Before manufacturers started making gaming-oriented peripherals, most of us, myself included, used regular headphones when we wanted to play our favorite games.
Although there are many more options on the market now, some of the best open back headphones for gaming are still mainstream headphones which emphasize sound quality over gaming-inspired visual designs.
11 Best Open Back Gaming Headphones
If you’re looking to get guaranteed quality and you don’t particularly need fancy colors, software, and other gaming perks, check out my favorite audiophile gaming headphones.
Table of Contents
- 11 Best Open Back Gaming Headphones
- Regular Headphones vs. Pure Gaming Headphones
- A Few Comfort Features to Look for
- Why I Recommend Open-Back Headphones Most Often
Although not the cheapest gaming headset out there, the ATH-ADG1X open-back model is one of the most amazing, in my opinion. This headset features powerful and crystal-clear 53mm drivers, fine-tuned for FPS, and all other games where quality sound can give you an edge or where the story is half the game.
The 3D wing support is something you might’ve seen before from Audio Technica but perhaps not with this level of reinforcement and flexibility. The comfort is superior, to say the least, which places these headphones among my favorites for long gaming sessions.
I also like the microphone as it features some state-of-the-art Audio Technica noise cancellation for the improvement of in-game voice chat.
The one-hand operation is not half bad either, nor is the simple volume control. These headphones also feature a basic interface and the very soft earpads.
This headset features Sennheiser’s standard design with the headband sitting comfortably over your ears. The padding is plush and allows your ears to breathe. Thanks to the softness, your ears will not hurt once you take your headphones off after some hours of gaming.
With an impedance of 50 ohms, this headset will deliver a stunning gaming experience, while the noise canceling microphone will help your in-game mates understand you. The mic is good enough for clear audio recordings and internet calls.
You can listen to your favorite music and watch TV in high-quality audio with a frequency range of 15-28,000Hz. There is a volume control integrated on the cable. Also, thanks to its intuitive design, you can easily mute the microphone by raising the boom arm.
The headset comes with a 3.5mm audio and mic jack. If your computer has only an audio output, that means you will have to get an audio/mic splitter. Also, while the microphone has noise canceling properties, the headphones fail at blocking background sounds due to the open-back design.
A fairly new model, Sennheiser's HD 599 SE is one of the most balanced open back headphones on the market. Coming from Sennheiser, it’s of course not the most affordable option among open back headphones.
The HD 599 SE features the classic Sennheiser design. The headband just wraps around the ear cups and comes with very comfortable padding. The design is otherwise simple, yet very efficient for both recording and gaming sessions.
The main cable is 3m and fixed with a ¼” (6.3mm) jack meant for studio use. You’ll also get an additional shorter cable with a 3.5mm jack should you want to use them to listen to music or view some movies.
With a 50 ohm impedance, the HD 599 SE has immense potential as a gaming headset. However, to get the most out of them you’ll need a decent audio setup. The more power you can pump into the headphones, the more sound clarity you can enjoy.
The quality of the midrange and high frequency is what you’re looking for. The bass is also good but that’s not where the headphones earn their money in gaming. The midrange is what gives you superior vocal clarity, which means that for games with complex story modes, these headphones are a blast to use.
The DT 990 has three variations. You can choose between 32, 250, and 600 ohm. For gaming purposes, the 250 ohm model offers the most balanced sound quality for home and studio use.
The cable is equipped with a standard ¼” connector and a screw-on 3.5mm jack. While it’s not detachable, it does feature a reinforced design at the connection point which increases its durability.
The open back design allows for enough background noise to still be discernible, so you won’t have to get into fights with your parents or roommates for not answering them.
What’s particularly impressive about the DT 990 is the extra bass quality. The sound is quite rich and it should allow you to enjoy any type of game from sports simulators to story-driven FPS triple A titles.
Comfort is one of the top priorities during a long gaming session. The Sennheiser GSP 500 has a headband wrapped in soft fabric which will allow both your ears and your head to breathe. That will prevent any in-game discomfort and post-gaming pain.
