10 Best Open-Back Studio Headphones For Gaming in 2023
Forming an objective opinion on the overall sound quality of True Wireless earbuds can be challenging, especially considering their affordable price range. Some users may argue that these earbuds lack features like robust bass reproduction and active noise cancellation.
From an audiophile’s perspective, if sound quality takes precedence over affordability, I would suggest opting for the TOZO T12 Pro. These earbuds offer precise acoustic tuning and enhanced sound characteristics, making them a favorable choice.
Please let me know if there’s anything else I can assist you with.
Our Top 10 Open-Back Headphones for Gaming
|Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR||Our Best Open-Back Headphone for Gaming||See On Amazon|
|AKG K702||Best for Competitive Gaming||See On Amazon|
|Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO||For Gaming and Watching movies||See On Amazon|
|Monolith M1060||Best Planar Magnetic Headphones for Gaming||See On Amazon|
|Philips SHP9500||A Cheaper Open Back Headset For Gaming||See On Amazon|
|Sennheiser HD 599||Very Comfortable Open Back Headphones||See On Amazon|
|HIFIMAN HE-400i||Best For Gaming and Music||See On Amazon|
|Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X||See On Amazon|
The Best Open-Back Headphones For Gaming
The Philips Fidelio X2HR occupies an interesting position in the mid-priced open-back headphone market. They are easy to drive and can provide good sound even when connected directly to a computer’s motherboard. When compared to other headphones like the HE400s or HE400i, the X2HR offers great value for the price.
Starting with the construction, these headphones have a solid build quality. They don’t creak and the earcups, made of high-quality plastic, give the impression of being metal. The overall materials, including real leather, steel, and velour earpads with memory foam, contribute to a premium look and feel. The headband features a hammock design with dual metal tubing covered by a real leather strap. Underneath the leather strap, there is a self-adjusting hammock headband that rests on the head. The ear cups are large and come with detachable pads. The X2HR also offers a removable cable, with the cable port located on the left earcup.
In terms of comfort, the X2HR performs well. Despite being slightly heavier, they can be worn for several hours without causing fatigue. The thick and soft memory foam pads, along with the self-adjusting headband, contribute to a comfortable fit. The mesh-padded headband avoids creating hotspots on the head. Although there is noticeable clamp force, it doesn’t become uncomfortable over time. Overall, the comfort level is good.
The sound signature of the Philips Fidelio X2HR is V-shaped. It has boosted bass and treble, with a slightly recessed midrange. This sound signature works well, particularly for movies, gaming, and bass-heavy music. The bass is tight and impactful, considering these are open-back headphones. The midrange, although slightly recessed, remains coherent and detailed. The treble, while dominant, is well controlled and maintains a good balance. The headphones offer a good soundstage width and depth, and the soundstage and imaging are particularly strong points of the X2HR’s sound.
The Philips Fidelio X2HR is an excellent choice for gaming. It combines solid build quality, ergonomic design, and comfort. These headphones excel in gaming, movie-watching, and genres that benefit from strong bass, such as Hip-hop or EDM. When paired with a boom microphone, the Philips Fidelio X2HR can outperform many highly-priced gaming headsets.
The Audio Technica ATH-AD series consists of six different headphone models: the AD300, AD500, AD700, AD900, AD1000PRM, and AD2000. Among them, I initially tried the Audio Technica ATH-AD700, which is easy to drive and offers a spacious and open sound. Here’s a detailed review:
Starting with the build quality of the ATH-AD700x, it is good overall. While they may not be as indestructible as Beyerdynamic headphones, they feel sturdy. The headphone frame is made of plastic, which gives it a somewhat inexpensive appearance. However, considering the price range, this is expected, and the headphones are quite durable. The earcups are covered with a soft velour material and connected by two metal wires, which feel strong. The headband consists of two thinly padded plastic pieces with a spring-loaded mechanism. When worn, the headphone tension causes them to float. Due to the lightweight design of the headphones, the thin padding on the headband is sufficient for comfort.
