Whether it’s for competitive needs or just casual gaming, the sound has and always will be a major component. You want your immersion to be as complete as possible, and a good pair of headphones will make sure every little noise in the game is discernible. With that in mind, here’s a list of 5 of the best open-back headphones for gaming, ranging from expensive top tier headsets to budget gaming ones that are still viable when it comes to their quality of sound.
Best Open-back Headphones for Gaming
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Audio-Technica’s ATH-ADG1X model is one of the best in this class for many reasons. The lightweight design of the headphones makes them extremely comfortable, even for those long, drawn-out gaming sessions. You’ll hardly feel any discomfort wearing these.
The quality of audio these headphones provide makes them more than suitable for all your gaming needs. The microphone attached to them features state-of-the-art noise cancelation, courtesy of Audio Technica, which will allow you to sound clear and crisp on those voice coms.
These headphones will have you covered all around. So if you decide to get them, you will have no issues. The only real downside to this is their price. If you have a limited budget, you might have to look elsewhere, or save up some money which will surely be a good investment.
Sennheiser Game ONE Headset
- SIGNATURE SOUND DYNAMICS -Engineered for incredibly natural and accurate, high fidelity sound, the proprietary speaker system delivers the bass extension balanced with the other frequencies to deliver extreme acoustic clarity
- NOISE-CANCELING MICROPHONE - The flexible boom arm easily adjusts for best voice pick-up positioning and the microphone design minimizes background noise for acoustic clarity and crystal-clear communication.
- OPEN ACOUSTICS - The classic high-end open acoustic gaming headset is designed for extremely natural, spatial sound. It delivers sonically accurate hifi audio that reveals the details and dynamic realism of the game’s audio for better game performance.
The comfortable padding we’ve got used to seeing from Sennheiser will make sure you experience your games to their fullest, without any discomfort. In conjunction with the amazing noise-canceling microphone, all your audio needs will be more than met. Audio control is built into the cable on this model, making it easier to regulate the volume mid-task.
One of the features I appreciate the most is the ability to mute the microphone by raising it up all the way. These come with a 3.5mm audio and mic jack, so depending on your PC, you will probably have to get an audio/mic splitter. These are easily obtainable, as you might already know. Some people have issues with purchasing additional equipment, and that’s understandable. However, for a pair of headphones like these, I’d say it’s well worth it.
They do also have some form of noise cancelation, but due to their open-back design, this is not ideal. And probably not what you’re after anyways, if you’re considering open-back headphones. I’ve compared the two brands Audio Technica and Sennheiser too, if you’re interested.
Sennheiser HD 599 SE
- Premium, audiophile-grade over ear, open back headphones
- Lightweight with luxurious velour covered ear pads for extreme comfort
- Compatible with virtually every audio device including phones, tablets and computers
Another one of Sennheiser’s models has found its way onto this list, but we are talking about headphones, so that is unavoidable. The HD 599SDs are a newer model and may just be one of the most balanced open back headphones on the market.
As opposed to the previous model, this one has a more classic design, and the padding on the ear cups is quite comfortable. A simple, yet very efficient design for both your gaming and recording needs. They are quite light, so you needn’t worry too much about them straining your head.
The main cable on these headphones is a 3m and fixed with a ¼” (6.3mm) jack, which is primarily meant for studio use. Additionally, you will get a shorter cable with a 3.5mm jack for more standard uses, such as gaming, listening to music, etc…
The quality of high and mid range frequency is where these headphones shine. They do have a good bass as well, though it is not their strong suit. For those story and dialogue oriented games, this is as good as it gets and you will be able to enjoy those sounds to the fullest.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
- The Cult Object - Tested and Lauded by Music Lovers: The DT 990 Edition over-ear headphones have been winning the hearts of countless Hi-Fi and music enthusiasts since the 1980s
- The DT 990 Edition comes in an open back design. This means that background noise outside the headphones remains clearly discernible even at higher volumes. This design lends the music a feeling of a wide soundstage, an appreciation of space that gives almost the same sense of enjoyment as listening to music with loudspeakers. The sound is spectacular. Distinctive highs and intense bass combine to produce a perfect richness of sound that delights rock and pop enthusiasts in particular.
