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What features make for the best open-back gaming headphones? When looking for the best headsets for gaming, it always starts with excellent audio quality — you’ll want powerful, accurate sound reproduction across the frequency ranges most important for game sounds. Next, they should offer comfortable designs that let you enjoy long gaming sessions.
Finally, any great pair of open-back headphones for serious gaming should be compatible with various gaming setups, including PCs and gaming consoles. If you play immersive, cinematic games or simply want a gaming headset for the PS5, you need the sound quality of the gaming experience to match the outstanding visuals of your gaming console, PC, or 4K gaming monitor.
Keep reading to learn more about the best open-back headphones for gaming and how to choose the best model for your setup.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This headset comes with two detachable cords for hassle-free connection to computers, mobile devices, and studio equipment. It has top-grade transducers with aluminum voice coils to deliver audiophile-quality sound.
The Sennheiser HD 5999 gaming headset is an audiophile-quality headphone that can be used for gaming. It features an around-ear design with heavily cushioned ear pads for comfort. Featuring an open-back design, these headphones allow users to enjoy music and gameplay without completely blocking out the outside sounds. A detachable 4-foot cord with a 3.5mm connector simplifies connecting to computers and mobile devices. However, these headphones feature mostly plastic parts.
An additional detachable 9.8m cable with a 6.3mm plug attaches to music instruments and studio equipment. With gold-plated connectors, the cord provides durability. This device has an exquisite ivory color scheme with a matte finish and brown headband stitching that elevates the aesthetics of any desk or music studio. It features premium transducers with aluminum voice coils producing high-fidelity audio. A heavily padded headband on this device balances strength with comfort.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This headset has an aviation-grade aluminum alloy frame with steel parts built to last. An open-back design with a vented center pole piece delivers consistent natural audio.
Equipped with individually matched 40mm neodymium drivers, the Shure SRH1840 gaming headset provides incredible acoustic performance. The headset delivers accurate bass and high notes that will please audio enthusiasts. It features lightweight construction with an aviation-grade aluminum alloy headband and steel grilles. The dual headband frame is adjustable to help listeners get the perfect fit. These headphones have large heavily padded ear cups that encompass the ears for comfort. However, the double-entry cords on this set are a bit clunky.
With a steel driver housing, this device offers durability. It has a vented center pole piece to enhance linearity as well as eliminate internal resonance. These headphones connect to external amplification systems (not included) to enable precise customization. It has dual-exit 6.9-foot detachable cables for hassle-free storage and replacement. With gold-plated MMCX connectors, the device offers lossless transmission and durability. This model comes with a hard carrying case for easy transportation.
Award: BEST HEADBAND
WHY WE LIKE IT: High-quality parts with a heavily padded headband provide comfort and durability. This headset has a twist-resistant braided cable with copper wiring, offering incredible conductivity and durability
Precisely engineered for incredible acoustic performance, the Grado SR80x Prestige Series gaming headset delivers accurate, natural sounds. This model boasts 4th Gen Grado tuned 44mm drivers that deliver an impressive range of sounds. Featuring a high-quality braided cable that resists twisting, this headset is quite durable. It has super annealed copper wiring for excellent conductivity and a heavily padded adjustable headband, which provides comfort. However, the cable on this model is too thick.
An open-back driver housing on this unit minimizes vibrations and eliminates distortions. This headset has a frequency response ranging from 20 Hz to 20kHz and it features a 3.5mm plug with a ¼” adapter for wide-ranging use. The headset has a black palette that provides a premium appearance. It’s made with premium parts that stand up to regular use. This model features heavily padded ear cups that provide comfort.
Award: BEST EAR CUP CUSHIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This headset has heavily cushioned earpads and a head beam, providing a comfortable listening experience. The device has excellent 97x76mm neodymium speakers that deliver rich sounds.
The Monolith M570 gaming headset is an over-ear model that delivers excellent sounds. These headphones boast outstanding 97x76mm Planar magnetic drivers that deliver thundering lows and sharp high notes. A wood open-back housing reduces resonance, delivering naturally sounding audio. This headset has plush earcups that facilitate airflow. The headband is adjustable to fit various head shapes and sizes. A heavily padded headband provides comfort. However, weighing about 420g, this headset is a bit heavy for some users.