The overall comfort of the ATH-AD700x is good. The earpads are reasonably thick and large enough to fit around the ears comfortably. The clamping pressure is minimal, allowing for extended listening sessions without discomfort.
#3. AKG K702
The AKG K702 is essentially an improved version of the popular K701. AKG claims that the K702 features unique technologies such as flat wire and Varimotion 2-layer diaphragm driven by neodymium magnets. However, these claims do not specifically address how these technologies affect the sound. One notable feature of the K702 is its removable cable, allowing for customization and easy cable replacement. For gaming purposes, the AKG K702 is a great option. Let’s dive into a more detailed review below.
Starting with the build quality, the K702 is primarily constructed using plastic materials. The earcups and headphone slides are made of plastic, but they appear to be durable and of good quality. The headband is self-adjusting and utilizes two wires and a leather headband attached to elastic threads that automatically adjust to fit the head. The leather is soft, but individuals with larger heads may find the auto-adjusting headband less suitable. The earcups are well-padded and covered with velour material. They are angled to fit the ears in a more natural position. Although the earcups are not particularly deep, they provide comfortable usage even during extended listening sessions. The K702 offers good space, breathable velour, and excellent ventilation in the earcups, preventing heat build-up even on hot days. The earpads can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement when necessary. The clamping force is relaxed and does not exert excessive pressure on the sides of the head. Overall, the K702 provides a good level of comfort, aided by its lightweight design.
In terms of sound performance, the AKG K702 excels in accuracy, detail retrieval, transparency, soundstage, and imaging. The bass is present but lacks impact. If your preferred music genres do not heavily rely on strong bass, the K702 is a good choice. However, for gaming purposes, the bass response is considered great. The midrange is neutral and transparent, while the treble is airy and clear. Overall, the K702 places more emphasis on the midrange and high-end frequencies. The soundstage is airy and wide, exhibiting good separation and rich in details. The imaging is also impressive, with instruments accurately positioned within the soundstage. The lack of strong bass might make the K702 less immersive for certain applications, but if you prioritize the highest level of competitiveness, this headphone is an excellent choice.
If you’re in search of high-quality headphones, you’ve likely come across Beyerdynamic, a renowned German professional audio electronics manufacturer with a history dating back to 1924. Beyerdynamic headphones are widely recommended, and when it comes to gaming, the Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO stands out as a popular choice. Let’s explore the reasons why below.
The build quality of Beyerdynamic headphones is highly regarded. The DT990 PRO, in particular, is built to last. While most of the headphone is constructed from plastic, the plastic used in the earcups is thick and capable of withstanding accidental drops. The headband is made of spring steel and is well-padded with a pleather-type material. It is also removable, held in place by four clasp-buttons. Overall, the build quality is excellent. One minor concern with the DT series headphones from Beyerdynamic is the exposed cables that connect to the earcups. The DT990 PRO comes with a non-detachable coiled cable that is 3 meters long. In case of cable damage, this setup may pose some difficulties.
One of the standout features of Beyerdynamic headphones is their velour earpads, which provide exceptional comfort. The DT990 PRO is well-padded, and the earpads offer ample space for your ears. The headband adjustments are precise and can accommodate various head sizes. The clamp force might feel slightly tight, particularly for those with wider heads. However, the headband is made of spring steel, allowing for some bending to loosen the clamp force.
Moving on to sound quality, the Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO exhibits a slightly V-shaped sound signature. The bass is present and impactful, though not as pronounced or authoritative as in closed-back headphones. The midrange is clear and transparent, but not the standout feature of these headphones. At high volumes, the high-end can become harsh, especially with instruments like saxophones or violins. The bass response, considering these are open-back headphones, is solid. The elevated treble response, while it may be troublesome in treble-centric music, adds a sense of excitement and immersion, particularly for gunshots and explosions in gaming. The DT990 PRO is also a reliable choice for watching movies.
