Best Audiophile Headphones for Gaming – Maximum Impact

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Audiophile headphones have long been recommended as a better alternative to gaming headphones.

For the longest time, gaming peripheral makers have gotten away with cramming their headsets with features but neglecting their actual audio quality.

We’ve already covered IEMs for gaming but if you want maximum impact, headphones are a premium choice.

Sure, the average gaming headphone has gotten a lot better over the years; but that’s mostly thanks to audiophile headphones opening more gamers up to better sound in the first place. 

But when it comes to providing both the incisive detail and imaging needed for competitive play, as well as the vast dynamic range and power that immerses players in their games’ soundscapes, audiophile headphones are still a cut above.

And in this guide, we’ve laid out our picks for the best audiophile headphones for gaming that you can get to elevate your gaming experience.

Audiophile Headphones for Gaming
Good headphones can give you an immersive gaming experience | Make Life Click

Audiophile Headsets vs. Audiophile Headphones: To Mic or Not to Mic? 

As it is with choosing a pair of headphones for gaming, you’ll have to make your choice between getting headphones and a mic separately or a headset that combines both.

By going down this route, you have much more freedom of choice with the sound of your headphones and the performance of your mic.

It used to be that the default response to this question would be the separate mic and headphones. This time around, though, the discussion is a bit more interesting.

Recently, audiophile brands have gone and made their own gaming headsets in an attempt to tap into that massive market. These attempts have met varying degrees of success from write-offs to serious contenders. 

The bottom line is that we now have a lot more options than we used to.

So which one should you get? As much of a cop-out answer as this is, it really depends on your personal needs as both a gamer and an audiophile. 

An audiophile gaming headset is the better choice for raw convenience—they are plug-and-play solutions that will get you playing your games and communicating with friends all in one package.

Separating the headphones and mic, as we’ve mentioned, gives you much more room to choose and play around with your setup. You can experiment with different kinds of mics and a wider range of headphone sound signatures in a way that isn’t possible with a fixed headset. 

So for our list of the best audiophile headphones for gaming, we’ve opted to include both headsets and headphones since our focus is on the sound quality of the headphones and not the mic.

We’ll try to emphasize headsets as they do tend to be more desirable for gamers, but we’ll only really consider the microphone as a convenient bonus rather than a serious factor in our rating.

And with that, let’s get to our picks.

Best Audiophile Headphones for Gaming

editorspick

Philips Fidelio X2HR

Editor’s Pick: An already acclaimed hi-fi headphone, made even better with compelling pricing

4.5/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: Philips
Philips Fidelio X2HR - audiophile headphone for gaming

The Download

The Philips Fidelio X2HR is one of the rare headphones that has managed to gain the approval of both audiophiles and gamers alike.

Now 6 years old, the X2HR continues to be one of the best audiophile gaming headphones on the market thanks to a combination of impeccable sound, convenient features and excellent value for money.

From its original launch price of $300, the X2HR has only become a more compelling deal as street prices typically drop below half of that MSRP. Yet even at $300, the X2HR holds its own as one of the best in its price class, offering great clarity, soundstage and imaging ability with a lively, bass-elevated sound that immerses you in music and games alike.

Some of the more competitive gamers out there will also appreciate the one-two combo of velour ear pads and suspended headband that keeps things comfortable over extended gaming sessions. 

Arguably the X2HR’s killer feature for gamers, though, is its removable single-ended 3.5mm cable. This seems like the kind of feature that is (and should be) on any modern headphone, but that audiophile headphones tend to drop in favor of specialized solutions.

With this connector, the X2HR can very easily be turned into a headset with any mic remote cable, or better yet, a boom mic cable like the V-Moda Boom Pro or the Beyerdynamic Custom Headset Gear. 

It’s got all of the chops of an excellent audiophile headphone but in a package that’s both accessible and palatable for gamer tastes—one of the best audiophile headphones for gaming by every metric. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Open-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  50mm dynamic drivers
  • Frequency Response:  5 – 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity:  100 dB
  • Impedance:  30 Ohms

Stuff I like

  • Immersive soundstage and imaging
  • Energizing V-shaped sound signature
  • Great long-term comfort
  • Convenient removable cable

Stuff I like less

  • Open-back design may be inconvenient
  • Midrange can sound too recessed for some
  • Treble tuning is shaky and uneven
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

What’s in the Box?

  • Philips Fidelio X2HR headphones
  • 3m straight cable (3.5mm to 3.5mm)
  • 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter
contender

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS XLR StreamSet

Contender: A popular mic module and one of the most iconic pro audio headphones—a match made in headset heaven.

4.5/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: Audio-Technica
Audio Technica ATH M50xSTS XLR StreamSet

The Download

Say you’re one of the most popular brands in pro audio. Say your headphone catalog includes one of the most iconic pro audio headphones that get recommended to first-time audiophiles. Say you also have a line of microphones that have become extremely popular choices for streamers and musicians on a budget.

