Open-back headphones provide a natural and lifelike sound that every gamer enjoys. No one likes having echoes inside their headphones while gaming, which makes open-back headsets better than their closed-back counterparts.
However, things are hazy until you acquire a better understanding of each headset model’s features and compare them to your requirements.
This is why we compiled a list of the 10 best open-back headphones for gaming, and we are keen to explain why each of these headphones performs the best in certain circumstances and for every league of gamers. Let’s take a look!
|Best Overall||Best Overall||Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X||
|Best Cheap||Best Cheap||Samson SR850||
|Budget Pick||Budget Pick||GRADO SR80E||
The 10 Best Open Back Headphones For Gaming
Here is our list of the 10 Best Open Back Headphones For Gaming that you can buy in 2020.
1. Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X – Best Overall
Topping our list, the Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X will render your gaming experience enjoyable, thanks to the giant 53mm drivers that pump a pronounced sound across all frequencies. This pair’s glory shines in fast-paced games, where hearing your enemy’s footsteps is the key to victory.
This model boasts outstanding ergonomics, especially when you consider the 3D Wing Support system that Audio-Technica employs to let the headband adapt to your head’s posture. Additionally, the earpads are sufficiently padded with foam for extended gaming sessions.
The communication with your team is no longer hindered due to the built-in microphone, which supports noise cancellation. Also, Audio-Technica includes a windscreen for the microphone to enhance its clarity further. The mic is equipped with volume and mute switches so that you won’t have to use the push-to-talk button.
On the downside, this pair carries a hefty price tag compared to its peers.
- Impressive frequency response
- Comfortable headband and earpads
- Noise cancellation microphone
- Windscreen included
- Drivers add to the overall weight
Worry no more about your opponent flanking to get effortless kills, since the Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X, with its powerful sound, will unleash the stealth within you to win the upper hand in your gameplay.
2. Samson SR850– Best Cheap Headphones for Gaming
If you’re running low on cash, then the Samson SR850 is what you can go for without sacrificing your wallet. The ear cups house 50mm drivers that deliver a neutral sound. We deem this pair to be in the middle of the spectrum because of the mediocre stereo imaging.
Owing to its semi-open structure, this pair provides a clear soundstage effect with no compromises on noise isolation, unlike typical open-back headphones. Moreover, it offers a great bass response that enables you to gather intel on your opponents through hearing footsteps and faraway gunfire.
The SR850 features a self-adjusting headband that complies with your head’s position, and the earpads are stuffed with plush velour for comfort. It also comes with a ¼”-⅛” screw-on adapter for incompatible audio jacks.
- Neutral frequency response
- Semi-open design
- Pronounced bass range
- Screw-on adapter included
- Average sound reproduction
The Samson SR850 is your savior if you want to compliment your gaming setup on the cheap. With their semi-open design, rest assured that you won’t miss out on your gameplay’s details.
3. GRADO SR80E– Budget Pick
The SR80E was one pair that I used to frown on due to the plastic housing, but when I learned that this very plastic features a polymer that neutralizes redundant distortion, it left me impressed! I found its sound reproduction competent in the treble and bass ranges in FPS games.
Although the SR80E isn’t on par with the high-end models with metal ear cups, the 40mm drivers here articulate a solid bass range, rare for a pair under $100. The 4-conductor cable allowed me to make the most of the frequency response since it has 2 extra taped wires for highs and mids
You can argue that these headphones are so “open-back” that they lead to inevitable noise leakage. However, the on-ear ear cups leave no place for complaints about a faulty soundstage. Speaking of the ear cups, they’re reinforced with synthetic velour — even the headband is padded with synthetic leather.
The good news here is that the SR80E comes with a confident 1-year warranty and a ¼” screw-on adapter in case you want to connect to a home stereo system.
- Cost-effective price tag
- On-point frequency range
- 4-conductor cable
- 1-year warranty
- Adapter included
- No noise isolation
- Weak ergonomics
At this price segment, the only thing we’re all concerned about is the decent sound reproduction, and the GRADO SR80E nails the frequencies it promises to deliver at the expense of the build quality.
4. Sennheiser Game ONE– Best for Comfort
As opposed to most open-back headphones, the Sennheiser Game ONE’s comfort is primarily targeted at gamers.
This pair is molded into a lightweight frame that won’t burden your head. Moreover, the earpads are oversized for improved immersion and padded with velour for long-term comfort. Regarding volume controls, they’re ingeniously placed on the right ear cup for easy access.
Comfort isn’t the only perk of the Game ONE since the ear cups are powered by Sennheiser’s celebrated drivers, providing a realistic sound experience when you add the acoustic open-back design to the equation.
We like how convenient the microphone felt. First off, it features active noise cancellation to block unnecessary breathing noise, and you can effortlessly mute it by raising the boom arm to the headband’s level.