It’s important to note that to fully unleash the potential of the Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO, you may require a separate DAC/Amp for optimal performance.
#5. Monolith M1060
Planar magnetic headphones, such as the HE400i, HE400s, and Monolith M1060, have become more affordable in recent years. The HE400i and HE400s have seen significant price drops since their initial release, making them attractive options in the planar headphone market. The Monolith M1060 has also gained attention as a reasonably priced planar magnetic headphone. Let’s delve deeper into the review.
The build quality of the Monolith M1060 is decent, although it requires careful handling. The manufacturer, Monolith, has been responsive to user feedback and has made improvements based on customer experiences. This dedication to customer satisfaction is worth noting. The M1060 incorporates metal components in its construction, including a metal headband strip with a leather strap for comfort. The outer headphone grids are well-designed and made of metal. The headphones also feature a wooden ring around the drivers, adding to their aesthetic appeal. The M1060 uses a detachable cable with 2.5mm connectors on each earcup. The earcups are large and generously padded, providing a comfortable fit even during long listening sessions. While the build quality may not be the strongest aspect, the comfort and fit of the M1060 are commendable. The pleather covering is soft, and the depth of the earcups ensures that the ears don’t touch the grills. The headband has small bumps that aid in distributing the weight of the headphones evenly. However, these bumps can become uncomfortable after extended use.
In terms of sound quality, the Monolith M1060 delivers satisfying bass response with good extension, impact, and presence. The midrange, on the other hand, may appear slightly unbalanced and overpowering. This can provide a more revealing and dynamic listening experience for music enthusiasts. The treble is a bit laid back but offers plenty of detail and resolution. When revisiting Battlefield 1, for example, the M1060 accurately reproduces the tight and fast punch of Martini Henry shots, conveying the power and recoil. The soundtrack of Battlefield 1 is also enjoyable to listen to through the M1060 planar headphones.
#6. Philips SHP9500
If you’re in search of an affordable open-back headphone for gaming, the Philips SHP9500 is a solid choice worth considering. Let’s delve deeper into the review to help you make an informed decision.
The build quality of the Philips SHP9500 is moderate, primarily relying on plastic construction. While the extensive use of plastic is expected at this price range, it doesn’t feel flimsy or prone to easy breakage. The headband is made of plastic with foam padding underneath, which can be easily removed for handwashing when needed. The left and right sides are clearly labeled with large white “L” and “R” markings on the metal grills and earpads. The earpads are spacious and should comfortably accommodate even larger ears. They are made of the same mesh material as the headband. However, it’s worth noting that the earpads are not user-replaceable.
In terms of comfort, the Philips SHP9500 performs well. The clamping force is minimal, and you shouldn’t encounter any issues in that regard. The headband allows for various adjustments, ensuring a great fit for different head sizes. The headphone is lightweight, and the headband padding provides a comfortable experience during extended use. The earcups are large and should easily encompass even larger ears. However, the earpads are not very deep, so depending on the position of the headphone, your ears might come into contact with the drivers.
Moving on to sound quality, the Philips SHP9500 offers present bass, but it lacks a strong impact. If you’re a bass enthusiast, you may need to consider other options. The midrange is well balanced, delivering clear vocals and instrumentals. While the midrange is comparable to the HD 600, it may not be as refined. The high-end can exhibit slight distortion at high volumes, but overall, it remains clear. Considering the price point, the soundstage of the SHP9500 is wide, and it also provides good imaging. While it may not be extraordinary, it’s still beneficial for gaming, enhancing immersion and enabling you to discern enemy sounds in competitive gameplay. If you’re accustomed to subpar gaming headsets, the Philips SHP9500 offers a worthwhile upgrade at a low price. It provides decent clarity, soundstage, and imaging for gaming, allowing you to distinguish footsteps and other sounds effectively. Additionally, the headphone doesn’t contribute to a congested gaming experience.