What do you do? You combine them into a single headset and make one of the best audiophile headphones for gaming, of course.

The ATH-M50xSTS (or StreamSet) is Audio-Technica’s latest attempt at an audiophile gaming headset—and, from the amount of attention it’s gotten from users and reviewers alike, their most successful. 

The optimistic take is that it’s an ATH-M50x with an AT20-series condenser mic stuck to it. The pessimistic take is that it’s an ATH-M50x with an AT20-series condenser mic stuck to it.

Now, this is by no means a bad thing. For most gamers and live streamers, this is a super convenient headset that will perform reasonably well. But by audiophile standards, the M50x isn’t really all that impressive. 

Sure, it’s popular for a reason—its durability and bass-boosted sound signature appeals to most listeners. But as a studio monitor by design, its soundstage is too cramped and its resolution falls a bit short of comparable options that it’s hard to recommend it on sound quality alone.

As a whole, though, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS comes together as much more than the sum of its parts, and is a no-brainer pick if you need an all-in-one solution. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headset
  • Driver Type:  Singe 45mm dynamic driver
  • Frequency Response:  15 – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity:  99 dB / mW
  • Impedance:  38 Ohms

Stuff I like

  • Energetic, consumer-friendly sound
  • Light but tough plastic build
  • Excellent integrated mic
  • Choice of USB and XLR mic connectors

Stuff I like less

  • Cramped soundstage
  • Cable is thick and non-removable
  • XLR mic version needs an audio interface
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

What’s in the Box?

  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS headset
  • 1 pair of protein leather ear pads
premiumoption

Audeze LCD-GX

Premium Option: The definitive option for the discerning gamer—a true cost-no-object audiophile gaming headphone.

4/5
Price Range: $$$
Brand: Audeze
Audeze LCD GX

The Download

Not a lot of products out there fit the bill of an “audiophile gaming headphone” quite like the Audeze LCD-GX.

With performance and a feature set to match its eye-watering price tag, this has cemented itself as the premium option in a way that few else can.

Audeze is a fairly recent brand that made a bit of a splash in the high-end audiophile segment with their planar magnetic driver designs. Generally, they’re known for ridiculously good bass response while keeping the soundstage that open-back designs are known for. 

The LCD-GX is effectively the gamer kid of the LCD family, easily identified by its rounder, more “hip” look, greater emphasis on extended comfort, and and the inclusion of a custom boom mic cable made specifically to work with the headphones’ dual-ended mini-XLR connectors.

From a pure performance standpoint, the LCD-GX is a titan that crushes all other gaming headphones under its heel. With a precise, flat presentation, the LCD-GX is very much an audiophile-grade headphone, with space, immersion and imaging that brings soundtracks and game sounds to life like few else.

But heavy is the head that wears these headphones—not just literally but monetarily.

Even if you had the esports pro money to afford these, you definitely won’t be able to use them outside of your own gaming setup on account of them letting noise flow freely in and out. Good luck using these on any offline tournament or even a LAN party. 

The Audeze LCD-GX is the perfect example of an audiophile gaming headphone: incredible in its sound quality, inconvenient in its design and inordinate in its pricing, but in a way that audiophiles not only like but actually prefer.

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Open-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  106mm planar magnetic drivers
  • Frequency Response:  10 – 50,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity:  100 dB
  • Impedance:  20 Ohms

Stuff I like

  • Phenomenal bass speed and extension
  • Precise imaging and soundstage
  • Deep and plush leather earpads

Stuff I like less

  • Heavy on the head and neck
  • Very expensive
  • Unusable in noisy spaces
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

What’s in the Box?

  • Audeze LCD-GX headphones
  • 2.5m cable with boom microphone (1/8″ to 4-pin mini-XLR)
  • 2.5m cable (1/4″ to 4-pin mini-XLR)
  • OMTP to CTIA mic adapter
  • 1/8″ TRRS to dual 1/8″ TRS audio and mic splitter
alsoconsider

AKG K702

Also Consider: An underrated reference headphone with street prices that give it compelling value.

4/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: AKG
AKG K702 headphones

The Download

I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased in putting the AKG K702 in this list as they’re one of my personal favorites. That said, the K702 does deserve a spot here on its own merits.

The gist of my take on the K702 is that it’s a $400 headphone that very often finds itself on sale for half that price, if not even lower. As such, it brings the level of performance expected of a premium headphone down to a midrange price point where I feel it dominates.

In fact, the AKG K702 was often recommended as a headphone that you could turn into a gaming headset with the attachment of an Antlion ModMic.

Sure, this two-cable solution isn’t as convenient as the Fidelio X2HR would later bring to the table, but the K702 fiercely holds its ground regardless.

As a gaming headset, its main edge lies in its detail retrieval and massive soundstage, which envelops you in a ring of sound with great imaging to boot. That said, its tuning is definitely on the leaner side compared to something like the X2HR, and is definitely not for everyone as a result.