It’s not only the superior comfort that makes these headphones great. The transducers are inside the pads and they send audio directly to the ear. This should make your in-game environment and atmosphere more realistic. The headphones have solid bass and provide good sound quality while you’re listening to music or watching videos.
The impedance of 28 ohms makes these headphones great for using with low-power devices too. You don’t need a PC for a perfect gaming experience. The Sennheiser GSP 500 is a multi-platform headset with a standard 3.5mm audio output. It will work with the PS4, the Xbox One, and various other consoles without a loss of quality.
If you want durable, great-quality headphones and are willing to spend a little bit more, the Sennheiser GSP 500 might be the right choice for you. Just keep in mind that they are rather bulky, so their size doesn’t recommend them for outdoor use.
The soundstage is very impressive on the ATH-AD700X. Although the bass output is not premium quality, the clarity on the midrange and high frequencies, as well as the balanced output and the low price, make these headphones a solid choice for any gamer.
The ATH-AD700X features a true lightweight design which I find essential if you’re a professional gamer or streamer. The pressure exerted on your head is barely noticeable, so if you want to avoid burning ears these are a good choice.
The cable has a ¼” connector and also a 3.5mm detachable jack. If you’re looking to switch platforms in seconds without switching cables, the ATH-AD700X offers a simple solution. This should also improve your range of motion since there’s less chance to unplug the cable from the headphones by accident.
The CCAW voice coils used in the 53mm drivers are also a nice choice for a budget pair of gaming headphones. They give your sound more depth and help you get immersed in the story.
Grado is a highly respected manufacturer of audiophile headphones. Like all headphones, everything about the SR80E is designed to get out of the way of the high quality drivers.
As such, the quality of the foam pads is nothing to write home about. They get out of the way and they are replaceable, so these headphones can really last a while. Chances are though that you can’t resist upgrading to a higher-end Grado once you got your feet wet.
What they lack in comfort, the SR80E headphones make up for in terms of sound clarity. You wouldn’t know it until you tested them, but the balanced and airy presentation of the entire frequency range is more than impressive.
The cable is pretty much standard quality. It splits and goes directly into both ear cups. It’s the audiophile way of tackling things.
8. Samson SR850
Samson headphones may not be exactly on par with the top manufacturers, but as far as gaming needs are concerned, the SR850 headphones make a solid choice any day of the week.
The SR850 headphones are as budget-friendly as they come, so if you’re looking to build up your gaming setup from scratch, these headphones are excellent starters. They feature 50mm drivers which give them good dynamic range.
They also have a wide frequency response range rated at 10Hz to 30kHz. The connector is also interchangeable from a ¼” to a 1/8”, so you’re able to game on multiple platforms as well as listen to music or watch movies.
The SR850 is not a full open back design. It’s a semi open back design which means that you’ll be able to tune out most of the background noise.
If you’re living in a busy area or you have a lot of people in the house at all times, the SR850 might just given you the peace and quiet you need to enjoy the amazing sound effects that your game has to offer.
At the very least, you’ll be able to hear those elusive footsteps that keep preventing you from getting in the top 5 in battle royal game modes.
With the Sennheiser PC 373D gaming headset, the affordability is perhaps the primary selling point. You will get a standard Sennheiser open headset that will keep your head cool. With velvet ear pads and a solid headband, you can immerse yourself in the game and not worry about possible discomfort.
Chatting with your peers in-game will be clear and easy. The microphone cancels all the surrounding noise and only focuses on your voice. You can control the volume yourself with the output cable and mute the microphone automatically by simply raising the boom arm.
The headphones are lightweight and durable with great sound quality. They have transducers that emit a detailed in-game sound to your ear, so you don’t miss a beat. 7.1 Surround Sound is also a key selling point of the 373D.
