Gaming headsets, despite their name, aren’t always the best sounding choice for professional and casual gaming. Most of the big gaming brands have very little experience when it comes to manufacturing great sounding audio products. And while a lot of companies have shown growth over the past few years, they still have a long way to go to catch up with the established audiophile brands.
If you want to take your gaming experience to the next level, then you have come to the right place. We have picked some of the best audiophile headphones that will deliver a realistic and immersive audio experience as well as accurate sound reproduction for competitive gaming.
We are also going through different options here. We have high-end picks such as the Sennheiser HD800S as well as budget picks such as the Philips SHP9500. Those are only some of the options that we are covering. So make sure to keep on scrolling if you want to learn more.
Best Audiophile Headphones for Gaming
Sennheiser HD800S – High-End Pick
The Sennheiser HD800s is not just a headphone for music enthusiasts and professionals. It is also one of the best high-end headphones for gaming. This is largely due to its exceptionally large soundstage and accurate imaging, which accurately recreates the sound of most video games.
The HD800s is often regarded as one of the widest sounding headphones. The listening experience that you get is often compared to high-end speakers. You get that immersive experience where sounds seem to come from places outside your headphones.
The deep level of immersion that these headphones allow will take your gaming experience to the next level. The natural sound reproduction of the HD800s will make it seem that you are inside the game.
But if you are a competitive gamer, then these headphones will serve you even better. The accuracy that these headphones provide is very hard to match at this price point. You will be able to accurately hear and pinpoint the location of your enemies via their gunshots or footsteps. And thanks to the wide soundstage, you will also be able to easily judge whether the sounds you hear are near or far away from you.
The one thing that most people dislike about the Sennheiser HD800s’ sound signature is its peaky highs. For long listening sessions, the energetic treble will cause listening fatigue. However, these incredibly energetic and detailed highs are exactly what you need for detecting sound cues such as footsteps.
One thing that you have to keep in mind is that the HD800s is very picky on its source. While you can plug these directly on your computer’s onboard sound card, these will surely not sound the best. To take full advantage of the HD800s’ technical capabilities, make sure to pair it with a good headphone amplifier.
These headphones are used by streaming personalities such as Tfue and professional reviewers such as Dmitry Novoselov from HardwareCanucks. It is a tried and tested design. And while it is overkill for gaming, it is no doubt the best performer on this list. If you can afford to pay the flagship tax, then check out the Sennheiser HD800s.
Learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.
Sennheiser HD600 Series (HD660s/HD58X/HD6XX)
Another popular series from Sennheiser is the HD6XX series. These headphones were first released in the 90s and have been the standard for mid to high-end headphones. And just like the Sennheiser HD800s, the HD6XX series headphones are also excellent for gaming.
Compared to the flagship HD800s, the HD6XX line has a more intimate soundstage. Ingame audio won’t feel as wide and open as the HD800s, making the experience less magical. However, its soundstage is fairly accurate and does not over exaggerate things. It is also a lot better than most closed-back headphones.
The imaging, on the other hand, is spot on. The HD660s, which is the latest model in the HD6XX series, has been widely praised for its stellar imaging in complex music genres, such as orchestral pieces.
This translates very well in gaming. The directions of both footsteps and gunfire are easily heard, and combined with its accurate soundstage, it is very easy to pinpoint the exact location of your enemies.
While all of the headphones in the HD6XX series share the same build quality and mid-forward sound, each model has some slight differences that make them unique from one another. The Drop HD58X, for example, has more emphasis on the midbass compared to the HD600 and HD650.
The HD600, on the other hand, is the most neutral sounding headphone in the lineup. The HD6XX/HD650 is darker sounding than the HD600. Then finally, the HD660s combine the best out of the three headphones.
Compared to other headphones in its price range, one of the criticisms of the HD6XX series is its bass performance. Some enthusiasts find them to be lacking in the bass department.
However, this is not a big deal when it comes to gaming (especially in competitive gaming). Boomy and bloated bass often can often be distracting, preventing you from hearing vital sound cues such as footsteps. The bass on the HD600 series is good enough to give the overall sound a thick and full-bodied feel.
If you are on the more budget side of the spectrum, then check out Drop’s HD6XX and HD58X. These headphones are the result of Drop and Sennheiser’s collaboration.
