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The best audiophile gaming headphones will give serious FPS gamers a massive advantage during combat. These headsets offer life-life sonic immersion with virtually no loss in sound quality, which puts them among the best gaming headsets you can buy. And that’s really what it’s all about when it comes to these devices — epic sound quality.
Known for their excellent craftsmanship and durability, audiophile headphones come in various designs and noise cancelation options. You’ll also find that these headphones offer wired and wireless connectivity, but a wired set is essential to take advantage of the directional sound capabilities required in many competitive games. Some models have a built-in microphone, but you, like many gamers, may prefer a separate mic.
Wondering what sets these headphones apart from regular ones? This article looks at what audiophile gaming headphones are, how they’re different from regular headphones, how long they last, and much more. Keep reading this buying guide to learn everything you need to purchase the best audiophile headphones.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The padding on its ear muffs makes it extra comfortable to wear, and since it also comes with features such as ambient noise reduction, users will be able to completely tune out noise generated from the surrounding environment.
The Sentey GS-4440 Gaming Headset is a wired stereo headset that will connect to a 3.5mm audio jack. It has a control panel on the cable that allows for volume control, the mute function, and a mute on or off indicator, and since it has a cable length of 2m, it offers good enough flexibility for easy movement. It also has two 3.5mm jack inputs for both mic and audio and a USB connector for lights. It has a heavy-duty braided cable type and also delivers well-enhanced bass. Unfortunately, some might be disturbed by the fact that getting full functionality requires users to plug in three cables.
The headset is also pretty comfortable to wear thanks to its leatherette foam ear cups, and with features such as ambient noise reduction, wearers will barely be able to pick up on the noise that is just within their environment. Its microphone is omnidirectional and therefore pretty easy to adjust, and with an ultra-flexible self-adjusting headband, it won’t take too long to get the right fit.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a well-balanced audio profile and a fit that’s good enough for them not to fall off even with sudden head movements. It has a very lightweight design and enough padding on the earmuffs to keep them comfortable.
The Sennheiser HD 560 S is a modern-looking pair of headphones that delivers a wide soundstage thanks to Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement technology. The headset also has a super light headband for maximum comfort and boasts excellent build quality. The headset delivers balanced mid and treble ranges and has been adapted for listening to different types of audio content. However, it lets in a lot of ambient noise because it has terrible noise isolation. It also does not have a microphone.
The headphones are well-tuned to deliver highly accurate bass and will fit well enough not to fall over even with severe head movements. Its cable length is also pretty generous at up to 3.17m, so there shouldn’t be any hindrances as far as head movements are concerned. The headphones also offer a well-balanced sound profile, so gamers will be able to clearly hear in-game dialogue as well as sound effects.
Award: BEST FOR HOME LISTENING
WHY WE LIKE IT: The device is designed to easily accommodate any head size and deliver a wide and airy sound. The soft cushion on the ear pads feels pretty good, and the separate headlamps give it a unique design.
The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X is a pair of open-back headphones that are great for users who appreciate the open sound quality. The headphones have large circular earcups that cover the whole ear and are also padded with a soft cushion that feels good on the skin. The build quality is pretty decent, and its headband has a unique design, but it still doesn’t exert a lot of pressure on the head. Still, its lack of a microphone may dissuade multiplayer gamers.
The headphones deliver pretty good bass and have acceptable mid and treble ranges. They also have a clamping force of about 0.8 pounds, making them pretty comfortable to wear. The headlamps designated right under the double-hooped headband can also be adjusted to any head size.
Award: BEST FOR BASS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Its sound profile enhances the bass, making it a favorite for audio enthusiasts who won’t mind all the thumping. It also has a self-adjusting band and large ear muffs that feel pretty good on the skin.
The Meze 99 Neo headphones are a uniquely designed pair that comes in a black and silver color scheme and has a self-adjusting headband that fits just right for every head size. The headphones deliver a full and thumped bass and are comfortable enough for long listening sessions. The headphones have a pretty low 26 Ohm impedance, so there won’t be any need for amplification. They are tuned to deliver good sound when gaming, video editing, and even studio recording. Still, some users might not appreciate the loss of details that happens due to the headphone’s focus on bass.
The carrying pouch that the headphones come with makes for good portability, and since accessories such as a detachable Kevlar OFC cable that has a microphone and remote, owners will be able to enjoy full functionality whenever they need to. Servicing these headphones is also pretty easy to do since there is no use of glue in its components, and owners will only need a small set of tools to undo its nuts and bolts.
Award: BEST FOR GAMING
WHY WE LIKE IT: They are ideal for gaming thanks to its super accurate object positioning and also has excellent mid-range response. They also feel pretty good when worn, thanks to the soft padding on the earmuffs.
