Unlike closed-back headphones (which create a seal around your ears to isolate sound and block out outside noises), open-back or open-back acoustic headphones allow sound to pass through the earcups. This not only improves sound quality, but also widens the soundstage, so you can better determine which “direction” sounds are coming from. However, the best open-back headphones are often made for mixing, mastering, and editing music in the studio—you won’t see many of your gaming gear brands here. But according to some users on Reddit, open acoustic headphones greatly improve your gaming experience and you will never go back while gaming in a quiet environment.
What to look for when buying open-back headphones
In many other ways, the buying experience for open-back headphones is similar to any other type: you’ll want to consider the overall sound quality, which, if you’re Really in tech, it might include specs like drivers, ohms, and impedance. (Drivers convert electrical signals into sound, but type and size will differ depending on price and model; impedance is measured in ohms, and while 32 is standard, 64 or more is considered ideal for audiophiles.)
Just be aware that unlike the gaming headsets most people are used to, some of these headsets won’t include a microphone. (In that case, a microphone mod, like the one below, might help you complete your setup—just make sure it’s compatible with your headset of choice before making any purchases.)
Last but definitely not least, you’ll also want to consider compatibility. Make sure the headset you choose is not only suitable for your operating system or console, but also designed with the right plugs/adapters for your needs.
Buy the best open back acoustic headphones
In a hurry? Here are the best gaming picks for open-back headphones.
1. Best Overall Open Gaming Headset for Windows
- Open acoustics designed for precise, high-fidelity sound
- Noise-cancelling microphone that flips to mute
- Comfortable and light frame
- Volume controls on device
- It is only advertised as compatible with Windows
The EPOS I Sennheiser Game One headset has tons of qualities gamers love, including clear, high-fidelity sound, integrated volume control on the right cup, a lightweight frame with plush velor ear cushions, and a noise-canceling microphone. with a flip-to-mute function. That said, just like quality studio headphones, they also feature an open design for improved breathability and directional accuracy. Currently, it has a 4.5-star rating from over 3,500 reviews.
One reviewer wrote: “These beat them all in terms of sound quality and microphone quality. Hands down, Sennheiser makes THE best microphone in a headset, period. Nothing comes close. Now for the sound, I love the open design of these. It allows for a much more robust soundstage and a really unique experience if you’re coming from using only closed-back headphones like me.”
Compatible with: Windows | connector type: 3.5mm jack | Impedance: 50 ohms | Microphone: Yes
2. Best value
- excellent sound quality
- Semi-open back strikes a balance between noise cancellation and a wide soundscape
- It costs less than $50
They don’t have a built-in microphone and are technically semi-open back, but according to one reviewer, these Samson Technologies Studio Reference headphones offer “great sound at a great price.” Although they cost less than $50, the 50-millimeter high-sensitivity drivers and 32-ohm impedance allow for deep bass and clear highs. The over-ear design is also breathable and comfortable enough for hours of gaming.
One reviewer wrote: “Impressive sound clarity for the price. I use them to play games on my Xbox one connected with a 3.5mm mic adapter. These sound way better than any other gaming headset I’ve ever heard (and that’s a lot). An immersive sound that immerses me in the action by giving me situational sounds like footsteps and explosions.”
Compatible with: anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack | connector type: 3.5mm jack and 1/4″ stereo adapter | Impedance: 32 ohms | Microphone: No
3. Best sound quality, according to reviewers
- amazing sound
- Have more than 14,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating
It’s an investment, especially considering you’ll have to buy a microphone separately to use them for in-game communication, but according to reviewers, these Beyerdynamic studio headphones are “one of the best sounding headphones you’ll ever buy.” and “worth every one”. penny.” The velvet ear cushions are soft, comfortable, and replaceable, while the frame and interiors are super durable. Finally, the 80 ohms let you hear every detail with crystal-clear precision. (You can get them in your choice of gray or black, as well as 250 ohms, but most gamers seem to agree that’s more than you need).
One reviewer wrote:: “I bought this to play and was replacing my Astro A40. I had just purchased a microphone with a boom configuration and no longer needed a headset. After some research I found this because many big streamers like ninja and other gaming communities were praising it. It was all true. Not only is it as comfortable as my Astros (didn’t think possible) but they have incredible sound quality. I hear people in FPS games so soon that I can react much quicker. It has improved my game on so many levels!”
Compatible with: anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack | connector type: 3.5mm jack and 1/4″ adapter | Impedance: 80 or 250 ohms | Microphone: No
4. Comfortable headset for PC and consoles
- light and breathable
- Reviewers report that they are comfortable, even for those who wear glasses.
- Detachable microphone with clear directional pickup
- Not the best sound quality (and ohms aren’t available)
Especially for those with glasses or large heads, Audio-Technica’s gaming headsets are praised for their comfort levels. It weighs less than 220 grams (about 0.5 pounds), but still offers a flexible, detachable boom mic, comfortable ear pads, and a replaceable head pad, so you can use it for hours on end. It also offers easy volume and microphone controls on the device. It comes with two detachable cable adapters so you can use it for both PC and game consoles. While not the most impressive on this list, the large-diameter 45-millimeter drivers still create clear sound.
One reviewer wrote:: “What sold me was the comfort and lightness of the headphones. As someone who suffers from migraines and ear infections, I am completely satisfied with the way these headphones were made. I also wear glasses and the earmuffs didn’t even seem to apply uncomfortable pressure. The air holes on the outside don’t help with noise cancellation, but they do seem to help with air circulation so your ears don’t get sweaty or clammy. I used it for more than 8 hours for gaming/music/movies with no discomfort.”
Compatible with: PC and consoles | connector type: 3.5mm cable and 3.5mm TRRS| Impedance: N/A | Microphone: Yes
5. A wide compatibility headset with a noise canceling microphone
- wide compatibility
- noise canceling microphone
- Angled drivers to improve location accuracy
- Comfortable velvet cushions
The Sennheiser PC38X Drop+ Gaming Headset is praised on Amazon for its wide-ranging versatility and incredible sound quality. Angled drivers and two detachable cables deliver clear sound (with precise placement) as well as ambient-free communication for PCs and a wide range of consoles. The noise-canceling microphone also mutes when you flip it up, while the volume control dial is convenient and accessible. Get this pair in yellow or black.
One reviewer wrote: “This is hands down the best gaming headset I’ve ever owned. After reading tons of reviews and researching forums, I kept coming across these. The DROP+Sennheiser PC38X. $180 seems steep for a wired headset, but it’s 100% worth it in my opinion[…] They will work on any controller with an audio port, switch, PS4/5, Xbox, laptops, PC, you name it.”
Compatible with: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox, Mac and more | connector type: 3.5mm jack | Impedance: 28 ohms | Microphone: Yes
Also cool: this magnetic mod microphone
Over 1,000 reviewers have successfully modified their open-back headphones with this Antlion Audio ModMic, which is a wireless microphone system that attaches magnetically to your rig. Simply plug the USB receiver into your computer and connect via Bluetooth. You will then be able to use it alongside Windows, Mac, Linux or PlayStation 4, with no drivers required. It features a 12-hour battery and a built-in mute switch.
One reviewer wrote: “There is absolutely no reason why you should buy a Logitech, SteelSeries or any other wireless gaming headset now that this exists. Seriously, just get a quality pair of open wireless earphones […]Plug in the Wireless ModMic and get the best sounding wireless gaming headset and the best sounding headset mic in a relatively inexpensive pairing you can’t get anywhere else.”