This headset has a frequency response of 5Hz to 55kHz, delivering accurate highs, mids, and lows. We like its Zebrawood open-back housing that eliminates resonance, delivering refined sounds. This headset makes it easy for gamers to discern audio cues that would otherwise be lost to users with ordinary headphones. Each earcup has a grille that supports hassle-free venting for an engaging listening experience. These headphones are sturdy, featuring premium parts that stand up to heavy use.
Award: BEST MIC
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has a well-ventilated back that helps eliminate echos and vibrations. The headset comes with a detachable mic to facilitate in-game communication.
Featuring a detachable mic, the Philips SHP9600 gaming headset converts from a studio-quality pair of headphones into a top-notch gaming headset. It has tuned 50mm drivers, delivering crisp bass and incredible mids. With a frequency response of 6Hz – 35kHz, the headphones accurately reproduce thunderous gaming sounds that will entertain. The device has breathable ear cup cushions that provide comfort and a padded, adjustable headband that fits a wide variety of people. However, the earpads on this model are not replaceable.
A 9-8-foot removable cable allows users to move around the room freely during gameplay, and the cord is detachable for hassle-free replacement. This gaming headset has an open back that allows air to flow freely through the speaker element, delivering sound without echos. The headset comes with 3.5mm and 6.3mm connectors to plug into a wide variety of devices, including computers, mobile devices, and music instruments. This headset has in-line controls for volume and muting, allowing easy customization.
Award: BEST FOR CONSOLES
WHY WE LIKE IT: It comes with 9.8-foot and 4-foot TRRS 3.5mm cords to provide compatibility with PCs, mobile devices, and modern consoles. This headset boasts a detachable, bendable mic and self-adjusting headband.
The Audio-Technica ATH-GBL3BK gaming headset has an innovative open-back design that localizes sound and helps the user enjoy gameplay without interfering with spatial awareness. It has large 45mm drivers to deliver Hi-Fi audio. Weighing just 220g, this headset is very light and easy to wear for long hours. A flexible boom microphone offers outstanding sound pickup. This mic is removable to get it out of the way. However, the headband lacks cushioning.
This headset has a volume control dial and mute switch on the left earcup to enable changing settings. A lightweight, self-adjusting headband conforms to the user’s head shape for comfort. The headset features heavily padded ear cushions that enhance airflow, helping to prevent sweating. This headset has a high-quality detachable 9.8-foot cord with a 3.5mm connector for PC, while an additional 3.5mm TRRS plug connects seamlessly to modern gaming consoles. Featuring replaceable earpads, this device offers durability.
Open-back headphones are simply on-ear headphones with an open-back design, meaning that air can move through the back to your ear. Audiophiles often prefer open-back headphones over closed-back headphones since the open-back models deliver more natural audio quality and create the sense of a wider virtual soundstage.
Gamers may appreciate the cinematic audio quality and spacious sound of open-back headphones. However, as a tradeoff, they don’t have the same level of passive noise filtering as closed-back headphones.
Like other gaming headphones, open-back versions deliver sound from PC and console games and may have features optimized for intense gaming use. As with the best gaming headsets and earphones in general, a good open-back gaming headset provides clear positional audio using magnetic drivers and delivers high-quality sound across a wide frequency range.
Open-back models often include a padded headband and substantial ear cup padding for long-term comfort as with other gaming headsets. High-end headset frames tend to employ a lightweight design, improving ergonomics and maximizing comfort for long gaming sessions.
Also, like other audio gaming peripherals, open-back headphones can use a wired or wireless connection. However, wireless open-back headsets for gaming are relatively rare, as most use a closed-back design.
Compared to gaming headsets in general, open-back headphones tend to be more focused on sound quality. They market toward gamers who want a more cinematic, immersive sound experience and a higher comfort level for gaming. They also work well for streamers and content creators using a home studio space. Many gamers and audiophiles prefer an open-back design since it gives more natural sound reproduction.
These headphones may come with built-in microphones or have the option of a boom microphone. With their focus on professional-quality sound experience, models with mics will often use a high-quality detachable microphone with a boom arm.
One concern with open-back gaming headphones is that they don’t cancel out ambient noise as easily as closed-back headphones. However, an acoustic gaming headset with an open-back design has some advantages for gaming. They deliver clear directional audio and a wide, expansive soundstage, making them a solid choice for games where positional sound cues are important.