One thing that you need to take note of is the HD6XX series does not have the same impedance as all of the models. The HD 58X and HD660s can work without an amplifier but will highly benefit from having one. The rest of the HD6XX headphones require an amplifier. If you’re planning on buying and of the HD600 series, check out these recommended DACs/Amps to pair your headphones with.
Overall, these are some of the best, most accessible, and most versatile headphones that you can get in today’s market. If you want high-quality audio without paying the flagship tax, then check out the Sennheiser HD6XX series.
Learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
One of the most popular audiophile headphones for gaming is the DT 990 Pro. This is largely thanks to its sound quality, technical ability/detail retrieval, and good imaging and soundstage. It has been used by professional gamers and streaming personalities, such as Ninja.
In terms of the sound signature, the DT 990 Pro is leaning towards a V-Shaped sound signature. This is perfect for FPS and is a trend that is being followed by most modern gaming headsets. The bass response of the DT 990 Pro, despite being a bit emphasized, is well controlled and is not distracting.
Highs are well emphasized. They have plenty of detail without being too fatiguing. Combined with the excellent imaging and soundstage, footsteps are easy to hear and pinpoint. They will fare far better than any gaming headset in this price range.
Unlike the other headphones on this list, the DT 990 Pro comes in different versions depending on their impedance. It comes in 32 ohms, 80 ohms, 250 ohms, and 600 ohms. Impedance is basically one of the factors that help determine whether or not a headphone needs a headphone amplifier.
Generally, the 32-ohm version is the easiest to drive, while the 600-ohm version is the hardest. For a more in-depth look at this topic, head on to our Headphone Impedance Guide.
Having different versions makes the DT 990 Pro a versatile option. Users who are buying their first open-back pair can opt for the 32-ohm version. More advanced users, on the other hand, can go for the 80-ohm and 250-ohm versions since these scales well with higher-end equipment.
Overall, the DT 990 Pro is popular among gamers for a reason. With its accuracy, excellent sound quality, and class-leading build quality, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is truly one of the best in its price range. If you want a reliable open-back pair, then make sure to check this pair out.
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
A great alternative to the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is the closed-back Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. This headphone was first released in 1985 and had since then received legendary status. They are not only great performers in the studio but also in other applications such as gaming.
What separates the DT 770 Pro from the rest of the closed-back options is its superior imaging and soundstage. While it may not sound as wide or as open as the DT 990 Pro, the DT 770 Pro easily outperforms most closed-back headphones.
As for the sound signature, the DT 770 Pro has a V-shaped sound signature similar to the DT 990 Pro. The bass is punchy and is easily one of the most satisfying in its price range. The mids are slightly recessed, but they still maintain their clarity and detail.
Highs are reasonably extended. Peaks are well controlled, which helps with long gaming sessions. However, highs are extended enough to reveal the important details.
Another highlight of the DT 770 Pro is the signature Beyerdynamic build quality. The DT 770 Pro is predominantly made of high-quality plastic on most of the body with metal reinforcements on the headband and hinges. It is built to take any kind of abuse in any kind of situation.
However, take note that the cable is non-removable, and the headphones are non-foldable. The cable is sturdy, but it would have been nice to have the option to swap it out for third-party cables or replace it in case it gets broken.
Just like the DT 990 Pro, the DT 770 Pro comes in 32-ohm, 80-ohm, 250-ohm, and 600-ohm versions. The 32 and 80-ohm versions can be used directly with your game console or onboard sound card. But if you opt for the higher impedance versions, you will need an external headphone amplifier.
Overall, if you need a reliable pair that can handle any task that you throw at it, then the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is one of the best closed-back headphones that you can buy at the sub 300 USD price point.
Modhouse Argon (Fostex T50RP MK3)
The Fostex T50RP series is a well-loved headphone in the audiophile community. The main reason for its popularity is its customizable nature. It has even given birth to companies such as ZMF and MrSpeakers (now known as Dan Clark Audio), whose first products were T50RP modified headphones.
But out of the many mods that the T50 has seen throughout the years, the most popular is arguable Modhouse’s Argon Mod. And with the release of the new Fostex T50RP MK3, Modhouse has released their own version. This is the Argon Mk3.
In terms of the build quality, the stock T50RP Mk3 didn’t have the best build. Unfortunately, the Argon Mod doesn’t do much to improve this. These headphones are not fragile, but they will likely break if you accidentally drop them.
It is mostly made of plastic and utilizes faux leather on the headband and earpads. It also uses metal sliders for the headband adjustment, similar to the ones found on Grado headphones.
