Open Space, Closed Precision
The chances are that if you seek advice from an audio afficionado, they will favor headsets with an open-backed acoustic rather than one with a closed design. But you soon realise that there is no single right choice – it is a question of matching your preferences and needs to the solution, and here are a few tips that may help you make that decision.
It’s a commonly asked question – which is better? An open or closed-back gaming headset? The answer, of course, is that it depends on where and why you play, and your personal preference. The same gamer may prefer the open acoustic with games in certain circumstances, and a closed acoustic otherwise.
Headsets with an open-backed acoustic feature vented earcups – usually with visible grilles or occasionally less obvious venting – either of which allow air to flow freely around the speaker driver inside the earcup. Open-backed headsets have a distinctive signature which is open, airy, wide and natural. This is due to the freedom the air has to vibrate, with fewer enclosed reflections. Premium headsets for audiophiles are usually open-backed – and for long listening sessions they are usually cooler and help moisture to escape the earcup. The combination of these benefits is really appealing to gamers who are looking for the most natural, relaxed sound signature, ideal for many single-player genres.
To make the most of the advantages of the open acoustic, gamers need to be playing in a quiet listening environment. For many this is fine, but for those playing competitive games a different signature is often preferable.
Closed back headsets generally have an audio profile often described as precise and powerful, often because the bass frequencies are more impactful. But generally, the main advantage is that the manufacturer has much greater control over what reaches the ear in closed headsets – helping deliver the most immersive gaming experience. When well designed and manufactured with the right materials, closed headsets can have excellent passive noise reduction capability, especially at the crucial mid and high frequencies that carry the most important audio detail needed by competitive gamers.
Why is this so significant? The secret lies deep within your brain. EPOS places the understanding of how the brain interprets audio right at the heart of all its design and engineering programs, and even has a name for this approach – EPOS BrainAdapt™ technology.
While it’s your ears that hear sound, it’s your brain that listens. Three processes take place – orientation, where the brain works out what direction each sound is coming from, focus, where it filters unwanted noise from the signal, and recognition, the process of interpretation of the audio.
In a closed-back design, EPOS engineers can make sure the audio that reaches your ear is accurate and pristine and will not interfere with orienting, focusing and interpreting what you hear. This means gamers who want the fastest reaction times and to hear and recognize their team-mates voices, they are better off with a closed headset.
If you game at home and play mostly single player immersive games in a quiet room, then the wide soundstage and “air” of an open headset like the EPOS H6PRO Open is ideal. Role playing games, cinematic narrative titles and many other genres can benefit from the natural sound of an open headset, especially when there’s no competitive play or vital audio cues that directly impact the gamer’s enjoyment or performance.
Additionally, many streamers prefer to hear their own natural voice as they speak, rather than the sound piped back into their ears from microphones, which is another benefit of an open-backed headset. While noise from outside is often distracting, for the streamer or player who likes to connect with the environment they’re playing in, it can actually be a better experience overall.
In an ideal world, maybe every gamer would have two headsets – one open, for quiet, reflective gaming moments or live-streaming, and one closed, for the deepest immersion in a game world or while playing competitively. But if you have to choose one or the other, just make a checklist of what’s most important to you. Whatever your decision, EPOS has you covered.