pressure to the wires inside.
  • Pull out the plug, and not the cable.

Invest in storage for your headphones

If you regularly take your open-back headphones with you on the go, then it is imperative to have a case to store your headphones.

  • Having a case for your headphones ensures that they are protected from pressure and impact during transit.
  • The proper storage also means it’s the right fit. You don’t want something too tight or too loose as it can still damage your headphones when shaken.
  • A case also means having a place to put your detachable cables and cleaning cloth, so you don’t misplace them.

Avoid moisture and humid environments

A moist environment can expose your headphones to corrosion, while your sweat can stain the earpads, and eventually cause them to flake off.

  • Especially with open-back headphones, there are more entry points for moisture, which can damage your headphones.
  • While it’s impossible to avoid humid environments, one thing you can do is put silica gel desiccant packets in your headphone’s case so they can absorb moisture.
  • Aside from that, don’t forget to clean your headphones by wiping them down if they are exposed to moisture or sweat.

Set the Volume and EQ levels properly

Proper volume levels are important for open-back headphones.

As the headphones take in noise from the environment, it’s likely to compete inside the earcup with what you’re listening to. And for those unaware of how open-back headphones work, they will likely crank up the volume to compensate. But that’s going to be a problem in the long run.

When the volume is increased, the speakers will vibrate more, and wear out more quickly over time. So when you use open-back headphones, be mindful of the volume levels, as these can ruin the speakers.

That’s why open-back headphones are best used indoors, where the noise levels are easier to control. Aside from setting the volume at the proper threshold, here are other points to consider:

  • Mute the volume when plugging and unplugging your headphones to avoid any popping sound that can damage your headphone speakers.
  • Avoid using the bass boost, as heavy bass frequencies can damage your headphones, especially those not designed to accentuate the bass frequencies.

Know when to charge your headphones

If you are using wireless headphones, be sure to know when to charge them.

  • Ideally, you shouldn’t wait for them to drain completely.
  • Don’t leave them charging inside your car while parked under direct sunlight.
  • Try charging them at the same time with your phone so they’re both ready to use at the same time.

What Are the Best Open-back Headphones?

If you are considering buying open-back headphones, here are some recommendations.

Sennheiser HD800 S

When you say Sennheiser, you know you’re getting quality, and the HD 800S is no exception.

  • The HD 800S are the best open-back headphones you can get on the market today.
  • If you’re looking for a neutral sound, these headphones are it. It’s ideal for listening to different genres and other content, such as podcasts. They’re also good if you work in multimedia and you need to deal with sound mixing.
  • When it comes to comfort, the HD 800S does it impressively well. You can use it for hours without feeling any discomfort.

While these headphones are good, the HD 800S has some shortcomings.

  • The HD 800S is a wired-only headphone (but you get choices for cables to use).
  • There’s no microphone built-in for calls.
  • The HD 800S lacks bass frequencies for genres like EDM.

HiFiMan Arya

The HiFiMan Arya is an open-back headphone that features a planar magnetic transducer.

  • Compared to the HD 800S, the Arya features better bass frequencies, thanks to its design. The sound profile is also neutral with a little more presence.
  • Like other open-back headphones, you get a wide soundstage that allows you to get engrossed in the music.
  • These headphones were designed for studio use. You can keep them on for long periods, and you won’t feel any discomfort.
  • Since these headphones weren’t designed for ordinary consumers, you won’t find features such as a microphone or controls for music and calls.

Philips SHP9500

For those who want a budget pair of open-back headphones, try checking out the Philips SHP9500.

  • The SHP9500 is light and comfortable enough to use for long periods. The earcups have more than sufficient padding and are also spacious.
  • The sound profile is also very neutral and suitable for different audio content. The mid-range is on point, letting instruments and vocals stand out.
  • The soundstage is also open, allowing for a deeper listening experience. Listening feels like having the sound come out in front of you, instead of from inside.

For its weaknesses:

  • The SHP9500 also suffers from weak bass frequencies, like most open-back headphones.
  • The build is very plasticky, which makes it look cheap.
  • The fabric padding is prone to flaking over time.

For more information on Philips headphones, check out our article How Durable Are Philips Headphones?

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro

For those who want durable and premium open-back headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is worth considering.

  • The sound profile isn’t as neutral compared to other open-back headphones, but it does deliver more bass, which ordinary open-backs cannot do. Treble is also high, although it sometimes produces sibilance.
  • The build is quite good, with its metal frame, and the ear cups have good padding and are spacious, as well. You also get a free pouch for these headphones to protect them from dust.
  • For its disadvantages, the DT 990 Pro isn’t the most comfortable pair of headphones in the market.

 

Sources:

How Long Do Headphones Last? — What You Need to Know Before Buying a Pair

The 6 Best Open-Back Headphones – Summer 2021

8 Simple Tips To Take Good Care Of Your Headphones

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