- The DT 990 stands for quality "Made in Germany". We only use the best quality parts for these over-ears, which we hand craft in Germany with great care and attention to detail. Many of the parts can also be exchanged and replaced, so you are guaranteed a product that will endure into the future.
This model comes in three iterations; 32, 250 & 600 ohms. Considering we’re talking about headphones for gaming, the 250-ohm version will be more than enough. They will provide you with the most balanced sound quality. If we’re comparing the price and audio quality, they are definitely worth it. You can have most of the benefits of expensive headphones while saving some cash. The ¼” connector is not removable like on some models, but does come with reinforced construction so you won’t have to worry about damaging it when bending or tugging on the cord during intense gaming matches.
Similar to the first Sennheiser model, these have some noise-canceling features, but quite a bit of noise will pass through. Don’t expect them to deliver too much on this part. What this model does have going for it is the excellent bass quality which is perfect for first-person shooters and sports simulator games.
Audio Technica ATH-AD700X
- 53 mm drivers reproduce clear treble and midrange. Connectivity Technology: Wired
- Bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils for superior power handling. Impedance: 38 ohms
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW . Full open-air type headphones produce no sense of pressure on the ears, resulting in a completely natural sensation
We started our list with one of Audio Technica’s models, but that one is rather pricy. If you want the same level of comfort, courtesy of well-padded earcups and, lightweight design, look no further. Admittedly, this model is a bit on the bulkier side when it comes to size, but that doesn’t take anything away from the comfort. The inside of the pads is angled, so your ears will not be making contact. This massively improves their comfort level.
This model does have an interesting take on the headband, letting your head breathe more with the little clip-wings. They can be too loose for some, and might sometimes slide down or even fall off your head if you shake it too vigorously. So it’s best to avoid headbanging with these on.
The overhead tubes are very flexible and durable, plus the cables are hidden inside them which adds to their visual appeal. Together with the see-through cups, they are quite stylish.
The sound quality is amazing for those midrange and high frequencies but lacks the premium quality bass. With this model, you can easily switch between platforms thanks to the ¼” connector cable and a 3.5mm detachable jack. Overall, the Audio Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are not the best on the market, but if you are able to spend a few dollars more and get them, you will definitely be getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to both comfort and sound quality.
When it comes to gaming, they are surprisingly good. The directionality with these headphones is amazing, much better than you’d expect from an open-back design.
Open-back Headphones Buying Guide
Not all headphones are the same when it comes to sound quality and they are definitely not the same when it comes to the price. While we have tried to provide as much information as possible on the models above, some of you might still have some lingering questions which is why our next section features things that you should consider when shopping for a new pair of headphones.
Why Open-back Headphones?
Open-back headphones are designed in such a way to allow sound to escape so as not to build up pressure. What this accomplishes is an enhanced natural character and improved clarity of sound. You will have a nice, organic listening experience.
They do not function well in public, and you should know what to expect when purchasing them.
People often wonder if the lack of noise cancelation in these headphones is a bad thing. It comes down to personal preference, really. However, having the ability to hear your own voice while talking is an advantage, as you have more control over how loud you should be. If you are playing in a noisy environment and that’s an issue for you, you might want to look into other options.
What level of comfort to expect from Open-back headphones?
All of the models listed above (and any open-back headphones really) have a lightweight design and rest comfortably atop your head without straining it too much. This is a huge plus for those long gaming sessions, as most of you know.
The only true test is to personally try them on, but few stores, if any allow that. If you are lucky enough to find one, I highly suggest you take full advantage and give a pair of headphones you like a test run.
Brand Choice – Which brand is the best and why?
It’s not possible to give an objective answer to this, as each of the headphones has its strengths and weaknesses. A good, reliable method is to read user reviews for each model, and look for specifics that interest you (size, weight, durability, compatibility, additional features…). Perhaps you are really used to having that volume control on your cable, or you prefer to have the option to mute your mic on the headphones themselves.
You could go with a popular brand, or give those less-known manufacturers a shot, and they might just surprise you.
When it comes to experiencing everything games have to offer, especially story-driven ones, audio is a big part of that and open-back headphones are the way to go. Apart from their comfortable designs, they deliver brilliant sound quality and are not that bass-heavy, which, in this case, is a good thing. Most of the models listed above have good quality built-in mics, so communicating with your team will be easier as well.
Last update on 2021-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API