The Hifiman HE400SE Stealth Magnets Headphones are an excellent choice for users looking to get entry-level planar magnetic headphones. The set is ideal for anyone who appreciates an even and precise sound without necessarily having to connect them to amplifiers. Its design is quite huge, with ear cups with a hinge that allows for a full 360-degree motion. Its headband has a standard arching design, and overall, the headphones have excellent build quality. However, some have felt that its soundstage is not as wide and open as they would’ve wanted.
The Hifiman headphones have a largely neutral sound signature and deliver a largely impressive treble. They also offer a decent mid-range response, but its bass leaves a bit of something to be desired. The headphones are great for gaming thanks to their super-accurate object positioning, and comfort-wise, its earpads are very soft and feel pretty good to the touch.
Award: BEST FOR PORTABILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: They are ideal for users who want to be on the move with their sound. The cable is tangle-free and has dynamic drivers that deliver a more powerful listening experience.
These noise-isolating earphones are ideal for users who would want to drown out the noise from their surrounding environment. They are an excellent pick for users who appreciate sound quality and feature dual dynamic drivers that deliver a greater range of frequencies and create a large soundstage. Producing about 118 decibels, they get loud enough to most people’s satisfaction, and since it has an impedance rating of 16 Ohms, it can be connected to a wide variety of devices. Still, its mids are slightly reduced
The earphones also come with copper cabling for uninterrupted use and faster sound transmission, as well as an in-line microphone, volume, and playback controls. It’s 3.5mm jack makes it multi-device compatible, and since it has also got butter-soft silicone tips, they have a pretty good fit when placed in one’s ears.
Audiophile gaming headphones are known to extract and reproduce sounds the way they were intended, without any distortion and electronic noise to lower the quality. These headphones are uniquely engineered with premium quality components, and they offer accurate and exceptional audio performance. Although they often don’t come with microphones, they’re still a favorite among FPS gamers.
Audiophile gaming headphones are built to offer lossless, high-quality sound and create a detailed soundscape. These headphones provide accurate placement of sounds so that users know exactly which direction each sound is coming from, which is necessary for many competitive and multiplayer games.
Ideal for both music and gaming, audiophile headphones offer best-in-class sound quality. They’re built for durability, with premium materials like titanium and aluminum, and are known to last for many years, sometimes even a decade. When it comes to form, you’ll find them in both over-the-ear and on-the-ear designs, just like with standard gaming headsets, but most gamers prefer over-the-ear versions. They’re better for noise cancelation and are more comfortable when worn for long periods.
You won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on these models like you would on other gaming headsets. They’re intended solely to provide the ultimate audio experience. Other top-tier headsets might have fancy RGB lights or a lot of advanced features. You’ll also have the ability to customize them with added accessories, and they can be more comfortable than models geared towards audiophiles.
Audiophile gaming headphones may not always come with microphones, and they can be pretty bulky. They’re also better when used with wired connectivity. On the other hand, regular gaming headsets almost always come with microphones and generally feature wireless connectivity for convenience.
Of course, with superior sound comes a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to over $2,000 for a great pair of audiophile gaming headphones at the time of publishing. In contrast, standard gaming headsets run anywhere from $50 to $150.
Audiophile gaming headphones work like regular headphones, but there’s a world of difference when it comes to the audio quality. These headphones provide an intimate sonic experience by capturing and producing all the sound details vividly without losing quality. But due to the high quality of sound transmission, you’ll need wired connectivity to have the true audiophile headphone experience.
Generally, wired headsets connect to your device, computer, or controller through a 3.5mm headphone jack. The wire transmits the sound signals to the audio cans in the headset, reproducing them using magnets that vibrate the air. These vibrations create sound, which is translated by the headset’s audio drivers and broadcast through the built-in speakers.
Wireless headsets work similarly, only instead of receiving the sound signal through wires, they use encoded radio signals sent from the source device. The headset’s drivers decode the signals and broadcast them through the speakers.
Audiophile gaming headphones will ensure you experience all the soundscapes in your game and have a superbly immersive experience. If you’re a competitive gamer, your current headset may not be up to the task of creating the detailed soundscape you need to win. Upgrading to an audiophile gaming headset will give you that advantage. Of course, the same is true of anyone wanting to experience every nuance of their favorite music.
How long an audiophile gaming headset will last depends on its quality, how much it’s used, and how well it’s maintained. The lifespan of headphones changes drastically depending on their connectivity (wired or wireless).
With wired headphones, you’ll have to be careful with how you maintain the cable because that tends to malfunction first. If you keep them clean and maintain them well, you can expect them to last between 2 to 5 years. Low-quality headphones will be less durable than premium ones, sometimes lasting more than 7 to 10 years.
If you’re using a wireless pair of headphones, the battery will degrade gradually and eventually need replacement. But since the batteries in headphones are much larger than what you’ll find on wireless earphones, you can expect them to last 2 to 4 years or more, depending on use.