Headphones with an acoustic open-back design work like other gaming headphones, except for their open-air design. They connect to a PC or another audio device using a wired cable or wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth or WiFi. They translate the digital audio signals from game consoles, PC sound cards, and mobile devices into analog sound. In the interests of sound quality, open-back models often use dynamic drivers. They may offer built-in subs and tweeters for superior sound clarity across a wide range of frequencies.
Wired headphones for gaming often feature braided cables or a detachable cable, which helps improve durability. They may also employ a detachable noise-canceling microphone. Some models come with soft velour earpads for maximum comfort during long hours of gaming. Gaming headsets usually also feature physical controls, such as on-ear mute controls and volume control.
Open-back headphones can offer a more natural sound quality with potentially better range and more accurate frequency response than the typical closed-back headphones. Because they allow air to move through the back of the ear cup, the earphones act more like stereo speakers. However, higher-end models might use angled drivers or dynamic drivers to generate more detailed sound.
Open-back headphones can be an excellent choice for anyone upgrading the sound experience of their gaming setup. If you’re playing cinematic, immersive games or open-world adventure games, you might want to consider an audiophile-grade set of open-back wired headphones. Those with an open-back, on-ear design tend to excel in sound clarity and bass response compared to other gaming headphone types.
Those getting into competitive gaming may appreciate the clear spatial sound and more natural audio experience you can get from headphones or a gaming headset with an open-back design.
Likewise, if you’re starting a channel or producing streaming content, you might want to upgrade to a pair of gaming headphones with the acoustic clarity and natural sound quality that open-back headphones deliver.
Along with a great noise-canceling mic for PC gaming, streamers can benefit from the higher-quality audio monitoring you get with a premium headset. With more faithful sound reproduction and ultra-clear treble response, open-back headphones tend to monitor vocals better. Audiophile headphones are useful for listening to mixes and ensuring correct sound editing for streaming video or podcast content.
Compared to older models, new open-backed gaming headphones provide more dramatic sound, better audio clarity in the mid and treble tones, and more sophisticated controls for gaming-specific EQ settings.
New models may also boast improved connectivity options and more convenient pairing with your favorite gaming platforms and mobile devices. Most older closed headphones came with only a 3.5 mm audio jack, but new models may also offer USB or USB-C cables. Current wireless audiophile headphones have improved responsiveness and low enough latency for the average gamer.
Open-Back gaming headphones tend to be of a higher overall quality than the average gaming headset, which may allow them to last longer than the three-to-five-year average lifespan of gaming headsets. How long a particular set of headphones lasts can vary widely depending on the quality and type of headphones and their environment.
Wired headphones and headsets generally outlast wireless models. Wireless headsets often come with non-replaceable batteries, so the unit’s lifespan is limited to how long the battery lasts. Most wireless gaming headsets today use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, rated for around 500-1000 charge cycles.
Normally, soft ear pads are among the first pieces to show wear and tear. Padded or leather headbands can also wear out more quickly than the headset itself, and wired headsets can break down when the 3.5mm headset jack or USB ports stop working.
To get the most longevity from your headphones, experts suggest keeping them in a dry place away from extreme heat. A sturdy headset stand or under-desk hook can help keep headphones safe from accidental damage and beverage spills.
Various factors help determine the best open-back gaming headphones for you. When choosing a new pair of headphones or headset for gaming, you’ll want to consider the types of gaming platforms you most often use, the environment around your gaming setup, and of course, your personal preferences in aesthetics and design.
The choice of platform and the needs of your device can be deciding factors when choosing a set of headphones. Some models deliver excellent sound via a USB or USB-C connection. At the same time, other audiophile and mixing headphones use traditional audio cables. Wireless models may have an easier time pairing with certain game consoles or mobile devices than others.
Open-back headphones can still be an excellent choice even if you don’t have a super-quiet recording studio environment, but some models have more noise-canceling features than others.
If you’re a competitive gamer, you’ll want to look more carefully for the features suited to your favorite games. In general, avid and competitive gaming calls for a headset or headphones with maximum comfort, so you might want to look for well-padded earphones and an adjustable headband.
Another consideration is whether you use your gaming headphones for listening to music or for professional audio purposes such as mixing, vocal production, or even calls and video chats for remote work.