This pair’s integrated cable is durable since it’s made of braided fabric. However, we didn’t like how Sennheiser separated the audio and mic jacks. You’ll need a splitter if your gaming rig supports an audio-mic combo output.
- Convenient for prolonged sessions
- Volume controls on the earcup
- Flip-to-mute microphone
- Stand-alone audio and mic jacks
Crafted with comfort and quality in mind, the Sennheiser Game ONE is an excellent choice for diehard gamers who spend considerable time on their gaming setup.
The DT 990 Pro makes a reliable pair for the days to come. The ear cups here are reinforced with metal housing, let alone the steel headband, which boasts rigidity in the long run.
We’re talking specifically about the DT 990 Pro with the 250-ohm flavor, which is well-suited for gaming setups due to the improved power draw.
The 3m cable should provide years of service, thanks to its coiled construction. Moreover, it’s braided to be single-sided and won’t get tangled in the process of wearing and taking off the headphones.
The 45mm drivers produce a pronounced bass range. Note that, unlike many headphones, the bass response’s clarity doesn’t come at the cost of the mid and treble ranges since you’ll get detailed sound output from this pair. Unfortunately, however, the DT 990 Pro doesn’t promise much regarding noise isolation.
- Solid build quality
- Adjustable steel headband
- Rigid cable
- Clear individual ranges
- Sound leakage
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is constructed to stand the test of time. These headphones strike a balance between durability and decent sound reproduction that won’t let you down while gaming.
6. Sennheiser HD 599 SE– Best Balanced Sound
With the Sennheiser HD 599 SE, you get a premium pair of headphones offering an unbiased stereo imaging, meaning it’ll capture accurate tones that won’t produce distortion when they overlap.
Thanks to Sennheiser’s Open Acoustic Design, this pair achieves an ear-filling soundstage effect in games. Also, the sound leakage is reduced to the minimum compared to other open-back headphones. Yet, you’ll eventually notice a sensitivity to ambient noise.
You may deem the 38mm drivers inefficient. However, they deliver undistorted, clear highs, and warm mids. Due to a base frequency of 12 Hz, bassheads may find the lows inadequate. Still, it’s acceptable for most gamers. For comfort, the velour stuffed in the headband and ear cushions prevents ear fatigue.
Sennheiser equips this model with a 3m detachable cable for audio playback devices and home entertainment. But, what we gamers need here is the 1.2m cable for laptops and computers.
- Authentic soundstage
- Minimal sound leakage
- Warm mids and bright trebles
- Insufficient noise isolation
- Soft bass response
A blend of high-quality sound reproduction and comfort—that’s what we always expect from Sennheiser. The HD 599 SE is a great choice for gamers due to its outstanding stereo sound and ergonomics.
7. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X– Best Clarity
Like Audio-Technica’s audiophile models, the ATH-AD700X features a 3D Wing support for a snug fit. Combined with the Open Air design, the pair provides a spatial soundstage, especially in story-based games, where the cinematic passages are also part of the gaming experience.
The giant 53mm drivers reproduce clear mid responses. Although the ATH-AD700X may not impress in the bass department, its CCAW voice coils add some punch to lower frequencies. However, the bass still fails to make it to the fore. Apart from that, the mids and highs are impressively precise.
The ear cups housing is molded into a honeycomb shape. Audio-Technica, of course, had to implement this ear cup construction due to the 53mm drivers, which still render this pair weighty.
Regarding connectivity, the detachable cable comes with a ¼” screw-on adapter for cross-platform connectivity. The cable is also single-sided to prevent inconvenient tangles.
- Adjustable 3D Wing
- Immersive soundstage
- Resonant mid and treble ranges
- Screw-on adapter included
- Feeble bass response
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X is a cut above its competitors with regards to its crystal-clear treble and mid ranges. Although some users may not be satisfied with the bass response, the dedicated CCAW coils boost it to the average level.
8. Sennheiser PC 373D– Best Soundstage
The PC 373D presents a delicate combo of Sennheiser’s well-known drivers, and the Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound technology.
Dolby is known for the unprecedented sound optimization it implements in headphones and gaming laptops. This built-in dongle enhances the immersive 3D sound in games, and you can download a dedicated driver to this sound card from Sennheiser’s website. I recommend messing out with the Dolby sound driver since the sound reproduction wasn’t as expected.
The PC 373D’s acoustic open-back design also contributes to the audiophile soundstage effect in case you assume the Dolby sound card is insufficient. Moreover, I liked how sizable the XL ear cups are. Although they entirely encompass your ears, they’re large enough to allow for proper ventilation so that the skin won’t heat up.