The AKG K702 is an excellent headphone with a sound that you’ll either love or hate; as much as I’d have wanted to recommend this as our Editor’s Pick, its divisive sound puts it behind more gamer-friendly signatures. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Open-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  45mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  10 – 39,800 Hz
  • Sensitivity:  105 dB
  • Impedance:  62 Ohms

Stuff I like

  • Lightweight, long-term comfort
  • Excellent street price value
  • Massive soundstage
  • Great clarity

Stuff I like less

  • Bass is lean and lacks power
  • Midrange could be too cold for some
  • No integrated mic option
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

What’s in the Box?

  • AKG K702 headphones
  • 3m (9ft) cable (1/4″ to 3-pin mini-XLR)
  • 1/4″ to 1/8″ adapter
budgetpick

Massdrop x Sennheiser PC37x

Budget Pick: A budget favourite among gaming headphones, made even better with lower street prices

4/5
Price Range: $
Brand: Massdrop
Massdrop x Sennheiser PC37x Headphones

The Download

Massdrop was one of the darlings of the audiophile community with their unique group buy model giving deal hunters and budget buyers alike a new way to get better prices on otherwise hard-to-get headphones.

This would lead to Massdrop inking deals with popular audiophile brands to release collaboration models at even lower prices. One of these collabs is with Sennheiser on their PC37x headset.

As with all Massdrop collaborations, the PC37x is just a modified version of an existing design with a lower price and bill of materials—in this case, the PC373D. While the lightweight plastic shell isn’t super premium, it’s a detail that’s much easier to forgive in the $120 PC37x than in its predecessor that used to retail for $250.

That lightness, however, is by design. At a featherweight 290 grams, the PC37x manages to practically vanish on the head. Ample headband padding and the velour earpads shared with the Sennheiser 500-series models only makes them easier to wear all night. 

Now, the bass is rather light on the PC37x (partly because of its open back design), which gives the overall sound a bit of a cold tilt. It’s a bit of a departure from the usually bass-heavy approach of most gaming headphones, but those who play shooters and other competitive titles will appreciate the extra clarity of footsteps and other small details.

The Massdrop x Sennheiser PC37x, like other Massdrop collabs, offers a ton of value for the money. And like other Massdrop collabs, the PC37x also outclasses anything made after Massdrop rebranded into DROP and dropped the ball on the quality of their releases.

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headset
  • Driver Type:  40mm dynamic drivers
  • Frequency Response:  15 – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity:  103 dB
  • Impedance:  50 Ohms

Stuff I like

  • Unparalleled lightweight comfort
  • Convenient boom mic and volume control
  • Crisp, detailed sound signature

Stuff I like less

  • Sound can be a bit cold for some
  • Sparse accessories
  • Included cable is incompatible with consoles
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

What’s in the Box?

  • Massdrop x Sennheiser PC37x headset
  • 10 ft. cable (1/8″ to dual 1/8″ mic and audio connectors)

Other Audiophile Headphones for Gaming: Previous Models on This List

Since different brands are always coming up with new models, we like to keep this list updated every now and then.

Two previously included models on this list are the Audeze Mobius Premium Audiophile headphones and the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT Premium gaming headphones. Both can still keep up with more recent releases are excellent options worth considering.

Another item previously on this list is the SONY MDR-Z1R WW2 which is a premium option with performance and features that match its price tag.

If you’re a PC gamer, the Logitech G Pro X is a great option because of its exceptional surround sound feature that only works properly when used with PC devices.

Lastly, if you’re on a limited budget, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X is another pair of headphones to consider. They sound great and are quite comfortable to wear.

Final Thoughts

Gamers have more options than ever when it comes to audio.

While headsets from the usual gaming brands will always be around, audiophile brands have recently been making moves into the space and raising the bar for gaming audio. 

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg for the best audiophile headphones for gaming — we’re leaving out so many audiophile headphones that have already been praised by the community for being as good for gaming as they are for music.

While our guide does have several great options that you could definitely go for if you don’t know where to start, our recommendations are by no means the end-all, be-all.

There’s nothing stopping you from using your favorite headphones for your gaming sessions. All that really matters is the sound and whether or not it improves your gaming experience.

Are audiophile headphones good for gaming?

Yes. The frequency range of audiophile headphones is great for gaming but the lack of a microphone can put some off.

What is the best audiophile headphone for gaming?

Sound is personal. Every year new audiophile gaming headphones are awarded. The Audeze Mobius is a standout headset to consider.

Are music headphones good for gaming?

Yes. The frequency range can be excellent for gaming. Choosing a good set of headphones with a good bass response will definitely improve your experience.

What are good headphones for gaming?

Closed-back headphones are ideal as they offer a good bass response while limiting external noise. Most gamers will choose a boom microphone included on the headphone ear cups.

A musician with over 2 decades of experience in studio recording. Audiophile, always in pursuit of the perfect set of headphones. King Crimson fan.

This post was last updated on 2024-05-25 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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