The Sennheiser HD 599 is considered the flagship model in the Sennheiser HD 5*9 range, targeting entry-level audiophiles. There are two versions available: the ivory variant and the black variant known as HD 599SE. Apart from the color difference, there are no discernible distinctions between the HD 599SE and HD 599. Some individuals may prefer the ivory and brown design, while others may opt for the all-black design.
In terms of build quality, the HD 599 is primarily constructed of plastic, which may disappoint some considering the price point. However, the headphones feel sturdy overall and exhibit durability. The plastic used appears tough and reliable. Additionally, the lightweight nature of the headphones adds to their overall comfort. The headband is covered with soft, well-padded leatherette, providing a painless listening experience. The earcups are generously sized, encompassing the ears comfortably. The left earcup houses the 3.5mm headphone port. The headphone comes with a detachable cable, and the package includes two 3-meter cables.
As for comfort, the combination of the lightweight design and the soft, well-padded headband ensures a highly comfortable fit. The headband offers multiple size adjustments to accommodate various head sizes. The large earcups fully cover the ears, exemplifying over-ear headphones. The earcups are deep, preventing contact between the ears and the headphone drivers. Soft and breathable velour covers the earpads. The clamping force is gentle, providing a sensation of the headphones floating around your head.
When it comes to sound quality, the Sennheiser HD 599 truly shines. The bass is deep and impactful, although it lacks a thumping or rumbling effect. The midrange, particularly the lower mids, is emphasized, while the higher mids are slightly recessed. This emphasis on the lower mids enhances the perceived volume of the sound. Instruments are well represented, but vocals may not be as forward. The treble extends well, but there may be a slight hint of sibilance. Both the soundstage and imaging on the HD 599 are excellent. The headphones offer an open and spacious soundstage, with a reasonably wide presentation.
Overall, the Sennheiser HD 599 is a fantastic and reliable option for gamers. It delivers warm and expansive sound, excellent comfort, and can be easily driven even from your PC’s motherboard.
#8. HiFiMan HE-400i
The HiFiMAN HE-400i is an entry-level planar magnetic headphone from the HiFiMAN lineup, often seen as the successor to the HE-400. With a significant reduction in price, the HE-400i has become one of the most affordable planar magnetic headphones on the market. Gamers have been using the HE-400i for years, so let’s take a closer look at its performance.
Starting with the build quality, the HE-400i features a combination of plastic and metal components. The earcups are made of plastic with a metallic appearance, while the black grills are constructed of metal and can be removed for modification purposes. The headphone yokes are also made of plastic. The top headband consists of a metal tension bar that doesn’t stand out in terms of design. However, the suspended pleather headband underneath does an excellent job of distributing the weight evenly across the top of the head, eliminating any discomfort. The FocusPad earpads are a combination of velour and pleather, providing a plush and soft feel against the skin. These earpads can be easily removed and replaced. The headphone cable is also detachable. The HE-400i is quite flexible and can be adjusted easily to fit various head sizes, including gamers with larger heads. The headband and earpads greatly contribute to the overall comfort of the headphone. The FocusPads offer ample padding and a good over-ear fit, while the headband sits comfortably on top of the head with a sufficient range of adjustment. Initially, the clamp pressure might be slightly uncomfortable, but it tends to improve after a few days of use. Weighing in at 370 grams, the HE-400i is a lightweight planar magnetic headphone, further enhancing comfort during extended gaming sessions.
Moving on to sound quality, the bass performance of the HE-400i is decent but not exceptional. It lacks the impactful thump and rumble, which may be noticeable when listening to bass-heavy music. However, where the headphone truly shines is in the midrange and treble frequencies. Vocals and instruments are detailed and presented in an excellent manner. The treble response is clear, natural, and lively, although it may sound bright or slightly sibilant depending on the audio material. Overall, the HE-400i delivers a satisfying listening experience across a wide variety of genres, with the exception of bass-heavy music.
