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Are Studio Headphones Good for Gaming?

Studio headphones on a gamer's head while he holds an xBox X gaming controller

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Studio headphones are good for gaming due to the broader frequency response and excellent soundstage.

They offer better comfort and superior build quality compared to most gaming headphones.

Gaming gear tends to be on the flashier side – RGB lighting and a razor-sharp design that screams anything but minimalistic. What about the folks who are into music production/editing and want subdued design language without compromising on sound quality? 

Studio headphones are the only option!  

But Catherine, I’ve heard that they don’t come with game-centric features like a built-in mic, surround sound, and RGB. Are studio headphones good for gaming, despite LACKING these features? 

Well, let’s explore those questions!

What Really Makes Gaming Headphones Ideal for Gaming?

Beyerdynamic DT-1990-Pro with XBox Controller
Beyerdynamic DT-1990-Pro with XBox Controller | Make Life Click

Back in the 2000s when gaming headphones were essentially just pairs of ear-numbing headphones tossed together with a microphone, a comparison like this wouldn’t have made sense. However, with the onset of companies like Razer, Turtle Beach, and HyperX; the competition has become quite cut-throat.

When playing games like CS: GO, Rainbow Six Siege, The Last of Us, etc; the last thing you want is to miss out on a kill due to elevated bass & poor sound signature. This is because, in most of these games, players often rely on sound cues.

Gaming headphones have a narrow soundstage which makes you feel like you are in a confined environment and refines the way locations of sound/objects are reproduced.

For gaming, your best bet is to go with a headphone with elevated treble, decreased sub-bass, and a design that allows you to use them for extended sessions.

Why Should I Go for Studio Headphones?

Studio HeadphonesGaming Headphones
Designed for recording instruments and musicalsTuned specifically to game dynamics
Highly versatile, featuring a wide depth of quality on low and high-end frequenciesBetter for P2P conversations and rendering dramatic sounds like explosions, gunshots
They lack gaming features but provide a better overall sound dynamicGaming features like surround sound, custom lighting and tactical triggers
Better comfort and build-qualityNot as ideal for longer sessions
Typically costlier than gaming headphonesAffordable
Studio Headphones vs Gaming Headphones

Studio headphones have excellent micro-detail retrieval and provide an immersive sound experience. Since they are primarily created with music recorders and instrumentalists in mind, they are engineered to sound as flat & accurate as possible.

Even though not having an in-built microphone might seem bad to a few, I find it quite convenient since this allows people to configure their system with a wide range of third-party mics that sound much better than the stock ones that come with gaming headphones.

Professional gamer Ninja, for instance, uses Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro with a separate Audio Technica AT2035 microphone. Let’s see how studio headphones pit against gaming headsets in different domains.

Sound Quality

Gaming headphones come with excellent audio separation allowing you to hear dialogue and VFX noises clearly. In general, gaming headphones are tuned for higher bass and feature surround sound tech, which gives them an edge over studio headphones

To cover for this, studio headphones come with a sound quality that is far superior and detailed. Unlike gaming headsets which ship with a narrow frequency response between 12Hz – 28kHz, studio headphones can cover frequencies ranging from 4Hz to 40kHz. 

This results in detailed and smooth sound output. Since these headphones are designed for music aficionados, you can even tweak the audio to some extent. 

Another plus point is the amplified soundstage. This determines how the frontal cues such as footsteps or gunshots will sound during gameplay. This is highly imperative when playing live-action or battle royale games. 

All in all, these headphones take the win when it comes to sound quality as compared to gaming headphones. 

Comfort

Woman playing PC games with Gaming Headset on
Image: JumpStory

Whether you listen to music for long hours or like to live-stream games, comfort is a factor that can make or break the deal. Studio headphones feature best-in-class material quality and come with silicone/foam padding. With gaming headsets, the in-ears usually go too deep which causes vibrations in your inner ear. 

That said, flagship brands like Logitech and Razer even have some gaming headphones that are on par with studio headphones in terms of comfort, if not better.

Price

Studio headphones typically go for $100-200 more compared to gaming headphones. You can find a decent gaming headset for as low as $100 whereas top-of-the-line models go retail for $300-450.

With studio headphones, prices typically start from $300 and can even go up to $1800 for some pairs.

What are the best headphones for gaming?

Some of the best studio headphones for gaming are:

Best OverallBeyerdynamic DT 770 ProCheck it out here | Read our Review
Best DesignAudio-Technica ATH-R70xCheck it out here
Best BudgetAKG pro audio K712Check it out here
Best-in-class ComfortSennheiser HD 600Check it out here

Additional Tips

Before you invest in studio headphones, there are some features that you must take into account to get the best experience. Are you a light gamer who prioritizes mixing sounds/editing? What kind of games do you play?

  • Titles like PUBG, Apex Legends, Fortnite, etc. rely heavily on directional sound cues, which is better in headphones that come with surround sound. On the flip side, you will be fine without surround sound in games like Dota 2 or Apex Legends.
  • Make sure that the headset you buy is compatible with your console/system. Studio headphones come with a 3.5mm jack which is perfect for both consoles and PCs. However, certain studio headphones do not support game-specific audio profiles, so make sure to check compatibility with the seller.
  • Closed-back vs open-back headphones: Closed-back headphones can effectively block ambient noise, helping you focus just on the in-game sounds. With open-back headphones, some noise will always be leaked out.
  • Lastly, make sure that your headphones come with breathable fabric and ample cushioning so that you can use them without feeling any nuisance.

Final Verdict

If you prefer game-centric features and a realistic thump while gaming, then you should go for gaming headphones. If not, studio headphones will do just fine – Better sound quality and a build-to-last design.

Sound effects are what make or break virtual characters and their stories in video games. How many of you replayed The Legend of Zelda just to hear the iconic jingles when you solve a puzzle? I know I did! 

Carefully weigh the pros & cons, decide what matters to you and which features are just a gimmick, and then make your purchase. 

A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.


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