Ready to enhance your gaming experience with a great pair of audiophile gaming headphones? Great, now it’s time to look at some key factors to consider while assessing different products. These factors include design, sound quality, connection type, and budget, among other things.
Wireless headphones are always more convenient and comfortable than their wired counterparts. But to fully utilize an audiophile headphone’s superior sound quality, you’ll have to rely on a wired connection. This is also relevant if you’re gaming on a VR device, like the PSVR, because it offers 3D audio but needs a wired connection to transmit it.
If your audio needs are flexible, the best pair of headphones would be ones that give you both wired and wireless connectivity. This is useful if you want to switch between high-immersion-low-comfort and low-immersion-high-comfort.
To enjoy an immersive gaming experience, choose headphones that offer maximum noise isolation. This is especially true if your gaming setup is in a place with a lot of background noise.
Headphones offer two kinds of noise cancellation: passive and active. Passive noise cancellation relies on tightly sealed earcups to keep external noise out. But active noise cancellation (ANC) is more effective since it uses in-built microphones and speakers to nullify external sounds by sending out inverse sound waves. Since ANC is an advanced feature, headphones offering this are heavy on the pocket.
There are two types of headset designs: open-back and closed-back. They determine sound quality and comfort.
The open-back design features an exposed outer casing for air to pass through the earcups, preventing resonance from building up and creating a natural sound. Gamers tend to go for this design because it creates a wide sound stage and offers users a more accurate sound placement experience during FPS games. The open-back design also helps during extended gaming sessions because it doesn’t cause as much heat and moisture build-up as closed-back headphones. But if you’re gaming in a noisy place, these headphones won’t keep the noise out.
Closed-back headphones for gaming offer excellent noise cancellation because their outer case is sealed off, which massively boosts noise isolation. These are an apt choice if you want an immersive experience or are gaming in a noisy place. But this design is less breathable and is likely to get uncomfortable during extended sessions.
If you’re into FPS games and want an authentic and immersive sonic experience, you’ll want 3D audio. Most headphones for gaming offer either stereo, surround sound, or 3D sound. The stereo sound makes you feel like you have one speaker on each side of you, while surround sound makes it feel like there are multiple speakers around each side of you.
3D audio lets you hear sound from all around, above, and below you to create a supremely realistic audio experience. This type of audio creates natural soundscapes that make it possible for the ears to pinpoint the direction of every sound in the game. Yes, you’ll know exactly where the sound of those footsteps is coming from during intense FPS combats.
There are two types of headphone builds over-ear and on-ear. The over-ear build is more comfortable, offers better noise isolation, and places the sounds better.
This build features earcups that cover the ears entirely, and there’s adequate padding to keep external noise from entering. If you game for long hours, select double-padded earpads for greater comfort and noise isolation.
Although ideal for an immersive gaming experience, over-ear headphones will be large and can feel quite clunky on your head. They’re also not portable and travel-friendly.
The on-ear structure is more compact than the over-ear style, but the earcups directly rest against the ears. This puts pressure on the skull, and wearing it for long periods can cause pain. You won’t feel like there’s too much gear sitting on your head, but the noise cancellation on these headphones isn’t as good as the over-ear ones.
Due to the way they’re built, earbuds don’t offer as immersive an experience as a pair of headphones do. Earbuds send the sound directly into the ear canal, whereas headphones release the sound around the ears, creating a more realistic experience when it comes to directional perception.
If you’re planning to stream or record your gaming sessions, you’ll want headphones with a high-quality mic. And if you frequently play FPS games, it’ll help to have a noise-canceling mic so that your teammates can hear you clearly. Some audiophile headphones may not feature microphones, but you can use third-party microphones with them.
If you play both single-player and multiplayer games, look for a pair of headphones with detachable/retractable microphones.
How comfortable your headphones’ earpads are will determine how long you can wear them without discomfort. The most comfortable earpads are made of soft materials, like velour, fabric, or suede.
Velour is generally seen on premium headphones and is incredible for breathability and softness, but it lacks durability and needs plenty of care. Velour also doesn’t seal the ears completely, so it’s less effective at noise cancellation. If you’re on a tight budget, you could purchase soft earpads from a third party and replace your headphone’s standard ones.
Gaming headsets are known for their wild and ultra-stylish designs. Depending on the look you’re going for, especially if you’re wearing your headset in public or for streaming, you’ll want to select something appropriate and relevant for yourself.
Audiophile headphones are known to be heavy on the pocket, with the super-premium ones costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. You might find a few budget audiophile headphones at an affordable price under $100, but you’re more likely to see them in the price range of $250 to $500 and above. Premium headphones will offer excellent sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort, and they’ll also last very long if you maintain them well.