In terms of soundstage, the HE-400i does not offer an exceptionally wide soundstage, but the imaging is impressive. While the soundstage width may not be outstanding, it provides a realistic and natural listening experience. For gaming, the HE-400i offers good positional and directional accuracy, allowing for accurate spatial awareness. The headphone’s separation is also notable, enhancing imaging capabilities, and revealing micro-details in the audio.
In summary, the HiFiMAN HE-400i is an affordable planar magnetic headphone option that offers good comfort, detailed midrange and treble, and solid imaging for gaming. While the bass performance may not be its strongest suit, the HE-400i is well-suited for a wide range of genres.
Open-Back Gaming Headphones Buying Advice
Closed-Back vs. Open-Back Headphones For Gaming
When it comes to choosing between closed-back and open-back headphones for gaming, it ultimately depends on personal preference and specific gaming needs. Let’s examine the characteristics and considerations of each option.
Open-back headphones have the advantage of providing a high-quality sound experience. They offer a clear and transparent sound reproduction with excellent detail. The soundstage and imaging are particularly impressive compared to closed-back headphones. Additionally, the open design of these headphones allows for better ventilation, leading to improved comfort during long gaming sessions. However, open-back headphones lack isolation, which can be a disadvantage when gaming in noisy environments. They also tend to leak sound, which can be disruptive when used in quiet places.
Philips Fidelio X2HR
On the other hand, many gamers prefer closed-back headphones or headsets. The main advantage of closed-back headphones is their passive noise cancellation. Factors such as clamping pressure, earpad thickness, and materials used contribute to high levels of isolation. This enables gamers to focus more deeply on the game without external distractions. Closed-back headphones often emphasize bass reproduction, delivering a punchy and deep low-end response. However, the soundstage in closed-back headphones is typically not as expansive as in open-back models, with most offering a tighter stereo image. While this is a common characteristic of closed-back headphones, some manufacturers have been able to minimize this limitation for improved performance. One downside of closed-back headphones is that they can trap heat more easily, leading to potential discomfort during extended gaming sessions. The degree of heat build-up can vary depending on the quality of the materials used in the headphone construction.
HiFiMAN HE 400i
In summary, open-back headphones offer superior sound quality, detailed reproduction, and an expansive soundstage, but lack isolation and may leak sound. Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, provide effective noise cancellation, emphasized bass, and better isolation, but can trap heat and offer a narrower soundstage.
Consider your gaming environment, sound preferences, and comfort requirements when making a decision between open-back and closed-back headphones for gaming.
Headphone & Mic vs Gaming Headset
When deciding between a gaming headset and a separate microphone and headphones setup, there are several factors to consider. Here is a summary of some key points:
- Purpose: If you primarily use your audio setup for gaming and want an all-in-one solution, a gaming headset can be a convenient choice. However, if you desire versatility and plan to use your audio setup for other purposes like listening to music, watching movies, or content creation, a separate microphone and headphones setup may be more suitable.
- Cost: Gaming headsets often come with additional features such as built-in microphones, RGB lighting, specialized software for EQ settings, and flashy aesthetics. These extra features can drive up the price of gaming headsets compared to standalone headphones and microphones. If you prioritize cost-effectiveness, a separate microphone and headphones setup can offer better value for your money.
- Sound quality: Standalone headphones, particularly those designed for audiophile or professional use, tend to offer superior sound quality compared to gaming headsets. If audio fidelity is important to you, investing in a quality pair of headphones and a separate microphone can provide a better listening experience.
- Comfort and build quality: Both gaming headsets and standalone headphones vary in terms of comfort and build quality. Gaming headsets are often designed with ergonomics in mind, featuring adjustable headbands, plush ear cushions, and lightweight materials for prolonged comfort during gaming sessions. Standalone headphones, especially higher-end models, may prioritize comfort and durability as well. Consider your preferences and the amount of time you’ll be using the setup to assess which option suits you best.