Although this blend ensures a satisfactory sound output, it results in an imminent sound leakage.
This pair features a noise-canceling microphone that eliminates unwanted breathing and background noise. Like the Sennheiser Game ONE, you can mute the microphone by merely lifting the boom arm to the headband’s height.
- Integrated Dolby dongle
- Downloadable driver for customization
- XL ear cups
- Excellent soundstage
- Flip-to-mute support for microphone
- Mediocre sound isolation
- Average out-of-the-box quality
The Sennheiser PC 373D is a result of the unique collaboration between Dolby’s second-to-none immersion and Sennheiser’s high-quality drivers. This pair is great if you want to experiment with versatile sound adjustments based on your needs.
9. Philips SHP9500– Best Hi-Fi Sound
Philips is renowned for manufacturing top-notch high-fidelity headphones, and the SHP9500 is no expectation. Actually, the reason we regard this model as a second-to-none Hi-Fi pair is that sound reproduction involves zero sound coloration that often leads to inauthenticity throughout the frequency response.
This pair delivers detailed highs and mids, thanks to a high 35kHz max frequency. I found the bass somewhat poor. However, the giant 50mm drivers manage to boost the bass range’s presence, but it still lacks the punch that bassheads favor.
My inner critic didn’t come out when I saw how well-thought the ergonomics are. The cold-rolled steel headband is self-adjustable with sufficient padding. Even the ear cups are thoroughly cushioned with breathable velour to eliminate pressure. Moreover, the over-ear design allows for an improved soundstage with negligible leakage.
Alongside the pair, you get a generous 1.5 detachable cable, and a ⅛” to ¼” screw-on adapter for audio playback devices or audiophile-grade equipment like stereo systems. Although this pair doesn’t feature an onboard microphone, it has a 3.5mm jack for microphone connection.
- Pristine treble and mid ranges
- Self-adjustable steel headband
- Deluxe ear cushioning
- Detachable cable and adapter included
- Unpronounced bass range
Not only does Philips brag about the high-fidelity capabilities in the SHP9500 but also about how far the comfort factor goes when considering the double-layered padding on the steel headband. Despite the feeble bass, this pair will genuinely deliver mid and high frequencies as promised.
10. Sennheiser GSP 500– Best Bass Quality
I know that only hardcore bassheads will read till the end in pursuit of their pair of choice. The Sennheiser GSP 500 is the bass monster we’ve always been searching for!
As advertised, the GSP 500 is another pair made especially for gamers, and the punchy bass here shows prominence in identifying various gunshots or car engines in your gameplay.
Due to a 30 kHz max frequency, the overemphasized bass doesn’t mean that mids and highs won’t get untended. On the contrary, the transducers pristinely pronounce upper mid and treble frequencies even when they overlap with bass notes.
The fabric Sennheiser uses here in the ear cushions is a blend of synthetic leather and plush velour, combining both breathability and comfort for extended sessions. Moreover, the adjustable headband ensures that the ear cups are perfectly aligned with the pair’s height for a snug fit.
Multi-platform connectivity is undoubtedly a blast. That’s why this pair has a do-it-all 3.5mm audio jack input for consoles and PC. For in-game voice chat, we luckily get Sennheiser’s noise-canceling microphone here that supports the flip-to-mute technology.
If I had anything to complain about, it’d be that this pair is inevitably on the weighty side. Maybe that’s why Sennheiser doesn’t specify the drivers’ size here. A solid bass range definitely requires gigantic drivers, doesn’t it? Also, ventilated cups are synonymous with
- Pronounced bass
- Pristine sound reproduction
- Breathable ear cushions
- Multi-platform compatibility
- Flip-to-mute microphone
- Heavy construction
- Sound leakage
The Sennheiser GSP 500 is the champion for your gaming endeavors as far as bass attacks are concerned. I really favor this pair since it doesn’t compromise on mids and highs like the majority of headphones where bass ranges are pronounced. Make sure to raise the boom arm if you’re deciding on tactics for your next offensive. Simple as that!
Why Do You Need to Use Open-Back Headphones for Gaming
While there’s nothing wrong with using the closed-back ones, open-back headphones offer a superior soundstage effect and a better experience when it comes to different sound effects.
Also, open-back headphones are much more comfortable to wear. The reason behind this lies in the materials used for making both types. A closed-back headset is usually made of fake leather, intended to create a seal around the ears.
This seal keeps the sound within the headphones instead of letting it escape. This is great if you use the headset for short durations. However, if you spend a couple of hours with one of these sets on your head, your ears will heat up, and soon enough, they’ll be scorching hot.
On the other hand, open-back headphones are designed to allow some sound to escape. They’re never tight on your ears. On the contrary, the cups are loose around the ears. Not to mention, they’re made of comfortable materials that allow you to play for many hours with no fatigue whatsoever.