As for the sound quality, the unmodded version with stock pads wasn’t anything special. It has a tight soundstage with no real emphasis on any specific frequency. They sounded decent but weren’t anything special, even in their price range.
However, the Argon Mk3 completely transforms the T50RP MK3. After the mod, the Argons MK3 becomes a detail monster with a very wide soundstage. Its soundstage alone is easily the best in this price range and even rivals open-back headphones in the same price range.
The sound signature isn’t the most reference or neutral. However, they provide a fun signature that effortlessly renders anything you throw at it.
The combination of its wide soundstage, accurate imaging, and insane detail retrieval makes it one of the best headphones for gaming. If you play single player games, then they will provide immersion. And if you are playing competitive titles, its accurate imaging will allow you to accurately pinpoint your enemies.
Additionally, you can utilize different kinds of earpads to alter the signature of the Argon Mk3. Depending on what earpads you choose, you can extend the bass response and smoothen out the highs or reduce the bass response and make the highs more forward. This gives the user lots of choices depending on what you want to use the Argons for.
Overall, if you are looking for a great value pair of headphones for gaming, then you should consider the Modhouse Argon Mk3. The sound quality that you get for the price that you pay is a steal.
Audio Technica AD700X
If neutral headphones aren’t your cup of tea, then Audio Technica also offers the AD open- back series that focus less on accuracy and more on enjoyment. And one of the most popular in this lineup is the ATH AD700X.
This headphone is the successor to the popular ATH AD700, which was notorious for its pink color and performance in competitive First Person Games such as Counter-Strike. The AD700X takes most of the good points of the AD700 but ditches the color scheme and significantly improves the build quality.
The main reason for the popularity of these headphones is due to its wide soundstage and excellent accuracy. The wide soundstage provides greater immersion and an overall better experience since it can better simulate larger environments. But more importantly, the imaging is spot on.
For gaming, the ATH AD700X excels at pinpointing the direction of important sound cues such as enemy gunfire and footsteps. The AD700X later became the basis for one of Audio Technica’s gaming headsets, the ATH ADG1X.
Outside of gaming, the ATH AD700X’s most notable feature is its beautiful recreation of the midrange. This is something that almost all Audio Technica headphones are good at. These really excel with vocal-heavy music, especially female vocals.
However, unlike the other headphones on this list, the AD700X is not an accurate sounding headphone. This shouldn’t be an issue but is something that should be considered if you plan on using the AD700X in other applications such as content creation.
The bass response is not as prominent as something like the ATH M50X. But the bass is enough to add body to the track and complete the overall sound.
Overall, if you want a great performing headphone for FPS without breaking the bank, then the Audio Technica ATH AD700X is a great choice.
If you are looking for a budget pair for gaming, then Philips has your back. The Philips SHP 9500 is one of the best budget open-back headphones that punches above its price point. Its technicalities have been praised and were often compared to higher-end headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX series.
Of course, due to the massive price gap, it isn’t a Sennheiser HD600 killer. However, the fact alone that this comparison is made is impressive. After all, no gaming headset within the SHP9500’s price point can even be compared with the likes of the HD6XX series.
In terms of the sound quality, the SHP 9500 has great clarity and detail retrieval. Its smooth highs prevent listening fatigue without sacrificing the fidelity and accuracy of sound cues like footsteps. The bass is still present but isn’t as pronounced as closed-back headphones.
The bass is capable of bringing sounds like explosions to life. But it does not bleed into the midrange or distract you from hearing important sound cues. Overall, it is a slightly V-shaped sound signature, which is great for FPS.
Its soundstage is intimate but still presents a good amount of space. The imaging, on the other hand, is solid. Locating enemy footsteps and gunfire is a breeze on this one. Of course, it won’t be on par with the HD6XX series or Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro/DT 990 Pro, but it still does its job.
Everything else about the SHP9500 is exceptional for the price. The build is solid and is way better than any gaming headsets in its price range.
Also, it features a detachable 3.5 mm detachable cable that can easily be replaced with other aftermarket cables. One thing that you can do with the detachable cable is to add a 3.5mm detachable microphone such as the V Moda Boom Pro microphone. With the added microphone, the SHP9500 becomes a true gaming headset.
Overall, the Philips SHP9500 is an excellent performer. If you need a budget pair with excellent imaging and soundstage, then make sure to check out the Philips SHP 9500.