Ultimately, the decision between a gaming headset and a separate microphone and headphones setup depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Assessing factors such as purpose, cost, sound quality, comfort, and build quality will help guide you towards the option that best fits your requirements.
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
ModMic/Boom Mic Explained
A ModMic, also known as a boom mic, is a microphone that can be attached to or plugged into headphones and then connected to a computer, laptop, or gaming console. One of the advantages of using a ModMic is its versatility. It can be easily removed when not in use, allowing you to use your headphones for other activities such as listening to music.
If you’re considering purchasing a gaming headset, it’s worth noting that for a similar price, you could instead opt for a good-quality, inexpensive headphone like the Philips SH9500 and pair it with a ModMic attachment. This way, you can use the ModMic while gaming and detach it when you want to listen to music. This approach offers a cost-effective solution, particularly if you already own a pair of headphones that you enjoy using. You can enhance the audio and microphone quality without needing to invest in a dedicated gaming headset.
When it comes to ModMics or boom mics, there are a few options available. Two recommended choices are the Antlion Audio ModMic, which is available with both USB and 3.5mm inputs, and the V-Moda BoomPro Microphone, which works well with headphones that have a detachable cable. These options provide a simple and effective solution for upgrading your audio and microphone performance, allowing you to replace the subpar audio and microphone quality often found in many gaming headsets while still using your preferred headphones.
Wired vs Wireless Gaming Headphones
he decision between wireless and wired gaming headphones depends on various factors. Wired headphones have certain advantages. Firstly, they do not require a battery, allowing for uninterrupted use during long gaming sessions without the need to recharge. This can be beneficial for extended gameplay without interruptions. Additionally, wired headphones tend to have a longer lifespan since they are not affected by battery degradation over time.
Wired headphones also offer versatility and compatibility with multiple systems. They can be used with various devices such as phones, desktops, laptops, or PS4 consoles, and can be connected via USB, AUX, or other types of connections. This flexibility makes them suitable for different gaming setups and allows for easy switching between devices.
On the other hand, wireless gaming headphones provide the freedom of movement without the constraint of cables. This can be particularly advantageous for gamers who prefer to move around or sit at a distance from their gaming setup. Wireless headphones offer convenience and eliminate the hassle of tangled cords.
It’s important to consider your specific gaming needs and preferences when choosing between wired and wireless gaming headphones. If you prioritize long-lasting performance, compatibility, and don’t mind being tethered to your device, wired headphones may be the better choice. However, if you value freedom of movement and convenience, wireless headphones could be a more suitable option, despite the need for occasional battery recharging.
Sensitivity & Impedance
When shopping for headphones, it’s important to consider specifications such as impedance and sensitivity, as they can help determine the compatibility and performance of the headphones with different devices. Impedance refers to the resistance the headphones offer to the audio signal passing through them. Higher impedance values require more power to drive the headphones effectively.
Most headphones can be easily powered by devices such as smartphones, computers, or MP3 players, which have built-in amplifiers. However, headphones with higher impedance ratings may require dedicated headphone amplifiers to achieve optimal sound quality. If you use a high impedance headphone with a smartphone, it may not sound loud enough or deliver the desired audio performance without additional amplification.
On the other hand, sensitivity, measured in decibels (dB), indicates how loud the headphones will be at a given power level. If two headphones have the same impedance but different sensitivity values, the headphone with higher sensitivity will produce louder sound levels with the same input power. This means that headphones with higher sensitivity can provide louder volume levels without the need for excessive power.
While impedance and sensitivity are important specifications to consider, it’s also crucial to evaluate other factors such as the headphone’s frequency response, driver quality, and overall sound signature to ensure it aligns with your preferences and intended use.
When choosing headphones, it’s recommended to match the impedance and sensitivity specifications with the output capabilities of your audio source. This can help ensure compatibility and optimal performance, whether you’re using them with a smartphone, PC, or dedicated headphone amplifier.