Unsurprisingly, with the lower price point, there is also slightly lower sound quality, though it’s still more than sufficient for high-level gaming. You may also experience slight sound leakage owing to the open-back design, but that shouldn’t be that big a problem.
If you are on a budget and want a pair of open back gaming headphones with all the essential features, you can count on the Sennheiser PC 373D to do a decent job.
10. Philips SHP9500S
At one point, the Philips SHP9500S headphones were considered THE best headphones for gaming. While it’s true that their sound quality is very impressive, they’re not at the top of the food chain anymore. Still, that doesn’t make them any less viable as gaming headphones.
The one thing that’s lacking is deep bass quality. But that’s nothing too serious, and it's still at par with most other gaming headphones. The 50mm drivers deliver otherwise balanced sound and superior clarity.
As a full open back design, the SHP9500S does let some of the outside noise get in, but generally speaking not enough to ruin your gaming experience. Also, the neutral tone makes it easy to distinguish game effects from real-world background noise.
In terms of comfort, I have nothing bad to say about the SHP9500S. The ear pads have moisture-wicking fabric and large openings. This takes away a lot of the pressure and makes them a solid choice for multiple hours straight of gaming.
11. LyxPro OEH-10
If you’re gaming on a budget but still having a great time, things are about to get a bit better. What if I told you that you could almost game like a pro with the LyxPro OEH-10 headphones? The transparent sound experience will only enhance in-game sounds and music.
The reinforced 8-foot cable is durable and long enough to provide freedom and stay out of the way in most gaming setups. The rotating ear cuffs are a nice touch but not nearly as nice as the extra thick cushioning, which is, by the way, replaceable.
I would also like to point out that the stainless steel headband is highly resistant. However, it may not be the most comfortable, given its modest leather cushion.
That said, you will be able to get clear sound, decent low and midrange definition, as well as a crisp tone in the higher register when the game demands it.
Regular Headphones vs. Pure Gaming Headphones
Choosing a pair of gaming headphones doesn’t mean that you always have to look at MSI, Razer, and other manufacturers of gaming peripherals.
I prefer my gaming headphones not to be one dimensional so I can get more use out of them.
Regular over-ear headphones can have amazing sound quality. Pure headphone companies like Sennheiser and Grado know what they’re doing.
It’s like buying a watch. Do you feel more comfortable buying from a watch manufacturer or a fashion label that pretends they know how to build watches?
Another advantage would be the preset equalization. Most gaming headphones require software tinkering to squeeze the best audio output, and in some cases you may have to adjust from one game to another.
A Few Comfort Features to Look for
If you’re looking for comfort over sound quality, there are a couple of things that can make or break a set of gaming headphones.
First of all, the quality of the padding is very important as it can offset a lot of the pressure coming from a poorly designed headband.
The weight, cable length, and even the opening of the ear cups should be the next things on your list. And, keep in mind that bigger is not always better.
Why I Recommend Open-Back Headphones Most Often
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with closed-back headphones and getting a more in-your-ear experience. But, if you want to play AAA titles and feel the storytelling, experience all the instruments and sound effects, then open-back headphones offer the superior soundstage.
Let’s set aside the fact that open-back headphones are more comfortable. The main issue with the closed-back design is that it’s usually too bass-heavy for some games. You’ll want a more neutral soundstage for games, similar to what you would need when watching movies.
So many sound effects are coming at you at different frequencies and from all directions at the same time. Therefore, favoring the low end over everything else won’t do justice to the in-game sound.
Besides, a larger soundstage will also make more room and provide extra clarity to the in-game voice communication. I think that a quality pair of open-backs is a must-have, considering how many games you play in teams and online.
Any of the above may be the best open back pair for your gaming needs, depending on your unique requirements. Each pair has above average sound clarity but some more so than the others, and that’s also the case with the comfort.
At the end of the day, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. The pesky budget may also affect the decision. But I’m confident that you’ll be able to put any of the previously discussed open back headphones to good use.