Another advantage of using open-back headphones is that they don’t produce distortion when the frequencies overlap in most games, and as far as microphones are concerned, they feature noise cancellation with excellent audio quality.
In open-back headphones, the sound distribution is better than that of the closed-back counterparts. It’s as if the sound is spanning your ears’ diameter with a soundstage quality. Generally, authentic sound delivery is where open-back headsets shine.
How to Pick Open-Back Headphones for Gaming
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back
There are many advantages and disadvantages that come with each of these 2 types of headphones. We might have talked to you a little about why the open-back ones are better at times, but this doesn’t mean they’re always the right choice.
It all depends on how frequent and where you’ll be using your headset. As mentioned earlier, open-back headphones are better for prolonged gaming sessions. However, they’re only suitable for quiet places because while they allow the sound to escape, they also allow some noise to get to your ears.
That being said, it’s safe to say that closed-back headphones are better in noisy places. They don’t offer the neutral sound their counterparts offer, but they’ll allow you to be more focused given the circumstances.
Meanwhile, if you usually game alone in your room and want to make sure you’ll hear your parents when they call on you, go for the open-back headphones without giving them a second thought.
The drivers’ features can significantly affect your gaming experience. The best headphones come with magnetic drivers that are capable of pumping a consistent output with minimal distortion. Also, they can produce the transient response essential for deep bass notes. They’re clear, accurate, and they generate a natural sound.
The cheaper models will feature dynamic drivers. They consist of a coil of wire attached to a plastic diaphragm. This setup is then placed on a magnet. Such models will do a decent job with low volumes, but you’ll end up with frequent distortions as the volume increases.
Also, the drivers’ size will impact the performance of the headsets as it affects the frequency. For reliable performance, don’t settle for less than 40mm drivers’ size.
The sounding of the headphones will significantly impact your experience. Although all the open-back headphones have a natural-sounding, some differences depend on the model you choose.
Another thing to look at is the materials of the housing. High-quality materials will offer a clearer and more realistic sound. Other factors we talked about earlier, like the drivers’ types and sizes, will also impact the overall sound quality.
The key to knowing this is to try the headphones for a couple of minutes before making any purchase.
Comfort can’t be stressed enough; it’s crucial to find a pair of comfortable headphones, through which you can enjoy your prolonged gaming sessions.
There are a couple of features that you should aim for to end up with comfortable headphones. For starters, the headband should be padded. The materials will differ, thus, offering a different level of comfort. It’s a matter of personal preference, but as long as you have a pad on the headband, you’re good to go.
Moreover, choose light and spongy earpads. Another factor to consider is the size of the headphones. If they’re too small for you, you’ll end up with something like a tight band wrapped around your head for hours. This will only give you headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I Use Open-Back Headphones for Listening to Music?
Many gamers want to get a 2-in-1 deal and buy high-quality headphones for both gaming and listening to classical music. This is feasible due to open-back headphones’ spatial and soundstage capabilities. It’s worth noting that you wouldn’t want to listen to music with these outdoors because of sound leakage.
Is it Essential to Buy Headphones With Microphones?
Although it’s a matter of personal preference, it’s better if you do, especially if you play with your friends and have in-game voice chats. On the other hand, if you play on your own or have a separate microphone, then you can compromise getting headphones that feature microphones to pay less money.
Is it Better to Go for Wireless Open-Back Headphones?
If you use multiple gaming setups or use the headphones for gaming on your computer as well as other gaming consoles, then wired headphones will be more practical. Otherwise, wireless headphones will get the job done and won’t cause much of a hassle.
What’s the Ideal Length for Open-Back Headphones’ Cables?
It’s best if you stick to 1.5 to 2 meters. This length will allow you to move freely without getting tangled.
It’s a little tricky to find the best open-back headphones for gaming that guarantee the most outstanding gaming experience. However, once you figure out what your priorities are, things will start to get clearer.
All the headphones on our list will do a great job if you put them in the right place. The Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X is the pair of choice for hardcore gamers who don’t mind spending so much on a headset. This pair stands out as a great pick for streamers who know they’ll be getting back the money they invested in no time.
However, other headphones can do a decent job and aren’t as expensive. The Sennheiser PC 373D is amazing when it comes to sound customization. It certainly gives you a perk compared to other headphones, thanks to the included Dolby dongle.
If your number one goal is to get comfortable headphones that you can wear for hours and hours, then the Sennheiser Game ONE and the Philips SHP9500 are the absolute go-to.
The Samson SR850 and the GRADO SR80E are the cheapest on our list, but you’ll be settling for average sound quality. On the other hand, thePhilips SHP9500 is an affordable option that never compromises high-fidelity despite the low price tag.