Open-back headphones vs closed headphones : what are the differences ?

In the world of FOCAL headphones, there are two very different technologies. These differences are identifiable in the design and listening impact of the audio system.

1- Open Back

So-called “open” headphones have headphones surrounded by grilles allowing sound to pass through. This audio system offers better perception of sound and wider spatialization. These headphones are popular during long listening sessions at home.

Open Headphones Focal

2 - Closed Back

So-called “closed” back headphones are equipped with headphones that isolate external noise. Thus, this audio system offers better sound insulation and a more immersive sound experience. These headsets are particularly appreciated in situations where sound insulation is necessary. Some closed headphones may include the ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) technique, i.e. active noise reduction to reduce ambient noise. This is the case with the Focal Bathys headphones.

Closed Headphones Focal

To sum up :


Listening environment
Sound isolation

Open headphones

Quiet, without noise pollutionNoWide

Closed headphones

Moderate noise levelPassiveAnalytical

Enclosed headphones with active noise reduction (ANC)

Noisy environmentActive (ANC)Focused


Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a preview of the latest audio innovations from Focal and Naim.